- The boring veterans who always provide fantasy value.
Without fail, there will be players in every fantasy draft who go way later than they should. I’m not referring to surprise breakouts, such as Patrick Mahomes, or players who, with the benefit of hindsight, seemed more obvious at the end of the season than they did at the beginning, like James Conner. No, the players I’m talking about get overlooked for an entirely different reason: They’re boring.
Every fantasy owner in every draft wants to make the pick that draws out the oohs and aahs from their leaguemates. They want to be the one who hits on the next big star. The equal and opposite reaction to that desire is a suppressing of the draft-day prices of non-superstar veterans who may not win a fantasy league single-handedly, but will almost certainly deliver an easy payoff. They’re boring, but they’re effective, and fantasy owners would be wise to pay them more attention on draft day. Herein, we present the 2019 Boring All-Star Team.
Quarterback: Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Dak Prescott has an average draft position of 132.4, which makes him the 18th quarterback off the board in a typical draft. Prescott has been in the NFL three seasons, ranking seventh, eighth and 11th, respectively, in fantasy leagues. He has ranged between 3,324 and 3,885 passing yards, and 282 and 357 rushing yards. He has thrown for 23, 22 and 22 touchdowns, and rushed for six scores in all three of his years. In nine games with Amari Cooper last year, Prescott had a completion percentage of 71.3%, 2,468 yards, 7.71 yards per attempt, 14 touchdowns against four interceptions, and four more scores with his legs. He has never missed a start. Why is the fantasy community suddenly viewing him as barely a top-20 quarterback? Is it because his unflashy consistency has become boring? No matter the reason, he’s a significant value at his ADP. — Michael Beller
Running Backs: Mark Ingram, Ravens; Lamar Miller, Texans
With Alvin Kamara getting all the attention in New Orleans the past two years, it’s easy to forget Mark Ingram has averaged 84.1 total yards from scrimmage per game during that span. Ingram has evolved into a legitimate three-down back, including catching a career-high 58 passes in 2017. He lacks the flash of youngsters like Phillip Lindsay, Sony Michel and Kerryon Johnson, but has tremendous upside heading into 2019 as the primary back in Baltimore. The Ravens led the league in rushing attempts last season, and while that owed largely to Lamar Jackson taking over as the starter, that tendency bodes well for Ingram. Greg Roman, the team’s offensive coordinator, has always favored a run-heavy approach. His Bills in 2015 and 2016 led the league in rushing yards, and his 49ers from 2011 to 2014 never finished lower than eighth. While Jackson will steal some red-zone carries away from Ingram, the back should still get a heavy workload in an offense that fed Gus Edwards 16 carries per game as the starter last year. The team will also ask Ingram to play a role in the passing game, a role in which he excelled in New Orleans. If you’re looking for a possible parallel, LeSean McCoy caught 82 passes in two years under Roman with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. Ingram may not be the most exciting draft pick, but he’s a safe fantasy option and a legitimate RB2 with upside. — Brandon Niles
In an NFL where running back by committee is a given in all but a few circumstances, Lamar Miller is the most consistent running back we’ve seen in years. In 2018, Miller eclipsed 1,000 scrimmage yards double-digit PPR points per game for the fifth straight year. He is one of only two backs who can boast that PPR consistency, with Boring All-Star teammate Ingram being the other.
There is plenty of reason to believe Miller can do it for a sixth straight season and maintain his value as an RB2 that goes beyond the fact that he hasn’t shown any cracks over the previous five seasons. The Texans addressed their biggest weakness in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft by drafting offensive tackle Tytus Howard and guard Max Scharping to bolster a line that has been a problem the last two years. D’Onta Foreman is expected to be healthy had have a role in the offense, but he’ll be nearly two years removed from meaningful football when the season begins after a 20-month recovery from a torn Achilles. Add in the possibility of some positive touchdown regression and you get a boring, reliable fantasy pick with a little bit of upside. — Justin Edwards
Wide Receivers: Julian Edelman, Patriots; Golden Tate, Giants; Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Despite missing four games due to a suspension last year, Julian Edelman still racked up 74 catches on 108 targets. He’s averaged 9.6 targets per game over his past six years, which would be top-10 in any given season and more than guys like Mike Evans, Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry had last year. He’s only eclipsed 1,000 yards twice in his career and has also never scored more than seven receiving touchdowns in a season, which is why he’s so boring and affordable in fantasy leagues, but played at a 16-game pace for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018.
