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    Fantasy football sleepers, busts, breakouts for 2018

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    With the nfl preseason and fantasy drafts underway, our espn fantasy football experts have updated their best sleepers, busts, and standout players for the 2018 campaign as defined here:

    everything you need to have a successful fantasy football season. draft

    Reading: Fantasy football sleeper picks 2018

    top 300 rankings: ppr | non-ppr • rankings by position: ppr | no ppr • depth charts: qb | rb | wr | te • dummy drafts: ppr | not ppr | 2-qb • register now: it’s free!

    sleeper: a player who will far exceed his average draft position (adp) in the espn standard leagues for the 2018 season. bust: a player who He’s expected to be a solid starter in ESPN’s standard leagues, but he won’t live up to those expectations this season. Breakdown: A player who will jump or approach the upper echelon of players at his position for the first time due to a dramatic increase in production compared to his previous seasons (or a rookie who will burst onto the scene ).

    Our panel is comprised of the following ESPN fantasy writers and editors: Stephania Bell, Matthew Berry, Matt Bowen, Tom Carpenter, Mike Clay, Tristan H. Cockcroft, KC Joyner, Eric Karabell, Keith Lipscomb, Jim McCormick, Andre Snellings, and Field Yates.

    each analyst named a sleeper and a bust for each of the main offensive positions, as well as a standout candidate. you can find their picks in the tables below, and then analyze and learn about a selection of the players they were most passionate about in each category.

    qb sleepers and busts for 2018

    sleepers and rb busts for 2018

    wr sleepers and busts for 2018

    the shirts and busts for 2018

    2018 breakdowns

    sleepers

    These are the players our panel believes will surpass their average position in the 2018 draft and provide value to those who take a chance on them.

    rashaad penny, rb, seattle seahawks

    Seattle was one of the best rushing teams in the league during the first half of the decade, with Marshawn Lynch a perennial threat with at least 1,500 total yards and double-digit touchdowns. The Seahawks have struggled on the field for the past three seasons, but Penny is their most talented running back since Lynch. A first-round pick with strength and rush, Penny averaged 7.8 yards per carry in college last year. The Seahawks have talked about using Penny as their every-down back in a high-speed offensive system that lacks playmakers, giving him a big advantage. – Andre Snellings

    marcus mariota, qb, tennessee titans

    last season was a disaster for mariota from a statistical point of view; 23rd in fantasy points per game among quarterbacks, and had more turnovers than touchdown passes. where does optimism come from? Traveling back in time to a modern NFL offense sure helps, especially with a Rams offensive coordinator, as does the fact that he averaged the 15th-most fantasy points at the position in his first two seasons. Not only is there a lot of untapped potential with Mariota pass production. This talented college scrambler ranks 19th among QBS in career attempts per game since 2015, a rate that could surely increase in a more progressive scheme. – jim mccormick

    ballage kalen, rb, miami dolphins

    is a 6-foot-2, 230-pound striker who ran a 4.46 40 at the combined and has shown great pass-catching ability (44 receptions in 2016). already drawing attention in training camp, just google his name, i wrote about ballage after interviewing him. And while I think Kenyan Drake is a good football player, I’m not convinced the Dolphins see him as a bell cow racer. Who knows how much Frank Gore has left in the tank, and given the size of ballage, it’s all too easy to see him starting out as a sprinter/goal line runner and expanding his role even more as the season progresses. – matthew berry

    alex smith, qb, washington redskins

    It was no accident that smith finished fourth in quarterback points last season, as he finished tied for fourth in ypa (7.9), first in vertical stretch ypa (21.9 in passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield ), sixth in quarterback rushing yards (355) and tied for second in my bad decision rate (bdr) metric which measures how often a quarterback makes a mental error that leads to a losing opportunity ball for the opposing team (0.2 percent). Washington ranks second in vertical touchdown passes over the past two seasons (29 touchdown passes traveling 11 or more yards downfield), so they didn’t bring in Smith to execute a dink-and-dunk passing attack. add it up and smith has a good chance of being a qb1 again this season. -kc joyner

