GMRRFFA's 2019 Sleeper Keepers
We’re still roughly six weeks away from the GMRRFFA Keeper deadline, the official start of the 2019 season, where owners begin getting unsolicited emails from the Commish about important dates and league dues, but in the GMRRFFA world, the unofficial start of the season (and the de facto statement of Keepers intentions by many owners) kicked off back on May 1st.
Starting this year, GMRRFFA owners were allowed to engage in off-season trading ahead of the August 12th three-keeper max deadline. Coupling these trades with sending (or receiving FAAB money) saw a furious first few days of the trade season, where 13 deals happened in just 72 hours (since then, just four trades). In that 72-hour span, key 2019 players like Joe Mixon, Ezekial Elliot, Amari Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins, Kerryon Johnson, Kennan Allen, Kenny Golloday, Derrius Guice and LeSean McCoy (just kidding) changed teams.
Post-trade chaos, things have settled down ahead of training camps opening next month and, by my calculation, no less than ten teams are probably settled on their three 2019 keepers. That said, there’s still an abundance of talent worth taking a closer look at, even if owners’ are already capped with their keepers.
Ahead of that August keeper deadline, I’m spending some (legit?) time breaking down some of the best under-the-radar keepers in GMRRFFA. I’m bypassing all the no-brainers (looking at all the stud RBs and WRs locked up for reasonable cost). I’m not talking Alvin Kamara for a still-astonishing $22 draft, or James Conner for $10, or heck even Joe Mixon or Amari Cooper in the $50s.
Instead, let’s take a dive into some of the tougher calls, which I’ve broken down in to three categories – Definitely Keeping; Maybe Keeping Under Certain Circumstances; and, Sorry, I Love This Guy But There’s No Room on My Roster. This list could definitely change, especially with possible late trades or injuries, but let’s get cracking, shall we?
Mike Williams ($11) – Fredo Maisel
Acquired in a magical night of drunk in-person trading with the Commish, Fredo fell in to a potential breakout star in Williams… on the cheap. His numbers may not leap out at you from 2018 – 43 catches/664 yards – but the TEN touchdowns ultimately helped Fredo win a treasure trove of extra draft dollars in the inaugural 2018 LB6 tournament. Williams seemed hit-or-miss last season with 8 games of 3+ catches, but in his last five games, he averaged 4 receptions per game averaging 13 yards per catch. Equally important over that span, his target rate was up and his reception-to-target was around 70%, a five-point improvement over his first 11 games. For comparison’s sake, Williams’ catch-to-target rate over those last five games is the same as DeAndre Hopkins’ rate through the entire 2018.
Williams may not be Nuk, but if he continues to grow into a role opposite Keenan Allen, $11 for a wide receiver expected to collect 57 catches and 800+ yards is great value. In Fredo’s case, this is a no-brainer; despite his stacks of draft dollars, Fredo still lacks a ton of keeper options beyond Williams, Le’Veon Bell, Brandin Cooks and Derrick Henry. The Chargers WR is easily the cheapest with best upside potential for the cost.
DJ Moore ($17) – Garcia
Let’s remind ourselves to never sleep on the Purveyor of Death (in this case figuratively, but I imagine in a literal sense is also applicable). Relatively cash-strapped ahead of the August draft, Garcia has flipped a ton of high-priced keepers (Kelce, Gurley, Elliot, and Cooper) for a ton of cheap keepers plus FAAB dollars. Putting aside both Golloday and Derious Guice, DJ Moore at $17 could be a steal!
First, let’s remind ourselves Cam Newton is likely healthy ahead of 2019, but let’s also look at his best WRs over the last few years: Devin Funchess, Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn. Setting aside CMC and the oft-injured Gregg Olsen, Newton hasn’t had an elite receiver at his disposal since Steve Smith back in 2012. In 2017, Funchess led the team in receiving with just 63 catches and 840 yards. The 2014 edition of Benjamin wasn’t much better with 73 catches and 1,000 yards.
Enter DJ Moore, the second-year stud who could be a beast in 2019. In his second half of the 2018 season, Moore accumulated 56 targets (68% of his season total), 36 receptions (65% of his season total), and 428 yards (54% of his season total). Apply those numbers to a full season, he’s averaging 13 points per week, or a top-30 WR comparable to Golloday, Jarvis Landry, and Tyler Lockett.
Also, it’s important to note Moore was a rookie in 2018!!!! By comparison, extending Moore’s last five games of his rookie season to a full year would only be trumped by the following rookie WR campaigns over the last ten years: Michael Thomas, Amari Cooper, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Keenan Allen. That’s a fantastic list to be included in.
