Nine Returning Players and Their Possible Impact Finale

Conlin Postma @ConlinFF

As this article comes to a close, the last three players will be analyzed for all different reasons. The first player was in a similar situation like the players in the first article, but with one difference. Instead of him tearing his ACL, this player sat out the entire season seeking a new contract. Player two did suffer a torn ACL, but it was during a Week eight victory over the Miami Dolphins. The last player was plagued by a nagging toe injury, it cut his season short, and required offseason surgery.

There are two key differences from this article than the previous two. The first difference is that all three of these players aren’t connected by a common theme. In part one, they all torn their ACL’s before the season began. In part two, those three players failed to play more than four regular-season games. The other difference with this article is that all the players will have a separate Fantasy section.

Here is a little more insight into the players who will be appearing in the finale. Just like the second article, all of these players will be returning as the unquestioned starters. The first player might have to carry his team on his back in order for them to be competitive this season. Player two is coming back, but a young up and coming slot receiver could complicate his place on the depth chart. Lastly, we have a receiver on a dark horse team to win the AFC North.

As this is the last article in the series, I’d like to thank everyone that has taken the time reading them all.

Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Bell was on the Super Bowl contending Pittsburgh Steelers. He held out for a whole year in hope of receiving a new contract from his former team but to no avail. Pittsburgh ultimately cut ties with Bell and that forced one of the best backs into Free Agency. The former Michigan State Spartan wasn’t as popular on the free agent market as he thought he would be. Bell only had two teams pursuing him, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. New York ultimately signed Le’Veon to a four-year, $52.5 million contract.

His team success won’t be as great as his time in Pittsburgh, but Bell’s production and usage should see an increase. In 66 career starts, he has 1,635 touches and that is about 25 touches per game. During his tenure with the Jets, he should have more touches per game than he did with the Steelers.

The lack of offensive firepower for New York could make them use Bell more than he’s ever been used before. Sam Darnold threw 15 INT’s and fumbled five times. With Le’Veon now in the backfield, Sam can check down to him instead of forcing throws. Last season, the leading back for New York only had 143 carries and the leading receiver caught 50 passes. There is a high possibility for Bell to see that type of production in less than 10 games.

Fantasy Outlook

There is only one possible threat to stopping Bell in becoming the top fantasy back again and that is Sam Darnold. If the second year QB doesn’t take a step forward, that could be detrimental to Le’Veon’s upside. Opposing defenses could put eight defenders in the box to stop him and force Darnold to throw. The latest example of that was Arizona Cardinals RB, David Johnson, in 2018. Former Arizona QB, Josh Rosen, was abysmal last year and defenses stacked the box, stopping Johnson, and Rosen couldn’t step up to help the offense. Johnson finished as a top 10 (in Fantasy Pros Half-PPR scoring) but eclipsed 70 rushing yards only THREE TIMES last season.

Going from Pittsburgh to New York is a clear step back, but based on the number of touches he’ll see, there is a chance for him to still be a top 10 or top five RB. In 2017, Bell had a career-high 406 touches in the regular season and was the second-best RB (in Fantasy Pros Half-PPR scoring). For him to finish as a top five or top three Fantasy RB again, he’ll need to see over 400 touches again. Be cautious about the possible David Johnson effect in this shaky Jets offense when drafting Le’Veon.

Will Fuller V, WR, Houston Texans

Playing opposite one of the best receivers, DeAndre Hopkins, in the NFL has its benefits, but Fuller has failed to capitalize on the opportunity. The former Notre Dame WR has been plagued by injuries since he’s entered the league. Back in 2016 he dealt with knee and hamstring injuries, 2017 he broke his collarbone and was out for multiple months, and last season he tore his ACL in Week eight. His health is a very big concern, but his production on the field is undeniable.

