BUFFALO, NY – DECEMBER 30: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills runs with the ball for a big gain in the third quarter during NFL game action against the Miami Dolphins at New Era Field on December 30, 2018 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

The true sign of a smart fantasy football player is by what they do in the late rounds. Anyone can draft Saquon Barkley with the first overall pick, but it takes insight and sound analysis to nail the late picks in your draft. If you’re looking for a great late-round pickup, then Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is the guy for you.

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2019 Fantasy Football Outlook: Josh Allen

2018 Recap

2018 was very much a tale of two seasons for Josh Allen. After starting the season on the bench, Allen earned the starting job in Week Two while replacing an ineffective Nathan Peterman. During his next five starts, Allen completed just 55.6% of his passes for 758 yards, two touchdowns, and five interceptions. While he was able to add 129 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, his uninspiring performance made him the QB27 over this stretch.

Allen suffered an elbow injury and missed a few weeks. When he came back, he was a completely different quarterback. While he still struggled as a passer (52%/1,242/8/7) he easily made up for it with his production on the ground. Over his final six games, Allen recorded 476 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 54 carries. Thanks to added value of rushing, Allen was the QB1 with 24.2 fantasy points per game.

Josh Allen ran early and often as a rookie. According to Player Profiler, Allen finished the year with the second-most carries per game (7.4) among quarterbacks. He wasn’t afraid to run in the red zone, as his 1.8 red zone carries per game were also second-best in the league. Sharp Football Stats notes that Allen was an efficient runner, as his 65.1% success rate on carries was 4.9% above the league average.

As previously mentioned, Allen never truly figured out how to make the most of his rocket arm. While he has the arm strength to reach any part of the field, it’s anyone’s guess where his passes actually land. Allen finished the year with a league-worst 48.6 passer rating on passes thrown further than 15 yards downfield. He completed just 32% of his deep passes for 821 yards, six touchdowns, and nine interceptions.

He was better on short passes, but he was still well-below league average. According to Sharp Football Stats, Allen had the 41st-best passer rating (82.1) on short passes among quarterbacks with 50 or more pass attempts. Basically, everyone playing Allen did so for his mobility rather than his passing ability.

2019 Projection

Allen should keep his mobility, as his raw athleticism is easily the best part of his game. However, there are reasons to believe he’ll improve as a passer. One of the reasons Allen struggled through the air is that the Bills had arguably the worst collection of pass-catching talent in the NFL. While Zay Jones and Robert Foster had their moments, Buffalo had to rely on an assortment of underwhelming pass-catchers like Kelvin Benjamin, Jason Croom, Isaiah McKenzie, and a well-past-his-prime Charles Clay.

Buffalo did everything in their power to give Allen reliable weapons in 2019. Over the off-season, the Bills added John Brown and Cole Beasley to the receiving core. Beasley gives Allen a reliable security blanket in the short passing game while Brown has the speed to haul in just about anything Allen throws his way.

There is no reason to believe Allen will stop trying to run the ball. Buffalo drafted him because of his athleticism, and he’s proven he can be a top-level fantasy quarterback with his legs. Josh Allen will never be Tom Brady in the pocket, but he could be one of the best fantasy quarterbacks if he can be even a league-average passer.

Josh Allen Average Draft Position

According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Josh Allen is currently projected to go off the board with the ninth pick of the 11th round. This places him just behind quarterbacks like Jameis Winston and Jimmy Garoppolo and just ahead of guys like Kirk Cousins and Lamar Jackson.

Getting Josh Allen late in the 11th round is an absolute steal. Smart fantasy players know not to draft quarterbacks early, and guys like Josh Allen are the reason why. Allen’s rushing ability gives him a safe floor while he has the weapons required to develop into a serviceable passer. He should be a week-in, week-out starter who delivers a strong performance more often than not. Instead of drafting a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes or Andrew Luck in the early- to mid-rounds, build up your roster depth and grab Josh Allen late in the draft.

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