Have A Money Draft
There are certain phrases that are way overused in all aspects of life, and in the fantasy football world two that always are thrown around like a football at your family reunion are “sleeper” and “bust.” What defines a sleeper or a bust? Technically can’t any player be both? What if you draft Alvin Kamara first overall with the hopes he can give you 300 point son the season and he goes off for a stupid 500, wouldn’t that make his numbers “sleeper-esque?” What if you draft Patrick Mahomes with the intentions of him giving you 400 points again but he only racks up 290 and finishes 3rd among quarterbacks instead of on top, could you argue that he had a “bust” of a year? So instead of listing players as either sleepers or busts I like to do things a little differently. I put these guys in three different categories: Overpaid, Undervalued, and Clearance. Overpaid are guys that will not perform up to where you draft them at, undervalued are guys I would take a chance on drafting slightly higher than their average draft position, and clearance are players you can scoop up late as a bench piece that could end up seeing your starting line up and contributing in a major way! Forget that old “sleeper” and “bust” crap and step into 2019 with the monster and take a gander at my “overpaid, undervalued, and clearance” players for this upcoming season!*
*I will update this list throughout the draft season adding names (highlighted in red) and adjusting ADP accordingly.
OVERPAID (Drafted Too High)
Patrick Mahomes QB KC (ADP 2.8): Mahomes lit up the league, and the fantasy scoreboard, last year to the tune of 415.1 points. It’s the best season by a QB, and 3rd best fantasy season we have ever seen behind only Steven Jackson’s 415.4 and LaDainian Tomlinson’s 472.3 both in 2006. Mahomes has already peaked in the NFL and the fantasy world, so he’s not passing those numbers. Can he get close? I don’t think so. His stats fell once Kareem Hunt was kicked off the team, now his star wide out Tyreek Hill is dealing with legal issues and if he misses any time I wouldn’t be shocked if Mahomes isn’t even a top 12 quarterback at the end of 2019. I never like to draft quarterbacks early as you can find a QB1 late (some of those names coming up later in this article) as 5 of the top 12 last year were taken in round 9 or later, including Mahomes at the end of the 10th. In reality Mahomes should still finish as a QB1, but if you waste a 2nd round pick instead of taking a stud back or wide out, then you are making a grave mistake.
Baker Mayfield QB CLE (ADP 7.7): Baker Mayfield played 14 games last year and ended the season at QB16 averaging just shy of 17PPG, so he should be much better in 2019 with the new weapons around him, right? Odell Beckham Jr. was a huge addition and theoretically should make Mayfield that much better, and maybe he will, but what if he’s not getting OBJ the ball enough? We’ve seen Beckham go nuts on the sideline before and it could happen again and that could mess with a young kids confidence and ability to make the best decisions on the field in a split second. While taking the risk on Baker in the 7th (6th quarterback off the board currently) is much better than wasting a 2nd round pick on a QB, you can still draft veterans who have consistently finished high in the fantasy rankings such as Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Big Ben, Philip Rivers, and even other young guns who have seen more and have arguably just as good an offense like Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, and Kurt Cousins. Don’t let all the Browns hype cloud your fantasy judgement.
Phillip Lindsay RB DEN (ADP 2.6): Lindsay came into the league as an undrafted rookie last year and took the Broncos backfield by the reigns, becoming the go-to guy for Denver. He finished the season playing 15 games, racking up 222 points (almost 15PPG), and ending as RB13. Not a bad season at all for a guy who wasn’t drafted into the NFL, let alone your fantasy leagues. So why is getting a guy who finished right on the edge of RB1 territory last year in the middle of round 2 in 2019 overpaying? Few reasons; first of all Lindsay is coming off wrist surgery. A surgery that some doctors say is not very easy to recover from being a ball carrier and if he doesn’t get that wrist back to 100% than holding onto the football may become an issue. Secondly, I am not a huge fan of the Broncos offense. They have a new coaching staff with a defensive-minded coach once again in Vic Fangio and new OC Rich Scangarello, who has never been an offensive coordinator before. Continuing with the potential offensive woes, the Broncos are missing their best weapon in Emmanuel Sanders as he recovers from a torn achilles and every other pass-catchers is in either their second or first season; lots of growing pains; plus a new QB in Joe Flacco and a rookie QB in Drew Lock who will be possibly called upon this year if the Broncos start off slow. Don’t forget about Royce Freeman, who is also in his second season in the backfield, and saw 144 touches in 2018 and will get his fair share once again. I don’t hate Lindsay with what he showed last season, but he is a guy I’m avoiding because most signs are pointing to him having a slower 2019 season and I can’t have my 2nd round pick not be a guaranteed stud.
