Early 2019 Value Targets

Updated: May 30th 2019

Sometimes the fantasy community is slow to catch on.  Maybe fantasy footballers have not had the time to evaluate new coaches, rookies, and players in different situations.  That makes early season auctions some of the most potentially profitable for those willing to do the homework.  Below you will find a number of players with secure roles and ability to easily outperform their cost.  The FantasyPros ADP at time of this writing is listed to give the reader an idea of relative price point.  The reader should make an attempt to acquire these players if valued by owners near the market worth before the consensus catches on.

Quarterback

Kyler Murray, QB22

There is a lot to like about Murray’s fantasy prospect, even as a rookie.  The overall number one pick should start immediately.  Arizona invested heavily at wide receiver in the NFL draft with two receivers in the first four rounds.  David Johnson provides a strong presence in both the run and passing game.  The Kliff Kingsbury spread offense will likely feature one of the most pass-happy offenses in the NFL.  The big question is whether the offense works in the NFL against top-level athletes and if the offensive line can do enough to make it possible.

Why the consensus is too low:  People underestimate his rushing upside and the general uncertainty of this offense at the NFL level scares some.  The consensus projection puts Murray around 460 rushing yards at 4.6 yards per carry.  Those numbers should be closer to his floor than his projection.  Murray reportedly runs the forty-yard dash in the 4.4 second range and rushed for 1,000 yards last year at Oklahoma.  The Arizona offensive line should be better on the injury front however no major investment was made in the draft or free agency for the worst offensive line in football.  Murray will be scrambling a lot and his physical tools should ensure efficiency.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB21

Oh how the fantasy community darlings have fallen.  Just a year ago, Garoppolo was a low-end QB1 for many fantasy gamers.  You can now buy him as a borderline QB2/3 after an ACL-tear finished his season in his third game with some commentators deeming him injury-prone.  The 49ers invested heavily in skill players this offseason taking two wide receivers in the first 67 picks.  They also signed speedster running back Tevin Coleman to bolster a solid backfield.  We have not even talked about how George Kittle broke the receiving yardage record for tight ends yet.

Why the consensus is too low:  Shanahan cures many ills.  San Francisco racked up a respectable 3,867 passing yards (15th) at an impressive 8.0 yards per attempt (9th) despite playing with backup quarterbacks most of the season, losing top running back Jerick McKinnon before the year started, with speedster wide receiver Marquise Goodwin in and out of the lineup.   The defense also gave up the fifth most points in the league in 2018.  Garappolo is going to throw the ball a lot in 2019 with a vastly improved skill-player core and he is going to be efficient doing it.  Don’t be surprised if he ends up top-5 in passing yardage.

Others to consider:  Lamar Jackson (QB17) and Josh Allen (QB21) racked up big rushing totals last season in different ways which led to some big fantasy production.  Baltimore designed many rushing plays for Jackson where Allen mainly scrambled on passing plays for his rushing.  Jackson provides the higher weekly floor and additional injury-risk due to the amount of carries and relatively lean frame.  Allen is the more volatile play but one with far more upside as a passer and further developed than Jackson.

Running Back

Kalen Ballage, RB55

The situation in Miami looks bleak on its surface with a new quarterback and an offensive line among the worst last season.  Looks can be deceiving.  The Dolphins spent significant capital upgrading the offensive line in the draft and Rosen or Fitzpatrick could easily be an upgrade over Tannehill.  Ballage is a size-speed specimen who will be the big-back part of the committee to Kenyan Drake.  Backs priced similarly to Ballage include receiving specialists, backups, and guys hoping to make the roster, not players who reasonably might lead a committee.

Why the consensus is too low:  Many believe Drake will be a workhorse back.  This idea goes back to when Drake filled the primary back for part of a season after trades and injuries forced him into the role.  He is a rail thin (6th percentile BMI) back built more like a receiver.  Ballage, at almost 230 pounds, is far better equipped to handle the rigors of heavy workloads.  Gore led the backfield in carries last year.  Don’t be surprised if Ballage does this season.

