Fantasy Football 2018 Preview
by Tommy Fiero
Fantasy Football Sleeper Picks
Football season is approaching, meaning it’s time to set up leagues and draft your teams. Primarily focused on getting the best player possible in the draft, many forget the importance of late-round picks and how waiver wire pick-ups like last year’s Alvin Kamara or Kareem Hunt can change the entire outcome of the league. Looking forward to this year’s draft, it is important to research potential sleepers.
Quarterback: Derek Carr
Having been out of football for a little over a decade, new Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden is ready to elevate Derek Carr’s game. Many forget Gruden still worked the booth and had access to teams’ practices days leading up to each game while working for Monday Night Football. In 2016, we saw Derek Carr in the MVP discussion, and while he may not reach that level in one year under Gruden, you can expect a large jump from a injury-riddled last season.
Running Back: Joe Mixon
Once considered a top-tier talent entering the 2017 draft, Joe Mixon fell to the second round due to character and behavioral problems. Throughout the 2017-2018 season, Mixon averaged 3.5 yards a carry. However, he did not start for the Cincinnati Bengals last year until his final seven games. When he finally started over Jeremy Hill, he averaged under 4 yards per carry only twice in the last seven games. Having many passing game issues and a bolstered offensive line, the running game is Cincinnati’s best feature of their offense and Mixon will get maximum touches.
Running Back: Christian McCaffrey
The 8th pick of the 2017 draft was a little underwhelming last season for the Carolina Panthers, only averaging 3.7 yards per carry. McCaffrey is expected to take on a larger role as a reliable pass-catcher and the team’s number one running back this season. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner of the Panthers has said it is a realistic situation to see McCaffrey take on 25-30 touches per game. With a bigger role, McCaffrey is poised for a breakout season.
Wide Receiver: Cooper Kupp
It’s been reported that Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has made a much better connection to Kupp (especially in timing) during training camp. Almost nearing 1000 receiving yards and having 5 touchdowns his rookie year, Kupp is expected to be more integrated into the Rams offense this year.
Wide Receiver: Corey Davis
Battling hamstring injuries throughout the 2017 NFL season, WR Corey Davis didn’t manage to score one touchdown his entire rookie season. That was until his monster one-handed grab against the New England Patriots in the postseason. While Davis has flashed some real potential, he’s entering this season fully healthy. Davis has the speed, size, and hands to be a star in this league, and with Marcus Mariota at QB and a new coach in Tennessee, Davis can expect a step forward in his sophomore season.
Tight End: Trey Burton
New Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy was the former offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs whose offense centered primarily around the tight end spot (Travis Kelce). Before you assume I’m comparing Trey Burton to Kelce, I’m just highlighting how his gameplan worked in Kansas City. Burton will finally have stability at the quarterback position in Mitchell Trubisky, so expect a larger role than last season.
Defense: Chicago Bears
A defense that has Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Aaron Lynch, Prince Amukamara, Roquan Smith, Kyle Fuller, and Eddie Jackson should be taken more seriously. Other than the Patriots and Vikings, the Bears are playing much weaker and unproven offenses all year long. Their defense will take advantage and be a reliable group for a later round draft pick, allowing you to focus on other positions and still grab a nice defense.
Kicker: Wil Lutz
Any kicker that has Drew Brees on his team is fortunate. Having multiple field goal opportunities because of an amazing offense will boost his value. Lutz has had significant imporvment over the years and will be a quality kicker for many contending fantasy teams.