The 2018 NFL season is officially over, congrats to the New England Patriots on winning their 6th Super Bowl in franchise history. Now, as we head into another long off-season, I’m sure plenty of you are scrambling, trying to figure what you are supposed to do all day without football around. Stop worrying so much! Obviously, it’s time to start getting ready for your 2019 Fantasy football draft. It’s never too early to start prepping for Fantasy, so today, myself and Kevin Tompkins will go through our early top 5 at each position, with a short analysis for each ranking.
(All rankings will be based on full PPR scoring)
Eli’s Top 5 Quarterbacks
1. Patrick Mahomes
This one is pretty obvious, after the season Patrick Mahomes had last year it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t put up similar numbers in 2019. Mahomes finished 2018 with 5,097/50/12 and was named the league’s MVP. He was simply unstoppable all season with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and now RB Damien Williams stepping up, this offense could get even better. I wouldn’t reach for him in the 2ndor 3rdround because of the depth at QB but he should most definitely be the first QB off the board.
2. Aaron Rodgers
Former 2 time MVP, star QB Aaron Rodgers had a “down year” in 2018 finishing with 4,442/25/2 all while playing on an injured knee. With the Packers hiring of new HC Matt Lafleur and an off-season to get healthy, I think Rodgers is about to come back in a big way. Before last season, Rodgers was the automatic write in No.1 QB in fantasy and now with the growth of WR Davante Adams and the emergence of RB Aaron Jones there is no reason to believe he can’t be No.1 again. As long as Lafleur can bring this Packers offense back into the 21stcentury, Rodgers should be back to his usual, dominant self.
3. Andrew Luck
What an unbelievable comeback for Colts QB Andrew Luck! After missing all of 2017 with a shoulder injury many thought Luck may have played his last NFL snap, boy were they wrong. Luck finished 2018 with 4,593/39/15, while going 8 consecutive games throwing 3 or more TD’s! That’s crazy! He was torching defenses week after week showing just how healthy his shoulder was. Now with another off-season of rehab on that shoulder he should be in even better shape going into next season. I expect another monster year from Luck, target him in rounds 6-8, it will pay off big time.
4. Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons had a disappointing 2018 season, finishing 7-9 and missing the Playoffs, but Ryan certainly was not to blame. The Falcons QB threw for 4,924/35/7 which are MVP caliber numbers. Ryan has a slew of great targets with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohammed Sanu through the air as well as two great RB’s, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Going into 2019 the Falcons know Ryan is there only hope of winning big games which is why I’m expecting another huge season from Matty Ice.
5. Russell Wilson
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is coming off yet another dominant season in which he led the Seahawks to the Playoffs where they lost in Dallas on Wild Card weekend. In 2018 the Seahawks found their identity on the ground, running the ball more than any other team. So why is Wilson ranked so high? Simple. He scores all the TD’s! Wilson scored 35 times in 2018, showing that even if they run the ball all the way down the field they will still use Wilson to punch it into the end zone. There is nothing more important in Fantasy than TD’s which is why you should target Wilson in all your Fantasy drafts.
Kevin’s Top 5 Quarterbacks
1. Patrick Mahomes, KC
Patrick Mahomes’ first season as starter in Kansas City was an all-timer, but one has to wonder if we’ve actually seen the best of Mahomes? 50 touchdown seasons don’t exactly grow on trees and there is a full season of tape out now. For fantasy, Mahomes is the clear-cut #1 quarterback off the board. In home leagues, you’ll see him off the board as early as the 1st round but realistically, he should fall to the end of 2nd/early 3rd where somebody will reach for him.
2. Aaron Rodgers, GB
Qualifying as a “down year” that most quarterbacks would kill for, Aaron Rodgers threw for over 4400 yards, 25 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. Blame the sprained knee suffered in Week 1, blame Mike McCarthy, but in 2019, incoming HC Matt LaFleur should put Rodgers in a great position yet again to succeed. Now 35, Rodgers is coming out of his physical prime but is still a top-3 lock at the position in ’19 redraft leagues. He’ll come at a bit of a discount, in the Round 5 or 6 range.
3. Andrew Luck, IND
This time last year, nobody knew if Andrew Luck would even play again, much less come out firing as he did to just fall shy of 40(!) touchdowns. With executive of the year Chris Ballard finally choosing to protect his quarterback and most valued asset with offensive line help and the running game, Luck should continue to thrive and pick right back up where he left off as a highly-drafted commodity in fantasy. A solid mid-round selection who could go over Rodgers in some leagues based on preference. He’s earned it.
4. Deshaun Watson, HOU
The big question heading into 2018 was “Will Deshaun Watson continue the run he was on in 2017 before his injury?” That question was answered with a resounding yes. Tossing 26 touchdowns to 9 interceptions, passing for over 4000 yards and chipping in over 500 rushing yards, Watson right now is the preeminent dual-threat quarterback in the NFL. As long as he has all-universe WR DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal, Watson should continue to thrive and flourish in Houston. Heading into 2019, Watson will be in that mid-round QB mix with Luck and Rodgers, warranting a 5th or 6th round selection.
5. Russell Wilson, SEA
Russell Wilson didn’t even eclipse 3500 passing yards in 2018, but he was efficient with his throws in a run-heavy offense, throwing 35 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. For the first season in his career, he did not tally a rushing score, but he did pick up the rushing yards after a pretty noticeable stagnation in that department in early 2018. Wilson is a notorious 2nd half player and while the touchdowns may come down, the yards on the ground and through the air should come back up the to mean, making him a valuable fantasy asset for 2019. Target him once the big names are off the board after the 7th round.
