ESPN recently released their annual list of sleepers, busts, and breakouts for the upcoming fantasy football season, but unsurprisingly, the list isn’t very helpful at all (for example, Matt Ryan—last year’s QB2—is listed as a “sleeper”). Sadly, most of the industry is now extremely shallow in their analysis, but we wanted to give a preview of what you can expect from our Fantasy Consigliere Draft Guide this summer with a similar exercise: “Undervalued” and “Overvalued”. For now, we’ll go through one player per position (QB, RB, WR), but you can sign up for Fantasy Consigliere to get the draft guide (which will include premium rankings, projections, bold predictions, invaluable tips, and more) when it’s released.
Josh Allen, BUF QB (current rank: QB19)
It didn’t take long for Josh Allen to show his immense potential last season by scoring 27.74 fantasy points in his first road start (a 27-6 victory over the Vikings), but he really took off down the stretch. After missing more than a month with an elbow injury, Allen returned for the final six games of the year to put up fantasy point totals of 26.30, 28.74, 18.34, 19.76, 11.68, and 40.46, which was good for 24.21 points per game. That pace over a 16-game schedule would have made the rocket-armed quarterback the overall QB2 on the year, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and his 50 touchdowns. Plus, he did it with arguably the worst supporting cast in the league around him. Now, Allen will be protected by an improved offensive line with speedster John Brown signed to be the No. 1 receiver, but he’s still being overlooked based on how people felt about him coming out of Wyoming.
Justice Hill, BAL RB (current rank: RB66)
Baltimore signed Mark Ingram to be their lead runner in 2019, but fourth-round pick Justice Hill has the explosiveness (40-inch vertical) and home-run speed (4.40 40-yard dash) to takeover a game on limited touches in what is sure to be a run-heavy offense. The Oklahoma State product also has the decisiveness to take advantage of carries between the tackles, and his ability to make people miss in close quarters could be the perfect fit for option plays that rely on split-second decisions from Lamar Jackson. You may need to be patient, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Hill eventually earn a timeshare that nets him 12-15 touches per game, which would put him on the low-end RB2/FLEX radar.
James Washington, PIT WR (current rank: WR49)
A little bit of the upside is already baked into James Washington’s ranking, but if the 23-year-old wins the No. 2 receiver job behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, his late-round ADP will almost certainly be shattered playing in one of the league’s best offenses. Even if the Steelers end up running the ball more this season (something that’s expected to happen), Ben Roethlisberger will still want his numbers, and heavier boxes could lead to more downfield shots for the dangerous deep threat. For what it’s worth, Washington—who gained Big Ben’s trust more and more as the year progressed—averaged at least 19.4 yards per reception in his final three college seasons when he became a clear starter.
Jameis Winston, TB QB (current rank: QB11)
If there’s a coach that’s going to help Jameis Winston finally reach his potential, it’s Bruce Arians—but let’s not act like the former No. 1 overall pick has been in a terrible situation so far in his career. Despite having some of the best weapons in the league and the same system in place through four seasons, Winston has thrown more interceptions (58) than he’s played games (56), and the turnovers are something that have plagued him since he was a freshman phenom at Florida State. It would be ignorant to ignore the 5,000-yard upside in Arians’ offense, but do you really want to trust Jameis if you need to draft him as a QB1 ahead of guys like Jared Goff and Dak Prescott (both of whom have the same fantasy upside with significantly higher floors)?
Phillip Lindsay, DEN RB (current rank: RB22)
He exploded onto the scene as an undrafted rookie last year with 1,037 yards on just 192 carries (good for 5.4 yards per attempt), but Phillip Lindsay is expected to have his workload scaled back under a new coaching staff this season. In fact, Royce Freeman might even be the starter, which would mean Lindsay needs to keep ripping off chunk yardage at an elite clip and/or score double-digit touchdowns again to have a shot at returning top-50 value (currently being drafted No. 43 overall in 0.5 PPR leagues). Fantasy owners are probably better off taking a more stable in the first five rounds.
Adam Thielen, MIN WR (current rank: WR13)
In 13 games with John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator last season, Adam Thielen averaged 7.9 receptions for 95.1 yards and 0.7 touchdowns per game, and his worst fantasy performance during that stretch was four receptions for 22 yards and a touchdown. In the three games following DeFilippo’s firing, Thielen totaled ten catches for 137 scoreless yards. Of course, a three-game sample size is obviously very small, but Minnesota made it a point to run the ball more to close out the season, and that’s exactly what head coach Mike Zimmer wants to do all year in 2019. Don’t bet on another eight-game streak of 100-yard games from Thielen this fall.