When Autumn begins, people across the United States gather around their computers and draft their fantasy football teams. Playing fantasy football today has become just as important to die-hard leatherheads as the Super Bowl. Some things about the game are certain – you should draft a wide receiver or running back first, for example. Others are more complicated, like what round you should take a QB in. And once the draft is over, as yours likely is, you might be left wondering how to fill the disappointing gaps left as injuries or “off” seasons have set in. Here are surprising statistics from 2018 that might help you resurrect your 2019 fantasy football season!
QBs Can Be Streamed
In the world of fantasy football, it is not necessarily the best strategy to pick a quarterback and stick with that player for every game. There are always exceptions to the rule, like Patrick Mahomes, but overall, streaming quarterbacks might be one of the smarter season-saving moves you can make.
When comparing quarterbacks from the 2017 and 2018 fantasy seasons we learned this; only three quarterbacks finished in the top ten at the position both years. Now consider that this year several “elite” quarterbacks have already been injured and you can see why choosing a QB weekly based on the most favorable match-up could be the way to thrive.
In Drew Brees You Should Trust
There are a few quarterbacks that bend the rules of streaming QBs. If you select any one of them, we suggest Drew Brees. For 15 straight seasons, Brees has been a top-five fantasy QB. He’s one of the few “can’t bust” players out there.
In many leagues, Brees might be available via trade or free agency, too. After tearing a ligament in his throwing hand early in 2019, he should be a strong candidate to boost fantasy rosters when he returns to the gridiron.
Don’t Sleep On Lamar Jackson
As a rookie QB in 2018 with only a handful of games started, Ravens young star Lamar Jackson rushed for 697 yards. Heading into 2019, Jackson has made it clear he plans to run less and pass more. After a few games, he has stuck true to his word. So where does his value lie?
As we’ve said, watch the match-ups. Especially with Jackson running less this season. His surprising rushing numbers from last year, which would have equaled 1,257 yards over 16 games, shouldn’t be overlooked, and make him a top streaming option at best until he proves himself through the air.
Touchdowns Are What Make Running Backs Most Valuable
If you should stream quarterbacks weekly on your fantasy football team, why shouldn’t you stream running backs as well? In 2018, several QBs ran for as many touchdowns as their lead back, after all. We wouldn’t recommend that – the fact is there far fewer running back options available.
What you should do is pick a running back based on scoring ability. The most valuable runners will get in the endzone more than their quarterback. Don’t be fooled by flashy rushing yard totals, getting in the endzone is where fantasy points are really earned.
The Best Running Backs Are On The Worst Teams
Another aspect to consider when selecting a running back, or looking for one in free agency, is to look at the record of their team. In 2018, one-third of the top 12 RBs played for teams with losing records. These players included Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Joe Mixon, and David Johnson.
One notable running back this year who is on a struggling team is Phillip Lindsay. The undrafted workhorse was a surprise in Denver last year. This year, the Broncos have started out miserably, but Lindsay has picked up exactly where he left off.
Saquon Barkley Has Great Hands
Another player that can be added or traded for and stored until he’s healthy is Saquon Barkley, one of the best fantasy players in PPR leagues. As a rookie, not only did he rush for 1,307 yards, he also caught 91 passes for 721 yards.
The value that Barkley supplies is unquestionable. If you’re struggling, find a way to trade for him (we doubt he’s a free agent in any league). When he’s healthy, you won’t be let down, especially if your team has been struggling early on.
Derrick Henry Could Be The Key To A Title
Derrick Henry is not on a good football team. The Tennessee Titans have trouble moving the ball downfield on offense, and it showed in the fantasy numbers for Derrick Henry last season. So why are we saying he could win you a title, then?
When fantasy football playoffs began last season, Henry hit a new gear and average over 30 fantasy points a game! Can he repeat that performance again this year? You’ll just have to get him on your team to find out.
Ezekiel Elliott Could Be The Next Todd Gurley
Ezekiel Elliott has carried the ball a lot in Dallas. In 2016 he was the only running back in the league with more than 300 carries. In 2017 his body got a break with his six-game suspension. Last year, however, he was back to his workhorse ways.
While that means Elliott will produce monster numbers for team owners during the season, his body will also probably tire like Todd Gurley’s at the end of 2018. By the time the fantasy playoffs rolled around, Gurley was a non-fantasy factor. Don’t be surprised if that happens to Elliott this year.
Watch Out For Replacement Running Backs
One more thing about running backs that is important is that “handcuffs” are a very real thing. When Todd Gurley got tired in 2018, it led to the arrival of CJ Anderson. Some players, like Le’Veon Bell, will hold out too, opening the doors for the James Conners of the world.
Keep an eye on what running backs are playing second fiddle to starters, and snatch them up the second things look like they could be going south. Twenty-seven percent of “replacement” running backs finished in the top 12 at their position last year.
