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Which Players Deserve a Second Chance? (2018 Fantasy Football)

Aug 9, 2018

Every year there are players that inevitably let us down. Owners burned by players have a decision to make. They can angrily remove them from their future draft boards or opt for forgiveness and give the players a second chance.

We’ll look at examples of both this week, starting with players our writers are willing to give a second (or third) chance to in their upcoming fantasy football drafts.

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Which player are you giving a second chance to despite disappointing you last year?

David Johnson (RB – ARI)
Johnson single-handedly torpedoed my season after I took him No. 1 overall and he was lost for the year in the very first game. I’ve never been so happy just to sneak into the playoffs and lose in the first round! But as frustrating as that experience was, it would be foolish to hold a grudge against DJ. It was a fluke injury that wasn’t to his legs, so he should again be the explosive player who was far and away the best RB in fantasy in 2016. The set-up in Arizona isn’t ideal, but it’s not awful, either. As the fourth player off the board in drafts, I’ll happily take the slight discount on a guy who could easily finish No. 1 overall again.
Andrew Seifter@andrew_seifter

Isaiah Crowell (RB – NYJ)
After being the sexy “breakout” pick last year and rising up to an ADP of 3.06, Crowell is now being taken at slot 8.09 in PPR leagues. Crowell disappointed in large part because he only scored two touchdowns last season. Although I don’t expect the Jets’ offense to be significantly better than the Browns’ offense of 2017, I do expect Crowell to get some looks near the goal line. Crowell received 56.5% of RB carries + targets last year in the Cleveland offense, and especially with pass-catching specialist Elijah McGuire sidelined to start the season, Crowell could be forced into a three-down role, paving the way for him to earn significant work this season. I’m very much willing to give him a chance at his current ADP, especially in the context of other RBs in that range.
Mark Leipold@LeipoldNFL

Amari Cooper (WR – OAK)
There are two other players who have put up the numbers Amari Cooper has (46+ games, 200+ catches, 2,900+ yards) before their 24th birthday: Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins. This is despite a terrible 2017 and Michael Crabtree siphoning 135 targets a year. With those opened up it’s crazy to think Cooper won’t see at least the 130+ targets he saw his first two seasons, if not more. He’s being drafted at WR15, and while he admittedly has disappointed owners in the past, who are you taking around him? Fitzgerald is a fair argument and he’s seemingly ageless, but I’d rather be a year early than a year late when I give up on a guy. Then we have Juju Smith-Schuster, Josh Gordon, Allen Robinson, and Brandin Cooks rounding out the rest of the top 20 wide receivers. All of these guys have just as many question marks as Cooper does. Cooper and the volume he’s sure to command is a frequent target for me in that area of the draft.
Ryan Melosi – @RTMelos

Demaryius Thomas (WR – DEN)
The fact that his 83-939-5 season was seen as a disappointment is a huge testament to this guy’s proven skill and production. Demaryius Thomas finished as the WR23 in Standard and the WR16 in PPR, but his perennial WR1 status made his season and value seem very underwhelming. Since 2012, DT has compiled over 7,500 receiving yards and 51 receiving TDs, never finishing with less than 140 targets and 83 receptions in a single season. In Peyton Manning’s dreadful final season in 2015, he put up 105-1,304-6 despite the former’s struggles and some starts from Brock Osweiler. In what can only be described as a carousel of poor QB play over the last two seasons, Thomas still has a respectable 173-2,032-10 line. Now, under Case Keenum’s competent command, expect DT to have a highly productive season and flirt with a WR1 finish once again.
Zak Hanshew@ZaktheMonster

Lamar Miller (RB – HOU)
With a healthy DeShaun Watson and, thus, a balanced offense, there should be plenty of room for Lamar Miller to return to his playmaking form. When Watson started, Miller averaged 89 scrimmage yards per game versus 66 after Watson went down for the season. Miller will still be good for 220-240 touches, his current ADP is 56, and he’s being drafted around much riskier running backs like Sony Michel and Ronald Jones II. I’ll be targeting Miller heavily, especially if I can’t lock down a pair of solid running backs early.
Donald Gibson – @DonaldGibsonFF

Mike Evans (WR – TB)
Evans wasn’t necessarily a bust last year, but after being drafted in the first round of most drafts, he finished 20th among wide receivers in per-game fantasy scoring. His fantasy value has dropped since then and is now being taken in the late second/early third rounds of most drafts, which is value that I’ll definitely take. Even though his touchdown production hasn’t been consistent, Evans has gone over 1,000 yards every year he’s been in the league and has been targeted at least 122 times. Jameis Winston’s suspension could also turn some people off, but in the five games that Ryan Fitzpatrick started for the Bucs last year, Evans had three touchdowns and had at least three catches in every game, meaning owners shouldn’t worry about an early-season slump. That’s reliability I can count on, and if he scores double-digit touchdowns (which he’s done twice in his career), he’s a lock to be a top-five fantasy wide receiver.
Jon Munshaw – @jon_munshaw

Sammy Watkins (WR – KC)
Watkins disappointed last season following foot surgery and being shipped to the Rams without time to get acclimated to the playbook. He now finds himself on a Kansas City team that lacked a prototypical lead receiver. He has the upside to be a WR1 in fantasy and you can get him at an ADP of 6.03. Watkins comes with a discount of almost three rounds on Tyreek Hill’s price, leaving plenty of room for return on investment.
Justin Mackey

Matt Ryan (QB – ATL)
Steve Sarkisian is taking a lot of heat for Ryan’s 14th place finish last year while fans lament the loss of wunderkind coordinator Kyle Shanahan, but Ryan was actually 16th amongst QB’s in Shanahan’s first year with Atlanta. Ryan has bounced back before (especially in his second year in an offense) and he has arguably the best arsenal of weapons in the NFL supporting him.
Sheldon Curtis@sheldon_curtis

