While nothing is certain in the world of fantasy football, the draft-prep process only stops during the season. Once it ends, for hardcore gamers at least, the switch instantly flips to next season. Even though it is only March, I am already all-in on three wide receivers for 2019. I imagine these guys will be on a large percentage of my teams.
Cooper Kupp (LAR)
I couldn’t have been more out on Cooper Kupp heading into the 2018 season. With Brandin Cooks as the clear WR1 and Robert Woods as the clear WR2 in an offense revolving around Todd Gurley, how was there going to be enough volume left? As it turned out, the Rams almost exclusively ran 11 personnel, and Jared Goff only threw passes to those three receivers (and Gurley).
Kupp played in just six full games last season, which admittedly is a small sample size. However, while still the third option behind Cooks and Woods, he was the glue that made their offense go. He had at least 63 receiving yards or a touchdown in every full game played. Goff posted the fourth-highest QB rating in the league when targeting Kupp. He also averaged four more fantasy points per game with Kupp in the lineup.
Recovering on schedule from his torn ACL, Kupp should be ready to go by training camp and certainly well in time for the start of the season. The Rams’ offense should pick up where it left off last season — no, I don’t mean scoring three points in the Super Bowl. Kupp averaged 16.9 fantasy points per game (FPPG) last season, which includes a contest he exited after just one target and the game where he tore his ACL after catching five balls for 39 yards. He averaged 21.0 FPPG through Week 5, good for the overall WR5.
Kupp is going to be undervalued in 2019 drafts. As long as he can stay on the field, he is a lock to perform at least as a mid-WR2 who won’t cost nearly as much to acquire.
Kenny Golladay (DET)
Kenny Golladay will also likely be undervalued. Matthew Stafford had a down year last season, as did the Lions as a whole. Even with a move towards a run-heavy offense, the Lions are going to throw enough for Golladay to dominate. He is the team’s clear alpha WR1. Stafford will never treat any receiver like he treated Calvin Johnson, but Golladay is nicknamed Babytron for a reason.
Targets were Golladay’s issue last season. He simply wasn’t used enough before the Lions traded Golden Tate and lost Marvin Jones to a season-ending knee injury. When Golladay saw the volume a player of his caliber should command, he produced like a true fantasy WR1. His magic number last season was seven. When receiving fewer than seven targets, he averaged a paltry 7.92 FPPG. When Golladay drew seven targets or more, he averaged a whopping 17.73 FPPG.
We know Golladay has the talent to produce because we’ve seen it. We just need to see it more consistently. Golladay can be a fantasy asset on the level of guys like Keenan Allen and Mike Evans with the upside of Julio Jones. He’s not valued as such. To be clear, I’m not saying Golladay is treated unfairly. He’s entering his third season and hasn’t done anything to warrant that level of respect. However, I think he will rise to that level in 2019. Taking Julio Jones and having him produce like Julio Jones is great. Taking Golladay and having him produce like Jones is how you win leagues. It is by no means a guarantee, but I’m sold on Golladay because of his high ceiling.
Christian Kirk (ARI)
Arizona cannot possibly be worse on offense than in 2018. It’s impossible. Imagine the most incompetent, backward offense possible, and that’s what the Cardinals did last season. Even if Kliff Kingsbury fails as a head coach, he can still orchestrate a high-octane offense, especially with Kyler Murray at the helm.
Christian Kirk is an above-average athlete who entered the NFL with an elite breakout rating (93rd percentile) and strong college dominator rating (73rd percentile). He showed flashes as a rookie when receiving passes from fellow rookie Josh Rosen, who was dealing with the league’s worst pass-blocking offensive line and, well, being a rookie with no guidance.
Under a new regime, things will improve and Kirk is going to emerge as the WR1 in Arizona. Larry Fitzgerald returning only helps Kirk. Fantasy owners may fear that Fitz will steal targets, but that won’t be the case. There will be plenty of passes to go around for both receivers. Most importantly, Fitzgerald will be 36 years old this season. He is a safety blanket, not a target hog. A breakout is coming, so Kirk is the ideal WR3 pick with WR2 upside.