19 Names That Intrigue Me Heading into 2019
Every one who plays fantasy football has names on their brain that they can’t get out. Whether that means guys they are in love with, guys they hate, guys they aren’t sure of, or anything in between! Every season players move teams, new rookies come in and make an impact, veterans get older, coaching changes happen; there is plenty that can impact a player’s fantasy stats either for the better or the worse. Being that it is 2019 I am going to give you 19 names heading into your drafts this year that intrigue me for one reason or another! This is no particular order just by position and alphabetical. Also, these aren’t players I’m necessarily targeting in my drafts; some I may grab if the price is right, some I will be after no matter what, and some I flat out don’t want sniffing my team, but no matter what category I may think of them in they all intrigue me for one reason or another! Who intrigues you heading into this season? Follow me on Twitter, @thepprmonster, and let me know!
Lamar Jackson BAL QB: Jackson came onto the scene as a rookie last year and put up some big weeks in his first season. He started the final 7 games of the year and went for 15+ points in all 7 and went for 18+ points three times. He needs work in the passing game as he went over 200 yards just once (204 yards in week 16), but he is smart with the ball tossing 6TDs versus just 3INTs. However, I think we all know his big points came with his legs. Jackson had better than 70 yards in six of his seven starts, and over 90 yards three times. His 697 total rushing yards topped all quarterbacks and would have been the 27th most yards among running backs. Jackson had more yards on the ground than Mark Ingram (645) and Kenyan Drake (535). When it comes to scoring on the ground, Jackson found pay dirt five times; as many rushing touchdowns as Leonard Fournette and Lamar Miller and more rushing scores than Kerryon Johnson (3), LeSean McCoy (3), and Dalvin Cook (2). And don’t give “well, some of those backs missed time,” like I said before Jackson really only played the final 7 games of the season; 19% of his yards and 1 of his 5 scores came before he took the starting QB role over. He won’t be mentioned with the Mahomes’, Brees’, or Luck’s because he isn’t a top-tier quarterback, but when it’s draft day but Jackson is a guy to keep an eye on with the talent he has and the improvements we are hoping to see out of him in his sophomore season. If he can improve his passing game, Jackson could establish himself as one of the most potent QBs in the NFL with his skill set through land and air.
Baker Mayfield CLE QB: I am sure you already have heard the hype of Mayfield this year. The Browns are the hot team to be mentioned by anyone and everyone in the fantasy and NFL worlds, so why wouldn’t Mayfield’s name make you ponder? Mayfield had a pretty damn good rookie season finishing at QB16 thanks to his 3,725 yards and 27TDs; he was just the 2nd rookie quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 3,700 yards and 25 touchdowns; Peyton Manning was the other when he threw for 3,739 and 26 scores, so Mayfield started his career off on fire on pace with one of the GOATs. Does that mean Baker will continue on that path? Not necessarily, but he’s got the pieces in place around him to make a lot of noise in 2019. He still has Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and David Njoku around him plus the Browns added in Kareem Hunt (who will be available after his 8 game suspension) and Odell Beckham Jr to round out a more-than-stocked arsenal for Mayfield to use at his disposal. What can been seen as a negative is new head coach in Freddie Kitchens. He has just half a season as an offensive coordinator under his belt (the second half of 2018 when he was promoted to that position from RB coach in Cleveland) and no time as a head coach and coaching in the NFL isn’t something you pick up overnight so it could hinder Mayfield and the Browns as a whole. Cleveland is also getting a ton of hype, so can the leader of the team in Mayfield keep his team level-headed and not bowing to the stresses and pressures of these unrealistic expectations of Super Bowl? And finally, it’s still Cleveland! Anything bad can happen to the Dawg Pound, and unfortunately, it usually does. I don’t know if Baker will be a top 5 QB like he’s being drafted as, he’s got plenty going in his favor, but he’s got things pushing against him as well. All I know is it will be a hell of a ride for Mayfield and the Browns in 2019.
