Completed Previews: AFC NorthNFC North – NFC East Part INFC East Part II – AFC East Part I – AFC East Part II – NFC South Part I – NFC South Part II

2019 projections referenced below are based on razzball.com 2019 projections managed and updated by our very own @RudyGamble . ADP, and strength of schedule referenced below are based on fantasypros.com consensus data.

AFC South

Houston Texas

QB Deshaun Watson

2018 Recap

  • QB3
  • Started all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 10 out of 16 games
  • 31 TDs (5 RuTD) / 12 Turnovers (3 FUM)
  • 505 passing attempts (QB15)
  • 20.7 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 3rd easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs
    • Favorable schedule leading up to his week 9 bye, 5 out of 9 matchups against fantasy defenses ranked among the top 10 easiest and only 2 ranked in the top 10 hardest for opposing QBs
    • Less favorable back end of the season, only one matchup against a top 10 easiest fantasy defense- wk16 @TB (#5)
    • Tough fantasy playoff run, wk14 vs #8 toughest DEN + wk15 @ #5 TEN

Deshaun’s 551 rushing yards and 99 rush attempts are good for QB3 in both categories. Watson will be nearly 23 months removed from his ACL tear when the 2019 NFL season kicks off. He will benefit from what should be a fully healthy skill position group with the expected return of Will Fuller and Keke Coutee. Rudy has Deshaun projected to finish 2019 as the QB2. His current ADP sits at 49 and the 3rd QB off the board. In an year where we are suffering from, what I like to refer as, the post-Mahomes QB inflation it seems like QBs are flying off the board earlier than recent memory. There is still a lot of value at the position late in this years draft, but if you are set on getting Watson on you team then look to pay a 3-4th round pick for him. 

RB Lamar Miller 

2018 Recap

  • RB23
  • Played 14 games (missed wk5 due to a chest injury & wk16 due to an ankle)
  • Hit or beat weekly projections 7 out of 14 games
  • 4 games over 100 yards rushing
  • 1.8 receptions per game on 2.5 targets per game
  • 4.6 yards per carry and 6.5 yards per reception
  • 12.3 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 13th easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs
    • Brutal start to the season (weeks 1-4), faces the #3 (@ NO wk1), #5 (vs JAC wk2), and #7 (vs CAR wk4) ranked toughest fantasy defenses

Lamar Miller remains the lead dog in a dynamic fantasy offense lead by Deshaun Watson. Drafting a running back in an offense that is projected to be in a lot of scoring positions is the opportunity we are looking for in mid-late round RBs. Granted, Miller will not be considered a “bell cow” back due to Houston’s passing attack and Watson’s rushing tendencies. But getting to face lighter boxes, or “fronts”, due to Hopkins, Fuller, and Company on the outside is a huge bonus. Miller provides a lot of value with his current ADP of 73 overall and RB31 off the board. Rudy has him projected to finish in the RB2 range with an RB23 finish. For those “zero-rb’ truthers, Miller is a hot target in the 6th round. The Texans let backup Alfred Blue walk in free agency to join division rival, the Jacksonville Jaguars, vacating 170 total touches (20 rec). Houston’s offensive line is expected to improve in 2019, after bolstering this unit through the draft. The presence of RB D’Onta Foreman is the driving force behind Miller’s current value. Foreman has failed to log any meaningful NFL carries in his young NFL career, mainly due to a torn achilles injury. The Texans must have confidence in Foreman after letting Blue walk and not drafting a back in the draft. Or is it confidence in Miller as the true #1? Foreman’s conditioning and overall physical shape was in question after rehabbing from his injury but OTA reports point to him being ready to go for 2019. I’m not buying the hype until I see something in pre-season. If you are relying on Miller as your RB2/3 then you will want to consider grabbing Foreman as a handcuff/insurance policy. Rudy currently has Foreman finishing as RB42, with 108 rushes for 425.4 yards and 2TDs. 

