Every year we see players who fail to live up to the hype. Whether it’s due to injury, performance, or any other factor. The following year, they fall down draft boards. This is called recency bias. A savvy fantasy owner will jump on these inefficiencies in the market and attack. Below is a list of our favorite bounce-back options for this season.
We give our best shot at identifying some of our favorite bounce-back players heading into the final draft weekend of the year. This is part three of our five-part series. We will be covering our favorite sleepers, breakouts, bounce backs, and a few bold predictions for the upcoming season. As the pieces get linked, we will link each piece. Enjoy, and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter.
Who is a bounce-back candidate that can redeem themselves after a down year?
Brown is a guy who we’ve seen flash during his time in Arizona, posting a breakout campaign in 2015 with more than 1,000 yards and 7 TD. However, after struggling to stay healthy last season during a lost season in Arizona, John “Smokey” Brown finds himself in a new situation in Baltimore, and his game fits very well with #NotElite Joe Flacco. Flacco doesn’t do much well, but he can at least chuck it deep, which will help make Brown relevant in 2018. Beyond this, the team is short of pass catchers outside of Michael Crabtree. Brown could produce a massive return on his current dirt cheap WR61 price. – Matthew Betz – (@TheFantasyPT)
As of this writing, we’re looking at Hill as the odds-on favorite for the “big back” role in the Patriots offense. After producing an abysmal 116 yards across seven games for Cincinnati last year, Hill now appears to be in line for some serious work in New England. Rex Burkhead is dinged up. We all know about Sony Michel’s injury, and Mike Gillislee is reportedly on the roster bubble. So, who’s left? Reception specialist James White, and Hill. And even if the former Bengal has lost a step or two, look no further than LeGarrette Blount’s 2016 season and Stevan Ridley’s 2012 season to see why there’s plenty of reason to be excited about Hill’s potential in this offense. – Patrick Clapp (@PHClapp)
The Broncos 2017 was a disappointment all around, finishing 5-11. Quarterback Trevor Siemian took a major step back after a promising 2016. The Broncos quarterback situation as a whole was a mess with the trio of Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and Brock Osweiler finishing in the bottom third of most statistical categories. On top of that, Emmanuel Sanders dealt with ankle injuries all season, missing 4 games. The Broncos are in for a much better season with Case Keenum at the helm. Keenum will serve as a stabilizing force for the offense and a beacon of hope for both Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Keenum demonstrated that he can support two top-24 WRs last season in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Despite the horrendous QB play for the Broncos really the last three seasons, Sanders was able to put up WR2 numbers in both 2015 and 2016. With Keenum, he can return to that form. With his current price at WR4, you will be getting a steal. – Sam Lane (@FFStompy)
The Seattle Seahawks backfield has been in limbo ever since the departure of Marshawn Lynch, but that’s about to change. In his rookie season last year, Carson was only able to play the first four games before a fracture landed him on IR for the remainder of the season. In those four games, though, Carson rushed for 208 yards on 49 attempts, for an average of 4.2 yards per attempt. Though he didn’t find the end zone, Carson was still one of the most promising backs Seattle had before his injury. He averaged 2.6 yards after contact last year and looks just as explosive this year. Folks are wary of the Seattle backfield, and rightfully so, but Penny hasn’t seemed ready to come in and take up much of the workload yet. I’m predicting Carson gets at least 20-25 attempts a game as the Seahawks try to take the pressure off of Russell Wilson’s legs. – Katie Babino (@katiebabs23)
Bounceback, I think Mike Evans is going to re-establish himself as a WR1 and top 5-7 WR. Fitzpatrick will still throw it to him and Winston is going to come back with a vengeance. I am expecting 1,300 yards and 10 TDs as his base. He’s being drafted as a low WR1 or high WR2, I would pay that price all day!- Dwight Peebles (@FFPeeblesChamp)
Ranked as the QB3 prior to the 2017 season, Brees disappointed myself and many other fantasy owners finishing as the QB9. He didn’t live up to expectations because running back duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara was one of the most productive backfield pairings in history. The Saints didn’t really need much from Brees last season. Last year Brees had 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns. Compare that to 2016 in which he had 5,200 yards and 37 touchdowns. The production drop off is so severe that he has to bounce back. Mark Ingram is suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season so Brees will automatically have to step up to fill the production void. The Saints as a team had 23 rushing touchdowns a year ago, which is an insane number so it is safe to say Brees will reclaim some of those as his own passing touchdowns. Brees also has two new weapons to throw to in intriguing young receiver Cameron Meredith and familiar face TE Ben Watson. Factor in that Michael Thomas scored only five times after scoring nine in his rookie year, there is massive room for growth in every category for the New Orleans QB. Brees will bounce back after a down 2017 and once again be top five QB. – Travis Finkel (@TravisFinkel)
Last season, Crabtree ended as the #30 fantasy WR in half-point PPR (#31 in full PPR). This finish isn’t horrible of course but talk to the fantasy owners who drafted him as the #20 WR last draft season and see what they think. Crabtree snagged just 58 catches on 101 targets for 618 yards and eight TDs. His TD production/red zone presence luckily kept him from being a complete bust. This season, Crabtree finds himself on a new team, the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens did right by Joe Flacco, gaining Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead, and two rookie TEs this off-season. Crabtree is the #1 target in that offense and should have a significant role in the red zone. In 2016 and 2015, Crabtree proved himself as a top fantasy WR2 with upside (#12, #17 in half-PPR). The Raven’s top targeted weapons of 2017 (Mike Wallace, Ben Watson, and Jeremy Maclin) are all gone, leaving a whopping 243 targets up for grabs. Crabtree should receive a significant portion of those and translate them into a solid bounce-back fantasy year in 2018. — Jen Smith (@TheOnlyJenSmith)
Admittedly, Mixon was my hardest RB to rank this season. You can check out my full rankings here. During his rookie season, he didn’t start until week nine. Weeks 9-17 (missed two games), Mixon was rb34. But before injury weeks 9-13, Mixon was rb14. Finally, after coming back from injury, Mixon was rb44 weeks 16 and 17.
