Mike’s Ultimate Value Fantasy Football Hitsquad for 2019
This is it FootClan. You’ve done your prep, you’ve bought your Ultimate Draft Kit and now its time to select a team that can traverse through the muck and the mire of your fantasy season. You need a hit-squad.
My annual Hitman-themed article is comprised of an elite group of my favorite players per round based solely on my projections in the UDK and value that I see at their current average draft position (ADP). Last year’s article had some major hits such nabbing Melvin Gordon at the 1.09. Emmanuel Sanders & Cooper Kupp in the 7th and 8th rounds were both setting the world on fire as WR1s before devastating injuries knocked them out.
Here is my list for 2019.
Editor’s Note: Want more of Mike’s fantasy advice and takes? Make sure you check out the UltimateDraftKit for his official Breakouts, Sleepers, and Busts. These fantasy rankings are what made him one of FantasyPros’ top-20 ranked experts for 2018.
1st Round- James Conner, RB (1.11)
If you’ve listened this off-season, you know there’s been a consistent bullhorn of confidence from me behind Conner. The guy was elite last year as he saw the 4th most touches per game and averaged just over 19 fantasy points per game, only 1.5 fewer per game than Alvin Kamara. Mike Tomlin always rides his RB1 so I’m projecting a bell-cow workload in 2019. Give me Conner at the end of the first round all day.
2nd Round- Tyreek Hill, WR (2.03)
Hill is completely deserving of first-round draft status after he cemented his status as the preeminent game-breaking WR and fantasy’s WR1 last year. After the myriad of legal troubles and unknowns all off-season, his draft stock has been diminished solely because of off-the-field issues and nothing whatsoever about him as a fantasy wideout. He’s on the best offense in football with Patrick Mahomes still willing to throw. If I’m starting WR-WR in my drafts, I’ll take any combination that involves Hill as a week-winning fantasy freak sitting in my WR2 spot.
3rd Round- Devonta Freeman, RB (3.03)
I’ve been pounding the drum for Freeman all off-season and I still have him firmly ranked as an RB1. The key is the goal-line looks, something Freeman has dominated when he’s been on the field. If he returns to his pre-Sarkisian passing game totals, you’re looking at a player in a high flying offense being drafted as the RB15. The last two times he had a full 16 games season, he was the RB1 and RB6 in fantasy. The upside is still there, people!
4th Round- Julian Edelman, WR (4.04)
You probably know my love for Jules, he’s my WR12! He’s going to soak up targets with Rob Gronkowski retired and the consistency is what I want out of my WR2. Edelman never busted last year according to our consistency metrics but pieced together arguably his best season. His 16 game pace (99/1133/8 on 144 targets) would’ve been the most yards and TDs of his career. I want him on all my teams this year and still thinking he’s being under-drafted in the fourth round.
5th Round- Miles Sanders, RB (5.04)
Paragraph With 4.49 speed, Sanders has enough juice to breakaway from defenders. We brought up recently on the show he is the highest selected RB by the Eagles since LeSean McCoy. The team notorious for spreading RB snaps around has made it clear Sanders will be there guy moving forward. I’m not worried about Jordan Howard and willing to take a player with a three-down skillset as my RB2/FLEX with major upside.
6th Round- Robby Anderson, WR (6.08)
One of “my guys” for 2019 , it’s time to rock and roll with Robby A as a legitimate WR2 with upside. I have him ranked as the WR17, the highest of the Ballers because I see a path for him to become more than just a vertical threat. Over the final four games of last year, it seemed Sam Darnold found his groove targeting Anderson 10 times a game as he averaged 6 catches for 84 yards and a TD. I love filling out my roster with him as my WR2 especially if I’ve gone RB-heavy and perhaps taken a shot on Evan Engram at TE. It also helps that I briefly met him this off-season and he has the aura of unshakable intensity. Update: Anderson suffered a calf injury in practice Tuesday and is considered day-to-day.