Derrick Henry RB TEN (ADP 2.10): Out of everyone I am avoiding this year, Henry is at the top my list. The 2018 playoff golden child is getting huge hype, but why? He finished the year as RB16, but 93 of his 200 points, or 47% of his season points came in those three games with 48, or 24% coming in his historic week 14 performance of 238 yards and 4 scores. So why am I avoiding Henry like the plague? Well, L]last year Henry was being super hyped until the signing of Dion Lewis, but Henry still got drafted mid round 4 and before the fantasy playoffs Henry had just 3 games of 11 with double-digit points, and just once going over 15 points. In fact, in his three NFL seasons Henry has appeared in 46 games and has had more than 15 points on just 9 occasions and of those 9 games 5 came in the fantasy playoffs. In addition, Henry was held to fewer than 8 points in 27 games! So in over 50% of his games he’s scored you 7 or fewer points and just 19% of games he’s posted more than 15. I am not drafting a guy round two who could potentially go off in the playoffs. If he’s useless the majority of the season, who’s to say you make the playoffs to begin with? Let someone else waste an early pick, get pissed at Henry’s lack of production to start the year, then grab-and-stash him if you’re playoff bound and THEN you can be excited for the only time of year Henry seems to show up.
Tevin Coleman RB SF (ADP 5.5): If Coleman was the man in San Francisco I would have no issues snagging him in the 5th round, but there is a lot going on in the 49ers backfield and there is no reason to believe that Coleman is going to be the man, or even produce the points of a RB2 or weekly flex player. Coleman has had some big weeks in Atlanta even with Devonta Freeman around, but he has never been the model of consistency. In the last three seasons has had just two such streaks of 12+ points in three or more weeks; weeks 1-3 in 2016 and weeks 10-12 in 2017. Last year without Freeman in the line up Coleman failed to hit three starlight weeks of 12 or more points, and while he had double-digit points in 11 weeks last year he went over 12 points just four times and in the playoffs he was held to 5 or fewer points in two of those three weeks. I’m not hating on Coleman but when you can get Lamar Miller, Latavius Murray, and Austin Ekeler a round or two later, or even guys like rookie David Montgomery, C.J. Anderson, and T.J. Yeldon much, much later. You can even scoop up Coleman’s teammates Jerick McKinnon or Matt Breida a round or two later than Tevin. You could also focus on RB early and snag guys like Alshon Jeffery, Jared Cook, Will Fuller, Robbie Anderson, Corey Davis, or Marvin Jones later than Coleman. He has potential to produce some big days, but get major studs early at the position and get an army of wide outs mid rounds!
Antonio Brown WR OAK (ADP 2.3): I have expressed my distaste for Brown’s fantasy upside this season several times so why the hell would I waste a 2nd round pick on him? I know compared to previous years getting him any time in round two is major value in some people’s eyes but I personally don’t trust Brown this year moving to Oakland. He goes from one of the best run organization in Pittsburgh to a clown car operation in Oakland. He goes from one of the best offenses in the league with one of the best QBs running it to an offense that’s rebuilding and trying to find an identity with a quarterback who may not be on the team when the Raiders move to Las Vegas next season. There are plenty of elite wide outs that are being drafted after Brown and I’d take them gladly over AB; A.J. Green, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Mike Evans, and Keenan Allen; not to mention Amari Cooper, T.Y. Hilton, and Brandin Cooks are all coming off the board at least a round after Brown and all are on better offenses with more structure. I don’t hate Brown, but I sure as hell don’t want anything to do with him given the circumstances that arose for him this offseason.
T.Y. Hilton WR IND (ADP 3.3): Hilton is on one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, so this is no disrespect to him or Andrew Luck or the Colts, but plenty says to me Hilton isn’t the best pick at the top of round three. We know he has big-play ability as he has shown throughout his career, but it’s hit and miss. Did you know Hilton has never finished as a WR1 in back-to-back seasons his entire career? Since entering the league in 2012 here is how he’s finished; WR31, WR18, WR12, WR22, WR5, WR27, WR14. Outside of his monster 2016 campaign he is basically a strong WR2 most and when guys like Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen; who both finished as WR1’s last year and both have finished higher than Hilton in both 2017 and 2018, are being drafted after Hilton, I’m fine waiting on receivers like that who produce consistently and don’t need to rely on home run plays to really produce big week in and week out for you.
