Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (DK – $9,200/FD – $9,100)
With Elliott still not signed ten days before the start of the season, I had to drop his projections slightly while expecting him to play on opening day. Tony Pollard played well in the preseason, which will lead to him seeing a bump in chances out of the gate. Elliott finished fifth in RB scoring (20.63) in 2018 in PPR leagues while being a better play at home (23.19). His floor is growing thanks to a career-high in catches (77 – 32 in 2016 and 26 in 2017). Unfortunately, Elliott scored fewer than ten TDs in back-to-back season after averaging one TD per game in his rookie season. In his home game vs. the Giants, he had 87 combined yards with one TD and five catches. New York ranked 25th defending RBs last year with four teams scoring over 35.00 Fantasy points from the RB position (38.20, 43.80, 47.95, and 37.70). The Giants will have a better defense in 2019 with their defensive line hoping to slow down the run up the middle. Elliott is overpriced for Week 1 in the daily games.
Saquon Barkley, NYG (DK – $9,000/FD – $9,200)
The definition of a workhorse back in 2019 will be Barkley. In his rookie season, he finished with 352 touches with a high level of success in the passing game (91/721/4 on 121 targets). Game score led to him having slightly more value on the road (24.55 Fantasy points). In his two starts vs. the Cowboys, he had 250 combined yards with one TD and 18 catches with his best success coming at home (142 combined yards with one TD and four catches). Dallas ended up with the eight best defense vs. RBs (21.61 FPPG) in PPR leagues. Only two opponents scored more than 35.00 Fantasy points against the Cowboys last year. Solid floor, but New York will struggle to move the ball vs. top NFL defense. When added to his salary, Barkley will be an against the grain play in Week 1.
Christian McCaffery, CAR (DK – $8,800/FD – $8,900)
The Panthers figured out how to get McCaffery the ball on all three downs in 2018 leading to most Fantasy points (24.19 per game) at the RB position in PPR leagues. His floor is exceptionally high due to his value in the passing game (107/867/6) while proving to be a better player than expected in TDs (13). McCaffery was a beast over eight-game stretch over the second half of 2018 (32.70, 36.80, 17.00, 46.70, 31.10, 28.10, 26.50, and 29.80). The Rams placed 11th in Fantasy points (21.80 per week) in PPR leagues last year. They showed failure vs. RBs in four games (33.80, 38.50, 34.80, 36.10). LA has one elite pass rusher, but they can be beaten on the ground. With this game being at home and Cam Newton battling a foot issue, McCaffery will have plenty of chances plus upside in scoring in the red zone. I view him as the top option at the upper level of the RBs in Week 1.
Todd Gurley, LAR (DK – $7,900/FD – $7,600)
After finish up 2018 with arthritis in his knees, the Rams plan on tapering down Gurley’s touches in this season. The daily sites have dropped down his salary by about 20 percent from the top RBs, which falls in line with his expected touches. Even with fewer chances, Gurley will get plenty of catches while remaining on the field on most plays in the red zone and at the goal line. Over the last two seasons, he averaged 26.15 Fantasy points in PPR leagues while not playing in three contest. The Panthers played well vs. RBs in 2018 (5th – 20.66 FPPG) with three teams scoring over 30.00 Fantasy points (30.20, 32.50, and 33.30). Look for Gurley to make a couple of big plays in the passing game with a minimum of one TD. Possibly low-value play, based on his questionable touches and matchup.
David Johnson, ARI (DK – $7,700/FD – $8,100)
Johnson will be a tempting upper-level RB in the daily games in Week 1 with Fantasy owners expecting great things from the Cardinals’ offense with Kyler Murray taking over at QB. In 2018 with poor QB play, Johnson fell into the steady RB1 category (15.54 FPPG – 9th) while being over-drafted in all leagues. His opportunity fell by 17.5 percent from his excellent 2017 season (2,118 combined yards with 20 TDs and 80 catches). Johnson will lose some rushing TDs to Murray, and his catches can’t be as high as 2017. Detroit was about a league average defense vs. RBs last year (24.41 FPPG) while allowing over 30.00 Fantasy points to RBs in five contests (32.80, 39.20, 37.20, 32.20, and 32.30). The Lions should play well defending RBs. Bet on the come option.
