How many times have you come into your keeper league draft, only to realize that someone in your league was already keeping a player who shot up draft boards during the offseason? While you may be cursing, saying they just lucked into a great keeper, but there’s more to it than that. You may not know it, but there’s a level of strategy to use, and it’s one that you’re going to use this year. Why? Because you’re here reading this article.
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As we head into 2019, some players are going to remain stagnant in the same situation, others will be bumped up the depth chart due to injury, but the players we’ll discuss here don’t fall into those categories. These are players who are likely to be in a different situation next year. Whether it be with a new team or the current starter is going to be elsewhere, these players should have plenty of opportunity to shine in 2019, giving you an opportunity to stash them at the end of your bench and get a great value in next year’s keeper league.
Baker Mayfield (CLE)
He’s someone you should really think about rostering if your league allows you to keep someone based on where they were drafted the previous year. Mayfield has top-five upside written all over him and has an elite group of pass-catchers at his disposal. You shouldn’t expect to get too many starts out of him this year, but Mayfield is going to be in the QB1 discussion for years to come. I’ve compared him to a Russell Wilson-type quarterback and Tyrod Taylor is on a one-year deal.
Lamar Jackson (BAL)
I’ve been on record saying that I don’t see any way Jackson starts over a healthy Joe Flacco until the Ravens are eliminated from the playoff picture, which almost never happens. Jackson is going to need a creative offensive coordinator, which is something that I believe changes with the Ravens in 2019. He’s a bit risky because Flacco is almost guaranteed on the roster in 2019, as he’d cost them $16 million in dead cap if they were to release him. Still, they didn’t draft Jackson to sit for three years.
Tevin Coleman (ATL)
You already know his name and he’s not someone who you’ll get at the end of your draft, but he’s someone who should be a lead back for some team in 2019. He’s a free agent after this season and the Falcons have already paid Devonta Freeman big money to remain the centerpiece. Coleman has shown big-play ability and delivered RB1 numbers with Freeman out of the lineup, likely making him a steal in keeper leagues next year.
Nick Chubb (CLE)
Similar to Baker Mayfield, Chubb isn’t going to start in 2018. The idea is buying him before it’s the cool thing to do. Carlos Hyde was given essentially what looks to be a one-year deal with the team, while Chubb learns the ropes in the NFL. Believe it or not, getting yourself assets tied to the Browns offense in the coming season(s) is a good thing. Chubb will be the Browns starting running back in 2019 and will likely cost a pick in the top three rounds.
D’Onta Foreman (HOU)
While there were rumors that the Texans may cut Lamar Miller this offseason, that was never going to happen with Foreman trying to recover from a ruptured Achilles. He’s likely going to start the season on the PUP list, but if he returns to the player he was, expect the Texans to cut Miller next offseason, as it would cost them just $1 million in dead cap space.
Elijah McGuire (NYJ)
With Bilal Powell playing out the final year in his contract, McGuire could take on a big role next season. Keep in mind that I’m not a fan of Isaiah Crowell as a starting running back, so I’m projecting McGuire to earn the job. Over the offseason, the Jets running backs coach referred to McGuire as someone “like LaDanian Tomlinson.” That’s obviously a stretch, but it just goes to show how highly they think of him. His broken foot in training camp means he’ll go undrafted, but snagging him off waivers at some point wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Honorable mention: James Conner (PIT) should Le’Veon Bell walk in free agency.
Christian Kirk (ARI)
While the Cardinals continue to say that Kirk is going to start in his rookie season, he’s not built to play on the perimeter and will eventually take Larry Fitzgerald‘s slot role. You should know that Fitzgerald is on a one-year deal and will likely retire at the end of the season. Kirk’s going to be tied to a healthy Sam Bradford or a young and talented Josh Rosen in 2019 as the No. 1 option.
Courtland Sutton (WR)
Most don’t realize that the Broncos are going to look like an entirely different offense in 2019, as both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will be gone (cap number is astronomical for both of them, with minimal penalty to cut). It’s the reason the Broncos have used three picks inside the top four rounds on wide receivers the last two years. Sutton’s comparison to some analysts was Thomas, so it makes sense they’d want him as a replacement. Reports out of training camp suggest that Sutton will force his way onto the field in year one, though he won’t be a fantasy option until 2019.
Mike Williams (WR)
After having his rookie year thrown away due to injuries, Williams has had a great offseason and has reportedly turned into Philip Rivers‘ go-to target in the red zone. You can argue that Williams is going to be a starter in 2018, but if you’re able to snag him for a late-round pick this year, he could turn into a sneaky top-20 wide receiver keeper next season.
Anthony Miller (WR)
Another wide receiver who is going to have appeal in 2018, but people will be viewing him as a clear-cut starter in 2019. After visiting Bears camp this offseason, all I walked away talking about was how impressive this young man looked. He’s going to start in the slot for the Bears from the get-go and if for whatever reason Allen Robinson can’t return to his old-self, Miller could be a fantasy superstar that you’ll keep for years to come.
J’Mon Moore (GB)
It’s something I will continually do in dynasty formats, so why not do the same in keeper leagues? Draft wide receivers tied to Aaron Rodgers. I’ve done it with Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, and Geronimo Allison over the years and it’s paid off. While Moore may get some opportunity to play in 2018, he’s not starting for them. He was considered a developmental player who shines in certain areas. If he can impress over the next year, he could be walking into a starting role when Cobb is gone in 2019.
Michael Gallup (DAL)
He caught a touchdown in the preseason opener, but Gallup isn’t listed as a starter just yet. He’s going to get there with the lack of talent in front of him, making him a potential No. 1 wide receiver for the Cowboys heading into 2019. His game reminded me of Jeremy Maclin, who was a fantasy star for a few seasons. Someone has to take on the go-to role for Dak Prescott and it’s eventually going to be Gallup.
Kenny Golladay (DET)
There are some who believe he’ll be a fantasy asset in 2018, though they’re going to be a year early. He’ll find his way onto the waiver wire because Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and him cannot all be fantasy options. In 2019, however, Tate is set to be a free agent, which would free up 100-plus targets in the offense. Golladay and Jones would make a solid 1-2 combination in the red zone.
Hunter Henry (LAC)
Most will likely overlook Henry in drafts this year, so if you can sneak him onto your roster in the double-digit rounds, you’ll be ahead of the game, especially if your league has IR slots. When Henry returns, he’s going to be drafted as a top-five tight end in the top five rounds, so you’ll have a tremendous value on your hands.
Hayden Hurst (BAL)
He’s someone who may wind up getting the starting job in 2018, but I’d say it’s a lock that he’s the starter in 2019. Hurst is going to be 25 years old when the season starts, which is old for a rookie, but the Ravens obviously knew that when they drafted him in the first-round. He’s an experienced pass-catcher and one who makes it look effortless. On top of that, Joe Flacco has loved his tight ends over the last few years, targeting them a combined 285 targets for 214 receptions, 1,740 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Hurst could provide some value this year and even more next year.
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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.