Jarvis Landry WR CLE (ADP 4.3): The hype train for the Browns offense has been on the fast track since the day Cleveland made a deal to land OBJ, but should we pump the breaks? When it comes to Jarvis Landry I’m definitely slowing down on his ADP, because early round 4 for a guy who seemed to struggle last year is too rich for my blood. Landry had career-lows in receptions (81) and touchdowns (4) while he still accumulated the 3rd most targets (148) in his career. His 976 yards were his 2nd worst and fewest since his rookie season in 2014. He had 5 games of single-digit points in 2018 while he had just six such games in 2016 and 2017 combined. His monster weeks got reduced big time as well with his move to Cleveland, with just 6 games of 15+ points last year compared to 11 in 2017; he had just one instance of back-to-back games of 15+ last year while he had three such streaks of two or more games of 15 or more in 2017. I know Landry was the main man last year with a rookie QB, and the combination of Odell and another year of experience for Baker should help Landry, but am I using a 4th round pick on Landry? Not at all. If he slides a round or two deeper I am in, but not in the 4th, not for me.
Will Fuller WR HOU (ADP 5.7): Fuller has a fantastic connection with Deshaun Watson, and the man seems to have a nose for finding the end zone as he’s scored 11 times on 60 receptions over the last two seasons. He’s posted 15+ points in 7 of his last 17 games, going for over 20 in six of those. We know Fuller has big-play potential and the Texans offense is one of the best and youngest in the league, but why is Fuller going too early for me this year? Well, when he doesn’t have Watson on the field, or doesn’t score 15+ points he does pretty much nothing. In the 10 games he hasn’t scored at least 15 over the last two seasons, he’s gone for double-digits just twice while averaging just over 6PPG. He also needs to find the end zone for his day to impact you in a big way, his receptions and yardage won’t do it on their own. Fuller has just six games of 5 or more receptions since 2017 and he has just seven games of 50+ yards. Finally is the fact he’s only played 17 games the last two seasons combined. Fuller has played fewer and fewer games as the years have gone by; from 14 to 10 to 7. So when I can get guys like Robby Anderson or Marvin Jones a round (or three) later than Fuller who is on the field more and isn’t touchdown dependent, or even guys like Allen Robinson or Corey Davis who are more consistent than Fuller, I just can’t justify taking Fuller where he is going.
Eric Ebron TE IND (ADP 4.6): You can get the full scope of my “anti-Ebron” mentality on my piece about Erbon in the “Call me Crazy” section of the site (click here for the link), but how about a quick fun fact about Erbon to show why his 4th round draft status is just stupid. Last year Ebron caught 12 of 22 targets and scored 11 of his 13 touchdowns in the red zone, but that won’t happen in 2019, especially with the addition of Devin Funchess to the roster; but more on him later. Just listen when I tell you this … AVOID ERIC EBRON IN 2019!!!
O.J. Howard TE TB (ADP 4.8): I have been a fan of Howard since he joined the Buccaneers and the NFL in 2017. He’s a big-bodied target who has a knack for finding the end zone as he’s scored 11 times on 60 catches in 23 games; that’s a TD once every other game or one score every six grabs. The issue with Howard is multiple things, starting with Cameron Brate. Jameis Winston has two very, very talented tight ends to look for (not to mention Mike Evans) and Brate and Howard have gone back and forth on who’s the tight end to own in Tampa. Brate outshined Howard in 2017 while O.J. got the better of Cameron last season. Second is Howard’s inability to finish a season. He missed three games as a rookie in 2017 and missed six contests last year, if he’s not on the field he’s not scoring points for your fantasy team. Third is upside. Howard has a ton of upside, but so do a bunch of other tight ends who are being drafted way later than O.J. on much better offenses I trust such as Hunter Henry (round 6), Jared Cook (round 6), Vance McDonald (round 7), Austin Hooper (round 10), Jimmy Graham (round 11), and Kyle Rudolph (round 12). I like Howard, but not enough to use my 4th round pick on him.
