Greetings, Falcoholics. The 2019 NFL Draft is now over, so here comes the fantasy football content. Today, I’m going to give a top five per position (PPR) heading into training camp. This list will cover players outside of just the Atlanta Falcons, although you may spot one or two on the list. Let’s get started!
1. Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs
Naturally, Patrick Mahomes comes in at the top spot in regards to quarterbacks. Mahomes exploded last season, and finished the year as the youngest MVP since Dan Marino. He finished as the highest scorer in most fantasy football leagues in 2018, and will likely be a first-round selection in your league draft, even with a couple of his weapons no longer being a part of the team. If you’re pick is towards the end of round one, you’d have to seriously consider Mahomes, as he’s proven to be a league winner.
2.) Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
Recently it was revealed that Aaron Rodgers played through a tibial plateau fracture, in addition to an MCL sprain in 2018. He still managed to finish as the 10th highest scoring quarterback in 2018, and I expect only an improvement in 2019. Additionally, the play calling should be better as the Packers hired Matt LaFleur, who many Falcons fans will remember as the Falcons’ QB coach in 2015 and 2016.
3.) Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
There was a time where many analysts thought Andrew Luck may not play again, and if he did, he’d be nowhere near the level of play we were accustomed to seeing. With a phenomenal offensive line and an offseason devoted to getting healthy, Luck could easily be a top two quarterback by season’s end.
4.) Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
Even with questionable play calling at times, Matt Ryan still put up MVP numbers in 2018. The Falcons also moved on from offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, and hired former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. With the team committing to protecting Matt Ryan this offseason, and having weapons Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Austin Hooper, and Devonta Freeman, Matt Ryan is definitely a top five quarterback heading into league drafts.
5.) Baker Mayfield – Cleveland Browns
This is more of a wild card selection. On paper, Baker Mayfield should have a fantastic season. The Browns already had a solid offense, and they’ve now added fantasy star Odell Beckham Jr. to their arsenal. In theory, Mayfield’s floor should be a top 10 quarterback, considering he finished as a top 15 quarterback in many leagues in 2018, but we won’t know for sure until the season starts.
1.) Saquon Barkley – New York Giants
After an impressive rookie season, Saquon Barkley finished as the top-scoring running back in many leagues in 2018. His dual-threat ability to be useful in not only the running game, but also the passing game, makes him a monster. The Giants are bad, and traded away their other weapon, Odell Beckham Jr. so the offense will go through Barkley in 2019. He will be taken in the first five selections in most fantasy drafts this summer.
2.) Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys will have a full season of Amari Cooper in 2019, which should only raise Ezekiel Elliot’s ceiling. On top of that, Zeke’s offensive line should be significantly better this season, as center Travis Frederick who missed the entire 2018 season should be full-go for the start of 2019. In 2018, Zeke still managed to be the NFL’s top rusher, finishing with 1,434 rushing yards. Owners who have the first overall pick in their league drafts will have a tough time deciding between Zeke and Barkley.
3.) Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints
The most important thing to do in fantasy football is put your fandom aside. As much as I hate the Saints, there’s no way I’m passing on Alvin Kamara if he’s available at my pick. This offseason, his handcuff Mark Ingram signed with the Baltimore Ravens, which will only increase Kamara’s production in 2019. Last season, Kamara only had two games where he played less than 50% of the offensive snaps. Kamara makes a strong case to be the third player selected overall in league drafts this summer.
4.) Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
With Panthers quarterback Cam Newton not being very good, and his injury last season, the Panthers offense flowed through the supremely talented Christian McCaffrey. He finished as the non-quarterback top scorer in many leagues in 2018, and led all running backs in receiving yards. McCaffrey’s dual-attack in the rushing and passing game should make him a top five pick in all fantasy leagues.
5.) Todd Gurley II – Los Angeles Rams
After performing as the best non-quarterback fantasy player for much of 2018, Todd Gurley randomly started splitting carries with newly signed C.J. Anderson. In March, it was revealed that Gurley has arthritis in his knee, which explains the decreased usage late last season. With Gurley, it’s a risk as arthritis just doesn’t go away, so it could flare up during the season or toward playoff time. It’s also possible that Gurley could return to early 2018 form and be a late-round steal for a gutsy owner willing to take a chance. We may know more on his situation come training camp.