7th Round- Curtis Samuel, WR (7.01)
While the ADP has gone through the roof and risen a good three rounds since mid-summer, Samuel is still the Panthers WR I would want to own in 2019. His Reception Perception chart according to Matt Harmon confirms this. Last season, he posted a 74.6% success rate vs. man coverage, which falls at the 94th percentile in ReceptionPerception history. He also converted 73.7% of his contested catch attempts. After missing 10 games through his first two seasons due to injury, Samuel’s health is key this season to him busting out.
8th Round- Dede Westbrook (8.01)
I can’t enough of Dede even as his price has increased a full two rounds. He’s going to lead the Jaguars in targets as Nick Foles‘ favorite option out of the slot. Over the last two seasons, Foles has targeted players lined up in the slot at the sixth-highest rate. Dede was also low-key productive on 101 targets last year and finds himself in a situation where the Jaguars have the 3rd most vacated targets in the league at over 50 %. When you take into account his a potential 3rd-year breakout, better QB play and a new pass-happy offensive coordinator in John Defilippo, Dede is an auto-click at this point.
9th Round- Matt Breida, RB (9.10)
With Jerick McKinnon effectively out of the RB picture in San Fran, I’ll go with the cheaper option in Breida. Tevin Coleman will definitely have his say but this can easily turn into a 50-50 timeshare. Breida always been electric when healthy averaging 5.0 ypc during his career. There is gold to be mined from any Kyle Shanahan backfield and I think the price is just right. Consider this one a Bob Barker special.
10th Round- Justin Jackson, RB (10.09)
People already know who Justin Jackson is as he had some major work towards the end of the season with Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler out. In Week 15 against Kansas City, he played over 75% of the snaps and put up 85 yards from scrimmage on 19 touches and a TD. Many reports have the Chargers with a close to 50% RBBC if Gordon holds out. Ekeler is getting most of the publicity as the go-to fantasy option but JJ is the guy I want to leave my draft with. I riffed on Jackson on the recent Sleeper Picks episode.
11th Round- Alexander Mattison, RB (11.12)
In the pre-draft process, the RB out of Boise State was one of my favorite prospects to watch on film. I’m high on Mattison, who I think can sneak his way into siphoning valuable touches, while being lower than the consensus on Dalvin Cook. While the timeshare might be more like 70-30, Mattison can hold his own in the passing game as he was utilized as an every-down player in college. I like him to return RB3/4 value and he’s arguably one of the best handcuffs to own in 2019.
12th Round- Michael Gallup, WR (12.01)
Gallup has turned it on in the preseason so this price might not hold up for much longer. The former 3rd rounder has been showing out and on a team with more than 20 percent of their targets vacated, there’s room for a WR2 opposite Amari Cooper. Gallup made steady progress as a rookie and after Cooper was acquired, he averaged a respectable five targets a game. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s offense will be so much different than Scott Linehan’s last year. Expect more motion, more downfield throws, and more bunch formations. With Zeke’s absence a complete unknown and news of Cooper’s problems with plantar fascia, Gallup has room to far exceed his draft cost.
13th Round- Kirk Cousins, QB (13.02)
I’ve always been a Captain Kirk guy and my Hit-Squad needed a late-round QB to champion this season. This guy is getting disrespected after finishing as the QB8, 5, 6, and 13 the last four seasons. He’s currently being drafted as the QB19 as many are predicting a run-heavy approach with Vikings in 2019. Over these last four years, he’s never thrown for less than 4,000 yards while averaging 28 passing TDs and a sneaky 3.5 rushing TDs per year. His first three matchups of the year are juicy as well against ATL, GB, and OAK, all three ranked bottom-5 in pass DVOA in 2018.
14th Round- Ty Montgomery, RB (ADP)
Stashing as many RBs on your roster isn’t just a good strategy, it’s become a way of life for me as a fantasy player. I want as many shots at a backfield and because I’m lower on Le’Veon Bell than most this season, I believe there is some value to be had with Ty Montgomery. Adam Gase prefers to use multiple backs and Montgomery can do it all especially generate some consistent PPR production. He’s the clear No. 2 and knows how to pass protect, something desperately needed with a star QB in the making with Sam Darnold. If TMonty ends up with 50+ targets and 600+ scrimmage yards, he massively paid off his last round draft cost.