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 Pittsburgh Steelers with Big Ben Roethlisberger normally sit atop the ranks of the AFC. If you take a piece of his offense, will you sit atop the ranks of your fantasy football league at season’s end?
2018 Fantasy Football Break Out – James Washington, Wide Receiver (ADP 202, WR73)
By this point, we’ve all seen The Touchdown. If you haven’t, here it is:
The rookie wideout is exceptionally talented, incredibly fast… and built like a running back. The fire hydrant of a WR slips right into the Martavis Bryant role in the Steelers offense. He already has Steelers fans asking, “Martavis Who?” Let’s not forget that Bryant was an annual trendy sleeper given the high powered offense around him. Despite his size, Washington already displays more skills than Bryant ever did. He will go far with the Steelers in his career, but he requires an injury to Antonio Brown or JuJu Smith-Schuster to have fantasy relevance.
Until that happens, however, he should have DFS relevance in good matchups. The third WR in the Tomlin/Big Ben offense gets a lot of play, as only two WR3s for the combo have had below league average market shares. Keep him on your short list of sleeper candidates, he just needs one pulled hamstring above him to become a fantasy football star.
2018 Fantasy Football Sleeper – James Conner, Running Back (ADP 218, RB65)
I can’t say that I like it, but there’s not a lot of unmined value to glean from the Steelers offense. Big Ben has his Jekyll and Hyde act, AB84 and Lev Bell go in the first round, and JuJu has lofty expectations for his sophomore season. The tight end (with a bad foot) is Vance “Stone Hands” McDonald. That leaves banking on an injury to a producer to produce sleeper value.
James Conner will be the starting running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019, and he’s putting on a display in the preseason. Should Bell go down, or should his holdout last into the regular season, Conner will get the bulk of the carries for the Steelers. Mike Tomlin finds an RB1 and runs him into the ground, no matter who it is. Conner is the best source of 2018 fantasy football sleeper value on the Steelers, he just needs an injury to get him there.
2018 Fantasy Football Bust – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Wide Receiver (ADP 41, WR16)
This isn’t to say that JuJu is going to end up as the #50 WR or anything like that. Despite the long history of quality wide receivers passing through Pittsburgh, only twice has Roethlisberger’s second WR ended inside the top-twenty at the position. The average finish? Wide receiver 38. That’s not exactly inspiring, and it’s even harder for JuJu than most WR2s on the Steelers given that Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell siphon off every available target.
The WR16 ranking is doubly baffling as JuJu doesn’t have much of a ceiling above that. Last season he had four weeks above WR16, and he needed ten targets in two of those games. He had eight games with between five and eight targets (his sweet spot) last season. In those games, he finished outside the top-thirty five wide receivers five times and inside the top-twenty just twice.