In 2016, Fuller saw 92 targets, had 47 receptions, reached 635 receiving yards, and scored two TD’s in 12 games. Then one year later, Fuller started 10 games, caught 28 passes on 50 targets, had a total of 423 receiving yards, but reached the endzone seven times. This past season in only seven games, he got 32 catches on a career-low 45 targets, finished with 503 receiving yards, and had four TDs. The real highlight about ’17 and ’18 was how well he played once the Houston Texans put the former first-round pick, Deshaun Watson, under center.

When Watson and Fuller are together, his level of play takes a massive leap. Over the last two seasons, he has 657 yards on 45 catches, and scoring 11 TD’s. The most surprising stat is that in those 11 games they’ve played together he averages 15.9 yards per reception. There is a strong argument that behind Tyreek Hill and T.Y. Hilton, Will Fuller is the third best deep threat receiver in the NFL.

Fantasy Outlook

BUYER BEWARE! This should be the big yellow flashing sign when looking at drafting Fuller. The array of injuries that have plagued Fuller since he’s entered the league is concerning. When drafting him, people have to be aware that he has a low chance of playing a full 16 game season. Back in 2016, he played in 14 games and that might be his ceiling. Breaking his collarbone and tearing his ACL are freak injuries and aren’t likely to occur again.

Keep an eye out on his recovery process. If Fuller doesn’t have any setbacks and is ready for the start of the season, then he should be active in double-digit games. There is a risk and reward with this wideout. The risk is the possibility of sustaining another injury and his inconsistent play style. The reward is Will Fuller and Deshaun Watson’s connection and how great they play together. He is a great WR3 option, but be warned about his lack of week-to-week consistency.

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Green’s constant battle with lower body and toe injuries finally caught up to him last season. One of his best seasons was ended preemptively because of his toe. He initially injured it against Tampa Bay in Week eight and that cost him three games. Green returned in Week 13 to only re-aggravate it and leave in the first quarter. In the offseason, he eventually had surgery on his toe and the recovery time was said to be 3-4 months. As of the end of June, Green is participating in individual drills and should be 100 percent come the start of training camp.

His presence and skills were clearly needed as the Bengals struggled without him on the field. In the games where he left due to injuries or missed, they were 1-8. On the contrary, when he was active, they went 5-2.

During those games that he was active for, Green’s production put him as one of the best WR. In Weeks one to eight, there were only two games when he didn’t have more than 75 receiving yards. The only game had less than eight targets was in Week eight, when he left early due to his toe injury. During those weeks he totaled 694 yards catching 46 passes on 77 targets and scored six times. That is an average of 9.6 targets, 5.7 catches, 86.7 receiving yards, and .75 TDs per game. Looking at those numbers, it’s hard to argue Green isn’t still one of the best WR’s in the league.

Fantasy Outlook

Heading into 2019, this former Georgia Bulldog is arguably the most underappreciated receiver. He has a third-round average draft position and that is very generous for a WR who still has top-five upside. Some of the other WR’s going around the same ADP are Adam Thielen, Amari Cooper, Stefon Diggs, Julian Edelman, and sometimes T.Y. Hilton. Out of all of those players, Green gives the most upside but comes with the most risk.

Over the last three seasons, he has missed 13 games, but he did play in all 16 games back in 2017. Hopefully, the offseason surgery fixed his toe and he can be healthy all season.

Cincinnati finally moved on from Marvin Lewis after 16 seasons and brought in Los Angeles Rams’ QB coach, Zac Taylor. Taylor has already come out and said that the offense will start with the Rams’ playbook. This is great news for Green. In Half-PPR leagues, Rams receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods finished as the 12th and 10 best WR’s, according to Fantasy Pros.

A.J. Green will most likely take one of their roles and should see one of his best seasons to date. If Green plays 13 or more games than he should be in line to have close to or over 80 receptions for over 1,200 yards and scoring seven to 10 touchdowns.

What’s Next to Come

The next article that is currently in the works is about eight players who excelled and broke their Fantasy ceilings in 2018. After having a tremendous season, they’re all in line to see regression and come back down to earth.

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