Fantasy Football 2019: Breakout Candidates for Best Ball Season
Fantasy Football does not stop. It is easy to say that the players on this list can be considered “early” breakout candidates, but drafts are happening NOW. That’s right, there are Best Ball drafts taking place as I write this piece. Before we talk about 2019 breakout candidates, let’s talk about the Best Ball format.
Best Ball drafts include rookies. If there is a rookie that stands out and you believe he will find himself in a situation where he produces, he will 100% have value in a Best Ball draft. I was able to draft Saquon Barkley in the second round in March of last year which resulted in me winning some cold hard cash.
Of course, in a Best Ball format you can draft players without having to set your lineups so not having ALL of the information on these players is not as pressing. Right now Nick Chubb is slipping into the back half of the second round in Best Ball formats since the Browns have signed Kareem Hunt. We still don’t know how long Hunt will be suspended for. It is not out of question that he could miss the entire 2019 campaign, giving you an RB1 for cheap.
If Hunt plays 10 games in 2019 he will help any Best Ball roster he is on. Again, in Best Ball there is no setting line ups. Just draft…and draft well.
So, now that we have established VALUE, let’s apply what we have learned. Let’s dive into some 2019 breakout candidates for Best Ball season.
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Breakout Candidates for Best Ball Season
NOTE: The following players can be drafted on all formats in later rounds.
Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens
Edwards did not see the field at all until Week 6 in 2018. He was not relevant until Week 11 when he eclipsed 60 percent of snaps for the first time. It was at that point that he began to dominate. Edwards had 654 yards in those final seven games. On the season he ran at a 5.2 yard per carry clip.
Now, there are a lot of questions with Edwards at this point. First of all, he is an undrafted running back on a team that has an inconsistent quarterback. Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon, Buck Allen, and Ty Montgomery are still on the roster which makes the pecking order murky.
I believe that as long as Lamar Jackson is the quarterback of the Ravens, Gus Edwards has a role on this team. He was considered the starter for six of the mentioned seven games which pushed Allen and Collins to the bottom of the pecking order once Dixon returned from injury. Dixon and Edwards will both get considerable work in 2019 and both will have value with the run-first Ravens. However, Dixon has yet to put together a full 16-game campaign in three years.
What I love about Edwards is his size and running style. The 6’1″, 229-pound Edwards is a bruiser. His Speed Score, which measures weight in relation to a player’s 40-yard dash, is in the 78th percentile of NFL players. Knowing this, one would think Edwards made a living in the red zone.
Nay. In seven games Edwards only had two touchdowns. This is both in part to the inefficiencies of the young Ravens offense, and because of Jackson’s four touchdowns within the 10-yard line. The lack of touchdowns actually gives me confidence in Edwards. He was the RB14 in .5 PPR formats in those seven games. If the touchdowns go up, he could be a very nice addition to Fantasy rosters late in drafts.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
Westbrook was arguably the best wide receiver in the 2016 draft class. Injuries dropped him to the fourth round where the Jaguars drafted him. He went on to play seven games and was mildy productive.
Going into 2017, the Jaguars added Donte Moncrief on a one-year deal, drafted D.J. Chark out of LSU in the second round, and wanted to get Keelan Cole, who ended 2016 on a high note, more reps. Westbrook’s Fantasy outlook was murky. After all, even if he was the No.1 option his reward was catching passes from Blake Bortles…
In Week 1 Westbrook saw only 49 percent of the Jaguars offensive snaps, beat out by Cole (75) and Moncrief (68). However, by season’s end, Westbrook was out-snapping Cole and Moncrief most weeks and was the most targeted Jags wideout on the year with 101.
With Cole phased out and Moncrief on his way out of Jacksonville, Westbrook should undoubtedly be the WR1 in Jacksonville. He finished 2017 with 66 receptions for 717 yards and five touchdowns. He was the WR31 overall in Fantasy Football. Marqise lee, who missed all of 2018 with a knee injury, is still under contract and should be in the mix with Westbrook. The two can be a potent duo if the team can land a competent quarterback. But, Lee has never commanded a heavy target share and won’t limit Westbrook’s ceiling.
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Westbrook is not being drafted at all at this point in time. You can grab him late in Best Ball drafts with little risk. Once the Jaguars figure out who will be throwing the ball in 2019, his draft stock will rise. Get him while the iron is hot!
Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins
Things are already looking up for Ballage for 2019. Adam Gase is no longer the Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins. We at least know that he will not be held back by a pass-first offense that underutilizes talent. Us Ballage truthers need one more thing to happen. If Frank Gore retires, you can chalk up a great year for Ballage.
Even if Gore does not retire, I see an increased workload for the second-year player out of Arizona State. He is without a doubt the most talented all-purpose back on this Dolphins team. He is 6’2, 228-pounds and has breakaway speed with great hands. What is not to like?
Now, you must be telling yourself, “Yeah, but there is not a clear path to touches with Gore and Kenyon Drake still around.” Well, you are correct to think this. But, might I retort with two words: Brian Flores.
Flores is replacing Gase and coming off of 15 illustrious seasons with the New England Patriots where he won four Super Bowls in various roles. In 2018, he called defensive plays for the Patriots and earned himself his first Head Coaching gig. All Flores knows is a run-by-committee approach based off what the Patriots have done for the majority of the last decade and a half. So, it is likely that all three backs, if healthy, will have a role on this team. That is not necessarily a bad thing for Ballage since the offense will better suit him now with a run-first/defensive approach.
Even if Gore and Drake get work (which they will if healthy) drafting Ballage, who undoubtedly possess the most upside of the three, is not a risk in the 13th or 14th round in Best Ball drafts. In Week 15 Ballage broke a 75-yard touchdown run, flashing his speed. It is plays like that one, that make him appealing for a format where you do not have to worry about him crapping your team in a given week.
DaeSean Hamilton, Denver Broncos
Hamilton was drafted in the fourth round by the Broncos in 2018. They had just snagged Courtland Sutton in the second round, whom many thought was worthy of a first-round pick. Two great picks from John Elway… if he could draft quarterbacks like he drafts receivers, the Broncos would be in decent shape.
Hamilton needed a lot to break right to get playing time in 2018 – and it did. Broncos legend Demaryius Thomas was traded to the Texans in Week 7 and Emmanuel Sanders tore his Achilles in Week 13. The Broncos would have to rely on two rookie pass-catchers for the rest of the season.
Sutton is the favorite to lead this team and is being drafted in the 11th round on average right now. That will move up as the season gets closer. Hamilton is usually not drafted at this point and can be snagged for cheap at the end of Best Ball drafts.
Yet, look at these numbers. In the four games that Sutton and Hamilton started their production looked like this:
Now, Hamilton was more conducive for the dink and dunk approach of Case Keenum, and the Broncos have added Joe Flacco. But, Flacco has had success before with intermediate route-runners like Anquon Bolden and Steve Smith later in their careers. Take the discount on Hamilton who will have a clear path to targets on this Broncos squad. When everyone pays up for Sutton, wait for Hamilton in Best Ball drafts and grab him late.
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