Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Sophomore Slump - Breakout Rookies Who Will Underperform in Year Two

2018 was an exceptionally strong year for rookies, especially at the running back position, where players like Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, and Leonard Fournette put up strong numbers. There's been some talk in the fantasy football Twittersphere that some of those players could decline in their second years, and I get that. Kamara and Hunt have to contend with Mark Ingram (minus the four games that Ingram will miss due to suspension) and Spencer Ware taking away snaps, while Fournette has injury concerns.

Again, I get those concerns, but there's also a lot to like about those guys and they still have fairly high ceilings. Instead, I want to focus on three wide receivers who aren't in great situations and don't have those same high ceilings, guys who are probably going to go off the board a lot earlier than they should.

Let's look at why Juju Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, and Keelan Cole are maybe not the right guys for you to draft at their current ADP.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Second-Year Players Due to Slump

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)

I KNOW. I feel bad suggesting that Smith-Schuster might have a disappointing 2018 season, but I have reasons. RotoBaller's Addison Hayes published this piece on why dynasty owners should sell high on JuJu which covers a lot of the reasons I had for not betting on Smith-Schuster in 2018. Here's a quick summary of the points Hayes made that I agree with:

  • Inflated numbers due to an increase in playing time with Antonio Brown out.
  • Historical trends of other rookies who had Smith-Schuster's level of production, including Eddie Royal and Dwayne Bowe.
  • The history of Ben Roethlisberger not being able to sustain two quality fantasy wide receivers in one season.

Those are good reasons! Here's another: After moving on from Martavis Bryant, the Smith-Schuster era as the clear number two receiver in Pittsburgh lasted a very short amount of time as the team selected James Washington at the end of the second round.

There's also the idea of regression. PlayerProfiler has Smith-Schuster with the highest production premium in the league last year. Football Outsiders has him sixth in DYAR and first in DVOA. He had the most yards per target in 2017 and ranked third in contested catch rate. Are these numbers sustainable for a player who won't be his team's top target? He's a good, young receiver, but the addition of Washington, whose college career suggests that he can be a top receiving option at the next level, muddies things up. Notably, we get the issue of who will play where. Will Smith-Schuster, who was useful in the slot last season, stay there? Will the Steelers opt to get the rookie involved and let Smith-Schuster fight on the outside? We'll see, but those concerns make me wary of taking Smith-Schuster.

Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)

Kupp is a safe pick in 2018, but I'm not sure that his ultimate ceiling is much higher than his rookie year performance, when he finished as the WR25 in PPR. His 2017 production is almost an illusion in a sense: Robert Woods missed three games during the 2017 season. Both of Kupp's 100 yard games came during that three game stretch. The other game--a 68 yard game against the Cardinals--was his fourth-highest yardage total of the season. It's difficult to rely on Kupp as a fantasy option if his best games rely on a teammate to be injured. It's also difficult when you factor in the addition of Brandin Cooks. I was all in on Kupp after Sammy Watkins left for Kansas City, but Cooks will see a ton of targets in this offense. Todd Gurley will see a lot of usage as well, and in the Seattle game and the Tennessee game, when Gurley made his case for the fantasy MVP and Woods was back, Kupp had nine total targets. His usage went down as the Rams available weapons increased.

There's also the question of what we do with Jared Goff, who looked very bad as a rookie and very good in his second season? If we project him to either maintain his current level of play or continue to improve, great! But what if Goff regresses in his third year back closer to what he did as a rookie? His numbers rose so dramatically across the board that it's impossible to know for sure how sustainable they are

Now, there are reasons to trust Kupp. This decade, six rookie wide receivers have a catch percentage of at least 65 and at least 90 targets. They are: Kupp, Keenan Allen, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Matthews, and Michael Thomas. That's a good group (minus Matthews), but Allen, Beckham, and Thomas all had over 1000 yards and significantly more targets. Matthews is, sadly, the best comparison on that list for Kupp's rookie season.

