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Second-Year Players That Will Surge


Rookie players don't always pan out in the NFL and in fantasy football. Sometimes it takes a great landing spot or an injury for a rookie to become relevant early on.

This list includes some second-year players that either disappointed in 2018 or did okay, but look to take a step forward in 2019.

The 2018 rookie class was one filled with talented skill players. Not all will break out and become stars but these are a few players that can be prominent on fantasy rosters and should be targeted on draft day.

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Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

The first name on this list is one of the more popular names as a potential breakout candidate for 2019, the former first round pick and Louisville quarterback, Lamar Jackson. After spending his rookie season splitting time with Joe Flacco, we only saw a glimpse of what's to come with Jackson and that Ravens offense moving forward. Jackson ended up starting in seven games last year and he totaled 1,201 passing yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions.

What really is intriguing with Jackson is his upside that comes from being a mobile quarterback. He rushed 147 times last year for 695 yards and five touchdowns. The upside of a rushing quarterback cannot be ignored in fantasy football, and the direction that offense has taken at becoming more explosive is very intriguing. Rookies Justice Hill, Miles Boykin, and Marquise Brown all have different and interesting traits of speed and explosiveness that could make them playmakers in the NFL. Parting ways with Flacco and giving the reigns to Jackson is very telling of the direction that the Ravens are headed with this offense. Jackson with his rushing upside, has legitimate QB1 upside moving forward.

 

Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins

We move on to one of the more polarizing players in fantasy football. Outside of Saquon Barkley, the next big name running back that was on everyone's radar last year was Derrius Guice out of LSU. After spending his first season on the sideline with a torn ACL, he looks to be fully healthy and ready to go for the 2019 season. There are two other running backs that bring some concern to Guice's production, but at this point in time, Guice is definitely the most talented running back on the roster.

Adrian Peterson showed that he still has some juice left in him and Chris Thompson should continue to have a nice role in the passing game. Regardless, there isn't a ton of competition ahead of him and there's a nice opportunity available. The potential for Guice to take over and have some major fantasy relevance is real and the upside is hard to ignore.

 

Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks

After being drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, many fantasy owners, including myself, were very excited about drafting Rashaad Penny. Chris Carson took off in 2018 and put up 1,151 yards on 247 carries with nine touchdowns. This was fairly unexpected as he hadn't shown much in previous years and since the Seahawks used a first-round pick on Penny.

One reason that Penny should take a nice step forward in 2019 is his usage in the passing game. He is explosive with the ball in his hands and should get more involved as Mike Davis is now out of Seattle and with the Chicago Bears. He saw 42 targets in 2018 and I expect Penny to get that work this year. While Carson looks to be the starter as we head into the 2019 season, I still fully expect the Seahawks to get Penny more involved and ultimately, for him to take a big step forward this year. Carson's bruising running style could easily lead to an injury and a huge opportunity for Penny to assert himself as a starter.

 

D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

The first wide receiver on this list is the most expensive one out of the bunch. D.J Moore, the second-year wide receiver out of Maryland was one of the more popular receivers in this class outside of the big names like Courtland Sutton and Calvin Ridley. Moore is a very explosive player with quick feet, who thrives more in the short game rather than with deep balls. He finished his rookie season with a quiet 82 targets, 55 receptions, 788 yards, and two touchdowns. It's also worth noting that he does get a little bit of usage in the running game occasionally, as he took 13 carries for 172 rushing yards.

Moore has been going in the fifth or sixth rounds of most drafts that I've seen, and with the hype that his fellow teammate Curtis Samuel has been getting, there have even been some instances where Samuel has gone before him. While Samuel did have more touchdowns than Moore last year and is starting to get some preseason buzz, that's really the only category that he was ahead in. Moore had more receptions and targets, and simply profiles as more of a WR1 in the NFL. They both have nice value, but I'm still much more interested in Moore, and he's someone that has a great chance of putting up solid fantasy numbers and really surging in 2019.

 

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers have one of the most dominant receivers in all of fantasy football in Davante Adams. For the past couple of seasons, many owners have been banking on Geronimo Allison to be the WR2 for the Packers. In 2019, the player I'm looking at taking a step forward in that offense is Marquez Valdez-Scantling. Randall Cobb played in nine games last year in Green Bay, then was traded to Dallas. During those nine games he saw 61 targets, caught 38 passes for 383 yards, and two touchdowns. These numbers were far from ideal and we saw Allison and Valdez-Scantling step up at different times throughout the year. For whatever reason, there was talk of him not getting along with the coaching staff, and that should no longer be an issue moving forward.

Early reports have shown Valdez-Scantling lining up on the outside with Allison in the slot, but all three should have a role. After three seasons of waiting and getting nothing out of Allison, I'm banking on Valdez-Scantling to be the WR2 for the Packers this year and take a nice step forward.

 

Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints

One player that is getting hardly any love this year in drafts, is Tre'Quan Smith, the second-year wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are one of the most prolific passing teams in the NFL, and Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara can't get all of the targets. In his rookie campaign, he totaled just 44 targets and caught 28 of them for 427 yards and five touchdowns. One of the downsides we saw in Smith was that he saw six games where he didn't catch a single ball.

In 2019, I expect his usage to increase. He started in just seven games, which should also increase significantly this year. He showed flashes and had two games where he saw 100+ receiving yards. As someone who is going damn-near undrafted in some leagues, Smith is someone you can get for extremely cheap and there's a great opportunity for him to take a nice step forward in his second year in the NFL.

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