WR Deandre Hopkins

2018 Recap

  • WR1
  • Started all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 6 out of 16 games
  • 7 games over 100 yards receiving
  • 10.2 targets per game and WR5 in total targets (163)
  • 7.2 receptions per game and WR2 in total receptions (115)
  • 13.7 yards per reception and .69 TDs per game
  • 20.8 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 11th easiest overall strength of schedule for WRs
    • Up and down start to the season (weeks 1-4), two matchups against fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 easiest (#1 @NO wk1 + #6 vsCAR wk4) and two matchups against fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 hardest (#2 vsJAC wk2 + #8 @LAC wk4)
    • Fantasy playoff outlook (week 14-16), faces the #10 toughest (vs DEN wk14), #12 easiest (@ TEN wk15), and #7 easiest (@TB wk16)

A .69 TD rate is all we needed to see, let’s move on…. Will Fuller and Keke Coutee combined for 19 games missed in 2018. Their absence paved the way for Hopkins’ 163 targets. Both are expected to be ready for the start of 2019. Yes, the return of Fuller and Coutee will take targets away from Deandre but at the same time helping Hopkins by preventing defenses from focusing 100% of their attention on him. Rudy has him projected to regress slightly with a WR6 finish below his current ADP, 6th overall and WR1. Rudy has Adams, Jones, JuJu, Keenan Allen, and Michael Thomas all projected ahead of him. No one is going to give you hell for taking Hopkins as the WR1 and neither will I.  

WR Will Fuller

2018 Recap

  • WR69
  • Played 7 games (missed 8 games due to an ACL injury)
  • Beat weekly projections 5 out of 7 games played
  • 3 games over 100 yards receiving
  • 6.4 targets per game
  • 4.6 receptions per game
  • 15.7 yards per reception and .57 TD rate
  • 15.2 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

See strength of schedule breakdown under Deandre Hopkins

Will Fuller is expected to be a full go by the start of the NFL season. His laundry list of injuries has many weary heading in to 2019. His current ADP of 80 is WR32 off the board. Rudy has him projected to finish the season as WR22, this is assuming he plays a full 16 games. The risk is worth the reward, Fuller’s 15.7 fantasy points per game (fppg) was good for t-WR20 in fppg , tied with Rams WR Brandon Cooks. His 15.2 fppg projected over a full 16 games is a total of 243.2 fantasy points, good for WR13. Understand the risk when drafting Fuller and have a sound draft strategy, if you plan on taking him. Going in the middle of the 6th round, you should be able to build adequate starter depth at the position to take the risk. 

WR Keke Coutee

  • WR100 (wr48)
  • Played in 6 games (missed multiple games due to a lingering hamstring injury)
  • 1 game over 100 yards receiving
  • Beat weekly projections 3 out of 6 games played
  • 6.8 targets per game
  • 4.7 receptions per game
  • 10.3 yards per reception and .17 TDs per game
  • 10.5 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

See strength of schedule breakdown under Deandre Hopkins

Coutee’s 10.5 fppg is good for WR48. Along with his receiving-mate, Fuller, Keke needs to show that he can stay on the field. If you followed any of my handcuff articles last season, you know how I think about hamstring injuries…they linger, man..they’re a linger-er man. After missing the last 5 games of the 2018 season, Coutee made an appearance in the AFC Wild Card game and posted a yuuuge stat line (14 targets/11 receptions/110yds/1 TD). The Colts put an emphasis on shutting down Hopkins in that game and Keke was able to flourish. Now, Fuller returns and Coutee moves back as the WR3. Rudy has Keke finishing as WR42 and his current ADP of 112 is WR45 off the board. Any injury to Hopkins or, more than likely, Fuller boosts Keke’s fantasy value. We look for upside when drafting players in the later rounds and Coutee provides that upside in a dynamic offense and with a receiver ahead of him on the depth chart that has yet to play a full 16-game season. 

