Get your football news while you can. After minicamps wrap up this week, the NFL goes dark until camps open in mid-July, though we’ll do our part by continuing to stoke the Fantasy fires.
Here are some of the stories out there from mandatory minicamp week:
It’s not just Kyler Murray who should have Arizona buzzing about football again. We can hope Kliff Kingsbury’s offense is the start of something different in a league that may be reverting to running games and ball control after the Patriots won the Super Bowl that way.
One of the potentially exciting new pieces of that Arizona offense could be receiver Andy Isabella, drafted No. 53 overall in April. Isabella, Murray, wideouts Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson, and tight end Caleb Wilson were all draft picks who could help ignite the new Cardinals offense. Our Pete Prisco for that draft class.
Jamey Eisenberg’s Take: Murray is a top-10 Fantasy quarterback coming into the year. He’s a potential difference-maker, and I want those kind of players on my Fantasy roster. I’m also trying to draft a couple of receivers in this offense, specifically Christian Kirk and Isabella. Kirk is a mid-round pick in all formats, and he could emerge as a Fantasy starter. Isabella is worth drafting with a late-round pick, and could be among the best rookie receivers in 2019. Of course, don’t forget about David Johnson in Round 1.
For the first time in a long time, the Bengals will be very different under new coach Zac Taylor, and will be in minicamp through Thursday before their pre-camp break. The Dayton Daily News reports there is a plan to share carries by using Giovani Bernard more to keep feature back Joe Mixon fresher deeper into the season. Those are rarely welcome words for Fantasy players looking for players with max touches. Mixon led the AFC last season with 1,168 rushing yards and 237 carries, though the workload was a whole lot smaller than Zeke Elliott’s 304 regular-season carries.
Jamey Eisenberg’s Take: I’m not worried about Mixon at all, and he’s someone to target toward the end of Round 1 in all formats. Mixon showed his upside in 2018, and I expect the Bengals offense to improve under Taylor this season, with a better offensive line. Keep an eye on Anderson, who could potentially overtake Bernard at some point this year if he’s healthy.
After years of drama and divas, there is some relief in Pittsburgh that all hands are on deck for “mandatory” minicamp. Drafted in Round 3 at No. 66 overall after the departure of Antonio Brown, Diontae Johnson is one many will be watching in Fantasy. The Toledo rookie, wearing No. 18, said it was “crazy” working with Ben Roethlisberger after watching him growing up, as he met with the media for the first time since OTAs. Like Brown, Johnson is a Florida native who starred in the MAC Conference. Here’s hoping there are other similarities.
Jamey Eisenberg’s Take: The No. 2 receiver for the Steelers is going to be popular with Brown gone, and the Steelers have three receivers who will try to replace his production with James Washington, Donte Moncrief and Johnson. I like Washington the best, but Moncrief is getting plenty of buzz as well. It’s a position to monitor in training camp, and you should be able to get all three in the double-digit rounds on Draft Day, which could prove to be amazing value.
This one is only for the most patient of you Fantasy players. Devante Parker, who has repeatedly disappointed the Dolphins and Fantasy believers since being drafted 14th overall in the 2015 draft, is again flashing star potential in minicamp, according to the South Florida SunSentinel. Will his believers finally be rewarded? He’s still only 26 years old and is the Dolphins’ only apparent big-bodied threat at wideout. Just maybe ….
Jamey Eisenberg’s Take: For a late-round flier, Parker is worth it. He gets a fresh start under new coach Brian Flores and with either Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen at quarterback. Albert Wilson is coming back from last year’s hip injury, and Kenny Stills has shown he’s good but has a limited ceiling. If — and it’s a big if — Parker stays healthy and gets consistent targets, he might finally prove to be a Fantasy asset. With one of my last picks, I’ll take a chance on him (again) just to see what happens early in the season.
Resuming where we left off last week, we dig deep on the top-four RBs (4:00) with the cases for and against each (McCaffrey, Kamara, Zeke, Barkley). We mostly talk PPR but also discuss non-PPR. Will Zeke be a force in the passing game again? Will Kamara get more goal line carries? Will McCaffrey get fewer goal line carries? And will Barkley be a victim of a bad offense? … News and notes (26:20) as we discuss what kind of suspension we expect for Tyreek Hill and if he should go ahead of Sammy Watkins in drafts. Plus a note on Green Bay WRs and our Ben Gretch joins us to tell us what he would change in the Top 150 rankings (33:00). He’s very high on Kyler Murray and not so high on Derrick Henry.
