2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review: Editorial

by Richard Savill
2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

Every season has a flavor to it and if I was to describe 2019 in terms of dinner, it was sweet and sour spare ribs. Meaty, sticky, messy, and never enough. 2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

Alas, the sands of time make a season wash away like a footprint by the seashore. If I was asked today what I thought of the 2017 season, or even 2018, I couldn't say. That's what will happen for 2019, except we might know some things which will carry into 2020.

The on-field performances for fantasy were sound enough, but quarterback injuries and benchings were particularly heavy this season. The quarterback position intertwines with our fantasy starters so closely on several teams in the NFL. The Steelers are one example.

Waiver running back pickups were generally poor this season. The wide receiver pool had plenty of sleepers and decent hold pickups right from September onward. The tight ends were by far the most volatile, which is not too unusual on any given year, but some lesser names are rising in prominence for 2020.

I have to be blunt and honest. 2019 was another poor season for league fantasy football. Remember back in 2016 when top fantasy performances displayed at the bottom of your screen during the games? Those days are gone. It had a "fad" period from about 2011 to 2017, but perhaps now we're just seeing a leveling off of enthusiasm.

There were bright spots. DFS and dynasty increased in prominence. IDP is growing in interest according to my own random observations in the twitterverse. So, although I noticed a downturn in traditional league fantasy this year, the game continues to find new and old spinoffs to keep it flourishing.

2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

Star Chart2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

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Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Is Jackson a redraft first rounder? Definitely. The combination of running back and quarterback rolled into one ensures this. 1206 yards rushing puts his value far above the normal quarterbacks we draft in fantasy. The next quarterback nearest to him was Kyler Murray with 544.2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

We in fantasy wanted Henry to lead the Titans backfield ever since he came in the league. The frustration of seeing him playing behind DeMarco Murray and Dion Lewis gave us only tantalizing glimpses of his powers. It was common to hear "if you take away those three big runs..." type of guff. Those days are over. Henry is top five now.

Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

Can we put Michael Thomas in the same category as Marvin Harrison? Obviously. Thomas holds the record (149) for most receptions in one season. He is now the undisputed number one receiver in fantasy and will easily have top five draft consideration in 2020.

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

The one player you drafted at the position who delivered the goods. Kelce will remain the top fantasy TE entering the 2020s.

Harrison Butker, K, Kansas City Chiefs2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

The Chiefs averaged 28+ points per game this season and finished a game with less than 23 once. Kickers thrive on scoring offenses and Butker was the ultimate "set and forget" kicker on 2019.

New England Patriots, DST

The 49ers and Steelers were close in fantasy terms, but the Patriots were tops in points and yardage allowed. They were second in takeaways with 36 this season.

Low Magnitude

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Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

Baker had just three 300+ games in 2019, but the worst part of it was that he wasn't connecting with Odell Beckham. The clear winner on the other end was Jarvis Landry. A new coach and a new system is something fantasy fans can gamble on. OBJ bouncing back into WR1 consideration is a fantasy debate for the 2020 off-season.

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

The DJ fantasy era is over. He did little for fantasy when we look at the body of work. His late season surge in 2015 won fantasy championships and his 2100+ scrimyards output in 2016 really put him on the map. However, the Week 1 loss for the season in 2017 seems like the watershed. Sadly, Johnson ultimately became droppable in dynasty.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Four straight 1000+ seasons receiving was followed up with... 583 yards in 2019. He's a bounce-back candidate for 2020 as the Rams play in their new stadium.

O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Several tight ends fell short of the mark this season and most owners took what they could get. That said, Howard easily leads the list based on the fantasy anticipation to open the season. The Tampa Bay offense has some changes to come in 2020 for Jameis Winston.

Same old stories...

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Antonio Brown

What is wrong with Brown? Every so often we get these tweet explosions from him when his brain gets particularly itchy. Just when you think the swelling of his head is going down, he gets the urge to take bite at someone. Brown hasn't gotten over JuJu Smith-Schuster, Derek Carr and the Patriots dumping him.