Melvin Gordon, LAC (DK – $7,500/FD – $8,000)
As of now, I have Gordon listed as out in Week 1 due to his summer-long holdout. I do sense that he may sign after Dallas makes a deal with Ezekiel Elliott. Either way, he’ll be a tough start with the Chargers having a couple of other RBs capable of carrying the load in Week 1. Need more info, but I see more risk than reward here.
Le’Veon Bell, NYJ (DK – $7,100/FD – $7,900)
Bell will be featured in the Jets’ offense in 2019, but he may not be on the field 90 percent of the time as he was for the Steelers. As of far as overall RB opportunity, he’ll rank in the top 3 if he plays a full season. His floor is high due to his value in the passing game, but Bell needs to improve his production in touchdowns (42 TDs in his 62 games played in the NFL). Buffalo struggled vs. RBs (27.07 FPPG) in 2018 with failure in five outings (39.50, 43.40, 44,40, 38.30, and 41.90 Fantasy points in PPR leagues). Based on expected touches, Bell should be a viable player at this level while needing 150-plus yards with one TD and five-plus catches to pay off.
Joe Mixon, CIN (DK – $6,700/FD – $7,800)
In his second year in the NFL, Mixon gained 1,464 combined yards with nine TDs and 43 catches while playing in 14 games. He averaged 17.39 Fantasy points per game in PPR leagues, which was the seventh-highest total in the NFL. Even with his success, Mixon failed to score over 30.00 Fantasy points in any game. He did score over 20.0 Fantasy points in six games (25.90, 20.50, 28.80, 22.50, 24.80, and 27.00). Seattle will slow the game down with a ton of runs leading to minimal possessions by both teams. The Seahawks fell to 22nd vs. RBs (25.56 Fantasy points per game) with risk in five contests (34.20, 30.40, 46.70, 34.10, and 37.80). I don’t fear Seattle’s defense, but no A.J. Green will change how they game plan for the Bengals. More in play if his salary was around $5,000.
Nick Chubb, CIN (DK – $6,400, FD – $7,400)
Chubb has been the big mover in Fantasy drafts after Duke Johnson was traded in August. Over a nine-game stretch over the second half of 2018, he gained 952 combined yards with eight TDs ad 18 catches or 170.2 Fantasy points in DraftKIngs scoring (18.91 FPPG). In these nine starts, Chubb averaged over 20 touches per game. The Titans finished 7th in the league defending RBs (21.16 FPPG) with three poor showings (42.90, 36.70, and 30.90). His floor for me in this matchup is 3 X his salary. If the Browns’ offense gets rolling as expected, Chubb will be viable swing at this level.
Damien Williams, KC (DK – $6,300/FD – $6,900)
After a late July hamstring injury, Williams progressed to where he is going to be a top RB in 2019 despite the Fantasy market chasing Darwin Thompson in drafts. The Chiefs were a top team in the NFL at the RB position (2,602 combined yards with 26 TDs and 82 catches on 408 touches) thanks to their new young impact. Kansas City will rotate in two backs this year, which lowers the floor and ceiling for Williams at least early in the year. In the preseason, he looked like the same player as his late-season success in 2018. The Jaguars had a top defense last season while ranking third in the NFL vs. RBs (19.36 FPPG). Jacksonville held RBs to fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points in PPR leagues in ten games, but they did lose their way in one game (58.00 Fantasy points – Derrick Henry). Tempting based on price and the Chiefs’ RBs stats in 2018, but this is a poor matchup.
Leonard Fournette, JAC (DK – $6,100/FD – $7,200)
Last year Fournette killed Fantasy owners after battling injuries all season. His downturn started halfway through Week 1, which led to six missed games over the first half of the year. He flashed his potential upside in Week 10 (27.90), Week 11 (22.10), and Week 12 (25.80) only to crush Fantasy teams again in the first round of the playoffs in the hight-stakes market (missed game). The Chiefs were the worst team in the league defending RBs in 2018 (32.79 FPPG) with all of the damage coming over the first ten games of the season (51.30, 41.00, 35.20, 36.70, 39.10, 34.30, 78.70, and 41.40). Pretty much a gold mine for RBs, but Kansas City did improve vs. RBs over the final six games of the season. Circle player (must start) as I expect the Jaguars to beat the Chiefs in Week 1.
