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.
Will Jon Gruden shoot the Raiders back to his glory days harder than the shot of an actual tank? Or will he tank them, and your fantasy football season? Can the return of Chucky facilitate a deep-thought coaching tank for Oakland, and provide a full tank of gas for your team to zoom past the competition?
2018 Fantasy Football Sleeper – Derek Carr (ADP 133, QB20)
Derek Carr took a big step back last season, as did the raiders as a whole. He threw for nearly 500 fewer yards and threw twice as many interceptions as the year before. Here’s the underlying deal with Carr, though: the Raiders as a whole were terribly coached, terribly run, and put together a terrible performance. I’m willing to give him a mulligan on his 2017 campaign, given that he is one of six active players to put together at least 60 combined touchdowns in 2015 and 2016.
There’s also the Jon Gruden of it all. In his first tour around the league, he coached up the year-end QB3 in his first two seasons in Oakland, and the QB15, and QB13 his first two years in Tampa Bay. I’m not saying that Gruden is a panacea for quarterback woes, but he can give a struggling QB an initial boost. Carr’s going as a back-end QB2 in ten-teamers, so he’s a cheap investment in a potential return to relevance for the Oakland signal caller. He may be better defined as a bounce back, but I’m going with him as Oakland’s 2018 fantasy football sleeper.
2018 Fantasy Football Bounce Back – Amari Cooper (ADP 33, WR14)
I was big on the “don’t take Amari Cooper at his ADP” train last season, and his disastrous 2017 campaign (680 yards, 679 of which were in one game) seems to have turned people around to my line of thinking. There were some silver linings to Amari’s 2017 campaign as he posted his career-high touchdowns and improved his yards per reception from 2016. He demonstrated some truly awful hands (50% catch rate compared to 63%), but he’s not that bad. He’s due for a bounce-back campaign.
There’s also the Jon Gruden of it all. Like Carr, Cooper will see an uptick in production thanks to their new head coach’s scheming and game plan. Every single #1 wide receiver under Jon Gruden’s tutelage has gone for at least 1,000 yards, with 1,145 as the average. His WR1s also average eight scores a year, which means huge numbers for Amari Cooper if he just replicates an average Jon Gruden WR season. For reference, 1,145 and 8 were between roughly Marvin Jones 2017 (1,101 and 7), and A.J. Green (1,078 and 8). Jones was WR5 and Green was WR7 last year if that gives you an idea.
2018 Fantasy Football Bust – Jordy Nelson (ADP 89, WR36)
I don’t believe the hype coming out of Raiders camp that Jordy Nelson is running like he’s 28 again. Side note: What is that? Hype with tempered expectations? Please. Anyway, banking on Nelson is banking on a career renaissance from a guy whose knee exploded a couple seasons ago and is 33 years old. There’s also the “without Aaron Rodgers” issue, wherein Nelson averages just 48 receiving yards a game and paces out to four touchdowns a season. The Jon Gruden turnarounds won’t work for Nelson, as his WR2s average 608 yards and four scores… or a worse version of Jordy without Rodgers. Pass.
For more AFC West fantasy football sleeper, breakout, and bust predictions check out these;