    jerick mckinnon, rb, san francisco 49ers

    sometimes all a player needs is a change of scenery to fulfill his potential, and that’s exactly what mckinnon is getting. In his move from Minnesota to San Francisco, he will put all of his athletic skills to use, not only running but also catching. In fact, coach Kyle Shanahan has already said that Mckinnon will line up at wide receiver on occasion. Speed ​​and explosiveness combined with the opportunity to snag passes is the stuff of PPR dreams. Mckinnon is likely underrated in this season’s drafts based on his recent stats as a Viking, but the numbers he posts with the 49ers should show his worth in the first round. – stephanie bell

    o.j. howard, te, tampa bay buccaneers

    While Cameron Brate had the highest fantasy point total last season, Howard’s role seemed to expand as the year progressed. One could point to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s brief time as a backup during Jameis Winston’s injuries (three games and parts of two others) for an explanation, but even after Winston’s return in Week 13, the pendulum seemed to have swung in the right direction. by howard. During the second half of the season, Howard played more snaps than Brate (264-259) and had more fantasy points ppr (48.5-45.7), despite playing two fewer games. I think it was a clear sign that Howard’s future as the team’s primary pass catcher is near, and he has enough skill to be in the top 10 tight ends if those trends continue. – Tristan H. chicken coop

    rex burkhead, rb, new england patriots

    Due to injuries and a busy depth chart, Burkhead did not play more than 10 offensive snaps in a game for New England until Week 7 of last season. As of Week 7, however, Burkhead averaged 14.1 fantasy points (ppr) on 21.3 snaps per game. There are valuable unclaimed touches in New England; The Patriots are tied for the league lead (Saints) with 75 carries within 5 yards of the goal line by their running backs over the past three seasons. If Burkhead, who proved dangerous in the red zone last season, can claim a good chunk of the scoring work left to play, I think there is real earning potential. – jim mccormick

    mitchell trubisky, qb, chicago bears

    Trubisky’s hopeful parallel is Jared Goff, who turned his career around after a forgettable rookie season to throw for 28 touchdowns in Year 2 under Sean McVay as his head coach. Trubisky, who managed just seven touchdowns last season in 12 games, now follows the lead of coach Matt Nagy, an exceptionally well-regarded offensive mind. Additionally, the talent level increased significantly this offseason with the additions of, among others, Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel. – country yachts

    See also: The Rise and Fall of the Gold-Medal Winning Mexico National Team | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report

    trey burton, you, the chicago bears

    The former eagle who threw a touchdown pass in the super bowl should be a prime target for second-year quarterback trubisky, who should emerge now that he has better weapons and training. Burton gets into a wonderful situation with new coach Nagy, who came over from the Chiefs and made tight end Travis Kelce a centerpiece of the offense. The athletic Burton should easily top 100 goals and find his way to the end zone at least six or seven times during his first season. -eric karabell

    matt ryan, qb, atlanta falcons

    In 2016, Ryan completed 373 passes for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns in his second year under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. In 2017, Ryan’s numbers were down across the board, even though his pass attempts were roughly similar. There were growing pains with a new OC, the Falcons led the NFL with 30 drops, and they had a bit of a Super Bowl hangover. However, Ryan’s career numbers suggest he needs to bounce back, and with first-round wide receiver Calvin Ridley added to the mix, Ryan should be able to return to being a weekly fantasy starter. – Andre Snellings

    will fuller v, wr, houston texans

    It would be hard to find a statistical suggestion that Fuller is primed to soar this year, as his productive games last season had outliers (seven touchdowns on 13 total receptions over a four-game stretch), and he posted an average 24-yarder in his other six games. A player of peaks and valleys in 2017, Fuller should become a more stable component of an offense that will be led by the magic of Deshaun Watson. This is a bet on the talent of Fuller, the blazing-fast 2016 first-round pick. – Country Yachts

