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2018 fantasy sleepers, bargains, breakouts and more


We are in the Information Age, friends.

Whether you're looking for which place kicker won an NFL MVP (Mark Moseley, 1982), why cilantro tastes like soap to some (it could be genetic) or why I hear "Laurel" and not "Yanny," the answers are right at your fingertips. The same is true in fantasy football. Each season, you'll be able to find more predictions, rankings, prognostications, and articles to sort through and absorb. In an effort to give you the information you want in the simplest form, here's a list of my top 10 breakouts, sleepers, deep sleepers, bargains and players to avoid for the upcoming NFL campaign ... all in one column.

These lists will be updated throughout the offseason, into training camp and right up to the start of the season, so be sure to check back often for updates. Each list is ranked based on my latest Top 200 list.


1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants: Barkley might be just a rookie, but he has massive upside based on his impressive skill set and what is projected to be a giant workload for Big Blue.
2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Cook's breakout season was delayed due to an injured knee, but he has everything it takes to fulfill expectations this season. He has high-end RB1 upside.
3. Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Coach Kyle Shanahan has produced a top-10 PPR back in three straight seasons. At worst, McKinnon is a good bet to push for high RB2 value.
4. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins: Drake was a fantasy star at the end of last season, and now he projects for a bigger role in the Dolphins offense. There's room for more statistical growth.
5. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks: The theme of young running backs with high ceilings continues, as Penny projects to see 250-plus touches as the projected lead runner for the Seahawks.
6. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Mixon is a good bet to reach the 275-touch mark as the lead back in Cincinnati. Giovani Bernard's presence could limit his upside, but he has RB2 potential.
7. Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Diggs is coming off his best fantasy season, but I think he's capable of even better numbers with Kirk Cousins at the helm of the Vikings offense.
8. Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Collins showed signs of a huge season in the second half of 2017, and the Ravens didn't add any major competition to the position during the offseason.
9. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: Gordon broke out in 2013 ... but he's barely played football since. This is just a reminder that he has the skills to become a true No. 1 fantasy wideout.
10. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: JuJu averaged just four targets in his first seven games as a rookie, so there is plenty of room for him to make a major statistical move in 2018.

For more breakout candidates, click here.


1. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts: Mack looks like the favorite to lead the Colts in backfield touches in the absence of Frank Gore, so he should see enough touches to be a flex option.
2. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions: The Lions backfield is crowded, but Johnson has the biggest ceiling in an offense that hasn't seen a lot of success from running backs in recent years.
3. Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins: The Skins don't have a true No. 1 wideout on their entire roster, so Doctson will have a big opportunity to make an impact in his third NFL season.
4. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns: If you like youth over experience, Chubb is a back to target late in your re-drafts. Don't be surprised if he pushes Carlos Hyde for the top spot in 2018.
5. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers: Jamaal Williams looks like the favorite to start for the Packers, but Jones was the better of the two runners during their respective rookie seasons.
6. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers have a lot of mouths to feed among wideouts, but Moore might be the most talented of the bunch. Take a chance on him late.
7. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions: Golladay showed some flashes of potential as a rookie, and he could see more targets in Jim Bob Cooter's offense. He's worth a late-round choice in drafts.
8. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers: There's a lot of excitement surrounding the 49ers offense in fantasy football, and Kittle is one of the better sleeper candidates among tight ends.
9. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: The big-armed Mahomes has a ton of weapons in the Chiefs offense, and being coached by Andy Reid should do nothing but help his development.
10. Corey Clement, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Jay Ajayi is the lead back in this offense, but Clement could etch out a role in the passing game ... if he can outperform Darren Sproles in camp.

