2019 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

2019 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Preview: Finding Bobby Woods

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Welcome to the 2019 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Preview. Our third installment of 2019 Fantasy Football Position Previews.

Robert Woods. That was my guy. I had my WR3 with WR2 potential, locked and loaded. I chuckled under my breath as Michael Crabtree, Nelson Agholor, and Randall Cobb flew off the board in round 8. Ha. Has beens. Fantasy doo doo butter. My fellow league managers are truly the gifts that keep on giving. Dudes just don’t know how to locate the cliff.

I dragged my boy Bobby Woods to the top of my Yahoo! draft queue. Kelvin Benjamin lit up the selection screen. My college buddy who used to actually go streaking, through the quad, and into the gymnasium, must have really believed in year one Josh Allen.


You couldn’t find a bead of sweat on me. I was about to disrupt the fantasy system. Then it happened.

It was Dave. Dave from LA. Dave, the guy who repped USC even though he went to Cal State Stanislaus.

Frickin Dave. The yearly auto drafter. The guy who never makes a peep in the group iMessage thread. How?

His text reaped my fantasy football soul: “I saw the Rams helmet and thought it was that Edelman-ish guy that Goff lives with.”

Frickin Dave.

Deep Diving

No position merits a deep dive more than wide receiver. Regardless of how many teams in your league. No matter how expert and seasoned your league mates are. The case of Dave the LA auto drafter may sound extreme, but consider where we are in NFL history.

Patrick Mahomes, Sean McVay, and that MNF game that was almost in Mexico, are a perfect representation of the fantasy times. There is wideout talent all around us. The waiver wire can present it at any time. And the best time to learn about it is now.

During #DraftSZN, finding your own Bobby Woods is a smart move. However, managers who are in it to win it are committed to finding every possible Bobby Woods out there.

We’re talking the flashes who left us too early in 2018. Think Dolphins‘ wideout Albert Wilson.

The guys who have no choice but to step up after the hype like the Steeler’s James Washington. Antonio gone!

Find the Narratives

Then we are highlighting the fact that three of the worst pass defenses (Ind, Hou, Ten) were in the same division as the best (Jax). And that team just added a Super Bowl MVP at the QB position after rolling out free Bortles Service.

Find the narratives that drive your fantasy drafting passion. One of mine is looking for this year’s Robert Woods. The guy who emerges with an impressively consistent target share – in twelve 2017 games, Woods had seven or more targets in eight of them – in a pass friendly offense. One that loss Sammy Watkins heading into 2018.

#DraftSZN is almost upon us. Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, watch out now, it’s preview time…

2019 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Preview

Free five-minute mock drafts against industry experts and custom analysis for your team with the FantasyPros Draft Wizard.

Who will [actually] break out in Year 3?

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (WR ADP: 20)

Godwin enters weekly WR2 floor territory in year one of the Bruce Arians era. The 6’1, 209 Buc has his new head coaches’ fantasy endorsement, with the flat cap lover giving us a new use for the drool emoji. A 100-catch season, a role as the slot wide receiver (paging Larry Fitz?), and the phrase “never coming off the field” all attributed to Godwin’s potential 2019 work load.

Jameis had loved himself some Adam Humphries in the slot, but he’s now in Tennessee (more on him later). Another of Jameis’ favorites, Cameron Brate is often mentioned as a non-fit in Arians system behind fellow tight end and breakout candidate O.J. Howard. With no guaranteed money after 2019, he could be on the move. Mike Evans‘ dead cap drops from ~$14mil next season to $2.4mil in 2021. Godwin is the perfect spot to earn that next major contract and the Bucs could have the flexibility to get it done.

Godwin finished the 2018 fantasy season with a 9-6-114-2 TD line. The seven 2018 touchdowns were promising, and he now resides in a position formerly occupied by Larry Fitzgerald in Arian’s offense. All signs point to continued progress and the right value at his current ADP.

