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. Bounce backs 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.
It’s time to hit the dirty NFC South, and we start with the Atlanta Falcons, who hope their second year under Steve Sarkisian goes as well as their second year with Kyle Shanahan.
2018 Fantasy Football Sleeper – Mohamed Sanu (ADP 192, WR69)
Sanu currently sits as a completely undraftable backend WR7 in most ten-team fantasy football leagues. Calvin Ridley, who some called the most pro-ready wide receiver in the 2018 draft, arrived this offseason to filter away targets and opportunities. That having been said, Sanu has produced at far better than WR69 numbers in three of his last four seasons. He finished WR30 in the 2017 season and did it with fairly consistent production. He had nine games (of fifteen) where he finished inside the top-thirty six wide receivers on the week. This production wasn’t sexy, as Sanu finished as a WR1 just twice last season. Still, he provides a nice, safe, solid floor for you to plug in during the Bye weeks. He’s a shoo-in to outpace his draft stock.
2018 Fantasy Football Bounce Back – Matt Ryan (ADP 107, QB14)
Poor Matt Ryan is the fantasy football seesaw. Ryan finished QB7, QB14, QB7, QB19, QB2, QB15 the last six seasons. It stands to reason, and this is pure math here, that he finishes as a QB7 or better. That’s called “pattern recognition” kids, and it’s real. Real talk about Matt Ryan, though: He’s had his ridiculous seesaw finishes by vacillating wildly around a career TD% of 4.6%. In 2015, it was a dismal 3.4%, and in his glorious 2016 campaign he more than doubled that, going back to 7.1%. 2015 was his first year with Kyle Shanahan, and 2016 his second year.
Steve Sarkisian took over as OC last year, and Matt Ryan cratered again. He’ll get his head back on straight with an offseason under his belt to fully digest the OC change. With more weaponry around him (Calvin Ridley, Ito Smith) and a massive positive regression in his touchdown rate, Ryan has a great chance to finish as a QB1 yet again, but he will do it at the price of a backup QB.
2018 Fantasy Football Bust – Calvin Ridley (ADP 113, WR44)
This isn’t so much an indictment of Ridley as a prospect, or his talent level in 2018. Instead, it’s an indictment of his role in the 2018 Atlanta Falcons offense. He’ll be third fiddle to Mo Sanu and Julio Jones (ever heard of him?). There simply will not be enough targets to go around in this offense, especially given that running backs get a high portion of targets from Ryan (between 15 and 20 percent each of the last three years).
The third wide receiver for Matt Ryan had more than 10% of his target share just twice in his career, with most of his WR3s getting about 9% of the target share. If Ryan slings it his career average (590 times a season), and Ridley gets 9% of those targets… that’s fewer than four targets a game. That’s not a lot to cook with, and will make Ridley a wasted pick unless Sanu or Jones go down with an injury.
For more fantasy football sleeper, breakout, and bust picks, check out this rundown of the NFC East:
For more 2018 fantasy football sleeper, breakout, and busts, look here: