Fantasy Football 2019: The Best Team We Could Have Drafted

We've all drafted our share of busts or sleepers who never woke up. Knowing how 2019 played out, here's the best team you could have possibly drafted back before the season started.
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As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.

Applying that cliché to fantasy football drafts, let’s take a look at the team we could have drafted back in August using ADP data from Full Time Fantasy.

For each pick, I only considered players that were available at that pick, on average, (or later).

I'll do the exercise three times—once with the sixth pick in the draft, and then scroll down to see the differences if I'd had the first pick or the last pick.

Afterward you can check out SI Fantasy's MVPs and Biggest Busts from 2019.

1.06 (6 overall): Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

Not only was Thomas the WR1 this year, he would have been the WR1 in any of the past five seasons. Dominant on a full-season basis (145/1,688/9) with a game still to go, it was his reliable weekly output that was even more impressive. Breaking the record for most receptions in an NFL season, Thomas had a minimum of eight catches and 89 yards in 13 of his 15 games this season. Per Pro Football Reference, Julio Jones had the most 8/89 games last season (seven). Thomas himself was tied for second with six.

2.07 (19): Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Especially with DeSean Jackson no longer in Tampa, many expected a third-year breakout from Godwin and he delivered. The 23-year-old receiver set career highs across the board and led the team with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns while scoring the second-most fantasy points at WR this season, behind only Thomas.

3.06 (30): Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

Even though he was targeted only 24 times this season, Henry still finished the year as fantasy’s RB6 in half-PPR scoring formats. Third in the NFL in rushing, the Titans’ lead back rushed for 1,329 yards, added 18 catches for 206 yards and scored a total of 15 touchdowns in 14 games.

4.07 (43): Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

His usage may have frustrated his fantasy owners at times, but only Christian McCaffrey scored more fantasy points than Jones this season. Scoring 19 touchdowns—16 rushing and three receiving—on the year, Jones had some of his best games down the stretch, which would have helped this team given that Henry missed Week 16 with a hamstring injury. During the fantasy playoffs, Jones racked up 403 scrimmage yards and scored five touchdowns.

5.06 (54): Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

Ekeler’s role as a ball carrier was scaled back following Melvin Gordon’s Week 5 return—14.0/G before Week 5 and 6.09/G from Week 5 on. That said, he had 83 receptions for 950 yards and eight touchdowns to go along with a 123/511/3 rushing line in 2019. In many weeks, both MG3 and Ekeler were viable running back plays and Ekeler still finished as fantasy’s RB11 from Weeks 5 to 16 with Gordon active. Through five rounds, this team would have the top two producers at wide receiver and three of the top six at running back.

6.07 (67): Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

My intent was to exclude players that benefited from injuries to teammates, but I expected Sanders to overtake Jordan Howard whether the latter missed time due to a shoulder ailment or not. With a snap percentage greater than 70% in five of his past six games, Sanders was the RB7 during that span (Weeks 11 to 16). It’s not a good thing (from a team perspective) when your running back leads the team in 20-yard receptions, but it fine for my fantasy team, and shows how versatile of a back Sanders is as well.

7.06 (78): Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals (via MIA)

Even with a second bye in Week 12, a schedule quirk resulting in the timing of his trade, Drake has performed as the RB5 since becoming a Cardinal in Week 9. In those seven games, he has averaged 104.4 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown per game. Not too shabby for this team’s fifth running back.

8.07 (91): Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

Despite catching passes from three separate quarterbacks (Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen and Drew Lock), Sutton had a breakout in his second season with 68 catches for 1,060 yards and six touchdowns.

9.06 (102): Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

An argument could be made for either Andrews (TE2) or Oakland’s Darren Waller (TE5), both of whom had breakout seasons. I went back and forth before settling on Andrews, who was much more productive in the red zone (10 TDs vs. three).

10.07 (115): Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Breaking Michael Vick’s single-season quarterback rushing yardage record, Jackson’s 1,206 yards on the ground ranked sixth in the NFL, just ahead of Jacksonville’s workhorse back Leonard Fournette (1,152, seventh). Counting his rushing yardage and rushing touchdowns (seven), Jackson scored 10.84 fantasy points per game from his rushing stats alone. Even though he ranks 26th in the NFL in pass attempts (401), no quarterback has more passing touchdowns than Jackson (36). As great as he’s been this season, I’m unlikely to have any shares next year, given his much higher draft-day cost in 2020.

11.06 (126): DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

Still only 26 years old, Parker broke out in his fifth NFL season with 64 receptions for 1,065 yards and nine touchdowns, all of which shattered previous career highs. More impressive than his cumulative numbers, which made him a top-12 producer, Parker was remarkably consistent with 55-plus yards in 12 of 15 games this season.