Cam Newton CAR QB: Newton has been one of the most interesting quarterbacks since he entered the league in 2011. He’s averaged at least 16PPG every single season with four years of 20+ points per game. He’s rushed for better than 475 yards in 7 of 8 seasons and has been held to less than 5 rushing scores just once, and all this while missing just 5 total games in his career; he’s played no fewer than 14 games in any season. What really intrigues me about Cam this year is three fold; first of all he sounds full healthy with his shoulder when we knew he wasn’t 100% there at all last season, so can he hit his 2nd career 4,000-yard passing season? Can he throw for 30+ scores for just the 2nd time ever? Second is the Christian McCaffrey factor. CMC is an absolute monster and should be in the argument for top overall pick in fantasy drafts, and while a healthy Newton is a great thing for Cam, does his health actually benefit McCaffrey more? Defenses need to focus on Newton’s ability to pass more so McCaffrey could be even better on the ground in 2019 and his targets will always be there; which is great news for Cam. Lastly is Newton’s fantasy finishes. He hasn’t been a top 10 quarterback in back-to-back seasons since 2012-2013. Since 2013 here is how Newton has finished at the position; QB3, QB17, QB1, QB17, QB2, QB12. With his finish at 12th last year, the pattern shows he should be a top 3 quarterback in 2019, but will he? For the 9th QB off the board in round 9 right now he’s worth the risk. Newton always lights up the field, but full healthy and given his fantasy patterns he should set the field on fire in 2019 … right?
Jameis Winston TB QB: What keeps Winston on my mind is the new coaching staff he has to work with as well as the fact that he is in a contract year. Winston is playing the final year of his rookie deal and will be looking to prove he is a franchise QB and really cash in before the 2020 season begins. Winston has had some very good seasons, throwing for 3,500+ yards in three of four and going over 4,000 yards twice. The negative to that tale is that Winston has missed time in each of the last two years; 3 games in 2017 and 5 games in 2018, so those 4,000-yard years are in the past (2015 & 2016) not to mention the only two times he’s tossed 20+ scores came as a rookie and sophomore as well. Now, Winston is in control of his own destiny of getting that big pay day and the only way he does that is to ball out in 2019! But can he? Well, with the help of new head coach Bruce Arians it is very possible. Arians knows how to use his quarterback and put them in the best position possible. He was the OC in Pittsburgh from 2007-2011where Big Ben averaged just shy of 4,000 yards per year (3,958) with 25 passing scores as well as 140 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground, good for 260 points per year. Arians helped Ben to his first two 4,000-yard seasons as well as his first, and just one of three, 30+ touchdown seasons as well as his lowest INT year (5) and Roethlisberger had three of his four 100+ rushing yard seasons with Bruce. Arians next major stop was Arizona where he worked with Carson Palmer who had some monster years as well. Palmer played 5 seasons under Arians and had three years of 4,000+ yards and 24+ touchdowns; in the 9 years without Arians in charge, Palmer had just three 4,000-yard seasons and four years of 24+ passing strikes. Arians make his quarterbacks perform at a top-tier level so why can’t he do that with Winston? Jameis has the tools with his arm and the talent around him in Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin, and Cameron Brate to do damage in the passing game, as well as the wheels (averaging 227 yards and 3TDs per 16 games) to crush it on the ground. Arians plus contract season plus Winston’s talent could equal a major 2019 fantasy season for the Buccaneers QB.
