DOMINICK PETRILLO @ENVISIONFF
Every year there are players you like. No matter what others may say about the player, you still love them. Whether you call them your guys or simply your favorites, these are the players you feel the strongest about.
Well here are the guys I am currently planting my flag on in the 2019 season. It could be due to an opportunity opening up in the offense. It could be strictly based on perceived talent. One thing we know for sure. It is not due to watching game film.
Sure, I am from Philadelphia. But this is not a homer pick. I am a Saints fan. Remember?
You cannot deny the talent surrounding Carson Wentz in the offense. With Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffrey and even Dallas Goedert the passing game was solid in 2018. Add to this DeSean Jackson as a deep threat and JJ Arcega-Whiteside along with Nelson Agholor and this could be a special group.
Before his ACL injury in 2017, Carson Wentz was the QB one and despite missing the final three games, still finished QB four. The only thing to change since then. His offense has improved. And by the way, the defense may have done so as well. Just saying.
One of those critical improvements is in the run game. Whereas Jay Ajayi was a nice late-season trade addition in 2017 and Corey Clement was a nice story, they pale to the possibilities of this season. Jordan Howard is not a pass catcher. With 250 carries for the Bears last season, he still finished as a top 20 fantasy running back in PPR leagues. And he is only 24. Add to this the all-around back which is a second-round draft pick, Miles Sanders.
I know he was only a one-year starter at Penn State. But he was there behind generational talent Saquon Barkley. Don’t forget; he was also a five-star recruit and the highest recruited running back to ever sign with the Nittany Lions. There is no questioning his talent. He also has the running ability and pass-catching ability to finally allow Doug Pederson to move away from a committee and move more towards a workhorse system.
This offense is stacked. From the offensive line to the positional players, it is hard to find a team with significantly more talent in the NFL.
Currently, Carson Wentz is going off the draft board as QB eight. While this may be a little high for some, he is still worth the draft pick. He provides the same upside potential as a player like Andrew Luck, who is going three rounds higher. As much as I hate to say it, he offers more upside than Drew Brees who is currently also going ahead of him in drafts.
While it is not probable that Wentz will finish as the QB one, there is a chance. There is not a chance for this type of season from a Drew Brees or Matt Ryan, yet they go higher. Remember, you need to draft based on the opportunity of beating the draft price. Where Brees and Ryan are likely to finish no higher than theirs, Wentz could easily surpass his. So, what are you waiting for? Take a chance.
I love Kerryon Johnson.
I loved him before the start of last season, and nothing has changed my mind. The fact Theo Riddick and LeGarrette Blount are gone only drives up the excitement for him in the offense.
We know the Lions want to run the ball more. Matthew Stafford is getting older, and he does not have the elite receivers needed to throw for 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. Marvin Jones is going to be back this season, and this helps a lot. But despite the Baby Tron nickname, Kenny Golladay is nowhere near the receiver Calvin Johnson was, and this means the offense is going to open up for a great pass-catching back like Johnson. One who, unlike Riddick, can also carry the ball over 200 times along with the receptions. Is Kerryon Johnson going to have 380 touches like Ezekiel Elliott did last season? No. But he could quickly get to the 280-touchmark of a player like Alvin Kamara or Christian McCaffrey. How did they finish last season?
His draft price is rising, getting into the late second to the early third round. This is a little disappointing as he is no longer a value. But he is still worth the draft pick. Going as RB 14 is not drafting him at his ceiling. He has top eight potential. In 10 games last season, he ran for over 5.0 yards per carry and was on pace to have 66 receptions. Coming in fully healthy for 2019 this should be the floor of his pass game potential, and it could go much higher.
Although the Lions, in their infinite wisdom spent another first-round pick on a tight end, T.J. Hockenson who is going to be more of a blocker this year. At least in season one with Bill Belichick Jr., I mean Matt Patricia there is an emphasis on the run game as they try and replicate the New England offense, which as we know, showcases the short pass game as well as the run game.
