The story of the fantastic 2019 football season is by Lamar Jackson. There is no other player to speak to at the beginning of the 2019 All-ValueTeam by Jackson. It’s another world. Many of the players who made this team could be called sleepers or breakouts, but some were people who we thought were well-known products that were enhanced and now have brighter contracts.
We have collapsed the router into a standard fantasy team alignment, with a fourth receiver essentially functioning as FLEX. The highlight is the running back, where except for a weird season by Austin Ekeler, we didn’t have huge breakouts in the vein of James Conner or Chris Carson last year or even Alex Collins in 2017;). The wide receiver had several strong contenders and we could not include either Marquise Brown or Terry McLaurin after productive launches that eventually hit the rookie wall.
You’ll also find options for Preeason’s All-Sleeper Team, which was a fun thing to put together in the summer, but it turns out to have provided some help throughout the season. If we had only selected Jackson, it would have seemed like a genius.
Top 2019 fantasy football values and breakouts
Note: Everyone under Austin Ekeler was selected out of the top 100 by FantasyPros ADF consensus agreement.
QB: Lamar Jackson, Ravens
There is no way to do justice to the time Jackson had. In our quarterfinal rankings, we recognized the high floor he had thanks to his ability to rush, while Jackson never went below 15 points in a week as a starter last season. It looked like the pass could be limited and the teams would catch Baltimore’s plan (not to mention the worries about injuries that come with running as he does).
But Jackson was very good. Even with Week 17, Jackson is officially the highest scoring QB in a single season – always going through Patrick Mahomes’ 2018 campaign. but maybe you followed him straight into the fantasy playoffs.
Let’s just say Jackson is going to be much closer to the 10th overall than the 100th overall next season.
QB timer: Kirk Cousins, Vikings
He just felt that Cousins was a safe option going very low (and finished 13th among the QBs, making him more valuable than his draft pick), but the Vikings embraced Dalvin Cook too much for Cousins to have a really special season, especially after a slow start.
RB: Austin Ekeler, Chargers
Ekeler’s total offseason ADP was 56th overall, far higher than anyone else on the list. This is due to the fact that Melvin Gordon was keeping out and over time it became apparent that LA’s job was to keep him busy. it would be Ekeler’s event to start the season. But I don’t think anyone waited long for the points he gave, especially when Gordon returned to the field.
The only time Ekeler has exceeded 100 meters on the ground was in Week 14, but it doesn’t matter. He’s rushed for touchdowns and caught touchdowns. He has had games where he dominated backfield dump-offs, and other games where he has been drafted and succeeded as a wide receiver. It has become unusual and perhaps more difficult to reflect on than most RBs on a weekly basis, but when you look at it next week, Ekeler was a top-10 player in both standard and PPR ratings.
Assuming Gordon signs elsewhere in the offseason, it’s easy to see Ekeler as a top fantasy pick next season.
RB: Carlos Hyde, Texans
Hyde was the favorite boy of the race in August, even before being traded by the Chiefs. But the Texans were desperate for an RB when Lamar Miller broke his ACL in the preseason, so Hyde got a crack at a starting job.
The irony is that even when Hyde was at the top of the depth chart in Houston, we didn’t want to believe him. We tried to talk about Duke Johnson or wondered if young people whose names have already been forgotten in history could make their mark. But in Step Hyde, even on a timeshare with Johnson, it’s produced.
Hyde averaged 70.5 steps per game and 4.4 yards per carry in 16 weeks, and would have had a higher position on the backs, if not for the relatively low six wings. It wasn’t fancy or stand out above the pack, but Hyde has just hugged week in and week out, something the two RBs we wanted to be a sledgehammer in the preseason can’t say.
RBs of all beds: Tevin Coleman, 49ers | Ronald Jones, Buccaneers
Remember that game of four TD Tevin Coleman or countless times it seemed Ronald Jones took over the back of Tampa Bay? That’s why they gave us relaxation in the preseason, but their injury, inconsistency and lack of opportunity kept them from reaching really great times.
WR: DJ Chark, Jaguars
If anyone in your league drafted Chark, they knew something we didn’t have the rest of us. Chark was one of the most popular claims for his first season resignation as he went for 146 yards and scored in Week 1, followed by another touchdown in Week 2 … then another touchdown in Week 3 … then two more scores in Week 5.
Defensive adjustments came and slowed Chark for a few weeks, but he still reached Week 15 as a top fantasy wide receiver in standard rankings. Chark has caught just 14 passes and has no contact with the rookie, but he may be just one of a lost generation of talented LSU receivers who couldn’t shine in college because of a sin. Chark certainly looks like the real deal.
Chark almost certainly earned a spot as a top-20 receiver next season, and if people feel good about Jacksonville’s QB status, some will shout about him as a marginal top-10. This is far from a player who told us all “Who?” in the first weeks of the season.
