Five Fantasy Football MVP candidates for 2019

Jacob Vanzuiden, Courier Staff

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Each year in fantasy football, there are several players that would qualify as a steal, exceeding all expectations and taking your fantasy squad to glory. With every dynamic player taken in fantasy drafts, however, there comes a player that falls flat and becomes a headache to the roster. The difference between the two generally indicates whether you’ll be taking home that first-place hardware at the end of the season or coming up short-handed. With only a few short weeks left to play in most leagues, everyone has a pretty good idea of who exactly those difference-makers were. With that being said, let’s look at some of the biggest names that should be considered Most Valuable Player in fantasy football for 2019. In doing so, these players are analyzed by looking at their total fantasy points scored in points-per-reception (PPR) scoring formats relative to their average draft position (ADP) at the beginning of the season.

1. Lamar Jackson, Quarterback – Baltimore Ravens

Second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson has been a revelation this season for the Baltimore Ravens, leading them to a sparkling 9-2 record including impressive victories versus the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams. For fantasy football purposes, he’s been even better – especially considering where you could have grabbed him in drafts back in August. According to Fantasy Pros, Jackson was taken on average with the 118th overall pick, giving fantasy’s No. 1 scoring QB incredible value. Over 11 games, Jackson has accrued a total of 306.7 fantasy points. His 27.9 fantasy points per game are over five points more than the next-highest scoring QB, Russell Wilson (22.8).

In 2019, Jackson’s running ability is what has really set him apart. His 876 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns are unheard of in his position, putting him well on pace to shatter Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record of 1,039 yards. Jackson has shown the ability to sling the rock with the best of them, too, tossing five touchdowns in a single game on two separate occasions this season while posting a 66.9 completion percentage. He may not only be the fantasy football MVP, but the real-life MVP as well.

2. Christian McCaffrey, Running Back – Carolina Panthers

It’s impossible to have a fantasy football MVP list without mentioning Christian McCaffrey. While there are plenty of spectacular young running backs in today’s game – Ezekiel Elliot, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook – no one has been quite as impactful as McCaffrey. While he may not have the ADP value of Lamar Jackson (selected as a consensus top-three pick), this simply does not matter. In PPR formats this season, the Stanford alum’s production has been unmatched, totaling a ridiculous 336.9 (30.6 fantasy points per game) through just 11 games.

His current torrid pace would put him at 489.6 fantasy points on the season, which would be the most scored by an RB since LaDainian Tomlinson’s 31-touchdown campaign back in 2006. Handling 26.2 touches per game, McCaffrey is the definition of a true NFL workhorse. He’s been especially valuable in PPR formats, having reeled in 10-plus passes in three games this season. If you were lucky enough to draft him this season, you’ll likely be enjoying a trip to your league’s championship game.

3. Austin Ekeler, Running Back – Los Angeles Chargers

At the beginning of the 2019 season when Chargers’ starting running back Melvin Gordon held himself from action in an attempt to get a new contract, Austin Ekeler filled his role in a big way. In Week 1, Ekeler busted out of the gates with 39.4 fantasy points, scoring three touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts. In fact, he was fantasy football’s No. 2 running back from Weeks 1 through 5, posting 22.5 fantasy points per game. In the preseason, nobody knew exactly how well Ekeler would perform with an extensive workload in Gordon’s absence, allowing owners to select him with the 64th overall pick on average.

Like McCaffrey, Ekeler possesses some of the best receiving chops in the league at the RB position. His 65 receptions are the second-most behind only McCaffrey. Gordon returned to the team back in Week 5, but that didn’t cause Ekeler to simply go away. He showed enough promise early in the season to remain a staple in L.A.’s offense. While he hasn’t been the same 20-point machine he was early on, he’s still mustered a respectable 15.8 fantasy points per game with Gordon on the field. Owners who took a shot on him in the seventh rounds should be grinning from ear to ear.

4. Chris Godwin, Wide Receiver – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The first wide receiver to crack the list, Chris Godwin has done wonders for fantasy owners in his first season with Bruce Arians as head coach. After showing promise in his sophomore season by catching 59 passes for 842 yards and seven touchdowns, Godwin has taken another step forward into the group of fantasy elites. The Penn State alum is currently the second-highest-scoring wide receiver in fantasy, scoring an average of 21.3 fantasy points per game. Shockingly, his teammate, Mike Evans, places third on the list, scoring 19.1 fantasy points per game.

Tampa Bay’s offense has been clicking on all cylinders in 2019, passing the ball for 288.1 yards per game, fourth-most in the NFL. They’ve had no choice but to sling the rock playing from behind in a majority of their matchups. The Buccaneers’ defense has left much to be desired, but this bodes greatly for fantasy football, as their top offensive players have thrived off sheer volume. Godwin is an absolute steal for where owners drafted him, which as of August, was 51st overall in the sixth round.

5. Dalvin Cook, Running Back – Minnesota Vikings

Vikings’ running back Dalvin Cook is the third ball-carrier to make the list. In fantasy football, the running back is without a doubt the most valuable position due to the volatility of other positions and lack of depth outside the top-20 RBs. While Cook is another player who was drafted, on average, around the back of the second round, he’s taken a gigantic leap in Minnesota’s new run-heavy offensive approach. In his age 24 season, the Florida State product has posted an average of 23.3 fantasy points per game, second-most amongst all tailbacks.

Cook has been a touchdown machine, scoring 14 times already in 2019 (11 rushing, three receiving) while carrying a respectable 4.75 yards per carry. The third-year pro has been impossible to bring down, evading a league-high 74 tackles with 11 breakaway runs (fourth-most in the NFL). It’s safe to say that Cook has emerged into one of the most explosive, well-rounded backs in the league, something that’s led to ample fantasy success this year.

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