Early Undervalued Players (2019 Fantasy Football)
At this point in the offseason, ADPs aren’t set in stone yet. There will be a lot of movement over the next few months as we learn more about each player’s situation. With that said, here are some players who look like early values in 2019 fantasy football drafts.
Lamar Jackson (BAL)
Running quarterbacks are a fantasy football cheat code. The Action Network analyst Ian Hartitz noted that there have been 20 quarterbacks since 2000 to attempt at least 100 rushes in a season. Of those 20, 19 finished as a top-17 quarterback in fantasy football, 13 finished in the top six, and 10 finished in the top three. In 2018, the average quarterback rush attempt yielded 0.66 fantasy points, while the average quarterback pass attempt was worth only 0.44.
And no quarterback has ever run like Lamar Jackson. In 2018, he had the most rushing attempts of any quarterback in NFL history, and he only started seven games! After becoming Baltimore’s starter, Jackson had the sixth-most rushing attempts per game in the entire NFL. The Ravens also upgraded their receiving corps this offseason by adding Marquise Brown and Mark Ingram, so Jackson is a massive bargain at his current QB17 ADP.
Lamar Miller (HOU)
Death, taxes, and Lamar Miller finishing as an RB2. Miller has finished between RB16 and RB23 for three consecutive seasons, and he has topped the 200-touch mark in six straight years. D’Onta Foreman will have another offseason to recover from the Achilles injury he suffered two years ago, but no running back has ever come all the way back from a torn Achilles. Miller should be good for 200 carries and 30 receptions again, and that presents good value at his RB30 price tag.
The downside with Miller is that he has little to no upside. Think of him as Frank Gore from a few years ago; you know exactly what you’re getting, but don’t expect him to be a league-winner. Still, he’s being drafted as a middle-of-the-road RB3 even though he has consistently finished as a solid RB2 in Houston, so there is value to be had in drafting him.
Ito Smith (ATL)
Tevin Coleman’s departure leaves Ito Smith as the Falcons’ second running back heading into 2019. Coleman finished between RB18 and RB22 for three consecutive seasons as the backup in Atlanta, so Smith has RB2 upside at an RB5 price tag. Devonta Freeman has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, missing 14 games last year and two the year prior. If Freeman goes down again, Smith immediately has weekly RB1 upside as the lead runner in one of the league’s most potent offenses.
Smith will face competition for the No. 2 job from fifth-round rookie Qadree Ollison, but the latter doesn’t have much draft capital invested in him — neither does Smith, but at least he has some NFL experience — and wasn’t an especially prolific producer at Pittsburgh. It will be worth monitoring camp reports over the summer, but it looks like Smith’s job to lose for now. Smith could flirt with double-digit touches every week in one of the NFL’s premier offenses. He stands out as a value at his current RB50 ADP.
Robby Anderson (NYJ)
Robby Anderson started out slow last year, but he turned it on during the second half of the season, finishing as the WR13 over the final six weeks. Over that same time frame, Anderson was 11th among wideouts in target share, seventh in air yards market share, and 10th in weighted opportunity rating (WOPR). Anderson’s breakout coincided with Sam Darnold’s return from injury, as the second pick in the 2018 NFL Draft threw for 931 yards, six touchdowns, and only one interception over the final four weeks of the season. Le’Veon Bell will eat into Anderson’s workload, but the 26-year-old speedster is still locked in as the Jets’ WR1 heading into 2019. Anderson has high-end WR2 upside, but his WR33 ADP doesn’t reflect that. In the middle rounds, you won’t find a better bargain at wide receiver.
Albert Wilson (MIA)
With an ADP of WR75, Albert Wilson is pretty much free right now. That’s fantastic value for a guy who led the Dolphins in target share before he went down with a hip injury. Wilson was buried on the depth chart to begin the 2018 campaign, but he quickly became an integral part of the Miami offense. Over the first three weeks of 2018, Wilson played 44% of snaps and saw only 11 targets. In Weeks 4-6, he played 75% of snaps and had 21 balls thrown his way.
Wilson basically forced the Dolphins to give him more looks because of how efficient he was last year. According to PlayerProfiler, Wilson led all wide receivers in Production Premium and fantasy points per route and finished second in fantasy points per target. Obviously, he has no chance of repeating those numbers, but that won’t matter if he receives the same volume he was getting in the weeks leading up to his injury. Wilson has a legitimate chance to lead the Dolphins in targets next year, and there’s very little downside in drafting him at his current ADP.
Hunter Henry (LAC)
Hunter Henry missed basically all of last season with a torn ACL (just don’t tell Stephen A. Smith), but he will be back and firing on all cylinders for the start of the 2019 season. While Henry split snaps with Antonio Gates early in his career, his talent has always been obvious. According to Scott Barrett of Pro Football Focus, Henry was PFF’s fourth-ranked receiving tight end in 2016 — as a rookie! — and second in 2017. He ranked second in yards per target over that same time span. With the starting tight end job all to himself this year, Henry is primed to break out in a big way. Given his TE7 ADP, he offers a unique combination of safety and upside relative to cost.