WR: Courtland Sutton, Broncos
We knew about Sutton because he shined at the end of last season, showing the great sports that predicted a strong NFL future. There was a lot of doubt in his fighters this year. It looked like Joe Flacco would be the best, but we’ve seen him catch balls from Brandon Allen and Drew Lock, too.
Sutton’s did his job (and didn’t hinder Emmanuel Sanders’ midseason trade). Since it was the 44th WR off the boat, it was a very strong WR2. This was despite not exceeding 10 goals each week (although he had at least five each week). Sutton caught between four and six passes, except for three weeks, heading into Week 17. So depending on that week, you might want more than Sutton, but overall, you had to be happy with his consistency.
Imagine if the lock is real. Sutton could be in for a great future if he gets above average quarterback play.
WR: John Brown, accounts
Brown looked like a familiar commodity this season, his first in Buffalo. Even if it were to win a starting job, it seemed to be the occasional deep threat and no more. This is reflected in his status as the 54th WR off the board during the season.
But Brown, without sacrificing his occasional ability to get behind the defense, expanded his game to become true number 1. Brown occupied at least four passes in each of the first 11 weeks of the season. It ended in strong weeks of 15 and 16, despite the hard fights.
There is no reason to expect otherwise in 2020, as Brown is starting again to be Josh Allen’s best target.
WR: DeVante Parker, Dolphins
Prior to Parker’s concussion in Week 14, he was in second tear. He had seen double-digit goals in four straight weeks and probably brought teams to the fantastic football playoffs. Delivered with two touchdowns in Week 15 and another in Week 16, and it was a remarkable season by a player in the fifth year of the NFL that many considered a bust earlier that year.
In most leagues, Parker was left without a bonus. Even without the obvious number 1 in Miami, people believed it would not fill the void. And it took some time to catch him, but catching points in three consecutive games from Week 4 was a sign of future events. In the second half of the season, Parker travels and becomes Ryan Fitzpatrick’s most reliable target.
If the Dolphins hit a new QB on the ski dip, there could be growing pains next season, but it could also be a huge full season for Parker.
World War II Championship: Tre’Quan Smith, Saints Preston Williams, Dolphins James Washington, Steelers
Smith suffered too many injuries to ever gain any value from him. Williams and Washington both showed their values, and perhaps Washington would have surrendered if Ben Roethlisberger had not been hurt, while Williams might have been better off with Parker if they hadn’t played for the Dolphins. A knee injury ended Williams’ week at Week 9, as he was really starting to shine, so it’s a name to make for next season.
TE: Darren Waller, Raiders
Mark Andrews had a good case for this point, but got an oversized campaign a week or two right before the season and was drafted as a starting TE at most events until early September. This means that Waller joins this prominent team.
There was no reason to believe Waller except to point out what Jared Cook did in Oakland last year and wonders if Waller could do it this year. However, it wasn’t until Antonio Brown was released after the technical age began that it seemed realistic to expect many consistent goals for Waller. Waller was a top five TE in 16 weeks, though, paying for Cook’s role even better than Cook did last season.
It didn’t matter so much that Waller didn’t make a touchdown until Week 7. He had accumulated yardage and receptions enough to be a start every week despite this. As soon as some touchdowns came, he was pinching his status as a fantasy winner.
Tram: Benjamin Watson, Patriots
That didn’t work … at all. Putting a spin on some of Rob Gronkowski’s production of when Watson returned from suspension was a total flow. New England didn’t really replace Gronk and Watson was actually cut before finally returning to Pats.
D / ST: Pittsburgh Steelers
Here is what I wrote about the Preseason All-Sleeper team for the Steelers:
We have made it clear again and again that race play is our preferred approach to the D / ST slot of your fantasy roster. The Steelers don’t quite fit that bill to start the season, with the Patriots hosting Pittsburgh on Week 1. The Steelers, however, don’t get to the regular championships, though they are stupid. It’s a top fantasy defense, easily.
If you want a better week 1 matchup, fine. You can design someone else and lift the Steelers when they fit in your roster. If you are not so interested in this opener, you can opt for Pittsburgh since everyone else on your clipboard has got D / ST. There is certainly no need to get to the defense when production from time to time depends on both rivets and touchdowns, which can be somewhat random in the small sample of 16 games.
The Steelers will be in the boat of someone just looking at Week 1. Obviously, they have also been knocked down by the boards of those looking for more than that, too. They should be cheap wherever you want them and they should exhaust this low price.
Default D-ST: Pittsburgh Steelers
Kicker: Matt Gay
The homer wasn’t drafted anywhere in the preseason, but he was the third-best fantasy kicker until Week 16. He did everything except three pitches this season and showed a good foot in distance (four out of five from 50-plus), so you can probably count on being an editor next year.
Kicker: Giorgio Tavecchio
I was very excited about Tavecchio, so I guess he was doomed to fail. Oh well, it’s a kicker. Fantasy championships need to get rid of them anyway.