Every year, the fantasy football season sees the arrival of a new star. There are also a lot of players that fall short of expectations. Here are this year’s fantasy football studs and duds. For the sake of avoiding confusion, studs are players that will far outperform their average draft position (ADP). Duds are those that will not live up to their ADP. This article will follow NFL fantasy records, not ESPN or any other sites.
2018 Fantasy Football Studs and Duds
Kerryon Johnson, Stud, ADP of 117.02
The Detroit Lions selected Kerryon Johnson in the second round of this year’s draft. They also haven’t had a 100-yard rusher since 2013. Matthew Stafford needs some sort of help in the offense, and Johnson is the perfect piece for him. Although LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, and Ameer Abdullah may all get carries, Johnson is the most versatile player in the backfield. He will make plays in both the run game and the pass game. Last season at Auburn, Johnson scored 20 total touchdowns and averaged nearly five yards per carry. This preseason has generated a lot of buzz around Johnson, and he is definitely a sleeper in fantasy. He may not be dominant early on, but he will take over by the midway point of the season.
Kenyan Drake, Dud, ADP of 37.91
There is a lot of hype around Kenyan Drake heading into the season. However, the Dolphins invested heavily in running backs this off-season. They drafted Kalen Ballage in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Ballage has big-play potential, as he showed in college. In 2016, Ballage had a 13 carry, seven touchdown performance in one game. The Dolphins also signed Frank Gore in free agency, and he will likely see a good chunk of the carries. While a committee backfield can still hold fantasy value, Drake is rated far too highly. He is expected to be drafted in the third or fourth round of most drafts. In two full seasons, Drake has 823 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He hasn’t shown that he can be a feature back.
Chris Thompson, Stud, ADP of 103.35
Derrius Guice was lost for the season when he tore his ACL in the preseason opener. Since then, Washington has signed 33-year-old Adrian Peterson to help the run game. There are a ton of running backs in the system, but Chris Thompson is by far the best of the group. Samaje Perine will get the bulk of the carries, but Thompson is a more versatile weapon. Thompson has averaged over five yards per carry throughout his career. He has also been a force in the passing game. Last season, Thompson caught 39 passes for 510 yards and four touchdowns. He was second on the team in total touches with 111. While he doesn’t have the numbers to be a top running back, he is still much undervalued. He is easily a top 100 player in fantasy football.
Marlon Mack, Dud, ADP of 96.09
Marlon Mack is not a good running back. After averaging just 3.8 yards per carry as a rookie, Mack is still considered a FLEX option in fantasy leagues. He only caught 21 passes and had 652 total yards of offense. The Colts decided to add to their running back depth and drafted two more this year. Both Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins will compete for the starting job and they will share a good portion of the carries. Mack should be avoided in drafts.
David Njoku, Stud, ADP of 142.41
The current ADP of David Njoku is silly. NFL has him ranked as the 15th fantasy tight end heading into the season. He is one of the most physically gifted tight ends in the NFL and he is primed for a huge season. He has already caught touchdown passes from Baker Mayfield and Tyrod Taylor in the preseason, which is a sign of things to come. If Mayfield plays significant time this season, Njoku is one of the best fantasy options at the position. Mayfield loves to throw the seam route and push the ball down the field. Taylor is a safe thrower and will look to Njoku underneath a ton. For Njoku to be drafted at the end of drafts is absurd. 2018 will be a breakout season for the young tight end.
Allen Robinson, Dud, ADP of 48.57
Aside from 2015, Allen Robinson hasn’t had a superstar-level career. He is coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered in the first game of 2017. Robinson also signed with a new team, the Chicago Bears, back in March. He is in a new offense and hasn’t played since his injury. That combination is enough to be skeptical of how impactful he will be this season. He is ranked as a second wide receiver, but he is best-suited as a FLEX option. His current draft position is grossly overrated.
Isaiah Crowell, Stud, ADP of 106.80
The New York Jets don’t have an offensive weapon. If they hand the keys over to rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, they will have to utilize the run game. Elijah McGuire isn’t expected to be ready for the season opener due to a foot injury. Crowell and Bilal Powell will have to step up and provide help for the young offense, and Crowell should be the main priority. He has been a bruising runner early in his career with a nose for the end zone. With 22 touchdowns in four season, Crowell finds the end zone enough to be a fantasy sleeper. In each of the last two seasons, Crowell has had over 230 touches and 1,000 yards. However, he is overlooked as a fantasy running back. He adds a ton of value as a FLEX option near the end of drafts.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dud, ADP of 40.61
Juju Smith-Schuster broke onto the scene as a rookie in 2017. He was one of the most electrifying wide receivers last season, averaging nearly 16 yards per catch. He was the perfect complement to Antonio Brown for the Steelers. However, he is the 16th-ranked fantasy wide receiver, which is too high. He isn’t the top weapon on his team, but he is valued as a number two, potentially number one, wide receiver in fantasy. Not to mention the Steelers drafted James Washington in the second round of this year’s draft. Smith-Schuster likely will not see enough targets to be an elite receiver this season. A big factor in play is also the use of Le’Veon Bell in the Pittsburgh offense. Bell isn’t expected back in 2019, so Pittsburgh can wear him down this season without impacting their future.
Nelson Agholor, Stud, ADP of 138.09
Nelson Agholor is one of the best slot receivers in the league. He had a breakout season in 2017 after a slow start to his career. He caught 62 passes for 768 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Agholor brings speed and quickness to the offense and can win down the field. The Philadelphia Eagles have an abundance of weapons that defenses have to account for, and Agholor will fly under the radar. He has a chance to be one of the biggest steals in fantasy drafts this fall.