• Shane Palma

Why 2020 Was Only The Beginning For Robby Anderson

Updated: Mar 8

(Photo by Bob Donnan)

Until his move to the Carolina Panthers, Robby Anderson was one of the National Football League’s best kept secrets.

After going undrafted out of Temple University in 2016, Anderson signed with the New York Jets, which would end up being one the team’s best moves over the last decade. After moving on from Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, it was only a matter of time before Anderson emerged as the number one option for Gang Green.

Despite his obvious talent, the constant rotation at the Jets’ quarterback position prevented Anderson from unleashing his true potential. How much did a 38-year-old Josh McCown really have left in the tank?

For this reason and from a fantasy perspective, Anderson was always viewed as a “boom-or-bust” flex option.

Putting together his best statistical season with the Jets in 2017, Robby Anderson finished as the overall WR18 in PPR scoring formats. The next two years? WR39 in 2018 and WR40 in 2019.

Anderson never had the chemistry with QB Sam Darnold to build upon his impressive sophomore season. It was apparent by the end of 2019 that a change of scenery would do the underrated receiver wonders.

And wouldn’t you know it, that change was right.

Anderson signed a two-year contract with the Carolina Panthers worth roughly $20 million, reuniting with former Temple head coach Matt Rhule.

This move by the Panthers was criminally overlooked and in my eyes, was an absolute steal. Not only did Anderson have past ties with Rhule, he also had a connection with current Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was a Jet for the preseason of 2018.

Everything was set up beautifully for Robby Anderson to reclaim his past success. Upgrade at coach, upgrade at quarterback, and an upgrade in the wide receiver room as well, joining forces with Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore.

However, all anyone heard from fantasy analysts across the nation was radio silence. There was no talk of Anderson as a sleeper, breakout, or even bounceback candidate heading into 2020. In fact, he was labeled by FantasyPros as the 54th overall receiver in PPR, behind names such as Anthony Miller, Golden Tate, and Mecole Hardman.

Fantasy owners who had the luxury of scooping Anderson off waivers were thrilled when he returned mid-range WR2 value over the course of the season.

As I mentioned earlier, Anderson finished as the WR18 in 2017. A year in which he averaged 12.5 fantasy points per game. Fast forward to 2020, the wideout finished as the WR19 yet averaged 14.0 fantasy points per game.

Based on current ESPN projections, Anderson is slated to go at pick 66 in 12-team drafts as the WR33 behind both Deebo Samuel and DeVante Parker.

I currently have Robby Anderson penciled in at pick 30 in a 12-team league as the WR12. Now obviously I am not suggesting to take Anderson in the third round, I think you can get him much later, but I value him as a third-round player going into 2021.

A question you are probably asking yourself right now is: Why?

And that is a very fair question with some simple answers. I’ll list a few of them down below.

  1. CONTRACT: We are entering the second year of Anderson’s two-year contract, leaving him to be a free agent in 2022. And while this isn’t total science, there have been plenty of times where a player is at his best when seeking a new contract. I tend to like taking players in their contract years as I feel it leads to some extra motivation.

  2. CURTIS SAMUEL: Curtis Samuel, who had 97 targets in 2020, is set to become a free agent this offseason and there is no guarantee the Panthers bring him back. While he was a valuable and integral piece to the Carolina offense this past year, the WR/RB hybrid has already garnered attention from the New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals. With the possibility of Samuel departing, I imagine 15-20 more targets could be in line for Anderson.

  3. TOUCHDOWNS: One of my favorite sayings in fantasy football is “positive touchdown regression.” Why the negative word choice for something that is meant to be so positive? Anderson saw his lowest touchdown total in 2020 (three) since his rookie season back in 2016 (two). The reason why this is so significant is his target share, more specifically his red zone targets. 14 RED ZONE TARGETS. That is only five fewer than the red zone monster Mike Evans. And what did Anderson have to show for it? One singular touchdown. Oh yeah, that beast Mike Evans had NINE red zone touchdowns. With such a high volume of looks near the end zone, Anderson is bound to find more touchdown luck in 2021. Fun fact: If he were to have as many touchdowns in 2017 (seven) as he did this year, Robby Anderson would be your WR12, right where I have him this season.

To reiterate my main point of this entire piece, Robby Anderson will be a steal in drafts next season. You won’t have to take him very high to see a sizable return come the end of 2021.

Oh, and for those who are worried about Christian McCaffrey’s impact on Robby Anderson, this is how the team’s three top targets finished when McCaffrey was healthy (Weeks 1, 2 & 9).

Robby Anderson: WR21

Curtis Samuel: WR46

DJ Moore: WR48

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