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Kev's Bold Predictions for Fantasy Football in 2019


Bold predictions don't win you leagues, but they're fun to have and flex later on if you're right. It's the easiest victory lap available. Say some ridiculous stuff, post it, and if you're right, you're a genius, if you're wrong, "Well, they were BOLD for a reason, pal!"

A good chunk of these predictions I believe in my soul and have drafted several rosters based off of what seems more likely than not. However, the one that is truly a gut prediction, based on an appeal to emotion, is the one involving running back Ronald Jones II. I had the privilege of watching him tear through opposing defenses in person during his time as a Trojan, and those memories are forever engraved in my mind. If he does not succeed at the NFL level, I will never trust my eyes again, and, to be fair, neither should you.

Let us cut to the chase here and get to filling your confirmation bias at the start of the season!

 

Aaron Jones is a Top-Eight RB

Saying I have a man-crush on Aaron Jones would be an understatement. Jones is one of my favorite targets in redraft leagues for 2019 because of his price plus his breakout potential. Jones remained a steady contributor when he received touches over the past two seasons, but the issue remained that he did not consistently receive touches. Coaching dinosaur Mike McCarthy held him back in the Packers' offense due to several arbitrary reasons like his "pass-blocking." For that reason, he preferred Jamaal Williams, a significantly worse running back in every aspect of the game, including pass-blocking!

McCarthy must have thought that Williams' bigger body was more capable yet his PFF grade was actually lower than Jones' last year. Nevertheless, the bad man is gone and cannot hurt us anymore (McCarthy, not Williams, unfortunately). With Matt LaFleur taking over as the head coach in Green Bay, the resounding belief is that he will not only utilize Jones more but also run more. This may be counterintuitive for real-life football, but for fantasy, we will take it.

Jones has averaged more than five yards-per-carry over the past two seasons behind worse offensive lines than what Green Bay should be trotting out this year. Jones's upside is that of a top-eight back in this superpowered offense lead by all-time great Aaron Rodgers. The only true obstacle is the schedule. Green Bay begins the year with CHI, MIN, DEN, PHI. All formidable defenses, particularly against the run, that could dampen Jones' start to the year. If you prefer, keep an eye on him to see whether he struggles early on. A buy-low window should appear and you can have him for the rest of the season where the schedule opens up.

 

Ronald Jones II Will Take Hold of the Starting Job

Barring a trade for a proven RB like Melvin Gordon, the Buccaneers starting back throughout the 2019 season should belong to the aforementioned Jones. Bruce Arians will likely want the best back out there and he is the most talented runner of the trio between him, Peyton Barber, and Dare Ogunbowale.

Despite not taking hold of the starting job out of camp, Jones II already looks more explosive and elusive than he did in 2018. He allegedly came into camp last season out of shape and unprepared, leading to an extremely mediocre rookie campaign. Now, after adding muscle to his smaller frame, he looks more prepared to take on an NFL-level workload. Incumbent starter Peyton Barber looked as unimpressive as ever throughout the preseason and should not be difficult to hurdle. Third-year back Dare Ogunbowale will certainly challenge RoJo for touches due to his superior receiving and blocking skills, but he likely fills out a change-of-pace role rather than the lead.

Nevertheless, there are doubts to be had with the Buccaneers' offensive line, and how well they can run-block, which could lead to another mediocre rushing season for the Tampa backfield as a whole.

 

Kareem Hunt is a Non-Factor in 2019

The Browns signed Kareem Hunt knowing that he would be suspended this season, and now must wait until Week 10 to play him. John Dorsey, the Browns' GM, is the one who initially drafted Hunt, and may have signed him solely as a favor. Hunt's current public image is extremely unfavorable due to his recent act of violence against a woman. It would not be surprising to see the Browns hold out Hunt all year and avoid the backlash that would come with playing him. He has already undergone surgery for a sports hernia which will sideline him for a majority of his suspension.

