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5 bounce-back candidates in fantasy football for 2019

They may not have had a great 2018, but don’t let that prevent you from drafting them this year.

USA TODAY/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Unless you’re Ezekiel Elliott or a healthy Rob Gronkowski, every player has good and bad fantasy seasons. And often, these bad seasons leave such a sour taste in our mouths that we completely ignore them in our drafts the following year. I drafted Todd Gurley back in 2016 when he failed to live up to the hype of his rookie year, and then passed on him in 2017 when he decided that he was the best running back in the NFL and casually run for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. Needless to say a big mistake on my part.

This article is here to help prevent you from making that same mistake. Because it doesn’t feel good when you make it. It feels really, really, really bad in fact.

Here are five players who had poor outings in 2018 but I’m certain will bounce back in 2019, many of whom you can draft at a discount because of that sour taste the whole fantasy community is having.

David Johnson, RB

Despite being the 10th best running back in fantasy, I’m still counting Johnson a bounce-back candidate because he could bounce back to fantasy MVP status this year. This narrative should come as a surprise to no one as I’ve been hyping up David Johnson everywhere and every year since his missed 2017 season. Now, his 2018 wasn’t quite as dominate as I was expecting, but 2019 will prove to be the year we see MVP David Johnson return. In Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense, DJ will rarely see stack boxes, giving him plenty of space to run the rock. He’s currently going 1.06 in fantasy drafts and I’d happily have him as my RB1 heading into this season.

Allen Robinson, WR

The Pro-Bowl, fantasy dominate, 1,000 plus receiving Allen Robinson seems like a distant memory and I wouldn’t be so high on him if not for the Bears’ lone playoff game last season. After a pedestrian season—in which he caught 55 balls for 754 and four touchdowns—Robinson came alive in the first round of the playoffs last year, catching 10 balls on 13 targets for 143 and a touchdown against the Eagles. More importantly, he looked like the physically dominate receiver that we’d seen back in 2015 when he went to the Pro-Bowl. Obviously Robinson’s value hinges on how well Mitchell Trubisky looks in 2019—which might be about as appetizing as the Mind Flayer (Season 3 of Stranger Things was amazing, don’t tell me otherwise)—but he’s currently WR32 which is value I just can’t pass up on.

Dalvin Cook, RB

We know the Dalvin Cook story. He’s a talented running back who fantasy heads like myself would LOVE to see succeed, but he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy so far in his career. It took him awhile to get going last season, but he managed to string together eight healthy weeks to finish out last season, averaging 12 carries and 64.5 yards per game in that time. Not great, but also not terrible numbers. This offseason the Vikings have made the conscious effort to bolster their rushing attack with the sneaky stealing of Gary Kubiak from the Broncos. Plus, they let Latavius Murray walk in free agency, meaning they are perfectly happy putting this ground game on Cook’s shoulders. If he can stay healthy this season, we might finally be able to see the top 5 fantasy back we know Cook to be.

Marvin Jones, WR

It’s easy to forget about someone when they get injured in the middle of the season and miss the rest of the year. It’s doubly easy to forget about someone when they get injured and play for the Lions. However, I implore you not to forget about Marvin Jones this season as he still has plenty of potential and even being a top 20 wide receiver this year would be a steal at his current value. Jones is going WR37 right now, at the start of the ninth round. Just a year ago Jones was the fifth best receiver in fantasy, catching 61 balls for 1,101 yards and nine touchdowns. Last year he was on pace for 903 yards and another nine touchdown season. With only Kenny Golladay ahead of him in the depth chart, there is still plenty of opportunity for Jones to return to viable fantasy status this season.

Evan Engram, TE

Remember when Odell Beckham was out for most of the 2017 season and a rookie named Evan Engram became Eli Manning’s go-to target? Well, guess who’s no longer in New York! After Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Zach Ertz, the tight end position is basically a crapshoot for me. If you trust Bruce Arians’ offense that doesn’t really love tight ends to somehow love O.J. Howard, he’s your TE4. If you’re fully aboard the Hunter Henry rehab train and ready to watch him become the ninth member of Philip Rivers’ family, take him. Personally, I’m here for Eli staring down his tight end and force feeding him another 115 targets because his arm can’t muster enough energy to get the ball to the boundaries.