A new season welcomes new names, new stars, and a host of new headaches for those of you that play fantasy football and inexplicably shit the bed on draft day. Fuck wet wipes and Tylenol — what I’m offering is fantasy nirvana.
By now, many of you already know what you’re doing. For those of you that don’t know, that’s what I’m here for — to help guide you away from the ditches and potholes that accompany an abysmal season in fantasy football.
The new year brings new joy. It also brings heartache and pain.
Let’s start things off with joy, shall we?
///THE SLEEPER LIST///
Sleepers are those who are primed to outperform their draft value or average draft position, ADP for short, this year. Take advantage of the blunders made by the consensus of experts in your league’s draft queue and select these players.
Matthew Stafford, Lions: Let’s see … an improved run game (a healthy Taylor Decker; a mauling left guard in rookie Frank Ragnow; LeGarrette Blount Force Trauma and the immensely talented rookie Kerryon Johnson as Detroit’s one-two punch), a 6-foot-4, high-pointing, athletic marvel of a receiver there to catch bombs whenever the Lions cross the 50 yard line in Kenny Golladay. Oh, and … when healthy, Theo Riddick, Detroit’s do-it-all back, creates problems for defenders and coaches alike. He’s healthy, by the way. Possibly a career year in 2018 for Stafford? Not likely, as he threw for over 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2011. But he’s sure to exceed his 16.9 points per game average from last year, and you can draft him anywhere from round 10 to round 12. You’re welcome.
Philip Rivers, Chargers: Accounting for Chargers’ players to land on IR with the frequency of quickies that occur amongst a group of bonobos in the Congo, Philip Rivers is still being slept on this year in fantasyland. The addition of Mike Pouncey at center and the debut of Forrest Lamp at guard allows this Chargers offense to really dictate their style of play to teams — until they both land on IR. Mike Williams should make up for the loss of Hunter Henry in the red zone, and having Keenan Allen is always nice — until he lands on IR. Ultimately, though, LA’s defense and run game will enable Rivers to operate with efficiency this year — unless he lands on IR. Oh, yeah … he is also available between rounds 10–12, maybe later.
Matt Ryan, Falcons: Year 1 of the Steve Sarkisian offense was ugly; year 2 is perfectly set up for a rebound, though. The combo of Freeman and Coleman is as good as it gets at running back, as is Julio at receiver. Factor in Calvin Ridley’s speed and routes, as well as a 3rd year leap from tight end Austin Hooper, and what you have is a vintage peak season from Matty Ice this year. And yes … he’s available in rounds 10–12.
Tyrod Taylor, Browns: Baker Mayfield is the future, true, but Taylor is the present. I doubt Mayfield ever sees the field this year, unless injury occurs. Meanwhile, the array of weapons around Tyrod will likely help him reach career numbers this year, and his rushing production is always an added bonus to your lineup. Oh — and he’ll be available late in draft rooms, so, confidently take a flier on him as your backup and thank me later.
Andy Dalton, Bengals: The offense fell apart last year for Andy. Injuries, the loss of a Pro Bowl left tackle (and the lack of development from the players that tried to replace him), ultimately led to his lowly point per game average across all formats. The Red Rifle will bounce back this year, though — that much is guaranteed. The fastest man in pro football, John Ross, is also a very talented receiver. He wasn’t healthy last year; this year he is, and no one is happier for it than Dalton … except maybe AJ Green. Also healthy (as healthy as he can be, at least) is Tyler Eifert. Gio Bernard is healthy. Cordy Glenn, who’s also talented, is Andy’s new left tackle. And Joe Mixon, the scumbag that he is, is lighter and primed to make an impact this year. Going UP.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins: I doubt he’s worth drafting, but he will be a good spot starter on a bye week or if you’re playing the matchups. I like the Miami offense despite the loss of Landry. Amendola, Wilson and Gesicki are great additions, the RB corps is legit, and the defense has the potential to keep things manageable for Tannehill this year. Rushing yardage is a plus, too.