Dalvin Cook, MIN (DK – $6,000/FD – $7,400)
Over his first 15 games in the NFL, Cook gained 1,364 combined yards with six TDs and 51 catches. In 2018, some Fantasy owners placed a first-round draft value on him only to see him miss five games over the first half of the season. He finished as the 30th highest scoring RB in PPR leagues. Cook played well from Week 12 to Week 16 (21.0 Fantasy points per game at DraftKings) while averaging 18.5 touches per game. With another year removed from his ACL injury, he looks poised for a breakout season. Even with success expected, the Vikings did add a second RB of value (Alexander Mattison) in this year’s draft. Atlanta struggled with RBs in 2018 (29.36 FPPG), which was partly due to many injuries on defense. Eight teams scored 30.0 Fantasy points or more vs. the Falcons last year. Winnable matchup helped by a favorable salary.
Derrick Henry, TEN (DK – $5,900/FD – $6,800)
Last year I drafted Henry on about one-third of my Fantasy teams in the fourth round. He finished with RB2 stats (1,158 combined yards with 12 TDs and 15 catches) as the 16th ranked stats. Even with success, Henry was unplayable over the first six games of the year (4.10, 6.00, 5.70, 5.10, 5.60, and 3.60 Fantasy points) as the Titans only gave him about 12 touches per game. His season turned around in Week 14 (17/238/4) leading to much better results (606 combined yards with seven TDs and three catches on 90 touches) over the final four games. Cleveland pushed their way to league average against RBs (24.08 FPPG) with failure in three games (35.20, 43.20, and 42.20). Boom or bust player who relies on TDs to be in play. Overpriced for me while coming into Week 1 with a recovering calf issue. I’ll fade him in this matchup.
Kerryon Johnson, DET (DK – $5,800/FD – $7,000)
Once the Lions moved on from pass-catching RB Theo Riddick, Johnson pushed his way up draft boards in the season-long games. After two quiet games (37 yard and three catches and 66 yard and five catches) to start the year, his game became RB1 relevant over his next eight contests (751 combined yards with four TDs and 24 catches while averaging 16.1 touches per game). Over this period, Johnson averaged 16.0 Fantasy points per game. I don’t expect a workhorse opportunity plus C.J. Anderson is going to be a factor at the goal line. The Cardinals were a lousy team offensively in 2018 leading to most opponents beating up Arizona by volume of touches at the RB position. They allowed the second-most Fantasy points to RBs (30.11 per game) with seven teams scoring more than 30.00 Fantasy points per game. Almost a tweener for me in the daily games. Game flow and game score the keys to Johnson upside. His three-down ability gives him a run at 20-plus Fantasy points in many weeks. I expect him to be a popular pick in Week 1 while falling a TD short of a winning score.
Chris Carson, SEA (DK – $5,700/FD – $6,600)
Carson stole the lead RB job in 2018 for Seattle, which led to a 15th place finish in Fantasy points (15.53 per game) in PPR leagues. He had six games with over 100 yards rushing with his best play coming over the last four games of the season (483 combined yards with five TDs and seven catches on 97 touches). Even with his success, Carson did miss a pair of games while having minor offseason knee surgery. The coach-speak and a clean bill of health led to him climbing to the three-round in 12-team leagues the high-stakes market. Last year the Seahawks’ RBs combined for 2,693 yards with 16 TDs and 68 catches on 535 touches. Cincinnati ended last year at the bottom of the NFL in the defensive ranking with injuries being a part of their failure. The Bengals allowed over 30.00 Fantasy points in five games (32.40, 31.00, 57.40, 32.70, and 40.60). Seattle will get Carson move involved in the passing game this season helping his floor, but he will also lose some chances to Rashaad Penny. Priced to pay off, but the sheep will flock to him in Week 1. To be with the public or fade, that is the question with Carson in this matchup.
