The 2019 regular season is quickly approaching, and fantasy drafts are in full swing. Being bold can pay dividends not only on draft night but also through the waiver wire and trades. Here are some predictions I believe will come to life for each skill position.
Sam Darnold finishes as the top producing AFC East QB
In a division that is always dominated by Tom Brady, look for a new signal-caller to take over the East this season. Sam Darnold will end up as the division’s top producing quarterback. The second-year signal-caller for the Jets enters with much promise, now having an offensive head coach in Adam Gase and plenty of new weaponry at this disposal with the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder, and Ty Montgomery. Not to mention, Ryan Kalil has come out of retirement to be the center the Jets desperately lack, all because he believes in Darnold.
While the Bills have improved as well on offense for Josh Allen, look for him to continue having accuracy struggles. Brady will always produce, but in recent fantasy years he has transitioned into more of a game-manager. And for Miami, both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen will share playing time, which ultimately won’t bode well for Rosen who is trying to cement himself in the league after Arizona cut ties just one year after drafting him.
Leonard Fournette will be top 10 RB again
Leonard Fournette should be entering 2019 with a chip on his shoulder–a fresh chance to prove the naysayers who question his maturity. Health will remain a to-be-seen factor for the third-year back, but there are two major factors already in place that will aid in a bounce-back season; an upgrade at quarterback (Nick Foles), and a new offensive coordinator (John DeFilippo).
Early this spring, DeFilippo stated the obvious – that Fournette will be a key component to the Jags success on offense. He’s had a strong training camp and doesn’t have much of a threat directly behind him in Alfred Blue. I would bet on Fournette to be involved heavily in the passing game, which plays into DeFilippo’s scheming long-term for Fournette’s production on the ground as well. The Jags WR room is fairly decent as well; Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, and DJ Chark Jr. make up the group. All of these factors shape up well for Fournette to reemerge as a top 10 RB, especially in PPR formats.
Preston Williams poised for a top rookie WR finish
The 2019 draft class was filled with WR talent. However, rookie receivers normally don’t make an immediate impact relative to fantasy production; it’s just how it’s always been. However, I’m looking for an undrafted signing to make not only an impact but finish the year atop the best of the rookie class. Enter Preston Williams of the Miami Dolphins.
The 6’5″, 218-pound, 22-year-old product out of Colorado State is on his way to making the Miami final 53. He had a breakout preseason debut off the bench against the Falcons – four receptions for 97 yards – and followed that performance with a dud against the Buccaneers. However, praise and production have followed him all training camp long. He’s a young talent with some off-field drama in his past, but new head coach Brian Flores has been vocal about his potential to steer him towards a successful career.
Whether Fitzmagic or Chosen Rosen is in at QB, Williams will see plenty of targets and could surpass total production efforts compared to teammates DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Albert Wilson.
Zach Ertz will not finish as a top 3 TE
Don’t get me wrong, Zach Ertz will produce; he just won’t finish as a top 3 TE as he did last year alongside Travis Kelce and George Kittle. There are a few factors that would predicate on this actually happening, and they are all fairly realistic.
The emergence of second-year tight end Dallas Goedert will be real. The WR room in Philly is much improved with additions such as DeSean Jackson and rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Jordan Howard is new to the backfield with rookie Miles Sanders. All of these new faces no doubt will eat into Ertz’s target total, which I believe bumps him out of a top-three landing at season’s end.
Mecole Hardman will have a better season than Tyreek Hill
Can Patrick Mahomes repeat his MVP season of 2018? Time will tell, but with plenty of mouths to feed, there’s one Chiefs receiver I am looking to shine in the offense: Mecole Hardman. Many believe the second-round selection was taken as early as he was in light of a potential suspension looming for Tyreek Hill. This summer though, news broke that Hill would not be disciplined (at this time) by the league.
This starts with Hardman outproducing Sammy Watkins, which I don’t think will be a tough task. Both Hill and Hardman have the potential to be KC’s one-two punch. However, I believe Hardman will out-target and out-score Hill due to teams showing their best efforts each week to double team the speedster.
(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire)