Fantasy Football 2019: Analyzing Josh Allen and Top Breakout Sleeper Candidates

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 10, 2019

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen looks to throw during the first half of an NFL pre-season football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

Some of the best breakout sleeper candidates to target in fantasy football are second-year players ready to make a larger impact on their respective teams.

The AFC East is a prime destination to find under-the-radar players who could be available in the latter rounds of fantasy drafts.

If you look at the offenses of the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins specifically, you will discover some potential young stars who could make a difference over many weeks.

Other situations to monitor for sleepers include wide receivers looking to replace Antonio Brown's production in Pittsburgh and a tight end who could take the next step in Philadelphia.


Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo

David Dermer/Associated Press

Josh Allen brings a bit more to the table than other young quarterbacks because of the running ability he displayed in the second half of the 2018 campaign.

The second-year player out of Wyoming recorded over 90 rushing yards in four of his last six contests for the Buffalo Bills.

That was more 90-yard performances on the ground than Lamar Jackson had during his breakout November and December with the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, Jackson only had one triple-digit rushing game in 2018, while Allen had two.

Allen could tack on more yards on the ground in his sophomore season since his backfield consists of 31-year-old LeSean McCoy and 36-year-old Frank Gore.

Beneath the two veterans on the Bills depth chart is rookie Devin Singletary, who had a solid college career at Florida Atlantic but needs to prove himself in September before he can be any type of reliable option for the Bills and fantasy owners.

When it comes to passing numbers, Allen finished 2018 with five straight 200-yard games, which delivers plenty of promise for what he can do over the course of 16 games.

Zay Jones is Allen's top returning receiver, as he led the team with 652 receiving yards in 2018, while Cole Beasley could be a valuable asset coming off a 672-yard season with the Dallas Cowboys.

If Allen connects well with his two best receivers, the Bills could develop chemistry that allows them to win, or at least be competitive in, more games in 2019.


Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The combination of Kalen Ballage's December numbers and Miami's current running back situation makes him an intriguing sleeper option in the late rounds of fantasy drafts.

Ballage exploded for 123 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in a December 16 defeat to the Minnesota Vikings.

The Arizona State product followed that up with 57 yards on the ground versus the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo in the final two contests of 2018.

It is understandable if you want to call the Week 15 showing a fluke based off Ballage's season totals, which is why he likely will not get drafted too high in many drafts.

However, there should be some positive vibes surrounding the second-year ball-carrier based on the reviews he has earned in training camp, including one from running backs coach Eric Studesville, per ESPN's Cameron Wolfe.

"[Ballage] can find holes. He sees reads. He runs through way more contact than you think. He had three or four runs out here in camp where he broke through wrap-up tackles. He's so big and strong. But the one thing I keep encouraging him to do is utilize his size and strength. Sometimes he wants to be a smaller back, but you're 230, so go use that 230."

If Ballage continues to impress with his physicality in the trenches, he could gain more touches alongside Kenyan Drake.

There is precedent for that occurring since Drake and Gore split the majority of the carries in Miami a year ago. In 2017, Drake led the Dolphins in rushing yards, but he earned five fewer carries than Jay Ajayi.

With all those factors in mind, it is worth taking a shot on Ballage in the final few rounds, and if he is still available on the waiver wire, keep an eye on him in the first couple weeks of September.


Donte Moncrief, WR, Pittsburgh

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Pittsburgh needs to fill an Antonio Brown-sized hole in its offense in 2019, but the job will not be done by just one player.

Donte Moncrief is one of the options the Steelers have to complement JuJu Smith-Schuster on their depth chart.

The 26-year-old had 668 receiving yards on 48 catches for three touchdowns in his lone season with the Jaguars.

Those totals were close to the ones he put up in 2015 with the Indianapolis Colts, when he hauled in 64 receptions for 733 yards.

Moncrief's numbers could end up in the same vicinity in 2019 if he beats out James Washington for the No. 2 spot in the Pittsburgh receiving corps.

According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, Moncrief is the front-runner for the No. 2 position ahead of Washington at the moment.

In 2018, Ben Roethlisberger had a pair of 1,200-yard receivers at his disposal, and while Moncrief is not on Brown's level, he should at least have a chance to produce career-best numbers given how often the Pittsburgh quarterback puts the ball in the air.

In five of the last seven seasons, Roethlisberger has thrown the ball over 500 times, including each of the last three campaigns.

If Roethlisberger throws at a similar volume and Moncrief keeps his spot in the receiver hierarchy, he could be poised for a breakout season.


Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Dallas Goedert turned in a decent rookie season for Philadelphia with 33 receptions for 334 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

But the sophomore tight end is not talked about as much as he should be because Zach Ertz is above him on the depth chart.

In addition to Ertz's presence, the offseason addition of DeSean Jackson has captured the attention of many people talking about the Eagles because of the explosiveness he adds to the offense.

If you look at Goedert's game-by-game numbers, it could be hard to justify him as a top tight end option since he eclipsed 50 yards once and had a single stretch in which he found the end zone in back-to-back contests.

ESPN's Field Yates noted the combination of Ertz and Goedert as "a problem for any defense" as part of the top things he has heard from Eagles camp.

If Goedert becomes a reliable second option to Ertz down the middle, he could be a late-round steal at a position that can sometimes be tricky to figure out because of the up-and-down nature of production from some tight ends across the NFL.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.