Marlon Mack, IND (DK – $5,600/FD – $6,900)
The wind in Mack’s sail left the building once Andrew Luck decided to retire. He’ll still be the early-down back with value in TDs and some catches, but the Colts won’t create as many TDs this season. In 2018, Mack averaged 11.26 Fantasy points per game with almost half of his value coming in three contests (31.90, 28.90, and 26.90). If Indy falls behind on the scoreboards, game flow shifts to Nyheim Hines. Last year the Chargers struggled vs. RBs (28.83 FPPG) with disaster in seven games (40.10, 46.90, 36.20, 40.20, 41.50, and 37.70). Tough to get excited, which means he’ll be a lower percentage own. I’ll put him in the neutral category due to his matchup.
Austin Ekeler, LAC (DK – $5,600/FD – $6,400)
With the first week of the NFL season getting closer, a Fantasy owner has to assume that Ekeler will receive a decent part of the Chargers’ offense. In 2018, he finished with 958 combined yards with six TDs and 39 catches. In his four games with over 35 snaps last season, he only had one playable game (Week 14 – 17.4 Fantasy points). His max in touches last year was 17 while offering value in catches (10) in one contest. In 2018, the Colts gave up a ton of catches (111) to RBs leading to 843 yards and three TDs. If Gordon is out, LA will rotate two RBs with Ekeler having the most value in the passing game. Viable if the shoe fits especially if a Fantasy owner decides to use Philip Rivers at QB.
Devonta Freeman, ATL (DK – $5,300/FD – $6,700)
From 2015 to 2017, Freeman has 35 TDs in his 45 games played while rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2015 (1,056) and 2016 (1,079). For some reason, the Falcons lowered his opportunity in the passing game (36/317/1) despite gaining more yards per catch (7.9 in 2015, 8.6 in 2016, and 8.8 in 2017) in each year in the league. Over his first 45 games in the NFL, Freeman averaged 96.8 yards with 0.78 TDs and 3.6 catches per game or about 17 Fantasy points per game. The loss of Tevin Coleman in this offense opens up the door for Devonta to be the RB1 again in 2019. In 2017, the Falcons’ RBs gained 2,356 combined yards with 67 catches and 16 TDs with regression last year (1,919 combined yards with 68 catches and 13 TDs). The Vikings slipped to 16th in the NFL vs. RBs in 2018 (24.16 FPPG). They struggled in four games against the RB position (38.80, 31.40, 47.30, and 36.90). Freeman will be productive in 2019, and he has fair salary out of the gate.
Mark Ingram, BAL (DK – $5,100/FD – $6,600)
The Ravens’ RB last year gained 1,690 yards rushing on 381 carries with 14 TDs plus 70 catches for 454 yards and three TDs on 91 targets. Ingram will be the lead back in Baltimore, but he’ll be in a timeshare for touches. I expect the Ravens’ RBs to get between 28 and 30 touches per game. Mark should receive 60 percent of the RB opportunity in this offense. Miami ranked 26th defending RBs in PPR leagues last year (27.78 FPPG) with four opponents having success (33.80, 48.40, 38.60, and 42.10). Both teams will run the ball a lot in this matchup leading to a fast-moving clock. I don’t expect his chances to be high enough in the passing game to match his opportunity in that area for the Saints. Only a midtier option with question upside in TDs.
Tevin Coleman, SF (DK – $5,000/FD – $6,300)
The 49ers will use two backs in their offense with Coleman expected to see value on all three downs. He won’t dominate in touches (12.4 in 2018 and 12.2 in 2017) based on his usage with the Falcons. While working under his new head coach as the offensive coordinator in Atlanta in 2016, he averaged 11.5 touches per game. Last year Tampa ended up 30th defending RBs (29.54 FPPG) with failure in eight contests (43.00, 32.20, 32.90, 57.40, 31.50, 39.20, 31.10, and 35.50 Fantasy points). Based on what I saw in the Week 3 preseason game, I expect the Bucs to be aggressive up front with the idea of controlling the run game. The downside comes if an opponent beaks free into the third level of the defense. Coleman only had 95 combined yards with two TDs and two catches in two games vs. Tampa last year. He doesn’t check enough boxes for me to play in the daily games.
