My first projections cut took nearly 60 hours and I have likely invested another 20 hours per week at a minimum keeping this set where I think they represent the most likely outcomes of the players. Distilling data to one set of numbers does not do justice to some of these players who have terrific talent, opportunity, etc. I am penning this article to provide some perspective to guys I like or hate and some thoughts circling my brain that might have gotten lost in a dataset that reflects my best guess at all of the possible outcomes a player can have.
Players listed alphabetically by their last name and by position.
Josh Allen - What do you get when you mix a bad offensive line with subpar receivers? Josh Allen did enough with his legs last season to stay relevant. But expecting more out of a quarterback who rushed for 631 yards and 8 touchdowns is likely wishful thinking. He is a major regression candidate.
Drew Brees - The Saints are becoming a more balanced team. Their defense is no longer a laughing stock so the team isn't required to throw it every down while playing from behind. The evidence is in the pass attempts from Brees who had a high of 673 in 2016, but just 489 (in 15 games) last season. With such a deep quarterback pool, I prefer the upside with younger players over the 40-year-old arm of the legend.
Derek Carr - He set career highs in passing yards, yards per attempt, and completion percentage last season despite a ragtag group of pass-catchers. With the addition of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, Carr is my breakout candidate to smash his current ADP. He is a big reason why I rarely take any quarterback early.
Jimmy Garoppolo - The 49ers finished as a top-12 pass offense in 2018 with their backups playing 13 of the 16 games. Garoppolo should be a significant upgrade and is being discounted heavily at his current ADP. He represents great value, especially in best-ball leagues.
Lamar Jackson - The Ravens and Jackson are all saying he will throw more and run less. But will the Ravens really do that every week? He averaged 21.8 fantasy points in his 7 starts including 558 yards on the ground and 4 rushing touchdowns. In the playoffs, we saw his slinging it with more confidence. Jackson is one of the hardest players to project because his range of outcomes week-to-week is wide. In best-ball leagues, I think he could be one of the safest (and valuable plays) because he is likely to log some huge scoring weeks. In standard leagues, knowing when to play him could make him a bit of a headache. At his current ADP though, he is a quarterback that will be on a lot of my rosters.
Andrew Luck - I don't think this latest calf injury will keep him off of the field, but with a deep quarterback pool it is enough for me to let someone else draft him at his lofty ADP.
Patrick Mahomes II II - What if he doesn't regress? The industry (myself included) is projecting a major regression-to-the-mean, but what if he really is just a transcendent talent? With the quarterback pool as deep as ever, I doubt I will own any Mahomes shares, but I won't be shocked if he continues where he left off last year and is the difference maker to many people winning their fantasy leagues.
Eli Manning - He does not pass the eye test for me. He needs to be benched.
Baker Mayfield - On paper, this offense has it all. But I remain skeptical that Baker Mayfield delivers on his ADP. He posted the majority of his numbers playing from behind in situations where the Browns had to score points and do it quickly. With a better team, Baker may be asked to do significantly less.
Kyler Murray - The hype is off the charts, but I am warming up to the thought that he is worth it. The air-raid offense that Kliff Kingsbury is going to run puts four wide receivers in action on nearly every snap. And Kingsbury showed his hand in college by having his teams play at an extremely high-tempo pace. The question is will Kyler Murray still be standing by season's end? Because every time you spread it out with the four wide receivers, you are prone to a massive blitz which teams are surely going to use often against this unit. What gives me hope is how fast Kyler Murray delivered the ball in preseason Week 1. He was accurate and had a lightning-fast release in the scripted plays. It won't always be this easy for him, but if he can stay upright, the volume could be there to do something special with this offense.
Cam Newton - I feel his stock has dropped a lot because the last images we have of Cam had him really struggling with shoulder issues at the end of 2018. Coming into 2019 healthy, Cam comes at a draft day discount with a week-to-week ceiling among the best at the position.
Aaron Rodgers - The offseason articles coupled with a steady decline in passing touchdowns has me staying far away. Add in a new coach and this smells like trainwreck at his current ADP.
Matt Ryan - He finished 2018 as QB2 and has the same pass catchers this year that helped him achieve those totals. He also has not missed a game in eight seasons. He remains one of the safest selections at the position.
Mitchell Trubisky - As the defense took over games, Trubisky was asked to do less and less. In losses, he averaged 26.5 fantasy points per game. In wins, he put up just 19.9 points per game. With a trio of talented RBs, I expect Trubisky to be in game-manager mode for most of 2019. He represents fair value at his ADP, but I find myself drafting others at the position with perceived higher ceilings.
Deshaun Watson - His offensive line is bad. Keke Coutee is dealing with a hobbled ankle. Will Fuller V has missed 17 regular-season games in just 3 seasons. In a deep quarterback pool, drafting Watson at (or above) his ceiling is among the worst mistakes you can do in a draft this year.
Carson Wentz - Playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, I think this is the year Carson Wentz puts it all together. He has shown us glimpses of greatness only to be injured or out-played by Nick Foles. The Eagles are stacked offensively and he appears the healthiest he has been in years.
Jameis Winston - Small moments catch my eye. And the recent interview of Jameis Winston on ESPN was one of those moments. I feel 2018 humbled him considerably (outplayed by Ryan Fitzpatrick plus off-field issues), and I feel like we could be seeing Winston 2.0 here. HC Bruce Arians revived Carson Palmer's game, and we could be looking at this all over again.
Peyton Barber - He outplayed Ronald Jones in 2018 and is doing the same to start this year. If he holds off Jones all year, this is a player that will win you your fantasy league. His ADP is criminally low at this point.
Saquon Barkley - He deserves to be the No. 1 player off the board in fantasy drafts because of talent and opportunity, but he will find the running lanes considerably harder without Odell Beckham Jr to keep defenses honest. Horrible quarterback play and an inferior line does temper some of my optimism for Barkley's upside. He is someone I avoid in auctions.
Le'Veon Bell - He checks all of the danger zones for me. Aging running back. Skipped a year. Subpar offensive line. Loud fan base. And as of August 13th, we have not seen him run in a game situation. Despite all of this, his talent may overcome my fears. I am mostly avoiding him anywhere near his ADP.
Chris Carson / Rashaad Penny - Selected late in the 7th round of the 2017 draft, Chris Carson has earned his starting staus by just being better than everyone else (including Rashaad Penny who was selected 27th overall in 2018). Carson gets limited love in drafts (likely due to this pedigree), but everything coming out of camp says he continues to have a hold on the RB1 job in Seattle. I am buying Carson and avoiding Penny at their current ADPs.
Nick Chubb - With the trade of Duke Johnson Jr, the sky is the limit in Chubb's second season. Kareem Hunt may be breathing down his neck from Week 9 on, but Chubb should do enough in the early season to warrant his high draft status.
Tarik Cohen - Love the player, but hate the situation. He is getting drafted at/near his ADP ceiling. No back will take away his third-down duties, but David Montgomery and/or Mike Davis will limit any early-down work.