2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Rankings breakdown No. 20-11
Learn why you should — and maybe why you shouldn't — draft players 20-11 in our consensus rankings.
Welcome to our 2019 Player Profiles series. We are going through the top 100 in the consensus PPR rankings of Heath Cummings, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard to give you the case for and the case against drafting each player. By the time you're done, you'll know everything you need to know for drafting in 2019.
Here are players 11-20, featuring some of the biggest question marks for Fantasy:
20. Mike Evans, WR, TB
The Case For: Evans may have just had his most complete season as a wide receiver, and then the Buccaneers lost DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries. Evans caught 60 percent of his targets for the first time of his career and set a career best in yards per reception (17.7). He was just the third receiver in the past 10 years to average better than 11 yards per target (minimum 100 targets). Without Humphries and Jackson, Evans could see an increase in targets, and with Bruce Arians running the team, Tampa Bay could maintain its incredible efficiency from 2018. Evans was the No. 2 receiver in Fantasy in 2016, and he has a chance to challenge for No. 1 this year if everything goes right.
The Case Against: There have been some efficiency concerns with Evans in the past, some struggles connecting with Jameis Winston, and a couple of really weird touchdown totals. He wasn't great in 2017 and only caught half of his targets in 2015. But these are relatively small concerns compared to the other receivers in his range. Evans is very likely to give you a top-12 season at receiver if Winston can acclimate to Arians' system fast enough to make this offense soar and Evans a star.
19. Antonio Brown, WR, OAK
The Case For: It's not hard to make a case for Antonio Brown in Fantasy Football. It's not that hard to make a case for him as the best receiver of his generation. He has six straight seasons with more than 100 catches. He has at least 1,400 yards or 12 touchdowns in all of those seasons. That's available in the late second round? What more convincing do you need?
The Case Against: Obviously, the case against Brown starts with the fact he's no longer in Pittsburgh. Brown wasn't made by Ben Roethlisberger by any stretch of the imagination, but there's also a wide chasm between Roethlisberger and Derek Carr. Brown is the lone star on this offense, which means he'll get all of the attention from the defense. He's used to that, but he's not used to having a quarterback like Carr who wants to get the ball out as soon as possible. He'll also turn 31 before the season, and his yards per target in 2018 were lower than they've been since 2012. That won't likely improve with Carr throwing him the ball.
18. Keenan Allen, WR, LAC
The Case For: Allen is a No. 1 wide receiver in the prime of his career on a good offense with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback. He's caught 68 percent of his targets over his career and averaged better than 12 yards per catch each of the past two seasons. He's going to be heavily targeted and wildly efficient. There are zero performance-related concerns and he's a solid No. 1 receiver in PPR.
The Case Against: Up until two seasons ago you would have said injuries are the biggest concern for Allen, but he hasn't missed a game since 2016 so that risk seems mitigated. Now, we have to talk about the touchdowns. Allen hasn't scored more than six touchdowns in a season since his rookie year. I'm generally averse to projecting a bad touchdown rate for an elite wide receiver, but it's hard to expect anything new from Allen. It's also really hard to have a top-five season at receiver without scoring more than six touchdowns.
17. Melvin Gordon, RB, LAC
The Case For: Gordon missed four games last season and still finished as a top eight running back in both formats. That's something he's done three straight years despite playing 16 games just once. The Chargers offense evolved in 2018, and Gordon was more involved in the passing game, averaging 6.6 targets per game. If that trend continues in 2019 he could legitimately challenge to be the No. 1 overall and push towards 80 catches. Gordon gives you top-10 floor with an upside as high as almost any back in Fantasy.
The Case Against: As I noted above, he's only played 16 games once in his career. Three times he's missed Week 15 and/or Week 16, which is quite obviously a problem. It's also concerning that he's had multiple knee injuries. Gordon isn't necessarily a big injury risk, but he also has more risk than any of the backs in front of him. It's also unclear how much of his increased role in the passing game was due to the Chargers loss of Hunter Henry. This is historically a team that leans heavily on the tight end in the passing game and last year that role was shifted to Gordon and Austin Ekeler. These concerns are enough to keep him behind McCaffrey and Kamara on draft day.
16. Tyreek Hill, WR, KC
The Case For: Hill was the No. 1 wide receiver in non-PPR scoring in 2018. Since he entered the league, he's one of two receivers (minimum 250 targets) to average better than 10 yards per target. He has scored once every 13 targets in his career. It's not difficult to make the argument he's the most efficient wide receiver in the NFL, and his quarterback is Patrick Mahomes. Even the other weapons; Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Damien Williams, make it harder for opposing defenses to key in on Hill.