UNDERVALUED (Guys To Target Early)
Carson Wentz QB PHI (ADP 8.8): We found out recently that Wentz will be cleared for full practice this offseason from his back issues last year and we should see the return of the MVP caliber Wentz who lead the Eagles to the playoffs in 2017 before he tore his ACL and missed the magical Super Bowl run. He has arguably the best tight end in Zach Ertz, a great wide out in Alshon Jeffery, and finally a deep threat in DeSean Jackson who should be doing all he can being back him in front of the fans who love his big-play ability. Philadelphia has one of the best offensive lines in the league and a group of running backs that can pound it, catch it, and rip off chunks of yards to keep defenses as honest as any other offense in the NFL. Wentz coming off the board deep in the 8th round as QB11 is insane value for a guy who was on pace for 336 points, just 7 shy of QB1 Russell Wilson, in 2017 and would have been the leagues MVP. Build a solid roster and get a quarterback in Wentz who can score with the best at the position, you can nab him later than Mayfield and if you reach into the 7th you’re getting a better option than the QB in Cleveland.
Ben Roethlisgerber QB PIT (ADP 10.7): No Antonio Brown, no Le’Veon Bell, no problem! Roethlisberger has performed without both of them before, and he will continue to do so. I trust the position the Steelers will put Big Ben in before I trust the Raiders and Brown. Last year Roethlisberger posted career numbers across the board including his first 5,000-yard season and just his 3rd year of 30+ touchdown passes, his first since 2014. He’s averaged better than 17 points in 8 of the last 10 years and was held under 16PPG just once since 2009, and Roethlisberger has finished as a QB1 in 4 of the last 6 years. Will he be as good without Brown? No, but the talent around him in Juju Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald, and James Conner, Big Ben should be in line for another big year. As the 13th QB off the board there is tremendous value for Big Ben owners in 2019.
Kirk Cousins QB MIN (ADP 10.10): Cousins is entering year two as a Viking; year one was pretty damn good to him and the Minnesota offense, and this season should be even better. He’s got the same tremendous talent around him in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen on the outside with Kyle Rudolph going up the seam, but if Dalvin Cook can stay healthy that adds another layer to this offense, and the offensive line has to be improved with their pass blocking as they were a bottom 3 unit last year, which all means Cousins should be in for an even better 2019. Last year Cousins posted a career-high with his 70% completion rate and his 30 passing scores, plus his 10 picks were the fewest since he became a starter in 2015. He has 4,000+ yards and 25+ passing scores while averaging no fewer than 17PPG in any of the last four seasons. He’s coming off the board as the 12th QB and he finished last year at QB13 but has been QB9, QB5, and QB5 in 2015, 2016, and 2017. He’s got the tools, he’s got the history of high finishes, and he will have a better offense this season and be more comfortable with his teammates which means you could be getting a top 5 quarterback at the end of round 10; well worth the wait!
Aaron Jones RB GB (ADP 3.5): Last year Aaron Jones was suspended the first two games of the season and missed the final three, but in the 11 games he played managed to end as RB24 averaging over 15PPG. If you take those numbers over a full 16 game slate he would have been RB9. He posted 15+ points in 7 of the 12 games he played and any game he got double-digit carries he scored no fewer than 9 points! In the passing game he had multiple catches in 9 different games and he hauled in 26 of his 35 targets. He’s the clear-cut number one in the Packers backfield, and with a new offense coming to Green Bay this year, the Packers could be even more dangerous than the last few season when Mike McCarthy was in charge. A refreshed Aaron Rodgers spells trouble for opposing defenses and if they get concerned about the passing game (which I believe they will), watch out for Jones to tear it up! Jones is going mid 3rd round right now, but taking him at the top of the third is a great idea for a solid RB2 who has ever tool to be a stud back in 2019.
Devonta Freeman RB ATL (ADP 4.3): Freeman was basically out the entirety of 2018; his 19 touches in 2 partial games are virtually nothing, so I expect a big comeback in 2019. Not only do the Falcons have one of the best offenses in the NFL, but with Tevin Coleman now in San Francisco, Freeman is going to be a one-man wrecking crew; and don’t give me this Ito Smith nonsense, he had 4 games of 10+ points last year and never went over 13 points while appearing in 13 games. In his last three seasons Freeman has finished as RB1, RB6, and RB13 so the odds of getting a top 12 back in the 4th round are pretty high and the potential of getting a top 5 back in Freeman is not as far-fetched as some may think. He’s averaged better than 14PPG every year from 2015-2017, has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons and two 13+ total touchdown seasons in that span. He’s got the tools, the experience, the offense, and he should be fresh as hell entering 2019. If he stays healthy this season, Freeman should be one of the best pick ups in your draft.
