Wisconsin’s definitely on the radar this year since Jonathan Taylor will leave at the end of the season. We talked with Jason Galloway, sports writer for the Wisconsin State Journal, to get the scoop on Taylor, who he thinks the next RB might be, and more. For more on Taylor, check out the Top 25 RB of the Last Decade. And see more of Galloway on Twitter @Jason_Galloway. Now let’s get to it!
Overall, how do you believe the offense will compare to the 2018 version?
Considering how disappointing last season’s offense was, I’d expect it to get better. How much better? That probably depends on what type of quarterback play the Badgers get and how well they replace four starters on the offensive line. Wisconsin does have talent on this side of the ball, though. Everyone knows about Jonathan Taylor at running back, but wide receivers A.J. Taylor, Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis are all guys who should be making more plays than they did in 2018. Tight end Jake Ferguson is also a breakout candidate. The Badgers’ offense is always going to be run-heavy, and the running game continued to be one of the best in the country last season. Still, I think we could see at least a bit more from the passing game this time around.
What do you expect from the QB position in 2019?
Alex Hornibrook wasn’t good enough for much of last season, so I think this position will improve. Just don’t expect a 30-touchdown season from anyone. Wisconsin still hasn’t named a starter. The favorite is junior Jack Coan, who played in five games last year when Hornibrook struggled through a head injury. After a rough start, he showed some improvement over his final couple games. True freshman Graham Mertz is the most physically talented quarterback the Badgers have had in some time, though. He enrolled early, and we got a look at him this spring. If he’s able to master the playbook by August, he could beat out Coan. Mertz would likely present a higher ceiling, although you can never be quite sure what you’ll get out a true freshman.
How do you see the workload at running back being distributed?
Jonathan Taylor will be the workhorse again and could reach 2,000 yards rushing. Even without receiving numbers to complement that, I’d imagine Taylor should be a first-round pick in just about any format. As of right now, we don’t know who will be the No. 2 behind him. Nakia Waston’s likely the favorite for that role at the moment, but Isaac Guerendo, Bradrick Shaw or incoming freshman Julius Davis could compete for that spot this fall. Garrett Groshek will continue to take most if not all of the third-down work and could be useful in deep PPR leagues.
How does the offensive line compare with the 2018 group?
The Badgers obviously lost a lot of talent here, including three guys who will likely be on NFL rosters next season. They’ve got a lot of young talent to fill in the gaps, though. Jason Erdmann has some experience, Logan Bruss started the final three games at right tackle last season and Kayden Lyles was a four-star recruit in 2017. Center Tyler Biadasz staying for his junior year rather than joining a few of his teammates in the NFL Draft could prove to be huge for the group. There could be a slight drop-off at this position, but I don’t see it affecting Taylor all that much. Pass protection on the right side of the line may be below-par, but that was also the case at times last season.
What do you think the distribution will be to the WR/TEs?
A.J. Taylor’s probably your best bet for this team’s “No. 1″ receiver, but not much separates him with Davis and Pryor. It won’t be easy to guess the go-to guy from week to week. All three could be frustrating to own and are liable to post a dud of a stat line in a given week. If I had to take a flyer on one, it’d be Davis. He may have the most natural talent of the group and started to come on late last season. Wisconsin’s most intriguing pass catcher, though, may be tight end Jake Ferguson. He ranked second on the team in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns as a redshirt freshman and really looks like he could be a future NFL player. The Badgers don’t necessarily pass the ball frequently enough for any of these players to pop out as stud fantasy players, but Ferguson has the talent to put up some legit numbers as a sophomore.
For our dynasty owners, who are some young players that stand out as future breakout performers?
Dynasty owners should be targeting a couple of those No. 2 running back candidates I mentioned earlier. Jonathan Taylor will likely enter the NFL Draft after this season, making one of those players the guy in 2020. Nakia Watson and Julius Davis are the prime candidates to become the next great running back for the Badgers. Watson didn’t play at all last year while redshirting, and Davis won’t arrive on campus until this summer. Having seen very little of each guy, it’s difficult to pick between the two, but Davis’ high school tape really stands out, and he could potentially have an extra year of eligibility if he redshirts in 2019. Mertz is another great guy to add. He’s one of the highest-ranked quarterbacks in the 2019 recruiting class, and even if he doesn’t beat out Coan this year, I’d expect him to at least be starting as a redshirt sophomore in 2021. Ferguson could also be a solid dynasty asset.