Fantasy Football Offseason: Baker Mayfield, Sony Michel, Chris Godwin headed for breakout years in 2019
Jamey Eisenberg gives you his first look at the players he loves in Breakouts 1.0, including guys like Baker Mayfield, Sony Michel and Chris Godwin, among others.
For these breakout candidates, as, we're giving you an early look at players to target heading into this season.
Unlike the sleepers list, however, I don't expect much to change with these guys following the NFL Draft. That's because these are more established players who should take a leap in production -- and in some cases have a career year.
These are going to be some of my favorite players for 2019. We'll likely do two more versions of breakouts between now and the end of training camp, but I'm excited about the potential for these guys, as well as their expected Fantasy production.
Mayfield was good as a rookie in 2018. He should be great this year. I have him as a top-five quarterback heading into the season. The addition of Odell Beckham to go with Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Antonio Callaway and quality running backs should give Mayfield the chance to be a star. I also like the addition of Todd Monken as the offensive coordinator, along with Freddie Kitchens getting promoted to head coach. Last year, Mayfield scored at least 21 Fantasy points in five of his final eight games, and that was obviously without Beckham. There's the chance for Mayfield to have a sophomore slump, and it might not work out with high-profile receivers like Beckham and Landry sharing the same field. But I'll take my chances that this offense plays at a high level, with Mayfield producing big stats. Mayfield is someone to target as a No. 1 option in all leagues with a mid-round pick.
This is likely Winston's last chance to prove he can be the quarterback of the future for Tampa Bay, and I'm expecting his best performance to date. He had a choppy season in 2018, but this should be a better situation for him this year. For starters, he has a new coach in Bruce Arians, who should be good for Winston. Arians won't fear Winston making a mistake or two to hopefully get a big play. As Arians has said in the past, "no risk it, no biscuit," meaning you have to take risks to get the reward. Winston also doesn't have a proven starter like Ryan Fitzpatrick waiting in the wings any more since Fitzpatrick is now in Miami, and Blaine Gabbert is the backup in Tampa Bay. In 2018, Winston started nine games, and he scored at least 20 Fantasy points in five of them. Even though he will likely miss DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia) and Adam Humphries (Tennessee), the Buccaneers should get quality production from Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. Winston is a No. 1 quarterback worth drafting with a late-round pick.
Cook should have a career season in 2019 -- if he can finally stay healthy. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 of his rookie season in 2017, which cost him 12 games, and he battled a hamstring injury last year, which made him miss four outings. But in the 15 games he's played over the past two seasons, he's scored at least 11 PPR points in 11 of them. And last year, once Kevin Stefanski took over as the offensive coordinator for the final three games of the season, Cook averaged 16.7 PPR points over that span. Stefanski and assistant head coach Gary Kubiak will call plays this year, and that should benefit Cook in a big way since both want to lean on the ground game. Cook also had eight catches in the three games under Stefanski on 10 targets. I'm planning to draft Cook in Round 2 in all leagues, and if he plays 16 games, he could finish as a top-five Fantasy running back in all formats in 2019.
Actions are obviously better than words, but so far this offseason, everything said about Fournette has been positive. Team czar Tom Coughlin and coach Doug Marrone are behind Fournette, and he's following through on his word to get in better shape by spending time in Wyoming to train. I'm expecting to see the best of Fournette in the NFL this season. While he was good as a rookie (286 carries for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns, along with 36 catches for 302 yards and one touchdown), I see him going over the 1,500 total yard threshold while scoring at least 10 total touchdowns, with at least 40 catches. The Jacksonville offensive line was in shambles in 2018 with left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandin Linder all missing time due to injury, but the unit should improve this year. And Fournette could have little competition for touches with T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde gone as free agents. Fournette is worth targeting toward the end of Round 2 or beginning of Round 3 in all leagues.
We got a glimpse of how good Michel could be in the regular season as a rookie in 2018, and he scored at least 17 PPR points in five of his final 11 games. But he really took off in the NFL playoffs last year. In three games, including Super Bowl LIII against the Rams in Atlanta, Michel had 71 carries for 336 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and six touchdowns, as well as one catch for 9 yards. His worst game was against the Rams when he scored 15 PPR points. As long as James White is healthy, it's doubtful we'll see Michel used a lot in the passing game. But he could be the catalyst of New England's offense in 2019 with Rob Gronkowski retired, and the Patriots now have a suspect receiving corps. Michel should be drafted as a No. 2 running back in all leagues toward the end of Round 2 or beginning of Round 3, with his value slightly lower in PPR.
You can make the argument that Mack had a breakout season last year, but I'm expecting him to do even better in 2019. I wouldn't be shocked to see him approach 1,500 total yards and score double digits in touchdowns if he stays healthy. The Colts have a standout offensive line and passing game, and Mack should get the majority of touches, even though he will share with Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Last year, Mack had six games with at least 17 total touches of the 13 games he was healthy, and he scored at least 11 PPR points in all of them, including four games with at least 18 PPR points. Mack has to stay healthy, and he's dealing with a hip ailment this offseason, and it would be nice to see him more involved in the passing game since he has just 38 catches for 328 yards and two touchdowns in his two-year career. But the Colts offense is one to covet, and Mack is the lead running back. I'm planning to draft Mack no later than Round 4 in all leagues.
