It’s been said that fantasy football championships are not won in the first several rounds of a draft. Drafting smart is finding value in the later rounds and learning to not focus on recency bias. Too often fantasy managers have a difficult time not spurning players that busted in previous seasons.
Every season there is a slew of players that get hyped up and we see their ADPs skyrocket. The inherent problem with this is that players approach the point where they’re being drafted at their absolute ceiling. When a player fails to meet that, they bust and negatively impact the teams they’re on.
The players in this list are all players that previously enjoyed their fair share of hype, only to offer owners some disappointment last season. In this article, we’re going to assess them as potential post-hype-sleepers. We’re going to look at their ADP versus their actual projected value and hopefully find some bargains for draft day.
Fantasy Football 2018: Post-Hype Sleepers
Joe Mixon – Running Back – Cincinnati Bengals
To call Joe Mixon‘s rookie season a disappointment would be a bit of a euphemism. Entering the 2017 NFL draft, he fell further than his talent suggested he should. Most of the concerns were “character issues” stemming from some off-the-field incidents. There were not many questions about his talent.
Multiple factors played into the lackluster season for Mixon. He didn’t take over at the starter position until later in the season. The offensive line collapsed drastically, ending the season as the number 26th overall.
Despite the rough season, Mixon actually ended the season by leading his team in rushing attempts, yards, touchdowns and fantasy points from the position. His yards-per-carry (YPC) average was 3.5, a bit low for a starter, but his 30/34 receiving line was phenomenal. Giovani Bernard led all running backs with 60 targets. Despite that, Bernard only finished with 102 yards more than Mixon. This made Mixon hyper-efficient with his catch rate and he edged out Bernard in yards per reception.
Last Word on Mixon
Mixon is the epitome of what a post-hype sleeper target should look like.
The Bengals addressed the offensive line issues by adding Cordy Glenn and Billy Price. Mixon is listed as the starting running back heading into the season. For running backs, volume is king and receptions are worth more than rushes. Mixon is packaging all of these factors up neatly.
Mixon’s ADP is 2.09 so there is some risk baked into his price. However, he has the talent, the opportunity, and the three-down skillset to finish among the top ten running backs for fantasy this year.
Corey Davis – Wide Receiver – Tennesse Titans
There is not much nice to say about Corey Davis following the 2017 regular season. He disappointed fans, fantasy owners, and analysts alike. In all fairness to Mr. Davis, he dealt with a nagging hamstring injury for the majority of the season. It’s also worth noting that there were two other highly drafted rookies in 2017 that also failed to produce. Both John Ross and Mike Williams were in the same boat as Davis.
Davis finished the season with a 52.3 percent catch rate and a total of 375 receiving yards. While there is nothing commendable here, some of this blame falls squarely upon the shoulders of quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota had both his lowest amount of touchdowns (13) and his highest number of interceptions (15) occur in the same season.
Heading into the 2018 season, there is fantasy hope for Mariota and Davis. The Titans have added offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur who studied under Sean McVay. Davis’ skill set is relatively high and LaFleur may find creative ways to move him around to maximize his potential. Davis was dominant in the slot when he played in college but could play the perimeter as well.
Last Word on Davis
To expect a better season from Davis is to also expect a better season from Mariota. Davis flashed the type of player he can be in the playoffs last season. He finished those two games with a 9/15/2 line and a glimpse of what he’s capable of at this level. Mariota’s down year is most likely an outlier and he’s expected to return to form for the 2018 season. The running game should be improved with Mariota expected to be more mobile. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis provide both a between the tackles runner and an excellent pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Davis’ current ADP has slipped to 5.12 as the 27th receiver off the board. If the Titans as an offensive unit return to form, Davis could finish the year well ahead of where’s he being drafted.
Josh Doctson – Wide Receiver – Washington Redskins
Josh Doctson is entering his third season even though it may only seem like his second. An injury sidelined him during his rookie campaign.
He finished last season with 502 yards on 35 receptions. He also ended the season with six scores, which led all Redskin receivers. It also solidified him as a red zone threat. Entering the 2018 season there are notable changes outside of him being healthy. The Redskins brought in quarterback Alex Smith. Traditionally speaking, Smith favors short to intermediate routes, despite his outlier 2017 season.
Last Word on Doctson
Heading into the 2018 season, Doctson has breakout potential. The Redskins have the third-easiest schedule for wide receivers. Doctson’s skill set favors Smith’s traditional play-style. His red zone target percentage was 25.8 percent last season making him a scoring threat. His current ADP is 13.01 making him a prime candidate to finish well above where he’s currently being drafted.
Isaiah Crowell – Running Back – New York Jets
A disappointing season followed a lot of hype for the former Cleveland Browns running back. Isaiah Crowell was hyped last season as his metrics from 2016 were extremely positive. With the projected workload, it seemed like a breakout kind of year for Crowell. Instead, he finished as the RB18 in yards (853) and the RB44 in rushing touchdowns with two.
Crowell finds himself on a new team where he’ll be competing with Bilal Powell for touches. There’s no doubt that the offensive line is a downgrade for Crowell. However, in 2016 he averaged 3.18 yards after contact which was one of the highest for qualified running backs. Crowell is a capable receiver as well and could find additional fantasy value from that facet of his game.
Last Word on Crowell
Crowell’s current ADP is 7.09 as the 35th running back off the board. No longer hampered by head-scratching coaching, Crowell may find a resurgence in his game. While it’s difficult to expect him to return to 2016 form, if he comes close to that, he’s a solid pick as an RB3 on fantasy rosters.