11 League Winners for 2019 (Fantasy Football)

Aug 29, 2019

With Antonio Brown gone, JuJu Smith-Schuster should see a huge increase in targets

What exactly is a league-winning player? These are the guys who can heavily outperform their draft cost and provide you with a huge return on investment. Having at least a couple of these players is crucial to succeeding in this game we enjoy so much. Anyone who managed to select Patrick Mahomes, James Conner, Marlon Mack, Tyreek Hill, or George Kittle last year probably brought home the hardware when the season ended, or at least got close to it. Our featured analysts have shared their thoughts below on which players can pay huge dividends and help you forge a path to the title.

View real time recommendations for each pick with our Draft Assistant >>

Q1. What one wide receiver do you believe will be this year’s league winner?

JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) 
“Smith-Schuster is coming off a monster season playing opposite a target magnet in Antonio Brown. Ben Roethlisberger tends to funnel targets to receivers he trusts versus spreading it around. JJSS will get significant time both outside and in the slot, which will help protect against double teams. I have him projected at 97/1,295/11, which seems super high until you see he went 111/1,426/7 last year when Antonio Brown led the league in receiving touchdowns.”
– Rudy Gamble (Razzball)

“There is very little standing in JuJu Smith-Schuster’s way for complete dominance of the Steelers’ target share. With Antonio Brown now gone and another 168 targets up for grabs, the passing game will run entirely through Smith-Schuster for the foreseeable future. If he is able to simply match the targets Brown had, he would see a nearly 50 percent increase over last season.”
– The FFGhost (Dynasty League Football)

Geronimo Allison (GB) 
“Knowing that Allison has a solidified role in the offense as the ‘big slot’ receiver, you should be buying in at his current cost of WR50. There have been 10 games in Allison’s career he’s played with Aaron Rodgers where he’s been targeted at least three times (you don’t want to count the games he was backing up others). In those games, he’s averaged 4.3 receptions for 64.6 yards and 0.4 touchdowns, which amounts to 11.0 half-PPR points per game, which would have been the WR27 last year. Coincidentally, before he suffered his season-ending injury after a quarter of the 2018 season, he was the WR26.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Allen Robinson (CHI) 
“Sometimes the boring or forgotten players turn out to be league winners, and that has me drafting Robinson in as many leagues as possible this season. Still only 26 years old, Robinson is now fully recovered from his 2017 ACL tear and entering his second season as the clear No. 1 receiving option in Matt Nagy’s offense. The last time he began a season fully healthy, Robinson roasted the league with 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, and that was with Blake Bortles as his quarterback. Robinson will find difficulty reaching those career-year numbers again in 2019, but even 75 percent of that production would be over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns, which is well worth the draft day investment of a sixth-round pick.”
– Greg Smith (TwoQBs)

Q2. What one running back do you believe will be this year’s league winner?

Aaron Jones (GB) 
“They say talent wins in the NFL, right? Well, Jones is the most talented running back in Green Bay and it’s not all that close. When Jones took over the starting job from Weeks 8-14 last year, he was the No. 5 running back in fantasy football. Playing alongside Aaron Rodgers has its benefits, as he faced eight-man fronts on just 13.5 percent of his carries last year. Yeah, Matt LaFleur has talked about a rotation at running back, but the reward is greater than the risk. If Jones gets 15-plus touches per game like I think he will, we could be talking about him as a first-round pick in 2020 drafts.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Miles Sanders (PHI) 
“A league winner is typically a talented player whose draft stock is suppressed by uncertainty, and no one fits the bill better at running back than Miles Sanders. I understand drafters’ hesitation to make Sanders a second- or third-rounder based on his ball security issues, inexperience in pass protection, and questionable playing time in a crowded Philadelphia offense. But the potential rewards for Sanders outweigh the risks at his draft cost. He is the most dynamic runner on the Eagles’ roster and will have no trouble showing off his talents behind Philly’s top-five offensive line, so it’s only a matter of time before Sanders is granted a bell-cow role and carrying fantasy teams to championships.”
– Greg Smith (TwoQBs)

Leonard Fournette (JAC) 
“Health is critical here, but he is one of the few backs with almost no backfield competition and checks off the three most important boxes (rush volume, target volume, and red zone usage). I have Fournette conservatively estimated at 211 carries (~13 per game), but if everything breaks right, a 275/1,300/10 season with 65 targets is possible.”
– Rudy Gamble (Razzball)

Alvin Kamara (NO) 
“Kamara, with what appears to be more touches coming his way, Is who I expect to claim the top-running back crown this season. Yes, Latavius Murray is there, but I have to believe the split will be more favorable than it was with Mark Ingram. I’m expecting around 40-50 extra carries headed Kamara’s way out of Ingram’s 138 last season.”
– The FFGhost (Dynasty League Football)

Q3. What one quarterback do you believe will be this year’s league winner?

