Whole Nine Sports

Top 25 Fantasy Football Players

Top Fantasy Football Players

Fantasy football season is almost upon us. Fantasy football is a numbers game so, in order to win your draft, let’s dive into the top 25 players on the board. To make this list, Whole Nine Sports has done extensive logical and statistical research on each player. Don’t read too much into the stats though. As Ben McAdoo once said, “Stats are for losers.” With that said, here are the top 25 fantasy players of 2019.

Saquon Barkley

1. RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Logically, the Giants offense will run through him. With no more Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon will be the guy, whether it’s Jones or Eli under center. Another thing is that this is Saquon’s backfield. Wayne Gallman is not taking carries from him. He’s the best option on the goaline, as the Giants figured out last year with the failed Jonathan Stewart experiment. While all this makes sense, he had over 90 receptions last year, 10+ touchdowns, and over 2,000 yards. This is a no doubter. Take Saquon at one.

Ezekiel Elliott

2. RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Zeke and Dak always get lumped together. When Zeke plays well, Dak plays well, with the result of the Cowboys usually winning. In 2018 Dallas was 6-1 when Zeke rushed for over 100 yards and a mere 3-5 when Zeke was under 100. The formula is clear, feed Zeke and they’ll win. This is another situation where the backfield is not spilt. He had more yards than Saquon and an impressive 75+ receptions. He only had 6 touchdowns in 2018, which shows that Dallas may want to throw for touchdowns rather than hand it off. Either way, you can’t go wrong with Zeke.

Alvin Kamara

3. RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

“The Saints got robbed” is a storyline we were all sick of and it will not go away for the 2019 season (not so bold prediction). Maybe they’ll be back with a vengeance. Who cares? Alvin Kamara put up better numbers in 2018 than he did in 2017 with more yards, more touchdowns, and a consistent 81 receptions. A theme here was a shared backfield. With no Mark Ingram in NOLA, there will be more Alvin Kamara. In the 2019 season he will produce a 1,000+ yard rushing season, I guarantee it. (If he stays healthy)

Christian McCaffrey

4. RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

This is the same story, different player. He had over 1,000 yards rushing and over 100 receptions in 2018. Also, he is the primary running back and the most consistent receiver in the offense. If you’re in a full PPR format league, McCaffrey may jump up to number 3 on your list. But with the Panthers expectations not too high, the offense could struggle to score points. McCaffrey had a combined 11 touchdowns in 2018 and there’s no reason to expect any worse than that.

Deandre Hopkins

5. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

Hopkins is the first wide receiver to make the list, (thanks for helping me win that fantasy championship along with Saquon) he is arguably the best in the NFL. DeShaun Watson loves throwing to him and he catches damn near everything. With 115 receptions in 2018 to go with 11 touchdowns and over 1,500 yards, the guy is a machine. With Lamar Miller leading that backfield, expect Watson to air it out and expect Hopkins to keep doing what he’s been doing his whole career.

Melvin Gordon

6. RB Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers

This is where things start to get dicey. Austin Ekeler was looking like a great change-up to Gordon and people may worry he’ll take some of his carries away in 2019. While injuries can be a concern, he had a combined 14 touchdowns and 50 receptions in only 12 games in 2018. He is going to turn age 26 in this season as well. This puts him in the category where he isn’t a spring chicken but, absolutely not old. This may not be a “sexy” pick but, Gordon gets the job done.

Davante Adams

7. WR Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

2018 was his first season with 100 receptions and 1,000 yards. He clearly is the favorite of Aaron Rodgers which shows you just how good he is. Not to mention, the 13 receiving touchdowns. The Packers are always a pass first team and he’s the clear #1. Full disclosure, I don’t think Matt LeFleur, having been the Offensive Coordinator of the lowly Titans offense last year, will make the Packers any better. But, in fantasy, you need the Packers to be chasing wins late and throwing the ball. This means the ball will go Davante’s way consistently throughout the season.

Todd Gurley

8. RB Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

If I told you that you can get Todd Gurley with the 8th pick, you may jump for joy. Last year, we all saw the knee injury that limited him to 10 carries for 35 yards in the Super Bowl. Should you be worried? A little. He had 17 touchdowns in 2018 and will most likely still get the goal line carries. Gurley should have another 1,000+ yard season but, with the new addition of playmaker rookie Darrell Henderson don’t be surprised to see Gurley’s usage go down. He is still a great player, just not the best of the best anymore.