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (WR ADP: 25.3)

Hunter Henry truthers, lend me your ears. Tyrell Williams jersey owners, your unique taste in memorabilia is appreciated.

I have seen the call for Mike Williams’ regression after a great second-year leap in 2018. After a rookie season where he didn’t see action until week 8 (10 G – 11 rec – 86 yds – 0 TD), Williams was finally health[ier] to the tune of 63 targets – 43 rec – 664 yds – 11 total TDs. The piece de resistance was his three TD road performance at Kansas City that included the game-winning 2-pt conversion with near zeros on the clock.

Williams had 3 multi-TD games last season. Really his first with a training camp, live offseason and practice reps with Phillip Rivers. Worried about the target share or red zone decline with Henry coming back? I’m not. Williams was tied for eighth amongst receivers last season with nine targets inside the ten-yard line (Godwin was tied for third with 11). He caught six of them, all for TDs.

With Tyrell Williams and his 65 targets and five TDs in Oakland, Mike Williams is a starter opposite injury prone Keenan Allen. Hunter Henry is far removed from his ACL injury, but game speed will take time. He is entering his third year with HC Anthony Lynn accompanied by a press release from the Chargers highlighting his increased role.

I’m pulling the trigger early on Mike Williams at his current WR ADP of 25.2. He’s currently being taken along the likes of D.J. Moore, Sammy Watkins, and Alshon Jeffery. Give me Williams’ upside in that offense with Rivers. He’s one of my 2019 Booby Woods Targets.

Also Consider…

  • Curtis Samuel is a freak. I get the DJ Moore love, but if I had to roll with a Boom or Bust WR3 with a high ceiling in standard, I’m going Samuel.
  • Corey Davis gets a new OC. Again. Insert playoff game against Patriots reference. It’s not the player that concerns me. It’s the price you may have to pay, the lack of upside after two seasons, and Mariota. A.J. Brown and free agent grab Adam Humphries join up with Taywan Taylor in the slot. All of them in the slot (smh). Combine that with what Derrick Henry was FINALLY allowed to do late last season, one would think HC would turn to the run game a bit more in 2019. One would think…
  • Since this is third-year breakouts, the pair of Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole down South with Nick Foles and new/old friend John DeFillipo at OC are worth noting. DeFilipo oversaw Adam Theilen taking the ultimate step last year until flaming out as DeFilipo was fired. Cole has amazing hands. DeDe was a Heisman finalist and has flashed, lacking consistency. But Marquise Lee is still projected as top dog (for now). And I have this feeling that Foles will continue trusting larger targets after watching him feed Alshon and Ertz over the past two seasons. Keep an eye on D.J. Chark’s (6’4) progress during training camp.

Will Old Faces in New Places Deliver?

Adam Humphries, Tennesse Titans (WR ADP: 66)

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There is so much talent in the Titans locker room. There’s also so much confusion. Three straight 9-7 finishes must be frustrating to a loyal fan base. Marcus Mariota has battled through injury and coordinator changes throughout his NFL career. I wonder if Jack Conklin will ever get a chance to be healthy again as well.

But I digress. Humphries was arguably the best slot guy on the market. Never mind that Taywan Taylor is entering just his third season. Sure he can play outside, but where does that put the 51st overall pick in this year’s draft AJ Brown. Here’s what we wrote after the draft:

“Our major concern for [Brown’s] immediate outlook is his landing spot. With former OC Matt LaFleur calling the shots in Green Bay, the Titans promoted longtime staff member and previous tight ends coach Arthur Smith. Smith, 36, has limited info, but the internal promotion suggests a commitment to the system.

The Titans offense looked real with Derrick Henry as its lead dog. From a football and fantasy perspective, this doesn’t bode well for Brown in season one. Another question is Marcus Mariota. Mariota has not been able to deliver the ball to a WR with continuity and success. The idea that Corey Davis is 1A and Brown will be his 1B is not enticing from a numbers perspective.”

