The 2019 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, and it’s time for the next part of the NFL calendar. That’s right… massive, rampant speculation! They will go through drills in shorts, and we will endlessly project and prognosticate on their fantasy football futures. There are 78 guys who might have fantasy football relevance after their names were called in Nashville. Our goal with our Fantasy Football Rookie Roundup series is to give you a quick hit on every one of these guys. By the end, you’ll know these guys better than their mothers know them. Because it’s not like their mothers are necessarily good at fantasy football.
Now that we’ve completed our tour around the NFC, it’s time to turn our attention to the AFC, and we start with the Denver Broncos of the AFC West. The Broncos spent three picks on fantasy football eligible players in the draft, including two in the top two rounds. Let’s take a look at their fantasy football prospects for 2019, shall we?
Round 1, Pick 20 overall – Noah Fant, Tight End, Iowa
The latest draft prospect out of “Tight End U,” went eleven picks after his running mate, T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson went off to the Lions, but Fant went to the Broncos and greener 2018 fantasy football prospects… or did he? Let’s get this out of the way first. Noah Fant is a freak of nature. His worst rating on playerprofiler.com’s NFL Combine score metrics was his 96th percentile agility. Fant isn’t just a workout warrior too, he’s a beast in the seam, has an amazing catch radius, great hands, and better body control. There’s nothing to not like about Noah Fant as far as Noah Fant is concerned. The issue comes when fantasy football prognosticators will tell you about what he will do in 2019.
The overwhelming odds are that Noah Fant will not be a fantasy football commodity in 2019. That has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with the fact that despite his pedigree, he is destined to struggle in his rookie year.
Over the last ten seasons, 155 tight ends have at least one catch on their record, so about fifteen per season. Their production does not paint a pretty picture. The highwater mark for targets was Evan Engram’s 115; the second-most rookie targets? 83, by Jermaine Gresham. Yikes. While the best rookie target season would have been #4 in targets last year, the second-best would have been tenth. On average, the rookie with the most targets each season gets 65 targets. Remove Evan Engram’s outlier 115, and it’s 59 targets per season for the top target-getting tight end. 65 targets would have been the sixteenth-most targets, and 59 would have been the seventeenth-most targets last year.
Instead of going stat-by-stat, let’s pretend that Noah Fant is the #1 fantasy football rookie tight end this year, over the course of the last decade, what does that look like? Let’s start by taking the top fantasy football scoring rookie tight end from each of the last ten seasons:
From there, let’s average out what each tight end did with their rookie campaign. This should answer the question, what does the average fantasy football season look like for the league’s best rookie tight end? Do you really want to know? I don’t think you do. It ain’t pretty. The average top-scoring tight end from the last decade had 62 targets, 40 receptions, 450 yards, and 5 touchdowns. That’s 72.04/91.89/111.74 fantasy points over the course of the season in standard/half-PPR/PPR. Last year that would have been good for fantasy football’s TE17, TE16, and TE17 in those respective formats. Wildly enough, these are the season-ending rankings of Ravens 2018 rookie tight end Mark Andrews. I probably could have taken a short cut and not wasted all that effort, huh?
That’s that for Noah Fant. He’s exceptionally talented, but he would need an all-time outlier top rookie tight end season to even turn in usable numbers. Will he have great fantasy football weeks? Yes, that’s tight end. Will he have terrible fantasy football weeks? Yes, that’s tight end. He’s an amazing player, but one you should not go out of your way to get on your roster in 2019 fantasy football leagues… at least in the beginning. He’s likely to pull an Ian Thomas and flash down the stretch. Let someone else pull the trigger on him on draft day.
2019 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
Round 2, Pick 42 overall – Drew Lock, Quarterback, Missouri
Now that we’ve taken an extensive, stat-based deep dive into Noah Fant’s fantasy football prospects, it’s time to get back into some good, old fashion eye test with Drew Lock. Long story short, he’s good! Short story long, Lock has some issues to sort out, but there isn’t a lot about his college tape to get overwhelmingly upset about other than inconsistency.
The first game I watched was his outing against Alabama in 2018, and hoo boy, that was a doozy. His first five passes were: pick six, an amazing rocket, an awful pass at his receiver’s feet, a batted pass, and a laser. I knew I was in for a ride with Lock from there. He gets through his reads well enough and has a strong arm. He needs to learn to put some touch and arc on his passes, lest he break some fingers, but this all can come in time. “In time” is the question at hand in Denver. When does Drew Lock show up?
The Broncos traded for Joe Flacco and quietly let the Case Keenum Experiment end with a trade to Washington. They were rumored to like Lock in the first round, at ten, but ended up getting him a full round later. Did that buy Joe Flacco some time? Hopefully, for Lock’s development, he doesn’t play this season, which would mean zero fantasy football points. In reality, he will likely dip his toes in the water sometime after Denver’s week ten bye. At that point, we will know what Flacco has to offer Denver, and the coaching staff will want to get their second rounder some reps. I don’t expect much for him in 2019 fantasy football leagues… though two-quarterback leagues make anyone with a pulse valuable. Given that he likely isn’t going to get run until the bye weeks are almost done, you likely won’t have Lock on your fantasy football teams in 2019.
2019 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
Round 6, Pick 186 overall – Juwann Winfree, Wide Receiver, Colorado
If there’s one thing you want to look for in fantasy football wide receiver production, it’s x. Fill in x with whatever you want, and it won’t apply to Juwann Winfree. He was kicked out of Maryland for chronic knuckleheadedness. He runs messy, rounded routes, and just has good enough hands. He was always hurt and was an overwhelming dud on tape. He didn’t produce, either. He posted 28 catches for 324 yards and two scores in eight games last season. If he just brings that level of production to the NFL, that’s an overwhelming 5.55 fantasy football points per game. Pass.
2019 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
Like what you see? Looking for more hot content like this? Check out the rest of our 2019 Fantasy Football Rookie Roundup pieces, here!