Josh Gordon2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

From here on, all hype trains with Gordon are canceled. He couldn't even stay clean in the easy-going confines of Seattle. Then again, the loose jurisdiction for once-illicit drugs in Washington State probably contributed to the temptation.

Colin Kaepernick

One of the biggest nothing burgers of the season happened on Nov. 16 when Kaepernick invited scouts and the press to watch him throw footballs. Kaepernick is of course toxic for reasons far different than the above characters. The meaningless of that workout display demonstrated that Kap needs publicity more than a football team.

Vontaze Burfict

His hit on Jack Doyle might have led to an already thin fantasy TE pool getting worse. The history of Burfict continues to show the need to keep the cheap shot out of football. Coupling this with the fit of rage from Myles Garrett and the helmet incident, the rules and fines may get tougher next season.

A few watchlisters...

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Breshad Perriman, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Perriman came on strong to advertise himself perfectly in the injury absences of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Perriman becomes an interesting free agent in fantasy, but we know that his value has heavy dependence on the team he signs with.

Boston Scott, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Scott had a poor outing in the Wild Card game versus the Seahawks, but this guy has potential for a role in the Eagles' offense. With Darren Sproles retiring and Jordan Howard entering free agency, Scott has a superb chance for a decent role moving forward.2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

A. J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

The other hulking mass from Ole Miss with D.K. Metcalf, Brown impressed us in fantasy this season. He and Metcalf are destined for high ADP consideration in 2020. Although Metcalf has the better makings of an NFL playmaker, Brown out-yardaged his former Rebels teammate and made it into the 1000 yard club in 2019.

Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Like several others, I jumped the gun on Thompson in 2019. The Chiefs have decided that he isn't quite ripe enough. This is fine. Next season I doubt we'll see LeSean McCoy return and Thompson has a chance to climb the depth chart with Damien Williams in a contract year. Not forgetting Darrel Williams returning from IR.

Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans

This year we saw Smith take over the Delaney Walker role in the Tennessee offense. His numbers in fantasy down the stretch were particulary impressive. Clearly the Titans will get this guy more involvement in 2020.

Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Although we tout JuJu Smith-Schuster as the number one receiver in Pittsburgh, that might not be the case in 2020. Johnson looked like the number one in several of the Pittsburgh games this season. Ben Roethlisberger, for whatever shape he'll be in his 38th year, Johnson will receive his due attention in the offense moving forward.

D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Chark is the first 1000+ receiver on the Jags since Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in 2015. An afterthought compared to Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, Keelan Cole and Marqise Lee when the season started. It's still a crowded group, but Chark has risen to the top. The eight touchdowns may see regression in 2020, but Chark remains the WR to own in Jacksonville.

DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

Okay, I'm sold. After five long seasons, Parker finally breaks for his first 1000+ yard season. In fact, he hauled in 1200+ yards. The problem is, the wait has taken so long that anything positive Parker does could be an outlier. Next season he could revert to those wonderful sub-par seasons. Parker is the very definition of a cautionary tale in fantasy.

Ahead for 2020 in Free Agency

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Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

The Patriots are in decline as a new decade begins. Six Super Bowls in nine trips with 18 AFC East titles from 2001. Would Brady sign a team-friendly single season contract? The Patriots are bigger than any one player, even Brady, but what's due is due. A balancing act between that and the team's future is the debate in 2020.

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

Brees is much in the same boat as Brady. Perhaps not all the shiny hardware he would like, but a quarterback of his magnitude without a single championship would be worse. The Saints may ride him another year, but Teddy Bridgewater is once again a hot property and the Saints cannot possibly hold both.

Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

The problem child of the Cowboys. Dak Prescott is secure, but what does Dallas do about Cooper and expectations for his services? His status reminds one of a high-end journeyman receiver like that of a Brandon Marshall, Emmanuel Sanders, or DeSean Jackson. We shall see how the Cowboys decide what his future is.

Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

The clock ticks. Rivers is near the end and we'll know what the future holds depending on what the Chargers do in the draft. That should tell us the story.

Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We should know what Bruce Arians decides before the Super Bowl on Winston's future. Changes at quarterback will create intractable connections with the fantasy receivers on the team. We've become accustomed to the chemistry Winston has with our favorites. Should he leave the team, reconstituted fantasy evaluations will go into overdrive on the Bucs.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

The holdout was a bust. After Gordon leaves the Chargers, fantasy will follow his move. However, the enthusiasm for his landing spot might not reach the same heights as Le'Veon Bell last season. Gordon's status is more of a dynasty issue and redraft owners will adjust to the ADP based on the regular commentaries and off-season evaluations.

Other Free Agency Notables

2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

  • Derrick Henry - Pay the man
  • Kenyan Drake - Stays with the Cards and player with RB1 upside
  • Emmanuel Sanders - Test the market
  • Robby Anderson - A new team will raise interest

Predictions2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

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NFC East rises again

We'll finally see the shipwrecked NFC East rescued from the island of futility we've seen over the past couple of years. Only the Eagles will retain the same coach. The Cowboys, Giants and Redskins are all cleaning house. Fantasy jewels will come out of the new woodwork.2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

Burrow's Bengals

After coaches, the main item of business is the franchise quarterback. Heisman winners don't guarantee success, but after Andy Dalton, we in fantasy will take anything. Joe Burrow is practically a lock prediction to wear orange and black. He will surprise on the good side and make a strong transition to the pros.

NFL Review Pass Interference as a Spot Foul

The challenge process for pass interference didn't quite work out in 2019. It's time to use the college rule with a 15 yard limit. It helps with challenges because referees do not have to reverse a call that has a direct bearing on an outcome. Teams can use PI ambiguity to get a spot foul by taking random deep shots in hopes of seeing glorious yellow confetti. It's time to rectify the penalty.2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

17 Game Season Stays Off the Table - For Now

It was a main topic of the 2019 NFL fall meetings, but apparently "significant" opposition put it on the back burner. I don't think the owners will press for it in 2020 at all. However, the subject is bound to resurge if the NFL begins to invite the idea of expansion in the 2020s.

The Browns Will Give This Latest Reboot a Chance

We wait for the Browns. And wait. Only one team wins a Super Bowl every year, but putting a team in contention for the title is the real goal. Kevin Stefanski looks like the solid choice the Browns need to get there. It won't be immediate, but I think the Browns will side with patience.2019 Fantasy Football Season Brief Review

The Same Old Cowboys

As for Dallas, the hiring of Mike McCarthy will not end the problems. I firmly believe that Jerry Jones is the systemic issue. Another thing that's really important - Mike McCarthy hates your fantasy team. The worst part about McCarthy is his use of running backs. I can see calls of "free Zeke" coming in 2020. Pressure will mount because $90m is not a part-time wage Jones expects to pay Elliott.


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So as we prepare to file away 2019 into record books, here's one thing to prepare for. We've got a bigger load of ambiguous stats to sort through for fantasy. We can almost wipe out the September and October stats entirely in the reckoning. But many won't, because memories are short and magnetic ink doesn't dry and peel.

The Steelers were without Roethliberger, that wipes out all relevant offensive stats. Ryan Tannehill took over from Marcus Mariota mid-season. New York Giants will have a new coach and system with a second-year quarterback with proper grass stains. This is just a few of the many problems evaluating the pro field in fantasy come 2020.

2020 is like a reset. We may need to gear our thinking outside of the norms we've established during the 2010s. There's radical changes coming for fantasy and plain old redraft as we've come to know it will diversify into the several off-shoots we already began to see over the past couple of seasons.

Check out the rest of our 2019 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers.

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