It’s finally here, we are less than a week away from my Packers kicking off 2019. I’m convinced that I enjoy the ritual of football Sunday’s more than the games themselves. Waking up to place your bets, set your lineups, and trash talk your league mates is its own event in itself. I’ll be kicking off week 1 with some homemade jalapeño poppers, chicken wings, maybe a cheese board to keep in line with my Wisconsin fandom, and of course plenty of beer. Although some of us have the same game day rituals from year to year, we can’t expect similar results from team to team or player to player from 2018 to 2019. In a league that is built on parity, identifying when a player’s situation has changed drastically can make us better fantasy gamers. Let’s take a look at some of these situations that should make us pause and take a closer look.
Let me be clear. I hate coach-centric fantasy analysis. I never buy into an analysts telling me I need to pay attention to a certain running back just because they are in a Kyle Shanahan offense *cough* Tevin Coleman *cough*. However, ignoring it entirely is not making us better fantasy gamers either. I believe that coaching changes have big picture impacts on how a particular offense operates. While it shouldn’t affect an individual’s performance too drastically it can definitely have the biggest impact on the outcome of games. One of these changes that seems to have slipped under the radar from last year is the Viking’s OC change to Kevin Stefanski. The Vikings ran the ball at an alarming rate in their final 3 games. The offense is trending down, Dalvin cook is injury prone and if they are going to have him carry a heavier load he is a huge injury risk for 2019. Topping that off, both Thielen and Diggs will see their dynasty value suffer if Minnesota continues the trend. Most teams are wise to the fact that this is a passing league. Passing on 1st down and getting the RB involved in the passing game is not only great for fantasy, it also makes the offense more efficient. The defense doesn’t know when to expect the run. If the final 3 games are any indication of what to expect in Minnesota, I’m tempering my expectations for this team.
The unexpected retirement of Andrew Luck is a major change where fantasy gamers can find an edge. As a Hilton dynasty owner I am sad to see Luck go, especially since we were about to see a healthy Luck perform behind an excellent offensive line. If Luck stays retired (there are already whisperings of him returning once he is “healthy”) I’ll continue to wonder what kind of season we were about to see from him. In steps Jacoby Brissett who we got to see at age 23. He took over for the injured Luck and had an abysmal year. Spoiler Alert: Brissett was tasked with playing behind that same offensive line that allowed Luck to get battered game after game. He also had the worst cast of Wide Receivers in the NFL that year. Not to mention, Brissett hadn’t taken any reps with the first team before taking over the role. Be bullish on the ADP dip of players like Hilton and Mack. Not only is Brisset 3 years older, he gets to throw to Ebron, Doyle, Mack, and Funchess. These are all drastic improvements over 2017. He got his reps with the starters this pre-season while Luck was sidelined. We are seeing an overreaction in the fantasy community. From a Dynasty standpoint, we are either stuck holding the bag or attempting to buy low on the main fixtures. It will be difficult to move any Colts players at value right now.
The changes in Cleveland are exciting for NFL fans in general. I’ve had Cleveland’s week 1 game marked off on my calendar for quite some time and it is the game I am most eager to see. Is there a better post-hype sleeper this year than David Njoku? Here’s what I wrote about him last year. “Njoku is in a position to emerge as an elite option in a top heavy position. 386 yards on 58 targets and 4 TD’s and trending up, grab him while you can. At 22 he is a great dynasty option and is available in the double digit rounds of re-draft leagues.” This may be truer than ever as people give up on him. Njoku is entering his third year in the league which is the magic year for Tight Ends to fully break out. With the offense able to spread the ball around it should open Njoku up over the middle and in the red zone. He’s been working on both his blocking and pass catching skills. He is fully dedicated to working on his craft which is the kind of player you want to own in dynasty leagues.