2019 Rookie Review Part 2
With the fantasy football “off-season” in full swing, It’s time to take a look at the top rookies from 2019. I’ll be taking them on in order based on August ADP provided by fantasydata.com.
1.04: Miles Sanders
2019 finish: 16 games -179 att 818 yards 3 TD – 63 targets 60 Rec 509 yards 3 TD
The fantasy football community was ecstatic to see Miles Sanders drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. After using a second-round pick on him, Miles Sanders was expected to push Jordan Howard as the primary back.
Sanders finished the 2019 season as the RB15, it’s how he got there left fantasy owners wanting more. Howard at times dominated snaps and red zone work that made Sanders feel more like a boom-or-bust play every week. A Week 11 injury to Jordan Howard finally opened the door for Sanders who on many occasions flashed the playmaking ability scouts fell in love with.
In weeks 12-16, Sanders would have fantasy finishes of RB19, RB6, RB30 (Boston Scott RB7), RB3 & RB7. Despite a down week you were well positioned through your fantasy playoffs. Sanders showed he could be counted on as a pass-catcher by tallying 3+ catches in 12 games this season and exceeding 40 yards in 6 games. As a rookie in a timeshare, 1,327 scrimmage yards and 6 touchdowns are impressive.
Miles Sanders is an explosive athlete and is considered a big play waiting to happen but he needs consistent volume to be viewed as a top option. It’s no surprise that Sanders burst onto the scene just as the Eagles’ other playmakers were decimated by injuries. The Eagles firmly believe a committee is the best approach which means that we can expect the timeshare to persist. Sanders is firmly in the RB2 category as long as he remains the lead dog for the Eagles. Jordan Howard is a free agent and Boston Scott’s role should mimic that of Darren Sproles which means it’s safe to say Sanders will be in line for 15+ touches a game.
1.05 Darrell Henderson
2019 finish: RB96 – 39 att 147 yards 0 TD – 6 targets 4 Rec 37 yards 0 TD
Darrell Henderson had the hype of the Todd Gurley knee scare and the draft capital to back it up. What a lot of teams didn’t account for was the return of Malcolm Brown. Viewed by many as the primary handcuff, Henderson was the target of Todd Gurley owners everywhere. The idea was simple, draft Henderson and wait for Todd Gurley’s knee to fail. Not all plans work as expected.
The 1.05 is a high draft capital pick for someone to spend on a backup to one of the best RB’s in the league. That said, we did witness CJ Anderson (in 2018) wreck the league for what was a nearly unstoppable Rams offense. Gurley had been such a cheat code, owners of him did what they could to move up and acquire Henderson in the 2019 draft, which ultimately propelled him to the top 5 of rookie drafts. Despite the early disappointment, it’s hard to see Henderson going anywhere but up from his rookie year.
Henderson has a ton of potential coming out of Memphis. The fantasy football community as a whole loved his metrics. He was a dominant college runner and he was expected to succeed even as a backup to Todd Gurley. Gurley seemed to be able to handle the workload towards the end of 2019 which makes it hard to find touches for his backups. Expect Henderson to be more involved in 2020 but you could be looking at 2021 for his breakout. Currently, he is sharing the handcuff role with Malcolm Brown. Once Brown’s contract expires following 2020 we will see Henderson’s role grow significantly. Henderson is a future star who will thrive in an RB friendly offense when he finally gets his chance.
1.06 N’Keal Harry
2019 finish: WR123 – 24 targets 12 Rec 105 yards 2 TD – 5 att 49 yards 0 TD
This one is a hard one to write. N’Keal Harry and Aj Brown were the most coveted WR’s of the 2019 draft most saw N’Keal Harry was the WR1 in this class. Harry snuck into the 1st round as the New England Patriots made him the 32nd pick of the 1st rd. New England seemed like a dream spot for Harry. Edelman was set to play underneath while Josh Gordon would take the top off the defense.
Harry had fantasy owners dreaming of him dominating the middle of the field and catching goalline fades. Unfortunately, he would never get that chance. Harry would start the season on IR and wouldn’t get his first playing time until week 11. In weeks 11-17, Harry never surpassed 30 receiving yards or 3 catches.
It was a disappointing season, to say the least. He had 4+ targets in 4 of his last 7 games but drops were noticeably the biggest problem he will have to overcome this off-season.
The Patriots scheme is notoriously hard to learn for young pass-catchers. Making matters worse, Tom Brady and the offense took a step back across the board and that doesn’t project well for New England receivers. Fortunately for N’Keal, Josh McDaniels will remain in New England. If Tom Brady also comes back then N’Keal Harry will be a WR3 with upside in 2020.