Mark Ingram RB BAL (ADP 4.6): Ingram needed to leave New Orleans to get out of Alvin Kamara’s shadow and show what he can do as the man, and Baltimore is giving Ingram that opportunity. Since 2014 Ingram has averaged better than 14PPG in four of those five seasons, has over 1,000 scrimmage yards in four of five, two 1,000-yard rushing efforts, and double-digit touchdowns in two of the last three years. From 2015-2017 Ingram finished as RB12, RB8, and RB6, and while his RB32 last year was a disappointment but he would have finished as RB18 if he didn’t miss the first four games due to suspension. Ingram is joining a Ravens team that rushed the ball more last year (49.6% of the time) than all but two teams (Seattle and Tennessee). Yes, Lamar Jackson has feet and will use them, but the coaching staff will work on his passing and if he gets more comfortable in the pocket and the passing game that’s more touches for Ingram and without Kamara sharing the field with him, Marky Mark should be back to close to top 10 running back numbers once again in 2019. Also, Ingram is turning 30 this December so get him in what could be the last year he has elite-ish numbers!
Chris Godwin WR TB (ADP 4.4): Godwin is a name that has been highly debated already this offseason. It seems like you’re either all in or all out on the Buccaneers receiver, but I’m on the side that says take him! Godwin finished as WR27 last year, but his former teammate Adam Humphries (more on him later) finished at WR24 and now he’s gone to Tennessee, Godwin will have plenty more opportunity in the Bruce Arians-led Bucs. Arians was the head coach in Arizona from 2013-2017 and Larry Fitzgerald had some of his best season with Arians at the helm and I can see Godwin being Fitzgerald-esqu, no he isn’t Larry I’m just saying he could be a similar role in the Arians offense. Last year, Godwin had 8 games of double-digit points last season, that’s as many as Amari Cooper who’s going 14 picks before Godwin this year. I like the new coaching staff in Tampa, I like the talent around Godwin to help him achieve his maximum potential, I just really like Godwin this year. He’s worth the leap of faith if you ask me.
A.J. Green WR CIN (ADP 3.11): You can build up your running back corps with two studs, or snag a difference making tight end like Kelce or Ertz to pair with a stud back and still get Green in the 3rd?!? You’d be an absolute moron to pass a deal like this up! If you need justification on taking A.J. Green in the 3rd round, then I can’t get through to you on any fantasy football topic. Don’t overthink this one, if Green is sitting there in the 3rd; DO NOT PASS HIM UP!
Tyler Lockett WR SEA (ADP 5.1): Even before Doug Baldwin retired I was big on the Lockett train, and without Baldwin there I’m still on board. Lockett was a magnet for the end zone last year scoring ten times; only Antonio Brown, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and DeAndre Hopkins scored more at the wide out position in 2018. Lockett not only can find pay dirt, but he has improved his catch rate the last three seasons, culminating with a career-high 81% (57 for 70) last season. He makes big, big plays as he finished as WR16 and was the only wide out in the top 25 to have fewer than 60 catches and just one of two receivers to finish ing the top 45 to have fewer than 75 targets. He is still searching for his first 1,000-yard season, but it’s coming in 2019, book it! Russell Wilson is an absolute animal at QB and when Baldwin was his main target he produced some monster numbers, averaging 83 grabs for 1,063 yards and 10 scores between 2015-2017. Lockett is next up to be the man that benefits from Wilson throwing to him and if rookie D.K. Metcalf and sophomore David Moore can at least keep defenses honest on the opposite side of the field, watch how high Lockett can soar in the Pacific northwest in 2019.
Devin Funchess WR IND (ADP 8.11): I’ve already heard plenty of people say Funchess is garbage, it doesn’t matter where he plays, Andrew Luck targets his tight ends too much so Funchess’ red zone presence will be diminished; I say hogwash! Look, I don’t expect Funchess to be a top-tier wide out by any means, but finishing as a low WR2 isn’t unfathomable for a guy of his size on an offense that’s going to score a ton of points with Andrew Luck throwing him the football. Funchess has averaged over 10PPG over the past two seasons combined (12 per contest in 2017 and 9 per in 2018) and he’s scored 12 times since the start of 2017; that’s more trips to the end zone than new teammate T.Y. Hilton (10), Odell Beckham Jr. (9), Julio Jones (11), and Robert Woods (11). He’s not going to be a WR1, but if you get a solid red zone target on an offense that should be scoring plenty each week, why wouldn’t you take a chance for a guy like that in the 8th round or even scoop him late 7th? Remember how much Eric Ebron scored last year? That will be Funchess this season for the Colts.
