July and August are the best time of the year for fantasy football. We all start to formulate strategies, plant our flags, and decide who we will yell at on TV for the rest of the year. That’s right, it’s fantasy football draft season! One key to winning your leagues is zeroing in on the right talent who will outperform their draft stock. Avoiding busts is equally, if not more important. With that in mind, and as a quick hitter, we here at Football Absurdity would like to prime you with the players to target, and the players to avoid, in your fantasy football drafts, team-by-team. What’s the difference between a sleeper and a breakout, you ask? I don’t know, why don’t you tell me tough guy. You seem to have all the answers.
Sleeper – Marquise Goodwin, Wide Receiver (Expert Consensus Rank: WR57, 144 overall)
The NFL’s fastest man has quickly become the forgotten man in San Francisco, with Dante Pettis and George Kittle getting all the fantasy football hubbub this offseason, thanks to Goodwin’s bad 2018 season. Let’s peel back the curtain on Goodwin’s 2018 season, shall we?
Up until week ten, Marquise Goodwin was The Guy at wide receiver for the Niners. He then missed two games with a personal issue and then injured his leg down the stretch. That “personal issue” turned out to be that his twin sons were stillborn in November, less than a year after he lost another child shortly after birth. I am going to be a human here and say that Goodwin’s heart was not in it after he returned from his personal issue.
Before his personal issue, Goodwin was quality last season. Certainly not in “forgotten man” territory like he is this fantasy football draft season. Goodwin tweaked his quad early in week one, and did not return until week three. From week three until week ten, he played on a 775 yard, nine touchdown pace. He would have ended up with 151 fantasy points on the dot over the course of a sixteen-game season, good for fantasy football WR28 in 2018. While injuries are a concern, as outlined above, he’s essentially free and could pop off as the receiver to own in this Niners offense this season.
Breakout – Dante Pettis, Wide Receiver (Expert Consensus Rank: WR34, 80 overall)
I was up on the Dante Pettis tip from early in the offseason. I watched him crush down the stretch on the field, and for my fantasy football squads, so I knew. Now, Pettis is atop the trendy fantasy football sleepers lists, and folks: I’ve doubled-down on my nonsense. I currently have Dante ranked as a top-twenty wide receiver in half-PPR leagues, and I feel very good about that.
With a total JAG at quarterback last season due to Jimmy Garoppolo’s knee injury, Pettis feasted down the stretch. From the 49ers’ week eleven bye through the fantasy football finals, Pettis was the #9 wide receiver in half-PPR, posting 359 yards and four scores across five games. That’s a 64 catch, 1,149 yard, 13 touchdown pace. While the thirteen touchdowns aren’t likely to happen, 1,150 yards and 8 touchdowns on 64 catches gets you 195 fantasy points, which would have been WR15 on the year last year in total half-PPR points. Not bad for a guy going as a WR3, though at his price, he’s quickly pricing himself out of sleeper/breakout range.
Bust – Jerick McKinnon, Running Back (Expert Consensus Rank: RB37, 99 overall)
This one was going to be whichever of the Santa Clara Cerberus had the highest rank, and ADP. Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, and Matt Breida together ensure that someone is going to end up overdrafted, and I was going to take the coward’s way out and going with the highest-ranked guy. But that’s when I remembered: we’ve seen Jerick McKinnon before… he’s not good.
The reason we are all up on McKinnon in fantasy football this year is that we were up on McKinnon last year. And why pray tell, were we up on McKinnon last season? Well, he was going to be the clear #1 back in a Kyle Shanahan system. We’ve seen him get over 150 carries twice, and he managed to turn those combined 309 carries until just 1,109 rushing yards and five scores. Gross. But, because we can’t remember the reason why we liked someone (see also: Damien Williams), fantasy football prognosticators want to hype McKinnon as some sort of break out again, when the only reason we liked him was the opportunity.
And the opportunity was there last season… the 49ers had the third-most running back rushing yards in 2018 despite being one of the worst teams in the league, and needing to chuck it deep at every given opportunity. Unfortunately for McKinnon, those touches are going to go Coleman’s way.
With the early reports saying the Tevin Coleman is running away with this backfield, I am not confident that McKinnon will do enough to wrest significant work away from Coleman. McKinnon is working his way back from a leg injury, and while Matt Breida is also hurt, Breida suffered a pectoral injury. If weighing two running back injuries, I’ll lean towards the guy without the destroyed leg. There’s not going to be a lot left for Jerick McKinnon to be a viable fantasy football asset in San Francisco, no matter how hard we want it to be true.