Fantasy Football Stock Watch

Who's Rising, Falling and Why

 Below, find all the news and moves that truly impact the fantasy football value needle, with no stone left unturned. We ground each breakdown in our Fantasy Stock Formula, analyzing which factor(s) have seen a change (Talent, Opportunity, Surrounding Talent, Coaching Scheme, Risk, and Upside) to identify Risers, Fallers, Penny Stocks, and Value Holes. All caught up? Return to the homepage.

Maurice Harris and Bruce Ellington Could Slide into Prominent Roles in Patriots Juggernaut
Between the departures of Chris Hogan and Cordarelle Patterson and the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots are one of the league's premium value hole spots for receivers and tight ends. They were unable to add any major names through free agency, but did lock up Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris to 1-year deals worth less than $1 million each. Neither are locks for big years or even necessarily locks to make the roster, but one or both could develop into decent penny stocks in what is always a strong offensive attack in New England.  We'll start with Maurice Harris, who undoubtedly has the higher floor of the two. Harris signed with Washington as an undrafted free agent in 2016 and played in 28 games over 3 seasons. After catching just 12 passes in 16 games over his first 2 seasons, he set career-highs in 2018 in games played (12), targets (47), receptions (28), and receiving yards (304). He has just 1 TD in his career thus far, but it was one of the more impressive catches you'll ever see from back in 2017. At 6'3", 200 pounds, Harris is the biggest body in New England's receiving corps and his great hands make him a potential favorite target for Tom Brady, although his lack of explosiveness and consistency will limit his fantasy ceiling. Bruce Ellington looks the part of a Pats wideout a bit more than Harris at 5'9", 200 pounds, but injuries have limited him over the last few years. The former football and basketball standout from the University of South Carolina was drafted in the 4th round by the 49ers in 2014 and caught just 19 passes for them in 2 seasons before missing all of 2016 with a torn hamstring. His recovery for this injury actually included having his Semitendinosus, a major muscle that makes up his hamstring, removed surgically. He's played in 18 games over the last 2 years with Houston and Detroit but has continued to struggle to stay on the field. Ellington is definitely the riskier option of the two, but the Patriots have done far more with far less, and Ellington could very well be a major factor as a shifty slot option in 2019.
D’Onta Foreman Shows Elusiveness in Recent Workout Video, Set to Challenge Lamar Miller
It's the NFL offseason, meaning it's post-workout-videos-on-IG SZN. But for Texans running back D'Onta Foreman, who's recovering from an Achilles injury that ended his rookie season and 99.9 percent of 2018, we don't hate that his trainer gave us a glimpse of his intense workout regimen. Rischad Whitfield, aka 'Footwork_King' on Twitter is known as one of the best trainers in all of football, working with the likes of Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson. Whitfield had Foreman running through a crazy change of direction workout that showed he's well on his way to a 2019 explosion. In the clip, it looks like the Achilles is back to 100 percent and the big back might have even gained some quickness and explosiveness to his game. With only the plodding Lamar Miller in his way, Foreman has a chance to ignite the Texans running game and win the starting gig.  When Bill O'Brien was asked about Foreman's speed and elusiveness returning, he felt optimistic: “I definitely do. Even when he came back, his ability to cut, his ability to change direction, his speed, I think he does a good job catching balls out of the backfield, all of that was there." Before going down in Week 11 of 2017, Foreman was off to his best professional day and en route to stealing this gig, taking 10 carries for 65 yards and 2 scores, in addition to another 3 catches for 15 yards. If Foreman can return to full health without any setbacks during camp, he will continue to climb up our Big Board, where we have him ranked as RB43, +5 vs the ECR.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins Drips in Potential Fantasy Penny Stock Upside With Patriots
It's not the flashiest signing from free agency, yet the Patriots were able to once again play chess and snag a starting-caliber tight end for a 1-year minimum deal with only $50k-$90k in bonuses. With Rob Gronkowski announcing his retirement, Austin Seferian-Jenkins immediately steps into the starting tight end role in the Patriots explosive offense. Although the Patriots will likely target a tight end with one of their first three picks in the draft, ASJ should be the Week 1 starter and Tom Brady's No. 1 target at that position. Seferian-Jenkins isn't a sure thing from both a health and consistency perspective, but he has the athleticism and pass-catching skills to make fantasy noise in this offense.  Standing at 6-foot-5, 262 lbs, ASJ fits the big-bodied Patriots tight end mold. Although he has the body-type and the skill-set, his injury history makes this reek of a typical high-upside, low-floor Patriots free agency signing. Since entering the league in 2014, ASJ has only played double-digit games in one season (13 in 2017) and has only played in nine or more games in two of those seasons. He showed what he could do when he was healthy in 2017, setting career-highs in receptions (50) and yards (357) -- meaning he really only needs to stay healthy to make a fantasy impact. It also doesn't hurt that the Patriots' mass-exodus of pass-catchers frees up an obscene 224 targets (counting Josh Gordon). Seferian-Jenkins never played with a quarterback in the same stratosphere as Tom Brady, outside of Blake Bortles for five games last year, meaning the sky is the limit for the former second round pick. Keep your eye on our 2019 Big Board, as ASJ is set to make his debut on our next update.
