None of us can tell the future, but why not give it a shot anyway? Our six Yahoo Fantasy Football experts deliver their boldest predictions for the 2019 season.
Lamar Jackson is QB1
Andy Behrens: To be clear, I’m not saying Lamar has a chance to be one of the QB1s. There’s nothing bold in that statement; he clearly does. No, I’m saying Jackson can be the overall QB1, dethroning Patrick Mahomes.
This prediction obviously cannot come to pass unless Jackson’s offseason work on accuracy and throwing mechanics has been successful. The preseason results have been plenty encouraging (10-for-16, 117 yards, TD), as the Ravens have surrounded Jackson with a group of talented young receivers that includes Miles Boykin, Marquise Brown, and Mark Andrews.
But the key to Lamar’s fantasy value in the year ahead is, of course, his talent as a runner and his unrivaled rushing volume. In his seven starts last season (in which he went 6-1), Jackson averaged 17 carries and 79.4 rushing yards per game. Those are numbers we haven’t seen from a quarterback in the modern era. Only five NFL running backs averaged better than 79.4 YPG last year. So when you add Jackson to your roster, you’re basically getting a combo QB2/RB2. Even if his rushing volume decreases in 2019 — and it likely will — it certainly isn’t crazy to expect 50 rush YPG and a batch of touchdowns. That’s a recipe for a stellar fantasy season.
David Montgomery is inside fantasy’s top 10 RBs
Brad Evans: David Montgomery drops 100 yards and a touchdown on Green Bay in Week 1 en route to a RB top-eight season.
The rookie possesses the necessary tools and environment to blast box scores every week. Those who’ve followed my MANDATORY MONTGOMERY updates have read all of the hype mouthed by Bears coaches, players, scouts, and yours truly. It’s all warranted. He’s the only RB in the advanced analytics era to accumulate 100 missed tackles in a college season, and he did it twice behind a pair of questionable Iowa St. lines. His 0.37 missed tackles forced per touch outpaced Saquon Barkley and Kareem Hunt. Suffice it to say, he embarrasses defenders at the point of attack, leaving them hugging air. Also an accomplished receiver, he’s a legit three-down back with a similar athletic profile as Hunt, who recall exploded under Nagy’s tutelage in Kansas City.
Ignore the cowards who steadfastly claim Mike Davis poses a meaningful threat or Tarik Cohen will limit Montgomery to early down work. On 270 touches last season, a far less talented Jordan Howard finished RB20 in .5 PPR. The youngster’s superior skills will dwarf Howard’s pedestrian efficiency, likely on 15-plus touches per game. Toss in Chicago’s solid offensive line and positive game scripts due to an elite defense, and the sky’s the limit. Conservatively, 1,300 total yards with 7-9 TDs are on the horizon. Grabbing him in Round 4 is a highway robbery.
Darrell Henderson wins fantasy leagues
Dalton Del Don: He’s become cheaper at draft tables thanks to a quiet preseason, but Henderson just set a college record for best YPC throughout his career at Memphis (also leading the nation in yards created per attempt and yards per route run last season). He’s also a perfect fit for the Rams’ outside-zone scheme. It’s an LA system that’s the most productive in football with only an arthritic Todd Gurley standing in Henderson’s way of becoming a fantasy league-winner this year. Go get him.
Justice Hill will become a PPR monster by November
Liz Loza: A player with good vision who flies upfield with stunning immediacy, Justice Hill was the fastest rookie RB at the combine (4.40). As such, he’s one of the few backs who can make a living as a consistent outside runner. He’s also a solid pass-catcher, hauling in 49 balls over a three-year college career.
While Mark Ingram is Baltimore’s undisputed RB1, there has been plenty of buzz about Hill working as the team’s change-of-pace option. An offense that chose to rush the ball nearly 50 percent of the time in 2018, the Ravens are projected to be the most run-heavy squad in 2019.
Admittedly, it may take a minute for Hill to carve out a regular role. After all, Kenneth Dixon and Gus Edwards are still on the team’s roster. Plus, Ingram can additionally catch the ball with alacrity, so he may not always come off the field on passing downs. Still, talent is a tie-breaker and the position is brutal ... especially for a lead back pushing 30 years old. Give me the fresh legs down the stretch.
James Conner is the RB1
Scott Pianowski: The key takeaway to this is that I want you to consider Conner in the first round. There aren’t many true bell-cows in the league — all-situation backs — but he sure looks like one of them. Getting to RB1 isn’t that much of a plausibility leap, given that he was RB7 last year, despite missing three games.
The springtime coachspeak from the Steelers, not surprisingly, looks like a false doorway now. Conner is also in the best shape of his life and looked like a monster in the preseason. If you’re stealing him in the second round, I’m jealous. If you’re taking him in the first round, I’m nodding. Grab Conner early, Matt Breida semi-late — the rest is cream cheese.
Tyler Lockett will be a Top-12 WR
Matt Harmon: Who else? If you listen closely, you can already hear the snarling of the regression hounds. Here’s the deal: No one, not one single soul is arguing Tyler Lockett will maintain his wildly unsustainable yards or touchdowns per target metrics from 2018. So, let’s make sure we’re starting the debate from a point of reality. Yet, let’s also be equally grounded in the truth on this matter: Players end up reaching those wildly efficient heights because they’re good at the damn game. Lockett, by almost any measure, is indeed an excellent wide receiver at all levels of the field. He is no fluke.
Here in 2019, Lockett is set to get a massive opportunity boost to buoy that destined regression. It’s easy to carve out a 20-plus percent market share for Lockett. Seattle can stare into the abyss and try to be the most run-heavy team in the NFL once again this year but with a defense offering nary a true pass rusher to start the year, the abyss is staring right back. They may have to take to the air in more negative game scripts.
Doug Baldwin registered target totals of 103, 125 and 116 as Russell Wilson’s top receiver from 2015 to 2017. A 115-average is reasonable for Lockett in 2019. He never finished lower than WR13. Lockett is just as good of talent as Baldwin and we should view him the same way as long as he’s attached to the wildly efficient Wilson. Let’s fly.