Melvin Gordon, Chargers: You’re probably wondering why Gordon is listed as a sleeper when he’s ranked as a top 15 player by every consensus on every platform this year. And I get it. What I don’t get, though, is the lack of love that Gordon’s come to find thus far. He’s ranked nationally as the 10th back on draft boards despite a top 5 and top 7 finish in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The Chargers offense is better. Their defense is better. And, as of Thursday, August 23 at 4:35am, no more Chargers players have been placed on IR. Seriously, though, Gordon is consistent. His coaches plan on getting him more involved as a receiver, so, the workload is there. The room for growth is there. Why, then, are most people more comfortable drafting Dalvin Cook over him this year? Beats me, especially when Cook’s lineman have been dropping faster than shares of stock at Radio Shack. It appears that Minnesota is the new San Diego, or LA, or whatever the hell they are.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons: Ranked as a consensus top 15/top 20 player this year, Devonta Freeman is a steal anywhere in round 2. (Read Matt Ryan’s outlook to understand why, if you haven’t already). The only concern worth noting, and its kind of a big deal, is Freeman’s concussion history, which has been rapidly growing as of late. Tevin Coleman is what is at this point — a matchup chess-piece/situational back/backup RB— and will be a free agent at year’s end, so no need to worry about a timeshare between these two. Freeman is solid in all formats, and he’s proven to be capable of much more.
Dion Lewis, Titans: New uniform, new contract, and an OC that just gets him, Dion Lewis has the track record, production-wise, to warrant 3rd-4th round consideration in PPR formats, and 4th-5th round consideration in standard leagues. Lewis is just a baller. Injury is his only crutch. Calling my shot here: Lewis will be a top 12 PPR back in 2018.
Kerryon Johnson, Lions: I fought temptation on listing him with the Breakouts, but Kerryon belongs here simply because his “breakout” season is a year away from happening. This year he’s a sleeper. His value right now is ranging anywhere from RB25 to RB35, depending on your platform, which is tantalizing, from both a PPR and standard scoring perspective, as Johnson is a three-down back with size and speed and maturity beyond his years. A top 15 back this year, in all formats, possibly top 10.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals: I’ve always loved his talent — now he’s healthy, and he’s in a contract year. Joe Mixon has yet to prove that he’s anything more than an athlete playing running back, which bodes well for Bernard this year in terms of snap-count and touches. I like Gio’s 10th round ADP, as well.
James Conner, Steelers: Everything about Le’Veon’s situation makes me wanna puke. Conner, on the other hand, makes me want to invest, even if only to cock-block the guy that drafts Bell. Conner doesn’t look good this preseason, he looks amazing, and he’s hardly even being drafting.
Josh Gordon, Browns: We’re all aware of his capabilities, but not all of us are comfortable risking an early-round pick to acquire him. His range is all over the place, and, depending on your league, Gordon’s name likely will grab your eye at some point in round 4 or 5. There’s no denying that Jarvis Landry and David Njoku will cut into Gordon’s production this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Gordon can’t yield top 10 numbers from a points per game basis this year. I’m not saying that he will, but I definitely believe that Josh is still a special, special athlete who’s ceiling is still sky high.
Julian Edelman, Patriots: The play here is for those of you in PPR leagues, obviously, and his value — despite the 4 game absence — is still finger licking good. When round 7 or 8 rolls around and you’re starring at Edelman’s name with hesitation, give yourself two slaps across your fuckin’ mouth for waiting to pull the trigger on Tom Brady’s favorite underneath target, then draft him. I love him as my WR3/flex play with his six catches per game every week.
Jordy Nelson, Raiders: It’s funny how Nelson has dropped from fantasy relevancy simply from changing teams. If you’ve thought about writing him off, don’t. Nelson’s production has always been tied to the health of his quarterback, and A-Rod was injured for most of last season. Six touchdowns in five weeks — that was Jordy’s stat-line before Rodgers went down. Derek Carr has the arm talent to utilize Nelson in the red zone, and Jon Gruden has the knowledge and wisdom to dial up his number when they get there.
