Posted: Friday, June 15, 2018
It's not uncommon for players to have a down year. Often injury-related, these players are poised to bounce back from disappointing seasons.
If you were an Amari Cooper owner last year, there wasn't much to write home about. His 48 catches for 680 yards was the worst production totals of his short career. In weeks 3 - 5 last year, he averaged a whopping 1 fantasy point per game, but there were a few games, including Week 7's insane 11-catch, 210 yards, and 2-score performance, where he showed us what he's capable of. Head Coach Jon Gruden has indicated that Amari Cooper will be the "main vein" of the Raiders' passing game going forward. He won't have to share time with Michael Crabtree as the #1. Those looks will go to Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson who should prevent double teams on Cooper and help keep defenses honest. Barring injury, there's simply no way that Cooper doesn't bounce back in 2018.
Mike Evans was drafted for many fantasy owners last year as their WR1, and while he just barely clipped the 1K yardage mark, he finished the season as the 20th-best WR in standard scoring (17th in PPR). With a healthy Jameis Winston and a healthy receiving corp around him, Evans should see his fifth straight 1,000 yard season. He was recently signed to a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension cementing his status in Tampa Bay. He's ranked in the FFN Top 10 among wide receivers and should finish the season there.
One of the more dynamic players that we got to watch last year was Dalvin Cook. Unfortunately, we only got to see him in four games, but what we saw was a guy who found the endzone twice, averaged 4.8 yards per carry, and had a 100+ yard game. Cook has been getting reps during team drills in OTAs and is fully expected to be ready for training camp. He's currently ranked inside our Top 10 for all scoring formats.
Marlon Mack is an interesting option this year. He finished 2017 with a disappointing 93 carries for 358 yards on the ground and 3 scores plus 21 for 225 and a score receiving, but a non-existent passing game and playing backup didn't present a favorable set of conditions for him. Right now, Mack appears to be the frontrunner competing with rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines as well as veteran Robert Turbin. He's being drafted as a low-end RB3 right now, which if you are getting a starting RB as your RB3 somewhere in the late sixth round, the upside here makes Mack a solid pick.
Other than his rookie year, 2017 saw the lowest production totals for Pierre Garcon. His 40 catches for 500 yards was 50% of what he had the season prior. Garcon was the Niners #1 receiver prior to his season-ending neck injury. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan expects Garcon to "come back healthy" this season and we expect him to be ready for OTAs. If QB Jimmy Garoppolo can come close to the expectations that the Bay Area has for him, it would seem reasonable to see Garcon achieve his third 1,000+ yard season.
The key to having a great fantasy season with Jameis Winston is health. If we took his production and extended those averages for the games he missed last season, Winston would have ended the year as the second best fantasy QB. With a healthy DeSean Jackson, a happy Mike Evans, and an improving O.J. Howard, Winston is poised for a big bounceback in 2018. Winston is ranked 15th on Fantasy Football Nerd right now putting him squarely in the fantasy QB2 range. He has the potential to end the year inside the Top 10 and should be a QB that every fantasy owner targets - especially in 2-QB leagues.
Randall Cobb struggled mightily without Aaron Rodgers under center. Brett Hundley can do that to you. With Davante Adams poised to rightfully lay claim to the top wide receiver spot in Green Bay, Cobb should bounce back as the second option in Green Bay without having to deal with the double teams that we saw when the Pack tried to make him the #1. His 72 projected receptions and 795 projected yards place him in the WR2/3 range, but his ADP has him going more as a WR 3/4 making him a value pick somewhere in the 8th or 9th round of your draft.
Hilton's 2017 season was awful by the standards that we've come to expect (finished as the #24 wide receiver last year). He failed to tally at least 1,000 yards for the first time in six years. He just never seemed to consistently connect with backup QB Jacoby Brissett. With expectations running high for Andrew Luck to return healthy this season, expect Hilton to improve upon his numbers. Fantasy Football Nerd has him ranked 12th in draft rankings putting him as a low-end WR1 for fantasy drafts.
Don't let last season's poor performance dissuade you from clicking the Draft button on Joe Mixon this year. The offensive line in Cincy was one of the league's worst, and they've taken steps to improve that situation with the additions of Cordy Glenn and Billy Price. Mixon finished as the 32nd-best fantasy running back last year playing most of the year fighting to climb the depth chart. As the Bengals have indicated, Mixon should be their "bellcow" back for 2018 and he's listed as their starter right now. You'll find him ranked 15th in the FFN draft rankings and he should have no problem finishing the season in that upper fantasy RB2 range.
Prior to his ACL injury last year, Watson was the league's best fantasy quarterback frequently locking in on DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. He was the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 400 yards, run for 50+ yards, and throw 4 touchdowns in a single game ... and he did it against a stellar Seattle defense. He was regularly putting up bigger fantasy stats than brand-names like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees. Watson is ahead of schedule with his comeback and should be ready for training camp. We'll need to see how he looks when camps open up, but the talent is definitely there. He'll be drafted as a QB1 in virtually every fantasy draft making him an easy choice for comeback candidate of 2018.
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