Le’Veon Bell NYJ RB: If you aren’t intrigued by Le’Veon Bell then do you even play fantasy football? Bell could arguably be the most intriguing player heading into the 2019 season, not just in the fantasy world, but in the football world! After sitting out all of 2018, Bell has moved on from the Steelers for greener (see what I did there) pastures in New York with the Jets. The question on everyone’s mind is what will we see out of Bell? Logically he should be the same monster in the backfield we have always seen. He is just 27 years of age, and skipping last year should mean he comes into 2019 fresher than we’ve ever seen him. He’s had at least 290 touches in every season other than 2015 when he played just 6 games (although he was on pace for 320 touches that year) and he’s gone for well over 300 touches in 2014, 2016, and 2017 – when he had over 400 touches; becoming just the 27th player in NFL history with over 400 touches in a season. Since 2014, in the three seasons he’s played at least 12 games, Bell has rushed for over 1,250 yards and at least 7 scores in the ground while adding in no fewer than 75 catches for at least 615 yards and another 2 trips to pay dirt through the air; averaging 23+ points per game in each of those three seasons. While the Jets don’t have the same pedigree as the Steelers, they are building a great team on the offensive side of the ball. A solid offensive line, Sam Darnold is a franchise QB that will take another step forward along with the pass-catchers in Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, and Chris Herndon. New head coach Adam Gase is an offensive-minded guy who’s had his rushing attack rank inside the top 12 of the league in three of six season as either a head coach or OC. I think the pieces are in place for Bell in New York, I think the moves the Browns made along with the noise Antonio Brown made when leaving Pittsburgh take a ton of spotlight and pressure off Bell to have that, “prove them wrong” mentality and he can just focus on balling out for Gang Green in 2019.
Nick Chubb CLE RB: Much like his QB counterpart, Chubb had himself a fantastic rookie season, even if he only started 9 games. Despite only starting just over half the season and having six games of 4 or fewer points, Chubb still ended 2018 as RB17. He racked up six games of over 15 points, including three of 20+. He was one of 13 backs to score double-digit touchdowns (10 total or Chubb with 8 coming on the ground) while he was one of just five backs to average better than 5 yards per carry on at least 175 rushing attempts; joining Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Phillip Lindsay, and Melvin Gordon. As I mentioned with Baker, we all know how many pieces the Browns added to the offensive side of the ball this offseason, but what will come of Chubb due to the additions? Chubb isn’t huge in the passing game so Duke Johnson will still be king there, but with OBJ in the mix now they will both lose some targets. Also, we can’t forget the Kareem Hunt factor. I know he’s missing the first half of the season and then needs some time to get acclimated but you don’t bring in a guy of Hunt’s talent to just sit on the bench and take up space even on a money-friendly contract for the organization. He will get involved, which could mean Duke Johnson gets moved during the year, but either way at least one other back is getting consistent touches along side Chubb. However, Chubb’s got the ability on the ground to break some monster runs, as he rushed for over 100 yards four times last year and averaged better than 5YPC in all four instances and better than 8YPC twice, and he’s got a nose for the end zone as he scored multiple touchdowns three times and scored in six of seven games between weeks 7 and 14. I can see Chubb blowing up early then slowly sliding once the new pieces are fully broken in and Hunt gets back into the line up … but then again maybe Chubb is so hot the Browns can’t take him out more than a play or series here and there as a breather. Cleveland is usually a dumpster fire but this is a year everyone who watches football and plays fantasy football will actually want to tune into the Browns games.
Kenyan Drake MIA RB: Drake seems to be a very up-and-down back to me. In his last 21 games he’s scored 14 or more points 10 times; 7 times going over 18, but he was held to 13 or fewer 11 times; going for single-digit points 9 times. So, which Drake will you be getting from week-to-week is the big question. The Dolphins are in an all-out overhaul of the franchise with a new coaching staff in place and a new (potential) franchise quarterback in Josh Rosen whom they acquired in a trade with the Cardinals during this year’s NFL draft. Drake should see plenty of opportunities this year as he is in the rare bell-cow position. Frank Gore is gone which leave just Kalen Ballage to really steal some carries away from Drake and last year Ballage had 36 total carries with just two games over 4 touches and just two games of double-digit carries, Drake had 13 games of more than 4 carries and hit 10+ totes 5 times. Drake also had 5 straight games of 13+ carries to close out 2017 before Frank Gore played with him in 2018, so it’s hard to imagine any one taking the ball out of Drake’s hands this year. The Dolphins are rebuilding and there isn’t much to trust on the squad for fantasy purposes but if there is one guy who you should be able to trust getting you some points it should be Drake, but we all know things can get wonky so will Drake be the guy we all imagine he should be in 2019?
