Breakouts and Busts of the 2018 Fantasy Football Season


Alex Coffini

An MHS student views their fantasy football team on their phone

Alex Coffini

With the fantasy football playoffs upon us, it is now time to review the breakouts and busts of the 2018 NFL season. This season has been the highest scoring season in NFL history with an average score of 47.6 total points per game. Unfortunately, key running backs Devonta Freeman, Leonard Fournette, and Dalvin Cook were unable to cash in on this high scoring year due to their injuries throughout the season. We witnessed Ryan “Fitzmagic” Fitzpatrick, emerge and decline throughout this fantasy season. The 2018 NFL season has been brimmed with huge breakouts and heartbreaking busts. Here are this season’s biggest breakouts and busts.



One of the largest breakouts of this season emerged before the start of the regular season, running back James Conner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Amidst the Leveon Bell turmoil, James Conner has racked up a lot of points. Conner is averaging 15.4 points per game, which is sixth among all running backs. His production is surreal given that his ADP (Average Draft Position) was in round nine of fantasy drafts.

Another huge breakout this season was the Browns’ second-round draft selection: running back Nick Chubb. Chubb began the year unnoticed because Carlos Hyde was the Browns’ primary running back. However, after a surprise trade that sent Hyde to the Jaguars, Chubb went off. After Hyde was traded in Week 7, Chubb has averaged 17.4 points per game and has brought fantasy relevance back to the Cleveland Browns.

After delivering a lackluster 2017 season, Amari Cooper has returned to the spotlight. Cooper was on pace to be a huge bust until he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys mid-season. In six games with the Cowboys, Cooper has averaged 16.3 fantasy points per game. Cooper seems poised to lead many fantasy teams to the fantasy football championship.

A little-known breakout receiver this year was Detroit Lions wide receiver, Kenny Golladay. During the preseason, Golladay was ranked as the 55th best receiver in fantasy football. However, Golladay is now ranked as the 20th best receiver. He is outperforming his preseason ranking by 35 slots, which means he was a hidden gem at the end of drafts that can now be used as a low-end WR 2 or a high-end flex. Look for Golladay to become a top-15 wide receiver next year.

The most significant breakout of the season has been Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The second-year star leads all quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. Mahomes and the Chiefs have been so explosive that they currently have four players in the top 10 at their positions (Mahomes QB1, Hunt RB8, Hill WR2, and Kelce TE1). With explosive deep threats like Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce, Mahomes has the perfect setup for point explosions. Mahomes had an ADP in the 11th round, and he is showing everyone why he should be drafted in the first round next year.



To the dismay of many fantasy owners, Pittsburgh Steelers running back, Le’veon Bell never signed his franchise tag this season. If the owner who picked Bell was able to acquire James Conner then the loss of Le’veon is less impactful, however, if James Conner fell to a different team, Le’veon Bell became a devastating bust that likely ended many fantasy seasons before they even began. Bell was commonly drafted second overall, so his output of zero points was a challenging loss to come back from.

Another running back who failed to meet expectations was Minnesota Vikings running back, Dalvin Cook. Cook tore his ACL early last season but showed flashes of brilliance prior to the injury. As such, Cook was hailed as a round two running back with high upside. Cook frightened owners when he announced that he had a hamstring injury after being hit late in his Week 2 game against the Packers. He then proceeded to miss a big slew of games including Week 2, Week 3, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, and Week 8. Also, Cook had two games where he scored two or fewer points, which is basically handing a fantasy team a loss. Injuries seem to be a factor that may keep Cook from ever being considered fantasy elite.

A shocking bust this year was New England Patriots tight end, Rob Gronkowski. Like other busts, Gronkowski faced the injury bug this season. Although Gronk only missed three games, his performance was hampered by his injuries. At this point in the season, Gronk has only scored 10+ points in three games which not good enough production for a player who was often the first tight end off the draft board.

The Chicago Bears have been having a great season as they look poised to take the division. However, running back Jordan Howard has been unable to produce points for fantasy owners this year. This is due to the emergence of Tarik Cohen, who has been taking a lot of Howard’s snaps. Howard has been able to get in the end zone this season, but his lack of yards has placed him 27th amongst running backs. On average, Howard’s ADP was in the third round, so his mediocre production just doesn’t cut it.

This next bust only applies to fantasy football leagues that are from Wisconsin: Aaron Rodgers. With his ADP in the second round, Rodgers slightly disappointed with many performances where he didn’t score over 20 points. He is currently ranked ninth among quarterbacks this season. This is a huge bust in Wisconsin because he was likely not drafted in the second round. Most Wisconsin leagues cannot escape the first round without Aaron Rodgers becoming a member of a team. Due to this, Rodgers would have to give first-round production to meet expectations. His QB 9 ranking just isn’t good enough to be a first-round pick.


This season has been exhilarating to watch. With plays like the “Miami Miracle,” there was never a dull moment. The key to winning your fantasy football leagues next year is not to pick the breakouts from this season, but to draft the players that will potentially be 2019 breakouts. Although, drafting Mahomes in the first-round next season does seem too enticing to pass up.


All information is recorded from Week 1-14 of the NFL season

Fantasy scoring statistics are based on ESPN standard non-ppr leagues

ADP stats sourced from