Five Potential Under the Radar Impact Rookies for 2019
Five Potential Under the Radar Impact Rookies for 2019
As with every year in fantasy football, there are rookies that burst on to the scene and surprise us all. At times they are late-round picks a la Mike Anderson in 2000 with the Denver Broncos. In other scenarios, they are first-round talents that were passed over by multiple teams like Randy Moss in 1998. No one saw these breakout seasons coming from either superstar.
A recent breakout player would be Alvin Kamara. The third-round pick from Tennessee did not start receiving any hype until the preseason. All Kamara did from there was finish as the AP Rookie of the Year and finish as the RB3 in PPR formats.
Here we examine five potential rookies that could have an impact on your fantasy team as early as this year. Obviously, we do not expect them to replicate the output of any of the players mentioned above, but these five players could still help you win a fantasy title in 2019. None of the players covered will be found on the most of the top 20 rookie ranking lists you find. This was the requirement for them to be considered under the radar.
Kelvin Harmon-Washington Redskins (WR)
With Jamison Crowder departing for the New York Jets, 97 targets opened up in the district for the Washington Redskins. Our own Taylor Czajkowski goes in-depth on what that means here. Kelvin Harmon seemed to go overlooked this offseason with all of the other wideouts garnering more attention. Jesse Reeves covered Harmon for FFS in our 2019 prospect profile series.
Jay Gruden has had some success with rookie wideouts in the past. In 2011, A.J. Green was a rookie with the Cincinnati Bengals while Gruden was the offensive coordinator. Green finished as the WR17 in PPR formats.
If Josh Doctson continues to underwhelm, look for Harmon to contribute right away. With only Paul Richardson and Brian Quick having more than two years experience in the NFL, it is a young receiving group. This opens up opportunity right away for Harmon. Comparing the North Carolina State grad to several of the wideouts ranked ahead of him, we see Harmon has the ability to dominate yardage shares.
Jay Gruden’s offenses have averaged 552.5 pass attempts per season over his eight years as an offensive coordinator and head coach. Couple this data with the vacated targets and the continued disappointment of Josh Doctson, you can see why Harmon may be able to contribute in redraft leagues in 2019. Harmon’s current ADP does not exist in redrafts and sits at 133.89 in startup leagues. There may be a lot of value to be had at that price.
Jace Sternberger-Green Bay Packers (TE)
Given that Jace Sternberger had only one full season of production in college and the fact that rookie tight ends rarely contribute in year one, it is a big ask for Jace Sternberger to be productive for you right away. There are some factors in his favor, however. Raju Byfield has a full profile on Sternberger here.
Sternberger played in a pro-style offense under Jimbo Fisher his senior year at Texas A & M. New Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur should run an up-tempo offense. A full recap of the LaFleur hire is available from FFS. We can see that Sternberger was a touchdown machine his one full season played in 2018. The inexperienced pass catcher had a better touchdown market share than fellow stud tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson.
Aaron Rodgers and the Tight End Position
Aaron Rodgers is no stranger throwing to his tight ends. Rodgers has never really had a true stud tight end in his prime that was able to stay healthy. Jermichael Finley showed some promise but could not stay healthy. In Finley’s one full season, 2011, he was able to finish as the TE9 with eight touchdowns.
Rodgers has not had a young, athletic tight end to target since. The Jimmy Graham experiment failed miserably and if the Packers believed in Graham, they would not have selected Sternberger with the 75th overall pick in the draft. Rodgers is not afraid to target his tight ends.
In eight of his 10 seasons, the University of California grad has been in the NFL, his tight ends have had over 70 targets per year. Rodgers seems rejuvenated and genuinely happy with the new offensive scheme coming to Title Town.
I can't get enough of @AaronRodgers12 going through the film clips put together by the coaching staff to highlight new plays and concepts for the Packers install of their new offense. Inject this into my veins for the next three months. Via @packers https://t.co/KW4MzXpiex pic.twitter.com/dxT3zSwJTo
— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) May 7, 2019
Jace Sternberger currently is going undrafted in redraft leagues and has an ADP of 197.76 in startup leagues. This is basically free in 12 team leagues. Take a shot on him late and see if he can produce like he did the first time he was given the full-time opportunity in 2018.