The Case Against: While we now know Hill doesn't currently face a suspension, the official NFL statement didn't rule out the possibility in the future. No matter what you believe about Hill's lack of a suspension, there's no arguing whether this is a volatile situation, and it isn't hard to imagine it swinging in a different direction in the coming months.
15. Odell Beckham, WR, CLE
The Case For: Arguably the most talented wide receiver in the NFL has finally escaped Eli Manning and gets to play with one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the league. Beckham is still just 26 years old and already has three seasons with 1,300 yards and 10-plus touchdowns on his resume. His new offense showed flashes of explosiveness once Baker Mayfield took over, and that was with Jarvis Landry as their No. 1 receiver. Speaking of Landry, he and Nick Chubb should help draw attention away from Beckham. On a per-game basis it's hard to find a more exciting receiver in football. And it's hard to imagine a more exciting landing spot for him than Cleveland.
The Case Against: For one thing, you probably don't want to cite a 16-game pace for Beckham because he's played 16 games exactly once in his five-year career. Those injuries don't appear to be connected to each other so it may just be dumb luck, but it's at least something to remember. More concerning for me would be the uncertainty in Cleveland. The upside and talent is immense, but Mayfield's track record is about as long as that of Freddie Kitchens, which shows a propensity to spread the ball around. Landry led the team with 149 targets last year, but his target rate cratered when Kitchens and Mayfield took over. He had double-digit targets seven times in the team's first eight games, but not once with Kitchens calling plays. Beckham should certainly demand more attention than Landry, but it's not yet known if he'll receive the 10.5 targets per game he received in New York.
14. Le'Veon Bell, RB, NYJ
The Case For: I know it's hard to remember, but the last time we saw Le'Veon Bell he was arguably the best player in Fantasy Football. He had a 16-game pace of 2,200 total yards per year in his last four seasons in Pittsburgh. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry or better in three of those seasons and caught over 80 percent of the passes thrown his way. Bell was a complete back who fits well with the direction the NFL is moving, and his new contract means we no longer have to worry about him sitting out.
The Case Against: The New York Jets are not the Pittsburgh Steelers of the past five seasons. Sam Darnold has promise, but he's no Ben Roethlisberger. There's not a true No. 1 receiver the defense has to dedicate much attention to. Adam Gase hasn't given us much reason to believe in him since Peyton Manning retired. And it's not just Bell's surroundings. He's a 27-year-old running back who had over 400 touches in his last full season and has missed games over the past four seasons due to injuries, suspensions and contract disputes. While the last one is no longer a concern, that doesn't mean he's risk-free.
13. Travis Kelce, TE, KC
The Case For: He's been a top-two tight end each of the past three seasons, but it's not just that. In his first year with Patrick Mahomes, Kelce outscored all but eight wide receivers and all but five running backs in PPR. So even if you don't believe in the positional scarcity of tight ends (how could you not?), Kelce is a worthwhile second-round pick. In TE-premium leagues, Kelce is a legitimate first round pick.
The Case Against: You don't have to draft a tight end? Even then I'm not sure I'd avoid him. If I had to manufacture a risk, it would be that Tyreek Hill still winds up suspended somehow and Sammy Watkins can't stay healthy. In that scenario, Kelce likely faces double teams on every play and may fall all the way to the No. 3 tight end.
12. Joe Mixon, RB, CIN
The Case For: For the first time in a long time, the Bengals treated a running back like a true No. 1 in 2018, and Mixon responded with over 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games. He averaged more than 20 touches per game and almost 5 yards per carry. He'll be one of the few workhorse backs left in the second round, with a proven ability in the passing game.
The Case Against: The Bengals look like the worst team in their division, caught somewhere between tanking and striving for .500. The offensive line is below average and thin. It's a tightrope Mixon was able to successfully walk in 2018, but it's always a big ask for a running back to be great in Fantasy on a losing team with a bad offensive line.
11. Michael Thomas, WR, NO
The Case For: Thomas is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver on one of the most prolific offenses in football. His quarterback is a future Hall of Famer, and he catches everything. He smashed the record for the most receptions in the first three years of a player's career and led the league last year with 125 catches. As far as a "safe" No. 1 receiver goes, it doesn't get any safer than Thomas.
The Case Against: Drew Brees has remained very efficient, but the Saints are doing their best to take work off the 40-year-old's plate. They've grown more run-heavy the past two seasons, and last year was the first time in a decade Brees didn't top 500 attempts or 4,000 yards. Thomas was successful despite the team's low pass total, but any further shrinkage in pass attempts is likely to come at his expense. That became even more true when the team signed Jared Cook this offseason. Cook isn't the caliber of player who actually threatens Thomas, but Brees hasn't had a tight end this talented since Thomas joined the Saints. At the very least it could cap his upside in the red zone, which has already prevented him from being the No. 1 receiver in Fantasy.
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