It’s always important to remember your beliefs about players from the middle of the season. Once we’re drafting teams next year and there’s new training camp news, it’s easy to forget all of our current beliefs and follow the mainstream ideas.
Obviously, a lot changes during the offseason – from free agency and coaching to many young players improving – but remember which talented players you like right now and it’ll help you next August.
For instance, Aaron Jones was a player that really jumped out to me last season. Watching the Packers play, in addition to his stats, I was convinced Jones was their running back. It was one of the reasons I wrote about targeting him this offseason and selected him in the Apex Experts league.
Here are some of the themes I am most excited to see in 2019.
2nd Year Wide Receivers
This rookie wide receiver class is really good – as sophomores, they will be even better.
Entering the second season is likely the best time to buy any player in any format. Year 2 is the season where WRs show the greatest increase in points. There are many historic examples of second-year breakouts. This season we’ve seen a big second-year leap from Kenny Golladay.
Here is a list of many potential second-year breakouts in 2019 with their stats heading into Week 13.
My personal favorites are the young and uber-efficient D.J. Moore and Tre’Quan Smith but any of these players could be in for a huge second-year jump.
Moore dominated at Maryland from a young age, checks all of the athletic boxes, and already looks like Panthers best wide receiver. Not only is he averaging 11.8 yards per target, but he’s also rushing for 14.3 yards per carry. Saying he’s been electric with the ball in his hands is an understatement.
Tre’Quan Smith combines impressive college production at a young age with plus size and athleticism. In addition, he’ll face a lot of single coverage with all of the attention that Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas demand.
Calvin Ridley has made the biggest impact as a rookie through 12 weeks and will likely be featured even more in Year 2. If he can demand 110-120 targets over the entire season, he could enter the WR2 conversation.
Alshon Jeffery clone, Courtland Sutton is another favorite of mine. A second-round pick that checks all the boxes from college production to athleticism, Sutton’s breakout is coming. The Broncos showed how much they like him by trading Demaryius Thomas – he’ll almost certainly demand a higher market share in Year 2.
Christian Kirk is another intriguing player, who’s best comparable may be Stefon Diggs. Kirk is being held back by poor quarterback play as a rookie but could take the league by storm if Josh Rosen takes a step forward.
I’m not going to go through every player individually, but these are important players to monitor as there will be big leaps for some of the players on this list. If you need more reasons to like these young receivers, I wrote about them prior to the season.
Injuries and disappointments provide huge discounts in the fantasy football market.
For a couple of years, injuries to Keenan Allen left him undervalued. There are likely two issues at play: owners are scared of the player getting injured again and recency bias. Due to the player missing so much time, many owners don’t recall how special the player was.
Two examples of potentially undervalued players for 2019 are Will Fuller and Cooper Kupp.
Will Fuller has been phenomenal whenever he’s been on the field with Deshaun Watson.
Not only is Fuller the most efficient target that Watson has thrown to, but Watson averages 10 more fantasy points per game with Fuller on the field. In 2018, Fuller averaged 15.2 fantasy points per game, good for WR21 between Tyler Boyd and Kenny Golladay.
We know one thing: when paired with Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller is a bonafide stud.
Cooper Kupp is no different – currently WR16 in points per game. Whether it’s his size and agility or pairing with Sean McVay and Jared Goff, Kupp is proven at this point. If he slides in drafts because of injury concerns or recency bias, take the discount.
In addition to those two, Derrius Guice is a player to watch. Although he missed the entire season, Guice was my second favorite running back from a very good 2018 rookie class behind Saquon Barkley. By Week 1 next season, Guice will be fully recovered from his ACL tear. Although he’s a special talent, the injury could certainly leave Guice undervalued.
From year to year, drafting values change. The two themes that seem to stand out this year are workhorse running backs and stud tight ends.
Running backs who are heavily involved in the passing game currently have a higher ceiling than the top wide receivers. In Apex leagues, Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Melvin Gordon, Alvin Kamara, and Christian McCaffrey are outscoring the highest-scoring wide receiver (Adam Thielen). If your selection is at the top of the draft, it’s likely worth taking a workhorse.
Tight end is another position that needs to be addressed this offseason. Through 12 weeks, the top scoring tight end, Zach Ertz, has 112 more fantasy points than the TE12 Vance McDonald. That is a huge weekly advantage of 9.3 points. If Ertz and Travis Kelce continue to provide this big of a weekly advantage, they are worthy of higher selections.
Obviously, there is a lot that can change with five weeks left in the regular season but these are some of the themes that are relevant to remember heading into 2019.