Josh Jacobs OAK RB: Beastmode is retired (again), and the other new face brought into Oakland, Isaiah Crowell, is already out with a torn achilles, which means the Alabama rookie is the main man in the backfield for the Raiders. You had to figure he was the favorite for the majority of carries to begin with but without Crowell he’s a shoe in for those touches. Jalen Richard is second on the depth chart, and when it comes to rushing attempts he’s had fewer than 60 in back-to-back seasons and I don’t see him pumping that number up much, if at all. However, Richard will see plenty of targets in the passing game as he had 81 last season and a similar number isn’t far-fetched, while Jacobs never had more than 20 catches in any of his three collegiate years with The Tide. I won’t say he’s going to be the second coming of Beastmode, but as a rookie back I can see why he is the most hyped of this year’s class. The Raiders made some upgrades at wide receiver so defenses will need to stay honest with Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams on the outside, which should help the rookie Jacobs see some smaller boxes and give him better chance at success. Jacobs will have by the far the most opportunity among first-year backs, which should equate to plenty of fantasy points, but the Raiders could arguably be the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL right now, so will they use Jacobs they way they should or will a dominate personality like Antonio Brown take over the locker room and cause them to start throwing the ball more than necessary to keep him happy? The Raiders as a whole will be crazy TV, and we get to see it before the season on Hard Knocks and that will tell much of the story of 2019 before it’s even written.
Lamar Miller HOU RB: Over the last five seasons Miller has never finished outside of RB2 territory with his worst finish coming at RB23, while he’s had two seasons since 2014 which he finished inside the top 10 running backs. He’s put up over 1,100 yards from scrimmage each of the last five years, has had no fewer than 25 receptions including 30+ catches in four of the last five seasons, and has scored at least 6 touchdowns each of those five years as well. He’s averaged no fewer than 12PPG and has played 76 of the 80 games since 2014. He’s really got no competition behind him in Houston as D’Onta Foreman has just 90 total touches in two injury-plagued seasons, and the Texans are one of the best offenses in the league right now. Oh, and for all the numbers he posts year after year, Miller has never had a season of 300 touches, NEVER! He’s a bell cow that isn’t run into the ground like most. If Houston’s offensive line is even slightly improved in 2019, Miller could be in for a big season. He’s being drafted late in the 6th round, so for a guaranteed RB2 that’s excellent value. I don’t know if he will finish as RB4 or RB24, but I know Miller possesses more value than most realize or want to give him credit for. When it comes to intriguing how could you not be interested in a guy who has shown a ton of consistency while flying under the radar for the last half decade? Let’s see what this under-the-radar back can pump out this year!
David Montgomery CHI RB: The second rookie rusher to make this list, Montgomery was brought into Chicago to be the thunder to Tarik Cohen’s lightning. Montgomery started his final two years at Iowa State and put up some very strong numbers rushing for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore and 1,216 yards and 13 scores as a junior. He averaged over 4.4 yards per carry both seasons and now he will be looked at by the Bears to pound the ball down the throats of defenses. Could Montgomery be the new Jordan Howard for Chicago? Howard stood 5’9” and weighed in at 209lbs entering the NFL, while Montgomery is 5’9” weighing in at 222lbs. At the combine Howard ran his 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds, 16 bench reps, 34” vertical jump, and 122” broad jump. Montgomery was eerily similar; with a 4.62 dash time, 15 reps on the bench, 29” vertical leap, and 121” broad jump. Howard was able to rush for better than 1,100 yards and at least 6 scores each of his first two NFL seasons in Chicago while he still ran for 935 yards and 9 scores last year. Tarik Cohen will all-but-eliminate Montgomery from the passing game (Howard is a better pass-catcher than Montgomery) but is it unfeasible to think Montgomery can post a similar stat line as a rookie of that of Howards? (252 attempts for 1,313 yards and 6TDs). Howard ended his rookie season with 230 points and even if you cut his 29-298-1 receiving production in half, Montgomery would still be in line to finish as a high RB2 in 2019. The Bears are building a strong offense and Montgomery can be a major player in the success for 2019 and into the future. He’s definitely a guy you want to keep an eye on in training camp, preseason, and if you don’t scoop him up this year, in the regular season for future redraft leagues.