Eli’s Top 5 Tight Ends
1. Travis Kelce, KC
Another amazing season is in the books for Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, taking his game to a whole new level catching balls from MVP QB Patrick Mahomes. Kelce now has three consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards and five straight with at least 800. Those are unreal numbers for a tight end in the NFL today. With Tyreek Hill stretching defenses deep, Kelce should have the entire middle of the field to work with making him a quick, easy outlet for Mahomes. Kelce has been a model of consistency since he entered the league in 2013 and I don’t see that stopping now.
2. George Kittle, SF
Who saw this coming? Former 5thround pick TE George Kittle absolutely exploded this season going for 88/1,377/5 and finishing with the most receiving yards for a TE in NFL history. What makes this even more incredible was the fact he did most of his damage with two different backup QB’s, on a bad offense without anyone else to draw away the D’s attention. Kittle showed his ability to be a game changer regardless of the talent around him. Now, with Jimmy Garappolo returning this year, Kittle should be in store for an even bigger 2019.
3. Zach Ertz, PHI
Eagles TE Zach Ertz made history in 2018, catching 116 passes shattering Jason Witten’s previous record of 110. Ertz was easily the most consistent player on the Eagles offense and was relied upon heavily by both Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, showing his star ability regardless of who’s throwing him the ball. The biggest component of Ertz’s game is his ability to create separation in the red zone. He finished 4thin the NFL in red zone targets with 27, only 4 behind league leader Davante Adams. Whether its Wentz or Foles it doesn’t matter, Zach Ertz is a beast and should have another great season in 2019.
4. Eric Ebron, IND
Former Lions 1stround pick Eric Ebron revitalized his career in Indianapolis in 2018 scoring 13 TD’s, tops in the league at his position. The entire season all anyone wanted to talk about was “sustainability” and “usage”, who cares?! Ebron was unstoppable near the goal line and for a TE in Fantasy, that’s all you can ask for. He was targeted 21 times in the red zone 3rd amongst TE’s and clearly has a great connection with Andrew Luck. Look for Ebron to build on his career year.
5. Rob Gronkowski, NE
No TE top 5 is complete without mentioning the best to ever do it, Rob Gronkowski. He may be old, slow and hurt but he still manages to make the biggest plays in the biggest moments. There has been plenty of speculation that he may retire this off-season but I don’t see him hanging them up just yet. Brady trusts him on 3rddown and in the red zone which is huge for a Fantasy TE. His 1,000 yards days may be over but Gronk can still ball out and he could end up being a huge steal later in drafts.
Kevin’s Top 5 Tight Ends
1. Travis Kelce, KC
The unquestioned top tight end entering fantasy in 2019, Travis Kelce had his best season yet, with 103 catches, 10 touchdowns and over 1300 yards. This line would have placed him at WR8 among wide receivers, so clearly, it paid huge dividends to take Kelce as a 3rd round selection in redraft leagues last season. You won’t get him that cheap in 2019 however, as in most PPR leagues, Kelce is a mid-2nd round pick and in TE premium leagues (1.5 point PPR), he’s a stud 1st rounder. With Patrick Mahomes getting the ball to him very often, it’s hard to bet against him approaching at the very least 90-1100-10 in 2019 barring anything unforeseen.
2. Zach Ertz, PHI
Clearly the apple of QB Carson Wentz’ eye in 2018, Zach Ertz jumped way off the page with 116 receptions, jumping into the elite tier among the position. He did most of his damage in the first half of the season and as the QB woes took their toll in Philadelphia, Ertz’ production seemed to stagnate along with it. He had 5 games with double-digit catches and was the featured target in the offense as the Eagles played a lot of close games and needed to catch up in those. Among pass-catchers, Ertz would have finished as WR10, so that value in the 4th/5th round last season will not go unnoticed. Ertz should be on track for another stellar season and should be gone by the early 3rd round in a majority of leagues.
3. George Kittle, SF
George Kittle was drafted last season as a bottom-end TE1 with room to maneuver with a good season. Boy, was it good. He was the clear cut TE3 and setting a record at the tight end position for receiving yards in a season with 1377 while adding in 88 catches and 5 touchdowns. Keep in mind virtually all of his statistics were with a below-average 2nd string QB and an undrafted 3rd string QB throwing him the ball. Imagine when the 49ers get Jimmy Garoppolo back? Kittle is a 3rd round lock in PPR redraft leagues and should meet or exceed his line. At age 25, he still has room to grow.
4. Hunter Henry, LAC
At just 24 years of age, Hunter Henry has all of the tools and the opportunity to vault into the upper echelon of tight ends in the NFL. 2018 was supposed to be the year that he was to put everything together and ascend to that next level. Unfortunately, his 2018 ended before it began, as Henry tore his ACL on the Chargers’ first organized activity of the summer. He was able to be activated for the Chargers’ playoff contest in New England and played some snaps, so with a full offseason, Henry should be right back on track for a quality season. Henry should be drafted in the mid-rounds, his draft round fluctuating between the 6th and 8th round.
5. O.J. Howard, TB
O.J. Howard fits the most of an athletic mismatch for most linebackers and some safeties with his 6’6” frame and speed. He started to fulfill some of that promise in 2018 before ankle and foot injuries closed out his season prematurely. Howard now links up with new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians’ vertical attack, which could pay huge dividends for his ascent. One can point to the fact that Arians doesn’t feature the TE very much in his offenses, but he’s never had one so athletically gifted under his employ. Howard should be a nice value in the 7th-8th round, possibly earlier for intrepid drafters looking to secure his services.