Jan. 24, 2019
2019 Fantasy Football Steals and Sleepers RB Edition
As all of us know at this point there are players that come out of nowhere. Who no one expected to have fantastic seasons and thus, go later in drafts then they should have, if they are even drafted at all. Today's article will be all about these players, who I believe to be sleepers compared to their projected ADP. I will be put the sleepers in order of lowest ADP (earliest picks) to highest ADP (late picks), not biggest steals.
Aaron Jones, RB GB (ADP 35-40, RB 15-18)
This one may be obvious to some of you, but I have Jones as a steal in the early rounds because of the offense he plays in and the coaching change that has occurred. Jones was RB 23 in half PPR this season, even with effectively only playing 11 games this season (Injured with only 4 touches in the Week 15 game against Chicago). Averaging 14.5 half PPR points per week, Jones, is a viable low-end RB 1. I expect the GB offense to see significant improvement this year under near coach Matt Lafleur, who helped the Titans have the 7th best rushing offense with Rbs of lower caliber to Jones. The Titans rushing offense does have a bit of a boost with Marcus Mariota as their QB, but I expect the numbers to be similar with the superior offensive line of GB and the improvement from Aaron Jones to Derrick Henry and Co.
Overall: I would put Aaron Jones closer to the early to mid 2nd round (ADP 13-18) and I project him to be RB 8-12. This isn't the biggest steal you will see in the draft but I would definitely draft him if he falls past the ADP I put for him.
Derrius Guice, RB WSH (ADP 45-50, RB 20-25)
Perhaps the biggest question mark heading into the 2019 fantasy football season is Derrius Guice. He was a first round projected talent in last year's NFL draft, but slid down the draft for off-the-field reasons. Up to this point the only footage we have of Guice is a few plays of last years' first preseason game, where Guice was playing with a bunch of non-starters and the play calling was very vanilla with all of his runs going up the middle. His biggest play came on a run to the left where there was a huge hole and wasn't touched until 10 yards downfield where he then made a man miss in space and then stiff armed another to pick up a few more yards. Unfortunately, this was the same play that Guice was injured on. However, if we go back and look at Guice at LSU, we can see what made him a first round talent, he is a one-cut back with great speed and vision and he has the ability to make tacklers miss in space. With all that said, I think it's fairly obvious that the Redskins will rely heavily on Guice behind a decent offensive line. This in combination that it is likely that the redskins don't have their starting QB, Alex Smith, for some of the 2019 season because of a gruesome injury suffered in 2018, means the Redskins will either be using a backup QB or will be drafting a QB in the 2019 NFL draft, either option favors Guice who will see a heavy workload without an experienced starting in Washington.
Overall: I would put Derrius Guice as a late 2nd round pick or early third round pick (ADP 20-25) and I project him to be a high-end RB 2 (RB 10-15). This is one of the biggest gambles in this year's fantasy draft, but Guice has everything in his favor to have and excellent season and he will likely fall into the late 3rd or 4th round.
Kerryon Johnson, RB DET (ADP 50-55, RB 20-25)
This is another one that may be obvious to some. Kerryon Johnson was in a 3-way committee in his rookie season for the Lions, with LeGarette Blount being the primary goal line back and stealing some carries elsewhere, and Theo Riddick a pass catching RB who will get a handful of carries each game. With the expected departure of LeGarette Blount almost all of the goal line carries will go to Johnson who only totaled 3 rushing TDs and 1 receiving TD for the Lions in 10 games prior to injury. The departure of Blount will also help Johnson normalize his carry totals probably in the 15-20 carries per game range. With Johnson's good efficiency at 5.4 yards per carry, we should see some very good stats for Johnson in 2019.
Overall: I would put Kerryon Johnson as a late 3rd or early 4th round pick (ADP 30-35) and I project him to be a mid-tier RB2 (RB 12-18). Johnson was having a decent, but inconsistent rookie year prior to his injury, I would expect him to take another step and become more consistent as he will be the clear lead back.
Devonta Freeman, RB ATL (ADP 55-60, RB 20-25)
Freeman has nothing to do with talent. Freeman is a very talented RB who plays on a very good offensive team in Atlanta. This is 100% due to injury which is understandable for his ADP to drop, but Freeman is a high-end RB2 when he isn't injured. Tevin Coleman is expected to leave Atlanta after this season which would free up some more carries for Freeman.
Overall: This has nothing to do with talent. Freeman is a very good RB in this league and apart from injuries is a very good fantasy player. I would put Freeman as a late 2nd to early 3rd round pick (ADP 20-30). If he remains healthy this season he can help carry your team to a championship.
Kenyan Drake, RB MIA (ADP 60-70, RB 20-25)
Drake is a very talented RB who was never given the chance in Miami under Adam Gase. Now, Gase is the coach for the Jets and Miami is getting a new regime. This likely means that Frank Gore will be gone and Drake will have the opportunity to shine. They both had similar numbers in the running game averaging similar yards per carry numbers, however; Drake is the younger RB who brings an element to the game that Gore doesn't, the receiving game. Drake caught 56 passes this game with a limited snap amount because of splitting time with Gore. Therefore, Drake should be the clear lead back in Miami next season with Kalan Ballage being a change of pace back.
Overall: This has so much do with Drake and his talent. If Drake is given the opportunity to be the lead back in Miami he will provide with high-end RB2 numbers. I would put Drake as a early 4th to mid 4th round pick (ADP 40-45).