Adam Humphries is a true slot receiver. He was paid free agent money to man the slot. But his target share in this offense, with suddenly many mouths to feed (don’t forget Dion Lewis and Delaine Walker/ Jonnu Smith), translates to limited success in 2019.

Even if you earmark him as a significant upgrade on Taywan Taylor (56 targets in 2018), we don’t expect his role being worthy of spending draft capital on until he proves it. Unless he shows preseason rapport with consistency save him for FAAB.

Devin Funchess, Indianapolis Colts (WR ADP: 54.7)

One year, $10 million. Being able to bet on one’s self with a one year prove it deal is what separates us from the animals. The ongoing narrative is that Luck was able to resurrect Eric Ebron‘s career. So why not the same for Funchess?

At his current ADP, I’m buying that narrative. First, he’s coming off a seven-touchdown season with a much less accurate passer.

Second, the Colt’s O-line is arguably tops in the league. An Andrew Luck with time, especially in the red zone, will find a 6’4 Devin Funchess.

Third, remember that Dontrelle Inman was useful as the starting wide opposite TY Hilton last years. Inman’s 2018 game log:

Regular Season Table
Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Scor Scor
G# Opp Result GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Ctch% Y/Tgt TD Pts
7 BUF W 37-5 * 0 0 0 0 0.0% 0 0
8 OAK W 42-28 * 7 6 52 8.67 0 85.7% 7.43 0 0
9 JAX W 29-26 4 4 41 10.25 0 100.0% 10.25 0 0
10 TEN W 38-10 * 6 4 34 8.50 1 66.7% 5.67 1 6
11 MIA W 27-24 * 4 3 40 13.33 0 75.0% 10.00 0 0
12 JAX L 0-6 6 2 14 7.00 0 33.3% 2.33 0 0
14 DAL W 23-0 1 0 0 0 0.0% 0.00 0 0
15 NYG W 28-27 5 4 46 11.50 1 80.0% 9.20 1 6
16 TEN W 33-17 6 5 77 15.40 1 83.3% 12.83 1 6
8-1-0 39 28 304 10.86 3 71.8% 7.79 3 18
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/25/2019.

GM Chris Ballard has proven a wise man. Funchess is productive 25-year-old former 2nd rounder on a one year prove it deal. His biggest challenger to his role is Chester Rogers and maybe rookie Parris Campbell (more on him in a minute). This is an explosive offense. Grab any piece of elite offenses when you can. Funchess has the makings of a high floor WR3 with double-digit TD potential.

And the 2019 Fantasy WR rookie of the year will be…

NFC: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

AFC: Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts

From our draft reaction:

Speeeeed Racer! Andrew Luck got quite the new toy in the form of 59th overall pick Parris Campbell. The pick triggered the memory of his 78 yard TD scamper against Michigan emphasizing his 4.31 speed.

A product of Lebron James ’ alma mater St. Vincent-St. Mary, Campbell was ranked a top-20 recruit at running back, wide receiver, and athlete. He set the state of Ohio’s record in the 60-meter dash in 2014.

Campbell began his collegiate career struggling with dropped passes. Former coach Urban Meyer stated he worked effortlessly on his hands and the results paid off on the field. Meyer also added that Campbell emerged as a leader in the locker room as his Ohio State career progressed.

In college, Campbell was deployed as an H-back. I dug into Reich’s history, and on the surface, there are two players who thrived in what could be a similar role in this Colts offense. Reich’s first season as an offensive coordinator was with the 2015 Chargers. He deployed Danny Woodhead that season with the type of usage we would like to see for Campbell as his career progresses. Woodhead led the chargers in targets (80) while carrying the rock 98 times.

The 98 carries is a sketchy stretch on my part, but Harris goes 6’0, 205. He’s not a little guy by any means. He can tote the rock, and we can envision 15-25 backfield touches being realistic. Fast forwarding to the 2018 Colts, Nyheim Hines was targeted 80 times, good for third on the team. Imagine a player as electric as Campbell as a threat on the field alongside Marlon Mack, TY Hilton, Devin Funchess, and Eric Ebron.