Michael Crabtree, Ravens: Crabtree is still one of the better possession receivers in pro football. He has sure hands, he’s smart, and he’ll be Flacco’s 1st option in the red zone, therefore he’s a great value play in standard scoring leagues with a generous 8th round ADP. Flacco finally looks healthy, and whether or not he remains a Raven beyond 2018 doesn’t really matter. You saw how motivated Alex Smith was last year, right? Okay then.
Jamison Crowder, Redskins: Alex Smith is a decisive, accurate QB who loves to work the middle of the field. Crowder is a disciplined route-runner who loves to work the middle of the field, also, and he’s sure-handed. I see 80+catches and 900+ yards this year, making Crowder a great PPR play.
Kenny Golladay, Lions: Physically, Golladay has it all. And, according to teammates, he wants to be great. He’s made an impression thus far, as the coaches named him starter opposite Marvin Jones in two-receiver sets. With Stafford’s big arm, I can see Golladay hitting 900+ yards and 8 TDs this year, easily, making him a good play in standard leagues.
Chris Godwin, Bucs: Another talented, big-bodied wide-out who received a promotion, Chris Godwin has been impressing Tampa coaches since the midway point of last season. He’ll see plenty of PT this year, whether in the slot or on the other side of Mike Evans, and he’ll be the main beneficiary from all of the attention Evans receives. Fitz likes big receivers in the red area, and when Jameis returns, I think he’ll play a smarter brand of ball in order to win back the trust of his coaches — meaning he won’t force the issue with Evans.
John Ross, Bengals: John Ross isn’t just a one-trick burner like DeSean Jackson. He’s a complete receiver, one who runs the complete route tree, one who goes across the middle. Now, whether or not he makes his living there like OBJ does is another question entirely. I really like Ross. I think that his inexperience will show from time to time. Overall I like his floor, as well as his potential for yardage this year as a late round pick.
Anthony Miller, Bears: He’s by far and away my favorite rookie receiver, and he’s much better than I thought he was during the draft evaluation process. Miller has special qualities to him; he shows glimpses of Antonio Brown. Don’t know where his floor or ceiling is, statistically speaking, but his late round ADP sure is enticing enough for me to find out.
Cole Beasley, Cowboys: Dez and Witten couldn’t gain separation last year. And even though Witten is as sure-handed as they come, his departure from the Cowboys lineup only benefits Beasley. Now, with receivers that actually run routes and get open in Allen Hurns and rookie Michael Gallup, Beasley has a real shot at garnering more targets and more receptions from Dak this season. They’ll move him around, put him on the outside more often to keep the defense guessing and to prevent all of the bracket coverage he saw last year, so, I love him as a late-round PPR play.
Geronimo Allison, Packers: The likely starter opposite of Adams in two receiver sets — which, as we all know, presents an enormous opportunity with Rodgers at QB — expect nothing special from him and hope for some luck if you decide to invest on him. You never know. It’s the NFL, after all.
Jimmy Graham, Packers: There’s no need to over-explain this one. Jimmy is a proven red zone monster who’s in a situation where 10–12 touchdowns isn’t just possible this year, it’s probable. I also see a spike in total production with Rodgers as his QB: 70/800 is his catch/yardage range.
Jack Doyle, Colts: If you’re in a PPR league, then you should absolutely covet Jack Doyle on draft day this year. Luck is back, and he appears hesitant and less confident to hang onto the ball like he used to. The coaches are doing their best to coach Luck’s bad habits out of him. Schematically, Frank Reich loves to utilize his tight ends. Doyle isn’t fast. He isn’t explosive. But he is reliable. He’s Jason Witten: a savvy, sure-handed weapon who does his damage in the middle of the field. 80+ catches is definitely in play yet again this year. His 10th–12th round ADP is simply a gift in PPR.
