Fantasy Football 2019: Updated Rankings After Early Free-Agency Signings

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 15, 2019

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs for a 78-yard touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The fantasy football landscape is changing by the second.

The speed of 2019 NFL free agency is making it feel that way, at least.

There's been a flurry of activity to kick off the new league year. Antonio Brown is in Oakland. Odell Beckham Jr. is in Cleveland. Le'Veon Bell is a Jet. Mark Ingram has bounced to Baltimore.

Forward-thinking fantasy owners—often the best-performing fantasy owners—are wise enough to keep up both with the movement and what that means for the next fantasy season.

We'll help process all the action here by laying out our updated top 50 for 2019, then we'll highlight the fantasy fallout of two major moves.


Updated 2019 Fantasy Football Top 50

1. Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG

2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL

3. Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR

4. Todd Gurley, RB, LAR

5. Melvin Gordon, RB, LAC

6. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, HOU

7. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, CLE

8. Davante Adams, WR, GB

9. Julio Jones, WR, ATL

10. Le'Veon Bell, RB, NYJ

11. Alvin Kamara, RB, NO

12. Michael Thomas, WR, NO

13. James Conner, RB, PIT

14. Joe Mixon, RB, CIN

15. Travis Kelce, TE, KC

16. Nick Chubb, RB, CLE

17. Tyreek Hill, WR, KC

18. Antonio Brown, WR, OAK

19. David Johnson, RB, ARI

20. Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN

21. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT

22. Mike Evans, WR, TB

23. George Kittle, TE, SF

24. A.J. Green, WR, CIN

25. Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC

26. Sony Michel, RB, NE

27. Zach Ertz, TE, PHI

28. Aaron Jones, RB, GB

29. T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND

30. Leonard Fournette, RB, JAX

31. Keenan Allen, WR, LAC

32. Adam Thielen, WR, MIN

33. Marlon Mack, RB, IND

34. Brandin Cooks, WR, LAR

35. Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN

36. Amari Cooper, WR, DAL

37. Kenny Golladay, WR, DET

38. Chris Carson, RB, SEA

39. Phillip Lindsay, RB, DEN

40. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB

41. Robert Woods, WR, LAR

42. Kerryon Johnson, RB, DET

43. Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL

44. Allen Robinson, WR, CHI

45. Derrick Henry, RB, TEN

46. Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE

47. Andrew Luck, QB, IND

48. Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA

49. Corey Davis, WR, TEN

50. Julian Edelman, WR, NE


Fantasy Impact of Major Trades

Odell Beckham Trade

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

While Beckham's fantasy stock has been lofty for a while now—he's had at least 1,052 receiving yards and six touchdowns in four of his five NFL seasons—a move to Cleveland should boost it even higher.

The biggest upgrade for OBJ is the quarterback switch from Eli Manning to Baker Mayfield. In 2018, Mayfield bettered Manning in passing touchdowns (27 to 21) and nearly matched him in yardage (3,725 to 4,299) despite starting three fewer games. Mayfield's ability to extend plays and willingness to take shots should make Beckham an even more dynamic option on the outside.

"Only six quarterbacks had more than 1,000 passing yards on targets traveling at least 20 yards in the air last season. Mayfield was one of them," Jeff Ratcliffe wrote for Pro Football Focus. "For fantasy purposes, that stat translates to big-play upside for Beckham."

Mayfield's stock also rises with Beckham's arrival, although Jarvis Landry's dips a bit given a likely reduction in targets. It will be interesting, though, to see what this means for David Njoku and Bradley Chubb, who could also see a drop in opportunities but should have more room to work with given the attention Beckham will command.

Back in New York, this doesn't help the sinking ship that is Manning. But it will ensure Saquon Barkley is even more involved, and Sterling Shepard should increase his output even with the addition of Golden Tate.


Antonio Brown Trade

Ben Margot/Associated Press

Brown has been an elite fantasy option for years. Even in a distraction-filled 2018 season, he still produced 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and a league-best 15 touchdowns. 

While we still consider Brown a top-20 fantasy option, cracking the top 10 looks a lot tougher in Oakland.

Looking at the 2018 numbers, there's no comparison between the Raiders' passing attack and that of the Steelers. Pittsburgh finished second in passing yards (5,008) and tied for fifth in passing touchdowns (35). Oakland, meanwhile, was 18th in yardage (3,751) and tied for 24th in scores (19).

Granted, the Raiders should see a spike from Brown's arrival, and they'll be sure to give him all he can handle. But even if Derek Carr places close to Ben Roethlisberger's level (at least in terms of efficiency), Brown won't have the same protection.

In Pittsburgh, he had another elite wideout (Smith-Schuster) and dominant running back (first Bell, then Conner); in Oakland, he doesn't seem to have either.

"The best way to view Brown is as a low-end No. 1 receiver worth drafting in Round 2," CBS Sports' Jamey Eisenberg wrote. "He's no longer a top-five Fantasy receiver coming into this season, and he could easily be considered a bust candidate."

Landing in Oakland is better for Brown than, say, going to Buffalo or Washington. Still, this is a step back from Pittsburgh.

This makes Carr a more reasonable fantasy option, although he's probably somewhere between a backup and a streamer. It might also give Tyrell Williams some extra chances to stretch the field with all the defensive attention Brown will get.

As for the Steelers, this puts Smith-Schuster on the doorstep of elite No. 1 receiver territory. He already put himself in that conversation last year (111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven scores), and he could have even more passes headed his way in the next. This might also make sophomore receiver James Washington a sneaky-good sleeper depending on the rest of Pittsburgh's offseason.

Roethlisberger comes out of this as the big fantasy loser. He's the last of the Killer B's left standing, and while there might be less drama around him, there will also be less talent. With Brown, Bell and tight end Jesse James out of the picture, Roethlisberger may not have the weapons to retain No. 1 quarterback status in the fantasy realm.  


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