Way Too Early 2019 Fantasy Football Predictions

by Ryan Melosi | @RTMelos | Featured Writer
Jan 5, 2019

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.

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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.

Prediction: Calvin Ridley puts up “Tyler Boyd with A.J. Green” numbers.

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.

Bonus Predictions:

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.

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Ryan Melosi is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Ryan, check out his archive and follow him @RTMelos.

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1Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
2Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
3Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
4Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
5Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
6David Johnson (ARI)RB
7DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
8Davante Adams (GB)WR
9Le'Veon Bell (NYJ)RB
10Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
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11James Conner (PIT)RB
12Julio Jones (ATL)WR
13Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)WR
14Travis Kelce (KC)TE
15Michael Thomas (NO)WR
16JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)WR
17Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
18Nick Chubb (CLE)RB
19Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
20Mike Evans (TB)WR
21Antonio Brown (OAK)WR
22George Kittle (SF)TE
23T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
24Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
25A.J. Green (CIN)WR
26Amari Cooper (DAL)WR
27Marlon Mack (IND)RB
28Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
29Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
30Damien Williams (KC)RB
1Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
2Christian Yelich (MIL)LF,CF
3Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
4Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
5Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
6Trevor Story (COL)SS
7Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
8Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
9J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
10Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
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11Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
12Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
13Trea Turner (WSH)SS
14Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
15Adalberto Mondesi (KC)2B,SS
16Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
17Chris Sale (BOS)SP
18Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
19Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
20Blake Snell (TB)SP
21Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
22Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
23Anthony Rendon (WSH)3B
24Paul Goldschmidt (STL)1B
25Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
26Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
27Rhys Hoskins (PHI)1B,LF
28Bryce Harper (PHI)CF,RF
29Juan Soto (WSH)LF
30Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
10Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
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11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
12Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (TOR)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (HOU)PG
16Jimmy Butler (PHI)SG,SF
17Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
18Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
19Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
26Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
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