12.07 (139): Carlos Hyde, RB, Houston Texans

Given the amazing late-round values at receiver, Hyde is a less exciting but steady pick here for some more running back depth. With Houston being the latest stop on his NFL tour, Hyde’s first-ever 1,000-yard season puts him in the top 10 in rushing and he has scored the 23rd-most fantasy points this season.

13.06 (150): D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Back in August, I listed Chark as one of my two sleepers in my AFC South Fantasy Football Preview, but he exceeded expectations of most (including me) this season. Only 26 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season, and a top-15 wide receiver, the second-year player has posted a 69/974/8 line in 14 games despite his ADP of 199 overall.

14.07 (163): A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

This slot could have gone to Terry McLaurin as well, but Brown closed the season strong with the switch from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill. Averaging 19.3 yards per reception this season, Brown had three games with 114-plus yards and at least one touchdown over his final five games.

15.06 (174): New England Patriots DST

The gap between the Patriots (DST1) and the Steelers (DST2) was larger than the gap from the Steelers to the Eagles (DST16).

16.07 (187): Harrison Butker, K, Kansas City Chiefs

Butker edged New Orleans’s Will Lutz to score the most fantasy points among kickers this season. It was his third consecutive top-seven season.

The Final Roster

With the sixth pick, and the draft above, here’s what my team would have looked like, along with where they ranked at their position in fantasy points through Week 16 based on half-PPR scoring:

QB: Lamar Jackson (QB1)

RBs: Derrick Henry (RB6), Aaron Jones (RB2), Austin Ekeler (RB5), Miles Sanders (RB14), Kenyan Drake (RB18), Carlos Hyde (RB23)

WRs: Michael Thomas (WR1), Chris Godwin (WR2), Courtland Sutton (WR19), DeVante Parker (WR11), D.J. Chark (WR14), A.J. Brown (WR21)

TE: Mark Andrews (TE2)

K: Harrison Butker (K1)

DST: New England Patriots (DST1)

Not bad, right? If only we'd known...

What If We Picked No. 1 Overall?

If we picked first overall, here’s the team I would have drafted:

1.01 (1): Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

2.12 (24): Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3.01 (25): Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

4.12 (48): Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

5.01 (49): Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

6.12 (72): Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals (via MIA)

7.01 (73): Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

8.12 (96): John Brown, WR, Buffalo Bills

9.01 (97): Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

10.12 (120): Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

11.01 (121): DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

12.12 (144): D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

13.01 (145): A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

14.12 (168): Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Redskins

15.01 (169): New England Patriots DST

16.12 (192): Harrison Butker, K, Kansas City Chiefs

Despite selecting six running backs in the first seven rounds, this team has four top-15 fantasy wide receivers (and six in the top 24). A bust-proof running back, McCaffrey has exceeded 70 rushing yards only once in his past six games. Except for a nine-target game (Week 12), he has double-digit targets in the other five games during that stretch … and he’s a running back.

While there were a lot of values at receiver late—Parker (ADP: 135), Chark (ADP: 199), A.J. Brown (ADP: 252), McLaurin (ADP: 255), etc., many stretches of WRs earlier were disappointments. For example, here are the 13 wide receivers selected in Rounds 6 and 7 (in order by ADP)—Curtis Samuel (61), A.J. Green (63), Will Fuller (64), Christian Kirk (66), Robby Anderson (67), Emmanuel Sanders (68), Sterling Shepard (70), Corey Davis (72), Josh Gordon (73), Sammy Watkins (79), Dante Pettis (81), Tyrell Williams (83) and Larry Fitzgerald (84).

What If We Picked Last in Round 1?

If we picked last in the round, here’s the team I would have drafted:

1.12 (12): Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

2.01 (13): Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3.12 (36): Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

4.01 (37): Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

5.12 (60): Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

6.01 (61): Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals (via MIA)

7.12 (84): Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

8.01 (85): John Brown, WR, Buffalo Bills

9.12 (108): Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens

10.01 (109): Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

11.12 (132): DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

12.01 (133): D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

13.12 (156): A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

14.01 (157): Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers

15.12 (180): New England Patriots DST

16.01 (181): Harrison Butker, K, Kansas City Chiefs

Similar to the team drafted first overall, this team is top-heavy at running back. Even so, the team still has six top-24 fantasy wide receivers, a top-two tight end and the top scorer at QB, K and DST.

If I were to take a running back at No. 6 overall for the first team, it would have been Cook, who had a spectacular season despite dealing with injuries down the stretch. The third-year back ended 2019 with 1,654 yards from scrimmage and 13 scores in 14 games. The only other player not selected to one of the other two teams was Raheem Mostert, who emerged as the 49ers best running back. Not only did Mostert score in his final five games, but he averaged 5.6 YPC this season.

Stick with us at SI Fantasy through the offseason and we'll do our best to help you land a team like this one next year on draft day.