David Johnson Expects to Get The Ball More, Should Return to Fantasy Greatness Under Kingsbury
The 2018 Cardinals offense was abysmal under offensive Mike McCoy, so abysmal that they had to axe him mid-season and roll with Byron Leftwich as their play-caller. The blend of horrific play-calling, a rookie quarterback thrown into the fire too soon and a shitty offensive line led to a tumultuous fantasy season for David Johnson. Although DJ finished as the RB11, it was more so based on his ability to make something out of nothing -- which should change under the one of the more creative offensive minds, Kliff Kingsbury. As Washington State QCC Drew Hollingshead told us, Kingsbury will not only utilize Johnson's strength, speed and vision in the run game, but he’ll also find creative ways to deploy his elite receiving skill-set in the pass game to resurrect his fantasy career. One of the more interesting (and maddening) tidbits about last season is that the Cards rushed DJ up the middle and into the heart of the opposing defense a whopping 156 times. For a little perspective, Ezekiel Elliott had the second most carries up the middle with only 89. Even with how brainless McCoy proved to be, Johnson was still a fantasy factor at times throughout the 2018 season. With McCoy gone, Kingsbury calling the shots and the addition of Broncos' OL coach Sean Kugler, the run game should be much more effective in 2019. As noted, Kingsbury will find ways to get DJ to the perimeter in the run game and also find creative mismatches in the pass game. There will be no more "three-yards and a cloud of dust" in Arizona, which makes Johnson a no-brainer bounce-back candidate for 2019. David Johnson is currently our RB10 and it shouldn't surprise anyone if he gets a bump up our Big Board as the season nears.
Saquon Barkley Falls From No.1 Fantasy Spot on the Now-Atrocious Giants
Saquon Barkley's "Individual Talent" is undeniable. His "Usage" is near-perfect under bellcow breeder Pat Shurmur. This beautiful marriage led to our prediction of Barkley in our "Top-Five Overall," above David Johnson, to be a homerun. But, as our Fantasy Stock Formula illustrates, fantasy success is dependent on more than just ability and opportunity. Todd Gurley proved just as much in his busty sophomore campaign, as did David Johnson's awful 2018. Now, with Odell Beckham shipped to the Browns, Barkley's "Surrounding Talent" score takes a massive enough hit to drop him from his No.1 overall pedestal.  Though most sites rank Barkley No.1 overall, and expect him to improve as the Giants' now-unquestioned offensive focal point, we feel the opposite will occur. He's now also the unquestioned focus of defenders, which hurt him more than you'd expect in 2018. In the four games without Beckham's lid-lifting presence, Barkley averaged nearly 4 FPs less per game (half-PPR), largely due to slashed receiving totals despite seeing similar targets (7.5 per game). With defenses keying in on him and less room to roam, Barkley's receptions dropped from 6.17 to 4.25, while his yardage fell from ~50 to under 30. Sure, he did experience a slight uptick in the run game (1412 rush yard pace instead of 1272), but the receiving downturn has to be noted. Moreover, the offense as a whole projects as one of the worst in the league. Nothing is worse than watching your RB constantly sidelined as his team goes three-and-out, over and over. Or run into fully loaded boxes on every carry. Or receive minimal TD chances. All these risks are very real on this awful Giants team. Thus, Barkley's "Surrounding Talent" score -- previously a paltry 11 points -- falls to an even-worse 8. The line is still pathetic, and Golden Tate's presence isn't nearly enough to take away the pressure Beckham once did. Despite near-perfect scores everywhere else, this is enough to remove Barkley from his previous throne atop my Big Board. Though Barkley's still a no-brainer in the Top-Five overall, I'd prefer Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara, who all grade only slightly less in Talent and Usage, but come with far less overall offensive warts.
