The other day I told my wife that I couldn’t believe fantasy football was already over, to which I got a relieved “I didn’t think it was ever going to end” reply.
So what if I neglect all responsibility for 16 straight Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays? I spent all summer researching which guys to pick, and there’s money on the line! I have to root for my guys!
Even with the fantasy season over, I still find myself checking my leagues out of habit. I know you’re with me or you wouldn’t be reading a 2019 prediction article three months before free agency, five months before the draft, and nine months before the season starts. A ton will change over this time frame, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still get our fantasy football fix.
Some of these might seem like bold predictions, but the very nature of articles like this will lead that way. What’s the point of saying “Travis Kelce will be the TE1″ in early January? Let’s throw some ideas out there and get the conversation started.
Prediction: George Kittle will be considered a bust if he’s drafted in the first two rounds.
Why: I love Kittle and I’m a huge proponent of looking at yardage rather than fantasy points when it comes to projecting next year’s numbers. However, where did those yards come from? An extraordinary proportion of Kittle’s yardage (873) came after the catch. That blows Rob Gronkowski‘s 656, which was the previous high for a tight end over the last 10 years, out of the water. Josh Hermsmeyer of AirYards.com has done research showing that YAC will ultimately regress to the mean and we should look at depth of target instead. Kittle’s aDOT was a respectable 7.1, but it was hardly special. He needs those long YAC gains to replicate this season’s success and history shows us that it’s unsustainable. His volume and talent will mean he’s not going to be a complete bust, but I’d prefer him more in the late third or early fourth rather than a top 25 pick that he’s currently projected as.
Prediction: Le’Veon Bell sees a huge drop of production outside of Pittsburgh and doesn’t finish as an RB1.
Why: Pittsburgh is an offensive haven for the top dogs. Much to the delight of the #RunningBacksDontMatter Twitter crowd, we’ve seen Bell’s production replaced fairly easily by both James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. We also know Bell is all about the money at this point in his career. Without any evidence that Bell can succeed elsewhere combined with the strong possibility that he’s going to a bad team with a lot of cap space, there’s no way I’ll be taking Bell anywhere close to his ADP in August. There are simply too many red flags and too many good players to justify the risk of using a premium pick on him.
Why: Through the first eight games of the season when Green was healthy, Boyd was on a 98/1240/10 full-season pace. Ridley struggled with consistency in his rookie year but still managed to put up a 64/821/10 line. He “broke out” with 146 yards and three touchdowns in Week 3, but consider next season his true coming-out party. With Julio Jones lining up on the opposite side of him and Matt Ryan playing at an elite level, the first-round pick will pass an overrated Mohamed Sanu to become the true “1B” that the Falcons have been looking for.
Prediction: David Johnson returns to top-five running back status.
Why: Johnson’s 2018 and Todd Gurley’s 2016 look remarkably similar: bad teams with bad, soon to be fired coaches and poor performing rookie quarterbacks. I’m not saying the Cardinals will hire the next Sean McVay or that Josh Rosen will put up Jared Goff numbers, but there’s nowhere but up for Johnson after an abysmal 2018. “Abysmal” for Johnson, though, is still almost 1,400 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. We’ve seen his floor and it was still good enough for an RB1 finish. With a new coach and what should be improved quarterback play, I’d be surprised if Johnson didn’t return to his elite form.
Prediction: I draft Amari Cooper again.
Why: I originally had “Cooper keeps his Cowboys pace” but didn’t want to commit to a 95/1300/11 season. I will, however, buy into the idea that Cooper is finally in an offense that is committed to him. Cooper has the pedigree, the skill, the past production, and he will have turned just 25 when the season begins. He has the potential to be a league-winner in the fourth round if he makes it there.
Prediction: Someone drafts Bears D/ST too early.
Why: It happens every single year and it just doesn’t pay off. Defenses are extremely hard to project on a season-long basis and they’re almost never worth the ADP. Let someone else in your league reach.
Antonio Brown is not a top-eight WR if traded.
Hunter Henry will be over-drafted.
Deshaun Watson will be a draft day value.
Sam Darnold makes a jump and is the next big thing heading into 2020.
Robby Anderson goes with him.
I recently went back and looked at my mock drafts from the preseason and, in hindsight, there were some pretty terrible picks. I’m still trying to forget I ever bought into the “Kelvin Benjamin is going to get volume” idea.
There will be trades, injuries, underperformances, and a whole slew of unforeseen events that happen between now and August which will surely make me look back and think “well, that one was way wrong.” Yet we can’t see the future. We have to make the best decisions based on the information in front of us. I miss fantasy season already, but there’s a long offseason ahead and plenty of fun still yet to be had.