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 – Terry McLaurin, Wide Receiver (Expert Consensus Rank: WR115, 336 overall)
This is an extraordinarily deep sleeper, and you can get away with not even drafting him if you don’t want to. He’s currently ranked as the #336 player overall, and the mega-draft that is the Scott Fish Bowl only goes to 264 players. There aren’t a lot of valuable wide receivers who can end up doing something in Washington, and he’s unlikely to start the year doing anything. Strong endorsement so far? Alright, fine, I’ll hype him a bit. Washington has very few receiving weapons that garner any sort of positive feelings. Josh Doctson is a bust, Jordan Reed can’t stay on the field, and Paul Richardson is the classic “guy who flames out on his second contract” (he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery and caught just twenty passes in seven games last season). McLaurin, however, has the inside edge on all of these guys if Dwayne Haskins gets the starting job over Case Keenum. Why? Well, Haskins2McLaurin was a potent force last year, as the combination accounted for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns at Ohio State.
Breakout – Chris Thompson, Running Back (Expert Consensus Rank: RB58, 181 overall)
If only Chris Thompson could stay healthy, or get a bigger chunk of the role in Washington’s backfield. What’s that? He’s coming dangerously close to being the last man standing? And the other two guys, Adrian Peterson, and Samaje Perine don’t catch passes? Oh, so that means that Chris Thompson must be in line for more production, right?
Well, if you take just his career production per game in half-PPR (8.48 fantasy points per game), and assume that he gets a full sixteen games, then you have something on your hands. Since 2000, seven running backs have averaged between 8.3 and 8.5 fantasy points per game over a full sixteen-game season. That was an average rank of RB29 at the end of the season. While that’s not good enough to be a set-and-forget starter in every single fantasy football league, it’s definitely an asset you want to roster for bye weeks, and such. Since 2015, he’s been top-36 in 26 of 49 games, so you have an over 50% chance of him being a good flex option in a deep league on any given week.
Bust – Derrius Guice, Running Back (Expert Consensus Rank: RB28, 65 overall)
A hyperextended knee. A torn ACL. Now, an injured hamstring. These are all injuries that have plagued Derrius Guice before he’s touched a football in an NFL game. This latest one, the hamstring, threatens his training camp availability. His ADP is likely to plummet, but don’t take the bait on a Guice breakout this season. Let him be someone else’s problem. Players who start their careers like this aren’t the kind of guys you stake your claim on before they show you something of value. Let him be someone else’s problem.