Latavius Murray, RB40

I will keep this short.  Murray takes over for Ingram as the compliment to Kamara in New Orleans.  Ingram just had his worst fantasy season in the last five years and ended as the PPR RB29 in per game scoring.  Murray comes with a rock hard floor and elite handcuff potential in one of the league’s top offenses.  His NFL contract likely ensures he will be with the Saints at least the next two years.

Why the consensus is too low:  Do we think undrafted free agent Devine Ozigbo or former Lions 7th round pick Dwayne Washington are threats to Murray’s workload?  Is New Orleans planning to change a top-4 scoring offense each of the last two seasons to dump more bodies into the backfield or increase Kamara’s touches even more?  I can’t come up with a legitimate reason that Murray is this low.  He is one of the best values for teams in need of cheap running back help.

Others to consider:  Tampa Bay’s offensive line is an absolute mess.  However, the price point of Peyton Barber (RB42) and Ronald Jones (RB52) make the Bucs’ tandem an intriguing gamble.  It is rare locking up a backfield this cheap on a team projected for plenty of scoring chances and high yardage.

Wide Receiver

Curtis Samuel, WR51

Samuel showed well as the season progressed after returning to health and Devin Funchess being relegated to a more minor role.  He displayed above average route running and tremendous after-the-catch ability.  The receiving options are rapidly dwindling in Carolina.  Funchess left in free agency while Greg Olsen proved a shell of his former-self last year.

Why the consensus is too low:  Injuries prevented Samuel from developing quickly.  Remember he converted from a hybrid receiver/running back in college so Samuel was always going to take some time to transition to a full time receiver.  Samuel should attain top-three target status in Carolina along with D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey.

Marvin Jones, WR39

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong last year in Detroit.  Matt Stafford lost his two top receivers, Jones and Tate, to trade and injury.  Matt Patricia’s offensive philosophy proved nearly unwatchable as the attempted transition to more running decimated the passing attack which never saw consistency throughout the season.   New offensive coordinator likely continues the transition to a more run-based offense.  So what’s to like?

Why the consensus is too low: There’s just not much left in terms of reliable receivers in Detroit.  Kenny Golladay and Jones are it.  The next best options are probably new slot receiver Danny Amendola and a rookie tight end.  We also expect positive regression from Stafford who performed at his worst level in a long time.  Jones did not connect as well with Stafford last year but still registered one of the highest percentages of air yards before his injury.  He will be targeted for big plays throughout the season and command a fairly large chunk of Stafford’s targets.

Others to consider: The most expensive receivers from the Buffalo and Miami are currently John Brown (WR59) and Kenny Stills (WR66), respectively.  You don’t necessarily have to prefer these receivers.  The likes of Robert Foster, DeVante Parker, and others are even cheaper on the Bills and Dolphins.  If you expect Josh Allen making a second year jump and Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick playing competently, then someone on these receiver cores is going to be a solid value.

Tight End

Jordan Reed, TE21

Washington was a mess last year.  Alex Smith performed at his lowest level in many years coming off of a breakout campaign in Kansas City.  That weak production carried over to Reed who had his worst catch percentage of his career by almost 10%.  Whoever wins the starting quarterback is very unlikely to be much worse for the fantasy receiver prospects than Smith.  Injuries remain an issue for Reed who has not played a full season in his career.

Why the consensus is too low: A tight end typically must be one of the focal points of an offense or have high touchdown upside from playing with a top quarterback.  Reed is one of the only tight ends in the league who is the top receiving threat on their own team.   He averaged at least six targets per game over the last four years.  Reed does not have to play a full season to be worth this price.

Others to consider:  Andrew Luck targeted Jack Doyle (TE23) at a moderately high rate over the last two seasons and he played a higher snap rate than breakout Eric Ebron last season.  Tyler Eifert (TE31) carries a massive injury history.  He also must only play a handful of games to make buying him worth the cost.


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

More Analysis by Bernard Faller