    michael crab, wr, baltimore ravens

    Missed last season due to injury, but crabtree’s draft actions (ranked 32nd overall among receivers) increase his risk of injury without much appreciation of his actual production pattern. From 2015 to 2016, Crabtree ranked 16th in fantasy points per game at the position. The opportunity for elite use in Baltimore is obvious; players who accounted for 59 percent of the team’s target share are no longer on the roster, the highest vacancy rate in the league. the Ravens also have 71.3 percent of their passing yards from last season idle, according to airyards.com. – jim mccormick

    jimmy graham, te, green bay packers

    In 2016, Graham averaged a career-best 14.2 receiving yards with just six touchdowns. He then reversed trends with a career-low 9.1 receiving yards but 10 touchdowns in 2017. Many believe Graham missed a pass and became a possession receiver, but Graham never had the chemistry with Russell Wilson that he showed with draw brees. This season, Graham joins Aaron Rodgers in a pass-friendly system full of motivation to perform on a non-guaranteed contract. Graham has played at least 15 games in eight of his last nine seasons, giving him both a high floor and a high ceiling. – Andre Snellings

    brandin cooks, wr, los angeles rams

    what do chefs have to do to gain more respect in the fantasy football community? he ranked 15th in fantasy wide receiver points last season (221.2) and was just six points away from being in the top 10 in that category. Cooks is now on an offense piloted by Jared Goff, who ranked third in ypa last season (8.0), sixth in vertical stretch ypa (15.2) and 12th in vertical stretch pass percentage (12.7 percent of his aerials traveled 20 or more yards downfield). The downfield receiving role in the Rams’ offense could see Cooks return to low-level WR1 status, and yet he’s still seen as a WR3 in most draft rooms. -kc joyner

    busts

    Which players are destined not to meet expectations on draft day? our panel suggests that you stay away from these players, they will surely disappoint you.

    russell wilson, qb, seattle seahawks

    When set to the game script, the Seahawks ranked as the highest passing offense in the league in 2017. That allowed Wilson to record 11 top-10 fantasy weeks en route to leading all quarterbacks on points. After Seattle added heavyweight OC Brian Schottenheimer, replaced Jimmy Graham with Ed Dickson and drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round, it’s fair to say the team will return to a run-first scheme. That’s sure to keep Wilson’s pass attempts in check, making it harder to justify an early pick in fantasy drafts. Wilson still reckons he’ll provide qb1 numbers, but he can get similar output with a later pick. – mike clay

    jimmy graham, te, green bay packers

    While there’s little doubt Graham should be a better fit for the Packers offense than the Seahawks, it’s unclear how many targets he’ll face. Green Bay’s last two tight ends (Jared Cook and Martellus Bennett) didn’t exactly set the fantasy world on fire. Granted, Graham has proven to be an excellent pass catcher, but can he really get the separation? (Wide receiver Jordy Nelson couldn’t, and was sent to the West Coast.) Can he rise into the air and beat those around him to catch a classic Rodgers Hail Mary? While his recovery from a torn patellar tendon (2015) has been impressive, it’s still fair to think that this version of Jimmy Graham won’t be Saints 2.0. – stephanie bell

    ben roethlisberger, qb, pittsburgh steelers

    currently ranks 9th among quarterbacks, ben is my qb14 so not a huge drop off but given how deep he is qb its hard to pick a true qb bust. But it’s worth noting that he played all 16 games just three times in a 14-year career, and here’s his total fantasy points over the past six seasons: 2017: qb10; 2016: qb 18; 2015: qb20; 2014: qb5; 2013: qb12; 2012: qb19. he has been in the top 10 qb only twice in the last six years and has beaten his current adp of qb9 only once (2014). Whether it’s a mental issue, a bizarre coincidence, or a game plan to be more conservative away from home, the fact is Ben has averaged fewer than 14 points per away game over the past four seasons. no todd haley this year makes me a little nervous too. – matthew berry