If the hands and lack of extensive route tree scare you, stop self-sabotaging your fantasy teams. The odds of Frank Reich finding ways to set the rookie up for success is worth betting on with draft capital. Meyer insinuated the Colts drafted themselves the next Percy Harvin.


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Reich agrees. He’s on the record that the Colts offense “isn’t fair” after adding Campbell.

Draft Strategies

Zero RB: Spicy Meatballs

Are you a risk taker? Passing on RB in the first two rounds means you are locked into the idea of a Marlon Mack-Kerryon Johnson backfield. That’s not terrible. Feel free to substitute Mack for Aaron Jones or a healthy Devonta Freeman. Kerryon could be replaced with the rookie crop of Josh Jacobs or David Montgomery. Phillip Lindsay, Derrick Henry and Sony Michel could also be had.

The idea of going all-in on receivers in the first two rounds is that consistency at the position continued to persist across the elite tier in 2018. It sounds strange but it actually might be risk-averse to start with Hopkins/Adams/Julio/Thomas/ODB and follow with JuJu/Evans/AB/Hilton/Thielen.

Caveat Emptor: Know well in advance what your running back options are in rounds 3-5. Have a back up to the backup options you have. Don’t circle in on just one RB target in these rounds. I would liken that to Gettleman drafting Daniel Jones. Fall in love with more than one player. Watch more than one play. If you can pivot in real time, you’re draft and all the prep were for naught.

With wide receiver depth through the entire draft, you’re risking a lot passing on an elite RB. This in spite of the obvious higher injury risk/inconsistency amongst elite RBs from year to year.

Zero WR: Tried, True, but Times Have Changed

Again. Are you a risk taker? Let’s just speed ahead to the crux of this method. Current ADP trends for 0.5 PPR/12 team leagues say you have a potential pick of the following RBs in the second round: Conner, Dalvin, Gurley, Damien Williams, Fournette, Mack.

You need to lock-in to the potential of these guys being significantly better than the difference an elite receiver would give you over your competition.

Then ask, do you think that the talent in the 5th tier of running backs is equivalent to 5th tier receiver talent? It’s a passing league. There is more talent and theoretical fantasy points to be had in later round wide receivers then later round running backs.

In fact, for FAAB leaguers, the strategy of salvaging your stash for mid-season RB injuries has proven solid gamble. It’s sad, but depth chart backups and emerging rookies acquired with large FAAB bids can change a season in a moment.

The Cereal Method: A Balanced Breakfast/Approach

It’s so easy to go with cereal in the morning. It’s not sexy. At first. But when you think about it, it’s the fastest and very trustworthy way to start your day.

The best part? Once you’re done with breakfast you can mix it up however you want. Want to add a Kelce/Ertz/Kittle? With at least one elite player at both core position, yes you can.

Think that Watson is fully recovered from that ACL tear? Especially if your league is 4 points per passing TD, giving rushing quarterbacks a slight edge. Do you believe Watson’s legs return and put him back on his rookie season trajectory?

Grabbing at least one elite RB and WR opens up endless possibilities. It also opens the door for more risk as the draft progresses. Consider round 5 after going RB-WR-TE-RB. You have options at WR including Chris Godwin and Jarvis Landry. You could go Watson or Baker and solidify your team with top-5 assets at each offensive position.

What am I getting at? If you wait too long at any position that means you built bench depth somewhere or you now have a glaring weakness. The balanced approach allows for you to breathe easy and focus on adding starters to your fantasy team first. League winners look to win by taking the best player available who can start every week.

Which means round 7 on is exponentially more fun. Since you’ve confidently filled out most of your starting roster with good to elite talent, you can swing for the fences at WR at any time. You can reach for a RB you like a few rounds early. This also allows you to jump ADP if you like a particular rookie or…dare I say…D/ST. Just kidding Kevin.

