Mike Tagliere’s 2019 Fantasy Football Rankings vs. ECR

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
May 8, 2019

Leonard Fournette may be the rare case of a top-40 player being undervalued

It’s always good to take a step back and look at the landscape of rankings in the industry. This can do a few things. There’ll be times you realize you may be too high on a player, but there are other times where you realize that the market hasn’t adjusted to something that’s happened.

One of the biggest gaps that can be seen right now is with rookies, as some are slow to adjust their rankings to fit potential production from the newcomers. Because of that, I’ve left them off this list. But let it be known that I’ll likely be higher on both Josh Jacobs (RB19) and David Montgomery (RB25) than most, even when they do settle in.

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I’ll be listing the non-rookie players I’m higher or lower on than the ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings), with a reason that could be happening, as well as why I could be right or wrong. This is an exercise we’ll do throughout the offseason, but if you’re part of a league who hosts their draft early in the offseason, this could be a guide to the players who offer some value.

Quarterbacks I’m Higher On

Kirk Cousins (MIN) My Rank: QB14 (7 spots higher than ECR)
Remember last offseason when Cousins was ranked as a top-eight fantasy quarterback by many after he went from the depleted receiver corps with the Redskins, to the souped-up Vikings pass-catching corps? Fast-forward one year and you have a QB13 finish with a depleted value. Why? As far as I know, they upgraded their offensive line while Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are still ranked as top-15 options. What am I missing?

Mitch Trubisky (CHI) My Rank: QB12 (3 spots higher than ECR)
He missed two full games last year, had an entirely new offense to learn, and had all new pass-catchers. Seriously, not one was the same. Despite that, he finished as the QB15 on the season (No. 11 in points per game). It’ll be his second year in Matt Nagy’s offense and he didn’t lose anyone. If you don’t realize he has upside similar to Cam Newton, you’re missing something. He rushed for at least 43 yards on five separate occasions.

Quarterbacks I’m Lower On

Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) My Rank: QB22 (10 spots lower than ECR)
Losing Antonio Brown won’t do Roethlisberger any favors and it’s not as if he was a lock to finish top-10 before then. In fact, Roethlisberger has finished inside the top 10 quarterbacks just four times in his 15-year career. You thought he had ups and downs before? He’s not worth the headache and I’m surprised many experts are willing to invest a top-12 quarterback selection on him.

Tom Brady (NE) My Rank: QB21 (3 spots lower than ECR)
I know, he’s the GOAT, but that doesn’t make you a great fantasy quarterback. He just lost Rob Gronkowski and that’s going to hurt. Also, let’s not forget that he was the QB17 in points per game last year, with Gronkowski on the roster. He’ll likely finish better than my QB21 ranking due to his durability, but I don’t believe he should be relied upon as anything more than a streamer.

Running Backs I’m Higher On

James White (NE) My Rank: RB29 (6 spots higher than ECR)
How are we devaluing White’s role on the Patriots again? While doing rankings, I thought I was too low, so seeing me higher than the consensus was shocking. With Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan gone, Tom Brady is going to be looking for some familiar faces and it’s not like they’ve used Sony Michel in the passing game. White should have a similar role to last year, you know, the one that had him wind-up as the RB8 on the season. I’m still probably too low on him.

Ronald Jones (TB) My Rank: RB35 (5 spots higher than ECR)
The Bucs told us all we needed to know in the draft and free agency – they don’t feel like they need to add another running back. I’m not completely confident Jones will tear the league up, but I am confident that he’s the starter in Bruce Arians’ offense, which has historically netted great results. Peyton Barber isn’t the long-term answer, so look for them to find out if Jones is, which requires more than the 30 touches he got as a rookie.

Leonard Fournette (JAX) My Rank: RB12 (3 spots higher than ECR)
I think everyone’s forgot what Fournette did before the offensive line crumbled. Did you know they were down 4-of-5 starting lineman at year’s end? Here’s a sneak peek (of my article titled “Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between) at Fournette’s “disappointing” career to this point, versus some of the best running backs in the last decade. Provided he stays healthy, he’s undervalued.