Keelan Cole (WR, JAX)

While the previous two players still have some good upside going into next season, I hate the position that Keelan Cole is in for the Jaguars. Cole was a great story last year, an undrafted free agent who made the Jaguars roster and ended up finishing as the second best fantasy numbers of any Jaguars wide receiver. Cole was targeted 83 times and turned those targets into 42 catch, 748 yards, and three touchdown campaign. Cole did this despite having just 47 yards on six receptions in Jacksonville's first six games. His campaign was buoyed by two strong games near the end of the year: seven catches for 186 and a score against Houston and six catches for 108 against the 49ers, but his disappearance in the playoffs, when he was targeted just six times in three games. Jacksonville made the bet that that version of Cole was more likely to show up in 2018 than the version that existed at the end of the regular season, and the team went out and signed Donte Moncrief and drafted D.J. Chark. The Moncrief addition wasn't a killer since the team let Allen Hurns go, but with Chark in the fold things get murkier. Cole could end up spending all his time in the slot and producing solid numbers, but the Jaguars wide receiver is one that I'm steering very far away from in most formats.

Also, look, I own Blake Bortles in some leagues, but I'm not sure he can sustain multiple fantasy-relevant wide receivers. I know he did it in 2015 with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, but that was also a team that played from behind a lot and didn't have a great running game. With one of the league's top defenses, Blake Bortles doesn't get the advantage of garbage time to pad his fantasy stats and, by extension, his receiver's fantasy stats.


More 2018 Fantasy Football & ADP Analysis

More Recent Articles


Week 10 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis

We got a good one on Monday night folks. Both for the NFC West division and, more importantly, for fantasy. Two of the top teams in the NFL matchup at Levi's Stadium. We can finally find out if the 49ers are for real, or if they were just beating up on bad teams all season.... Read More

Week 11 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

It's crunch time, with precious few games left before the fantasy regular season ends. There aren't many new names emerging on the waiver wire at this juncture but the RB situations in Atlanta and Detroit bear watching, while the Jets passing game has shown signs of life. No, really. Each week, we will advise you... Read More

Waiver Wire Express - Week 11 Lightning Round

With 10 weeks down and only a few more weeks of the fantasy regular season to go, your vision for the playoffs should be coming into focus. The Giants, Packers, Seahawks and Titans are on bye -- with the Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs and Vikings in Week 12 to round out the weekly vacations. To help... Read More

Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 11

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered the planning process for Week 11. Some of you are in the favorable position of only needing slight modifications to rosters that are destined to enter the fantasy playoffs. But many of you are still searching for the most effective... Read More

Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 11

Did you survive the terrible, no good, very bad six-team bye week? If so, welcome to the other side, when roster building gets slightly easier going forward. If not, I'm sorry, but you still have time to get things back on the right path. Let's talk about some wide receivers who might be able to... Read More

Week 11 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football squad is still in the playoff hunt heading into Week 11, then congratulations on not being the Pat Shurmur or Freddie Kitchens of your league. Fantasy football players will have to live without New York’s Evan Engram, Green Bay’s Jimmy Graham and Tennessee’s Jonnu Smith as their teams are on bye.... Read More

Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 11

We've got plenty to unpack at the quarterback position following an exciting Week 10. While no major injuries occurred in game, the revelation of Matthew Stafford's back injury was quite a surprise and left some owners scrambling just before lineups locked. So the year of the backup continued this week, as 16 of the 32... Read More

Week 10 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More

NFL Matchup Ratings Tool - Weekly Player Projections

  If you see the red "Upgrade" button below, then you are not a Premium subscriber, or have not yet logged in. Learn more about our NFL Matchup Ratings and projections system. Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of... Read More

Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 10 Matthew Stafford has been ruled out with fractured bones in his back. Patrick Mahomes will make his return in... Read More

Week 10 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 10... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More

Updated Week 10 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 10 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 10 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: LeSean McCoy is a healthy scratch for Week 10. Matthew Stafford has been ruled out with fractured bones in his back. Patrick Mahomes will make his return in... Read More

Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 10

Welcome to our Week 10 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More

Week 10 Wide Receiver / Cornerback Matchups To Target in Week 10

In Week 9, the Seahawks defeated the Buccaneers 40-34 and, as expected, provided some offensive fireworks. The high-scoring contest resulted in Tyler Lockett, Mike Evans, and D.K. Metcalf all finishing in the top-three of fantasy scoring at the wide receiver position. Tyreek Hill proved to be too fast for the Vikings secondary, finishing as the... Read More

The King's Key Starters and Tough Calls - Lineup Spotlights for Week 10

Welcome to Week 10, RotoBallers! Below you will find some of my spotlight plays and tough lineup decisions for the upcoming week of the fantasy football season. These player selections are based on my Premium Weekly Lineup Rankings, available as part of the RotoBaller's NFL Premium Pass. Enter promo code KING at checkout for a... Read More