HOU Quick Hits: Houston’s Tight End group provides little to no value in single TE fantasy formats, no one at the position is projected in the top 40. In deeper leagues or TE premium settings, I like Jordan Thomas as a last round flier. He is the projected starter, after the Texans released 2018 starter Ryan Griffin, and his massive 6’5″ 277 lbs. frame is a beacon in the rezone. Not to mention he was a former WR before switching to TE in Houston. The Houston DST was a fantasy relevant unit in 2018 finishing #3 and I was surprised to see Rudy’s projection of a DST20 finish in 2019. Don’t be the guy that takes a defense early. Learn from your competition that took the Jaguars DST 1st overall in 2018, after a #1 finish in 2017, only to finish the season outside of the top 12. Don’t do it!

Indianapolis Colts

QB Andrew Luck

2018 Recap

  • QB5
  • Started all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 12 out of 16 games
  • 39 TDs (0 ruTD) / 15 INTs
  • 639 passing attempts (QB2)
  • 20.4 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 6th easiest overall strength of schedule for QBs
    • Leading up to his week 6 bye (weeks 1-5), faces 3 fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 easiest (vs #6 ATL wk3 / vs #9 OAK wk4 / @ #2 KC wk5)  and only 1 matchup against a fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 toughest (@ #5 TEN)
    • Juicy fantasy playoff run (weeks 14-16), matchups against the #5 (@TB wk14), #3 (@NO wk15), and #10 (vsCAR wk16) easiest fantasy defenses

It was nice to see Luck finish a full season after sitting out all of 2017 and without any set backs after throwing 639 passes. The Colts return all major starters on the offense and brought in former Carolina Panther and 2nd round pick, Devin Funchess to be another weapon on the field with his 6’4″ frame. This offensive line was one of the most improved in 2018 after receiving immediate impact from their young core and Luck will stand to benefit again in 2019. As our boy Zach pointed out in his Bargain Wide Receivers article, “the Colts finished 10th in the NFL in pass offense in DVOA, and 4th in passing success rate.” Also another heater article from Zach, Pass:Run Ratio article, he points out the Colts offense with the fastest pace in the NFL finishing 2018 with 26.4 second per play. Rudy has Luck projected to finish as QB3 in 2019. Sign me up for Luck and the Colts this season.

RB Marlon Mack

2018 Recap

  • RB21
  • Started 12 games (missed games due to a hamstring injury)
  • Beat weekly projection 7 out of 12 games played
  • 4 games over 100 yards rushing
  • 1.4 receptions per game on 2.2 targets per game
  • 4.7 yards per carry and 6.1 yards per reception
  • 14.8 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 11th easiest overall strength of schedule for RBs
    • Drooling over his start (weeks 1-5), 4 out of 5 matchups against fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 easiest against opposing RBs
    • Brutal finish to the season (weeks 11-16), 6 out of 7 games are against fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 hardest

From week 6 through week 16, Mack average 79.5 yards per game and .82 TD rate per game. Our boy Zach is bringing the heat this summer, in his Targeting Running Backs Using Success Rate, DVOA, and DYAR, he points out that Mack ranked 4th in DYAR, 8th in DVOA, and 8th in Success Rate (if you need help understanding these acronyms, go read his piece). Mack provides little value in the passing game, paired with a pass heavy team, and this is why Marlon is not viewed as a fantasy RB1. He carries a current ADP of 35 overall and RB17 off the board. Rudy has Mack projected to finish 2019 slightly behind is current ADP with a RB22 finish. In an offense that ranks the highest in offensive pace, and with dynamic pass catchers on the outside, it allows Mack to face lighter boxes. Without a real threat behind him on the depth chart for early down and goal line work, I like Mack at the end of the 2nd or beginning of the 3rd round. 

