As the season winds to a close it’s time to stop flirting with the transition to 2020 and dive in. This isn’t to say I’m done with 2019, not even close. I’m planning an upcoming long form article with an entire season review, but writing only a single article this week I thought it would enjoyable to provide my early .5 PPR first-round rankings for 2020. I’ve been searching around for others who have engaged in this exercise and it looks like I might be the first brave soul to assuredly be laughed at next summer. For those of you that are here for week 16 nuggets, congrats! You are either loyal readers, or trying to win a championship! Don’y worry, I’ve still got you covered at the bottom.

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We have been discussing overarching themes to the 2019 fantasy football season and how that may affect the 2020 season. During this time, I’ve been beating around the bush. We all know the biggest story of 2019, and what the biggest question of 2020 will be: To Lamar, or not to Lamar? I’ve avoided the question for the past month. Why? Because, my answer is going to be on the very unpopular side of the aisle. Lamar Jackson is going to be worth a 1st round pick in 2020.

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Fantasy football is a tough game. In my opinion, the main reason is that player values change massively week to week in unpredictable ways. These things happen in baseball and basketball, but not nearly at the volume or frequency. There is no greater example of this in 2019 than Zach Ertz. During the pre-season Ertz was an obvious overvalue in the 3rd round.

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I’ve led this article over the past few weeks with details on overarching themes to the entire fantasy football season. We discussed Jon Gruden as a rare fantasy friendly coach in today’s game. We discussed how bizarre of a year 2019 has been. I’m going to continue with these themes as we finish out the season, because the ability to get a grasp on league-wide themes is vital in fantasy football. It is much more important to take a wider lens of the entire league, rather than focus in on singular players that you hope to hit on in drafts. This is a key differentiating factor in fantasy football from other sports, in my opinion. The theme I present this week is distribution in the passing game through air yards.

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The fantasy football playoffs are finally here. In the interest of the rest of season rankings being as useful as possible I’ve thrown a whole pile of players in the 70-80 range that could potentially be a one week plug and plays for your team. I encourage all readers to map out their lineups throughout the playoffs to find expendable players. Ensure you have the optimal lineup for this week if you are in a playoff matchup, after that move on to week 15 and week 16. If there are players on your roster who will not make your projected lineup in any of those weeks those players become droppable (sans handcuffs). Prior to dropping any players, the last key question to ask yourself is will throwing this player to the waiver wire improve any potential competitor’s lineup substantially? If that isn’t the case find the highest upside players possible and get them on your roster. For a personal example, I have a first-round bye secured in a league. In the league I dropped Bo Scarbrough for David Njoku for the outside chance he returns against Arizona in week 15. Scarborough will never make my lineup. He is a usefully player, but the upside of Njoku against Arizona is worth the risk of one of my opponents snagging Scarborough.

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Nobody saw it coming in August, but the NFL game of the year is this weekend between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Apparently, nobody at the NFL offices noticed as two week ago either as they kept it on the noon slate. We have detailed these teams throughout the season and touched on the Ravens now elite defense in last week’s article.

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What an odd fantasy football year. By the end of the season there will likely be a single standout player at the 3 major positions in total points for PPR formats (Lamar Jackson, Christian McCaffrey, and Michael Thomas). The quarterback position has true tiers after being streamed for years. Oddly, the majority of the top 10 finishers at the quarterback position likely won’t have been drafted in the top 10, meaning everyone who waited with the intention of streaming made it out unscathed. Even more strange, the running back position seems to have a far higher percentage of players that maintained health and value in comparison to the wide receiver position in rounds 1-3. Frankly, this never happens. This is all made even crazier by the waiver wire being bone dry. It truly has been unlike any season I can remember. We have often heard, or used, the mantra that seasons aren’t won on draft day, but I’m not sure that applies to 2019. After we all win some fantasy championships over the next few weeks, I’ll go into more detail on my thoughts in reviewing the season and how it effects the game moving forward.

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Welp. Last week was a kick in the pants, but don’t fret I was right there taking it with you. People are saying it was the Vegas sportsbooks worst weekend of the year. Favorites went 9-4-1 ATS on the closing line, while underdogs are 87-70-4 ATS overall this year on the closing line. Finding any edges in this fake sport we all have an unhealthy obsession with is a process over the course of the season. That process has led me to a 4 pieces I found in research this week that have implication on not only this week, but the rest of the season overall. 

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One of the struggles with using data in the NFL is that there are so few trials in order to get a good perception of what a team or player truly is. In the early portion of the season you must sort through the information that you have and constantly cross check to ensure that there isn’t any noise (schedule, injury, etc) in the data that you are attempting to use. Therefore, I’ve always enjoyed the back half of the season. There are more pieces to put together to tell a story of what is going to happen on a Sunday slate. I’ve nailed down some edges below that I’m hoping you can use to propel you into the season long playoffs, or get to the top of the DFS leaderboard.

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