Davante Adams GB WR: What intrigues me about Adams isn’t his ability to score fantasy points. We all know he’s a top 3 wide out coming off the board this year, but the question is how great can he be? Adams had 169 targets last year, and this offseason Aaron Rodgers came out and said he wants to get Adams even more looks in 2019! The NFL record for targets in a season belongs to Rob Moore who hit 208 looks with the Cardinals back in 1997. Overall there has been 5 players to receive 200+ targets in a season; Rob Moore, Herman Moore had 206 in 1995, Marvin Harrison’s 205 came in 2002, Megatron did it for Detroit with 204 in 2012, and just a few years ago in 2015 Julio Jones posted 203 looks. Of those 5 seasons of 200+ targets, four of those wide outs ended up having top-ten receiving yard seasons; Calvin Johnson’s 1,964 is tops all-time, Julio’s 1,871 ranks 2nd, Harrison posted 1,722 good for 7th best, and Herman Moore sits on the list 10th with his 1,686. So can Adams join that elite group? It’s not impossible to think he could see 200 targets; he’d have to see 2 more targets per game to reach 200 and with how Rodgers slings the rock, it’s completely feasible. Adams is going to be a top wide out come years end, but how high up on the rankings will he finish? Can he be the top dog at the position come the end of 2019? Can Adams hit 200 targets? And can he join the elite top-ten receiving yard seasons of all-time? I don’t know but what I do know is Adams will being the cheddar week-in and week-out for your fantasy squad, and even if you don’t own him he’s still one of the most fun players to watch in 2019!
Amari Cooper DAL WR: If you know mw you know I am not the biggest Amari Cooper fan in the world, hell, I never have drafted him, and I can’t say I ever will but his stint with the Cowboys is going to be the peak of the mountain for Cooper. He is in a much better position with the Cowboys than he was with the Raiders and last year after he was traded to Dallas was proof of that. In 9 games as a Cowboy, Cooper had 53 grabs for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. As a member of the Raiders he NEVER had a 9-game stretch like he had with Dallas, I mean Cooper had just one full season in which he surpassed 6TDs with Oakland; when he scored 7 in 2017. Speaking of 2017, Cooper played 14 games that year and had a total of 48 grabs for 680 yards! So, is he in a better position in Dallas? By far, and it’s not even close. Cooper also helps Dak Prescott look better. Prescott had 9 games of 250+ yards and two games of 300+ yards in the 39 games he played without Cooper. After Amari arrived, Dak had four games of 250+ yards and two 300+ yard games (one over 400) in 9 games with Cooper as his main target. The Cowboys have one of the best offenses in the league with weapons everywhere, plus getting Jason Witten back and the addition of Randall Cobb will only help the passing game which means Cooper could be in line for a career-year in 2019. However, we’ve seen Cooper show some monster games, and some big games in a row, so will he be able to continue that hot start from last year in 2019 or will he go back to being the yo-yo he is in production? Eyes are always on the Cowboys, but with Amari there my eyes will be watching a lot more of Dallas this year.
N’Keal Harry NE WR: Tom Brady can make any wide out look like a Hall of Fame player, so is N’Keal Harry the next on that list? Harry was a beast at Arizona State where, in his final two years, he posted lines of 82-1,142-8 and 73-1,088-9. He isn’t a speedster but the dude is a big-bodied wide out who likes to bang with defensive backs and has excellent hands so he will be a major threat in the red zone and take over those Gronk opportunities with Rob in retirement. If Harry and Brady get on the same page early in training camp, Brady could really make Harry an extremely dangerous weapon. The Patriots don’t have a ton of big boys on the outside; Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett are the two listed about Harry on the depth chart and both sit at 5’10” and are across-the-middle and deep threats respectively. Where Gronkowski was good to get dirty and be a physical receiver that Brady liked to throw to, that is going to be Harry’s role in this offense. I know the Pats signed veteran, and former fantasy great, Demaryius Thomas this offseason but do I trust a 31-year old coming off achilles surgery? No, no I don’t. Not to mention Thomas’ numbers have been on the decline in each of the last five seasons. When it comes to putting my faith in a New England wide out not name Julian Edelman, Harry is the guy I am really interested in. I cannot wait to see how Belichick and Brady utilize their new weapon and if he can take the Gronk role for the Patriots this year, Harry will be in line for monstrous rookie debut!
