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 – Anthony Miller, Wide Receiver (Expert Consensus Rank: WR55, 158 overall)
Anthony Miller was a hot fantasy football sleeper candidate before last season, but a week three shoulder injury (that eventually led to surgery) sapped his true potential from him in his rookie year. He still managed seven touchdowns on just 54 targets (more on that later), but he never formed any sort of consistent production. That should all change this year, with just a step forward in target volume and having two functional shoulders. Let’s build us a top-36 fantasy football wide receiver, shall we?
First off, swap Anthony Miller’s target share with Taylor Gabriel’s. That gives Miller 18% of the targets, and Gabriel just 11%. With the projected passing volume from Mitchell Trubisky, that puts Miller at 100 targets square on the nose. Normally surehanded and athletic, the shoulder injury sapped much from Anthony Miller, so let’s turn his pedestrian 12.8 yards per catch to a more respectable 13.8, and up his catch rate from 61% to 65%. That gives him 911 yards on 66 catches.
Miller had a touchdown rate more unsustainable than the current United States economic and environmental policies, so let’s drop that down a bit. League average is 4.1%, but he gets a boost for catching all those touchdowns with on arm. Give him a 5.5% TD rate (10% above average), and that’s 66 catches, 891 yards, and five touchdowns. Good enough for WR32 in my ranks this year, and that would have been WR36 last year. At WR55, that’s a steal.
Breakout – David Montgomery, Running Back (Expert Consensus Rank: RB25, 50 overall)
Here’s the short of it. We all remember Jordan Howard being kind of disappointing last year, right? He had just 3.7 yards per carry, and just 20 receptions. Still, his volume was just good enough to see him as RB20 in half-PPR fantasy football leagues, and RB18 in standard scoring. He was actively bad and still turned in a top-20 fantasy football season. The Bears traded him to Philadelphia, and they got anything they could for him in return. Not having him was their real reward. And that guy got 250 carries last year!
I won’t get into the details but David Montgomery is infinitely better than Jordan Howard, and Howard evacuates 276 targets + rushes from the Bears system. Call me crazy, but I don’t think that Mike Davis is a huge threat to get a massive chunk of these. The Bears used a top-75 pick on Montgomery, and he’s received nothing but glowing praise.
Bust – Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver (Expert Consensus Rank: WR31, 80 overall)
Allen Robinson is only going to be 26 years old when the season kicks off, so it’s too early to give up on him at this point. With that in mind, Allen Robinson already has more lost seasons than he has actively good seasons. Since his massive 2015 campaign, Robinson not only missed an entire season, but he’s played on an actively decreased pace. His per-sixteen game pace since that unsustainable blowup: 882 yards, and five touchdowns. That’s good enough for a top-36 wide receiver, but many think that Robinson is due for a step forward in fantasy football. I don’t see it, especially given the likely growing target shares for guys like Anthony Miller and Tarik Cohen and the addition of guys like Riley Ridley and David Montgomery.