So it begins.
We've gone through the long dark night of the NFL offseason. Past the breathless analysis of Combine drills. Past the euphoric jubilation of the NFL Draft and even past the educated prognosticating that comes with mini-camps and OTAs. The light at the end of the tunnel is the oncoming rush of training camp. That means it's time to re-evaluate rosters and depth charts and figure out what it means for some of your upcoming draft strategy.
Check back. This piece will be updated when teams begin releasing depth charts.
Outlook: The Kliff Kingsbury Era begins in the desert and while there's plenty we don't know about the new-look Cardinals offense, we do know one thing -- they're going to throw the ball. A lot. That's why Kyler Murray is being talked up as a potential solid redraft option in many leagues. Yet for some reason, the same excitement hasn't quite hit the receiving corps. Christian Kirk shoiuld see the bulk of the wide receiver targets if he stays healthy and the ageless Larry Fitzgerald (back for possibly one last ride) will remain in the mix. How the rest of the wideouts stack up is anyone's guess for now. What isn't up for debate is the importance of David Johnson. After a frustrating 2018, there's hope that Kingsbury's new scheme is the shot in the arm to get DJ back to being a top tier fantasy back.
Outlook: The biggest story surrounding this offense in 2019 will be the health and the role of Todd Gurley. After being limited in the postseason and dealing with rumors of arthritis in his knees, Gurley has slipped down fantasy rankings boards this offseason. Los Angeles spending a third-round pick on Darrell Henderson only inflamed the panic. Considering Sean McVay's use of his veterans in the preseason (read: not at all), we won't have any real idea of Gurley's usage rates until the season starts. As for the rest of the offense, the return of Cooper Kupp from a knee injury should bring of the league's top receiving corps back to full strength. It's been hard to ride with a Rams tight end in recent years, but signs point to Everett having a slight edge over Higbee.
Outlook: Last summer, this was every fantasy analysts' favorite sleeper offense. But a slew of injuries put the coming-out party on hold. Still, we found a few things to like -- notably tight end George Kittle, who burst onto the scene in record-setting fashion. This season, we wait to see if Jimmy Garoppolo is the player we believed him to be and whether Tevin Coleman can reach the potential many in Atlanta believed he had. The wide receiver corps is a group long on potential but short on serious production. This year could tell us a lot about who they are.
Outlook: The Seahawks were a run-first outfit in 2018 and there's little reason to think that won't be the case again in 2019. Chris Carson is likely to take the lead but how much he shares touches with Rashaad Penny will determine how much he'll help fantasy rosters. One big difference, however, is that Doug Baldwin (retirement) is now gone and Tyler Lockett is expected to absorb a lot of those targets. DK Metcalf put on a superhero performance at the Combine in February but there are questions about whether he'll be merely mortal once he goes up against NFL talent. Russell Wilson barely cracked the top 10 among QBs last year and it's fair to wonder if he'll be a fringe QB1 yet again but it always seems that Russ finds a way.
Outlook: Don't look now, but the Cowboys have put together one of the more intriguing offenses in the league. We've already been witness to the greatness of Ezekiel Elliott but adding Amari Cooper last season in a trade with the Raiders helped kick the passing game into high gear. That late-season surge helped Dak Prescott finish as a top 10 quarterback and has raised expectations for this season. The only uncertainty in this offense is at tight end. But Jason Witten is back ... if you're into that sort of thing.
Outlook: It appears that the Giants are holding fast to the idea of Eli Manning as their starting quarterback, though rookie Daniel Jones could make a push to take over the gig sometime before the season ends. Who is slinging the rock will have a major impact on how attractive the pass-catchers are to fantasy managers. If Manning won't (or can't) push the ball downfield, there's little value to players like Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard or Evan Engram. Regardless, Saquon Barkley should still be a beast and is in the running to be picked 1.01 in most leagues.
Outlook: This is a good Eagles offense on paper but ask fantasy managers who they'd feel comfortable drafting beyond Zach Ertz or Carson Wentz and you'll probably be met with an awkward silence. This is a team with a lot of depth at the skill positions but no clearly defined top options. That means, best of luck for anyone wading into the receiving waters here. It gets even murkier if you're considering an Eagles running back. Hey, at least there's always Ertz.
