In every round of every fantasy draft, there’s always a few intriguing players, guys who you just look at and wonder about. Are they good scheme fits? How will they be utilized? Do they have bust potential? Is it worth taking them here? Do they have the potential to become stars this season? There’s also always a few guys who get slept on, guys who have the potential to put up great numbers, guys who can be found in the later rounds. Then to follow that up, there are always the comeback kids, guys who struggled last year or barely played due to injury, but can be found in the later rounds and have potential to break out this season. In this article, we’ll take a look at some sleepers, some comeback players looking to renew their career, and one intriguing prospect from each of the first 5 rounds, one guy who you need to look over closely in regards to their fantasy prospects.
Intriguing Prospect R1 – Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon is an intriguing prospect who should work out nonetheless, but his potential is limitless if his offensive line can just prove to be a little capable in 2019. You see, Mixon went off for 1168 rushing yards and 8 rushing TDs (the former statistic lead the AFC!) in 2019, despite missing 2.5 games and playing behind an offensive line composed of KFC employees.
Now, the line is still full of KFC employees. The first round pick LT, he’s out for the season. But Mixon will get more opportunities than ever (especially in the red zone) playing in new head coach Zac Taylor’s explosive offense. Expect Mixon to be used somewhat in a Todd Gurley-like role, maybe resulting in more touchdowns from close range, but also note that this means Mixon may get more rest to keep him fresh, giving Gio Bernard and Trayveon Williams more chances in-game. This is an intriguing pick that should work out nonetheless, but could present it’s issues, especially behind that Offensive Line.
Intriguing Prospect R2 – Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Until last season, Damien Williams was just another running back deep down some team’s depth chart. Behind Kareem Hunt in Kansas CIty, it appeared that Williams had no hope of ever making it to sizable game time… then, Kareem Hunt happened! Williams picked it up in the time after Hunt was released, producing some very good performances on the ground and in the passing game.
He is an intriguing prospect because we know what he did last year in the final five games, but we have no idea what he can do over a full 16 game season. He isn’t as explosive as a runner as Hunt was, though his receiving stats are comparable. Is he worth the flyer in the 2nd round? He is a risky pick, but he will pile up enough stats that it should work out regardless.
Intriguing Prospect R3 – Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
This intriguing prospect isn’t intriguing in a bad way, he is intriguing in a very good way. Jacobs carries a lot of potential for a rookie RB, and he is joining a system that loves to pound the rock, so the potential is there for a great fantasy performance in year 1. Remember Cadillac Williams? He was the last bigtime RB Jon Gruden had, and he won Rookie of the Year in his first year under Gruden (2005). Who’s to say Jacobs can’t produce something similar?
Derek Carr needs a comeback season of sorts in 2019 to hold onto his job, and if Jacobs can get on fire early, a shitload of pressure will fall off of Carr’s shoulders, all while making the Raiders a better football team in the process. Expect Jacobs to get the rock early, and if he does, the 3rd round pick used on him could look like a major steal.
Intriguing Prospect R4 – Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Doug Baldwin’s retirement sucked, but it opened up a bevy of opportunities for Lockett that could make him one of the bigger WR steals in all of fantasy football at the end of the season. A speedy, efficient receiver, Lockett thrived in 2018, with the Russell Wilson-Lockett combination producing a PERFECT PASSER RATING of 158.3, which is absolutely insane considering the number of targets he received last season.
Lockett went off for 965 yards and 10 receiving TD’s, making it onto the NFL’s Top 100 list for the first time in his career. With Doug Baldwin’s injury, Lockett will be the #1 receiver in an explosive Seahawks offense, and 1k yards should be a prerequisite for the former Kansas State star at this stage. Lockett is an intriguing prospect who could thrive in 2019.
Sleeper 1 – Jameis Winston
Yes a Mahomes or Rodgers type QB would be cool, but why reach for one of them when you could grab a QB with potential in one of the final rounds of the draft? Jameis’ 2019 will be crucial for his career, and he could very well come out guns blazing in 2019, especially with quarterback guru Bruce Arians at the helm in Tampa Bay now. Winston had an under-the-radar campaign in 2018, and if he plays all 16 games this season, he should be one of the league’s leaders in passing yards without a doubt.
While the Buccaneers should be bad, Winston is surrounded by weapons in the passing game (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard) and should, once again, lead one of the league’s best aerial attacks. Yet Winston is not even projected to be a top 12-drafted QB in fantasy! Take him in the later rounds and stack up on skill position players. Screw an over drafted QB.
Sleeper 2 – Noah Fant
For a late round TE that could make an impact, how about the first round pick Fant? Coming out of Iowa, Fant and fellow first round TE TJ Hockenson provide contrasting skill sets; Hockenson a better blocker and safer hands, Fant quicker, more athletic and more explosive in the passing game. Though Hockenson very well could be better, it’s easy to imagine Fant being the better option right now, especially considering his situation in Denver.
Fant will be receiving passes as probably the #2 or #3 option for new QB Joe Flacco, a man who loves his receiving TEs (remember Dennis Pitta in Baltimore?). Fant is by far the most explosive and talented TE Flacco will have ever worked with, and with Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders being Flacco’s only other capable receiving options, Fant will get targets right away. Yet in some leagues, Fant isn’t even a drafted player! In the last few rounds, a flyer on Fant could get you a quality fantasy TE, just a fair few rounds later than you normally draft one. Screw a Kittle or an Ertz, Fant is a great quality player at a fraction of the price.
The Comeback Kids
These offensive studs may be under the radar following injury or controversy-ridden seasons… keep an eye out for them in your fantasy drafts.
AJ Green, Bengals – In 9 games played, Green still put up 694 receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns. Expect him to return to old form if he can stay healthy in 2019.
Le’veon Bell, Jets – A risky bet. Will Bell, one of the NFL’s best backs from 2015-2017, rediscover his form in New York? His new offensive line is not like his old one in Pittsburgh. Take caution.
Jerick McKinnon, 49ers – Signed a big deal with SanFran in the 2018 offseason, then missed the season with an ACL injury. The 49ers backfield is questionable all over, so he could win the job in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and produce. A solid late round pick.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers – Will he produce? One of the highest paid QBs in the league, Brady’s former backup is unproven following a 2018 season he virtually completely missed. Pick with caution.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons – An injury riddled campaign in 2018 restricted the talented back. With Tevin Coleman gone, he is expected to receive even more carries. Could have a great season, but beware of over drafting.
Carson Wentz, Eagles – Has had an injury riddled career to this point. Showed flashes of what nearly made him the 2017 MVP last season, and with Foles gone he has less pressure on him in terms of competition (though he has more media pressure for sure). One of the riskier QB picks.