Mike Davis’ Fantasy Upside Skyrockets with Jordan Howard Traded
We raved about Mike Davis' "Penny Stock" fantasy sleeper upside even before Jordan Howard was moved. Now that Howard's an Eagle? Davis is exploding up my Big Board. Even as an abysmal fit in Matt Nagy's scheme, Howard finished as 2018's half-ppr RB20, largely on the back of 9 TDs within this ascending offense. At a thick and stocky 217 lbs, Davis and his no-nonsense, downhill style should inherit this GL role, similarly offering 10+ TD upside. Yet, Davis is far more versatile as a pass-catcher and a better fit for Nagy's inside-zone game, giving him the upside to easily surpass Howard's fantasy totals. Though the Bears could always add a draft-day wrench, they have far greater needs and minimal capital to work with. Expect to Davis to offer very real RB2 upside at a Penny Stock price. Howard struggles as a receiver and, surprisingly, between the guards as a runner. Both of these are absolutely essential to Nagy's scheme, so Howard's 2018 finish as a usable RB2 is surprising. Conversely, Davis excels in both areas. He hauled in 34 passes on the ninth best reception rate (81%) in the NFL. Meanwhile, he averaged over 1.1 YPC more between the guards than Howard. Davis will make this offense far less predictable and more difficult to defend, giving him Kareem Hunt-lite upside. For far more on his fit, upside, and Nagy's take on Davis, click here.
Golden Tate Fractures 2019 Fantasy Outlook by Choosing Dreadful Giants
Note: This Stock Watch comes from a COMPLETELY unbiased point of view and not one from a butt-hurt Patriots fan who was not pleased when he found out Golden Tate took a 4-year, $37.5 million deal over signing with the receiver-needy Patriots.  Now that we have that out of the way, the Giants made a very peculiar decision when they signed the 30-year old stud slot receiver to a 4-year deal after dealing away Odell Beckham Jr. They currently have a slot receiver in Sterling Shepard, who lined up in the slot 55 percent of the time in 2018 and although it looks like they'll likely kick Shepard outside and let Tate (70 percent slot snaps in 2018) run the slot, it seemed like one of the worst signings in free agency. From the looks of it, the team wants to extend Elisha Manning beyond 2019, which doesn't make sense from a rebuilding perspective. So, not only did they pass on Sam DarnoldJosh Rosen and Josh Rosen in favor of a running back, it now looks like they'll pass on Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock in favor of... winning now? Anyways, from a scheme and fantasy standpoint, the fit does not make much sense. As stated above, they have a young and capable slot receiver in Shepard who will now be forced out of position by the signing. They also have Manning throwing him the rock. Manning was rated the No. 28 QB by PFF, and they noted his lack of ability to fit the ball into tight windows as one of his biggest downfalls. With Tate losing a step (will be 31) and Manning unable to get him the ball on the regular, it's no surprise that Tate lands at WR38 on our current Big Board.
LeSean McCoy’s Withering Fantasy Value Dwindles Further With Frank Gore on Bills
We declared LeSean McCoy DEAD last season. We told you to stay away (even though The Wolf couldn't help himself in his hometown league). And he proved us correct by putting up a pathetic 514 yards and three touchdowns on 161 carries (3.2 YPC) in what was the league's most puke-worthy offense for at least the first half of the season. Enter Frank Gore. Nope, don't laugh. The 95 year old running back put Kenyan Drake in his back pocket and tallied a very respectable 722 yards on 156 carries (4.6 PYC). Even though the NFL's fourth all-time leading rusher is punching father time in the face, it should not surprise anyone when these two form a geriatric committee in the backfield, thus severely handicapping Shady's fantasy value. What makes this even more likely is that McCoy was the one who recruited Gore to the Bills: “I just saw their quarterback and he kept getting better and better as the year went on and my man Shady," Gore said. "I’ve known him since he came to the NFL and we were together on Saturday and said, ‘you should come, I want to compete with you, and I know you will help me get back to home again.” So not only will this not be a fierce competition that will light the fire under both players, it seems like it's more of a situation where two pals want to ride out their careers together. McCoy will be 31 years old by Week 1, while Gore will be 36. Even though the Bills' offense looks decent on paper and showed some signs of life under Josh Allen, we have McCoy ranked as our RB38 and his sidekick as our RB64. It wouldn't hurt to throw a stone at McCoy in round eight, but chill on your expectations.
