Five Potential Fantasy Football League Winning Players
You want to win your fantasy football league. I want to win my fantasy football leagues and I want you to win yours too. While our guides to Zero RB Drafting and dominating DRAFT Best Ball leagues lay out the framework for the best ways to structure your drafts, there is more to the process. You have to accumulate the right types of players on your rosters and even further, you have to #PickTheRightPlayers. Fantasy football draft advice has to be better than just “pick the right players” but it is important to construct your rosters with players who have league-winning ceilings. Every season, there are players who are selected in the latter portions of fantasy football drafts who ascend to the heights of their position and help owners win a fantasy football league. Patrick Mahomes, James Conner, James White, Tyler Boyd, Jared Cook, and Eric Ebron are prime examples of this from last season. You weren’t forced to spend truly premium picks on any of these players and yet they continually reoccured on fantasy football teams that won their leagues in 2018. What follows is a group of players who can win your league if their playing time and usage hit their upper percentile.
We have already covered Allen’s prospects a little in our Five Sleeper Quarterbacks article but I want to continue to hammer home an important part about drafting quarterbacks. When you are eying late-round quarterback selections in your fantasy football league, the most important aspect of drafting them is upside. In an ideal world, your streaming quarterback turns into your every week starter. The only realistic ways to achieve that are to draft a quarterback that is an ascending offense with 4500/35 touchdown potential (Jameis Winston) or quarterbacks with significant rushing potential. Simply by adding the equivalent of .25 touchdowns per week and 40 rushing yards, quarterbacks can add five fantasy points per game to their average. While Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott offer similar rushing potential, Allen not only has designed runs but was one of the best scramblers in the NFL last season. Allen averaged 7.1 yards per rushing attempt last year and theoretically, the passing game infrastructure should be better for him this year with the additions of John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Tyler Kroft. You will be able to cut Allen with no issues if he shows early on in the season that he is not running as often or as well as he did in 2018 (though we do not anticipate that).
Last year’s Baltimore Ravens under Lamar Jackson were one of the most run-heavy teams that the NFL had seen since the 1970s. In Lamar Jackson’s starts, they ran the ball over 45 times on four separate occasions and had four players with 60 or more carries. They had two running backs top 114 carries and split the work fairly evenly between Kenneth Dixon and Gus Edwards in those games. Dixon and Edwards have been replaced by the 3o-year old Mark Ingram and an explosive draft pick in Justice Hill. The reasons why Hill can win your league are two-fold. He will have a week-to-week role as the primary pass-catching back for a team that will be relying on short throws to make life easier for their inaccurate quarterback. Secondly, Hill has maybe the best upside of any backup running back in the league because if Mark Ingram were to miss time with injury, he would be both the passing down running back and the primary rusher behind Lamar Jackson. The team is ready to move on from Kenneth Dixon and will likely leave Gus Edwards in the reserves for much of the season after spending the 113th overall pick on Justice Hill in the 2019 NFL Draft. Hill’s unique blend of college production (49 receptions, 31 touchdowns, 5.6 yards per carry) and athleticism (4.40 40 time at 198 pounds) in a run-heavy offense make him an ideal Zero RB draft pick with fantasy football league winning upside.
Realistically, Mattison’s chances of winning your league are on par with Chase Edmonds, Tony Pollard or several other high-end fantasy football handcuffs. However, there are some specific reasons why Mattison is in a unique situation relative to his fantasy football league ADP. Mattison will be entering the season playing behind Dalvin Cook who has only been able to play in 15 games in his two-year NFL career. Cook has well below average athleticism for his position which might be a reasonable expectation for why he has missed time. Mattison was an impressive player at Boise State, rushing for over 1,000 yards in two straight seasons while catching 60 passes and scoring 34 touchdowns. His athletic profile is not particularly great though his SPARQ profile is better than Cook’s. The Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo because he was too pass-happy and hired Kevin Stefanski from inside the organization. Per the Vikings official website “Stefanski, the longest-tenured coach on the Vikings staff and completed his 13th season with the club in 2018 and has coached quarterbacks, tight ends and running backs in his dozen-plus seasons with the team. Stefanski served as the quarterback’s coach in 2017 and 2018 before being elevated to interim offensive coordinator for the final three games of the 2018 season.” Essentially, the team promoted a good soldier because the head coach wants to #GroundAndPound. The other assorted running backs on the roster are either raw prospects (Mike Boone, Roc Thomas) or retreads (Ameer Abdullah). Mattison is not a David Johnson/Alvin Kamara level talent as a handcuff running back but playing in an offense that wants to run as much as possible behind such an injury prone back is a very ideal back-end-of-the-roster RB stash.
Fantasy football league titles are often delivered when a team runs on the positive side of variance for a significant period of time. Part of that variance is finding long touchdowns. Perhaps no player is better in the entire NFL at finding ways to create touchdown variance than Will Fuller. In his three year career (with 31 games played), Fuller has scored seven touchdowns from further than 20 yards out and four touchdowns 48 yards out or more. He averaged 11.2 yards per target last season in seven games and averaged 1.5 more yards in average depth of target than DeAndre Hopkins. While his game to game standard deviation is going to be much wider than DeAndre Hopkins and maybe even Keke Coutee (who gets targets much closer to the line of scrimmage), an entire healthy season from Fuller and All-Pro quarterback Deshaun Watson has the potential to really unleash fireworks. We know, inherently, that more deep targets have the ability to turn into more points per target so losing out in targets to Hopkins doesn’t spell a death knell for a league-winning season from Fuller. The odds are that Fuller returns WR2 value with a few weeks missed to injury or weeks where the Texans do not run a passing-heavy script. However, with a viable week-to-week target share from an elite quarterback and the potential variance of running extremely hot on long touchdowns, Fuller has one of the best ceilings of any middle-round wide receiver on the board.
The tight end position, outside of the big three, is all about touchdowns. There were only six tight ends who saw 100 or more targets last season and the tight end who most defied expectations was Eric Ebron who turned up with 14 touchdowns on only 66 (!!!!!!) targets. The chances of finding Travis Kelce/George Kittle/Zach Ertz volume at the position is just exceedingly low. Evan Engram projects well volume wise but will be in one of the least efficient offenses in the NFL. Hunter Henry might be the true mid-round tight end who can offer reasonable volume and touchdown expectation but you are paying for that privilege. On the other hand, the oft-injured Eifert offers real TE1 upside while being essentially free in drafts. Since 2015, Eifert has converted 62% of his redzone targets into touchdowns (by far best in the league) and averages 4.8 targets per game over his whole career. Eifert has performed at a TE1 level in the past and the only reason he is available so cheaply in drafts is his former injuries. We saw how leagues can swing based on touchdown variance at the tight end position (Ebron last year, Kyle Rudolph in 2017) and Eifert has the best chance at creating double-digit touchdowns of any late round TE.
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