The Browns have a talented starting back in Nick Chubb who should still be receiving a large portion of the team's RB snaps even if Hunt were to return. Hunt's role, if he does play this season, will be that of a third-down back unless something unfortunate were to occur to Chubb. It is not worth drafting a back-up running back that will eat a bench spot on your roster for half the season. Just avoid him.

 

Kenny Stills Finishes as Houston's WR2

This is more in regards to scoring than the depth chart. Kenny Stills, a talented WR who is leaving one of the worst offenses in the league, is now officially a Houston Texan. The Texans' offense is loaded with talented and will be firing on all cylinders in 2019. Due to the injury-prone nature of Will Fuller and Keke Coutee, it would not be surprising to see Stills finish as their WR2 behind DeAndre Hopkins.

He has been limited in his days with Miami due to their carousel of quarterbacks and snail-like pace (32nd in the league last season). While the volume might remain relatively low, it is hard to see him receive fewer than the 64 targets he saw last season. With an increase in targets and weaker coverages, the touchdown potential with this type of team, the ceiling is that of a low-end WR2. He's basically a low-usage/poor man's Brandin Cooks. Grab him for free and give him a couple of weeks to get fully integrated into the Texans' system while on your bench then profit in the second half.

 

Mark Andrews Leads Baltimore in Receiving Yards

The third-round tight end who usurped the first-round tight end. Last season, Mark Andrews laid his mark in Baltimore as a legit receiving threat for Lamar Jackson. Coming out of Oklahoma, he was praised for his field-stretching abilities and strong receiving skills. His blocking was questionable, but it's possible that the team will look past that if his pass-catching remains consistent. Andrews is crucial to an offense that is in dear need of spacing to operate their run-heavy plan successfully.

The additions of first-round WR Marquise Brown and third-rounder Miles Boykin add a few more cogs to the offense, but neither should be taking Andrews off of the field. Hayden Hurst, the TE the selected before Andrews, is likely to see the field much more than he did last season, which could affect Andrews' snap share, but should not hurt his touches. The beauty of Andrews is his ability to work with less volume than his TE counterparts. Since his college days, he has not averaged less than 15.5 yards per reception. Last season in the NFL alone, he got that number up to 16.2 While that could regress a bit, he will remain an integral producer and favorite target of Jackson.

 

Josh Allen Finishes as a Top-10 QB

Josh Allen not only looks good in shorts, but he also looks good on the run. His accuracy and decision making are questionable, and that will affect him throughout the season, yet as long as he's scrambling, there is legit fantasy value. Allen could lead the Bills in rushing, and no one should bat an eye. He is elusive and athletic enough to consistently make plays happen out of thin air.

With the Bills' improved offensive line and receiving corps, he might not scramble as often as last season, but he may be able to closely replicate the incredible efficiency from last season (7.1 yards per carry on 89 attempts). Allen finished as the top fantasy QB in the last few weeks of 2018 and even though that may be a stretch of an expectation for someone not drafted in the top-15, he should be able to surpass his ADP value. The roster improvement should lead to increased passing effectiveness and fantasy gold.

 

Nick Chubb Disappoints Week-to-Week

Nick Chubb is talented, and the Browns' offense should be better than it was last season. However, the defenses Cleveland faced in 2018 were cupcakes that bled yards and touchdowns. Chubb took advantage of extremely weak competition and looked incredible. Unfortunately, his opponents this season are a lot more stout.

Of course, injuries to defenses could significantly impact their projected strength, but for now, it is not looking pretty. On top of this, the Browns traded away one of the NFL's top guards in Kevin Zeitler for Olivier Vernon, significantly downgrading their O-line. The presence of Odell Beckham Jr. should keep defenses occupied, but that might not be enough to outweigh the negatives presented. Chubb is not much of a receiving threat but will be used in the passing game more with the departure of Duke Johnson Jr. To provide a proper return on investment, he will have to produce significantly better in this area along with consistently finding the end-zone. The floor for Chubb is high due to his projected volume, but there is a legitimate risk of disappointment that is not often discussed.

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