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Some have been projecting DaeSean Hamilton as a receiver to target based on an opportunity void left by Emmanuel Sanders, who is attempting to return at age 32 from a torn Achilles he suffered Dec. 5. But Sanders says he’s already running routes and running full speed. Hard to believe with an injury that has been notoriously difficult to overcome.
In somewhat less exciting, though surprising, news, the Denver Post projects the Broncos final 53-man roster will include not one, but two fullbacks. Yes, the position is making a bit of a comeback, although it’s not exactly what anyone playing Fantasy wants to hear. Who was the last Fantasy-relevant fullback?
Jamey Eisenberg’s Take: In a recent PPR mock draft, I was able to get both Hamilton and Courtland Sutton, and I love doing that with two picks in the double-digit rounds. It would be great to see Sanders come back at full strength, but I expect him to open the season behind Hamilton and Sutton. Hamilton is my favorite Denver receiver in PPR based on what he showed in the four games last season when Sanders was out, averaging 13.3 PPR points over that span. I likely won’t draft Sanders in many leagues this year.
Miles Sanders has big upside in Philly, but a reported . The Penn State back, drafted No. 53 overall, is expected to vie with newcomer Jordan Howard, Corey Clement and others for regular work, and, dang, it might turn into another RB committee.
The Philadelphia Inquirer also breaks down how the Eagles are breaking in their fourth wide receivers coach in four years, trying to get more production, particularly in the red zone and on third downs.
Jamey Eisenberg’s Take: It would be a mistake to expect the Eagles to go away from their usual strategy at running back under coach Doug Pederson and make Sanders a workhorse. That was never in the cards for him after Philadelphia also added Howard this offseason. I still like Sanders the best of this backfield, and he’s worth drafting in Round 6 as long as he’s ready for training camp. Howard is more of a Round 8 or 9 selection, with his value lower in PPR, but he could have a brighter outlook if Sanders’ hamstring lingers into August.
Lamar Jackson’s progress as a passer will continue to be a focus of minicamp and the offseason, but sorting out the many contenders to catch those passes could prove just as vexing on a young offense. Part of the problem is that Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (drafted No. 25 overall out of Oklahoma) has been dealing with a Lisfranc injury since the Big 12 title game, and third-round pick Miles Boykin of Notre Dame has been dealing with a hamstring.
Brown has the explosiveness to make the league more fun if he can get his foot fully healed, and the Ravens will be working overtime to try to get him ready by training camp next month.
Jamey Eisenberg’s Take: I’m only drafting Brown with a late-round pick in re-draft leagues at best, and I won’t draft Boykin in seasonal formats. It actually wouldn’t be a surprise to see Willie Snead be Baltimore’s best receiver this season, along with Chris Moore. But neither of those guys are worth drafting. Don’t overlook Mark Andrews with a late-round flier at tight end. He established a good rapport with Jackson last season, and he could also be Baltimore’s best receiving option in 2019.
George Kittle was a sensation in his second season with the 49ers, and the San Francisco Chronicle is wondering if wideout Dante Pettis could do the same in Year 2. Pettis could be boosted by the return of Jimmy G at quarterback, but he’ll have to prove he can stay on the field with his slight frame not looking like it’s made for a high-speed collision sport.
Jamey Eisenberg’s Take: I like Pettis a lot this season, but he has to stay healthy and prove he’s better than rookie Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin, who had a solid rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo in 2017. Pettis is someone to target as a high-upside No. 3 Fantasy receiver with a mid-round pick, and it’s a good idea to pair him with either Samuel or Goodwin with a late-round selection. For those of you who follow our Fantasy Football Today Podcast, that’s what we call our “friendship strategy” at wide receiver. I have drafted Pettis and Samuel in several drafts already this offseason.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer directs the kind of run-heavy offense that is anathema to Fantasy players, and says that isn’t going to change because it works. But he also discusses returning receivers Jaron Brown and David Moore looking strong in minicamp — which might cool some of the hype for rookie wideout D.K. Metcalf — and says he’s also impressed with new tight end Jacob Hollister. Acquired from the Patriots in April, Hollister could emerge as a sleeper.
Jamey Eisenberg’s Take: I’ll need to see a lot from Hollister before I draft him in any leagues, but I am intrigued by Brown and Moore. With Doug Baldwin gone, Russell Wilson needs a reliable target opposite Tyler Lockett, and Brown and Moore could prove to be better than Metcalf. You should also keep an eye on another rookie receiver in Seattle, Gary Jennings. But if Brown or Moore earn a starting spot for the Seahawks, that guy is worth a late-round flier in deeper leagues.
So what 2019 Fantasy Football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which RB2 can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get 2019 Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Andrew Luck’s huge season, and find out.