Fantasy Football 2018 – Part 2 (Surprises, Bouncebacks & Rookies)

When it comes to a successful Fantasy Football Draft, it doesn’t take a genius to make the right picks in the first 2 rounds. For the most part the first couple rounds, especially the 1st Round, it is pretty obvious which players you should be taking when it comes to your turn. Yes, you could take a reach early and look like a genius, but for the most part, you are going to look like a fool, getting someone in the 1st round that you could have gotten in the 2rd or even 3rd Round. With that being said, what you do in the middle rounds of the draft will make or break your team. Can you find the surprise players that have underperformed in the past, can you find the rookie that will make a splash and can you find the players who will have a bounceback year from injury or other situation. Lets take a look at players we believe could make a difference in your team this year and when you should look to take them.

First of all, when we talk about when you should take a player we are going to use a standard 12-team draft.

BOUNCEBACK PLAYERS
I am going to start with 3 Quarterbacks that are coming back from injury. All three are in different points in their careers but they are returning from injury and I believe should have a bounceback season. The 1st one is Aaron Rodgers. A fluke injury last season put down the former MVP. He is healthy and ready to put up some big numbers. With the addition on TE Jimmy Graham and a defense that may allow quite a few points, causing him to get in shootouts, I think Rodgers is a definite 3rd or 4th rounder. Next up is Andrew Luck. The Colts have been extremely cautious with their star. Coming of the back injury that has cost him 2 season, Luck finally looks like he is ready to come back. A healthy Luck can carry a fantasy team with consistant scoring each week. I also believe you will be able to wait a while to get great value for him. Look to take Luck on the 7th or 8th round. The 3rd QB is DeShaun Watson. Watson was having a breakout rookie season last year when his injury cut his season short. Watson has recovered and his athleticism and an extra year of learning will have Watson putting up big numbers again this year. Because of the lower ranking of QBs in most Fantasy boards you should be able to take Watson in about the 5th round after you have already gotten 2 solid RBs and WRs. Speaking of RBs, 2 of the top RBs in teh league are on this list. David Johnson was a superstar in the making before a season ending injury stopped his year before it got started last year. He will be back and ready to return his All-Pro form. DJ will be a Top-5 overall pick and you can’t go wrong by taking him anytime you get a chance, though I still have him below Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliot due to him coming off the injury. I just mentioned my other RB bounceback. That is Ezekiel Elliot. It was suspension that slowed Elliot’s numbers down in 2017, not injury. He played only 10 games, which kept his stats down. He still had 5 100-yard rushing games and averaged 98.3 yds/game. He also score 9 TDs (7 rushing and 2 receiving). If you take those numbers and extend them to a 16 game season he would be over 1550 yards and 14 TDs. That would have made him the league’s rushing leader by over 200 yards and only behind Todd Gurley for totals TDs. Like Johnson, Elliot is a good choice where ever you take him. Switching to WR, I would take a look at another young player. I wouldn’t consider this a true bounceback, but I look for his numbers to improve. Sterling Shepard is in his 2nd year in the league. Last season he lead the Giants in recieving, but his numbers could have been better as injuries slowed him down, missing 5 games. With the return of Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall, taking eyes of the D off Sheppard and the addition of RB Saquon Barkley making the safeties move up in the box, Shepard could have a huge season and especially add to his TDs totals (only 2 last year). I would look for Sheppard in the late 6th or 7th Round. Finally lets look at a couple TEs. Greg Olsen was slowed by injury all season. He was knocked out i nGame 2 of the year and didn’t reurn until late November. Even then he wasn’t 100%. He did have one game with 9 catches (17 total for season) and his only TD, but he never was the same Olsen that caught over 70 passes in each of the past 4 seasons. Look for his to get back to the numbers similar to his past this year. In a league with a TE roster spot, I would look to Olsen in about the 6th Round. If you are in league where WRs & TEs are the same I would wait until the 9th or 10th Round. Finally, look for Jimmy Graham to return to numbers he had when Drew Brees was throwing to him in New Orleans. As a member of the Seahawks, Graham’s numbers dropped dramatically. He averaged 57 catches and 6 TDs per season. Compare that to when he was a Saint at 77 catches and 10 TDs per game. Aaron Rodgers lover using his TEs and Graham will be a big part in the Packer Offense. Similar to Olsen, I would put Graham in the 6th Round of a league that has TEs and 9th or 10th in leagues without.

SURPRISE PLAYERS
Next up are our surprise or breakout players. These are players that may have been around in the league but are ready to take their numbers up a notch. The first player that comes to mind in this spot is WR Corey Coleman. In College, Coleman was one of the most dynamic receivers to come along in a long time. Then he was drafted by Cleveland, a place where many dreams have gone to die. Coleman may have gotten his repreve this year when he was traded to Buffalo. Yes I said that, Buffalo. But with the addition of Kelvin Benjamin and return of Zay Jones from injury, Coleman won’t get all the attention. The biggest question mark is his QB. Is A.J. McCarron a true NFL QB? Coleman’s stock is really low and you will be able to get him in the real late rounds and if it is a miss it really didn’t cost you a thing. Next up is TE Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph has been a solid target in Minnesota for aquite a few years now but with the WR combo on Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs emerging as one of the best in the league, eyes will lose focus of the big TE. QB Kirk Cousins loves using his TEs and even though Rudolph caught 57 passes and 8 TDs last year, those numbers should increase. In a TE league, I would go after Rudolph in the 7th or 8th Round, in a non-TE league I would go for him at 10-12. Finally, look for the touches and numbers to increase for Philly RB Corey Clement. Last season, Clement ran for just over 300 yards in the regular season and had 10 catches. Then Coach Doug Peterson found out how good Clement was catching balls out of the backfield. He caught 10 post-season passes on the way to the Super Bowl. LaGarrette Blount is now in Detroit and Jay Ajayi never exploded like they hoped. He had just 2 100-yard rushing games last year, the last one coming on October 15th.

ROOKIE BREAKOUT PLAYERS
Last year we saw Kareem Hunt, DeShaun Watson, JuJu Smith-Schuster & Leonard Fournette explode on the fantasy scene as rookies. So who are the rookies to take a look at this year. First of all, you have to look at Saquon Barkley. Barkley looks to be the real deal and besides that he is on a team with a veteran QB, a very good receiving corp, a young, up-and-coming TE Evan Engram and an improved O-Line. Barkley is worth your 1st round selection, unless you have a Top-3 pick, then you may be reaching a little. Then comes the question of the 5 QBs taken in the first round (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson). I don’t see any of them making the type of impact that DeShaun Watson make last year, right away. Darold may be the Game #1 start for the Jets but I don’t expect big fantasy numbers. There are a couple other rookies I may take a look at. At Running Back I would keep an eye on Derrius Guice in Washington (4th round) and Sony Michel in New England (5th-6th round). Their are also 2 WRs that could get into the action right away, D.J. Moore in Carolina (9th-10th round) and Calvin Ridley with the Falcons (10th-12th round). There are always a few that slip past me and have to adjust in the first couple weeks but this is where my focus is for now.

Hopefully that will give you a few players to keep an eye on and could help you bring home the fantasy title this season. Do you have your own Surprises or Breakouts that you would like to tell us about? Are there other Rookies you are checking? Let us know. With the Pre-Season kicking it into high gear this week, don’t forget to get all of our incredible football selections, along with the late baseball action by going to Freeplays.com and click on Razor Sharp Sports! Good Luck!!

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