Austin Hooper, Falcons: He’s young, talented, and just hitting his stride. I really like Austin this year in PPR leagues. I know that there are a LOT of mouths feed in Atlanta’s offense, but I truly believe that he has a real chance to become Matt Ryan’s second option on money downs this year. Third year in the league, third year with Ryan — that’s chemistry that rookie Calvin Ridley simply will not obtain with his QB for quite some time. Mohamed Sanu is the only threat to Hooper’s target potential, but I see him slowly but surely being phased out the offense. So, take a flier on Hooper this year, as he’s almost not being drafted — in all formats — and thank me later.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins: I love this kid. He’s smart, freakishly athletic and has made a good impression on his coaches and teammates thus far. Without any real threat to vulture target opportunities from him, I see Gesicki as this year’s Evan Engram — maybe even better. I think that he’s going to be a dominant red zone target from day one. It’s just a matter of chemistry and timing with Tannehill in order for him to cash in on those targets.
///THE BREAKOUT LIST///
Breakouts are the players that set statistical career highs for themselves, typically posting top 10/top 20 finishes in fantasy. These are the players that you need on your team this year. Target and draft them accordingly, without hesitation.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers: Some us have hopped on the Jimmy G bandwagon while others refuse to buy into the hype. (Although, I believe that the “others” are just on some hipster shit and are trying to be cool. You’re not cool, so, why don’t you just go shit in your hand then, hotshot.) Jimmy G is the goddamn truth — I swear he is! Kyle Shanahan is also the truth, and the two of them — despite household names on offense — will create beautiful music together in 2018. A healthy Pierre Garçon; a developing star in Marquise Goodwin; an underrated slot man in Trent Taylor; a talented 2nd year tight end in George Kittle; and an über-athletic running back in Jerick McKinnon, who’s skillset is a perfect match for Shanahan’s zone scheme. So … what’s not to like about Garoppolo’s situation this year? Calling my shot: Jimmy G flirts with top 5 production in 2018. And he’s your’s in rounds 8–10.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs: If the last 5 or 6 years has taught us anything about fantasy football, it’s that young and talented quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes are capable of making huge impacts within their 1st or 2nd year in the league. The Chiefs offense is littered with type of talented playmakers that can allow a gunslinger like Mahomes to breakout this year. He’s athletic, too, so 300–400 rushing yards and 4–5 rushing touchdowns are well in play.
Jared Goff, Rams: Although he played well last year, 2017 wasn’t Goff’s breakout season; he’s capable of accomplishing much greater things in 2018. Bringing Brandin Cooks into the mix as the Rams speed threat really opens their offense up and allows Goff an opportunity to experience a true breakout season this year. Todd Gurley garners so much attention that Goff will consistently see a limitless amount of favorable looks in passing situations, and Cooper Kupp (more on him later) is on the verge of becoming a household name. Factor in the playcalling of the bright Sean McVay and this Rams offense is poised to lead the league in scoring. Oh … did I mention his late-late round ADP? He’s yours whenever you’re ready.
Marcus Mariota, Titans: Talk about the perfect transition. Mariota was a complete and utter disappointment in 2017. Injuries and poor coaching led to his shortcomings. This year Mariota will be guided by Sean McVay’s understudy. Matt LeFleur was part of the Rams coaching staff in 2017, and he brings the same offensive innovation that worked so well for Goff and crew with him to Tennessee. He’ll simplify things for Mariota. His offense is designed to manufacture yards, which leads to 1st downs — as well as touchdowns — and he’ll be sure to create opportunities that showcase Mariota’s unique athleticism and speed. With an A+ offensive line and weapons all around him, Mariota is primed to breakout in 2018, so, take advantage of his late round ADP if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.