Robert Woods ($22) – FIL
Often overlooked in the Rams’ WR corps for Kupp and Brandin Cooks, can we just finally state that Robert Woods is SOLID! In 2018, Woods ranked as the 17th best receiver in GMRRFFA, accumulating an astonishing 86 catches over 130 targets with 1,200 yards, all for $12! In 28 games with the Rams, Woods averaged 5 catches and 71 yards per game. Even in crowded line-up in LA, Woods slated to have an impressive year in 2019 with an expected 14 points per week.
Woods is a gift for FIL, who needs legit performers on the cheap considering Saquon Barkley’s $118 keeper price tag. Even if the best father-in-law in the business had a deeper list of options, Woods is a player that needs to be on his roster (or mine or someone else’s).
Honorable Mention: Chris Godwin (Toby Kobach); Calvin Ridley (Coop); Zach Ertz (Carlos)
Maybe Keeping Under Certain Circumstances
Chris Carson ($27) – The Commish
Are we shocked I included Carson in this list instead of Austin Hooper? (Yes, most GMRRFFA owners anticipated this entire section to be about my stacked roster.) First, why is Carson on this list? It’s pretty clear his spot on Trubisky Business’ roster is wholly contingent on Todd Gurley’s health. If Gurley is good for the 2019 season, a solid running back will go in to the draft for Fredo and Smeet to overbid on.
Carson posted an impressive 2018 season with 1,151 yards (FYI the 7th highest in 2018) over 14 games, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, finishing as a top-25 back in fantasy. His receiving game is lacking, averaging just one catch per game, but Carson tied for fourth among running back touches inside the five-yard line and was 7th in total red zone rushing attempts. After finishing first overall in team rushing last season, Seattle is going to continue to be a run-focused offense, where it averaged 33 attempts per game. Then again, even keeping Carson is not without risk with Rashaad Penny expected to have a major role in the offense this season despite just 23% of the team’s total rushing attempts last season.
In the end, Carson as an option, especially when projected to be a top-20 RB option at a reasonable price, gives the Commish some cover just in case Gurley is done (he is not).
Mike Evans ($95) - Carlos
For those unfamiliar with GMRRFFA, seeing Evans in this category likely does not make sense, but within the context of Carlos’ squad, Evans’ future is questionable. First, Carlos is restricted in draft dollar with just $225. Subsequently, can he invest 42% of his budget on Evans, especially when Carlos has a ton of other options?
Let us bet he overpays and keeps Andrew Luck at $20. He then has the following choices: Evans at $95, US Women's National Team star Julie Ertz's husband at $39, TY Hilton at $66, and my least favorite player, Tyreek Hill at $59. Ultimately, I think Carlos definitely keeps Luck and US Women's National Team star Julie Ertz's husband, so he would then be down to $166.
Spending an extra $30 for Evans over Hilton probably does not make sense, but let’s take a look at the numbers for both plus Hill, who reportedly may only miss four games for being an awful human being (nice going NFL!).
2018 – 86 receptions, 1,524 yards, 8 touchdowns, 306 fantasy points
Projected 2019 – 84 receptions, 1,354 yards, 6 touchdowns, 270 fantasy points
2018 – 76 receptions, 1,270 yards, 6 touchdowns, 249 fantasy points
Projected 2019 – 81 receptions, 1,285 yards, 7 touchdowns, 266 fantasy points
2018 – 87 receptions, 1,479 yards, 12 touchdowns, 342 fantasy points
Projected 2019 – 52 receptions, 796 yards, 4 touchdowns, 180 fantasy points
This is actually a tough call – Evans is projected as the 9th best WR, but he averaged just 1.5 points per week more than Hilton last season. These two have been literally within three or four spots of each other in fantasy rankings since Evans jumped on to the scene in 2014. For his career, Hilton averages 5 catches and 75 yards per game; Evans also averages 5 catches per game w a slight bump up to 79 yards per game… (this probably should’ve been all about TY Hilton, right?).
Meanwhile, the case for Hill, if he really only misses four games, may be even more appetizing for Carlos: the KC WR averages a shade under 5 catches per game with 70 yards, BUT he also averages a touchdown every 2 games over his career (Hilton scores every third game though Evans is the same as Hill). This also ignores the massive special teams points Hill racks up, including 10 yards per punt return that he averaged in 2018.
Ultimately, Evans is projected to average 17 per game in 2019 with Hilton at 16.6 and Hill at around 20 (over a hypothetical 12 games). Carlos is the beneficiary of too many good choices, and Evans is probably too costly to keep with his other options, the less-sexy Hilton and scum-of-the-earth Hill, but dismissing the TB receiver without a second look would prove silly.
