The 2018 season was full of new faces making major fantasy impacts. This led to disappointing seasons from some of the biggest fantasy veterans. While some of these players may truly be on the decline, there are others that are in a position to have a great 2019 season. The key is to not let a previous disappointing season cloud your judgement of players, especially when evaluating them for the upcoming season.
These three running back are poised to bounce back in fantasy.
David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
Last season was full of ups and downs for the Arizona running back. Johnson started the season very slow and was stuck in one of the leagues’ worst offenses. The Cardinals very rarely played with a lead, which led to a decline in rushing attempts. After a mid-season offensive coordinator change, Johnson’s fantasy productivity increased. With all of the challenges and change, Johnson still managed to finish as the ninth-ranked running back on the season for PPR leagues. The season as a whole, while not terrible, was disappointing as a fantasy owner.
Looking ahead to this year, the – 27-year-old running back is in a much better situation to succeed. The Cardinals have greatly improved their offense by hiring their new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury and adding multiple offensive weapons in the draft including, Kyler Murray, Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler. The new air-raid style offense and addition of offensive weapons should lead to a major increase in both rushing attempts and targets for Johnson. Having a running quarterback is also a benefit to the running back, as it opens running lanes and brings an additional running threat to the backfield. It is easy to forget that in 2016 Johnson finished as the top fantasy player in total points. With no major injuries and a completely revamped offense, Johnson has the potential to return to his spot on the fantasy pedestal.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
There is only one correct way to sum up the 2018 season for Devonta Freeman — injuries. The compiling of separate foot, knee and groin injuries limited Freeman to only two appearances and landed him on the IR in week 7. Freeman was drafted as a low-end RB1, which aligned with his productivity over the last three seasons. Spending this high of draft capital on Freeman ruined the season for many owners.
Reports from the Falcons’ OTAs are that Freeman is 100% healthy and a full go for training camp. Looking ahead to the 2019 season, there are many reasons to be excited for Freeman. The Falcons have a high-powered offense that only got better this offseason, as they spent two first-round draft picks on offensive linemen. If Freeman can stay healthy, there is no reason his numbers cannot return to that of his previous few seasons.
Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens
For the first time in his career, Mark Ingram will not be playing for the New Orleans Saints. Instead, the 29-year-old back looks to get a new, fresh start in Baltimore. In 2018, Ingram finished as RB32 in PPR leagues, while missing the first four weeks to suspension. Ingram has spent the last two years as the secondary back to Alvin Kamara. He now joins the run-heavy offense, led by Lamar Jackson, as the lead back. There will be some form of a timeshare between running backs in Baltimore, with Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon and rookie Justice Hill. Ingram, however, is fully expected to be the lead back. With a full 16-game season (barring injury) he has the potential to be a RB2 for 2019.