Deep sleepers

1. Peyton Barber, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Barber's value took a massive hit when the team drafted Ronald Jones, but he could still be a PPR asset as the main pass catcher in the backfield.
2. Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears: No one questions that Allen Robinson will lead the Bears in targets, but who will be second? To me, Miller is a great candidate for regular opportunities.
3. Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys don't have a true No. 1 wide receiver, and Gallup offers the most upside at the position. Allen Hurns is also a potential deep sleeper here.
4. Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears: The Bears added great options to Trubisky's arsenal in the offseason. He's in a great spot to make a move in terms of his fantasy production.
5. David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns: The Browns offense has a lot of mouths to feed, but Njoku's skill set still makes him worth a late-round look as a No. 2 fantasy tight end in most drafts.
6. Jordan Matthews, WR, New England Patriots: Beyond Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan, the Patriots have opportunities for Matthewsto earn targets in the pass attack. He's worth a late flier.
7. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Godwin is behind Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson on the depth chart, but I think he's earned a bigger role in the pass attack. He's worth a late flier.
8. Jordan Wilkins, RB, Indianapolis Colts: Mack is the favorite to lead the Colts backfield in touches, but Wilkins is a sneaky bet to push him for opportunities. The rookie is a player to monitor.
9. Chester Rogers, WR, Indianapolis Colts: The Colts did add Ryan Grant this offseason, but I still like Rogers to start opposite T.Y. Hilton. If Andrew Luck is back, Rogers becomes an option.
10. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens: If Joe Flacco falters or the Ravens fall out of postseason contention, Jackson could end up seeing a few starts as a rookie. His upside is huge.


1. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Hilton, who finished 28th in PPR scoring among wideouts last season, could push back into the top 10 at the position if Luck returns to the gridiron.
2. Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Ajayi, who will be motivated to produce during a contract year, should lead the Eagles backfield in touches after the departure of LeGarrette Blount.
3. Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints: Ingram will fall because of his four-game suspension, but I'll eat the first four weeks and take a chance on him if he falls into the fifth round.
4. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders: Cooper was a major bust last season who did most of his damage in just a few games, but new coach Jon Gruden plans to feature him in his pass attack.
5. Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots: With Brandin Cooks now in L.A., Hogan figures to be a more reliable option for fantasy fans in 2018. He could be a steal in the mid to late rounds.
6. Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans: Fuller's numbers last season with Deshaun Watson (albeit in limited time) were ridiculous. He'll become a nice bargain if he avoids injuries.
7. C.J. Anderson, RB, Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey might be the back to own in Carolina, but Anderson should see enough touches to become a potential late-round value in drafts.
8. Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots: I'm on the Sony Michel bandwagon, but I know Burkhead is going to get his share of the workload too. Barring injuries, Burkhead could be a value.
9. Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants: The Giants should have a far more explosive offense in 2018, and Shepard is in a position to see his target numbers rise opposite Odell Beckham Jr.
10. Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Goodwin was a valuable wideout in fantasy leagues in the second half of last season. He seems to have a nice rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo.

Players to Avoid

1. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Carson might have been a sleeper earlier in the offseason, but the addition of Penny puts his value into hibernation. He's now a potential handcuff.
2. Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers: The Packers have three running backs competing for touches, and Montgomery is the least valuable of the trio in my opinion. I'd fade him in drafts.
3. Doug Martin, RB, Oakland Raiders: Once considered a fantasy stud, Martin's move to Oakland (and behind Marshawn Lynch) buries any chance he had at re-emerging into a legitimate asset.
4. Carlos Hyde, RB, Cleveland Browns: Hyde, the RB9 in PPR leagues last season, is guaranteed to see his targets, touches and draft value slide with both Duke Johnson and Chubb in the mix.
5. Sammy Watkins, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: I didn't like Watkins as a fantasy wideout in Los Angeles, and I don't like him much more as a Chief. There are many mouths to feed in that offense.
6. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Buffalo Bills: Benjamin might be the top option in the pass attack for Buffalo, but he's been prone to injuries and drops, and he won't benefit from the quarterbacks.
7. Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams: Last season's WR15 in PPR formats, Cooks figures to fall out of the top 20 in an offense that also boasts Todd Gurley, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
8. Jordy Nelson, WR, Oakland Raiders: Nelson, 33, was waiver-wire fodder without Aaron Rodgers last season. He won't reclaim his elite form in an Oakland offense that will run the ball more.
9. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins: Despite his name value and skill set, Reed just can't avoid injuries. I'd let someone else overdraft him and deal with the week-to-week headaches.
10. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns: Landry isn't someone I would avoid altogether, but I wouldn't want him as a WR1. His targets and touchdowns are destined to decline in Cleveland.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Do you want the most up-to-date fantasy news and analysis? You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!


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