1.) DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans
In 2018, DeAndre Hopkins finished fourth in standard scoring, and first in PPR scoring out of all wide receivers. As long as he’s healthy, there’s no reason his production should change in 2019. What makes Hopkins so resourceful is his ability to perform regardless of who is throwing him the ball. Hopkins will likely be a top eight pick in most leagues this summer.
2.) Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
Quintorris Lopez Jones may be 30 years old, but he sure isn’t playing like it. In 2018, Julio finished fourth in receptions and first in receiving yards amongst wide receivers. In regards to fantasy football, Julio only finished under 10 points in one game last season, coming against the Baltimore Ravens. Julio could be selected as the top wide receiver in fantasy leagues and it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.
3.) Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
With news that the Packers may feature Davante Adams in the slot more this season, he could easily finish as the highest scoring wide receiver in 2019. With Randall Cobb now on the Dallas Cowboys, Adams figures to be the biggest beneficiary of increased slot reps. Adams is easily a late-first, early-second round pick in most leagues.
4.) Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
Even though he totaled only four receptions for 36 yards in the NFC Championship game, Thomas finished as the sixth highest scoring fantasy wide receiver in 2018. He led the league in receptions last season, and that’s ideal in a (PPR) points per reception league. Thomas should be an early second round selection in most fantasy drafts.
5.) JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers
Juju finished his sophomore campaign with 111 receptions, 1,426 yards, and seven touchdowns. With the Steelers sending Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders, the door is wide-open for Smith-Schuster to finish 2019 as a top five wide receiver. Even with Brown on the roster in 2018, Juju finished as a top 10 fantasy wide receiver.
1.) Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
With Rob Gronkowski officially retiring from the NFL, Travis Kelce is the unquestioned best tight end in the league. That doesn’t change in fantasy football, as Kelce is not only immensely talented, but also happens to have the best quarterback in fantasy football throwing to him, and he’s the Chiefs’ greatest hope, with Kareem Hunt gone and Tyreek Hill’s future uncertain.
2.) George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
The second-year tight end has made a strong argument as the second-best tight end in football. George Kittle finished 2018 with the most receiving yards amongst tight ends, and what’s even more impressive is that it was done with three different quarterbacks. With Jimmy Garoppolo returning in 2019, and the offense still likely revolving around him, Kittle will be a top three tight end heading into the season.
3.) Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
Zach Ertz had the second most receptions amongst all players in 2018, and led tight ends in the same category. His impressive 74.4% catch percentage should have fantasy owners drooling heading into 2019. Ertz could easily be the best tight end in fantasy football next season, and will likely come off the board fairly early, since there’s a steep dropoff at the position.
4.) Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts
Once you get passed the three listed above, it’s a toss-up on who the last two are. I slated Ebron here mainly because he led all tight ends in receiving touchdowns in 2018. If you were a Jack Doyle owner last season, you probably hate this man. Regardless, his 13 touchdowns should decline in 2019, but he could still have value at a very thin position.
5.) Austin Hooper — Atlanta Falcons
After finishing as the sixth highest scoring fantasy tight end in 2018, fantasy owners will look for Hooper to enter the top five in 2019. With Mike Mularkey joining the the staff, there’s no reason why Hooper shouldn’t excel, as long as their’s enough football to go around. With the tight end position being pretty thin, Hooper is worth selecting as your starting tight end.
1.) Justin Tucker – Baltimore Ravens
2.) Greg Zuerlein – Los Angeles Rams
3.) Harrison Butker – Kansas City Chiefs
4.) Stephen Gostkowski – New England Patriots
5.) Brett Maher – Dallas Cowboys
1.) Chicago Bears
2.) Baltimore Ravens
3.) Los Angeles Rams
5.) Houston Texans
So that’s it on my 2019 pre-training camp fantasy football rankings. These rankings will likely alter before your draft, but stay tuned for more fantasy articles here at The Falcoholic. As always, you can find me on Twitter at @EvanBirchfield. And remember, ALWAYS go with your gut.