Fantasy Attack: Projecting the 2019 Rookies

It’s never too early to start your draft prep

by Lead Fantasy writer Steve Cook | @SteveCook84 |

Some NFL rookie classes are easy for fantasy football fans to get excited about. In some years you’ll see an abundance of talented quarterbacks. Sometimes it’s exciting wide receivers, or maybe overpowering running backs. In 2018 we got all kinds of big offensive names entering the league. People were hyped up about the rookies.

This year…not as much. The 2019 NFL Draft was more about defense & linemen than the types of players fantasy football fanatics go crazy over. There aren’t any first-rounders in this year’s crop. That being said, there’s still plenty of gold to be found amongst the 2019 rookie class. Today we look at some of the names you should be looking at for rookie drafts in dynasty leagues, or as sexy mid-round selections.

Running Backs
Josh Jacobs (Oakland): Opportunity is abound in Oakland. With Marshawn Lynch retired & Isaiah Crowell’s torn Achilles, Jacobs looks to be the “bellcow” that Jon Gruden & Mike Mayock used the twenty-fourth overall pick on. It’s tough to get numbers at Alabama with the endless amount of running backs there, but Jacobs impressed with several multi-TD games, including the 2018 SEC Championship Game against Georgia. He’s getting picked on top of rookie drafts for good reason…I don’t see him being the second coming of Saquon Barkley, but he should be a solid RB2/Flex pick.

David Montgomery (Chicago): The Cincinnati-born Eagle Scout went over 1,000 yards and made first team All-Big 12 his sophomore & junior year at Iowa State. He’s heading to an interesting situation in Chicago. With Jordan Howard out of the picture, Montgomery figures to have a big role alongside Tarik Cohen in Matt Nagy’s high-powered rushing offense.

Darrell Henderson (LA Rams): Henderson ran 1,909 yards for the Memphis Tigers in 2018. People are comparing him to Alvin Kamara, which is never a bad thing. What also isn’t a bad thing is getting drafted by the Rams. Todd Gurley is obviously the starter, but his knees have seen better days. C.J. Anderson’s performance during Gurley’s absence last season shows the effectiveness of the Rams’ running game isn’t all about Gurley. Henderson won’t average 8.2 yards per carry the way he did in the American Athletic Conference, but he’ll still be very effective when he gets the chance.

Miles Sanders (Philadelphia): The Penn State rusher went nearly 1,300 yards in his 2018 season and averaged 5.8 yards per carry. He’s not going to be Saquon Barkley, but you know how the Eagles backfield works. Guys come in & out like nobody’s business. There’s potential here, but it’s tough to trust since it’s the Eagles.

Rodney Anderson (Cincinnati): The Bengals’ draft told you that they were going to be all about the running game. They got probably the best offensive lineman in the draft in the first round. Took a blocking tight end in the second round. Spent other picks on linemen. Joe Mixon is going to do a lot of running, but he can’t do it all. Anderson had one top-notch season at Oklahoma after Mixon left, and was injured the two seasons before & the one season after. If he can come back from injury, he could be a solid contributor to the Bengals.

Wide Receivers
N’Keal Harry (New England): Harry went over 1,000 yards during his sophomore & junior seasons at Arizona State & made some acrobatic catches that reminded people of Odell Beckham Jr. He’s a big receiver at 6’4 & 228 lbs. Most importantly, he’s the first wide receiver Bill Belichick has drafted in the first round. The Patriots have big plans for him, and their big plans typically work.

Mecole Hardman (Kansas City): The Georgia Bulldog looks like the perfect fit for Andy Reid’s offense. He’s the same height and two pounds heavier than Tyreek Hill. During mini camp he was lining up in most of the spots Hill lines up at on the field. He ran a 4.33 40 and can return kicks & punts as well. Basically, the Chiefs want him to be Hill without the off-field issues. It’s not a sure thing that Hardman can perfectly replicate Hill, but count on him getting a chance to.

A.J. Brown (Tennessee): Brown was the top receiver at Ole Miss, going over 1300 yards & averaging 110 per game. The Titans have needed wide receivers ever since they moved to Tennessee, so there’s an opening for him to fill. Brown on one side & Corey Davis on the other gives Marcus Mariota a lack of excuses heading into 2019.

D.K. Metcalf (Seattle): Metcalf didn’t have big numbers at Ole Miss, but he impressed observers at the NFL Combine with a 4.33 40 yard dash & 27 reps on the bench press. He also impressed everybody with his ridiculous physique. Dude’s got at least an eight-pack going. With Doug Baldwin retiring, Russell Wilson’s going to need somebody to throw to. If nothing else, the Seahawks WR corps will win any bodybuilding contests that break out.

Marquise Brown (Baltimore): “Hollywood” got 1095 receiving yards with Baker Mayfield in 2017. He went for 1318 receiving yards with Kyler Murray in 2018. He’s been spoiled by exceptional Oklahoma quarterback play the last two years, and now he goes to Baltimore to catch passes from Lamar Jackson. The Ravens don’t have much at WR, so Antonio’s cousin will get to prove that he didn’t just benefit from who was throwing him the ball.

Kyler Murray (Arizona): Being the man in Arizona isn’t an automatic ticket to success. Josh Rosen wasn’t terrible but he still had a heck of a time getting anything going. Murray was an absolute stud during his one season as QB1 at Oklahoma, and his athletic credentials speak for themselves. He’s definitely worth keeping an eye on, though if he’s your QB1 you’re probably in trouble.

Dwayne Haskins (Washington): Ohio State doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to producing NFL quarterbacks. Haskins could be a different story. He broke most OSU passing records with his 50-touchdown 2018 season. Dude threw for 1500 more yards than the previous single season passing record holder. Crazy stuff. I think he has a shot at being the DC QB1 when the season starts, as his main competition will be Case Keenum. It’ll be a bumpy ride, but he may be worth a dynasty league rookie draft pick.

Tight Ends
Noah Fant (Denver): Joe Flacco loves his tight ends. From Todd Heap to Ed Dickson to Benjamin Watson, Flacco has always provided good fantasy production for those picking whoever the Baltimore Ravens tight end was during a given season. This University of Iowa All-American couldn’t have asked for a better landing spot.

T.J. Hockenson (Detroit): This University of Iowa All-American could have asked for a better landing spot. Theoretically, the Lions could use a talent like Hockenson at the tight end position, but Matthew Stafford has never really been known for utilizing his tight ends. Remember when Eric Ebron couldn’t catch a pass while with the Lions? Then remember how he went to the Colts and caught everything?

It’s a coin flip between Fant & Hockenson from where I sit. Hockenson won all the tight end awards last season but Fant had more of a knack for finding the end zone & is in a better situation. I’d target Fant if I need a dynasty TE.





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