The Patriots have two players to handle these roles in Sony Michel and James White. Detroit has one player in Johnson who is good enough to handle both. And he will show it this season as he finishes as a top 10 fantasy RB.
I wanted to plant my flag on Chris Godwin. I love him this season, and he should finish in the top 20 for fantasy receivers. But as the saying goes, it has been done. Instead, I went with a different receiver, both in the type of receiver as well as point of his career.
DeSean Jackson is back, baby. Back to the city, he never should have left in the first place. He comes back to a team who not only needs him but also has a starting quarterback who will use him, unlike Jameis Winston.
The Eagles will have an outstanding offense this season. They have the top offensive line in the NFL. One which only got better during the draft. They also have a fully loaded running backs group and with Jackson in the fold, a fully loaded receivers’ room. Alshon Jeffrey is the number one guy along with Zach Ertz. But he has never been a high-volume guy. Meaning there will be targets to be had. In the case of Jackson, he will make the most of these targets to win you a few weeks.
Jackson was number one in the league last season with a 17.2 yards per catch average, and this type of deep threat is what the Eagles were missing in 2018 with Mike Wallace out for the season. With Jackson being able to play this part better than almost anyone else in the league, the run game should also take a step forward in 2019. Whether it be rookie Miles Sanders or newly acquired Jordan Howard, the blocking of the offensive line combined field-stretching of Jackson will mean a lot of room to run. Room which will be exploited to the fullest as the run game finally fulfills the potential Philadelphia fans have yearned for since another Chip Kelly move. The trade of LeSean McCoy for some Oregon player no one wanted and who was gone two years later.
Is Jackson going to be a top 20 player like Chris Godwin? No. But he is also not going in the fourth round like Godwin. He is instead going as WR 47 as the eighth pick of the 10th round. He should also finish as a top 36 receiver and maybe even top 30. This is great production and value for a player going so late. He is for sure someone you should be targeting in your drafts in 2019.
I know, I know. Tight ends don’t pan out until their third season. Blah, blah, blah. I am sticking with my gut and making him my tight end pick anyway.
Not only was he the most athletic tight end in the draft this season. He also landed in a good spot with a good quarterback to boot. Joe Flacco has as strong an arm as any quarterback in the league. But this only works when you have the players to catch the ball. The Broncos don’t. Their best receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, is a slot guy. Their second-best is also a slot guy in DaeSean Hamilton. Everyone likes Courtland Sutton, and he could stretch the field, but I need to see more out of him before I believe this.
Denver is going to be a run-first team who relies on short and intermediate passing to go along with the rushing of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Noah Fant may not have the all-around game of his college teammate T.J. Hockenson, but he is a much better receiver at this point. A primary reason he is more likely to break out in year one as compared to Hockenson who will be asked to block.
The best rookie tight end we have seen in the last few years was Evan Engram with the Giants. What is Evan Engram.? A pass-catching tight end who is more like a large wide receiver. Oh, and he can’t block worth a lick. What is Noah Fant? An offensive pass-catching tight end who is more like a large wide receiver. Oh, and he also can’t block worth a lick as we said.
This could mean very good things for Fant. Especially on a team who is starved for weapons on offense. And with a quarterback who has shown a propensity to target the tight end position exceptionally well. From Dennis Pita to Todd Heap and others, Flacco loves to look to the tight end when trouble hits. And this will allow Fant to have a remarkable rookie season.
The best thing about Noah Fant? He is currently not even being drafted in most leagues. This means you can get him off waivers after your draft. This may allow for you to take a draft flier on a training camp battle we are not sure about. After you figure out which player to keep, you can then drop the other one and grab Fant. This will allow you to have the better of the two options as well as having a potential top 10 right end — not a bad idea at a position whose importance is limited unless you play in a premium league. And if you do play in a two-tight end or a tight end premium league? He provides a massive upside here as well.