James Washington PIT WR: Without Antonio Brown in town any more we all know the Steelers passing offense will be tweaked and look a little different in 2019. We all know about Juju Smith-Schuster becoming the team’s top option and with his talent and showing up the past two years, there isn’t much to worry about with him. We know tight end Vance McDonald (more on him later) will see an increased role after how he looked in 2018 and no more Brown. What we don’t know is what we will see out of the Steelers’ WR2 who is slated to be James Washington. Washington appeared in 12 games last season as a rookie out of Oklahoma State where he caught 16 of 38 targets for 217 yards and 1TD. He caught more than 2 passes in just two games last year, when he caught 3 in both weeks 15 & 17 (when Brown didn’t play), and those were the only two games of the year Washington went for more than 25 yards; he went for 65 and 64 respectively. In college, Washington had 1,075+ yards and 10+ touchdowns in each of his final three seasons and he caught better than 70 balls in each of his final two years. He’s got the tools to be a solid WR2 for Pittsburgh, the question is can he handle the coverage that comes with being a WR2? How will the chemistry be between Washington and Big Ben? Can Juju and Vance step up to help draw defenders off Washington to give him better match ups? Plenty of questions to be answered this year in Pittsburgh on the offensive side of the ball and if the Steelers are to make a run at the playoffs and beyond, Washington needs to show up and ball!
Tyrell Williams OAK WR: Speaking of new wide outs in Oakland, Brown isn’t the one who intrigues me. We basically know the whole story of Antonio Brown; although I am not touching him this year, that’s another story all together, the one who really intrigues me in the black and silver is Tyrell Williams. Williams move to the Bay from AFC west rivals the Chargers. While going from Philip Rivers to Derek Carr is a downgrade in my mind, he may have a stronger WR1 across from him in Antonio Brown compared to Keenan Allen whom lined up next to Williams in Los Angeles (and San Diego) the last four seasons. When Mike Williams was drafted by the Chargers in 2017, Tyrell Williams saw a big decrease in targets and production but when he was the true WR2 for Rivers, Tyrell saw a career-best year in 2016 with 69 grabs on 119 targets good for him only 1,000-yard season (1,059) and scoring 7 times. Williams finished as WR18 that year averaging just shy of 14PPG. Antonio Brown, Derek Carr, and rookie rusher Josh Jacobs seem to be getting all the attention in Oakland this offseason but I wouldn’t sleep on Williams. He might not be the flashiest name that moved to a new team but he is going to be one of the most interesting to watch and one of the guys who could really help your fantasy squad without spending a high draft pick.
Evan Engran NYG TE: The Giants offense outside of sophomore phenom Saquon Barkley is bland at best. An aged Golden Tate comes in this year, Sterling Shepard has shown flashes but tends to be hit-or-miss (in 43 career games he’s got 22 of double-digit points and 21 of fewer than 10), and after those guys who else can be trusted? It should be Evan Engram. The tight end for Big Blue had some injury troubles last year, but there is a solid chance he has a breakout season in 2019. In his first two seasons he’s averaging 67 grabs for 800 yards and 6 touchdowns, that’s 183 points per 16 games and that would have placed Engram as a top 6 tight end in four of the last five seasons. The Giants are on the rebuild, and that’s no secret, and Engram is an excellent piece for that so if, if, he can stay healthy this year I’d expect big things out of him. Then again if he does begin to blow up and the wide outs can’t roll coverage and do their jobs how would he respond to double teams or top-tier coverage that guys like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz have seen over the last few seasons? Watching Engram and his involvement in this offense is going to be interesting. There isn’t much to cheer for in terms of fantasy football for the G-Men, but could Engram be that guy? Only 2019 will tell.