Honorable Mention: Jared Cook (Makese); James White (Tito Galen); Kareem Hunt (Tito Galen); Lamar Miller (Tito Galen); Emanuel Sanders (Tito Galen)
Sorry, I Love This Guy But There’s No Room on My Roster
TJ Yeldon ($10) – The Unicorn
I’m risk-averse to the Buffalo Bills after I dropped $78 on LeSean McCoy in the 2018 draft and, in a backfield with more guys than a Smeet MFK column, I still am in 2019. Yeldon is by no means an RB1 right now, especially given that McCoy, the immortal Frank Gore, and rookie Devin Singletary join him in Buffalo. Yeldon’s started exactly five games over the last two seasons in Jacksonville and, in 2018, averaged just 4 yards per carry, but he’s also excelled in the receiving space. In 2018, he had 55 catches for four touchdowns on 78 targets, which tied for 13th among backs, ahead of premiere players at his position including Melvin Gordon, David Johnson, and Joe Mixon.
Point being, he’s a third down back today but for $10, he’d make a decent fit for roster depth with an opportunity to excel in an improving Buffalo offense. The Unicorn is already locked with his three keepers, but Yeldon would not have been anything to sneeze at if a spot was available.
Indianapolis Defense ($10) – Tito Galen
Yes, I know, only Fredo keeps a defense in GMRRFFA and Tito Galen is so stacked that his second tier keepers would be better than Toby and Makese’s combined top three keepers (Hypothetically, Tito Galen’s keepers are Adams, Thielen, and James White; his second tier is Emanuel Sanders, Kareem Hunt and Lamar Miller. Meanwhile, Toby and Makese’s combined best is Juju, Lindsey and Michel… based on performance and health, you’d really have to at least consider the Tito’s second tier, right?)
In any case, most Ds go for $3 or under int the August draft, though a handful last season went for the $5-6 range, but in the open FAAB market, defense actually went a bit higher. For example, last year, the Unicorn spent $11 to acquire the Texans, Carlos added the Titans for $21, and our likely 2019 champ, Tito Galen, nabbed the Pats for $17 in November.
All that is to say, the Colts finished a top-10 overall defense last season, including top ten in INTs, forced fumbles, and points allowed. The 2019 squad is returning almost everyone and signed Justin Houston, who will undoubtedly bump up their team sack totals. They have some tough early match-ups against the Chargers, Falcons and Chiefs, but they also face the Titans (twice), Jags (twice), Raiders, Broncos, and Dolphins. They may not be a top-three Defense by the end of the season, but with their young pieces and cheap cost, they would be the SEVENTH potential keeper that Tito Galen has that I would not blush at.
Tyler Boyd ($10) – Smeet
Most of 2018, Tyler Boyd was on fire in an anemic Cincy offense, posting a career-best 76 catches and 1,028 yards, a HUGE leap for the third-year WR from 2017. For the mid-season pick-up of Boyd via trade, Smeet was widely seen as “very smart” for once as Boyd finished as the #17 WR last year. So, what the hell happened to put him in this category? Seriously, reviewing GMRRFFA owners’ likely keepers, I’d keep Tyler over players on seven other rosters…
Well, Smeet couldn’t help himself. For a guy petrified of screwing up 2019, he’s already falling back in to bad habits, diving head first in to the offseason trading bonanza and acquiring Kerryon Johnson (smart) and Keenan Allen (I guess ok) to pair with Marlon Mack, which is literally the only thing Smeet can do after paying $95 FAAB for the rights of Allen and Johnson.
Can we dive in to the Allen trade? He’s a big name and had a solid 2018 season, averaging 17 points per game while marking his second straight injury-free season. Meanwhile, Boyd averaged 14 points per game, but (there’s always a but) as good as Allen is, Smeet’s now investing $105 ($40 FAAB, $65 keeper dollars) for the San Diego Chargers WR when he already had essentially the same piece for just $10. While there’s no doubt Boyd will cost at least triple that in the draft, Smeet had him for the 2019 AND 2020 season for a third of what it will cost to keep Allen this year. Allen’s expected to average 17 points per game this year, 10th best among receivers, but Boyd isn’t too far away with significant upside (14+ points per game).
Smeet would have benefited from a fourth keeper spot (similarly, Tito Galen would really benefit from 7 spots), but passing up on Tyler Boyd will be a really tough personnel decision for him in the face of mounting pressure in 2019 (sneeze <Angie> sneeze <Luvs> sneeze <Falcons>).
Honorable Mention: Curtis Samuel (The Unicorn); OJ Howard (Coop); Cooper Kupp (Mark Hutchinson); Anthony Miller (Stabs); Austin Hooper (The Commish)