Rashaad Penny, SEA (FD – $4,900/FD – $5,900)
In the early draft season in the season-long games, Penny was almost in a dead heat in draft value with Chris Carson who was coming off minor knee surgery. Penny received plenty of buzz early in camp about being in better shape while expecting him to make a step forward in 2019. The momentum shifted back to Carson when he appeared to be fully healthy in July, and the Seattle’s coaching staff stated they wanted to get their backs more involved in the passing game. They also made the statement that Carson had “great hands.” Penny will come off the bench in Week 1 with change of pace value. DraftKings priced him too high based on his expected opportunity early in the year. Only a flier while needing a long TD run to deliver a possible playable score.
Darrell Henderson, LAR (DK – $4,800/FD – $5,400)
The Rams landed an explosive RB in the 2019 NFL Draft to help ease back Todd Gurley’s touches. Henderson will see between six and ten touches per game in most weeks with game score dictating his playing time. Over his last two seasons at Memphis in college, he gained 3,584 combined yards with 36 TDs and 43 catches in 25 games. An excellent insurance card in the season-long games, but he’ll be a tougher player to time in the daily contests, especially at his salary.
Dion Lewis, TEN (DK – $4,700/FD – $5,600)
Lewis struggled to make big plays in the run game (3.3 yards per rush) in his first year with the Titans. Out of his 155 carries, he gained over 20 yards on just two plays. He did set a career-high in catches (59), receiving yards (400) and touches (214). Tennessee gave him 15.8 touches per game over the first ten games of the season. Once Derrick Henry started to shine, Lewis only had 56 touches (9.3 per game) over the last six games of the year. Game flow is key to his value. At best, ten touches per game with question value in TDs. If the Titans fall behind early, he may surprise.
Kenyan Drake, MIA (DK – $4,700/FD – $6,000)
I like what Drake brings to the table, but the Dolphins continue to overlook him as the top option on early downs. He battled an ankle issue in early August, which led to him using a walking boot. Drake is back at practice while expecting to play in Week 1. Last year he finished 14th in RB scoring (12.95 FPPG) while having playable value in three games (24.50, 23.50, and 26.60). His floor is helped by his pass-catching ability (53/477/5). In 2018, RBs caught 78 passes for 447 yards and three TDs against the Ravens. A tough matchup with questionable touches points to a player to avoid in the daily games in Week 1.
LeSean McCoy, BUF (DK – $4,700/FD – $5,800)
The Bills will give McCoy every opportunity to prove he still has something left in the tank in 2019. With that said, he is going to lose some touches to Frank Gore with his biggest hit most likely coming at the goal line. Last year McCoy fell to 39th in RB scoring (7.96) in PPR leagues in 2018 with only one game of value (24.80), which happened to come against the Jets on the road. New York finished as a league average defense vs. RBs in 2018 (24.00 FPPG) with five teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points (46.40, 32.10, 31.70, and 31.30, and 33.30). With his scoring ability in doubt, McCoy would be more of a gamble in the daily games. His pass-catching ability does give him some upside at times.
Kalen Ballage, MIA (DK – $4,500/FD – $5,700)
Ballege looked explosive at times in his rookie season. He gained 5.3 yards per rush, but 75 of his 191 yards came on one play. Over his other 35 runs, Kalen gained only 3.3 yards per carry. He chipped in with nine catches for 56 yards. His best two games came in Week 15 (12/123/1) and Week 17 (12/47). Miami should use him as the early-down back in September with his success determining his longer-term value. Last year Baltimore allowed only 3.66 yards per rush to RBs with nine TDs. With questionable QB play, Baltimore will have plenty of defenders close to the line of scrimmage on many plays. His speed gives him a chance to hit on a long play, but I see a boring score in this matchup.
Tony Pollard, DAL (DK – $4,500/FD – $5,200)
The Cowboys landed a second explosive RB in 2019 NFL Draft. With Ezekiel Elliott still holding out, Pollard has pushed his way up draft boards in the season-long games helped by his play in the preseason. Over his final two years at Memphis, he averaged 7.2 yards per rush and 13.3 yards per catch, but he only had 183 touches for 1,776 yards with 15 TDs and 75 catches. I expect Elliott to be on the field in Week 1. Pollard will get double-digit touches vs. the Giants with some value in catches. Must start in the daily games if he does indeed start. I would temper the excitement once Elliott signs. Pollard looks dynamic, but he needs to prove he can handle a high-volume of touches per game.
