Fantasy Football Preview 2019

Issue 1, Volume 110

By Krish Gupta 

For 29 weeks, football-less Sundays have slowly passed by since the New England Patriots were crowned champions of the NFL (again). As the summer concludes, it means one thing: fantasy football season is ramping up once again. The NFL landscape has transformed this offseason with a slew of trades and notable retirements, so it is only fitting that the fantasy landscape was shaken up as well. Without further ado, here is your 2019-2020 fantasy football preview:

The Consensus Top Four

This year, inexplicably, there is a quartet of players who could all be taken with the first pick: Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers, Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints, and Ezekiel Elliot of the Dallas Cowboys. These dual-threat running backs will in many weeks single-handedly carry your fantasy team to glory. However, Elliot is currently holding out, so he is on the outside looking in on the top three running back choices. The Cowboys and Elliot both have a salary number in mind, but neither side is budging. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he’s confident the sides will reach an agreement in time, but if the cautionary tale of Le’Veon Bell’s holdout last year teaches anything, it’s that false hope will make or break your fantasy team. If Elliot plays, he is a top-tier and consistent RB1. Barkley is most commonly the first pick, as he will likely be most of the Giants’ offense. Often, choosing star players from weak teams—not your Super Bowl favorites—is a better move because they account for a large portion of the team’s offense, racking up touches and receptions. For the Panthers, McCaffrey has emerged as a gem, especially in PPR-scoring leagues, as he is a prolific pass-catcher as well as runner. Kamara has been a revelation for the Saints, and he had been sharing snaps with Mark Ingram. With Ingram gone, Kamara will receive everything he can handle and could easily be fantasy’s top scorer. That these four players will be the first four picks is mostly undisputed, but draft boards get a bit sloppier from here.

The Rest of the First Round

After the top four is taken, only running backs and wide receivers should be taken in the first round. The number one rule to remember during a fantasy draft is to be patient and resist drafting a quarterback early. The Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes, last year’s top-scoring quarterback, only averaged about two points more per game than a mid-tier quarterback who you could get in later rounds. Taking running backs in the first round, like the Cardinals’ David Johnson, is a much better strategy, as there is a large point disparity between elite running backs and average ones. The Steelers’ James Conner, the Jets’ Bell, the Bengals’ Joe Mixon, the Rams’ Todd Gurley II, and the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon are all running backs that should be considered for the first round. Wide receivers will also begin to be drafted in the first round; DeAndre Hopkins of the Texans and Julio Jones of the Falcons are likely to be the first ones off the board.


In the first few rounds, you should make safer picks of established elite players. However, later in the draft or after the draft, look to pick up some sleepers (players who look poised to have a breakout season). Some popular sleeper picks are the Buccaneers players Chris Godwin and Jameis Winston. Additionally, many fantasy gurus peg tight end Vance McDonald, running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, and wide receivers Robby Anderson and Sterling Shepard as strong sleeper picks you could steal in the middle to late rounds. Jameis Winston can emerge this season as a mid-tier QB1 with a high ceiling. He has the drive to play for a new contract this year, and he could be a good fit for new head coach Bruce Arians’s system. It is difficult to nail all the perfect sleepers, but always be on the lookout for players with big-time potential, whether that be through trading or the waiver wire.

Busts and Handcuffs

Almost every year, there is at least one elite fantasy option that lets your team down. Last year, Bell became the biggest fantasy bust of all time, being picked first in many drafts just to sit out the entire season in search of a long-term contract. Melvin Gordon could be the next Bell this year, as his contract holdout will likely extend into the season. Consider trading for or picking up the Chargers’ backup running back Austin Ekeler instead. Also, if you have Elliot, try to pick up the Cowboys’ backup back Tony Pollard as a handcuff if Elliot continues to hold out. Staying updated on NFL news throughout the season is vital, as even one little change affects several aspects of the league. For example, the shocking retirement of the Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck limits the fantasy value of their wideout T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron. Conversely, the retirement of Rob Gronkowski boosts wideout Julian Edelman’s fantasy value. An ACL injury to Lamar Miller of the Texans opens up the opportunity for backup Duke Johnson Jr. Another possible bust is Browns tight end David Njoku. With the arrival of Odell Beckham Jr., and the presence of Jarvis Landry, Njoku will have a diminished role in a stacked offense. While busts are infuriating, make the best of them by planning ahead.


Last year, it was Saquon Barkley. The year before that was Alvin Kamara, and Dak Prescott in 2016. Each year, promising players fresh out of college invade the NFL. This year’s rookie class is no different, with several rookies looking to make an immediate impact. Among those players is the number one pick out of Oklahoma, Kyler Murray, quarterback for the Cardinals. He will lead the Air Raid offense from Week One under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He is worth a late-round selection given Murray and Kingsbury’s experience running spread offensive schemes at Oklahoma and Texas Tech, respectively. Running backs David Montgomery of Chicago and Josh Jacobs of Oakland should also flourish from the start in their new homes. Jacobs is likely the safest rookie to take as Jon Gruden’s team lacks real depth in the half-back position. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman looks to make some noise in Kansas City as well.

The Top 5 Lists

Here are my predicted top fantasy players at each position:


Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
Deshaun Watson, Texans
Baker Mayfield, Browns
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Drew Brees, Saints

Running Backs

Saquon Barkley, Giants
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
Alvin Kamara, Saints
David Johnson, Cardinals
Ezekiel Elliot, Cowboys

Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Julio Jones, Falcons
Michael Thomas, Saints
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
Odell Beckham Jr., Giants (ok fine, Browns)

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce, Chiefs
George Kittle, 49ers
Zach Ertz, Eagles
Hunter Henry, Chargers
O.J. Howard, Buccanneers

Defense / Special Teams

Chicago Bears
Los Angeles Rams
Philadelphia Eagles
Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots

Trading Strategy

The difference between a good team and a great team lies in trades. One strategy is to make two for one trades. Receive an elite player for two good players. Also, know who you are trading with. For example, if you want to trade with a huge Cowboys fan, trade them Cowboys players, which will cloud their judgment and lead to a favorable trade for you. Lastly, stay active on the waiver wire and keep up with NFL news. Think of how injuries or trades affect the fantasy landscape, and acquire players accordingly. So as the leaves turn red and the temperatures dip, sit back, relax, and watch your fantasy team carry you to glory.