Player RB1 % RB2 % RB3 % Boom % Bust %
Saquon Barkley 75.0% 93.8% 100.0% 37.5% 0.0%
Ezekiel Elliott 62.5% 92.5% 95.0% 32.5% 5.0%
LeVeon Bell 69.4% 91.9% 98.4% 30.6% 0.0%
Arian Foster 62.3% 84.4% 87.0% 28.6% 13.0%
Alvin Kamara 51.6% 83.9% 90.3% 38.7% 6.5%
Todd Gurley 56.9% 77.6% 87.9% 31.0% 12.1%
Christian McCaffrey 50.0% 75.0% 93.8% 28.1% 3.1%
LeSean McCoy 44.9% 73.5% 85.0% 15.6% 15.0%
David Johnson 38.8% 71.4% 85.7% 24.5% 10.2%
Leonard Fournette 52.4% 71.4% 81.0% 14.3% 14.3%
Ray Rice 49.5% 71.4% 89.0% 17.6% 11.0%
Matt Forte 45.2% 71.2% 87.7% 17.1% 13.0%
Kareem Hunt 44.4% 70.4% 92.6% 29.6% 7.4%
DeMarco Murray 43.4% 68.7% 81.8% 15.2% 17.2%
Adrian Peterson 43.6% 67.8% 81.9% 20.1% 18.8%
Melvin Gordon 47.3% 67.3% 81.8% 18.2% 18.2%

 

Running Backs I’m Lower On

Ito Smith (ATL) My Rank: RB55 (14 spots lower than ECR)
I’m low on the Falcons run-game as a whole, as Dirk Koetter isn’t a run-friendly offensive coordinator. Remember when Devonta Freeman was viewed as a bust after his rookie season? Well, Koetter left and he magically turned into a fantasy MVP. Koetter went to the Bucs and their run-game has been wretched for the last few years. I don’t think you want to draft the second-string running back in his offense.

Kareem Hunt (CLE) My Rank: RB54 (8 spots lower than ECR)
I won’t be drafting Hunt onto any of my fantasy teams, no matter the round. Not only is Nick Chubb the better runner in my opinion, but he also has a year in the offense, and will have the starting job for eight weeks while Hunt is suspended. Do you know how valuable that roster spot is during the waiver periods in the first few weeks, and then again during bye weeks?

Jordan Howard (PHI) My Rank: RB39 (9 spots lower than ECR)
The trade for Howard was puzzling, but upon learning it was for a sixth-round pick, it wasn’t so bad. Still, the Eagles know he’s not the answer, which is why they selected Miles Sanders in the second-round of this year’s draft. Doug Pederson is going to use a timeshare, as he always has, and Howard will be lucky to play 30 snaps a game.

Wide Receivers I’m Higher On

Jamison Crowder (NYJ) My Rank: WR43 (16 spots higher than ECR)
When Crowder signed with the Jets early in free agency, I’m not sure why more people didn’t like it. Remember when Quincy Enunwa played in the slot prior to Jermaine Kearse returning to the lineup? Enunwa totaled 37 targets over the first four weeks. Then Kearse took over and proceeded to get 48 targets over the next six weeks. The point is that Sam Darnold does like his slot receiver and the Jets signed Crowder very early in free agency, highlighting the need. He’s not a sexy pick, which is why I believe the consensus is low on him.

Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) My Rank: WR36 (8 spots higher than ECR)
I’ve always been the one lower on Fitzgerald, but it appears the community has backed away from the future Hall of Famer. Why? Because they drafted Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler? Fitzgerald didn’t come back to sit on the bench. He’ll be playing and he’ll be a safety valve for Kyler Murray over the middle of the field while getting mismatched with nickel cornerbacks. He’s a solid WR3.

Mike Williams (LAC) My Rank: WR24 (6 spots higher than ECR)
Not only did Williams finish as the No. 24 last year, but he did it while in a lesser role than that of Tyrell Williams, who is now in Oakland. While playing as the No. 3 receiver, Williams totaled 66 targets and somehow amassed 10 touchdowns (one every 6.6 targets). He’s not going to match that touchdown rate, but fortunately, he won’t have to. He should be locked into 100-plus targets in 2019.