    marshawn lynch, rb, oakland raiders

    He’s now 32 years old with over 2,350 runs in his legs and coming off what was a disappointing return from retirement in 2017 (relative to what it cost in fantasy drafts at the time). The Raiders planned accordingly, bringing in Doug Martin to go deeper while retaining both Deandre Washington and Jalen Richard, each of whom scored at least 56 carries for a team that played a significant portion of its offensive snaps from behind. Lynch should still contribute to fantasy teams, thanks in large part to his goal-line rush probability, but a timeshare is a possibility, and his statistical ceiling is probably the lowest he’s ever been at any point in his career. race. I can’t argue that he belongs in the sixth round, preferring to take a chance on a bigger lead runner so early. – Tristan H. chicken coop

    tyreek hill, wr, kansas city chiefs

    The old fantasy warning against overvaluing last season’s outlier performances immediately comes to mind when I see that the hill is borderline wr1/wr2 value. last season, he had six receptions that gained 50 or more yards. Only five other players have done it over the past ten seasons, and only one of those players repeated the feat in consecutive seasons (Wish Jackson in 2009 and 2010). Hill also benefited from defensive errors, as he scored 24.5 fantasy points on coverage errors that occurred on throws of 30 or more yards downfield, a total that was third-highest in that category. Combine this with Hill having the fifth-toughest matchup point total among wide receivers and adjusting to a full-time starting quarterback for the first time in Patrick Mahomes, and Hill should be considered more of a WR2/WR3 prospect in 2018.

    jarvis landry, wr, cleveland browns

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    a big point was raised at espn’s fantasy football summit. As a group, we’ve generously rated a couple of brown wide receivers (Josh Gordon is the other), however, when we look at the team as a whole, there isn’t enough offensive strength for both players to earn a fantasy point late in the game. season. total that will support it. As far as raw talent goes, both Landry and Gordon justify those assessments, but Landry’s move to Cleveland worries me more because of the extreme volume fueling his fantasy numbers during his Miami days. he’s not a huge red zone threat, struggling to fill out the touchdown column, and tyrod taylor really isn’t a better quarterback for landry’s skill set than anyone he worked with in miami. There’s a catch here, and I’m afraid it might be a drop of 25 catches (or more). – Tristan H. chicken coop

    jay ajayi, rb, philadelphia eagles

    The former Dolphins star averaged 5.8 yards per rush for the Eagles after his midseason acquisition, but the Super Bowl champions have depth at this position and won’t be afraid to use it. Ajayi broke out in 2016 with more than 1,200 rushing yards, but half of those came in three explosive games. the rest of the time, the fantasy managers were frustrated. With chronic knee problems and constant competition in the backfield, Ajayi will struggle to maintain RB2 status throughout the season. -eric karabell

    tom brady, qb, new england patriots

    can you read tristan h. Here’s Cockcroft’s take on why Brady is overrated in fantasy this season.

    carlos hyde, rb, cleveland browns

    hyde is one of my favorite players in the league to watch, but he just shouldn’t come off the board in the single-digit rounds of fantasy drafts. Hyde was well positioned for high-end fantasy production as the leader of Shanahan’s offense last season, but he’s in a much worse situation in Cleveland. Even if Hyde holds second-round rookie Nick Chubb at bay for goal-line duties or first downs (something not taken for granted), he’ll hold off on change-of-pace bunts and, no doubt, for the most part. from the broadcast job to Duke Johnson Jr. hyde is coming off his least efficient pro season and is looking for nothing but committee duty in 2018. – mike clay

    buds

    Who will join the ranks of the elite and help you win your league this season? here are our experts’ picks for the rising stars of 2018 and how they envision it happening.

    rashaad penny, rb, seattle seahawks

    From 2012 to 2017, eight running backs were selected in the first round of the NFL draft. six of those running backs finished in the top 10 fantasy running backs as rookies. plain and simple: when teams draft a running back early, they plan to use him a lot. The Seahawks have made it clear that they will return to a run-first offense, and the 27th overall pick Penny is a strong bet to lead the backfield for most of the 2018 season. Steal a lot of work from the elusive penny, who paced the nation in rushing while averaging 7.8 ypc at San Diego State last season. – mike clay

