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Fantasy Football 2019: Rankings for Top Sleeper and Bust Candidates

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 2, 2019

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray throws the football during an NFL football training camp practice Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The wait is over. Finally.

Sure, we're still over a month away from NFL games that actually count, but football is back. The Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons kicked off the preseason slate with Thursday's Hall of Fame Game. By next weekend, all 32 games will have at least one exhibition tilt under their belts.

It's an unbelievable time for the gridiron world and a critical one for the fantasy realm. Thursday's kickoff should've been your kick-start to ramp your draft preparation into high gear.

We'll help get the ball rolling by breaking down some sleepers and busts below.

                

2019 Fantasy Football Sleepers

QB: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals; Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

RB: Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers; Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins

WR: Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers; Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers

TE: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens; Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

             

Nine quarterbacks are coming off the board ahead of Kyler Murray, per FantasyFootballCalculator.com. There aren't nine quarterbacks with a better combination of natural gifts and system fit.

Murray just electrified the college football world with a Heisman Trophy-winning effort featuring 4,361 passing yards, 1,001 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns. Now, he's getting deployed in head coach Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid offense on an improved Cardinals roster. The possibilities are endless.

"Count on Kyler Murray throwing a lot, running plenty—and quite possibly approaching some of the most impressive rookie quarterback stats we've seen in the past decade," Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson wrote.

Tevin Coleman is back under the guidance of Kyle Shanahan. The last time these two teamed up (on the 2016 Atlanta Falcons), Coleman tallied 941 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns.

Dante Pettis will benefit from a healthier 49ers attack (starting with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo), and Geronimo Allison could emerge as one of Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets. Both young wideouts could be headed for a breakout.

While Baltimore's passing attack is far from imposing with Lamar Jackson under center, Mark Andrews has a chance to become its only fantasy relevant pass-catcher. He's the top tight end on the roster, and he had five games with 50-plus receiving yards—three of which came after Jackson took over starting duties in Week 10.

               

2019 Fantasy Football Busts

QB: Tom Brady, New England Patriots; Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

RB: Le'Veon Bell, New York Jets; Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars

WR: Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns; Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs

TE: Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts; David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

              

Doubting the seamlessly ageless Tom Brady feels like a cardinal sin, doesn't it? If we're talking about his ability to win football games, then yes.

But in fantasy terms? Not at all. He ranked just 14th among fantasy quarterbacks last season, and that was before Rob Gronkowski's surprising retirement and the offseason departures of Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson (and perhaps the suspended Josh Gordon).

As talented as Matt Ryan is, his inconsistent track record makes it tough to justify his draft price (sixth among quarterbacks in average draft position). If he plays like last season (4,924 yards and 35 touchdowns against seven interceptions), he's worth it. If he plays like 2017 (4,095 yards with 20 scores against 12 picks), he'll be among this year's biggest busts.

Le'Veon Bell didn't play a single snap last season while holding out the entire year. Now, he's suiting up in a Jets offense that ranked 23rd in scoring and alongside sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold, who nearly had more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (17) last year. Save yourself the headache and avoid paying a first-round price on Bell.

Leonard Fournette averaged an anemic 3.30 yards per rush last season, third-worst among all players with triple-digit carries. At some point, that inefficiency will cost him precious value, quite possibly this year with the Jaguars having upgraded their passing attack by adding Nick Foles and Chris Conley (and getting a healthy Marqise Lee back).

Jarvis Landry moves down Cleveland's offensive pecking order with the arrival of Odell Beckham Jr. Sammy Watkins only eats after Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are fed first. No thanks.

Finally, godspeed to the fantasy owners hoping for a repeat season from Eric Ebron. Last year, he turned 66 receptions into 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2016, he had 61 catches for 711 yards and one score. If his receiving touchdowns are trimmed to six, it would still be the second-highest total of his career. He's way too touchdown-dependent to make him the seventh tight end selected.