Murphy’s “My Guys” Article That No One Asked for but They’re Getting Anyways
-By Alex Murphy
So, here I am with my very own My Guys article that no one asked for and no one expected. This will discuss players at each position who I view as having high-upside for the upcoming year or that I perceive as undervalued at their current ADP. While I’m not a famous fantasy analyst, I’ve slowly collected my own small prediction wins throughout the years. I’ve pushed for players that most people had little interest in during preseason, who then proved their worth once the real games started. Some examples are Chris Carson last year, Cooper Kupp the year before that, and Dion Lewis in his magical breakout year. I also co-host a casual redraft and dynasty fantasy football podcast called the Fantasy Backups that you can find right here on fantasybackups.com. Anyways, let’s jump right into my first ever My Guys article for the 2019 season. Hope you enjoy it!
Note: these rankings are intended for 12-team standard fantasy football leagues and primarily use ESPN fantasy football ADP.
Jared Goff (QB – Rams)
Why I even need to include Jared Goff in this article is a mystery to me. Last year he finished as the 7th overall QB operating in Sean McVay’s high-octane offense but is currently being drafted as the 15th QB off the board. He experienced some regression in a 3 week span towards the end of the season but came back strong in weeks 16 and 17. The offense around him is virtually unchanged and remains stacked with players like Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Todd Gurley. Goff is currently a steal as you may be able to take him in the QB2 range and he has the very real upside of finishing as a top 5 QB. I would gladly take him over the likes of higher ranked players including Tom Brady, Andrew Luck (entirely due to injury concerns), and Kyler Murray.
Lamar Jackson (QB – Ravens)
Lamar Jackson may come as more of a surprise in this list. Jackson seemed to be almost a RB in the QB position last season, getting the vast majority of his fantasy points on the ground. Still, he managed to put up 3 games of 18 fantasy points or more in his final 6 starts. All reports about Jackson’s passing game have been glowing this offseason and he looked confident and effective as a passer in the first preseason game. The Ravens have also added Mark Ingram and exciting rookie WR Miles Boykin to the offensive roster, bolstering the talent surrounding him. I fully expect the Ravens to take the training wheels off of Jackson this season and let him go full throttle as a dual threat QB. Right now Jackson is going as the 16th QB off the board. I predict he’ll finish the season as a low-end QB1 and outperform players that are picked ahead of him like Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, and Ben Roethlisberger.
Cam Newton (QB – Panthers)
Cam has arguably the best supporting cast he’s ever had to work with this season. Curtis Samuel and DJ Moore are both speedy, high potential receivers that will stretch the field and Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey are excellent short range targets. Cam had a “down” year in 2018 where he still finished 12th overall at the position while dealing with a nagging shoulder injury that seemed to limit his throwing range. Now reports out of camp say that Cam is fully recovered from his shoulder injury. Although he’s going as the 8th QB off the board right now in fantasy drafts I predict that Cam will finish as a top 4 QB this season – which he’s done more than once in his career.
Curtis Samuel (WR – Panthers)
This kills me to admit since I blew a 2018 1st round pick in dynasty on Samuel’s teammate DJ Moore, but I believe that Samuel will be the clear-cut WR1 on the Panthers this year. There has been non-stop hype out of the Panthers camp all offseason about how Samuel has turned into a complete, polished receiver. He was already one of the most electric players in the NFL once he had the football in his hands and was making huge strides as a receiver throughout last season. Cam Newton finally has a healthy shoulder as well and there should be more quality deep targets to go around for the WRs this year. The biggest thing keeping Samuel’s hype down is how little he actually played in his rookie and sophomore years thanks to a freak heart problem (fixed now) and a broken leg. DJ Moore is also a concern but he looked incredibly raw in his rookie season and there has been virtually zero hype surrounding him this off-season. I expect Samuel to be the go-to WR target on his team and finish somewhere in the WR2 tier by end of year thanks to his amazing elusiveness and his apparent improvements as an all-around WR. Here’s an example of what he can do with the ball in his hands.
Tyler Lockett (WR – Seahawks)
Lockett was nothing short of amazing last season and that is made crystal clear by this stat: when Russel Wilson targeted Lockett he had a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Lockett finished last season as the WR 11 and cemented himself as one of the league’s premier deep threats. This year, he’s being drafted as the 21st WR off the board. The argument for this on the internet seems to boil down to one point – Wilson and Lockett are both likely to regress in efficiency. This is almost certainly going to be the case but even with a major drop off in efficiency (which I don’t expect) Lockett will likely finish ahead of the low-end WR2 position he’s being drafted as. The Seahawks have made it public that they view Lockett as their true WR1 on the team this season and he is going to run a lot more intermediate and close-range routes. Essentially, he’s going to fill the Doug Baldwin role on the team. That is an incredibly valuable role and Lockett has proven that he has the speed and skills to get the job done. Lockett finishing as a low-end WR1 again this year due to an increase in target volume and routes run is well within the realm of likely possibilities and he’ll be a too-good-to-pass-up deal at his current ADP.
