When I wrote my bold predictions for the 2019 season, I wanted to take a stance on players and situations that I firmly believed in (or didn’t) coming into this year. I nailed one of mine, was in the ballpark on a couple and my other two weren’t very close at all.
When ranking players, I will be using Weeks 1-16 to avoid penalizing players that were benched in the final week.
Lamar Jackson will be a top-five fantasy QB
When I wrote my bold predictions article in mid-August, Jackson was being drafted as the QB17 on average. He finished this year as the QB1 and had one of the greatest fantasy seasons ever, regardless of position. He broke Michael Vick’s rushing record in a season by a quarterback and had 43 total touchdowns. He is the clear MVP-front runner and will be the top quarterback off the board next season.
Enjoy the GIF of Jackson making K’Waun Williams look silly.
It was clear after his 324 yards, 5 passing touchdown performance in week one that Jackson was on a mission to prove that he can be a quarterback in this league. A lot has to be said for new offensive coordinator Greg Roman and head coach John Harbaugh as they committed and built the offense around Jackson’s strengths. The future is bright for the Ravens offense in the short-term as they have a good offensive line and cheap, young playmakers around the offense that allows some flexibility to supplement the team where needed.
This Bold Prediction was a clear win and Jackson led many fantasy owners to a fantasy title this year.
Drew Brees Will Not Be A Top-15 QB This Season
I had a similar prediction as Erik Smith about Brees and the passing offense taking a step back. My reasoning was the shift to more rushing attempts for three straight years along with Brees having his lowest pass attempts and yards as a member of the Saints in 2018. His 2018 was boosted by a top-five touchdown rate and he chipped in four rushing scores. He was being drafted as the QB7 when that was written and that was after coming off of back to back QB8 finishes in 2017 and 2018. I’m copying this chart from Erik showing the Saints offense the last few years.
|NO Offense||PF||Yds||Pass Att||Pass Yds||Pass TD||Rush Att||Rush Yds||Rush TD|
|Team Stats ’16||469||6816||674||5074||38||404||1742||17|
|Lg Rank ’16||2||1||2||1||2||19||16||6|
|Team Stats ’17||448||6259||536||4189||23||444||2070||23|
|Lg Rank ’17||4||2||19||5||16||13||5||1|
|Team Stats ’18||504||6067||519||4042||33||471||2025||26|
|Lg Rank ’18||3||8||23||12||7||5||7||1|
|Team Stats ’19||458||5982||581||4244||36||405||1738||12|
|Lg Rank ’19||3||9||13||7||2||17||16||20|
We all know Brees got injured so he did finish outside of the top-15. However, he once again was the QB8 on a per-game basis. The Saints threw the ball more and ran the ball less this year, thus reversing a three-year trend.
I still believe it was a bad process to draft Brees as the QB7. Guys like Lamar, Jameis Winston, and Dak Prescott all were drafted behind Brees and finished ahead of him. There were also 10 quarterbacks to finish within three points of each other in Brees’ range. If you are avoiding the top quarterbacks, it is often better to wait a little more in your draft to find similar production for a lower cost than a guy like Brees.
James White Will Be a Top 8 RB and Catch 100 Passes.
This was probably my boldest prediction out of the five. White didn’t quite get there in either category but he had a solid year and you were probably not disappointed if you drafted him.
The thinking going into this year was that there were a lot of targets up for grabs and that he could possibly improve on his 2018 numbers. In 2018 he had 94 carries and 123 targets. The 123 targets were one behind Christian McCaffrey to lead the running position. He was the RB8 in 2018 and I thought he would repeat that while also catching 100 passes this year.
White quietly had a very solid season. He was the RB20 in PPR leagues and only had four of his 15 games outside of the top-24 (RB2). He was sixth in both receptions and targets at the running back position. I was disappointed in the Patriots usage of White this year. He went from 94 carries to 67 and 123 targets to 95 in 2019. It was particularly odd to see the decrease in usage since they seemed to struggle to find playmakers for Tom Brady all year, outside of Julien Edelman. The Patriots actually threw the ball more in 2019 than in 2018 (613>570 pass attempts) despite having an elite defense. White was a clear second in targets for the team with his 95, 41 more than Phillip Dorsett who was third. Last year the Patriots had eight players collect 19 or more targets and this year they had 11 such players do that.
White was drafted around the RB25 in PPR leagues so you should have been happy with the production you got as a consistent low-end RB2/flex. The Prediction was off but liking White this year wasn’t a bad proposition.
Derrick Henry Will Not Be a Top-30 Running Back This Year
Oh boy was this one wayyyyyy off. Henry played in 15 of the first 16 games for the Titans and was the RB5 in PPR leagues during that time. My thinking with this prediction was he that he ranked as the RB39 through 13 games last year; he had a great end to the year to finish as the RB16 after finishing as the RB37 in 2017. He has never had much of a passing role either, further limiting his PPR appeal.
Henry was a beast this year. He had nine top-12 performances in his 15 games played this season. He did this despite tying for eighth (with the third tight end) on the team in targets with 24. 24 targets wouldn’t put Henry inside the top-40 at the running back position. He did, however, lead the league in rushing attempts and yards and tied for the most rushing touchdowns.
I can see Henry being drafted as an RB1 next year but I will still likely be out on him at that price. the fact that he doesn’t have much of a receiving role puts a lot of pressure on his rushing line each and every week. He also needs to score or he will not help you much. I prefer my top running back to have a bigger role in the passing game to help boost their floors in weeks that they do not score a touchdown. It has been a lot of fun watching Henry run all over his opponents down the stretch and in the playoffs so far.
Kenyan Drake Will Be a Top-10 Running Back This Season
The early part of the season was a disaster for Drake owners and no one would have faulted you for jumping ship on a dead-in-the-water Dolphins team. Through six games and eight weeks with the Dolphins, Drake had no touchdowns and his best fantasy performance was the RB 21. At that same time, Cardinals running back David Johnson was the RB 5 after six weeks, he then gets hurt early in week seven. Cardinals backup Chase Edmunds looked great in relief of Johnson in week seven but he too got injured (this time in week eight), thus leading the Cardinals to acquire Drake before week nine.
From week nine through 16, Drake was the RB4 in PPR leagues and was the number three running backs on a per-game basis. He was a top-20 running back in six of eight games over that time and he was also a top-five back in three of those. He was the running back 13 on a per-game basis for the season, just missing my prediction.
If Drake is retained by the Cardinals next year he should be a lower-end RB1 in drafts. I like him at that cost and I think the Cardinals offense as a whole will take another step forward next year with Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury in their second years.
Like I said earlier, not too bad overall. Jackson was a slam dunk, Henry and Brees weren’t great, and White and especially Drake were fairly close to being there.