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Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football: AFC Winning Choices

One method to stay ahead of your league mates is staying on top of breaking news. Also, fantasy managers need to take advantage of those stories. How does it affect that fantasy player? What type of impact does it have the remaining offensive players on that team? Who benefits the most immediately? Long-term? All of these factors lead to winning choices and fantasy football championships.

The implications of the breaking news stories and preseason storylines result in my breakdown of the Winning Choices for your 2019 fantasy football drafts. I start my journey with one selection from each AFC team.

AFC East

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

There is plenty of buzz about Devin Singletary this offseason. Singletary received a ton of first-team reps in camp and exhibited great vision and the ability to make tacklers miss. He does have the veteran duo, LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore, ahead of him so that he won’t start the season in the starting lineup. However, Singletary, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons at Florida Atlantic University, could take over the lead-back duties toward the end of the season and be a winning choice for your fantasy football roster.

Josh Rosen, QB, Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins stole quarterback Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals during the 2019 NFL Draft. Rosen was deemed expendable after the Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray in the 2019 NFL Draft following Rosen’s struggles in his rookie season. However, Rosen played with a historically horrible offensive line in Arizona. He was sacked a whopping 52 times (No.27 in the NFL) on 393 dropbacks.

The Dolphins brought in veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick preceding the acquisition of Rosen, and he was viewed as the favorite to win the job. However, Rosen has outplayed Fitzpatrick this preseason. Rosen has a better completion percentage (62.2 to Fitz’s 53.1), and more touchdown drives (three to one). Rosen SHOULD be the starter Week 1, and he has the opportunity to excel into a possible starter in two-quarterback leagues.

Jakobi Meyers, WR, New England Patriots

Jakobi Meyers is an undrafted free agent out of NC State, who is a former quarterback and has been practicing with Tom Brady and the first-team offense this summer. All Meyers has done is lead the New England Patriots in catches and receiving yards in consecutive weeks, totaling 12 catches on 14 targets for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Don’t be surprised to see Meyers playing with the starters, even with the potential impact of Josh Gordon‘s return. A great receiver to stash at the end of your fantasy football roster.

Ty Montgomery, RB, New York Jets

The New York Jets signed Ty Montgomery after the signing of Le’Veon Bell. With Bell sitting out last season and not playing in the 2019 NFL Preseason, Montgomery has started both preseason matchups. Montgomery has looked impressive and brings versatility while serving as a backup at running back and wide receiver. He is a plus pass-catcher and is a necessary handcuff to Bell or a very sneaky stash at the end of your bench.

AFC North

Justice Hill, RB, Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are stacked at running back with last year’s surprise Gus Edwards and newcomer Mark Ingram with each player amassing most of the carries. However, the rookie Justice Hill has raised some eyebrows this preseason. He has looked excellent in two games thus far, forcing nine missed tackles on just 12 touches last week. Hill is a must-own for Ingram owners but does have stand-alone value in PPR leagues. He will become a pass-catching specialist who has plenty of potential to emerge as a breakout fantasy standout.

Damion Willis, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals have already suffered a myriad of injuries this offseason. One of the most significant is wide receiver standout A.J. Green. With injuries come opportunities, and Green’s absence has led to an opening in the wide receiver group for the Bengals.

Enter Damion Willis, a 6-3, 204-pound standout receiver from Troy University. He has come on strong in the last two preseason matchups. He recorded 5 receptions for a team-high 59 yards in Week 2 and then followed that up with 3 receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown in his Week 3 contest. He is receiving attention from the coaches and looks to have made a name for himself in a Bengals offense that should be trailing plenty this season. Willis is a super deep sleeper who could pay dividends in deeper leagues or best-ball formats.

Rashard Higgins, WR, Cleveland Browns

Rashard Higgins is having an excellent preseason, leading the team in receiving with 9 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown. With Antonio Callaway suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s policy and program on substances of abuse, the door is wide open for Higgins to take over the third receiver role in a Cleveland Browns offense that is expected to score a ton of points.

Higgins had built great chemistry with Baker Mayfield as evidenced by his semi-breakout season in 2018 when Higgins had 39 receptions for 572 yards and four touchdowns. The former fifth-round pick has flex appeal in deeper leagues, and if one of the starting wideouts go down, he will be a hot commodity off the waiver wire.

Benny Snell, Jr., RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted running back Benny Snell Jr. in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He has limited upside and is not much of a pass-catcher. Snell is a touchdown machine, scoring 48 times in three seasons with Kentucky. He is a bruising runner who is an ideal threat near the goal line. If James Conner were to miss time, most fantasy owners would run to the waiver wire to grab Jaylen Samuels. However, my suggestion is to grab Snell. Snell would gain the running role behind one of the best offensive lines in the league, and a player to keep in mind and queued up during your fantasy drafts.

AFC South

Damarea Crockett, RB, Houston Texans

The Houston Texans received dreadful news that running back Lamar Miller suffered a torn ACL on Saturday, and it will cost Miller the entire 2019 NFL season.