Outlook: If there is a fantasy draft value on this roster, I dare you to point it out to me. Derrius Guice comes with a modicum of hope but a whole lot of unknown. Adrian Peterson defied the odds last year but Father Time is starting to close the gap. Jordan Reed finally stayed healthy for the bulk of the season but also had one of his least productive campaigns. The quarterbacks range from meh (Case Keenum and Colt McCoy) to unknown (Dwayne Haskins). And the wide receivers? Well, good luck with all of that.
Outlook: The Matt Nagy Era got off to a mediocre offensive start in 2018 but hope springs eternal that better days are coming this season. Of course, a lot of that is dependant on the evolution of Mitchell Trubisky. He'll have to be better than average (QB15 in order for his receivers to have any real fantasy value. Excitement abounds in the backfield with rookie David Montgomery taking over for the departed Jordan Howard. But there is still a mystery exactly how the touches will shake out with Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis lurking in the background.
Outlook: These aren't your big brother's Detroit Lions. After being the NFL's most pass-happy outfit for the better part of a decade, Matt Patricia is changing the team's modus operandi. Now this squad is built around defense and a running game, at least theoretically. That's good news for Kerryon Johnson. At least, it is if C.J. Anderson doesn't use last season's late resurrection to cut into his workload. It's bad news for Matthew Stafford, whose pass attempts have steadily decreased (with or without a supposed back injury). Regardless, Kenny Golladay has the look of your next favorite fantasy WR2 -- especially if Marvin Jones takes a step back in the pecking order.
Outlook: The biggest storyline surrounding the 2018 Packers was the staleness of Mike McCarthy's offense. The biggest storyline surrounding the 2019 Packers could be what Matt LaFleur does (or doesn't do) with essentially the same cast of characters. That creates renewed hope that Aaron Rodgers can return to elite status (his QB6 finish in 2018 belied a season that was short on consistency). While Davante Adams has established himself among the NFL's top pass-catchers, there's optimism that LaFleur's offense can elevate one of Green Bay's other receivers to greater fantasy prominence. One other request fantasy managers have of the new head coach would be to ride one running back -- preferably Aaron Jones -- rather than relying on the confusing rotation McCarthy insisted on. Your move, Mr. LaFleur.
Outlook:Kirk Cousins wasn't terrible last season. He just didn't live up to the lofty expectations many fantasy managers had for him. It also means that this season, the heat is off when it comes to reaching for him in drafts. That could make him a potential bargain. Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Dalvin Cook will continue to be early-round picks but it might be hard to find every week contributors.
Outlook: In Steve Sarkisian's second season as offensive coordinator, the Falcons took a step forward. Matt Ryan finished last season as the QB2, though fantasy managers are hoping for a little more week-to-week consistency than we saw in 2018. We know that there remains the potential for a pair of top 25 receivers with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley hitting the mark last season while there's hope that Austin Hooper's TE7 finish is the start of something big or was a product of a down year at the position. Finally, with Tevin Coleman having moved on to San Francisco, it should mean good things for Devonta Freeman, provided he's fully recovered from a groin injury that robbed him of 14 games last season.
Outlook: Last season, Christian McCaffrey proved he could be a workhorse, finishing with 326 total touches -- third-most in the league. That's put him in the conversation to be the 1.01 selection in many leagues. Run CMC was arguably the sole bright light in the Panthers' offense. Cam Newton slumped overall and posted career-lows in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, though it was apparent late in the season that he was hampered by a shoulder injury. This season, the Panthers will take the field without Devin Funchess (Colts) which gives D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel much more fantasy intrigue. Now it's up to offensive coordinator Norv Turner to get them more involved. Greg Olsen returns for a 13th season but after playing a combined 16 games over the last two years, one wonders how much he has left.
Outlook:Drew Brees isn't the guaranteed top five fantasy quarterback he once was and there questions whether he remains a QB1 option in an offense that is transitioning its focus. There are still a couple of elite options in New Orleans, however, with Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas likely to both be off the board before the end of the second round. As for the rest of the depth chart, players like Latavius Murray, Ted Ginn, and Jared Cook could have later round value but won't be players that most will feel confident starting every week.
Outlook: The 2019 Bucs come with plenty of intrigue, though most fantasy managers are approaching this group with trepidation. Bruce Arians' hiring as head coach has fostered hope that Tampa's pass attack can be more consistent while remaining one of the league's most productive outfits. It's also part of why Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard have become fantasy draft darlings. Yet the biggest mystery remains in the backfield. Is Peyton Barber still the Bucs back of record or will Ronald Jones shake off an abysmal rookie season to become viable in 2019? It's best not to spend too much draft capital on either until we have clearer answers.