Should You Believe the Hype? (2019 Fantasy Football)
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Starved for football from the time the clock strikes zero at the Super Bowl until the regular season kickoff, rabid fantasy football fans often quench their thirst throughout the offseason by re-watching last year’s games, researching incoming rookies and searching out the latest reports and updates about their teams and players on them.
This void of actual football naturally leads to snippets like “(Player X) is tearing up rookie camp” or “(Player Z) couldn’t catch a cold in training camp.” While you should disregard most of these reports for season-long and dynasty fantasy players, that doesn’t stop them from catching fire throughout the fantasy community.
The hype trains that build throughout the offseason and into the preseason can often either be derailed with an injury or straight-up poor play, but sometimes they are substantiated. When that happens, your meticulous research throughout the offseason will pay off in the fantasy playoffs.
This year is no different than any other, so it’s time to evaluate some of the more popular fantasy players throughout this offseason.
Chris Godwin (WR – TB)
A standout at Penn State, Chris Godwin made an impact as a rookie in 2017 for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that struggled mightily. Reeling in 34 catches for over 500 yards, Godwin set himself up for a strong sophomore campaign.
Avoiding the sophomore slump that many early-career NFL players face, Godwin stepped up big time last season. Not only did he have 95 targets thrown his way, but he also produced 59 catches for 842 yards and seven touchdowns. His contested catch rate was better than household names like Julio Jones, Keenan Allen and Odell Beckham, too.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Godwin coming into 2019. Not only has he produced at the NFL level, but he’s more than likely going to have the chance for more this season. With Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson each leaving the team, 179 targets have been vacated on the Tampa Bay roster. O.J. Howard is likely to take on a good portion of those, and Mike Evans will get his share as well. But there aren’t many scenarios — barring injury — where Godwin doesn’t eclipse the 100-target mark.
Along with Humphries and Jackson leaving, the Buccaneers hired head coach Bruce Arians, and that should serve as an additional benefit to Godwin. Arians has made his reputation in the league as a quarterback whisperer — he literally wrote a book about it — and any improvement from Jameis Winston will benefit the Tampa offense as a whole.
With his previous production and the likely added volume headed his way, Godwin should have a solid floor with very appealing upside.
David Montgomery (RB – CHI)
With the reports that the Bears coaching staff is “in love with” Montgomery, his ADP has risen to the extent that has made many within the fantasy community uneasy. His hype train is undoubtedly at all systems go at this point, but I think there’s still value to be had in selecting him.
The logic in selecting Montgomery is very straightforward: he’s an all-around back in an offense that is looking to run the ball under a coach that has traditionally preferred players like him. Even Jordan Howard, who is more of a two-down, between the tackles runner was a semi-productive fantasy asset on the Bears last year. And that’s even though he wasn’t much of a threat in the passing game.
Though Howard rushed for nearly 1,000 yards, Nagy felt comfortable basically giving him away to the Philadelphia Eagles. After that, the Bears traded up in the draft to get Montgomery. With the capital invested him and the praise the Bears have thrown his way all offseason, it is fair to speculate that Nagy could see Montgomery as someone who could fill the Kareem Hunt in his offense.
Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis are going to play roles as well, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all for Montgomery to be the clear-cut leader of the Bears backfield. As long as his value doesn’t inflate too far over his current ADP of 45, I’d feel more than comfortable making room on my team for Montgomery.
Amari Cooper (WR – DAL)
The definition of a “Boom or Bust” player, Amari Cooper came to the forefront of the fantasy — and real-life — football world after posting some huge games following a trade to the Dallas Cowboys. Whether it was his eight-catch, 180-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 10 or the 10-catch, 217-yard, three-touchdown effort in Week 12, Cooper’s big weeks rivaled that of the game’s elite wideouts.
Currently ranked as the WR13 in 0.5 PPR formats, Cooper is being selected ahead of players like Stefon Diggs, Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman, among others. While his booms would make him one of the top fantasy options if he could sustain them, the unfortunate part of owning shares in Cooper are his down weeks — of which there are many.
In his nine games with the Cowboys, Cooper scored fewer than 8.3 points four times. Compare that to Diggs (below 8.3 in two weeks out of 15), Cooks (twice under 8.3 in 16 weeks) and Edelman (zero times under 8.3 in 12 weeks), and you begin to see the massive risk that comes with choosing Cooper.
If his ADP were to drop and I didn’t have to rely on him week-in and week-out I would be much more open to taking him, but at this point, his week-to-week floor is far too low for me with the draft capital he will cost.
Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL)
By all accounts, Calvin Ridley produced just about as well as you could ask out of a rookie wide receiver. His 821 yards receiving and ten touchdowns make him the focal point of a mountain of hype heading into this year, but it may be time to pump the brakes at his current ADP.
Ridley’s season-end numbers looked great on paper, but with a deeper level of analysis, the story of his rookie year is a bit different. Through the first half of the season, Ridley reeled in 33 catches for 463 yards and seven touchdowns (five in two games). Very respectable numbers, to say the least.
In the second half of the season, however, those numbers dropped to 31 catches on 358 yards and three touchdowns. That’s despite him earning four more targets. Couple this with the fact that the Falcons defense should be much improved this season after returning to full health, and there may not be as many opportunities for Ridley to take the next step that many experts are projecting.