Zach Ertz TE PHI (ADP 2.12): Ertz is the second tight end coming off the board in 2019, but argument can be made he should be off before Travis Kelce and possibly ahead of some top-tier wide receivers. The biggest factor in this argument is Carson Wentz. Wentz is back from back-to-back injury plagued seasons and will finally be 100% and the biggest benefactor of that is Ertz. He’s Wentz’s go-to option all the time. Since Wentz came into the league in 2016, Ertz has 296 targets, hauling in 217 of those (a 73% catch rate) for 2,353 yards and 11 touchdowns in 36 games. That equates to over 14PPG (14.4). In 55 games without Wentz, Ertz has caught 219 of his 333 targets (66% catches rate) for 2,524 yards and 12 scores, or just shy of 10PPG (9.8). If Wentz stays healthy, Ertz will be the best tight end in football and one of the best pass-catchers overall so spending a high 2nd round pick on him is worth it; he will produce WR1 numbers at the tight end position (he would have been WR10 last year with his 280 points).
Jared Cook TE NO (ADP 6.2): Cook had a monster 2018 with his first 100-target season (101) in which he caught 68 balls for 896 yards and 6 scores – all career-highs which led to just over 12PPG. Oh, and he did that with Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders. Now Cook is moving on to greener, or should I say golder pastures in New Orleans as a member of the Saints. He’s got one of the best quarterbacks to every play the game in Drew Brees, with a stud head coach Sean Payton who puts his players in positions to excel and put up career-numbers. There is also guys like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara who demand so much attention, Cook will see more open looks in 2019 than he ever has. I mean Brees has gotten Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson to have their best years in the NFL with him at the helm, so why couldn’t Cook do the same? HIs ADP at the top of the 6th round is insanely low for the guy who finished at TE5 last season. I mean, would you rather have OBJ and Cook or Kelce and Allen Robinson? That isn’t a tough decision at all in my eyes.
CLEARANCE (Late Round Contributors)
Philip Rivers QB LAC (ADP 11.2): I don’t know what Rivers has to do to get the respect of a top 10 quarterback but the fact he’s always overlooked during draft day only makes me smile each and every season. He’s averaged better than 16PPG each of the last six seasons; only one of four QBs to accomplish that (Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, and Drew Brees) with only Brees having more passing yards and touchdowns than the 26,765 and 185 that Rivers has posted since the start of 2013. He’s finished as QB4, QB12, QB12, QB11, and QB14 over the last 6 seasons and he’s never been drafted before the 9th round in any of those seasons! You can try and give me an argument against Rivers, but you’d be wrong. Load up your roster and bench and scoop up Rivers late and be happy as hell that you have a top QB drafted in a round where most of your league mates are wasting picks on defenses and probably some kickers, hahaha, suckers!
Sam Darnold QB NYJ (ADP 14.8): Darnold is a very intriguing late-round quarterback for me this year. As a rookie he averaged 13PPG in 13 games played and he is just the 6th rookie quarterback in the last 5 years to pass for at least 2,800 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first NFL season. While his numbers weren’t staggering, finishing as QB27, I believe he will be on a much better path in 2019. He’s got a year of NFL game speed and what to look for out of defenses under his belt. He’s got an offensive-minded coach in Adam Gase at the helm, and a better offense in general with a stud back in Le’Veon Bell behind him which will open more passing lanes. And speaking of those passing lanes, new slot receiver Jamison Crowder will be another big piece to help Darnold out of tough situations. I’m not drafting Darnold as my QB1 unless I am in a super deep league (14+ teams) or 2QB league, but stashing him on your bench (if it’s deep enough) isn’t a bad plan; if not keep an eye on him on the waiver wire in case he starts getting hot. I can see him taking a big step forward, and even if he ups his output by 15% and plays a full 16 games he be putting up just over 4,000 yards and 24 touchdowns which would put him in high-to-mid QB2 territory which is a step up from QB3 where he ended 2018.