Devin Funchess Offers Intriguing Fantasy Impact and Big Red Zone Body in Colts Attack
The Colts signing the 6-foot-4, 232 lb Devin Funchess to split across wide from T.Y. Hilton was one of the more underrated, yet fantasy-intriguing free agency signings of the offseason. The Colts have been missing someone to pair with Hilton's speed and Funchess possesses the skill-set and potential to take advantage of the single coverage that he'll likely see in this explosive offense. Funchess has shown dominant flashes throughout his career, but he's never really put together a full season. On the other hand, he's never been in a pass-first offense with a quarterback as accurate as a healthy Andrew Luck. The blend of Funchess' skill-set, a healthy Luck and the potential of single coverage should place the big wideout firmly on your Penny Stock radar for 2019.  This signing impacts the Colts' fantasy offense in a few ways. First, they get a physically dominant outside receiver who can eat up smaller defense backs on jump balls and in the red zone. This is a clear win for Luck. But on the other hand, his potential red zone dominance can only lower Eric Ebron's red zone targets (one of just 13 players in 2018 with at least 20 targets inside the 20-yard line) and touchdowns (13). On the contrary, his presence should only take some coverage away from Hilton, who has basically thrived on his own throughout his excellent career. The initial signing might have looked meh from the outside, but it has the potential to make a major impact on this offense. We're higher on Funchess than just about everyone, as he is our WR50 (+13 vs ECR).
Fantasy Darling Chris Godwin a 100-Catch Candidate in Bruce Arians’ Slot Role
If there's one player that every fantasy expert fawns over and creams themselves to, it's none other than Chris Godwin. The third year wideout flashed in 2018 when DeSean Jackson was out of the lineup, registering 842 and seven touchdowns on 59 receptions during his five games as a starter. Luckily for Godwin, he no longer has to wait for Jackson or Adam Humphries to be on the shelf to make plays. With both out of town and their 179 targets now up for grabs, Jameis Winston will be looking at Godwin often throughout 2019. But what's even more interesting is that GM Jason Licht said that Godwin can play the slot "much like Larry Fitzgerald did" in Arians' offense, which made losing Humphries, "a little easier to swallow." All Fitz did under the Kangol-wearing coach was grab 470 balls, register 5,132 yards and find the end zone 33 times during 2013-2017 -- with the latter two years coming at ages 33-34. We aren't here to tell you Godwin is the next Fitz (who is?), but if he can enter a similar role in Arians' offense, the sky is the limit for the elite athlete with unlimited potential. We aren't blowing Godwin on Twitter as much as the rest of the industry. However, he checks in at our WR27 and No. 58 overall (+4 vs the ECR).
Colts Once Again Confirm Marlon Mack’s 3-Down Fantasy Upside
Marlon Mack wasn't talked about as one of the top fantasy backs in 2018. Yet, he certainly produced like one. After returning from injury, Mack toted the rock 218 times to the tune of 1,068 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in the final 13 games of the season (including the playoffs). After proving he could be the man, the third year back got high praise from GM Chris Ballard, “we think a lot of Marlon Mack,” he said. “We think he can play on all three downs. We think he can carry the load.” The Colts running back is one of fantasy's biggest risers and could prove to be one of the bigger steals as a lead back in what should be one of the league's most explosive offenses. Not only did Ballard talk the talk when it came to their young back, he walked the walk when he passed on using the team's lucrative cap space to sign the more talented Le'Veon Bell. The only thing that's standing in the way of a Mack explosion is Frank Reich's history of not leaning on a workhorse. In his last five seasons as either an offensive coordinator or head coach, Mack's 195 carries is the most carries that he's given to one back. That could show that Reich trusts Mack more than any other back that he's coached, but he does still have to fend off the talented Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, who averaged 5.6 YPC in limited action. Mack slots right behind Derrick Henry at RB14 and checks in at No. 29 overall (+9 vs ECR) on our current Big Board.
