For the 2018 season, we will explore a 2018 fantasy football sleeper, breakout (or bounce back), and bust from every NFL team. First, a sleeper can leap into top-tier production at a bargain basement draft day price. A breakout is available in the middle rounds and will return positive value of at least a couple rounds. Bouncebacks are normally helpful players coming off a down year or years whom you can acquire for a song. Busts are the worst case scenario: a player who drastically underperforms his draft position. While they may not be a wasted pick, you definitely don’t want them on your team.
The Detroit Lions have been a mess for finding top-end fantasy football production since Calvin Johnson retired. Will that change this season?
2018 Fantasy Football Sleeper – Kerryon Johnson (ADP 81, RB33)
I like rookie running backs this year, and I like them a lot. Johnson is lost among the RoJos and Saquons of the world, but his draft selection signals a sea change within the Lions organization. They famously haven’t had a 100-yard rushing game since Reggie Bush did it on Thanksgiving… in 2013. They’ve relied on Matthew Stafford’s cannon to sling it 600+ times a year to move the offense up-and-down the field. Now, it’s Matt Patricia’s game, and he wanted Kerryon Johnson at the top of the second. The backfield is crowded, with Ameer Abdullah (for now), LeGarrette Blount (for now), Zach Zenner (for now), and Theo Riddick all in tow.
By midway through the season, Johnson will have solidified his role, which is rolling the various things that the Lions committee has done individually into one player. Blount and Riddick will have their roles, but there are fewer than ten players who get more than 60% of the running back carries, so a split backfield isn’t a huge deal. He’s going as RB33 but will have more RB2+ games than not this season, making him a great option for your squad.
2018 Fantasy Football Breakout – Marvin Jones (ADP 62, WR25)
It’s kind of weird to call last season’s WR5 a breakout. However, given his ADP, you have to stand up and take notice. He is exceptionally underrated by the draft community at large, as they cannot see his inevitable regression as a step back instead of a complete fall from grace. Experts are less crazy about him, as his consensus rank is fifteen spots higher than his ADP. He’s not a breakout, he’s not a bounce back, but he’s a heck of a value.
Yes, he will regress. Yes, he cannot recreate the touchdowns he had last season, but a return to his WR41 rank from 2016 is unlikely. People point to touchdown regression for Jones as a reason he will fall from grace this season. Fine, let’s scale his 2017 campaign down to his career touchdown per target rate. That puts him at seven scores last season. This loss of two touchdowns drops him down from WR5 last season to a frankly disgusting and undraftable WR9.
I acknowledge the trendy pick is Kenny Golladay, but there won’t be enough to go around for him without an injury.
2018 Fantasy Football Bust – LeGarrette Blount (ADP 156, RB51)
Typically, busts don’t have average draft positions in the 150s. However, typically backs in Blount’s situation generally don’t have ADPs at all. The Lions traded up to pick 43 overall to take Johnson, after signing Blount. Throw Theo Riddick into the mix and you leave Blount as a supersized Zach Zenner role, playing third fiddle in a crowded backfield. The Lions throw to Riddick in the red zone and will give Kerryon the bulk of the carries otherwise. There’s no role in the backfield outside of a Kerryon Johnson injury that makes Blount worth drafting. His ADP is low, but a smart fantasy football community makes it sub-basement level.
For more 2018 fantasy football sleeper, breakout, and bust looks, check out these: