With free agency and the draft still ahead, NFL rosters will undergo seismic changes over the next few months.
Before the shuffling begins, let's take an early look at some of the potential sleepers heading into the 2019 season.
Chase Edmonds, RB - Edmonds' debut campaign will be best remembered for siphoning carries from David Johnson during a disappointing season for the Cardinals' star back, although the rookie's 73 touches, 311 yards from scrimmage, and two touchdowns weren't the reason DJ let down fantasy owners. Edmonds did show enough to solidify himself as the immediate backup, with a three-down skill set that would set him up for a full workload if Johnson were to miss time.
Ito Smith, RB - Smith is expected to be ready for offseason activities after having his season cut short by a meniscus injury. That's good news since his backfield mate Tevin Coleman is likely to leave in free agency, locking Smith into the No. 2 role behind Devonta Freeman, who'll return as the starter following a year mostly spent on injured reserve. A mounting list of ailments has become a cause for concern around the soon-to-be 27-year-old Freeman, which makes Smith that much more enticing as a fantasy asset.
Ian Thomas, TE - The fantasy world got a glimpse of the Panthers' future at tight end after another foot injury ended Greg Olsen's season in Week 13. From that point on, Thomas was second on the team in receptions while amassing 237 yards and two touchdowns over five games. Olsen insists that he wants to keep playing in 2019, but even if he is able to recapture his Pro Bowl form, the risk of re-injury will be high. Thomas' time as a fringe fantasy starter is coming soon, though we might have to wait another year.
Taylor Gabriel, WR - Gabriel is a long shot for consistent fantasy numbers given the Bears' multitude of weapons in the passing game, but there aren’t many sleepers on the team. In his first season in Chicago, Gabriel managed a respectable 67 catches, 688 yards, and two trips to the end zone despite competing for targets with Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Anthony Miller, and Tarik Cohen. If Mitch Trubisky continues his progression and the injury bug bites the team's receiving corps, Gabriel has a path to WR3 fantasy value.
Blake Jarwin, TE - When Jarwin's snaps increased late in the season, he responded with three solid outings in the final month, including a seven-catch, 119-yard, three-touchdown day in Week 17. His stats dipped in the playoffs, though an ankle issue may have contributed to his performance. As defensive coordinators scheme to stop Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper, Jarwin will have a chance to build off his strong finish - assuming the Cowboys don't invest in the position through free agency or the draft.
Michael Roberts, TE - Roberts is well behind Thomas or Jarwin in terms of fantasy upside, having made little impact since being drafted in the fourth round in 2017. If he can stay healthy and earn more playing time, however, he'll crack fantasy rosters as a touchdown-dependent bye-week replacement, something we saw briefly during his two-touchdown outing in Week 7. Unfortunately, Roberts will likely face more competition after general manager Bob Quinn highlighted tight end as a priority this offseason.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR - MVS won the battle between a trio of Packers rookie receivers last year and looked to be on the verge of a breakout when he posted 100 yards or a touchdown in four straight games in October and early November. However, that turned out to be the high point of his season as he struggled to stay on the same page as Aaron Rodgers. Valdes-Scantling's speed is a welcome addition in Green Bay and the new coaching staff would be wise to tap into it. With a year of experience under his helmet, he'll battle Geronimo Allison to be the Packers' second-best receiving option behind Davante Adams.
John Kelly, RB - Owning a Rams running back in case anything happened to Todd Gurley proved to be a lucrative endeavor in 2018. When Gurley and his backup, Malcolm Brown, were injured late in the season, the team brought in veteran C.J. Anderson, who was a deciding factor in many fantasy championships. With Anderson (unrestricted) and Brown (restricted) among this year's free-agent crop, a lane could open for Kelly to rise up the depth chart. Kelly was a beast in last year's preseason as a rookie, finishing third in the league with 197 rushing yards, adding six receptions and three touchdowns. If he's ever called upon to start, Kelly will offer week-winning fantasy upside.
Mike Boone, RB - Boone is another back who'll benefit from a teammate hitting free agency. Latavius Murray was a reliable member of the Vikings' backfield, but a return to Minnesota is unlikely, especially after Boone impressed with his violent running style in the preseason. Now the sophomore is poised to handle backup duties as the clear handcuff for Dalvin Cook and a potential RB2 in fantasy if Cook misses time.
Dan Arnold, TE - As Ben Watson heads to retirement, the Saints' tight end depth chart is wide open. Arnold is a former wide receiver that New Orleans chose to convert to tight end before last season, which came with mixed results. Over a four-game stretch in November, Arnold turned 13 targets into 10 catches, 115 yards, and a touchdown while beginning to look the part of an NFL tight end. Unfortunately, that didn't last, as he only saw two more targets the rest of the way and spent a couple games as a healthy scratch. With a full offseason to hone his skills, Arnold still has an opportunity to successfully complete his position switch and emerge as another weapon for Drew Brees.
Wayne Gallman, RB - It didn't take long for Saquon Barkley to establish himself as an elite back in the pros. His 352 touches as a rookie were second in the league behind only Ezekiel Elliott, and that kind of workload comes with an increased injury risk. The Giants declining veteran Jonathan Stewart's contract option sets up Gallman as the insurance policy to own in New York.
Mack Hollins, WR - A groin injury cost Hollins his entire sophomore campaign, a loss that may have hurt the Eagles more than people realize. With Philadelphia desperately needing a field-stretcher last season - as Mike Wallace was sidelined for most of the campaign - Hollins could have slid into that role while also giving the team another big body on the outside to pair with Alshon Jeffery. If Philly fails to bring in an impact receiver from outside the organization, Hollins will be a hot name in fantasy during the preseason.
Trent Taylor, WR - With the 49ers' rumored interest in Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr., it's possible their receiving corps has a much different look come Week 1. At the moment, Dante Pettis is a breakout candidate heading into his second season, while Marquise Goodwin offers big-play speed on the outside. Taylor was expected to emerge in the slot last season after showing chemistry with Jimmy Garoppolo late in 2017, but offseason back surgery coupled with the loss of his quarterback hindered Taylor's effectiveness in 2018. A year removed from the surgery, there's hope Taylor will be able to rediscover the quickness that made him a promising player as a rookie.
David Moore, WR - Though his production dipped late in the year, Moore had several standout plays in 2018, providing Russell Wilson with another playmaker downfield. However, the Seahawks' dedication to the run severely reduces Moore's volume, as Seattle threw a league-low 427 pass attempts in 2018. That means Moore will need an injury to either Tyler Lockett or Doug Baldwin in order to become a regular fantasy contributor.
Justin Watson, WR - The Bucs' selection of Watson in last year's draft looks prescient in light of Adam Humphries' free agency and DeSean Jackson wanting out. Beat writers have suggested a new-look lineup could feature Chris Godwin shifting into the slot with Watson taking over across from Mike Evans. Combine that with a healthy O.J. Howard at tight end, and you're dealing with a lot of competition for targets. But playing time is all a SPARQ freak like Watson needs to make his mark.
Trey Quinn, WR - Quinn was impressing in the offseason before a high-ankle sprain kept him out the first half of the season. When he started in place of Jamison Crowder during Weeks 10 and 11, Quinn caught a combined nine of 10 targets for 75 yards and a score over that two-week span. Sadly, that was the only sample size we were given, as his ankle issues sent him to IR. Quinn has an opportunity to secure the slot role in Washington with Crowder about to reach free agency, but let's hope the Redskins can find a quarterback to throw him the ball.