Below I’ve listed my early 2019 mid-range value players with their player profile for their team’s outlook page which can be found in this page: FullTime Fantasy Draft Kit. I also added a secondary comment about each player, which has more value after finishing the early projection for 2019.
Note: All players will be drafted after round 5 and before round 11 in the high-stakes 12-team leagues.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
In 2017, Wilson was the best QB in the land. His top ranking came via a rebound in his value in the run game (95/586/3) while matching his career-high in passing TDs (34). Last year Russell saw his pass attempts fall by about 23 percent (427 – 553), but he still produced a career-high in passing TDs (35) with minimal mistakes (seven Ints). Surprisingly in a top-ranked rushing offense, he failed to score a rushing TD with a career-low in production (67/376). Over seven years in the NFL, Wilson has a 75-36-1 record with one Super Bowl title. He passed for over 300 yards in one game. Russell finished with three TDs or more in seven contests.
His offensive line allowed six sacks in three different games leading to a career-high in sacks (51). If he had 550 pass attempts in 2018, Wilson would have been a path for 65 sacks.
Outlook: In this season’s draft, Seattle added size and speed to the wide receiver position. The Seahawks still lack a viable pass-catching TE, and they have limited upside in pass-catching at the RB position. In 2019, the Seahawks will be more explosive on offense with a rebound in passing attempts. Wilson may only average 30 passes per game, which points to a push back to 4,000+ passing yards. His passing TDs will remain elite with 80+ rushes for 450+ yards and some value in TDs on the ground. I view him as a top-five QB this year while being slightly undervalued on draft day.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Over the last two seasons covering 24 games, Wentz has 54 TDs and 14 Ints, which is an attractive ratio for a winning time. He set a career-high in his completion rate (69.8) in 2018 while being on paces for the most passing yards of his career (279 yards per game). Carson passed for over 300 yards in five contests, and he had three TDs in three games. Even with growth last year, Wentz did come up short in the red zone in multiple close games. Philadelphia signed him to a massive contract in the offseason, which shows the trust they have in his future. His injury last year came on a run, which was surprising when considering he barely ran in 2018 (34/93) due to his recovery from his torn ACL. Carson has two elite TEs plus talent at WR. The running game should be improved, helping the ability to extend drives while adding to the scoring output. This season he could be undervalued, which makes him a viable cheat at QB. His next step is 4,500 combined yards with a chance at 35+ TDs.
Outlook: In the early draft season, Wentz comes off the board as the 9th QB. He has plenty of receiving talent at WR and TE, and he should be in much better shape mentally and physically after being a year removed from his knee injury. In 2017, Carson was on pace to be the second-best QB in the NFL before missing the last three games of the season. Philly will run the ball, but their defense looks to be moving in the wrong direction forcing the Eagles to score more points to win games.
Jordan Howard, Philadelphia Eagles
After shining in his rookie season (1,611 combined yards with seven TDs and 29 catches), Howard had back-to-back years of regression for the Bears despite plenty of touches (2016 – 281, 2017 – 299, and 2018 – 270). His slide is clearly tied to his yards per rush (3.7 in 2018 and 5.2 in 2016). In his career, Jordan averages 18.1 touches per game. Last season he had two games with over 100 yards rushing (19/101 and 21/109/2), which came over the final four weeks of the year. I expect him to be a good fit for the Eagles, but I can’t say that he’s a better player than Miles Sanders, which is going to be a problem for Fantasy owners in 2019. The Eagles’ RBs rushed for 1,458 yards on 357 carries with 12 TDs in 2018. The Philly will need to lean on one back on early downs, which points to 250 touches for 1,000+ yards and double-digit TDs. My bet has to be on the under for Howard as I’ve seen too many times in this offense where the coaching staff just rotates in multiple backs. More of stash than a target if his price falls in a desirable area.
Outlook: In early June before seeing any Fantasy drafts, I expected Jordan Howard to get drafted much higher than late eighth round in the high-stakes market. He’ll be in a split role for sure with Miles Sanders, but the picture in the run game in Philly is starting to show a better structure. Howard should be the lead RB on early downs with value at the goal line. His catches have limited upside thanks to him grabbing a piece of the bench on passing downs. I now view him as a viable target as a RB4 in PPR leagues, while being favorably priced.
Damien Harris, New England Patriots
For me, Harris has the “it factor” an NFL team should be looking for in a lead back in the NFL. He gives off the appearance of a bigger back than his size (5’10” and 216 lbs.). His first step acceleration after downshifting in tight quarters gives him many winning plays. Damien drives through contact with a unique feel for finding more open field. Harris tests defenses when reaching the second level of the defense with his vision and power. In his senior year at Alabama (1,080 combined yards with nine TDs and 22 catches on 172 touches), he failed to show growth over his previous two seasons (1,136 combined yards with four TDs and 14 catches and 1,091 combined yards with 11 TDs and 12 catches). His pass-catching opportunity was short due to Josh Jacobs shinning brighter in this area. Harris doesn’t fumble, and his game grades well in pass protection. For the Patriots, Harris becomes the insurance policy for Sony Michel plus gives New England that in between back that will stand tall in pass protection while being a threat to run and catch the ball. You could say he’s a better, more explosive vision of Rex Burkhead. Damien should receive between eight and touches per game while being tougher to time in the Fantasy market. Must handcuff for Sony Michel owners.
Outlook: The summer reports have been positive on the direction of Harris, which falls in line with my early research on the Patriots. With Sony Michel being brought along slowly after offseason knee surgery, Damien should gain more attraction in Fantasy drafts after his play and highlights in the preseason games. Of all the backs I researched for 2019, Harris was the player I liked the most.
Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers
Coming into the NFL in his rookie season after getting drafted in the second round, I had high hopes for Samuel based on my research and scoring reports:
Ohio State listed Samuel as a running back for his whole career. He had minimal touches in his freshman and sophomore years (899 combined yards with nine TDs and 33 catches). His game shined in all areas in 2016. He rushed the ball 97 times for 771 yards with eight rushing TDs while making a huge step forward as a receiver (74/865/7). Curtis runs with vision, but his ability to outrun defenders drives his success. He has more strength than meets the eye with an excellent gear to create separation on pass routes.
He finished 2017 with only 19 touches for 179 yards and four catches, which in a way show his explosive upside.
Last year after missing the first three games with a chest issue tied to an irregular heartbeat, Curtis worked his way into playable stats in eight games (2/37/1, 1/25/1, 2/58/2, 5/55/1, 2/42/1, 6/96, 4/80, 7/41, and 2/72/1) thanks to his ability to score TDs. His catch rate (60.0) needs work, and Samuel only averaged five targets per game with some value in the run game (8/64/2).
His playmaking upside gives Cam Newton a second WR with upside. Possible 60+ catches for 700+ yards with surprising value in TDs. If he can add another 200+ yards in the run game, Curtis will deliver WR3 value while being drafted as a WR4. I’m intrigued, but I will avoid him if he has any news of an injury over the summer.
Outlook: Samuel looks ready to take a step forward in 2019. The Panthers’ coaching staff is impressed by his growth a route runner, which points to a nice bump in opportunity in 2019. I don’t own him in many early leagues, but he now has a circle next to his name (must own if reasonably priced). Curtis has impact upside, and the stars look to be aligning this year.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers
Midseason, Valdes-Scantling flashed over a five-game stretch (7/68/1, 2/45/1, 3/103, 3/101, and 6/44). Unfortunately, he ended up being a trap over his next seven games (15/179 on 33 targets). His catch rate (52.1) needs plenty of work while offering big-play ability (15.3 yards per catch). Eight of his 38 catches went for 20 yards or more and four reception gained 40+ yards.
Over four seasons in college, Valdes-Scantling caught 119 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 TDs with his best success coming in his senior year in 2017 (53/879/6). Marquez has elite speed (4.37) while being a hands catcher. He adjusts to the ball well in the deep passing game while showing the ability to create easy throws when defenders give him too much cushion off the line of scrimmage. Valdes-Scantling needs to show he can win tightly contested balls in the NFL and beat press coverage.
Tempting WR2 in the Packers’ offense, but his skill set suggest more of a deep threat with some value on crossing passes and screams. His next step should be 55+ catches for 800+ yards and a handful of TDs.
Outlook: There have been positive reports on the direction of Valdes-Scantling in training camp. Aaron Rodgers needs a second WR to emerge to help his passing game in Green Bay. Marquez has the big-play ability, which pair with some short passes could turn into a breakout type WR in 2019.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Even with short targets (4.8 per game) over his ten games played in 2018, Howard was well on his way to a productive season at TE. O.J. finished with seven games with double-digit Fantasy points in PPR leagues (3/96/1, 6/72, 4/62/1, 5/67, 4/68/1, 4/53/2, and 5/78) thanks to his big-play (16.6 yards per catch) and scoring ability (five TDs). Over 24 games in his career, Howard scored 11 TDs with strength in his catch rate (69.0). His season ended in Week 11 due to a broken right ankle that didn’t require surgery. In 2017, his season ended late in December with an injury to the same ankle. Earlier in the year, O.J. also left a game early with a knee issue. Last year the TEs in Tampa caught 73 passes for 911 yards and 11 TDs on 105 targets, which was well below their success in 2017 (84/1124/13 on 124 targets). This year the TE position will be the third option in the passing game for the Bucs with Howard scheduled to be the most reward. I don’t like his injury path, but I can’t help but love his upside. With 16 games played, O.J. will catch 70+ balls for 1,000+ yards and score double-digit TDs.
Outlook: Fantasy owners have priced Howard as the fourth rank TE in the early draft season in the high-stakes market, but he can be had between the fifth and seventh round in the Fantasy Football World Championships. His upside and success aren’t in question, but O.J. needs to show that he can stay healthy for 16 games. I view him as a steal in the seventh piece to a Fantasy team in PPR leagues. The trick is finding a balance of his draft value and the backend opportunities at RB and WR between the fifth and eighth rounds of drafts.
Evan Engram, New York Giants
Fantasy owners had high hopes for Engram in 2018 after a great rookie year (64/772/6). He struggled in Week 1 (2/18) followed up by a solid game the following week (7/67/1). Evan suffered an injury in Week 3, leading to three missed games. Engram failed to make an impact (5/25/1, 4/46, and 2/66) in his first three games back in the lineup before landing on the injured list for two more games. With Odell Beckham injured, Evan showed his upside over the last four contests (3/77, 8/75, 6/87, and 5/81). In early June, he’s been battling a hamstring issue. Talent TE who showed growth in his catch rate (70.3) in 2018, which gives him exciting upside if he can see 120+ targets. With 16 games played, Engram should have a floor of 70 catches for 850+ yards with a chance at a team-high in receiving TDs.
Outlook: The injuries to the WRs in the Giants’ offense should push Fantasy owner toward Engram as a second-tier option at TE in 2019. Evan has the skill set to produce 200+ Fantasy points in PPR leagues while having an ADP between the sixth and eighth round in the high-stakes market.