4 Potential League Winners (2019 Fantasy Football)
Year in and year out, we see draft-day afterthoughts go on to lead fantasy owners to the promised land. Here is a look at a few potential league winners in 2019.
Kerryon Johnson (DET): RB20, OVR 38
I’ve always been a fan of LaGarrette Blount, so I wasn’t on the Kerryon hype train going into 2018. By week three I was done with Blount and had offers out to Kerryon owners that Tuesday morning. Johnson showcased his talent to the world in a primetime matchup vs. the Patriots by becoming the first Lion to crack 100 rushing yards in a game since 2013. From that point to his injury in Week 10, Patricia still seemed reluctant to abandon Blount, but Kerryon was so efficient that it didn’t matter. In this stretch from Week 3 to 10, Kerryon was the RB13 in PPR leagues despite never topping 20 carries and only surpassing 15 carries twice. He was ninth in rushing yards and 19th in receptions, proving they don’t need to bring Theo Riddick on the field on passing downs. His 16-game pace over this run equates to 1,162 yards rushing, 340 yards receiving, and eight total TDs. That production came from only 13 carries per game, so the signing of C.J. Anderson shouldn’t scare owners away. Kerryon was already pacing for the RB13 last season and 1,500 total yards as a rookie trying to overtake a veteran, and now he’s being drafted as the RB20. Kerryon checks all the boxes for a potential dual-threat superstar candidate after a promising rookie campaign. View Kerryon as a fringe RB1 and my preseason pick for MVP of the fantasy world.
Sammy Watkins (KC): WR24, OVR 59
It will be an absolute travesty and embarrassment for the league if Tyreek Hill isn’t suspended for a decent portion of the 2019 season. Without Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins feels like a lock to be one of the most valuable picks on the board. With Tyreek Hill playing, he should still outperform his current ADP, with an injury as the only risk associated with this pick. Entering 2019, Watkins is the definition of a post-hype sleeper. Too many experts and fans have been burned supporting Watkins in the past, which has hindered their ability to properly rate him as a player.
He was hurt in Week 4 and 11, playing less than 12 snaps in each contest. Removing those games from his season totals and adding in their two playoff games, Watkins’ 16-game pace measured out to a surprising 78 catches for 1,105 yards. As the No. 3 target behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, this is obviously a remarkable figure. Most projections have Watkins slightly over 1,000 yards, which should be his floor if Hill plays all 16 games. Without Hill, we could see the deep-threat phenom finally break out the way he began to in Buffalo prior to injury. Patrick Mahomes threw for 50 TDs as a rookie and can air the ball out with unprecedented velocity and touch. I would be happy with his No. 1 receiver regardless of who it was. Sammy has shown flashes of the elite talent that made him the No. 4 overall pick. With that 1,100 pace he was on last year, you can’t go wrong with his current ADP.
D’Onta Foreman (HOU): RB43, OVR 118
Foreman is about as good of a low-risk, league-winning reward type player you’ll find. The Lamar Miller experience in Houston hasn’t been a disaster, but it’s certainly underachieved. Last season was the first time in three years that Miller averaged over 4.0 YPC, and while his final numbers are pleasing to the eye, they’re a bit deceptive. Lamar was off to his typical pedestrian pace in 2018 and then hit a hot stretch over the middle of the year. He quickly cooled off and ended up crashing and burning to finish the year. In his final four games, he took 39 carries for 115 yards at a meager 2.9 YPC. The Texans had zero confidence left in Miller when they needed him most, as they got bounced out of the playoffs in their first game while scoring just seven points. Miller had just five carries for 18 yards with the season on the line. A potential solution to this issue is former Heisman candidate D’Onta Foreman.
Injuries have caused him to miss substantial time through his first two years in the league, so most of the data supporting his talent are from his Texas days. During his junior season, he took over the Big 12 with 323 carries for 2,028 yards and 15 TDs in just 11 games. He rushed for at least 250 yards on three separate occasions, and he never dipped below 124 yards or 4.5 YPC. At his pro day, he ran a sub 4.45 40 while weighing 235 pounds, a feat that has never been accomplished at the combine. Foreman has the raw size, power, speed, and ability to cause a team to reconsider an underwhelming 28-year-old veteran. RBs don’t last forever, and Miller is one of five players with 1,500 touches since 2013. The other four are DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, and Le’Veon Bell. Miller has been durable so far, but the numbers show that all runners struggle with durability with constant usage (other than the machine himself Frank Gore). Foreman might not need an injury to break out though, as his raw talent and ability may overshadow Lamar Miller.
Allen Robinson (CHI): WR30, OVR 72
Over the past several seasons, Robinson has become one of the more underrated players in the league, from both a talent and fantasy perspective. Everybody remembers his 1,400-yard 14-TD breakout sophomore season, but it seems as if most fans and experts view that production as a fluke incapable of repeating. The 2016 season following his breakout was certainly a disappointment, but how much of the regression should be attributed to Robinson as opposed to Blake Bortles who seemingly lost any resemblance of the fundamentals required to be an NFL QB? In 2017, Robinson tore his ACL, which not only took one season away from him but also ruined his opportunity to participate in OTAs and minicamp with a new roster and coaching staff. While I will concede that his first season as a Bear was at least slightly underwhelming, a deep examination reveals several reasons for optimism heading into 2019.
Counting the playoff game against the Eagles when he put up a season-high 143 yards, his 16-game pace last year comes out to 74 receptions for 1,025 yards and six TDs. This is a nice figure for a player switching teams, especially when considering the rest of the factors surrounding the situation. He was banged up with hip and rib injuries and Mitch Trubisky was a second-year QB who seemed more focused on making the safe play over the chunk play. It’s common for young QBs to feel safer throwing to TEs and slot WRs over the middle of the field or dynamic backs out of the backfield like Tarik Cohen. All the signs point to an improvement in Robinson’s first year as a Bear with a full offseason. A slight chemistry and health improvement will boost his 1,000-yard pace. Once their chemistry began to improve, Robinson’s targets increased, as he averaged nine targets per game over the last five, a number just outside the top 10 in the league. If Trubisky ever decides he wants to make the most of his powerful arm, Robinson’s the weapon to do it with. His deep threat and red zone talent haven’t been maximized since his 1,400-yard, 14-TD season. I see virtually no chance Robinson goes under the 900 yards a lot of systems have him projected for on the season.