Before we get into our 2018 fantasy football sleeper, breakout, and bust, let’s do a quick primer. Football Absurdity will explore a sleeper, a breakout (or bounce back), and a bust from every NFL team for your 2018 fantasy football leagues. A sleeper is a player who is available at an extremely cheap draft price relative to his anticipated production; in 2017, an example was Alvin Kamara. The breakout/bounce back players are players who are going for more than a sleeper, but who should exceed that production. These are usually players coming off down years or already productive players on the verge of making a breakout (in 2017, this was Marvin Jones or Keenan Allen).
As for busts, those are guys you definitely want to stay away from. They’re set to take a massive dive and while they may not be a wasted pick, you definitely don’t want them on your team (2017’s Isaiah Crowell, Dez Bryant, Jordan Reed, etc.).
As all my series do, we start alphabetically, and in the NFC West, with the Arizona Cardinals:
2018 Fantasy Football Sleeper – Ricky Seals-Jones, Tight End (ADP 204, TE24, BAC at least 0.08)
Seals-Jones threw some of his sleeper appeal for a loop when he drank himself into a hotel altercation-based arrest. Still, Seals-Jones made a huge impression in limited time in 2017. He played only 133 snaps last year but received a target roughly 20% of the time. He turned those 28 targets into 201 yards and three scores. You have to take the following stat with a grain of salt, but if you scaled up his target rate, catch percentage, yards per catch and touchdown rate to rookie fantasy football phenom TE Evan Engram, you get the following line: 70 catches, 1174 yards and seven scores. That’s 10.16 fantasy points per game in standard scoring, which puts him in Gronk territory. That’s just some food for thought.
2018 Fantasy Football Breakout – Sam Bradford, Quarterback (ADP 219, QB31)
Stop laughing. No, please. Stop; just listen. Last year, Bradford played one full game before his boneitis flared up and killed his 2017 campaign. What a game it was, though! He torched the Saints defense to the tune of 346 yards and three scores, absorbing just one sack and throwing no picks. He’s probably better suited for two-quarterback leagues, and he isn’t long for his starting role. Not a bad quarterback to pair with Jameis Winston, as he should keep starting until Jameis returns. At least… if his knee doesn’t explode again. He hasn’t played sixteen games since the first Obama Administration.
2018 Fantasy Football Bust* – Larry Fitzgerald**, Wide Receiver (ADP 44, WR17)
*in standard scoring
I’m not going to be a hot take machine here and act like this is the year that the ageless wonder falls off a cliff. Instead, this is a lesson in understanding two things. First, the difference between standard scoring and PPR, and what that means for a guy like Fitzgerald. The future Hall of Famer isn’t burning anyone or making any long gains at this point in his career, but he has an even lower chance of dropping a football. He’s legitimately top-fifteen in PPR, but in standard scoring, he’s more likely to settle around WR24 given his role and the iffy offense around him.
The second lesson here is to understand your website of choice’s default rankings. Fitzgerald on CBS is the #56 pick. On MyFantasyLeague.com, he’s pick 55 and fantasyfootballcalculator.com has him as the #53 pick. All great value for Fitzgerald. On NFL.com, Fitz is the #26 player off the board, going half as early. This is likely because his Expert Consensus Ranking is WR37… and he is WR13 in NFL.com standard scoring ranks. Be careful and stay rankings woke.