Mitchell Trubisky, Bears: Another young and talented QB to pair with a young and innovative offensive playcaller. Matt Nagy was hired to elevate a stagnant Bears offense. In order to accomplish that, he must first develop Mitch Trubisky and get him to reach his potential, which is immense. Although things haven’t looked pretty thus far, I’m confident that the Bears offense — given the playmakers on the current depth chart — will come around. It’ll take some time, so, laugh all you want when Mr. Biscuit and crew struggle out of the gate. No matter — I’d rather have the last laugh anyway. Accurate, smart, athletic, and mature beyond his years, management has surrounded him with the kind of ecosystem that allows QBs to flourish. A top 10 finish is certainly in the realm of possibility this year for Mitch.
Eli Manning, Giants: I’ve been on some Pro-Eli shit for years and I’m not about to stop now. I don’t think that he’ll have a career year per se, but he certainly has all the necessary pieces around him to prove me wrong. Adding Nate Solder and Saquon Barkley to the lineup does wonders for his career. His late-late round ADP costs you nothing. Could be similar to Matt Ryan in 2016.
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers: Erase last season from your mind and focus on the now. Christian McCaffrey isn’t Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles or any other scatback that you would pigeonhole as catch-dependent in fantasy. Yes, Cam Newton will run QB dive and QB power at the 2-yard line and vulture TD opportunities away from McCaffrey this year. And yes, CJ Anderson will gladly accept whatever goal line leftovers that Cam leaves behind. Christian McCaffrey isn’t going to be as effective in standard leagues when compared to his impact in PPR settings. Everyone knows that. But he’s going to be featured in this new Panthers offense — led by Norv Turner — as both a runner and a receiver. And he will cross that goal line … except his starting point will be at the 30 or 40. Love him in PPR, like him in standard. 1,600–1,700 total yards and 10 touchdowns are not unreasonable expectations of him.
Kenyan Drake, Dolphins: Kenyan Drake is my favorite breakout candidate this year, and by a significant margin. I love the fact that he’s going in the 3rd-4th round. Why? Because he’s an absolute steal at that point. Drake is a special back. His elusiveness is on par with LeSean McCoy in his prime, in my opinion, but he’s so much more than that. He runs with legit power. It kind of reminds me of Alvin Kamara in that way; it’s deceptive. He runs through arm tackles at the second level then lowers his shoulders on safeties and corners in pursuit — and that’s after he juked at least a few of them. He will blowup this year. What we saw last season was just his introduction. The question is, are you smart enough to see it for yourself? Forget Gore and forget Ballage (even though he’s a pretty good talent himself), this Miami offense will flow through the legs of their most talented player in 2018. Calling my shot: Drake posts a top 5 finish, on a points per game basis, in PPR settings.
Alex Collins, Ravens: It’ll be week 2 in the regular season by the time I finish writing these lengthy outlooks, so, its time to speed things up … A healthy Joe Flacco and a healthy Marshall Yanda changes everything for the Ravens offense, especially for Collins. Upgrades at wide receiver and tight end is also a game-changer. Collins is highly motivated to prove that he belongs. He’s a high end RB2 with RB1 upside, and he’s productive in all settings.
Chris Carson, Seahawks: Rashaad Penny is likely their future, but he’s got a long way to go before he unseats Carson as the Seahawks feature back. Last season was not a fluke. His no-nonsense running style fits how Pete Carroll wants to play, and he has soft hands. Another highly motivated individual who’s looked great so far this offseason, I think Carson comes out the gate hot and never looks back. An RB2 all day in 2018; injury is his only obstacle.
Aaron Jones, Packers: Jamaal Williams had the opportunity to take the starting job this preseason but failed to do so. Aaron Jones is one of the most gifted runners in pro football. His vision, burst and cutback ability is oh so reminiscent of Devonta Freeman. Yeah, the two-game suspension hurts just a little, but his late round value works like a shot of cortisone — especially when he returns as the starting running back in that Green Bay offense.
Royce Freeman, Broncos: I have a feeling that 2018 will be Freeman’s breakout season. Alfred Morris peaked in his rookie year, so did Jordan Howard. Everyone sees how good he looks so far. It’s undeniable. I see a top 10 finish in standard scoring leagues for the one they call Rolls Royce.