Julio Jones

9. WR Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

It’s amazing that he’s only had one season of double digit touchdowns. With 8 in 2018, expect around the same number this season. Luckily, yards also matter in fantasy. He had over 1,600 yards and over 110 receptions last year. No matter how good or bad Atlanta is, playing in a dome at least 8 games a year favors offense and passing. Jones’s consistency alone should be enough reason to take him. Sure the Falcons have other weapons, but they should help open up the defense for more big plays from Julio.

Michael Thomas

10. WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

If you’re in a PPR league, he may even be ranked higher than Julio. An astounding 125 receptions in 2018 solidified him as a bonafide star in the Big Easy. For years it was hard to pick Saints receivers due to the uncertainty but, now with Thomas, he crushes that mold. Over 1,400 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2018, Thomas will continue to be a Brees favorite. Back to the Saints got robbed thing, don’t be surprised if Sean Payton runs up the score on people and throws when the game is over. Thomas will featured in those scenarios heavily as a nice icing on the cake.

Le'Veon Bell

11. RB Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets

It doesn’t matter if he got fat, got ripped, or got milk, it’s going to take a little time to get back into the swing of things. What will help is: he has a young quarterback in Sam Darnold who will benefit greatly from a running game, the fact that the Jets are paying him so much shows that the front office will want him to get touches, and (to beat a dead horse) no one is really taking snaps from him. He also adds value as a great pass catcher. There will be some buyer beware, but at this point, he’s the biggest name on the board.

James Conner

12. RB James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell’s replacement in Pittsburgh made a lot of people very happy on the waiver wire in 2018. Just under 1,000 yards in 2018, with 55 receptions and 12 touchdowns is a very good season. Especially when you consider he didn’t even play all 16 games. With him having the keys to the backfield, expect even more touches. It would be a very Mike Tomlin thing to try and prove a point that they don’t need Bell so, Conner will get a huge workload.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

13. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

Staying in Pittsburgh, JuJu is now the Steelers #1 wideout. Think about it, for years, even before JuJu, Antonio Brown was the top guy and teams still didn’t stop him. We know every year the Steelers are good, will be in a  fight for the playoffs, and screw you in your survivor pool when they lose a weird game they definitely should have won. It’s not the triple B’s in the Steel City but, it’s still Big Ben slinging the ball. JuJu had 7 touchdowns with over 1,400 yards in 2018. While that’s going to be tough to duplicate, there’s no reason he can’t do it.

Odell Beckham Jr.

14. WR Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

Yes, Cleveland had a surprisingly good year, considering they are the Browns. Yes, the Browns are fun and can be good, but will they? Fact of the matter is, the Giants had bad records for basically every year with OBJ. However, he was still a consistent producer in the world of fantasy football. In what some people say was a lost season for him in 2018, he still had over 1,000 yards, 77 receptions, and 6 touchdowns in 12 games. The Browns offense should be spread out between him, running back Nick Chubb, his old buddy Jarvis Landry, and tight end David Njoku. Beckham’s big play ability stands out over all of them. He’s always produced big numbers in fantasy, year after year. The injury concern plays a factor and he’s a pulled hamstring or calf waiting to happen but, don’t overthink it. This is a new year with  a new team, but still expect production.

Zach Ertz

15. TE Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

He’s Carson Wentz’s favorite target, he had over 115 receptions, over 1,100 yards, and 8 touchdowns in 2018. Ertz the third down guy, the check down guy, and the #1 option all in one. He’s better than most receivers, fantasy-wise, and if Wentz plays all 16 games, those numbers are only going to get better. Ertz is the best tight end in fantasy football.

Travis Kelce

16. TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

He’s Patrick Mahomes’ favorite target. He had more yards and touchdowns than Ertz in 2018, but I don’t see that happening in 2019. With Tyreek Hill’s future uncertain, defenses can pay more attention to Kelce. Mahomes’ monster year was one for the record books and probably won’t be duplicated. That means a slight dip in production for the team all around. That said, Kelce plays every week, he’s a focal point in the offense, and will still be a top fantasy player.

Mike Evans

17. WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A common theme on this list is the players above are, for the most part, on teams that are good and will score points. The more points and yards the team puts up, the more opportunities the fantasy stars have. It’s simple math and it’s what makes Evans interesting. He’s always been on a lackluster team but, puts up numbers. He had over 1,500 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2018. Where his value is a little diminished is only the 84 receptions. That said, Bruce Arians is an offensive wizard who should make quarterback Jameis Winston play better. If Winston plays better, Evans gets more targets, hopefully in the red zone, and Mike Evans owners everywhere are happy. He’s only missed 3 games in 5 years so you can count on him to be out there every week.