Hunter Henry LAC TE: Henry missing the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL was a big blow as he was a name that was set to take the next step at the tight end position and possibly add his name to the likes of Kelce, Ertz, and Kittle, so can he do that in 2019? With the speed of ACL recovery these days and 2019 starting more than a year after he went down in camp, there is no reason why Henry can’t be an absolute monster on the field. He’s on one of the best offenses in the league with one of the best quarterbacks in the league (and arguably the best QB to not win a Super Bowl) in Philip Rivers throwing him the rock. Look at when Rivers had Antonio Gates in his prime; between the ages of 24-30 Gates caught at least 70 balls in five of seven seasons, had 900+ yards five times, and never scored fewer than 8TDs with three of those years hitting double-digit scores. He had averaged 14PPG or more in six of those seasons and had 17+ points per game three of those years. He was also targeted 90+ times in six of those seven years and got 100+ looks five times. Hunter Henry will be 24 entering the 2019 season. As a team last year the Chargers scored the 6th most points in the league and racked up the 11th most offensive yards, and that was without Hunter on the field at all and Melvin Gordon missing 4. Henry has accumulated 81 grabs for 1,057 yards and 12 touchdowns in 29 games played thus far, in Gates’ first 29 games he caught 98 passes for 1,304 yards and 14 scores. Henry has the tools to be Rivers’ new Gates and there is no reason he can’t start his dominance this year, just don’t miss it!
Vance McDonald PIT TE: Bye-bye Antonio! Adios Le’Veon! There is a new era of Steelers football being ushered in for 2019 and Vance McDonald is going to be a big part of it. Last year McDonald and Jesse James shared time at the position but as the year progressed it was all Vance. James had 5 or more targets just once after week two and after week 6 he had more than 3 targets just once, while McDonald saw 5+ targets in 9 weeks last year and he had more than 3 looks in 8 of the final 9 games of the season. Vance had career-highs across the board with his 50 grabs on 73 targets for 610 yards and 4 scores. Those numbers added up to 133 fantasy points and placed him 10th among tight ends to end the 2018 season. Now with Brown and Bell gone there will be a ton of targets to be distributed; the two of them combined for an average of 226 looks between 2015-2018 and that’s with Bell missing 26 games in that span so those targets are going somewhere, and yes Juju will get a big chunk and James Conner will see an extra 20 or so from 2018 if he plays a full 16 game slate so I can see McDonald boosting up to 100 looks from Big Ben this year. McDonald has averaged 9PPG in two of the last three seasons and that was coming in part way through the year with the Niners in 2016 and sharing time at the position with James last year. I think Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will be out to prove they don’t need Brown and Bell to be the same dominate offense and to do that they need big contributions out of everyone and I believe that Vance McDonald will really step up and play a big role in the Pittsburgh offense this year. Seeing the Steelers without two of the three killer B’s will be odd but if they can make a smooth transition they will still put up points each week for your fantasy squad and McDonald could be the best band-for-the-buck as far as points per ADP.
Delanie Walker TEN TE: As a lover of fantasy football it was really sad to see Walker go down last year and miss the entire season with a gruesome ankle injury. Since he joined the Titans in 2013, he’s finished as a top 12 tight end all five seasons and a top 5 tight end in three of those five. From 2014-2017 he was one of eight players, and the only tight end, to have at least 100 targets and 800 receiving yards each of those four seasons joining the likes of Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, A.J. Green, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Golden Tate, and Demaryius Thomas. That’s some damn impressive company for a tight end to be mentioned with. There is no denying Walker’s talent and how much he is relied on to make this Titans offense move, but what will he look like back on the field in 2019? An ACL or achilles tear would have been much scarier in terms of recovery time for a 35-year old but still a very serious lower leg issue could still hold him back from planting and rotating like he used to. What about the additions of A.J. Brown in the draft and Adam Humphries in free agency? Humphries could steal some of Walker’s normal between the 20’s targets while Brown might see some red zone looks that Walker could have seen. We know Marcus Mariota already has a connection with Walker and Delanie is a leader of this squad, so Walker coming back into the offense shouldn’t be an issue, but there are some factors that could hold Walker back from reaching those stellar numbers he had from 2014-2017.