Davante Adams, Packers: Early it was Greg Jennings. Then it was Jordy Nelson. Now it’s Davante Adams’ turn. Any wide receiver that is Aaron Rodgers’ clear №1 warrants higher praise than the WR8 range that Adams finds himself in this year. And he can be had round 2 of your draft. Davante — in any format, really — is quite the consolation prize for those of you that miss out on the wave of 2nd round receivers at the snake in their drafts.
Amari Cooper, Raiders: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you again because, why not? Fool me three times, well, then … I guess it’s on me. Don’t make a fool of me this year, Amari. Don’t you dare make a silly little fool out of me. Gruden is smart enough and wise enough and experienced enough as a playcaller to get the ball into Cooper’s hands this year, often, and Derek Carr is plenty good himself. This is the year.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers: Because its Ben, and because its constant double coverage going Antonio’s way, and because that pot-smoking malcontent is no longer there, and because JuJu is so physically gifted and has earned Ben’s trust early on — especially in the red zone — and … because its the Steelers, who seem to turn out a Pro Bowl receiver every two or three years. That’s why I think JuJu will break out this year.
Cooper Kupp, Rams: This is my Kenyan Drake at the wide receiver position this year. I absolutely LOVE Cooper Kupp, and I especially love him in PPR settings. I compare him to Jarvis Landry: he’s tough as nails, he runs exceptional routes, he’s sneaky fast and sneaky athletic, he’s super smart and super intelligent, and, perhaps the best part, he has great hands. Year 2 with Goff and McVay, and now you add Brandin Cooks into the mix to draw coverage? Holy damn is Coop gonna eat this year! Calling my shot: 90 receptions, 1,200 yards and 7–8 touchdowns.
Marquise Goodwin, 49ers: My buddy recently notified me that I may have been a year early on Goodwin, who I declared last year was a special receiver. It took a stud Qb like Garoppolo to prove my instincts correct, but, the games still have to be played. Goodwin is just embarrassing the 49ers secondary in practice, and Jimmy G is making good on his end. I can’t NOT have Goodwin in my breakout list this year. That would just be silly. And it’s not just about his speed. This guy has the desire and the work ethic to be great. He’s been working on his hands, and his routes were already good. Think 2017 Tyreek Hill numbers, or somewhere near that range.
Mike Williams, Chargers: He’s been one of the stars in camp for the Bolts, and the coaches have been praising his work ethic and maturity. He’s another player that desires to be great and backs it up with sweat. The injury to Hunter Henry opens up Williams to become the recipient of many red zone targets from my guy, my man crush, Philip Rivers. Williams’ size and talent will take care of the rest. His late round ADP is simply delicious.
Evan Engram, Giants: Look, last year was not what I would consider to be a breakout season from Engram. He had a good year — a really good year by rookie standards — but his best is yet to come. I like Sterling Shepard and all, but Engram is a difference maker. He’ll be Eli’s second option in the red zone, and his first option when teams decide to shade or double Odell. His numbers likely won’t skyrocket, but they’ll improve, which is all you need to know.
David Njoku, Browns: Yes, they have some big mouths to feed in Cleveland this year with Josh and Jarvis now in the mix. But there’s room for three. Njoku will be an undeniably tempting target for Tyrod when the offense gets into the red zone, and Mayfield has already displayed a level of comfortability with him, too. Njoku is an athletic freak, a matchup nightmare for coaches and defenders alike, and the footage of HBO’s Hard Knocks shows a mature, young man who’s working hard everyday to be great. Um … yes, please.
Trey Burton, Bears: I love players like Burton. He’s the epitome of what being a team player is all about. He’s selfless and talented, yet he never complained about not getting the ball as an Eagle. Zach Ertz was in his way in Philly, but not anymore. The Bears will utilize Burton’s athletic ability and feature him in their new offense under Matt Nagy. Trubisky will love throwing to him. Don’t know what to expect numbers-wise, but I imagine that 60–70 balls, 700–800 yards and 5–6 touchdowns is feasible this year.