Beast Freed: Derrick Henry to be Fed Early and Often in 2019
Choo, Chooooo! We're back on the Derrick Henry train. After not one, but two years of leading the Henry hype train, we just needed ONE quote for the 2019 season to hitch our wagons back on to the beastly running back and ride him to his first career RB1 season. Henry dick teased us to the max and made us pretty pissed at Mike Vrabel at the end of the fantasy season when he erupted for 625 yards and eight touchdowns in his final five games of the season -- highlighted by a 238 yard, four touchdown throttling of the Jaguars defense. Vrabel and Titans GM Jon Robinson made it clear that the team plans on riding Henry early and often to begin the 2019 season, which has made us shoot Henry up to RB13 (+5 vs ECR) on our most recent Big Board Vrabel most certainly thinks Henry will be a major piece to new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith's offense. “I think that is where the whole plan would like to start,” Vrabel said. “If Derrick can do what he did at the end of the year at the start this year, he’s certainly going to get a lot more opportunities." Although some may say it's the typical coach speak, this is the first time that the Titans have really backed Henry as their workhorse back. They initially drafted him into a committee with a healthy DeMarco Murray, then after a playoff breakthrough in 2016, they spent money on the talented Dion Lewis to fit Matt LeFleur's scheme. But after battling Lewis for throughout the season, Henry finally showcased his three-down ability during the team's final five games. Vrabel, we beg you. Please, do the right thing.
Kerryon Johnson to Remain Committee Trapped in 2019
Despite some rookie-year flashes, Lions RB Kerryon Johnson is unlikely to be unleashed in 2019. HC Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn share a committee-preference, emphasized further by their recent signing of CJ "Thick'ums" Anderson. Though KJ should produce when on the field, his chances will once again be limited by this awful regime.  Johnson posted the NFL's second-highest YPC (5.4), but will likely have to fight for his touches once more. Anderson, who feasted late last season, seems likely to take on the LeGarrette Blount "big back" role, albeit with far more talent. Last season, Johnson averaged 11.8 carries and 3.7 targets when he and Blount were both active, a number that is now unlikely to rise, unfortunately. This is especially troubling at the goalline, as Blount dominated touches her despite sucking tremendously. Anderson is far more efficient here, and Johnsons TD upside is again capped. This is by Patricia's design: "I think it’s a position-specific thing where those guys, they take a lot of hits...they’re in those situations a lot where their bodies are taking some pounding so you want to be conscious of how many plays they’re getting, especially early on in the year."  GM Quinn shared the sentiment, inducing puke from fantasy-owners by saying: “I never use the word bell-cow. The way the NFL’s setup nowadays, you’ve got to have multiple backs. … so to keep everyone healthy and fresh through the second half of the season, it’s not good to kind of have just one, main guy." Between ceding early-down and GL work to Anderson, as well as third-down usage to Theo Riddick, Johnson projects to again be trapped in between-the-20s purgatory. He's talented enough to still put up some stats, but is severely overpriced.
Kenyan Drake’s High Fantasy Ceiling Faces Less Obstacles with Gase & Gore Gone
Kenyan Drake has consistently flashed monstrous Individual Ability and fantasy upside when afforded a chance. With Adam "Bulging Eyes" Gase and Frank "Corpse" Gore removed, Drake may finally be used to his fullest potential. New HC Brian Flores and OC Chad O'Shea both love Drake's playmaking skills and versatility, and the talented back is a major fantasy rebound candidate in 2019. As a runner,  Drake escapes congested situations as well as any, with an insane ability to first make tacklers miss and then zip up the field in a hurry. He’s a fantastic route-runner and even more dangerous in space. Drake's just one season removed from recording PFF's highest yards after contact per attempt ever (4.29), and has produced in a Fantasy Wasteland even on limited work. Even still, he hasn't received a chance to truly shine, at least not for a full season. When used in a 15-20+ touch role, Drake has thrived. In 2017, following Damien Williams‘ Week 12 injury, Drake shouldered 20+ touches for three straight weeks (13-15), scoring as the RB4 in this span. His 444 rushing yards during 2017's final five weeks led the entire league. Yet, he still ceded an unfathomable 156 carries -- 36 fewer than his own workload -- to Gore. Though he's not guaranteed proper usage, the new coaching staff at least recognizes his potential: Flores, who's coached against and studied Drake plenty, gushed: “I think Drake is an explosive player,” Flores said. “I’ve seen it firsthand, unfortunately. I think he’s a talented player. He catches the ball well. He’s a good runner. He runs hard. He does a lot of really good things.” Meanwhile, O'Shea preached versatility and the ability to be "multiple" on offense, something that fits Drake to a tee. Hailing from the Patriots, O'Shea knows the value and mismatch potential of a pass-catching weapon out of the backfield, stating: "The back is an important part of the offense... you look at the Dolphins' roster right now, [and] it's exciting to look at the backs. Competitively playing against those backs in New England that are in Miami now, it's been a group that has a lot of strengths, and I can't wait to work with them." Drake's consistently excelled on all varieties of pass-routes, from deep flies and wheels, to screens and short hitches. He could easily slot into a James White style receiving role, with more rushing upside. Whether he receives the "Usage" remains to be seen. But, with improved Coaching and less competition, Drake's upside is now far higher.
Mike Davis Carries Fantasy Penny Stock Potential With Bears
Earlier this week, we raised the fantasy stocks of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny in Seattle's backfield. One major reason for their collective rise was the departure of Mike Davis, who signed a 2 year, $6 million deal with the Bears this offseason. Many have speculated that this acquisition could spell the end for Jordan Howard, who is under team control through 2019 but has been surrounded by trade rumors since the end of last season. Matt Nagy has raved about Davis' ability to create production between the tackles -- something he's proven to be better at than Howard -- and seems excited about a thunder-and-lightning-type duo with Davis and Tarik Cohen.  The numbers seem to support Nagy's inclination to go with Davis over Howard. Last season, Davis averaged 4.8 yards/carry running between the tackles and an even 5 yards/carry between the guards; those numbers were each a full yard less for Howard, albeit on a much larger workload. Davis has also shown more as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 34 passes for 214 yards in 2018 versus just 20 catches for 145 yards for Howard. It still remains to be seen if Howard will ultimately be moved before the season, but provided he is, Davis could prove to be a valuable asset in his absence. The Wolf is very excited about Davis' prospects in his new location, ranking him as his RB34 for 2019, a whopping 31 spots ahead of the Experts' Consensus.
Dede Westbrook’s Fantasy Stock is Rising With Nick Foles on the Jaguars
After showing some flashes of potential in a shortened rookie season, Dede Westbrook showed a whole lot more in 2018. His 101 targets, 66 receptions, 717 receiving yards, and 5 receiving TDs all led the Jaguars, and he was doing it all with Blake Bortles as his quarterback. Bortles is now a backup in LA, freeing Westbrook and his teammates up to catch passes from Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles and setting the stage for what could be a big leap in Year 3. Dede Westbrook was 4th in the NFL last season in targets from the slot, and 8th in yards from that position as well. His quick feet, crisp route-running, and massive YAC potential make him a potent option in the slot, especially when paired with Nick Foles, who has completed over 70% of his passes to slot receivers in his career. That pairing could put up some gaudy numbers in 2019, especially with not much receiving competition in Jacksonville. Last year's WR2 Donte Moncrief has fled to Pittsburgh, Marquise Lee is fresh off missing the entire 2018 season with a knee injury, and Keelan Cole had just 38 receptions and was tied for 10th in the league with 7 drops last year. Jacksonville needs Westbrook to continue to develop into a top receiving option, and he's shown the potential to be exactly that. Westbrook currently finds himself as The Wolf's WR42, the highest of anyone on his team and 14 spots ahead of Lee, his next-closest teammate. He won't be your WR1 that you ride to a championship, but a late-round flyer on Westbrook could leave you with a steady, reliable WR3/Flex option for the 2019 season.