Always, Always, Always…Mock, Mock, Mock

We’re not just stumping for fantasy pros across the fantasy blog boy universe for kicks and giggles. Check ADP. You know who’s last minute mocking in your league and who’s been dialed in since…well now.

Reaches

Will Fuller, Houston Texans (WR ADP: 32.7)

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Fuller was a popular WR2/3 and breakout pick in 2018. And he was delivering true to form. Then the world (and some of my fantasy dreams) were crushed on the week 8 installment of TNF (10/25) when he signaled to the sidelines.

Grabbing a world burner the year after an ACL tear is an easily identifiable risk. I often think the 2012 versions of Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles screwed with my consideration of these injuries. Turned out they were both just freaks.

Fuller is currently being drafted before Corey Davis (34.7), Kingsbury-aided breakout candidate Christian Kirk (35), the Giants newly anointed WR1 Sterling Shepard (35.3), and the undisputed Lions WR1 Marvin Jones (35.7). Give me healthy potential or proven talent with more opportunity before an ACL-less assassin like Fuller. On draft day this dude abides to non-injured speedsters.

However, if Fuller struggles early in the box score to get it going there may some mischief to be managed here. Say he struggles out the gate. But if the knee looks like it improves from week to week, he’s a solid trade deadline target. Check when your trade deadline is but considering monitoring him in “predatory bird on the beach during baby sea turtle birth mode.”

The Texans play the Jags in week 9 (Nov 3) followed by a Week 10 bye. If the knee shows improvement, I might pull the trigger around Week 8 if I have the space and a desperate league manager (the Jags could scare them off, and they could feel like they’re fleecing you with the bye coming up). He could have a big second half, if healthy and in full swing.

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings (WR ADP: 10)

Regular Season Table
Rece Rece Rece Rece
G# Opp Result Tgt Rec Yds TD
1 SFO W 24-16 12 6 102 0
2 GNB T 29-29 13 12 131 1
3 BUF L 6-27 19 14 105 0
4 LAR L 31-38 12 8 135 1
5 PHI W 23-21 10 7 116 1
6 ARI W 27-17 13 11 123 1
7 NYJ W 37-17 10 9 110 1
8 NOR L 20-30 7 7 103 1
9 DET W 24-9 7 4 22 1
10 CHI L 20-25 12 7 66 0
11 GNB W 24-17 9 8 125 1
12 NWE L 10-24 10 5 28 1
13 SEA L 7-21 7 5 70 0
14 MIA W 41-17 2 2 19 0
15 DET W 27-9 6 5 80 0
16 CHI L 10-24 4 3 38 0
8-7-1 153 113 1373 9
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/25/2019.

Thielen is, unfortunately, the most talented reach I have come across in years..for fantasy purposes. Before we get into the “thoughts and prayers” routine, Thielen’s football life is far from over.

But sometimes life comes at you fast. After the week 14 firing of OC John Defillipo it was clear there was philosophical discord in Minnesota. Thelien finished the season on the lowest of notes, averaging 3.75 receptions on 4.75 targets for 51.75 yards and ZERO TDs across his final four.

If you are in a TD heavy league or you value TDs as a draft parameter, Thielen’s career-high nine comes with the caveat he only had three across his final eight games. And this coincided with the reemergence of Dalvin Cook. After missing an early chunk of 2018 (4 total), Cook ended the final fives games of the season with notably more touches/game (17, 18, 20, 19, 15) then his preceding five (13, 10, 14, 12, 13).

I’m not sure if Stefon Diggs‘ chest bruise (missed week 9 into the week 10 bye) lingered. And this being year one of the Kirk Cousins experience really doesn’t register given the half-season splits. This looks like a Mike Zimmer based philosophical change that devalues Thielen as the 10th WR off the board. I’m painfully avoiding at his current value and would strongly consider going RB over him outright.