Robby Anderson (WR – Jets)
Reading the tea leaves of the press releases from the coaches and beat reporters for the Jets has led me to believe two things – Robby Anderson is going to be the team’s WR 1 and he’s going to run a much more diverse set of routes this season. Darnold looked like he could be a special QB by the end of last season and he seemed to develop a solid connection with Anderson in the last month or so of games. Anderson scored an average of 12.9 FPPG in the last 4 weeks of the 2018 season. He is easily the team’s best deep threat and the promise of an increased route tree and another year with Darnold under center makes Anderson seem like a huge value as the 32nd WR off the board currently. I would take him over players ranked ahead of him like Sammy Watkins, DJ Moore, and Jarvis Landry.
Chris Carson (RB – Seahawks)
What is there to say about Chris Carson that I haven’t already said an annoying number of times in the Fantasy Backups podcast? He ran for over 1,100 yards and had the 7th most red zone touches of any RB last season despite being in a heavy timeshare in two games and missing two games. All indications this offseason point to him being the clear lead back despite the presence of Rashaad Penny. While Carson didn’t get many targets in the passing game last year, he only had one drop all season. The coaches have praised his catching ability this offseason and have said they’d like to up his targets to around 50 this year as compared to the 24 he received last year. Carson is primed to be an RB1 this season if he can stay healthy and is going as the 21st RB off the board right now. He will be a no-brainer steal at his current ADP.
Kalen Ballage (RB – Dolphins)
Part of an unsettled backfield in Miami of all places, Kalen Ballage doesn’t scream “fantasy stud” at first glance. However, he has received a lot of hype from the team this offseason and has worked his way into at worst a true timeshare with Kenyan Drake. He ripped off a very impressive long touchdown run in the first preseason game, further reinforcing the positive news out of camp this offseason. Kenyan Drake was also spotted in a walking boot recently and has no set timeline for return as of now. Ballage is currently going as the 49th RB off the board which is completely ridiculous. He has the upside of being a low-end RB2 play if he continues to impress the new coaching regime, especially if Drake is forced to miss extended time with his injury. For the upside alone Ballage is worth taking at his ADP or even reaching on.
Tarik Cohen (RB – Bears)
The release of Jordan Howard and the drafting of David Montgomery have managed to somehow even further muddy the Bears backfield situation. Tarik Cohen was nothing short of electric on limited touches and opportunities last season but this hasn’t translated to hype this year. He is currently going as the 28th RB in drafts despite finishing 17th at RB in a brand new offensive system last season. Matt Nagy, the head coach of the Bears and previous OC of the Chiefs has more than once been recorded saying that he envisions Tarik Cohen as the Tyreek Hill role player in his offense. Cohen has proven he fits that role extremely well and even if David Montgomery takes over the short yardage, grinder role right away it shouldn’t change that. Even taking into account a slight regression in Cohen’s scoring this year, he would still finish well ahead of his current draft status and I would take him over higher ranked RBs that are also in timeshares like James White, Kenyan Drake, and the aforementioned David Montgomery.
Justice Hill (RB – Ravens)
Justice Hill has looked like the best RB on the Ravens roster through the first two preseason games. You combine that with the overwhelmingly positive reports from camp and there seems like some real potential for the exciting rookie to at some point lead the Ravens backfield this season. Hill is currently going undrafted, so you can likely grab him with your last pick as a high-upside stash. While Mark Ingram remains the RB who I would want to pick first between these two players, there hasn’t been much hype surrounding him in camp and he has a long history of injuries which could open the door for Hill to prove that he can be a lead back in the NFL. Hill is a “My Guy” candidate thanks to his potential and his absolutely bargain barrel price.
Vance McDonald (TE – Steelers)
McDonald was ranked as the hardest TE to tackle after the catch last year. He spent most of last season in a timeshare with Jesse James and still managed to finish as the TE 12. James is now out of the picture and all reports seem to say that McDonald is now the clear-cut TE1 on the Steelers. The departure of Antonio Brown also opens up a huge number of targets that McDonald is sure to get a share of. While McDonald’s current draft spot as the 10th TE off the board isn’t awful, I believe he’ll outperform his ADP and he makes for an interesting reach candidate. I’m taking McDonald over players ranked ahead of him like the aging and usually ineffective Jared Cook and David Njoku, who still looks like a raw player and is on a team with too many mouths to feed.
Chris Herndon (TE – Jets)
Disclaimer: Herndon is suspended for the first 4 games of this season. Despite that, I think he is well worth the gamble as an end-of-your-bench draft pick if you punted on the TE position and ended up with a starting TE like Austin Hooper or Delanie Walker (love the guy but concerned about age and injury history). Herndon showed flashes of incredible potential last season, making athletic plays and running impressive routes for a rookie TE. Herndon only played the opening drive of the first preseason game last week but managed to come down with his lone target for an impressive 32 yard gain. He appears to have developed good chemistry with Sam Darnold. Herndon is someone you’ll have to be patient with but could be a game changer for your team in the second half of the season.
Well, that concludes this My Guys article. Hopefully this will help you kick-start your season with a smart, strong draft!