Derrius Guice, WAS (DK – $4,400/FD – $5,900)
The RB situation in Week 1 for Washington will be messy. Guice missed all of 2018 after blowing out his ACL last August. He worked his way to game action in the third preseason game (11/44 with one catch for four yards). Washington’s coaching staff liked his direction, which points to upside once he can handle more of a workload. I don’t like RBs coming off significant injuries, and I expect the Redskins to rotate in three RBs in Week 1. Player to follow, but I can’t see him being a factor in the daily games in Week 1.
Jordan Howard, PHI (DK – $4,200/FD – $5,800)
The public is in the Miles Sanders camp in the season-long drafts in August, but I don’t see Howard going away. Philly needs a power runner to help their scoring value in the red zone, which was something they lacked in Week 1. The Bears gave him over 250 touches in all three years in the NFL, which led to 25 TDs in 47 games. Washington allowed 4.6 yards per rush to RBs with ten rushing TDs in 2018. They finished 13th in RB defense (23.66 FPPG) with risk as well defending RBs in the passing game (95/728/2). The Redskins have an improving defense, but they have to be game planning to slow down the Eagles’ passing game. One of Philly’s RBs will score a TD. My bet is on Howard, but he’ll need the lead role in touches to reach a midteen score. Worth a flier if he’s named the starter. A second TD would make him a slam dunk at this salary level.
Justin Jackson, LAC (DK – $4,00/FD – $5.900)
If Melvin Gordon doesn’t return for Week 1, the Chargers will give Jackson about 50 percent of the RB carries with a chance at a couple of passes. He will also be in the mix at the goal line. Last year he helped Fantasy owners in two games (Week 13 – 82 yards with one TD and one catch and Week 15 – 85 yards with a TD and three catches). The Colts played well vs. the run in 2018 (3.9 yards per rush) with some failure in rushing TDs (11). Possible value option if the news breaks his way before Week 1.
Peyton Barber, TB (DK – $4,000, FD – $5,500)
Tampa gave Barber plenty of chances in 2018, which showed why he doesn’t deserve a starting job in the NFL. He gained 871 yards on 234 carries with five rushing TDs, but his lack of success per carry (3.7) is the glowing signal to push him to a backup role in 2019. Peyton caught 20 of his 29 targets for 92 yards and a TD, but again, he lacked success in big plays (4.6 yards per catch). He made 16 starts last year, leading to 254 touches. He may start in Week 1, which gives him a chance a TD and a midteen score.
Matt Breida, SF (DK – $4,000/FD – $5,400)
Breida is the most explosive RB in San Fran, and his opportunity in this offense looks much brighter with Jerick McKinnon slowed by his recovery from his knee injury. In his second year in the NFL, Breida gained 5.4 yards per rush and 9.7 yards per catch while playing with backup QBs and battling an ankle injury most of the season. Jimmy Garoppolo came through the Patriots’ system where the RB position was a big part of the offense, and the 49ers head coaching featured the RB in the passing game in the Falcons’ offense in 2015 (97/775/5) and 2016 (93/946/6), which was supported by the 49ers’ RBs in 2017 (113/845/2). Last year their RBs caught 83 passes for 781 yards and three TDs. Breida will rotate in on early downs while receiving the bigger share of RB targets. His ability to make big plays in the attraction here. In 2018, Tampa gave 21 TDs to RBs with some risk in the passing game (82/690/6). If the Bucs try to shut down the run game, Breida will hit on some long catches with a chance at TD. One of the better value RBs for me in Week 1.
Miles Sanders, PHI (DK – $3,900/FD – $6,000)
With the great Saquon Barkley in front of him on the depth chart in 2016 and 2017, Sanders gained only 429 combined yards on 64 touches with four TDs and eight catches. In his first season as a starter, Mike failed to get the whole show leading to questionable stats in the run game (220/1274/9) and the receiving game (24/139/0). His path to college painted him as a high-upside RB with plenty of experience touching the ball. Sanders offers an excellent combination of short-area speed with vision and power. If given space after breaking the line of scrimmage, he knows how to get defenders flat-footed with subtle moves and head and shoulder fakes. Miles follows his blocks well with a gear to burst through the line while breaking tackling with his legs. His value in the receiving game looks below par based on his opportunity. If given a chance in pass protection, I expect Sanders to handle his job. He remains a coin toss to start while offering big-play ability. His floor will be lower due to his question value/opportunity in the Eagles’ passing game. Even if he starts, he may not be the goal-line option in Week 1. Risk/reward type play in the daily contests.