    amari cooper, wr, oakland raiders

    To succeed in the nfl, you need talent and opportunity. Nobody questions Cooper’s talent. his concentration sometimes, sure, but not his talent. At just 24 years old, Cooper has more than 2,900 yards and 18 touchdowns and has averaged 14.3 receiving yards in three NFL seasons. Now, with the advancement of crabtree and others, there are over 160 targets available. I don’t believe in Jordy Nelson, so yeah, expect this offense to revolve around Cooper, who has averaged 18 fantasy points per game when he’s had eight or more targets. i’m all in for a great amari cooper recovery season. – matthew berry

    royce freeman, rb, denver broncos

    Oregon’s third-round pick might not be the pass catcher that Devontae Booker’s starting pitcher has been, but, again, we’ve seen the booker act, and it’s not special. freeman is big and quick and should put booker aside for first downs and goal-line work, with the potential for at least 1,000 rushing yards. the offense finally has a decent quarterback, so don’t judge him last season. There are a myriad of rookie racers to consider, and Freeman has a good chance to emerge right away. -eric karabell

    saquon barkley, rb, new york giants

    it’s simple: if barkley does everything the giants think he can do, he’ll be the standout player in 2018. rookies universally find it a bit more difficult at first, and struggle to adapt their skill set to the nfl . .with the occasional exception of one position: running back. Unlike rookie wide receivers who need to improve route runs or rookie quarterbacks who need to learn to read defenses, rookie running backs rely more on a match between their style and that of their new offense. , along with opportunities to play. the ball. if he can run, catch and protect the pass, the chances increase. Barkley has all of this working in his favor. – stephanie bell

    joe mixon, rb, cincinnati flares

    mixon had a disappointing rookie season, but still led all flare running backs in rushing yards and tied for the lead in touchdowns. this season the bengals have mixon as their main feature on all attempts. Cincinnati had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season, but has improved the unit this offseason. The scheme is more open this season behind new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, so Mixon should have better scoring opportunities. Now settled and ready to show off the electric racing ability he showed in college, Mixon has a good chance to break out this year. – Andre Snellings

    jerick mckinnon, rb, san francisco 49ers

    There are a few ways to examine the excitement surrounding Mckinnon, but let’s start with his skill: He possesses uncommon athletic abilities with incredible speed and ingenious open-field work. he has the soft hands to handle a heavy load of passing games and will throw big plays regularly. Now let’s move on to the offensive adjustment, as he takes on a presumptive starting role in a Kyle Shanahan offense that is poised to involve the back as a pass catcher. In 2017, Carlos Hyde had 59 sacks; He had never had a season with more than 33 targets before Shanahan’s arrival, which suggests to me that Mckinnon has a 70-sack advantage on the radar. By the way, sometimes following the money trail can tell you something you need to know, and the 49ers made Mckinnon one of the richest running backs in football with an $8 million-per-season contract. he will be busy in the bay area. – country yachts

    will fuller v, wr, houston texans

    houston’s hype and fantasy train is running full throttle for deshaun watson and deandre hopkins, and it should be going almost as fast for fuller. Last season, Hopkins outperformed Fuller in vertical YPA (13.5 for Fuller, 9.4 for Hopkins), stretched vertical YPA (Fuller 16.6, Hopkins 11.3), and overall YPA (Fuller 9.8, Hopkins 8.1). The Texans may not want Hopkins racking up close to 200 targets again this season, so sending more volume in Fuller’s direction would also diversify their offense. Fantasy managers who want to get in on the Houston offense without paying full price to do so should seriously consider taking Fuller a round or two earlier than his current WR4 ADP value. -kc joyner

    corey davis, wr, tennessee titans

    my jealousy for davis is tied in part to my appreciation of mariota’s potential as a passer, while acknowledging the increased utility and advantage davis can offer in new coordinator matt lafleur’s offense. Davis, like his quarterback, is a former elite prospect who has thus far been defeated by a combination of injuries and a role in an archaic offense. he can be found right after crabtree in drafts, and pairing the two as a mix of high floor and high ceiling inversions is a fun idea for managers to consider. – jim mccormick

    See also: How many teams are in the college football playoffs

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