///THE BUST LIST///
These little motherfuckers break hearts in fantasyland. Busts are the early to mid-round investments that yield mid to late-round results by year’s end. A back that was drafted to fill your RB1 spot finishes as an RB2 or RB3, and it hurts. A bust doesn’t necessarily underperform by a large margin. But when you draft a guy with heavy expectations and he underperforms, even by a little, it may just deflate your chances at competing until the last game of the year.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers: It’s as simple as this … I don’t believe that Rodgers will experience a career year in 2018. If I thought that he was going to explode for 40 touchdowns, thus creating a huge gap between himself and the next QB, then I wouldn’t have him listed here. But his cost of acquistion is the bottom of round 3, top of round 4, which is simply too much to ask.
Tom Brady, Patriots: It absolutely breaks my heart to say anything negative about my dearest Tom Brady, but, here goes. He’s being drafted as the 2nd or 3rd quarterback this year, and he’s going in the 5th or 6th round. That’s what my issue is with him. But it’s not Brady’s fault. It’s never his fault. You’ll be able to save that mid-round investment and grab a QB in round 10 or later that presents equal or greater value. I love you, Tom, and I’m sorry.
Carson Wentz, Eagles: Ahhh … more heartache! As a Philly native, it pains me to speak negatively on Carson Wentz here. The truth is, last year’s special season would’ve been difficult to exceed or duplicate without factoring in Carson’s freshly repaired knee. But the knee is a factor here, and the Super Bowl hangover is real. Consistency will be his Achilles heal in 2018, and his 7th-8th round ADP is simply too steep a price to ask of me.
Deshaun Watson, Texans: Unlike Wentz, I’m not worried about Watson’s knee in 2018. My problem has more to do with the basis of his circumstances. (1) The Texans’ O-line has a bunch of new starters, and none of them are worth mentioning. It’s scary. (2) Deshaun can run hot and cold as a passer. He was hot last year. We all witnessed something special, but, we only saw him play in 7 games. We’ll see the other side to him in 2018, the cold side. That teeter-totter of a balancing act will hit your bottom line if you decide to waste a 4th or 5th or 6th round pick on him, which is his price tag this year.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings: New team, new scheme, new coaches and teammates to adjust to, and an Vikings O-line that’s thin on talent and already missing a starter. I love the weapons at his disposal, and the defense is as good as it gets. Ultimately, though, Cousins will need time to adjust. His 8th-10th round ADP leaves you reaching for a QB when you can find a cheaper upgrade later.
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers: People will laugh, and I get it, but my gut says that I’ll be on the right side of this when it’s all said and done. Lev’s track record speaks for itself. He’s a stud in any format, especially in PPR leagues. But his situation is so unique this year that I’m inclined to believe that problems will arise. This is a gut call, people. I’m just following the bread crumbs. James Conner looks amazing in Bell’s preseason absence. Will Le’Veon play through bumps and bruises like he has in the past? Will he truly be a team player? Will he cause dissension in the locker room? These are all legit questions. If “yes” becomes an answer to even one of these questions, do you really feel confident that Bell won’t lose touches to his hungry successor in 2018?
Dalvin Cook, Vikings: I absolutely have to speed this up here … I understand why everyone is excited about Cook this year. The problem, though, is that everyone is a year early on his projections. The Vikings O-line is kind of a mess. They’ll struggle to run the ball. Oh, and Cook is coming off of a torn ACL. Are you positive that he’ll show that same level of explosion from a year ago, from two or three years ago? As your 1st or 2nd pick in the draft, you better be 100% certain or your season will be ruined.
LeSean McCoy, Bills: Who’s playing quarterback in Buffalo this year? Who’s creating holes in the run game? Who out of their receivers is gonna help the quarterback look good? Who are their playmakers? Who just turned 30? Who is battling soft tissue injuries this preseason? Boy, that’s a lot of questions.