Wide Receivers I’m Lower On

Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) My Rank: WR69 (23 spots lower than ECR)
If there’s one thing I’m certain of heading into 2019, it’s that I’ll have no shares of Sanders. Sure, he finished as the No. 23 receiver last year despite missing four games, but unfortunately, he suffered the worst injury known to football players. A torn Achilles has been a career-ender for a lot of players, and knowing Sanders is 32 years old, this is likely the end of the road. Not just that, but Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, and Noah Fant are talented pass-catchers who’ll take away targets. I’d be surprised if he’s on the field in Week 1, and even if he is, do you trust a Joe Flacco receiver who will have had little-to-no practice time with him?

Dede Westbrook (JAX) My Rank: WR53 (13 spots lower than ECR)
I’m quite shocked the consensus has Westbrook as a borderline WR3 and am flabbergasted that they would take him over Larry Fitzgerald in a redraft format. Do you believe that Nick Foles improves the pass-catchers’ stock in Jacksonville?  I don’t. To this point in his career, Westbrook has posted WR2 or better numbers in just 26.1 percent of his games, which is comparable to Kendall Wright‘s career numbers.

Jarvis Landry (CLE) My Rank: WR32 (7 spots lower than ECR)
Despite no Josh Gordon and no Odell Beckham Jr. on the team last year, Landry finished as the WR19 despite playing all 16 games and seeing 149 targets. That was the eighth-most targets among receivers and the 27th-most points per game. Not exactly efficient, and Freddie Kitchens actually dialed back his targets when he took over. With Beckham in the mix, look for Landry to move down into the 120-target range, which is still valuable, but he’s more of a WR3 than he is a WR2.

Tight Ends I’m Higher On

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NE) My Rank: TE20 (9 spots higher than ECR)
It’s tough putting Seferian-Jenkins this much higher than the consensus, but this is a risk/reward situation. I’d rather have his potential upside as the starting tight end for the Patriots than Mike Gesicki‘s “upside” in the Dolphins low-scoring offense. Provided they don’t add another tight end of significance, he’s being undervalued.

Jimmy Graham (GB) My Rank: TE13 (6 spots higher than ECR)
This is funny to me, as I was the one down on Graham last year, saying that Aaron Rodgers works on trust and timing. Now that Graham has had another year to work with Rodgers, I’m comfortable selecting him as a borderline TE1. Looking at last year, when Rodgers threw just 25 touchdowns (Graham had just two of them), he finished as the TE14. He may not have the upside he used to, but he’s still able to post top-six numbers if all goes well.

Vance McDonald (PIT) My Rank: TE9 (5 spots higher than ECR)
With Jesse James and Antonio Brown leaving town, there are 207 targets up for grabs in the Steelers offense, and it’s not as if JuJu Smith-Schuster can get much more after seeing 166 of them in 2018. When healthy, McDonald has been a force as a receiver, so look for him to help fill that void. It’s pretty crazy to know he was the TE10 last year, but experts have him as the TE14 right now. Something is off there.

Tight Ends I’m Lower On

Chris Herndon (NYJ) My Rank: TE19 (8 spots lower than ECR)
I’m not sure why Herndon is valued so highly this year after finding out who the Jets added. With Le’Veon Bell on the roster, that’s going to eat up tons of targets, and then you have Jamison Crowder, who’s also targeted in the short area of the field. Did you know that during the 2016 and 2017 seasons there was no running back/tight end duo that combined for more than 185 targets? It tends to be one or the other and it’s clear who the Jets would/should choose for the majority of them. Last year, the leading target-getter among Jets running backs was Elijah McGuire, with just 31 of them.

Mike Gesicki (MIA) My Rank: TE27 (8 spots lower than ECR)
Yes, rookie tight ends are often disappointing, but Gesicki’s disappointing rookie year was on a whole different level. Lee Smith, Erik Swoope, Jordan Akins, Lance Kendricks, and Josh Hill. What do they all have in common? They all outscored Gesicki last year. He has to show me something on the pro level before even considering him in fantasy drafts.

Austin Hooper (ATL) My Rank: TE16 (4 spots lower than ECR)
It was an odd year for the Falcons offense in 2018, as they were forced to pass a lot more than they probably would’ve liked to. It was due to the injuries on the defense, so look for the volume to come down a bit, which will hurt Hooper quite a bit when you consider he’s fifth in line for targets behind Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, and Devonta Freeman. Despite the elevated target numbers in 2018, he finished as a top-12 option in just 37.5 percent of games.


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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

 

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