C.J. Anderson RB DET (ADP 13.10): Anderson was a monster the last two weeks of 2018 with Todd Gurley injured racking up 23 and 24 points respectively in his final two games of the year (and another 24 point performance in divisional round of the playoffs). Before joining the Rams in 2018, he racked up a 1,000-yard season in 2017 with the Denver Broncos, and has averaged double-digit points in three of his last five years. Now Anderson is signed with Detroit and I like where he landed. Kerryon Johnson is still listed as the team’s top back, and he showed flashes last season as a rookie, but he missed six games and guys like Zach Zenner and LeGarrette Blount combined for four double-digit point games in the final six without Johnson. Now Anderson is in town and you better believe he will get touches throughout the year, and if Johnson goes down, C.J. will be getting you points on points. For a deep bench draft pick, the risk on Anderson is worth every penny spent.
Chris Thompson RB WSH (ADP 17.1): If Thompson can stay on the field he could arguably be the most valuable PPR running back pick of the season. I know everyone is clamoring over Darrius Guice making his NFL debut this year and the future Hall of Famer Adrain Peterson is ahead of Thompson on the depth chart, but damn can Thompson catch and make things happen in the passing game with the best running backs in the league. He’s missed 12 games the last two seasons but still averaged over 12PPG since the start of 2017. In the 20 games he’s appeared in since the start of 2017, Thompson has posted double-digit points ten times and has gone for 15 or better in 8 of those 10. Since 2017 Thompson has 4 games of 70+ receiving yards, and only six backs have more such games but all six (Tarik Cohen, Todd Gurley, Duke Johnson, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, and James White) played at least 9 more games than Thompson. With his explosive potential on an offense that needs a spark plug, getting Thompson later than most leagues draft defenses and kickers, you’d be a moron to pass on him in PPR formats.
T.J. Yeldon RB BUF (ADP 14.3): As primarily a backup in Jacksonville, Yeldon has moved up north to Buffalo and should see a lot more touches and usage compared to his Jaguars days. Yes, the Bills still have LeSean McCoy and singed the ageless Frank Gore this offseason as well; both of whom are listed above Yeldon on the team’s depth chart, but Yeldon is the back I want from the Bills. He’s averaged 9 or more points all four NFL seasons, including 12+ points last year and as a rookie in 2015. He has already shown he can be a big time player in the passing game, catching 50+ balls in two of the last three years and he’s rushed for over 400 yards in three of his four seasons and he’s only had more than 130 rushing attempts once; 182 as a rookie when he posted 740 on the ground. Shady McCoy has been slipping ever since he came to Buffalo, not to mention he’s 31 before the year begins, and Frank Gore’s stats have been sliding each of the last three years to go along with his 36-year-old body. Why scoop up Shady in the 7th or 8th when you can snag Yeldon in the 14th and have the best Bills back on your squad!
Geronimo Allison WR GB (ADP 10.1): We all know that Davante Adams will be off the board faster than you can say “cheesehead,” so if you can’t get your hands on Adams don’t get discouraged, get Allison! After he suffered what sounded like one of the most uncomfortable groin injuries that could be suffered, he missed the final 11 games of the year but in the 5 he played Allison was a beast. He caught 20 of 30 targets for 303 yards and 2 scores. If you extrapolate that over a full 16 game season Allison would have posted 64-970-6 or 197 points that would have ranked him in low WR2 territory. New head coach Matt LaFluer has a knack for helping a lot wide out flourish, just ask Mohamed Sanu or Cooper Kupp. If Allison can come close to Kupp territory you won’t find a better pick in the 10th round!
DeSean Jackson WR PHI (ADP 11.3): Welcome back DJax! The man notorious for getting Philly fans in a frenzy is back in midnight green and is going to give the newly extended Carson Wentz a legit deep threat for the first time in his career. I know Jackson isn’t the young gun he was when he played in Philadelphia from 2008-2013, but he had his best seasons there because he played with the best offense of his career; and this Eagles offense is better than the McNabb days. Jackson had 900+ yards in 5 of 6 seasons with he Eagles including 3 of 1,000+ yards and never going under 700 yards while averaging 1,019 yards per season; he had just two 1,000-yard seasons in five years away from the Birds, was held under 700 yards twice and averaged just 828 yards. He scored 6+ touchdowns in three of six Eagles seasons, and had just one season of 6+ (6 with the Redskins in 2014) away from Philly. I said before I know Jackson isn’t his young self now, but he will be reinvigorated and rejuvenated coming home to where he was loved by fans and fantasy players alike. 2019 will see DJax have his best season since 2013 when he averaged just shy of 17PPG, and for a mid-level bench player, he’s worth the chance late in your draft.