WR T.Y. Hilton

2018 Recap

  • WR14
  • Started 14 games (missed 2 games due to injury)
  • Beat weekly projections 6 out of 14 games played
  • 5 games over 100 yards receiving
  • 8.6 targets per game and WR15 in total targets (120)
  • 5.4 receptions per game and WR16 in total receptions (76)
  • 16.7 yards per reception and .43 TDs per game
  • 17.1 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of schedule at-a-glance
    • 17th easiest overall strength of schedule for WRs
    • Attractive finish to the season (weeks 13-16), no matchup against a fantasy defense ranked among the top 10 hardest. Faces the #7 (@TB wk14), #1 (@NO wk15), and #6 (vsCAR wk16)

I love the addition of Funchess for T.Y. Hilton’s fantasy value. This gives the Colts a real threat at the WR2 position for defenses to account for, along with a TE group at full strength, Hilton will have a chance to do more with the ball in his hand. The only downside is projecting the amount of targets Hilton will lose. Hilton is currently going 28th overall and WR11, Rudy has him finishing as WR10 in 2019. For all the same factors I love Andrew Luck this season are the same I like TY Hilton. Fastest NFL pace, and top 10 in both pass offense DVOA, and passing rate. If you go RB in the first round, hopefully you’ll get the chance to grab Hilton as he comes back to you in the 2nd round. 

TE Eric Ebron

2018 Recap

  • TE4
  • Played all 16 games
  • Beat weekly projections 10 out of 16 games
  • 6.9 targets per game and TE4 in total targets (110)
  • 4.1 receptions per game and TE in total receptions (66)
  • 11.4 yards per reception and .81 TDs per game
  • 13.9 fantasy points per game

2019 Outlook

  • Strength of Schedule at-a-glance
    • 2nd easiest overall strength of schedule
    • After his week 6 bye, 6 out of 10 games against fantasy defense ranked in the top 10 easiest and only 2 matchups against fantasy defenses ranked in the top 10 hardest

Alert! Alert! Alert! Regression incoming! Ebron is fighting an uphill battle to repeat as a top 5 TE in 2019. His TD rate is unsustainable, Devin Funchess is a viable big-bodied receiving red zone threat, Jack Doyle returns after missing a majority of the 2018 season due to injury. Rudy agrees, he projects Ebron to fall out of the top 10 and finish as TE11, with only 74.7 targets + 4.4TDs + 133.3 fantasy points. After his 2018 breakout, there is a premium price for Eric, with a current ADP of 75 overall and TE7. To name a few, Christian Kirk, Corey Davis, and Dede Westbrook are all getting drafted after Ebron and are all projected to outscore Ebron by a minimum of ~50 fantasy points. 

IND Quicks Hits: WR Devin Funchess current ADP of 147/WR54 is essentially free for a WR2 in this Andrew Luck led offense. Rudy has Funchess projected in the WR4 range with a WR43 finish. If the Rookie WR Parris Campbell warrants any significant snaps then Funchess’ role stands to be impacted the most. Luckily for Devin, rookie wideouts have a horrible track record of breaking out in year 1. Rudy has Parris finishing as WR80. Nyheim Hines is only a PPR play and is projected in the RB3/Flex play with a RB32 finish. Hines provides a lot of  value at his current ADP of 116 and RB43. He should only be considered in deep leagues as he fails to provide consistent fantasy production. Remove his one 19.3 fantasy game in week 4, he averaged a measly 5.2 fantasy points per game. I like other backs getting drafted behind him with more upside, rookies, and true bell cow handcuffs. Doyle is projected a TE21 finish and should only be considered in TE premium leagues. With the arrival of Funchess and explosion of Ebron last season, Doyle will have to earn back his share of targets. I like Jordan Reed and Mark Andrews whom are both getting drafted behind Doyle. If you are investing one of your top 3-4 picks on Andrew Luck then grabbing Jacoby Brissett in the finals rounds as an insurance policy is a savvy move to make. Brissett has shown the ability to lead an NFL team, in New England and Indianapolis, when called upon and the Colts made sure to retain Brissett. Wrapping up Indianapolis, the Colts DST provides sneaky value with an ADP of 203 and Rudy’s projection of a DST 1 finish. Sign me up!

 

Next Up: AFC South Part II – Jacksonville Jaguars + Tennessee Titans

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