As we enter the final week of the fantasy football season, many owners are turning their eyes toward 2019. Before waiver wires close for the offseason, the following are stashes for 2019.
Armani Watts – Kansas City Chiefs
Many IDP players probably do not know about Kansas City Chiefs rookie safety Armani Watts. The Texas A&M product started all four years for the Aggies. In his college career, Watts accumulated 324 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 10 interceptions, 17 passes defended, and seven forced fumbles. He was prolific at safety in college.
Watts was given the chance to make an impact for the Chiefs right away in 2018. Starting safety Daniel Sorensen missed the first nine games of the season with a broken leg and ligament injuries suffered in training camp. Star safety Eric Berry did not make his debut until week 15, recovering from an Achilles injury. Because of these injuries, Watts started to see more and more playing time in the first few games of his career until he also went down with an injury of his own. Watts was placed on IR with a groin injury, ending his season.
— 𝕃𝕠𝕣𝕕ℂ𝕙𝕚𝕖𝕗 ℝ𝕠𝕔𝕜𝕒 (@JordanTribe_) October 7, 2018
Watts is a stash because of where NFL defense is moving. As offenses shift more towards 11 personal, that is one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers, defenses counter with playing nickel defenses, or five defensive backs. NFL offenses are also starting to use “move” tight ends, which are effectively large receivers. This puts a lot of pressure on a third cornerback and defenses are countering with a third safety. This defense is called the Big Nickel. As NFL offenses start to spread out, defenses need to more speed to cover the pass-catchers while remaining stout against the run. Thus the third safety.
More teams are using nickel and big nickel defenses in the NFL. Watts seems to be in line as the third safety for the Chiefs. He also may become a starter sooner rather than later. Berry is coming off an Achilles tear, a notoriously difficult injury to recover from and return to form. Sorensen is only signed through 2020, but his dead cap hit is only $2M in 2019 and $1M in 2020. With all of the above in mind, Watts is a stash for 2019.
Rashaan Gaulden – Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers rookie safety Rashaan Gaulden, much like Watts, is relatively unknown in the fantasy community. This is because, like Watts, Gaulden saw significant playing time to start the season, but has been relatively quiet since. Starting only two seasons at Tennessee, Gaulden accounted for 137 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, one interception, nine passes defended, and one forced fumble. Gaulden demonstrated the ability to stop the run and the pass in college. He can also hit.
Rashaan Gaulden with shades of Malik Foreman vs. Texas A&M with this strip: pic.twitter.com/s1cRUMdC5J
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) September 5, 2017
Again like Watt, Gaulden was given a chance to play in significant snaps early in the season due to injury. Starting safety Da’Norris Searcy was placed on IR after suffering two concussions within 30 days. Unfortunately, Gaulden was unable to take advantage of the playing time and the Panthers signed Eric Reid after week 3.
Regardless, Gaulden enters the 2019 season in a good position. Starting safety Mike Adams’ contract is up after the 2018 season. Reid was only signed to a one-year deal, so his contract is also up after the 2018 season. Safety Colin Jones’ contract is also up after the 2018 season. That leaves only Searcy. With Gaulden currently in line to take over a starting safety position for the Panthers in 2019, he is a musth-stash.
Jordan Whitehead – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yet another IDP Guys favorite. Early in the season, the “IDP Tipster” (@HBogart27) tagged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie safety Jordan Whitehead as a future prospect to watch. Whitehead is on the edge of being considered a stash, as he has actually had a very productive rookie season. He has seen significant snaps since week 2, taking over the starting role since week 4 after Chris Conte was placed on IR. Through week 15, Whitehead has tallied 66 combined tackles, three tackles for loss, and three passes defended.
Whitehead’s emergence in his rookie season coupled with Conte’s contract ending after 2018 point to a bright future. If the Buccaneers choose to not resign Conte, it seems as though Whitehead will slot in as a starting safety next to Justin Evans. Whitehead may be on many rosters already due to his 2018 production. If he is still available. he should be stashed with the high likelihood that he is a starting safety in 2019.
Ronnie Harrison – Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars rookie safety Ronnie Harrison has largely been used as a third safety in 2018. That is until Harrison was given the starting job over Barry Church, who was eventually released. After only seeing a maximum of 63% of the Jaguars defensive snaps, Harrison started and played in 100% of the defensive snaps in week 13 and 14. Unfortunately, Harrison went down with a knee injury in week 15 and was subsequently placed on the IR.
Ronnie Harrison: Ball Hawk. pic.twitter.com/vPtepdpjfN
— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) December 7, 2018
Because he was mostly a part-time player his rookie season, many fantasy football players do not know much about Harrison. Harrison accounted for only 32 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, three passes defended, and one interception.
At Alabama, Harrison was a two-year starter at safety. In his career, Harrison accounted for 174 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, seven interceptions, 17 passes defended, and one forced fumble. He was excellent against the run and good against the pass, better in some aspects than others. Overall, Harrison ranked as PFFs second best safety in the 2018 draft, behind the Los Angeles Chargers Derwin James and ahead of the Houston Texans Justin Reid, Cincinnati Bengals Jessie Bates, and Whitehead, among others.
Jaguars select S Ronnie Harrison with the No. 93 pick pic.twitter.com/dkRPrmBeEB
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) April 28, 2018
Releasing Church spoke volumes about how the Jaguars feel about Harrison. Even before releasing Church, Harrison overtook him as the starting strong safety for the Jaguars. Unfortunately, Harrison went down with a knee injury in week 15 and was placed on IR. Fortunately, the injury seems minor and he would have been back had it not been the end of the season. Harrison has demonstrated his ability to stop the run and pass. Starting for a full season, Harrison should prove extremely valuable in 2019.
Avonte Maddox – Philadelphia Eagles
And one more early call from the IDP Guys. Yet again, the “IDP Tipster” called Philadelphia Eagles rookie defensive back Avonte Maddox an investment very early on in the season.
Maddox has been a multi-tool for the Eagles. Maddox has started at safety, nickel cornerback, and outside cornerback this season. Since entering the starting lineup in week 5, Maddox has played in 98% or more of the Eagles defensive snaps six of eight games, having missed three due to injury. In 2018, Maddox has accounted for 28 tackles, one tackle for loss, three passes defended, two interceptions, and one forced fumble.
Avonte Maddox who is a rookie is tied for the Eagles lead with 2 INTs pic.twitter.com/587K17IgiN
— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) December 17, 2018
Maddox played primarily at cornerback for the Pittsburgh Panthers. Starting for three seasons, Maddox accumulated 183 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, a monstrous 34 passes defended, eight interceptions, and three forced fumbles. Because of his size (5′ 9″), he was tested his entire career and continued to make plays. Maddox is extremely fast and where he likes the size, he makes up with toughness.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) April 28, 2018
Maddox has proven to be versatile in both college and the NFL. While his natural position is at cornerback, Maddox was able to adequately fill in at safety for the Eagles. It seems that Eagles want Maddox on the field at all times and in a variety of roles. Whether at safety, cornerback, or as a hybrid, Maddox is a stash for 2019.
These safeties have a chance to have productive or breakout seasons in 2019. Most if not all are likely available on the waiver wire. Take a risk and pick them for the chance at an uptick in value or cheap production.