Adam Humphries WR TEN (ADP 14.6): Humphries had a career-year in 2018 and thanks to his 76 grabs for 816 yards and 5 scores he finished at WR24 averaging almost 12PPG. He has had no fewer than 83 targets and at least 55 grabs and 620 yards each of the last three years while averaging no fewer than 8PPG. The downfall for Humphries was competing for looks with ball-hog Mike Evans plus O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate and other receivers over those three seasons like Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin. Now Humphries is in Tennessee, and besides Corey Davis shouldn’t have a ton of competition for targets. Rookie A.J. Brown is listed as the Titans WR2 but Humphries in the slot will see a ton of looks from Marcus Mariota. Humphries is also a big red zone threat as he had 17 targets inside the 20 last year, that was as many as Julio Jones and T.Y. Hilton and more than Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen, Kenny Golladay, and former teammate Mike Evans. When you’re down to the end of the draft and looking for solid bench fillers with a ton of upside, Humphries is one of the first guys I’m targeting.
Austin Hooper TE ATL (ADP 10.9): Last year Hooper was the 16th tight end off the board in round 13 and he finished the season as TE6 being one of nine tight ends to finish the year averaging double-digit points and appearing in at least 10 games (he averaged 10PPG while playing all 16 in 2018). Hooper is going as the 11th tight end off the board late in the 10th round this year, so while he moved up this season he needs to be going much higher so if you wait on a tight end and can scoop up Hooper this late it is well worth the wait! Hooper has seen an increase in targets each of his 3 NFL seasons (27 to 65 to 88) which he led to more catches, yards, and scores. He also has caught no fewer than 70% of targets in any season and his 80.7% catch rate was tops among tight ends in 2018 while his 4.4 catches per contest ranked him 4th behind only Ertz, Kelce, and Kittle. Guys like Eric Ebron and David Njoku are going in the 4th and 6th round respectively and both will be worse than Hooper this year, and it won’t be close as they will lose looks to new targets. If you strategize to wait on tight end make Hooper one of the guys you grab and be happy you have deep bench talent in case of injury or for trade bait and let Hooper tear it up at the tight end position for you.
Jimmy Graham TE GB (ADP 11.7): I know, I know, Graham was a monster let down last season and I feel your pain as he was the tight end i targeted in every draft and ti came back in most to bite me in the ass, but year two in Green Bay will be a much, much better year for Jimmy G. In his stints in New Orleans and Seattle, Graham posted his best statistical seasons in year two. His most catches and yards (99 for 1,310) in New Orleans and in Seattle (65 for 923) both came in his 2nd season with those teams. While he didn’t score his most touchdowns in those season he still averaged 9TDs in year two with teams. Graham’s numbers in Green Bay year one were nearly identical to those he had in Seattle year one; 55-636-2 with the Packers vs. 48-605-2 with the Hawks. Graham finished as TE4 in year two with Seattle so if he can get in the ballpark of his 65-923-6 with the Pack this season he is primed for a top 5 finish once again, and while Russell Wilson is a great QB, Aaron Rodgers is a better passer which means the upside for Jimmy in year two in the green and gold is higher than with Seattle so seeing him hit 1,000 yards for the first time since 2013 is not out of the question. Graham and the Packers offense have improved written all over them this season, and getting Graham in the 11th is a steal.
Noah Fant TE DEN (ADP 13.2): I like taking a late round flier on the rookie out of Iowa because mostly I don’t trust any pass-catchers for the Broncos when the season gets rolling. Emmanuel Sanders is recovering from a torn achilles and, while the trainers say he is ahead of schedule, a 32-year old wide out coming off an injury that serious will take time to get back on the field at full speed. Phillip Lindsay is also coming off an injury, his wrist, so will he be able to catch as proficiently as he did as a rookie in 2018? Do you really trust Courtland Sutton to scare defenses if Sanders isn’t ready to go by week 1? The Broncos have plenty of offensive question marks but I like Fact as a huge red zone threat. He’s built for balling with the big boys inside the 20 with his 6’4” 249lb frame, and in college his bread-and-butter was finding the end zone as he scored 18 total times in his final two season on 69 grabs; that’s a score once every four catches, not to mention racking up 500 yards on aver those seasons as well. I wouldn’t draft him as my TE1, but he will make a nice bench piece, and if he start scoring you could chance using him and selling off your top tight end to the highest bidder for another necessary piece you need like a stud back or wide out. For a pick where defenses and kickers go, Fant is worth the chance.
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