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.
The Cincinnati Bengals essentially cratered last season after flying high as an offense to pluck viable fantasy football contributors from the few years prior. Will they regain that mantle? Or should you avoid them entirely?
2018 Fantasy Football Sleeper – Giovani Bernard (ADP 145, RB50)
A lot of people want to talk about how Giovani Bernard won’t produce because he will be in a timeshare with Joe Mixon. They will also conveniently ignore that Bernard spent his entire career splitting snaps with Jeremy Hill. At one point, Hill was the new young hotness, just like Joe Mixon. Now the NFL has exposed Hill as a one-trick pony, and Bernard remains.
Bernard tore his ACL at the end of 2016, and his recovery went well into 2017. Before that, he posted mid-RB2 numbers in PPR formats (RB16, RB16, RB13 the three seasons prior). He did that with Jeremy Hill finishing as RB11 and RB20 in 2015 and 2016. He produced, even in a split backfield, for years. Now Mixon arrives and he’s relegated to the scrap heap. Not so fast with that scrap heaping: Bernard scored more fantasy points than Mixon per touch last season (0.66 to Mixon’s 0.53). His worst season was 0.56 fantasy points per touch.
2018 Fantasy Football Bounce Back – Andy Dalton (ADP 207, QB30)
Andy Dalton is an incredible two-QB or superflex league draft pick as he’s a shoo-in to return value on his 207 overall draft pick. He’s finished 85% of his career games as QB24 or better, meaning he doesn’t drop absolute monster dud games that often. Second, nearly 50% of those games from 2015-2017 were QB1 games, and that includes his disastrous 2017 campaign.
Andy Dalton is a great streamer for one quarterback leagues, and is incredible value as a third quarterback in 2QB leagues. He has no chance of losing his job and because of this, he is essentially guaranteed to turn in starting value in at least 13 of his games.
2018 Fantasy Football Bust – Joe Mixon (ADP 23, RB14)
Let’s be clear here, I don’t think Joe Mixon will truly be a bust, but neither will A.J. Green. These are the only fantasy football draftees on the Bengals who are drafted highly enough to become busts. Here’s the path to Mixon not returning his RB14 value. First, the aforementioned Gio Bernard stat wherein Mixon averaged 0.53 fantasy points per touch last season to Bernard’s 0.66.
Second, Mixon will bust if he continues to be inefficient. He mustered only three top-twenty games last season, and it wasn’t for a lack of opportunity. Mixon had seven games with over fifteen touches, but failed to return usable weeks more than half the time. He’s extraordinarily talented, and Marvin Lewis will give him every opportunity to succeed, but there is a path to busting for Mixon.
For more AFC North fantasy football sleeper, breakout, and bust predictions check out these: