Crystal Ball for 2019: The Stars of Tomorrow
The 2018 fantasy season officially begins on Thursday when the Falcons fly to Philadelphia to take on the Super Bowl champion Eagles. This marks the kickoff of the Eagles quest to repeat as champions and the Falcons to prove they are a favorite to win the NFC south. With the start of the season coming, fantasy rosters have been drafted, lineups have been set, and managers aspirations of becoming the best are officially underway.
The common names are out there. Aaron Rodgers is the top QB, while Gurley, Bell, Zeke and David Johnson all strive to be the best running back in the league. Wide receiver is a little more open with names like AB, OBJ, Hopkins, Kennan Allen, and Julio all making the case for the best Fantasy wideout in the game. Gronk, Zeus, and Ertz lead the TE class with names like Graham and Olsen trying to come back to the mountain top of fantasy tight ends. All of these players are being drafted in the top 10 of their position, but theres always that player that takes us by surprise coming from fantasy irrelevance, into a top draft pick the following year. Players like Alex Smith, Alvin Kamara, Tyreek Hill and Adam Thielen outperformed their ADP last season. Knowing the players that will outperform their ADP this year can be key to guiding you to a championship. Let's take a look at the players who will surpass their ADP, making them top choices in the 2019 draft.
Patrick Mahomes is currently the 15th QB coming off the board, behind names like Matt Ryan, Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger. While all are viable fantasy options, look for Mahomes to pass them up and find a place amongst the leagues best signal callers. Mahomes predecessor, Alex Smith, had his best statistical seasons under Andy Reid after smith joined the chiefs in 2013. Posting his best season in 2017, Smith is off to Washington leaving the reigns to Mahomes, whom Kansas City traded up for, with a package of 2 first round selections and a third to take him at #10 overall in the 2017 draft. With a cannon of an arm and good mobility outside the pocket, Mahomes is poised to have a great season. One thing to keep an eye out for is the schedule for Mahomes, having the toughest amongst any QB in the league. Look for Mahomes to have a strong season with a supporting cast that consists of Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, and also the addition of Sammy Watkins. Mahomes is going to make his case to be the best QB in the AFC West and a perennial top 10 QB.
Kenyan Drake was a third round selection in the 2016 NFL draft out of Alabama. Currently sitting as the 17th RB off the board, look for Drake to outperform the draft cost it takes to acquire him. When given the opportunity as the lead back in Miami, after they had traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles, Drake excelled. Since week 13 of the 2017 season, Drake had double digit carries in every game, tallying 444 yards in the 5 contests. Drake added 3 touchdowns as well as 17 of his 32 receptions on the season. Drake has the 6th easiest schedule amongst RB, and look for Gase and Miami to exploit that. One thing that may put a damper on Drakes stats this year is the Dolphins adding the ageless wonder, Frank Gore, to their backfield this offseason. Personally, I look at this as a "riding off into the sunset" stop for Gore, going back to where his collegiate career had began. He will get some carries, but look for the Phins to utilize Drake and his ability to make guys miss. Adam Gase said he sees both backs as starters, but Drakes ability will put him in the top 12 spotlight come next years draft.
Sony Michel is currently sitting at the RB 32. Michel, the third RB taken in the 2018 NFL draft, looks to make the best of a great opportunity with the New England Patriots and their high powered offense. Granted he goes against everything I stand for, which means never drafting a RB from New England because it's a week to week basis for the RB, Michel is different. Posting over 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior season at Georgia Michel looks to make an immediate impact. The SEC is the most NFL ready league, which is making Michel one of the most NFL ready RB's. Bill Belichick knows how to get the most out a RB to help your fantasy squad. Dion Lewis, Benjarvis Green-Ellis, Steven Ridley, and LaGarrette Blount have all shared success with Brady under center and Belichick as the head coach. It may be a slow start to the season because of the recent injury, but look for him to be a high end RB 2, in the RB 15-20 range.
Josh Gordon is one of the biggest risk/reward WR in the NFL. Gordon currently sits at the end of the WR2 range as the 24th WR off the board, one spot behind fellow Brown Jarvis Landry. I don't feel right making this selection because Gordon has finished as a top WR in the NFL and in fantasy leagues alike. However that makes the case for Gordon simple, he has done it before! He has the skills required to be a top end WR. The speed, the hands, the ability...you Name it Gordon has it. There are a few issues for Gordon unfortunately. Statistically, his QB Tyrod Taylor has never amassed more than 3,100 passing yards in a season. If Tyrod were to go down, you have a rookie in Baker Mayfield stepping in. Baker can get him the ball, no question about it, but as a rookie you don't want them taking too many chances down the field, an area which Gordon excels. Add in another WR who catches nearly everything thrown his way in Landry, a star in the making in TE in David Njoku, an upgrade at RB in Carlos Hyde, another PPR monster in Duke Johnson, and emerging rookie in Antonio Callaway. All signs point to plenty of mouths to feed in Cleveland. This is the best the offense has looked on paper in some time. Gordon has the big play ability that can make a break fantasy season and I see him finishing as a low end WR1.
John Ross was a top 10 pick 2 years ago by the Bengals. Currently sitting as the 63rd WR off the board, the fastest man in the NFL greatly underperformed last season, netting you negative points on the season. That makes it easy. Only one direction to go from there! I'll give you hint...its A Pixar movie released in 2009. Another hint? Rick Astley will never give you it. Ok, enough with the pop culture references. John Ross has amazing upside this year. Lining up opposite of a stud in AJ Green will do that for you. Green will require the attention of the top defensive back, leaving the next man up to line up against Ross. Ross has elite straight line speed and can get past most defensive backs in the NFL. Netting over 80 receptions and 1,100 yds in his senior year at Washington, John Ross has the ability to change the game. Pair him with the Red Rocket in Andy Dalton and Ross has the potential to break out. Cincy is on the outside looking in for playoff contention, so look for them to be down in a good portion of games, were Dalton will have to rely on his arm to win the game. Ross has the potential to a be a great low end WR2. Look for a JuJu Smith-Schuster type breakout for Ross, proving the doubters wrong.
Ricky Seals-Jones is the 2nd year TE for the Arizona Cardinals, out of Texas A&M. Currently sitting as the TE 21 the potential is there for Seals-Jones to take the leap. In 10 games last season, 1 start, Seals-Jones caught less than 50% of his balls. Obviously not a great stat, but when you look at the TE position you want high TD upside. In his 12 receptions, Seals-Jones hauled in 3 TD for a TD rate of 25%. Seals-Jones also averaged 16.8 YPC. The writing is on the wall, the potential is there, and he has the opportunity with fellow TE Jermaine Gresham recovering from a torn Achilles. Bring in Sam Bradford who loves throwing to the TE. Bradford had two great TE options in his last two stops in Kyle Rudolph and Zach Ertz. Look for Bradfor to look for another option the the receiving game outside of Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Both are great security blankets for a highly accurate Bradford, but I look at Seals-Jones as the third best option in the dessert. Look for Seals-Jones to finish as a low end TE1 , and quite possibly cracking into the top 10.
There you have it. The crystal ball is clear. The future is predicted and its set in stone. Look for these players to make an impact in your fantasy season, hopefully not matched up against you on game weeks. How do you feel about these players? Agree or disagree? Let me know on twitter @kendiesel312!
Ken Davidson Dynasty + Redraft Specialist @kendiesel312