Bold Predictions for 2019

Justice Hill Fantasy Hard Knocks

Lamar Jackson rushes for 1,000 yards

The only quarterback to ever top 1,000 yards is Michael Vick all the way back in 2006. Vick actually owns 3 of the top 10 rushing seasons for a QB all time. Many will say 1,000 yards is impossible in todays NFL for a quarterback but as recently as 2014 Russell Wilson ran for 849 yards and in 2017 Cam Newton rushed for 754.

In the 7 games Jackson started last year he totaled 556 rushing yards, averaging 79 yards a game on the ground. We could simply extrapolate that out and see if he maintained his average he would hit 1270 yards rushing. Harbaugh has said the rushing attempts last year were unrealistic, where he averaged 17 in his starts, and would be smaller in 2019. Even if we drop his attempts by nearly 1/3 to 12 and take his average YPA of 4.7 from last year he would hit 900yds.

The Ravens face one of the easiest schedules this year per NumberFire and against rushing DVOA from 2018 have the 2nd easiest rushing schedule behind only the 49ers.

In 2018 the Ravens were 3rd overall in rushing percentage topping out at 47.74% and with Lamar continuing to develop as a passer there is no reason to believe they will move toward more passing just yet, putting 1,000 yards squarely in reach.

Kenyan Drake is a top 10 running back

I’m getting a lot of crap for this one, and I’m not even a Kenyan Drake fan, but the opportunity is there for him this year.

I wrote extensively on his opportunity here but the short of it is he has a coaching staff adept at carving out unique roles for players with skill sets and a savvy GM who needs to either showcase him for trade bait or find out exactly what he has for 2020 before Drake becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Many believe the Dolphins are in tank for Tua mode in 2019. The evidence is indeed piling up for this scenario including the stock piling of draft picks and the trade of their left tackle in Tunsil and Kenny Stills.

With a lack of polished skill position players and a weak offensive line (ranked dead last by Pro Football Focus) a full schedule of negative game scripts could mean bloated receiving numbers for a talented pass catcher out of the backfield.

Kenyan was hurt early in the preseason and seen in a walking boot. At the time, his ADP had slowly crept in to the 4th round. Upon the injury news he has dropped all the way to the end of the 7th round. Meanwhile, outside of a couple flashes against backup competition Kalen Ballage has looked average at best and continues to struggle with first contact. This lack of competition should give Kenyan the chance to pull away in the competition for carries.

With all of these, Drake could easily hold a James White type of role on top of even a 60/40 split of carries in an offense with very few offensive talents and a ton of negative game scripts begging for dump offs and screens.

Justice Hill wins Rookie of the Year

Many hang their hats on combine numbers, while others say the numbers aren’t indicative of how a player performs on the field(judging straight line speed for instance). For Hill, he was tops in 3 running back metrics at the combine including the 40 yard dash but was picked 113th overall in a lackluster running back class.

What makes Hill so interesting to me is his landing spot, opportunity, and elusiveness.

Hill landed with the Ravens, who I already mentioned in my comments on Lamar Jackson, are one of the most run heavy teams in the league. His biggest competition is 30 year old Mark Ingram, who is talented but more of a bruising downhill runner. If Ingram were to ever miss time, Hill could easily slot in as the starter and I can certainly see a scenario where he continues to eat into Ingrams share as the season progresses, leaving the short yardage and goal line work for Ingram.

Hill also feels like he has that Alvin Kamara, James White type footwork with the ability to make the defense miss at that 2nd and 3rd level as is evident in this preseason play against the Jaguars:

In the last 20 years only 3 wide receivers have won rookie of the year honors, with the last being Odell Beckham Jr. 5 years ago in 2014. The other 17? 7 quarterbacks and 10 running backs. The most obvious candidate this year is Kyler Murray, but my dark horse is Justice Hill.

Josh Jacobs is a bust

On a non-football note, the Raiders did an excellent job hiding him during Fantasy Hard Knocks and are we sure we aren’t being catfished?

In 3 years at Alabama Josh Jacobs could not surpass Damien Harris on the depth chart. Alabama is always a wagon every year with incredible depth, but for me this is red flag number 1 for Jacobs.

The Raiders landed Jacobs at the end of the first round which immediately skyrocketed his value due to the lack of competition for a full workload. Oakland still carries one of the worst offensive lines in the league for 2019 and could cause issues for Jacobs trying to find running lanes. Many will point to draft capital as a reason they will continue to feed Jacobs but the same could be said for Rashaad Penny last year who still can’t seem to shake Chris Carson. I get that there is no Carson on the Raiders but Jalen Richard or Deandre Washington could still steal passing down work.

The other unknown is the rest of the skill position players. I can’t be the only one concerned that Antonio Brown is having a mental breakdown or suffering from CTE right? If he doesn’t play or plays at less than max effort, opposing defenses have less to worry about and can focus on stopping the run game and forcing Oakland to be one dimensional.

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