Godwin was one of my favorite players last season, and he did well in his sophomore campaign with at least 13 PPR points in seven outings. But this year he could be dominant. Forget about what Arians said about Godwin catching 100 passes. That's not realistic. However, you should be excited about Godwin playing in the slot, and he's already drawing comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald during his time with Arians. Keep in mind that Fitzgerald posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons and led the Cardinals in targets while playing primarily from the slot under coach Arians from 2015-2017. Mike Evans should still be the focal point of this passing attack, with O.J. Howard also a significant factor. But Godwin should thrive with Jackson and Humphries gone, and in six games over the past two seasons without Jackson on the field, Godwin has scored at least 12 PPR points in four of them. Godwin's worth drafting in Round 5 in all leagues.
The 49ers could still add another receiver in the NFL Draft, but Pettis should be San Francisco's No. 1 receiver this season since the rest of the depth chart is Marquise Goodwin, Jordan Matthews, Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne. Obviously, George Kittle is on the roster as well, but Pettis should stand out. And he has the chance to build on his rookie campaign, which really didn't pick up toward the end of the 2018 season. In four of the final five games he was able to play (he missed Week 17 due to a knee injury), Pettis scored at least 13 PPR points, and he had seven targets in three of those outings. He should also benefit with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (ACL) coming back in time for training camp. Pettis is worth drafting as a low-end No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues in Round 5, and he could end the year as a top-15 option as the go-to option this offense.
Moore should be the No. 1 receiver for the Panthers this season with Devin Funchess (Indianapolis) gone, and it's a great opportunity for him to have a standout sophomore campaign. As a rookie in 2018, Moore posted five games with double digits in PPR in his final seven games, but two of those are worth mentioning. In Week 12 against Seattle and Week 17 at New Orleans when Funchess was out, Moore did not disappoint. He had eight catches for 91 yards on nine targets against the Seahawks and four catches for 81 yards on eight targets against the Saints, although Cam Newton (shoulder) was out for the season finale. Newton should be healthy for Week 1, and he should continue to lean on Moore this year. Moore is someone to target in all leagues in Round 5.
Kupp is expected to be ready for training camp after suffering a torn ACL in Week 10 against Seattle, and hopefully he can pick up where he left off. Kupp scored at least 12 PPR points in six of the eight games he appeared in, including five games with at least 17 PPR points, but two of those games (Week 6 at Denver and against the Seahawks) he was unable to finish due to injury. The Rams are loaded with talent with Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, but Jared Goff loves leaning on Kupp. In his six healthy games, Kupp averaged 7.8 targets per game. And if you take those six games over a 16-game pace, Kupp would have finished with 93 catches for 1,405 yards and 16 touchdowns. It's not reasonable to expect that type of production, especially the touchdowns, but Kupp is a No. 2 receiver to target in all leagues beginning in Round 5. Just make sure he's back at 100 percent by training camp as expected.
I had Engram as a bust candidate for 2018, and he was for most of the season. My argument was that his production would slip from his rookie campaign because of Saquon Barkley joining Beckham and Sterling Shepard. Well, in the games when Beckham was healthy last season, Engram scored double digits in PPR just twice. But when Beckham missed the final four games in 2018, as well as 12 games in 2017, Engram was a standout Fantasy option. Last year, he closed the season with four games in a row with at least 10 PPR points, including three games with more than 15 PPR points. And he had at least 77 receiving yards in each outing. In the 12 games Beckham missed in 2017, Engram had six with at least 15 PPR points. Beckham is now in Cleveland, and even though he was replaced by Golden Tate, I expect Engram to be the best receiving option for the Giants this year. Engram's a top-five tight end coming into the season, and he's worth targeting as early as Round 4.
Henry played just 14 snaps last season in the NFL playoffs after suffering a torn ACL last May. He was considered a breakout candidate last year prior to getting hurt, and hopefully he can stay at 100 percent this season. We'll see if the Chargers bring back Antonio Gates, who is a free agent, and the team lost Tyrell Williams (Raiders) this offseason. With those two gone, there are 110 targets for 69 catches, 987 yards and seven touchdowns to replace from last year. A good portion of that should go to Henry, who had at least 11 PPR points in seven of 14 games in 2017. Philip Rivers should lean on Henry as one of his top targets, along with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Melvin Gordon, and I like Henry as a top-five Fantasy tight end this season. Henry is someone to target as early as Round 5 in the majority of leagues.
Fantasy Football Today Newsletter
Get tips, advice and news to win your league - all from the FFT podcast team.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Amari Cooper's Fantasy value improved after being traded to the Cowboys last season. Jamey...
How much can you take away from non-contact rookie minicamps? You make the call on some of...
SportsLine simulated the 2019 NFL season 10,000 times and identified must-draft Fantasy Football...
Jamey Eisenberg has five under-the-radar rookies who could make an impact in re-draft leagues...
In our latest non-PPR mock draft, Jamey Eisenberg breaks down the challenge of trying to fill...
Heath Cummings takes a look at best-ball ADP since the NFL draft and comes up with some of...