The Impact Of The Draft Is Real
Nailing your fantasy draft is crucial for your overall success in your league. In 2018, of all the players who finished in the top twelve in fantasy points at their position, 81 percent were on teams by midseason. Whether they were drafted or picked up on the waiver wire early, the evidence shows it’s nearly impossible to save your team late.
Construct your roster early. If you don’t like the players you drafted, be aggressive in the first few weeks of the season. The rest is up to the fantasy football gods.
Stash Robby Anderson On Your Bench
Things might not be looking very good for the New York Jets right now, but wide receiver Robby Anderson still holds plenty of value. Grab him if he’s a free agent and stash him on your bench. He has no gameday value with Luke Falk at QB, but Sam Darnold won’t stay out forever.
Once Anderson has a healthy Darnold throwing to him again, he could be a fantasy goldmine. In 2018, Anderson averaged seven receptions and 120 yards per game after week 14. If he can repeat that performance this year, you’ll have a hard time losing in the playoffs.
Mike Williams Offers A High Ceiling
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams had an up and down 2018 season. He caught an unimpressive 44 passes and finished the season with 664 yards. He also scored 10 touchdowns. That means nearly one-quarter of the passes he caught made a fantasy difference.
That makes Mike Williams a high risk, high reward player in 2019. His touchdown production is undeniable, he just needs to become a more reliable target for Phillip Rivers.
The Rise Of Rookie Tight Ends Is A Trend
Rookie tight ends were a big deal in 2018 and could be a big deal again in 2019. Last season, three rookies (Mark Andrews, Chris Herndon, and Dallas Goedert) finished in the top 20 at the position.
Don’t overvalue rookie tight ends though! While they might be a surprising gem, they aren’t worth reaching for. Very few tight ends put up consistent production game to game and deserve to be drafted sooner rather than later. You might even want to consider another strategy altogether.
Consider Streaming Tight Ends
Unless you have George Kittle on your fantasy team, you should consider streaming tight ends. This strategy is pretty risky considering the position can offer a very low floor, but if you’re an expert at playing the match-up game, this is a legitimate fantasy football strategy.
In 2018, three of the top five tight ends drafted failed to make an impact. So far in 2019, Jimmy Graham, as an example, is proving to be a waste of a draft pick. He has already had several zero-point games.
This advice is more for new fantasy football players than seasoned veterans, but we cannot stress enough the importance of streaming defenses. Just because the Jaguars were the top defense last season doesn’t mean you should draft them and hold onto them this year.
So far in 2019, Jacksonville ranks as a bottom half defense. Keep an eye on what defenses are producing the most takeaways and allowing the fewest points to be scored against them. And always look at who they are playing each week. We don’t care what defense you have, do not start them against the Kansas City Chiefs!
Find A Kicker And Stick With Him
Over a two-season period from 2017 to 2018, seven of the league’s top ten fantasy kickers remained consistent. If you’re lucky enough to draft Robbie Gould or Mason Crosby, don’t let them go, even during their bye week.
There are a limited number of elite kickers in the NFL, so when you get one that can get you around 10 points every week, cherish him. The last thing you want is to be stuck like the Chicago Bears auditioning new kickers every week!
Davante Adams Is Good For 15 Points A Game
In PPR leagues, no wide receiver was more valuable in 2018 then Davante Adams. Every week he played, Adams scored at least 15 points. That kind of value makes him an elite fantasy football player if you’re lucky enough to get him.
Of course, Adams fantasy success isn’t limited to just 2018. In 2017 he was nearly just as good. Overall he scored 15 fantasy points in 23 of 29 games played between the two seasons.
Every Rams Receiver Is Good
The Los Angeles Rams have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. In 2018 alone, the team had three wide receivers finish in the top 20 at their position. Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp all averaged over 16 points per game.
While we imagine history won’t repeat itself in 2019, all three are worth taking chances on. A fully healthy Cooper Kupp is a great option in PPR leagues, while Cooks should rack up yards and touchdowns. Woods might be the odd man out of the trio if our expected offensive regression occurs.
Don’t Sleep On Nick Chubb
Entering the 2019 fantasy football season, it felt like Browns running back Nick Chubb wasn’t getting the respect he deserved. In the offseason, the team signed Kareem Hunt, who is currently on the sideline serving a suspension.
The thought process was this, “why sign Hunt if Chubb is the lead back?” Maybe Cleveland is playing the odds. Last year as a starter in half of the games he played, Chubb gained 996 yards. With a full season as the starter in 2019, just imagine how high that total could climb!
Josh Allen Is The Best Player In Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills are enjoying some early season success in 2019 that can be surprisingly attributed to their young quarterback. Josh Allen, while seemingly mediocre last year in his rookie season is also the best fantasy option for anyone looking to pick up a Bill.
Not only does Allen have a cannon of an arm, but he can also run. Like Lamar Jackson, Allen wasn’t afraid to take off in 2018 and ended the season as Buffalo’s leading rusher. Depending on what defense he plays, consider Allen a great streaming option at QB.