Steals

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (WR ADP:12.7)

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There’s a possibility that A.J. Green may make it back to you as far as the 4th round. That’s turrible fantasy drafting. A player with top-5 potential at his position with his track record? Are the injury scares to blame?

Predicting health is tough and unless a player has an insane track record (Keenan Allen, finally healthy) or is coming off a major injury (Will Fuller-ACL), I feel comfortable betting on him to be on the field, especially given how he reacted to the Bengals putting him on IR in 2016.

Green was actually healthy through 2017, but underperformed along with the entire Bengals offense. If you’re into analytics, Sports Injury Predictor’s modeling system gives A.J. a good chance to be healthy through 2019.

I understand that Green is entering his age-31 season. But fellow 2011 top pick Julio Jones‘ foot concerns from early in his career have diminished over time. Jones has dealt with foot issues as recently as late in 2018.

The rationale as to why Green’s injuries and age don’t bother me is that he and Jones are gamers. They want to be on the field, and they have to have a sense that their careers are approaching the later stage. I’ll bet on the track record of these two elite athletes until they say “no mas.”

Sure, call it a weak narrative, but take into account the price. If I hit on Green as my WR2 after going RB-WR through two rounds, that’s elite week to week points separation from the competition. League winner status.

Which brings us to the core issue. Marvin Lewis is gone. Forever. Enter new head coach and Sean McVay disciple Zac Taylor. Green himself has admitted that the change was refreshing, emphasizing the offensive side of the ball:

“I think it’s going to be a lot of down-the-field shots and big plays and a lot of point-scoring,” he said of the offense. “I think it’s going to fit me very well because my game is a lot of down-the-field stuff, big chunk plays down the field. So I’m very excited.”

I will gladly take Green over T.Y Hilton, Adam Thielen, Amari Cooper, all of whom are currently being drafted ahead of him. If by chance Julian Edelman or Brandin Cooks (painful, but true) continue to sneak up into his ADP neighborhood, I wouldn’t waste a draft second in picking Green over them.

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos (WR ADP: 40.3)

I’ve enjoyed watching Emmanuel Sanders break ankles throughout his Denver tenure. But an Achilles injury heading into his age-33 season is no bueno.

Sutton may have underwhelmed most with his rookie season, even after Sanders went down:

  • First Half (1 start): 4.6 targets – 2.13 – 40.5 yds – 2 TDs
  • Second Half (all starts): 5.9 targets – 3.13 catches – 47.5 yds – 2 TDs

Why waste your time with these numbers? Because Case Keenum. Playerprofiler.com has Sutton’s target accuracy ranked 77th amongst wideouts last season. On his end, he was top-25 in both drop rate (7.1%) and contested catch rate (34.8%). The 6’3 Sutton was also top-10 in end zone target share.

New offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello comes from Kyle Shanahan’s coaching tree, recently serving as the 49ers QBs coach. If Sutton assumes the X receiver role, with Noah Fant as George Kittle, then I’m drafting Sutton with a selfish year two Alshon Jeffrey ceiling (2013: 148 Targets, 89 receptions, 1421 yards, 7 TDs) as my home run cap. That’s the difference between Keenum (Jay Cutler in this exercise) and Flacco (Josh McCown).

With many people looking to Tyler Lockett (WR ADP: 22.3) as a breakout, but I’d rather wait three rounds and snag Sutton in the 8th/9th. Flacco has something to prove, because Sutton has the talent and pedigree, and Elway is on a hot seat. This is the home run swing I’m willing to take at WR in 2019.


Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Page for more advice to get you prepared for the 2019 season.

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2019 Fantasy Football Running Back Preview

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About Samir Qurashi

Samir Qurashi is from the Bay. He thinks football is a good time. You can get at him with any fantasy football questions on the tweeter: @FSPsamir and by electronica: ssq.FSP@gmail.com. He remains unspooked.

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