While the Bengals’ offensive line isn’t much better, it’s improved. I’m a believer in Mixon’s talent. His 3.5 ypc on 178 carries for 626 yards is alarming, but I think the potential volume of 250 + carries will offset that. In addition, Mixon should become more involved in the passing game, as we saw him go for a 24-yard touchdown reception week one of the preseason. I get it, you’re worried about Giovani Bernard, who was a top-20 rb weeks 9-17 of last season. Well, Bernard has had 170 + carries in a season once. Mixon already accomplished that feat in his rookie season. Mixon’s situation isn’t the best, but with 225-250 + carries, 30-40 receptions (255-290 touches) and the Bengals committing to him as the starter week one, Mixon’s talent could help fantasy owners parlay his third round ADP into a top-12 finish at his position. – Joshua Kellem (@FFTalkDOTORG)
What happened to the good old days of drafting Demaryius as your WR1 in the late first round, early-mid third and getting a consistent top 5 fantasy WR in return? Man, I miss Peyton Manning. The 2012-2014 run for Thomas was unreal. And while we might not see that again, we saw him still finish as a WR1 (No. 11) with a washed-Peyton in his final year and…Brock Osweiler. AND THEN, we had to watch two seasons of DT’s prime be wasted on the likes of Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch throwing him the pigskin. I’ve read multiple works from people in the industry talk about how DT seemed checked out and if you go back and watch the film on the Broncos (I do not endorse doing so unless you like eye-gouging) then you can see why. The talent and freakish, athletic ability I believe is still there even at age 31. Despite Lynch and Siemian at the helm, DT still managed the 10th most targets and receptions among WRs in 2017. He converted on 4-out-of-9 red zone targets and if he hauls in 2-3 more of those he falls into Gronk, AJ Green and Davante Adams range in PPR scoring.
The best news for DT is he gets to catch passes now from Case Keenum who just registered two top-24 WRs in Standard and PPR formats in Minnesota (in case you’re worried about Emmanuel Sanders getting love). Keenum is a no-brainer upgrade from the ‘Dumb & Dumber’ dynamic duo the Broncos were rolling out last year. I’ll leave you with this, the two times in his career where Keenum started at least 8 games were 2013 with Houston and 2016 with LA Rams. In 2013, from weeks 1-8, Andre Johnson was the No. 3 WR in receptions and No. 11 in yards. In 2016, through 10 games, Keenum made Kenny Britt a low-end WR2. I bring those numbers up to say combined with the career season Keenum just had if he’s channeling that he can bump DT back into the realm of WR1. He’s currently going as a mid-late fourth rounder. I’ll take that all day. – Ryan Williams (@RyanAlexander_W)
After posting back-to-back 1000- yard seasons, Amari Cooper finished 2017 as the WR32 in PPR formats. He recorded 680 yards on 48 receptions and found paydirt seven times. He was one of the most boom-or-bust players from last season. As a matter of fact, 29% of his fantasy points came in just one game. Week 7 against the Chiefs when he went off for 210 yards and two touchdowns. This isn’t really anything new for Amari Cooper. Through three years of his career, he has been a WR3 or worse at least 50% of the time. That doesn’t do a whole lot to support my case as a player you should be drafting in the first four rounds of your drafts.
So why you should you take a chance on a player who has been hard to predict from a week-to-week basis? For me, it’s simple. It’s volume. Over the last three seasons, he’s always been behind Michael Crabtree for targets. This year he is competing with 34-year-old Jordy Nelson and deep threat Martavis Bryant. He is the only wide receiver who has the built-in chemistry (unless Seth Roberts has anything to say about it) with Derek Carr. Let’s also not forget that the Raiders may have one of the worst defenses in the league and are currently without Khalil Mack who is holding out and is reportedly on the trading block. In fantasy, volume is king. Always follow the touches/targets. While many will lead you to believe that the Raiders offense will look more like John Fox’s run-first approach, that is simply a lie. Over Jon Gruden’s coaching career, his WR1 has averaged 134 targets per season. He’s never had a WR fail to reach 1,000 receiving yards. Then factor in the Raiders awful defense and everything points to the Raiders being a team who will be top 10 in pass attempts this season.
While Amari is certainly a risky pick in the 4th round, the stars are aligning for him to reach his full potential in 2018. I would be thrilled to land Amari as my first or second wide receiver as he has top-five potential and only Josh Gordon has a higher ceiling of the players being drafted around Amari. – Kevin Steele (@FantasyWrath13)