Vance McDonald Drips in TE1 Upside After Steelers Pass-Catcher Exodus
One of my favorite penny stocks heading into 2019 is Vance McDonald. For starters, he's coming off his best year as a pro, setting career highs in targets (72), receptions (50), and receiving yards (610) in 2018. And his tight end counterpart from a year ago, Jesse James, just signed a 4-year deal with the Lions, making McDonald the team's undisputed TE1. Between James and Antonio Brown, the Steelers now have 207 targets from last season up for grabs, and McDonald has certainly shown he's deserving of an increased role in Pittsburgh. Vance McDonald's numbers don't immediately indicate a star in the making, but he's a bit of an athletic freak -- just ask Chris Conte. McDonald is 6'4", 267 pounds with a sub-4.7 40-time and great hands. He was already 3rd on the team in red zone targets last season with 10, behind only JuJu Smith-Schuster's 29 and Antonio Brown's 24, and that number should only rise after Brown's departure. Even with Donte Moncrief now assuming the team's WR2 duties behind JuJu and likely amassing the 90-100 targets he typically garners over a full season, there's still plenty of room for McDonald to shine in what should still be a very lucrative offense. McDonald currently sits as The Wolf's TE9 for 2019, 8 spots ahead of the Experts' Consensus. Mike Tomlin has gushed about McDonald in the past, but also said recently that the team will likely look to add at the tight end position, which could severely limit McDonald's ceiling. But for now, he remains a strong penny stock that will be available late in most drafts.
Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny To See Increased Volume After Mike Davis’ Departure
If you've had any fantasy football success over the last couple seasons, odds are you've avoided the Seattle backfield entirely. Between Mike Davis, Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and some others mixed in, the Seahawks running back strategy has been pretty heavily committee-based. But with Davis now under contract with the Bears, his 146 touches and over 700 total yards from 2018 are now up for grabs. Carson clearly has the upper hand coming off a season of leading the team in rushing, but the door is open for either guy to emerge as a fantasy weapon in 2019.  Chris Carson got a huge bump in playing time in his 2nd season and took full advantage -- in 14 starts he rushed for 1,151 yards and 9 TDs while adding another 163 yards on 20 catches. Even with Seattle's committee approach, Carson amassed the 7th-most rush attempts in football and converted it into the 5th-most yards. He's definitely the team's RB1 as the 2019 season approaches, but Rashaad Penny's success in his rookie season should not be ignored. Penny only carried the ball 85 times in 14 games last season -- he missed 2 games in December with a knee injury -- but finished the year with 4.9 yards/carry, the highest rate of Seattle's 3 backs. He showed flashes of big-play ability when given the opportunity, and Pete Carroll seems excited about the jump he could make in year 2.  “He’s going to be really good. He showed it again the other night [rushing for 29 yards on 4 carries in Seattle's Wild Card Round loss to Dallas]. He’s going to be a really good player for us. It gives us a tremendous one, two punch... The competition, we’ll play that out.” Carroll has repeatedly referred to Carson and Penny throughout the offseason as a "one-two punch" but has typically added, "I don't know who's one or who's two." Logic says that Carson will assume lead back duties, but Penny will certainly get his opportunities to show what he can do, especially with Davis out of the picture. Carson is currently The Wolf's RB19 for 2019, while Penny sits at RB35. Regardless of who obtains the upper hand coming out of training camp, things are looking just a little bit less crowded for the NFL's leading rushing offense from 2018.
Rob Gronkowski Retirement Puts Patriots and Tom Brady in Tough Predicament for 2019
The most dominant NFL (and fantasy) tight end called it a career at age 29 over the weekend, and although the actual act of Rob Gronkowski's retirement was not surprising, the timing was sort of surprising. We all know what Gronk brought to both the Patriots and your respective fantasy squads over his nine dominant seasons, as he Gronk Spiked the ball 79 times throughout his 115 career games -- highlighted by an absurd 90 reception, 1,327 yard and 17 touchdown campaign in 2011. No one can blame the big fella for walking away at age 29. He left it all out of the field and went under the knife way too many times. However, from a Patriots standpoint, he sort of left them out to dry with his late announcement.  By waiting until March 24th to retire, he locked up $9.214 million in cap space throughout free agency, which could have been used for Jared Cook, Adam HumphriesCole Beasley or Golden Tate. Although the team has a shitload of picks, Belichick has never used a first rounder on a receiver and the two "can't miss" tight ends from Iowa will likely be gone by 32. There are a handful of tight ends who will likely be there at 32, highlighted by Irv Smith. Yet, will the Patriots really enter the season with Julian Edelman, Bruce Ellington, Maurice Harris, Phillip Dorsett and a couple of rookies? Only time will tell, because we all know Belichick will definitely be making trade calls as the offseason continues.