Jay Ajayi (RB – PHI)
Philadelphia trailed only Jacksonville in offensive efficiency in the red zone in 2017 which leads me to believe they are going to produce relatively similar results in 2018 since they didn’t endure any significant losses. If that is the case, Jay Ajayi is the lead candidate to receive the majority of the goal-line touches. It would not surprise me if Ajayi ends up with close to 10 rushing touchdowns in 2018 for that reason alone. He is running behind arguably the best offensive line in the league and LaGarrette Blount is no longer there to vulture goal-line carries from Ajayi. I think he offers the most upside of any RB3 and you might be able to get him at an even cheaper price.
Shane Davies – @FantasySD1

Emmanuel Sanders (WR – DEN)
After posting three straight 1,000-yard seasons for the Broncos, Manny put up a dud in 2017 with 555 yds and just two TDs. He only started 11 games due to injury, but also had to endure a group of underwhelming signal callers. This year with Case Keenum at the helm, I expect Denver’s passing offense to be much improved. It’s a strong possibility for him to finish as a WR2 this year with a clean bill of health and a major upgrade at the QB position. Early word out of Broncos training camp is that he looks rejuvenated and better than ever. Considering his current ECR of 76 and current ADP of 89, I’m very comfortable taking a shot on him a full round sooner, maybe even late-5th round. Some experts have him ranked just outside the top-50 in PPR leagues and I don’t think that’s a reach as he’s poised to take a step forward in 2018.
Josh Dalley – @JoshDalley72

T.Y. Hilton (WR – IND)
Hilton finished as the WR5 and the WR12 and averaged 143 targets, 86.5 receptions, 1,396.5 yards, and 6.5 touchdowns during Andrew Luck’s last two healthy seasons. In 2018, Luck is back healthy and early reviews out of training camp indicate the two men haven’t missed a beat in re-establishing their incredible chemistry. The Colts added Eric Ebron this offseason but Donte Moncrief left town, leaving the Colts without a clear-cut number two receiver. I’m expecting Hilton to receive a significant bump from the 109 targets he received with Luck sidelined in 2017. The 28-year-old should be a steal at his third-round ADP.
David McCaffery – @mccaffmedia

Jordan Howard (RB – CHI)
Only Howard’s 2017 owners can begin to imagine why, looking at his total stats for the season, he could be considered a disappointment. 1,000 yards rushing and nine touchdowns, while not quite elite, should be nothing to sneeze at. The problem is that Howard is a running back, a position that players expect consistency from, and the second year back was anything but consistent. He had fewer than 60 yards rushing in over half of the games he played, and three of these games had Howard finishing in single digits – yes, as in, fewer than 10 total yards. In contrast, he broke the century mark five times. Feast-or-famine qualities aren’t very becoming of a back, but there’s no reason to suggest that this will continue to be a problem next year. No, this isn’t a reaction to reports that he’s going to be more of a receiver – we were sold that bill of goods last year, and it turned out to be bogus. His improvement should be the result of that entire offense taking another step forward. Mitchell Trubisky will be looking to take strides in the same vein as Jared Goff, and Chicago’s front office has completely rebuilt the receiving corps. Jordan Howard clearly has the talent and opportunity. Now he just needs the rest of the team to carry some of the load so that opposing defenses can’t focus entirely on shutting him down.
Shane McCormack – @ShaneMcCormack_

Randall Cobb (WR – GB)
Since 2014’s 91-catch, 1,287-yard, 12-TD outburst, Cobb has averaged a mundane 68-697-4.7 line over the last three seasons. Some fed-up drafters will thus move him to their never-again list, but the circumstances demand he receives one more chance. He averaged 9.0 targets and 60.4 yards in five full games with Aaron Rodgers, so the upside of even 13-15 games as the star passer’s second wideout is too big to ignore. Although I’m often dubious of perennial health hazards, the WR37 ADP makes him too tempting a value.
Andrew Gould@andrewgould4

Rishard Matthews (WR – TEN)
While Rishard Matthews is coming off of a down year in 2017 — he finished as the WR37 on a 53-795-4 stat line in 14 games following a 2016 campaign in which he put up a 65-975-9 line in a full 16 game slate, finishing his first year with the Titans as the WR14 in standard formats — I believe he is poised to bounce back. I not only attribute his regression to the fact that he played in two fewer games, but more importantly, his regression goes hand-in-hand with Marcus Mariota’s. If Mariota gets back on track, and I fully expect him to — he must improve from a treacherous 13-to-16 touchdown to turnover ratio — Matthews could be the main beneficiary not named Delanie Walker. While all the hype surrounds Corey Davis and his No. 27 WR ADP, Matthews, and his No. 52 WR ADP is the clear-cut value in the double-digit rounds. And I get it, Davis is a former fifth-overall pick who made an outstanding TD reception in the playoffs, but that one reception shouldn’t define him just because it is our last memory of him. His rookie campaign was filled with injuries, let-downs, and disappointment. I’m targeting Matthews, who is entering his contract year and is viewed as a low-risk-high-reward option over Davis, who is a risky boom or bust option as a result of his ADP.
Anthony Cervino – @therealnflguru

Thanks to all of our writers that contributed! Let us know who your redeem target is this season.

Check out our other recent collaborative pieces:

Who’s Your RB1 in Standard-Scoring Leagues?
Who’s Your No. 1 Overall Pick in PPR drafts?
Who’s Your Must-Have Player?

View real-time recommendations for each pick with our Draft Assistant >>

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