It’s officially summer, which means preparation for the upcoming fantasy football season is in full swing.
Every year, a handful of players catch the eye of drafters due to an explosion late last season, a cheap average draft position, coaching change, or maybe even a new quarterback. Regardless of the cause, many of these players “flop” during the regular season because they fail to meet the unrealistic expectations set by their drafters months earlier. A prime example of this last year was Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman, who saw his ADP rocket up to the third/fourth round by the end of the preseason. Of course, Freeman did not turn out to be the fantasy stud everyone hoped he would be. Instead, that title would belong to fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay, an undrafted free agent out of Colorado who opened the season third on the depth chart behind Freeman and Devontae Booker. Freeman would continue to lose carries to his teammate throughout 2018 and deal with a Grade 3 ankle sprain, which sidelined him for most of October.
Nobody could have predicted the sudden emergence and dominance of Lindsay. But, it’s safe to say that Freeman was taken for granted as a relatively safe selection. By the end of the season, it became frustratingly obvious that he was worth nowhere near the value of a third-round pick.
Today, I take a look at some of those players that are garnering a significant amount of attention in June. For now, I’ll focus on the players who I think the hype around them is justified. Later in the week, I’ll release a second article detailing the players with draft stocks that have spiraled out of control.
Of course, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @HamAnalysis for advice, rankings, and more helpful articles. Let me be your secret weapon this season and you won’t regret it.
5 Fantasy Football Players With Justified Hype
Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts | ADP: 2.6
Mack was one of my favorite breakout running back candidates for last season and he remains so a year later. Forced to split time with Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins, Mack still managed to accumulate 908 yards and 10 touchdowns. By the end of the season, it was clear who the no. 1 running back for Indy was and confirmed when Mack rushed for a season-high 148 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries during the Colts’ 21-7 romp of the Texans in the playoffs. I also believe that Mack was the reason why the Colts chose not to aggressively pursue Le’Veon Bell during free agency, which bodes well for his usage next season.
Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans | ADP: 9.3
Coutee suffered through his fair share of hamstring injuries and didn’t see an extensive amount of playing time in 2018. However, what impresses me the most about the second-year slot receiver are his 41 targets in just six games. In his first ever NFL game, Coutee was targeted 15 times and caught 11 balls for 109 yards. While he wouldn’t put up anywhere near the same numbers for the rest of the season, he replicated his debut with an 11/110/1 performance against the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. Coutee, when healthy, obviously has the full trust of Deshaun Watson. His stock will only climb if something were to happen to Will Fuller, who is coming off an ACL tear suffered in October and has dealt with seven injuries over his first three seasons.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers | ADP: 9.6
Why is a quarterback who was suspended for the first four games of the season and has yet to lead Tampa Bay to the postseason on this list? Well, because the Bucs hired a quarterback whisperer. Bruce Arians, who has worked his magic on struggling signal callers before, could be exactly what Winston needs to elevate his game to the next level. Winston has been spoiled with top-tier receiving talent over his first four years in the NFL: Mike Evans has five consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons, O.J. Howard is a rising star at the tight end position, and Chris Godwin enjoyed a nice little breakout of his own in 2018, notching 842 yards and seven scores on 59 receptions. The framework is there for Winston to succeed, which is good news for him since he’s in a prove-it season. Will Arians help reach new heights? I would bet on it.
Albert Wilson, WR, Miami Dolphins | ADP: 18.1
While Wilson wasn’t looked at much in 2018, he made the most of his targets. He averaged 15 yards per reception on a struggling Dolphins offense and caught 74.3% of his targets. Before his 2018 campaign was prematurely ended by a hip injury, Wilson showed fantasy hopefuls his potential in a 155-yard, 2-touchdown rampage against the Chicago Bears in Week 6. With health back at 100%, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen as the quarterbacks throwing to him, and a new head coach, Wilson could finally have his breakout season and emerge as the no. 1 receiver for the Dolphins.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles | ADP: 20.8
Yes, Goedert isn’t even the top tight end option in Philly. Yes, the receiving corps is crowded with both young and veteran talent. And yes, his 2018 season didn’t look all that pretty statistically. All the same, reporters and players alike have been raving about Goedert’s progress this offseason. There is also talk that Zach Ertz’s targets were inflated last season as Nick Foles’ go-to target. If Ertz’s targets were reduced, then there would be more opportunity for Goedert. Of course, if anything were to happen to Ertz down the stretch, expect Goedert to fill right in and produce similar numbers.
Cole Topham is a 17-year old sportswriter from Salt Lake City, UT. He is the lead editor and founder of snacktimefantasy.com. Besides journalism, his passions include fantasy rankings, drinking chai lattes, rock climbing, and absurd amounts of hair paste.