Jameis Winston (TB) 
“Depending on who you are drafting with, Winston may be someone you can snag in the 13th round or so. There are far too many people who believe real-life success means fantasy success. Josh Allen legitimately won fantasy owners championships last year, but it doesn’t mean he’s a good quarterback. With Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard at his disposal, Winston may have the best weapons in the league. Not just that, but he now has Bruce Arians calling the plays, a very weak running game, and a horrendous defense. Everything stated here equals pass attempts to high-quality pass catchers. There is no Ryan Fitzpatrick here. This is the year they find out if Winston will be their future quarterback. I have him ranked as a top-eight quarterback who has a top-three finish in his range of outcomes.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Jared Goff (LAR) 
“I think Sean McVay makes a few adjustments given Gurley’s limitations and the offense keeps rolling with an uptick on pass volume and touchdown splits favoring the pass even more. While it is hard to project him any higher than last year’s 4,688 and 32 touchdowns, I think a 40+ touchdown season could be in the cards if things break right for this offense.”
– Rudy Gamble (Razzball)

Baker Mayfield (CLE) 
“There are just too many weapons around Mayfield for him to find anything but success. I believe the Browns will make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 due, in large part, to Mayfield taking his game even further than last season.”
– The FFGhost (Dynasty League Football)

Nick Foles (JAC) 
“Rather than add my voice to the chorus of those sure to tout Lamar Jackson (who is the correct answer to this question for one-quarterback formats), I’ll throw some love to the two-quarterback crowd and pick Nick Foles. Jacksonville plays the softest schedule of opposing pass defenses this season, and the Jaguars’ new offensive coordinator is John DeFilippo, who was fired from Minnesota for — get this — passing too much (as if there was ever such a thing). Foles is typically drafted as a third quarterback in two-quarterback and superflex formats, but he has the ceiling to deliver much better returns.”
– Greg Smith (TwoQBs)


Thanks to all the experts for their league winners. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice. Also, please check out our latest podcast episode below.


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | RSS

What's your take? Leave a comment

1Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
2Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
3Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
4Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
5Chris Carson (SEA)RB
6Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
7Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
8David Johnson (ARI)RB
9Aaron Jones (GB)RB
10Julio Jones (ATL)WR
 View all Flex Rankings 
11Le'Veon Bell (NYJ)RB
12Mark Ingram (BAL)RB
13DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
14Cooper Kupp (LAR)WR
15Phillip Lindsay (DEN)RB
16Sony Michel (NE)RB
17Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
18Travis Kelce (KC)TE
19Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
20Michael Thomas (NO)WR
21Josh Jacobs (OAK)RB
22Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
23Kerryon Johnson (DET)RB
24T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
25Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
26Tyler Lockett (SEA)WR
27Tevin Coleman (SF)RB
28Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
29Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
30Carlos Hyde (HOU)RB
1Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
2Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
3Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
4J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
5Trevor Story (COL)SS
6Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
7Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
8Trea Turner (WSH)SS
9Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
10Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
 View All Rankings 
11Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
12Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
13Gerrit Cole (HOU)SP
14Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
15Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
16Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
17Aaron Judge (NYY)RF,DH
18Juan Soto (WSH)LF
19Anthony Rendon (WSH)3B
20Bryce Harper (PHI)CF,RF
21Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
22Xander Bogaerts (BOS)SS
23Starling Marte (PIT)CF
24Walker Buehler (LAD)SP
25Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
26Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
27Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
28Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
29George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
30Paul Goldschmidt (STL)1B
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (BKN)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
10Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
 View All Rankings 
11Russell Westbrook (HOU)PG
12Paul George (LAC)SF,PF
13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (LAC)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (OKC)PG
16Kyrie Irving (BKN)PG,SG
17Kemba Walker (BOS)PG
18Jimmy Butler (MIA)SG,SF
19Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
26Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
27Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
Follow the Pros!

Follow us on Twitter @FantasyPros for exclusive advice and contests