The recently acquired Duke Johnson is now Houston’s lead back in the high-powered Texans offense. There’s still a real probability that the Texans add another running back in free agency or via trade, but currently, the player that fantasy owners should know is undrafted rookie Damarea Crockett. He has made some noise in training camp and the preseason, including Saturday’s matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. Crockett had just four touches but produced 27 rushing yards and five receiving yards on those touches. He is virtually free in 2019 fantasy football drafts and a dart throw that could pay huge dividends.

Jacoby Brissett, QB, Indianapolis Colts

I amended my original comments, but my original choice was going to be Jacoby Brissett due to the uncertainty of Andrew Luck. Obviously, with the current news that Andrew Luck has decided to retire, this has made this selection apparent.

The Indianapolis Colts traded for Brissett just before the start of the 2017 regular season. He wound up being the starter for 15 games that year, passing for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and a passer rating of 81.7. He was sacked a league-high 52 times that season, although, with this current elite unit, Brissett won’t be running for his life as frequently. Brissett is a good quarterback but not a game-changer. He fits in as a good selection in two-quarterback formats with the offensive weapons that are in the Colts offense.

DJ Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

The acquisition of quarterback Nick Foles opens up the fantasy options for the Jacksonville Jaguars. There are numerous fantasy outlets naming receiver Dede Westbrook as a sleeper selection for this season. The buzz has reached such levels that he is close to overexposed as a fantasy option. There is a receiver with the Jaguars that you can get late in your drafts and that is DJ Chark. Chark has flashed big-play potential and is having a fantastic camp. With his length at 6-foot-4, he can become a significant threat in the red zone. His speed will allow the offense to get vertical and should expand the field for the run-oriented Jaguars offense.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans

This is a wild-card selection, however, have you seen Marcus Mariota play lately? Mariota is not a good quarterback. Mariota is in a make-or-break season and on a short leash. Ryan Tannehill is not a great quarterback, but currently, he provides the Tennessee Titans a chance at a better chance of winning. Tannehill is not a real option in redraft leagues, but dynasty owners should keep Tannehill in mind for one of their last selections.

AFC West

Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos

Noah Fant possesses the attributes to be a big-time player for the Denver Broncos. His 6-foot-4, 250-pound frame makes him a mismatch all over the field and has scouts drawing comparisons to George Kittle. Ironically, new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello comes from the San Francisco 49ers to the Broncos, who are hoping that he can do with Fant what he accomplished with Kittle last season. With the Broncos top weapon Emmanuel Sanders coming off an Achilles surgery and inexperienced players leading the receiver group, Fant has legit opportunity to make a fantasy impact this season.

Darwin Thompson, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Because of his size, 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds, Darwin Thompson will likely never become a real workhorse running back. However, with his play this preseason, Thompson has already leaped over the veteran Carlos Hyde in the Kansas City Chiefs’ backfield depth chart.

Head coach Andy Reid praised Thompson’s “vision in the run game” and “understanding of the passing game.” Damien Williams will return as the starter in the Chiefs backfield, but look for Thompson to earn more touches on third-down and passing down situations. Thompson is a player that fantasy owners should target as their RB4 in PPR leagues. If Williams gets injured, having Thompson could be the winning choice for your fantasy football roster.

Darren Waller, TE, Oakland Raiders

Darren Waller made a few splash plays after the Oakland Raiders signed him off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad late last year. Waller had a sizzling 21-yard end-around and a 44-yard catch-and-run in Cincinnati. The Raiders believed in Waller enough to let breakout tight end Jared Cook leave in free agency. They also didn’t utilize a high draft pick on a receiving tight end. Waller is a matchup nightmare. He is 6-foot-6, 240 pounds and runs a 4.5 40-yard dash.

Waller has had some off the field issues including being suspended twice for violating the NFL’s substance policy. With the Raiders’ additions on offense of Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, and Josh Jacobs, opposing defenses are going to have their hands full which leaves Waller to get a lot of targets and subsequently fantasy production from a weak, tight end position.

Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

Melvin Gordon is still trying to get a new contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, leaving the RB position with the Chargers wide open. The majority of fantasy owners are currently drafting Austin Ekeler as the running back to own as evidenced by Ekeler being drafted in the top 30 running backs in fantasy football drafts.

However, I advise owners to pass on Ekeler and select running back Justin Jackson. A 2018 seventh-round pick, Jackson rushed for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns as a rookie but proved to be a decent pickup at the end of last season by scoring twice in the previous four games last season. Jackson will play a role in the Chargers backfield by being the guy in short-yardage and clear running situations. More importantly, fantasy owners can get Jackson fifty picks later than Ekeler, which should be a draft bargain to explore.

Stay tuned next week as I break down the NFC Winning Choices for your fantasy rosters in the 2019 season.

Dennis Sosic is a writer for the Pro Football Network covering the Cleveland Browns and Fantasy Football. Dennis is also a co-host of the Fantasy Fixers podcast for PFN. You can follow him on Twitter @CALL_ME-SOS.

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