Fantasy Football 2018: Rankings for Top Sleeper and Bust Candidates

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2018

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans is tackled by Geneo Grissom #96 of the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The NFL football regular season is just a stone's throw away, which means fantasy football rankings are quickly coming into focus.

Players like Todd Gurley, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. will go in the early rounds, but it's the sleepers picked in the later rounds that can really reap benefits for fantasy managers.

Last year, many experts had players like the Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz and the Oakland Raiders' Derek Carr breaking out to outperform the average draft position (ADP) of the quarterbacks taken early. Wentz was a great bet before he went down, but Carr, who threw 13 interceptions last year, turned out to be a bust.

Highly touted players like Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley are easy picks because running backs are great for building a team around, but for those that really want to separate themselves from the pack, a nice sleeper running back could be Kenneth Dixon of the Baltimore Ravens.

To help with draft prep, here's a quick look at some sleepers who could exceed expectations and others who may run afoul of their preseason rankings and end up as busts.

        

Sleepers

Quarterback: Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears, and Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

Running Back: Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans, and Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens

Wide Receiver: Will Fuller V, Houston Texans, and Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

Tight End: Trey Burton, Chicago Bears, and David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

        

DeMarco Murray is gone, so that means it's time for Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry to shine.

He won't go in the early rounds because Murray was replaced by Dion Lewis, an excellent pass-blocker, but Henry has the chance to see a dramatic increase in production, making him a great sleeper pickup.

He was ranked 42nd among backs last year with an average of 11.7 touches per game, but that number should go up to an average of 14. Lewis is known more for catching passes out of the backfield, which will jell well with new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur's schemes and allow Henry to do what he does best: taking advantage of outside zone runs.

Once the Dallas Cowboys released wide receiver Dez Bryant, things got interesting for the receiving corps on America's team. With wideouts like Deonte Thompson, Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley in front of him, it won't take long for a talented player like Michael Gallup to break free and break out.

Tight end great Jason Witten retired, so there will be plenty of targets up for grabs, and Gallup has the best chance to nab a starting role and be an impact player worth securing.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota took a huge step back last year after breaking through with 45 touchdowns. Part of that was due to a quad strain, but still, he had better targets so he was expected to air it out.

With LaFleur's new system and with the retooled roster around him, though, he should be able to get his groove back if he can stay healthy.

         

Busts

Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings, and Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Running Back: Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers, and Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins

Wide Receiver: Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles, and Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots

Tight End: Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers, and Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

    

Jimmy Graham finds himself on a Green Bay Packers offense where Jared Cook and Martellus Bennett underperformed in the fantasy world, so not much is expected of him.

Even though he has recovered nicely from a ruptured patellar tendon in 2015, there is doubt that he can get separation or catch those famous Aaron Rodgers Hail Marys. Graham's skill set does make for a better fit with the Packers than it did with the Seahawks, but no one is expecting a repeat of his New Orleans Saints days.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi has high hopes as this will be his first full year as the lead back for the defending Super Bowl champs, but chances are, fantasy teams will not get great returns on him.

The year 2016 was off the charts for Ajayi, as he got 4.9 yards per attempt and 1,272 yards for the Miami Dolphins, but he's fallen under the radar since then. Add to that his knee problems and the depth at the position this season and it's apparent that Ajayi is not a good pickup.

Matthew Stafford, the Detroit Lions quarterback that never can quite graduate to the next tier, is normally the easy pick on the board. He puts up numbers, but his performance percentage is lackluster at best.

The Lions brought in running back LeGarrette Blount and rookie Kerryon Johnson, so look for Stafford's attempts to continue the downward spiral. With his ranking behind Kirk Cousins, he's not a quarterback worth taking a gamble on.

       

Stats and rankings according to FantasyPros

Related

    Report: Raiders Don't Know If They Can Trust Scouts

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Report: Raiders Don't Know If They Can Trust Scouts

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Jalen Ramsey's Agent Says Jags 'Aware' of His Offseason Plans

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Jalen Ramsey's Agent Says Jags 'Aware' of His Offseason Plans

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    Jalen Hurd Switched from RB to WR. Will It Pay Off?

    NFL scouts weigh in on draft hopeful Jalen Hurd’s risky, abrupt position change

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Jalen Hurd Switched from RB to WR. Will It Pay Off?

    NFL scouts weigh in on draft hopeful Jalen Hurd’s risky, abrupt position change

    Brad Gagnon
    via Bleacher Report

    Latest Insider Draft Rumors

    🤔 Giants want Dwayne Haskins? 📉 Rashan Gary’s stock is falling? 👉 Matt Miller on what’s real and what’s not

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Latest Insider Draft Rumors

    🤔 Giants want Dwayne Haskins? 📉 Rashan Gary’s stock is falling? 👉 Matt Miller on what’s real and what’s not

    Matt Miller
    via Bleacher Report