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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. 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.
5. 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.
6. Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Collins looked great in the second half of last season, and now he's the likely featured back for the Ravens in 2018. He's worth a top-50 pick.
7. 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.
8. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: Gordon has the skills to become a dominant wideout much like he was in 2013, just keep tabs on his status with the team over the next few weeks.
9. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans: Despite the addition of Dion Lewis, I still expect Henry to lead the Titans backfield in carries this season. Target him as a flex starter in the middle rounds.
10. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos: Freeman projects to lead the Broncos backfield in touches this season, and his skill set could make him this year's version of Kareem Hunt.


1. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts: The Colts backfield has all the look of a potential committee, but Mack could be the leader with an impressive camp and preseason.
2. Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets: Anderson isn't your tradtional "sleeper," but he's going later in drafts than he should be and could turn into a great bargain for fantasy fans.
3. Marquise Goodwin, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Goodwin has moved up in my fantasy rankings and is now the wide receiver to target in San Francisco. He has great upside in drafts.
4. Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins: Another non-traditional sleeper, Stills should see more targets in a Miami pass attack that no longer has ball-hog Jarvis Landry in the roster.
5. 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.
6. Trey Burton, TE, Chicago Bears: Whether he's a breakout candidate or sleeper, Burton is in a great position to produce potential top-10 numbers among tight ends this season.
7. John Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens: A former 1,000-yard wideout in Arizona, Brown has had a great camp and looks like a potential bargain in what will be a pass-laden Ravens offense.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.

Deep sleepers

1. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Godwin is behind Mike Evans on the depth chart, but he's earned a bigger role in the offense. Don't be surprised if he's better than DeSean Jackson.
2. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers: Williams, a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, should earn a bigger role in the Chargers pass attack ... especially down in the red zone.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: Cole has earned rave reviews in camp and should push Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief for targets in the Jaguars offensive attack in 2018.
6. 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.
7. O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Howard should see a greater target share for the Buccaneers in his second season, making him worth a late-round look as am upside No. 2 tight end.
8. 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.
9. Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Arizona Cardinals: Seals-Jones flashed some potential during the 2017 campaign, and his target share figures to increase this season. He's well worth a late flier.
10. Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers: Allison is the favorite to be the Packers No. 3 wideout, and some dude named Aaron Rodgers will be throwing him the football. Sign me up.


1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots: Burkhead might not be a value much longer, as Sony Michel is out with an injured knee. Still, R.B. could turn into one heck of a flex starter (or more).
5. Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans: Davis could be a considered a sleeper, a breakout, etc., but I see him as a potential bargain regardless. There's a lot of upside with the young wideout.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers: One of my favorite breakout candidates, Jimmy G should be a serious steal based on his late-round price tag in fantasy drafts.
10. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts: Luck has receiving glowing reviews in camp after missing last season with a bum shoulder. He could be a steal if he falls out of the top 110 picks.

Players to Avoid

1. 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.
2. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills: A long-time fantasy superstar, McCoy is 30 and will be running behind a questionable offensive line. Off-the-field issues could be a problem, too.
3. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins: I too was enarmored with Drake's production in the second half of last season, but I think Frank Gore will see enough touches to hurt him. Buyer beware.
4. 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.
5. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: The Saints offense isn't going to go back to the pass-happy attack it once was, so Brees won't likely make a bigger impact than he did in 2017.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.

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!