In standard leagues, Edelman grinds out reliable points each week, albeit with limited upside. In PPR formats, his high volume and fourth-round price tag make him a great WR2 option. The Patriots aren’t going to stop throwing the ball just because Rob Gronkowski hung up the cleats. Josh McDaniels returns as the offensive coordinator and Tom Brady has ranked in the top-10 in pass attempts in each of his past seven full seasons. Rookie N’Keal Harry should garner some attention, but with Gronk out of the picture, Edelman will be the primary chain-mover on offense. Edelman won’t wow you with huge stats and he lacks the upside of players drafted ahead of him like Amari Cooper and Stefon Diggs, but he’s as steady as they come. Until Brady calls it a career, Edelman should be on your radar in all fantasy leagues. — BN
Fresh off his sixth straight season with at least 99 targets (really, 2013 Seahawks? Couldn’t have just made it an even 100?), Golden Tate will take his slot receiver prowess to the New York Giants this season. The Giants, of course, have a gaping hole at wide receiver room after trading Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland. While there are few, if any, receivers who can match OBJ stat for stat, Tate should benefit from the 24.7% target share and 8.8 targets per game up for grabs.
The Giants’ new three-receiver set should push Sterling Shepard to the outside and open the slot for Tate to do what he does best. Tate has remained steady at about 11 yards per reception despite an ever-shrinking average depth of target over the last few seasons. The shrinking aDOT will fit right in with Eli Manning, whose aDOT fell to 7.4 yards last year, and his wavering arm strength. That doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence in Manning or the Giants’ offense in general, but it should result in more boring production from Tate, who could soak up a lot of the targets that used to be reserved for Beckham’s elite slant/crossing game. Manning remains effective on short and intermediate passes, which also plays to Tate’s strengths. — JE
Every player on the Boring All-Star Team is undervalued, but I think Larry Fitzgerald is the most undervalued player in fantasy this year at any position. From 2015 through 2017, Fitzgerald’s age-32 through age-34 seasons, he put up three straight years with at least 100 catches, 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. Last year, when Arizona’s offense fell off the face of the earth, he had just 69 catches for 734 yards, though he did still score six touchdowns. With Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury now at the helm of the offense, there’s good reason to believe in the Cardinals being one of this year’s biggest turnaround teams, especially on that side of the ball. If that is indeed the case, Fitzgerald should get back to his 100-catch, 1,000-yard ways, even at 36 years old. — MB
Tight End: Delanie Walker, Titans
Delanie Walker is the 12th tight end off the board in a typical draft early in the summer, which is basically the fantasy community saying it expects him to stay healthy and hit the bottom of his realistic range of outcomes. That is selling the Tennessee tight end woefully short.
From 2013 through 2017, Walker’s first five seasons in Tennessee, he averaged 71.2 receptions, 107.6 targets, 831.2 yards and 5.2 touchdowns per year. Those numbers come out to 149.92 fantasy points per season in half-PPR leagues. Since 2013, that output has never been worse than the overall TE9, and has been good for an average of TE7.
Walker has been even better in the three full seasons he has played with Marcus Mariota, averaging 77.7 catches on 115.3 targets for 898 yards and 5.3 touchdowns per year. That translates to 160.48 fantasy points per season. Walker is in his age-35 season and coming off a gruesome ankle injury, but he has been one of the most durable players of the last decade, playing at least 14 games every season from 2007 through 2017. The Titans did add A.J. Brown in the draft and Adam Humphries in free agency, but a healthy Walker should be, at worst, the second-most targeted pass-catcher in the offense. He’s at near-zero risk of falling out of the TE1 class while carrying an easy top-seven ceiling at the position. — MB
Flex: Latavius Murray, RB, Saints
Latavius Murray has seen more than his fair share of backfield situations in his five-year career. From pass-catching sixth-round rookie, to workhorse back, to backup to an aspiring workhorse, and primary runner in a run/pass platoon, Murray has done it all. Now, he’ll be asked to reprise a modified version of the latter role in one of the most prolific offense sin the league. Murray will slide into the Mark Ingram role in New Orleans, teaming up with Alvin Kamara. While Kamara is the big prize in the backfield, Murray will have more than enough opportunity to be a top-30 back.
Murray’s boring skillset lends itself perfectly to what the Saints will ask of him. Regardless of what role Murray has fallen into, he has gotten himself into the end zone 26 times over the last three seasons on the back of his 53 carries from inside the 10-yard line. There’s no reason to believe his goal-line usage or touchdown scoring will take a dip this year. Over the last five seasons, the Saints have scored 16, 16, 17, 23 and 25 rushing touchdowns. Those marks ranked fifth, sixth, sixth, first and first in their respective seasons. Drew Brees had an eight-year low in pass attempts in 2017 (536) before throwing even fewer in 2018 (489). It’s worth noting that the Saints won 24 games the last two years after finishing 7-9 in the three seasons season from 2014 through and 2016.
Murray would have a safe floor almost anywhere, but with the opportunity of absorbing Ingram’s vacated 250 touches, he could have a not-so-boring ceiling. — JE