Welcome back, friends and family. It seems like it’s been an eternity since we last met up. A lot has happened – Le’Veon Bell won the war by losing a season’s worth of battles, Tom Brady won yet another championship, Larry Fitzgerald continued to not age, and Thanos was finally defeated.
While the world may be a different place, our stance in the fantasy landscape remains intact. Here, we offer you sound investing advice where small payments end up with large returns. There may not be a better investment this season one could make than buying into James White a little earlier than his draft positioning would suggest. Let your Sharks’ representative Patrick White explain why you need a lot of James White in your life in 2019.
We would really like to throw a few stats at you to open with so you can fully appreciate just how great James White was last season. The first would be reference to the once-great points per reception (PPR) running back, Darren Sproles. In his best season, smack dab in the middle of his prime, Sproles topped out at 86 catches for 710 yards in his first season with New Orleans. The second person we want to name drop in order to draw comparison is that of the New York Jets’ new main man, Le’Veon Bell. In his best season as a receiver, Bell hit 854 yards. He went for more than 80 catches twice with Pittsburgh, but that 854 yards was about 200 yards better than his other 80-plus catch year. The last of the top-end guys we want to throw at you is Arizona’s David Johnson. In his borderline MVP season in 2017, Johnson brought in 80 catches with four receiving scores. Pretty amazing stats from some of the best receiving backs to ever play the game.
Now that we have some top-end stats for reference, let’s look at what James White did last season. He had 87 receptions for 751 yards and seven receiving touchdowns. His 2018 totals trump Sproles’ career-best receptions for a single season, have him just about 100 yards behind Bell’s best season, and his seven receiving scores are three more than what a healthy David Johnson was able to reel in. The last time we looked, White was going around the mid-70s for an average draft position. That puts him behind the likes of the unproven and untested Darrell Henderson, Seattle’s projected back up Rashaad Penny, the often-injured Washington back who is still seated behind Adrian Peterson (Derrius Guice), potential San Francisco third stringer Tevin Coleman, and the 2018 fantasy disaster that was Kenyan Drake. With all of that in mind, we must ask you, IS THIS REAL LIFE?
Think about those receiving totals for White. He had 87 receptions. He had 751 yards. He had seven touchdowns. Now we add in the limited ground work he got last season and he’s at more than 1,100 yards and sitting at 12 touchdowns. That’s pretty amazing production for a guy you nab with a sixth-round projection. Now, outside of the stats, let’s dissect the surrounding cast. In case you haven’t heard, Rob Gronkowski has retired. That leaves about 80-90 receptions on the table. Then you look at all the uncertainty within the receiving core. Julian Edelman is often injured and is already missing time with a broken thumb. No one knows what the future holds for Josh Gordon. Can Demaryius Thomas return from his Achilles’ injury and pick up a playbook that typically chews up and spits out veteran receivers like Joey Galloway, Reggie Wayne and Chad Johnson? As you can tell, there is a lot of questioning around anyone not named Tom Brady in New England.
With the receiving issues fully covered, let us now turn our attention to the running back group. White’s main threat in the backfield is second-year back Sony Michel. Michel has some major knee concerns and is already on the Physically Unable To Perform list. So let’s get this straight. People are willing to go in a round, even two in some cases, earlier on the unproven Darrell Henderson due to Todd Gurley’s knee more so than White for the same reason? Again, IS THIS REAL LIFE? The other two main threats would be Rex Burkhead and rookie Damien Harris. In our eyes, there is a very real chance that Burkhead could be a roster cut-down victim. He’s fun to watch, what with his reckless abandon running style, but that same style has lead to a career’s worth of season-ending injuries. And with Harris, we’d expect him to be far more of a carries threat than a threat to cut into White’s receiving work.
So, in closing, BUY IN EARLY. It’s a complete no-brainer. Unless someone outside of Julian Edelman steps up in a massive way, White’s 2018 totals could turn out to be his 2019 fantasy floor. That would make his ceiling that of a RB1. If Sony Michel misses any time, White should see more touches on the ground. As we saw in the Super Bowl against Atlanta, White has a knack for responding well to an expanded workload. We’d be perfectly content with selecting White as early as the middle to the end of the forth round. It may seem like an inflated price but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where it doesn’t pay off.