Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2019
There's no need to have any of the industry experts tell you that you should draft Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb, DeAndre Hopkins, or any of the other guys that will regularly go in the first few rounds of your drafts. Those are easy, but who should you be looking at as the draft progresses? There's where value can be found and championships won.
Latavius Murray, RB - New Orleans
There are handcuffs and there are stand-alone players. Murray fits both of those molds making him a fantastic target in the sixth round of most 12-team drafts. He's essentially stepping into the Mark Ingram role in New Orleans where Ingram excelled in spite of sharing time with Alvin Kamara. One could argue that Murray is not as talented as Ingram, but what can't be argued is the environment. Running backs are flourishing in New Orleans. If anything happens to Kamara, Murray becomes an instant RB1 in a potent offense. Draft Murray as your RB3/4/Flex.
A.J. Green, WR - Cincinnati
Shares of A.J. Green are easy to come by after he injured his ankle in the preseason. In fact, I have Green on my roster in several leagues, but he's my WR4/5 in each. At issue here is the risk tolerance of fantasy owners. Green presents tremendous value, but reports out of Cincy have been all over the map. Some say he has a chance to play Week 1. Others say he'll miss a few games. HC Zac Taylor hinted that he should be ready to go during the "beginning half of the season". He's a talented receiver who still has some gas left in the tank. If you can snag him as a backup WR, you're banking on him being ready at some point during the season to be a starting WR/Flex option.
James White, RB - New England
James White is a guy who is seriously undervalued. He had a career season last year and will try to replicate that in 2019. He's worth drafting as a No. 2 running back in PPR in Round 4 and a flex option in non-PPR leagues in Round 5. Last season, White had career highs in carries (94), rushing yards (425), rushing touchdowns (five), targets (123), receptions (87), receiving yards (751) and receiving touchdowns (seven). He ranked third in receptions, second in receiving yards and tied for the most touchdowns among running backs, and he was the No. 7 running back in PPR. It could be hard for him to repeat that performance, and the Patriots added another running back with rookie Damien Harris joining Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead. But White seems locked into a passing-downs role and should still see plenty of targets as Tom Brady's security blanket. He's one of the top pass-catching running backs in the NFL.
O.J. Howard, TE - Tampa Bay
If O.J. Howard gets the kind of opportunity other tight ends his size (and smaller) get, his Round 6 price tag will be an absolute steal. The 6-foot-6 behemoth has averaged 16.6 yards per catch through his first two seasons with 11 touchdowns in 24 games. However, he's averaged just 3.6 targets per game through his career as his coaches have struggled to find ways to unlock him. New Bucs coach Bruce Arians is an offensive guru, but if he struggles to differentiate Howard from the rest of his pass-catchers, including fellow giant tight end Cameron Brate, then it could be a long season and an even murkier future for Howard.
Dede Westbrook, WR - Jacksonville
Don't summarily dismiss the Jacksonville receivers. Dede Westbrook is currently ranked 89th on FFN with an ADP of 109 - that's fantastic value in the 9th or 10th round. It shouldn't be hard for Westbrook to prove he's the best receiver in Jacksonville in his third season, and he should benefit with new quarterback Nick Foles replacing the departed Blake Bortles. In 2018, Westbrook had seven games with at least 11 PPR points, and hopefully more is in store this season. The Jaguars are still a run-first team with Leonard Fournette as the catalyst on offense, but someone has to catch the ball in the passing game. Look for Westbrook to be the leader of Jacksonville's receiving corps in 2019.
Lamar Jackson, QB - Baltimore
Need a solid backup QB? Didn't get one of the Top 12 fantasy quarterbacks? Look for Lamar Jackson around the 9th or 10th rounds. He will be one of a handful of quarterbacks fantasy managers will draft in the late rounds, usually as a second quarterback, with tons of upside. His potential is rich given his rushing prowess. He's projected for 901 rushing yards and 8 scores - essentially the same projected rushing stats as Damien Williams and Devonta Freeman. Reports out of camp have been good, with signs pointing to Jackson having improved his accuracy, a good sign for his chances of breaking out. In fact, even a modicum of increased passing accuracy boosts his weekly ceiling and floor.
Darwin Thompson, RB - Kansas City
Keep an eye on Darwin Thompson in training camp because the rookie from Utah State could be a sleeper in all leagues this year. Kansas City selected Thompson in the sixth round of the NFL Draft from Utah State, and he could end up with a prominent role for the Chiefs this season. Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde will open as the top two running backs on the depth chart, but neither is a lock to keep the job for 16 games. If the Chiefs can trust Thompson then he could be someone Fantasy players should covet given coach Andy Reid's track record with running backs. We recommend drafting Thompson with a late-round pick in all formats. If you're looking for a lottery ticket pick, Thompson could be your guy.
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