Lamar Miller, Texans: I’ve expressed my concerns with the Texans O-line in Deshaun Watson’s outlook, so, no need to rehash it here. Even with Hopkins and Fuller drawing coverage, it’ll still be a tough season for Miller with seven defenders in the box on every snap. Plus, the AFC South plays the run extremely well, and for those reasons I remain bullish on Miller’s 2018 outlook. You’d be crazy to select him anywhere in rounds 5–7.
Jay Ajayi, Eagles: Yet another back who’s going way too early in drafts this year. Ajayi really is a one-trick pony at this point. He’s a standard-league-only option who’s relevancy is volume dependent, and I just can’t envision Doug feeding him the amount of carries needed to unleash his potential. I love watching Jay, but his current 5th-6th round ADP is too rich in fantasy.
Mike Evans, Bucs: Last season was a fluke and 2016 was an aberration, so, Mike Evans actual value lies somewhere in between. He’s listed as a WR9 in ESPN’s rankings, which sounds just about right on paper. I don’t know, though. I’m being somewhat ambivalent here, but Winston’s standing within the organization is on the line, so I see him being smart and safe with the ball upon return from suspension. The O-line has it’s issues, which caused a ton of problems for Winston last year, which, in effect, hurt Evan’s bottom line. I just don’t feel confident enough to invest in Evans in round 2 or 3 this year.
Adam Thielen, Vikings: I’ve already offered most of my thoughts on the Vikings. They’re gonna be in trouble if they can’t fix the issues that exist on their offensive line. Aside from that, Stefon Diggs is the Vikings receiver to own. Thielen was terrific last season, but he is primed to enter the valley in 2018. I still like him, just not in the 3rd round, and not as my WR2.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos: Although I like Case Keenum, I just don’t see him resurrecting an aging Thomas. DT’s been on the back nine of his career for a couple of years now, and the writing on the wall couldn’t be more clear. The Broncos brass invested 2nd and 4th round picks on receivers in this year’s draft, so, draw your own conclusions. I have my own, and those conclusions are resistant towards the idea of reaching for Thomas anywhere in rounds 4 through 6 of my draft, which is where he’ll be going in yours.
Allen Robinson, Bears: This one is simple. There is just way too much newness going on in Chicago this year. Robinson and Trubisky could theoretically learn on the fly, and develop the chemistry they lack that way. And I could theoretically feel comfortable drafting A-Rob in the 9th round of my draft. But he’s going in the 4th or 5th or 6th round. No thank you.
Alshon Jeffery, Eagles: (1) Jeffery is a touchdown dependent, standard-league-only option. (2) He may be placed on the PUP list to begin the season, meaning that he misses the first 6 weeks as he rehabs a shoulder injury. With an asking price that ranges from rounds 6–8, this is an easy pass for me.
Zach Ertz, Eagles: With three key Eagles players listed in my Busts column, it’s impossible to convince you that I’m not bashing on the defending Super Bowl champs — but I’ll try. (1) No Jeffrey means more attention given to Ertz. (2) Dallas Goedert is quickly becoming a force to reckoned with, and he will tap into Ertz’ target share in 2018. (3) Who know how good Wentz will look this year. His accuracy can run hot and cold, too, much like Watson’s. I still like Ertz in fantasy, especially in PPR leagues, I’m just not a fan of his 4th round ADP. I’d rather draft Jack Doyle or Trey Burton in rounds 8–10.
Delanie Walker, Titans: There are just so many good players that you can draft in round 7 or 8 other than Delanie Walker. That’s my only issue here. Plus, who knows just how he’ll be used by this new Titans coaching staff.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings: Okay, to rehash: Vikings O-line=not good; Cook and Cousins. Now, I’ll quote myself to close this thing out: “There are just so many good players that you can draft in round 7 or 8 other than” … Kyle Rudolph.
///Well, good luck to all of you this year. I hope this helps.///