While it might be too early for fantasy football rankings considering all that will happen in the coming months, there are several players look to bounce back this season. The spring and summer will be key for these early 2019 fantasy football bounce-back candidates.
Eagles OTAs start today, and Carson Wentz has no limitations. Having a full offseason benefits any player, particularly a quarterback that’s missed time because of injury like Wentz the past two seasons, so the fourth-year quarterback should benefit from being on the field all offseason and into training camp and the preseason. Wentz was OK in terms of fantasy scoring last season before his season-ending back injury, but he didn’t have the same weekly upside as his MVP-caliber 2017 season, and he had a zero-point dud in Week 11 against New Orleans, which you would’ve never thought of happening to the former No. 2 overall pick. There is no question Wentz is extremely motivated entering 2019, and the Eagles organization seems motivated to make their franchise player look as good as possible after adding reinforcements to join an already-talented offense. I’m not sure Doug Pederson will be trying to run up the scoreboard, but Wentz has a lot of control at the line of scrimmage and might want to do some numbers in addition to winning games for Philadelphia.
David Johnson still finished as an RB1 in standard leagues last season, but it was a disappointing year for those that spent a top-three selection on the fantasy MVP from the 2016 season. The offensive line and the unit in general really struggled, with a change in both quarterback (going from veteran Sam Bradford to rookie Josh Rosen) and offensive coordinator (going from Mike McCoy to Byron Leftwich) in middle of the season. Now, DJ will be playing in an Air Raid system led by first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, but a pass-heavy offense could lead to light boxes, and Johnson is one of the best receiving running backs in the NFL. Look for more week-to-week consistency from Johnson this season.
Toward the end of last season, Dalvin Cook performed up to his draft standing as a first- or second-round pick, but many fantasy owners were burned earlier in the season and might vow to never draft the Vikings running back again. However, Cook has major bounce-back potential, and it’s supported by Latavius Murray’s departure to New Orleans. Health is the No. 1 concern for Cook, but if he’s healthy, he could get a massive workload in an offense that Mike Zimmer really wants to run the football—and that workload is likely to include most of the goal-line touches with Murray gone.
Wide receivers are typically safe draft choices that perform more consistently on a year-to-year basis than running backs, so the selection of bounce-back candidates for 2019 is relatively small. But future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald went from basically a must-start fantasy asset to someone that probably made it to waiver wires in a lot of leagues and became unstartable for much of the season. It’ll be interesting to see what Kingsbury does with the legendary Cardinals receiver, but there should be plenty of pass attempts from Kyler Murray (and thus, targets for Fitz) to put up strong numbers.
When Joe Flacco was under-center for the Ravens last season, John Brown was an excellent fantasy option, but things went south when Lamar Jackson took over the starting role for Baltimore. Overall, last season wasn’t a huge disappointment for those that had Brown in their fantasy leagues, but the end-of-season performance helps “Smokey” qualify as a big-time bounce-back candidate. Now in Buffalo catching passes from a similar big-armed quarterback in Josh Allen, Brown should at least be a boom/bust FLEX option that can be utilized all 16 games in 2019.
Evan Engram is another player that had stretches of strong fantasy performances (coming at the end of the season, when he had 75+ yards in each of his last four games) but overall didn’t have the season many were anticipating. The former first-round pick even served as a backup for part of last year, but his late-season surge likely gives Giants head coach Pat Shurmur confidence about the athletic tight end for 2019. Odell Beckham Jr., who wasn’t active during those four games at the end of last season, is now gone, so Engram could have several weeks where he’s the No. 1 target of Eli Manning.