Nyheim Hines, IND (DK – $3,900/FD – $5,300)
The drop-down at QB in Indy may be a win for Hines as the Colts could be chasing more on the scoreboard in 2019. In his rookie season, he caught 63 passes for 425 yards and two TDs with some chances on early downs (85/314/2). The Colts would like to see more significant plays (3.7 yards per rush and 6.7 yards per catch) from him in all areas. RBs caught 107 passes for 973 yards with four TDs vs. the Chargers in 2018. Possible piece of a low-value stack for the Colts.
Ronald Jones (DK – $3,900/FD – $5,600)
I have Jones barely ranked in Week 1 after sensing that he’s losing some momentum in the RB rotation for Tampa. I can’t see him being a factor in the passing game, and the Bucs seem to trust Peyton Barber more. If he somehow he starts in Week 1, I’ll upgrade his projections while still not getting excited about his game and value in the daily space.
Alexander Mattison, MIN (DK – 3,800/FD – $4,900)
Over the previous two seasons at Boise State, Mattison gained 2,958 yards with 30 TDs and 55 catches on 569 touches. His success last year (1,588 yards with 17 TDs and 27 catches) was created by volume of touches (329) while showing regression in his yards per rush (4.7) and yards per catch (6.4). He runs with patience with enough quickness to make plenty of plays over the short areas of the field. The Vikings hope he can work as the RB2 while offering more explosiveness than Latavius Murray. His build and style give Minnesota a natural cover/handcuff to Dalvin Cook. His play in the preseason points to upside if given a better chance at playing time.
Adrian Peterson, WAS (DK – $3,700/FD – $5,600)
Peterson ended up being a great cover for Derrius Guice in 2018. He gained 1,250 combined yards with eight TDs and eight catches at age 33. He could be the starter for the Redskins in Week 1 or Peterson may be on a train to Houston to replace the loss of Lamar Miller. I have him rated low in Week 1 based on the questions with the three RB options for Washington. If Guice is inactive, Peterson would at least be a consideration at this level. I don’t expect game score to favor the early-down back for the Redskins vs. the Eagles.
Chris Thompson, WAS (DK – $3,500/FD – $5,100)
Two games into the 2018 football seasons, Fantasy owners thought they struck gold with Thompson after he gained 228 combined yards with 19 catches and one TD on 28 touches. He struggled over the next two weeks (79 combined yards with seven catches) before suffering rib and knee injuries in Week 5. He missed six of the next seven games while failing to make an impact over the last five games of the season (124 combined yards with 13 catches). Chris finished with 446 combined yards with 41 catches and one TD in what amounted to about a half-season of playing time. Last year the Redskins’ RBs caught 81 passes for 613 yards and three TDs on 108 targets. Thompson will be the third-down/change of pace back with his best value coming in a chaser game. In 2018, RBs caught 110 passes for 844 yards and four TDs vs. the Eagles. A viable piece on the opposite side of an Eagles’ stack. I expect Thompson to be active in the passing game in this matchup.
Darwin Thompson, KC (DK – $3,500/FD – $4,500)
Thompson flashed in the first preseason game (51 combined yards with one catch and a TD) leading to Fantasy owner pushing him up draft boards. I went back in reviewed my research on him and determined that my initial thoughts were confirmed. (Thompson is an undersized back (5’8” and 200 lbs.) who lacks the wheels to beat an NFL defense on the outside or test a defense with long runs. Darwin has a grinder feel like a north/south runner. His second gear is boring along with his short-area quickness. Thompson may develop as a viable threat out of the backfield.) He needs an injury to improve his position in the RB rotation in Kansas City. In his one season at Utah State, he gained 1,395 combined yards with 16 TDs and 23 catches. A starting RB in the Chiefs’ offense is going to draw attention due to their scoring ability and overall chances. In Week 1, he’ll come off the bench vs. a tough defense. Huge gamble in the daily contests.