Trayveon Williams-Cincinnati Bengals (RB)
The Bengals backfield was recently broken down on FFS. It brought to light a few things. One, the Bengals may look to run more in 2019. Two, Giovani Bernard may be a cap casualty this year. Three, Joe Mixon has missed at least two full games during his first two seasons in the league.
Rodney Anderson has been injured most of his collegiate career and the Bengals are likely to ease him into their scheme. This opens the door for Trayveon Williams to contribute right away should any or all of these scenarios play out. Williams was a straight stud at Texas A & M in a pro-style offense under Jimbo Fisher, scoring 19 touchdowns his final season in college.
You can see that Williams also averaged almost seven yards per touch his junior year in college. The former Four Star recruit also averaged over 50 yards per game on the ground every year in college.
Like Sternberger, Williams is almost free in startup leagues right now with an ADP of 193.29 and no redraft ADP data at the moment. Do not be afraid to take a flier late on what could be a productive pick right away.
Alexander Mattison-Minnesota Vikings (RB)
The Minnesota Vikings let Latavius Murray walk in free agency this year. This opened the door for Alexander Mattison to be selected in the third round of the NFL draft this year. Raju Byfield profiled Mattison who is the latest in the long line of Boise State running backs to enter the NFL.
As with Joe Mixon above, Dalvin Cook has missed time his first two years in the NFL. In fact, Cook has played less than a full season combined over the past two years. The Florida State grad played in only four games his rookie season and just 11 last year. The departure of Murray and injury history of Cook makes Mattison one of the more intriguing stashes for 2019 and beyond (for dynasty purposes).
In redraft leagues, Mattison is currently going undrafted and is going at 181.14 in startups. With the departure of Murray, Mattison stands to benefit greatly if Cook misses any time. Using the splits tool courtesy of FFS, we see that the potential for Mattison to be a top 10 fantasy running back exists. The versatile back should really be given much more consideration on fantasy draft day.
Diontae Johnson-Pittsburgh Steelers (WR)
A lot of casual football fans collectively went “who?” when Diontae Johnson was drafted in the third round out of Toledo by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The landing spot instantly has fantasy pundits intrigued by Johnson. The wideout position has thrived in the Pittsburgh offense for several years.
Going back to 2009 with the selection of Mike Wallace, the front office of the Steelers has drafted the likes of Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and JuJu Smith-Schuster to dominate their wideout corps. Smith-Schuster had the most successful rookie season of the lot. JuJu finished as the WR22 his rookie year in 2017 with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm.
There is no way Johnson can replicate what Smith-Schuster did in 2017, but it is interesting that he was comped to Sanders. Emmanuel Sanders finished as the WR85 his rookie year, but we know how successful he has been since.
Diontae Johnson is known more for his special team prowess, but those playmaking abilities should translate nicely to the Steel City offense. There was some regression last year, but that can be attributed to poor quarterback play from Eli Peters.
The sophomore year numbers are more representative of the type of player Johnson can be. With Logan Woodside calling the shots in 2017, you can see Johnson’s touchdown market share was better than that of the elite wideouts of this class.
Johnson is electric with the ball in his hands as you can see from his Toledo Rockets highlights.
With Antonio Brown now out of the picture, Johnson will have a chance to earn snaps early on. James Washington is entering his second year as is Ryan Switzer. Eli Rogers is still around but has been nothing more than a depth piece for the Steelers up to this point. Johnson currently has no redraft ADP data and is going very late in startups at an ADP of 199.54. Move him up your draft boards. Especially if Washington does not show a marked improvement in offseason activities.
These five players represent a potential value from this rookie class full of uncertainties. It is a bit early to determine where these players may fall in redraft leagues come July and August. Remember, there are gems in every rookie class. Hopefully, one of these five come through and help you win your league next year.