Ten Bold Fantasy Football Predictions For The 2019 Fantasy Football Season
Bold predictions are exactly what they sound like: bold. By having defined ideas about how the fantasy football season might go, you can actually make better fantasy teams. If you draft every team with the same vision in your projections as to how the season will go, you will have a more cohesive portfolio of teams. In keeping that vision, you should also have an idea of how seasons go exceptionally well (or exceptionally poorly) for certain players and teams. No one won a fantasy football league just on median projections alone.
What follows are ten bold fantasy football predictions for the 2019 season that are baked into our projections, rankings, premium content, podcasts and the vast array of fantasy football teams that we at RotoExperts have drafted in 2019.
1. Sammy Watkins Sees More Targets Than Tyreek Hill, Both Are Top 12 WR’s
In healthy games for Watkins last year, he saw over six targets per game including two eight-target games in the playoffs. In games Watkins played, Hill had his normal 8.4 targets per game but that includes two games where Watkins left early with his chronic foot issues. The reasons for Watkins being targeted more than Hill is that he is a bit better at playing conventional wide receiver, Watkins won’t see shadow coverage from the likes of Jalen Ramsey and also, Hill gets his fantasy numbers on efficiency (10 yards per target for his career). If both of these players see north of 115 targets (which we have them projected for), we could expect the efficiency of the Chiefs offense to propel them to insane fantasy seasons.
2. Lamar Jackson And Kyler Murray Are Both Top Five Fantasy QB’s
We have covered this extensively throughout the offseason but you should know: nothing matters more than rushing for fantasy quarterbacks. Lamar is set to re-break the record he already set for quarterback carries in one season. He wants you to win your fantasy league and has more upside than any other quarterback. Kyler, on the other hand, has been falling in Average Draft Position all offseason due to his poor performance in the preseason. Important things to note about the Cardinals: The Air Raid can still produce fantasy points in losing seasons. Despite only being in the top 25 once at Texas Tech, his teams ran in the top 10th percentile of plays in three of his five seasons. Kyler will have every opportunity to scramble and throw the ball deep in 10 personnel and seeing as how he had the best season in college football history (13 yards per adjusted passing attempt), I am inclined to believe in him.
3. Malcolm Brown Leads The Rams In Carries
Todd Gurley is dealing with a degenerative condition in his knee. The team retained Malcolm Brown and John Kelly while trading up for Darrell Henderson in the NFL draft. They didn’t have to keep Brown but they did, likely because they knew this was coming. Brown got the starters treatment all offseason, sitting on the sidelines in his sweatpants with Todd Gurley while Kelly and Henderson toiled against career backups. The Rams are aware that Gurley is likely not going to be available for long stretches this season and have a running back ready to handle the necessary work of regular-season rushing while Henderson handles some passing downs and learns the speed of the game.
4. The Dallas Cowboys Are Top In The NFL In Points Scored
Dallas has an incredibly talented offense. They have consistently been one of, if not, the best offensive lines in the NFL which is the core component to an elite offense after the quarterback. Dak Prescott has a career YPA of 7.4 despite playing with shoddy wide receivers like aging Dez Bryant for most of his career. The missing ingredient in this offense was a complementary WR2, which Michael Gallup is ready to fill next to Amari Cooper and a creative offensive coordinator. Kellen Moore has drawn rave reviews from outsiders during the entirety of training camp and the Dallas starting offense has looked revolutionized in the preseason even without Ezekiel Elliot and Amari Cooper active. I am buying all Cowboys players possible.
5. Rashard Higgins Replaces Jarvis Landry In The Browns Pecking Order
Jarvis Landry is maybe one of the luckiest players in fantasy football. He has never had any wide receiver seriously challenge him. Davante Parker basically did everything he could to direct targets Landry’s way and last year, the Browns just traded away Landry’s competition for targets. This season, the exact opposite is happening. Odell Beckham has been brought into town and the talented Hollywood Higgins has benefitted from the absence of Antonio Callaway. Landry might be the most over-qualified Danny Amendola replica in the NFL but he has little upside on a per-target basis. There is untapped upside in Rashard Higgins that will cause me to fade Landry as a top 75 pick and target Higgins extremely late.
6. DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel Are Both Top 24 Fantasy WR’s
The most talented pass catchers that Cam Newton ever played with were: Steve Smith in his 30’s, Greg Olsen AFTER this tenure with the Bears, Fat Kelvin Benjamin and noted bust Devin Funchess. The Panthers thought the way to create an offense around Newton was to surround him with immobile statues. I think now they realize the value in putting speed and motion around their talented former MVP quarterback. Moore is one of the best young WR’s the league has seen and perhaps no player drew more rave reviews this offseason than Curtis Samuel. If Newton stays healthy for 16 games, we could see the Panthers support five startable players in fantasy football (Cam, CMC, Olsen, Moore, Samuel).
7. Josh Gordon Plays Sixteen Games
Admittedly, this is more with my heart than my head. My hope is that after an offseason of working on himself with the help of a stronger organization than the Browns, Gordon has been able to find some relief from the demons that haunt him. Gordon’s sophomore NFL season is one of the most singularly incredible things that has occurred in football over the last 20 years. A league-leading 1,646 yards with nine touchdowns, catching passes from Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell. My one wish for the year is that Gordon stays happy and healthy and delivers for all of his fantasy football owners.
8. O.J Howard Is A Top Three Fantasy Tight End
Last year was the year of the tight end, even more so than the some of the crazy Gronk/Graham years. Travis Kelce broke the receiving yards record for tight ends, held it for all of about 30 minutes and then Travis Kittle went ahead and broke it. At that same time, Zach Ertz finished with 116 receptions (!!!!). Nothing screams things will regress to the mean than three combined record-breaking seasons. O.J Howard, on the other hand, spent a good chunk of last season on the injured reserve and is now playing as the de facto third wide receiver under Bruce Arians. Some positive touchdown variance in his favor could vault him well up the board at this position.
9. Matt Brieda Finishes As An RB1
Things that are true: Tevin Coleman has been a complementary back every year of his NFL career (never topping 187 carries), Jerrick McKinnon is already injured, Shanahan offenses are elite for running backs, Matt Brieda has only missed two games in his NFL career despite being labeled injury-prone and…Matt Brieda is barely a top 100 pick in fantasy football. Given that Tevin is not signed to an extravagant contract (two years, 10-million), it is pretty reasonable to think that if Brieda plays better that Coleman, he will get more touches. With Jimmy Garoppolo back as the starter, it is also not unreasonable to expect the 49ers to be significantly better on offense. I am ready to ride Matt Brieda to the bank.
10. JuJu Smith-Schuster Breaks Calvin Johnson’s Record With Over 2,000 Receiving Yards
Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for: something so sensationally bold you want to tell me that I am stupid but not so implausible you don’t believe it. The Steelers were the pass-heaviest team in the NFL last season and while everyone has them projected to get back to the NFL mean: what if they don’t? What if the Big Ben/Randy Fichtner offense remains one of the most pass-heavy attacks in the NFL? Antonio Brown vacated 168 targets from this offense and the only meaningful addition to the team is Donte Moncrief who has never topped 105 targets in a season. In fact, he is the only player on the roster who has any 100 target seasons to their name other than JuJu Smith-Schuster. Given that Smith-Schuster averages 9.6 yards per target for his career, we have some reason to believe he is a pretty efficient player. We expect that JuJu will see a greater share of the teams targets in 2019 than he did in 2018 so for this be truly plausible, we would just need the Steelers to repeat their passing volume from last year.