AFC Position Battles That Affect 2019 Fantasy Football
Now that the NFL Draft is over, fantasy football minds are pointing in the direction of training camp and the summer preseason to follow. So here is an advance look at some key AFC Position Battles we will be monitoring for fantasy purposes, with early forecasts on them.
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Key AFC Position Battles for 2019
Buffalo Bills: Robert Foster, Zay Jones, Cole Beasley, and John Brown
We will have to see how this plays out in terms of what is going to be the order on the depth chart. By default, I believe the annually disappointing Zay Jones has a good chance of being pushed aside by the new acquisitions. The Bills moved to improve Josh Allen’s receiving crew, but not with top-level acquisitions, just adequate ones. Still, that is an improvement.
Prediction: Foster, an undrafted free agent, came on strong at the end of last year and could be the team’s top fantasy WR. He has real downfield playmaking ability. So does Brown, who is inconsistent but will benefit from leaving Lamar Jackson behind. Beasley is a better NFL player than fantasy player, and he and Brown will take turns out producing each other as WR4/5 types in fantasy.
Denver Broncos: Joe Flacco vs. Drew Lock
The veteran has already made it clear he believes he has a lot left, and may not appear to be a suitable mentor type for the rookie. Flacco may start initially and has a very promising receiving crew, but if the Broncos offense sputters early, the calls will get loud for Lock as expected.
Prediction: Lock is a gunslinger who could be erratic when he gets to start. But Flacco is certainly past his better days and it won’t be long before the rookie starts. He throws a great-looking deep ball and will deliver some exciting performances that will make him a viable DFS play and promising fantasy pick for 2020. He could end up being the second-best fantasy QB in this year’s class. He will win this position battle no later than Week Five.
Houston Texans: Lamar Miller vs. D’Onta Foreman
This position battle keeps getting delayed because of Foreman injuries, but published reports indicate he is sufficiently recovered from last year’s Achilles tear. Miller has been adequate for Houston, but that is just not enough to satisfy Fantasy players. They want a more dynamic runner to roster, which was supposed to be Foreman.
Prediction: If Foreman can simply stay healthy, which seems to be a challenge for him, he may truly push for serious playing time this year. If he has a strong preseason, he’ll see his fantasy stock zip upwards. I say he emerges as a flex option this year, sharing some work with Miller but showing a lot more upside. It could be a timeshare in Houston when this position battle reaches its ultimate point.
Indianapolis Colts: Devin Funchess vs. Parris Campbell
We are highlighting this one because some may believe these two will be battling for a higher spot on the depth chart, but it will not matter. Both of these guys were brought in to play different roles and will not be competing for the same types of duties. Funchess is the big target at WR that Luck lacked, and Campbell is the pure speed burner who adds another dimension to a very imposing and deep receiving crew.
Prediction: Luck can be the No. 1 QB in fantasy football as he has all types of unique options in his arsenal now for every situation. He already has a superstar WR and two standout pass-catching TEs, a pass-catching RB who should continue to improve (Nyheim Hines) and a new sizable pass-catcher and explosive rookie. But that also means lots of hands to distribute to. Funchess and Campbell will be role players. Funchess will catch more TD passes while Campbell is an occasionally explosive playmaker. Neither will be dependable or regularly startable for fantasy purposes.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Dede Westbrook, Marquise Lee, D.J. Chark and Keenan Cole
This situation is even more unpredictable than the one in Buffalo. All of these guys have unique talents and skill sets, but none has been better than mediocre so far, obviously due to the previous QB situations.
Prediction: I’m going to have to wait on making a call here, otherwise I’d just come off as throwing darts. We will simply have to wait and see who Nick Foles favors in the preseason, as this appears to be a wide open, four-man position battle.
Miami Dolphins: Kenyan Drake vs. Kalen Ballage
Drake was grossly misused by Adam Gase. It made my eyes pop like his did during his Jets press conference. Drake is versatile and can score from anywhere on the field. Ballage flashed a lot of upside briefly at the end of last year and can be more of the inside running type than Drake.
Prediction: Drake is Miami’s best offensive player, and they will have to ride with him as a runner and pass-catcher. Ballage won’t be forgotten, but will clearly be utilized less while Drake establishes himself as an RB2 in PPR formats.
New York Jets: Jamison Crowder vs, Quincy Enunwa
As in the case of the Colts WRs, this is one of the position battles that really isn’t. These two are ticketed for specific niche jobs in the Jets passing game rather than competing in an outright position battle. It may be perceived as the two are competing for a job, when it’s apparent Crowder will work out of the slot and Enunwa will be more of a possession type.
Prediction: Sam Darnold still has more growing to do, and neither WR will be startable in fantasy. Darnold has a significantly improved supporting cast, but Crowder and Enunwa will be fantasy WR4s.
Pittsburgh Steelers: James Washington vs. Donte Moncrief
The departure of Antonio Brown leaves an open starting slot at WR. Washington occasionally showed some big play abilities as a rookie, but disappeared for significant stretches. Moncrief was likely acquired because the Steelers didn’t see Washington as ready to claim a more prime role in the offense. Rookie Diontae Johnson is also in the mix.
Prediction: Moncrief will win the starting job, and he has shown TD potential in the past. He will not be explosive, but he will be pretty reliable for Ben Roethlisberger, and should be a fantasy WR3 this season.
Also, check out the Position Battles to Watch in the NFC.
Scott Engel is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame and a four-time award winner. He was one of the driving content forces in the rise of RotoExperts.com and was the lead host on the RotoExperts in the Morning for six years on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. He was also instrumental in the launch of the FNTSY Sports Network. Scott was the first-ever Senior Writer and Managing Editor at CBS SportsLine and won a company Hall of Fame Award. He was also an Associate Editor and Fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He has been the featured Fantasy Writer on Seahawks.com since 2012 and his work has been syndicated to the Associated Press, NFL.com, New York Daily News, New York Post, Yahoo Sports, Bloomberg Sports, Sports Illustrated and many others. He is a credentialed media member who won an FSWA award in 2016 for his Insider Fantasy Reporting. Known as “The King”, Scott is on Twitter @scottTheKing
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