The New England Patriots are the NFL equivalent of The Doomsday Machine, sucking up everything in their path and leaving a wake of destruction and madness. Can you find fantasy football value in such a well-covered and well-known offense?
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.
2018 Fantasy Football Break Out – Chris Hogan, Wide Receiver (ADP 61, WR26)
Chris Hogan, formerly nicknamed 7-11, had a torrid start to his New England Patriots career last season. After the whole offense vomited on itself the first game, Hogan solidified himself as one of Tom Brady’s favorite weapons. In his next four games, he averaged seventy yards and 1.3 scores per game on eight targets a contest. Those numbers are very good, for those of you who aren’t sure. The injury bug hit, and sent Hogan’s season reeling… but we’ll always have that September and October.
Fast forward to 2018 and Hogan is seemingly the only healthy weapon in the Patriots receiving corps. Julian Edelman is supposedly recovered from a knee explosion, but I don’t believe it. The Pats are working with Hogan; Edelman; and the corpses of Eric Decker, Kenny Britt, and Cordarelle Patterson. Hogan has top-ten WR upside, and if you don’t believe me… that’s what he posted before getting hurt last season.
2018 Fantasy Football Bust – Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver (ADP 79, WR32)
My feelings on Julian Edelman are completely gut-based. However, I try to bring some numbers into every player evaluation, so I have three numbers for you: 4 (games he is suspended), 0 (games played last year) and 32 (years Edelman’s been a resident of Earth). I am going to shy away from an aged wide receiver coming off a torn ACL. Edelman’s relationship with Brady has always felt like one of convenience, too. Brady’s archetype for the Edelman role, Wes Welker, left to Denver, and Brady has been chasing guys that looked like him ever since. Let it go, Tom. Welker doesn’t even think about you anymore (if he thinks at all).
(Because of the concussions).
I just don’t believe Edelman will return WR3 value this year, not only because of the injury but because of the 25% of the season he will miss. I will let someone else fall on that grenade and miss out on the 2018 fantasy football sleepers you’re liable to find while babysitting Julian Edelman’s roster spot on your bench.
2018 Fantasy Football Sleeper – Jeremy Hill, Running Back (ADP 190, RB61)
Jeremy Hill had a big breakout campaign a few years ago, but his last several campaigns have been completely underwhelming. His former team cut him loose and he hopes to find a new chapter in his career with New England. Sound familiar? That’s the LeGarrette Blount story.
Hill, like Blount, has the size and ability to do wonderfully as a short-distance and goal-line back. The problem comes when you ask him to do anything else with his carries. This is about converting the ridiculous amount of five zone carries the Patriots have in their offense. The Patriots run the ball from within the 5 just under 1.6 times a game over the last two seasons. The last time Jeremy Hill received five zone carries was in 2016, when he converted fifteen carries within the five-yard line for six scores. If he gets 75% of the five-zone carries the Patriots averaged over the last couple of years, that’s 20 cracks at the end zone. I’ll take that bet from a player who is essentially free.
For more NFC East fantasy football sleeper, breakout, and bust predictions click these: