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Fantasy Football 2019: Ranking Sleepers, Busts and Safest Players This Year

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2019

Philadelphia Eagles' Miles Sanders warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Michael Perez/Associated Press

Every fantasy football enthusiast wants to have the perfect draft. With a sport as unpredictable as NFL football, however, assembling the perfect team is virtually impossible.

Sure, it would be great to land a top-five fantasy talent with every single pick, but that just isn't a realistic goal. Instead, you should focus on maximizing your value with each selection, taking a few fliers along the way and avoiding busts.

Using a high pick on an average player stinks. Using a high pick on a player you send to the waiver wire by Week 6 is even worse.

Here, we'll rank the top 10 sleepers, potential busts and sure things for the 2019 fantasy season. These are essentially the guys you should take a chance on, be wary of or draft without hesitation in the early rounds.

*Average draft positions (ADP) via Yahoo Fantasy.

    

Top 10 2019 Sleepers

1. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (101.3 ADP)

2. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (106.8)

3. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens (117.1)

4. Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (123.7)

5. Tyrell Williams, WR, Oakland Raiders (126.8)

6. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions (126.8)

7. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (131.7)

8. Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers (125.9)

9. Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami Dolphins (123.8)

10. Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys (122.0)

    

Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers

Ed Zurga/Associated Press

The hype train surrounding guys like Miles Sanders, Lamar Jackson and Austin Ekeler is starting to gain steam—to the point that several managers in your draft room are likely to target them as their sleepers.

If you're looking for a deeper sleeper to lean on, consider Green Bay Packers wideout Geronimo Allison.

Green Bay has an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. This adds to Allison's value immediately. The Packers also don't have a clear-cut No. 2 receiver behind Davante Adams, so there's an opportunity ahead of Allison too. And it's not like Rodgers and Allison don't have pre-existing chemistry.

Allison was limited to just five games in 2018 because of injury. He started the first four games, and in those games, racked up 19 receptions, 289 yards and two touchdowns. Prorated over a full 16-game season, Allison was on pace for a 76-catch, 1,156-yard, eight-touchdown campaign.

Heading into 2019, Allison is determined to be even better.

"I actually just have a fire kind of brewing in me," he said, via the team's official website.

We have yet to see Rodgers operate in new head coach Matt LaFleur's offense, but when he does, Allison is likely to be a large part of it.

   

Top 10 Potential Busts

1. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (23.4 ADP)

2. Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (26.2)

3. Jordan Howard, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (91.1)

4. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams (64.7)

5. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (50.6)

6. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos (54.3)

7. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (75.9)

8. James White, RB, New England Patriots (81.2)

9. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals (85.7

10. Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans (95.7)

    

Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

It's no secret that Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is a potential fantasy bust—you know, because he still hasn't reported to the team. The same could be said for Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, though Dallas' latest reported offer makes it feel more likely that Elliott will eventually show up:

Ed Werder @WerderEdESPN

Sources: The most recent offer in negotiations between holdout Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys came from the team. Elliott has been offered a contract making him one of the NFL’s 2 highest-paid RB. That would suggest team offering more than LeVeon Bell and less than Todd Gurley.

Looking past Gordon and Elliott, Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams is one of the biggest fantasy question marks at the position.

Early in the offseason, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy mentioned that Williams would be the starting running back. This led to Williams' fantasy value skyrocketing, and it remains high. It's worth noting, though, that being the starter doesn't mean Williams will be an every-down back.

On the contrary, head coach Andy Reid hinted at the Chiefs utilizing a committee approach in the backfield this season.

"I did a little bit of that when I was in Philadelphia, a kind of running-back-by-committee deal and we had some success with it," Reid told SiriusXM NFL Radio. "We'll do that here."

This means that players like Darrel Williams and promising rookie speedster Darwin Thompson are likely to see a lot of the workload. This doesn't mean that Damien Williams won't have fantasy value, but if you're looking for a weekly RB2 at the top of Round 3, there are safer options.

Based on ADP, you're likely to find guys like Todd Gurley, Marlon Mack and Aaron Jones on the board alongside Williams.

    

Top 10 "Safe" Fantasy Picks

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (3.6 ADP)

2. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans (7.0)

3. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (1.3)

4. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (9.4)

5. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (12.1)

6. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (2.6)

7. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns (11.1)

8. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (13.8)

9. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (16.7)

10. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (15.2)

     

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

There are few fantasy options as reliable as Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. This is because Hopkins is essentially a quarterback-proof player. Even if franchise signal-caller Deshaun Watson misses some time, Hopkins will still be a high-end fantasy receiver.

Just consider that Hopkins' worst season since his rookie year came in 2016, when the Texans trotted out the likes of Brandon Weeden and Tom Savage at quarterback. He still nabbed 78 receptions for 954 yards and four touchdowns. While Watson only appeared in seven games in 2017, Hopkins still racked up 1,378 yards and 13 scores.

When Watson is healthy? Hopkins is completely dominant, as he showed while amassing 115 receptions and 1,572 yards last season. Those are terrific numbers, but Hopkins is looking to be even better going into 2019.

"I just want to go out and be perfect," Hopkins said, per Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle.

Hopkins' fantasy ceiling is as high as that of any player in the league. Even in less-than-ideal circumstances, though, he'll be an asset for your fantasy team.