Joe Mixon

18. RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Who knows what the Bengals are gonna be? They can go 9-7 and that won’t be a huge shock. They can also go 3-13 and most people would not bat an eye. What helps you fantasy-wise is Joe Mixon being the number one back. We’re getting into split backfields here but, Giovanni Bernard is just is not as good as Mixon and shouldn’t vulture too many carries away from him. Mixon had 8 touchdowns and over 1,400 yards in 14 games last season. That’s great value for the middle to end of the second round. New Coach Zac Taylor was the Rams quarterbacks coach last season, as well. His eyes saw that Goff, while limited, is very good when the run was established. Expect to see Taylor trying to feed Mixon to get Andy Dalton going.

AJ Green

19. WR AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals

If name recognition is your thing, take A.J. Green. Again, who knows with the Bengals, but if they win, you know Green is going to be involved. If they’re a dumpster fire, Green will for sure pick up garbage time points. Injuries plagued his 2018 season but, this man and his quarterback have chemistry. He just produces year in and year out. The concern, as stated before, is if the Bengals are able to score a lot making which would make Green their top guy. Green though, will produce no matter what Cincy’s record is.

David Johnson

20. RB David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

2018 was a lost year. The Cardinals had the worst offense, a bad offensive line, and a defensive coach who couldn’t get the offense going. And whether you like him or not, Josh Rosen was a failure in the desert. I’m also in the camp that Kliff Kingsbury will not be a good NFL coach. That said, new quarterback Kyler Murray will be an upgrade and his mobility will help DJ. He’ll return to his great pass catching ways, even if some are in check down form. Between his great 2016 season and his bad 2018 season, he only carried the ball 35 less times. Clearly, Arizona thinks if they’re going to win or score, the ball should be in his hands. He’ll shine early but, because of my doubt in Kingsbury, I would ride the first half wave with him, then maybe try to trade him. He will have a good year, he’ll be “back”, just don’t expect the full 2016 version.

Antonio Brown

21. WR Mr. Big Chest, Oakland Raiders

You can’t trust the Raiders. Derek Carr has never been the same since his injury a few years ago. Jon Gruden looked completely overmatched in his first year back in the NFL. The fact is though, Antonio Brown caught a career high 15 touchdowns last season, was 3 yards away from 1,300, and had over 100 receptions. That Steelers team was a little dysfunctional so, the dysfunction of the Raiders should not stop his on-field production. Are they going to be good enough to have Antonio Brown as your WR1? Maybe. Maybe not. His talents though should supersede the Raider offense, if it is indeed poor.

Nick Chubb

22. RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

In his rookie season, with Hue Jackson as his coach for some of it, and being the back behind Carlos Hyde for a while, Chubb was just four yards under 1,000 for the season. He also had 8 touchdowns to go with it. Imagine a full year with stable coaching. Chubb is going to be a breakout star.

Adam Thielen

23. WR Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

In 2017 he had over 1,200 yards. Then in 2018 he had over 1,300. This is not to say in 2019 he will have over 1,400 but, the fact is, he is very good, even with shaky quarterback play. He had over 110 reception in 2018 as well as 9 touchdowns. Even though Stefon Diggs is his counterpart, a good fantasy player himself, Thielen is still good for almost every game. There may only be one or two games where he’s silent, just hope those don’t come in fantasy playoffs.

Keenan Allen

24. WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

2015 and 2016 were injury-plagued seasons for Allen. That made a lot of people hesitant to take him in 2017. He played every game. Some people thought that was a fluke and didn’t take him in 2018. He played every game. While in 2017 he had more yards and receptions, in 2018 he had over 1,100 yards, 97 receptions, and 6 touchdowns. With Rivers still playing, and playing well, he likes to have a security blanket. It’s not 2008, so it’s not Antonio Gates. It’s Keenan Allen. Expect Allen to remain consistent, which is very good quality to have.

T.Y. Hilton

25. WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts

This is the forgotten one. I picked him up off waivers last year. In which, he helped me win my fantasy championship. (Did I mention that I won?) Some people are still scared to pick him because in 2017 he didn’t have Luck throwing him the ball. In 2018, he had Luck throwing him the ball and returned to form. This resulted in him having over 1,200 yards, over 75 receptions, and 6 touchdowns. He’s a big play receiver. He may not be a 100 catch guy that can help you the most in PPR formats. But, keep in mind that those numbers from 2018 were in only 14 games. Last year he flew under the radar. This year, you may be able to get this top 25 player a lot later than you should. T.Y. is the real deal.