The top picks in your fantasy league are already penciled in. You know which names you’ll hear first when your draft commences: Saquon Barkley...Alvin Kamara...Christian McCaffrey. Sure, the experts on various sites may each rank the top guys a little differently, flip-flopping their order, but they always seem to agree on which players belong at the top. This ritual repeats itself each year: In August, the experts make their picks in harmony.
Yet at this time last year, no one had Patrick Mahomes near the top of their fantasy rankings. Mahomes, of course, went on to post one of the most impactful fantasy campaigns we’ve ever seen. Racking up more than 5,000 yards with 50 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions, the second-year Chiefs QB absolutely went off—much to the joy of his fantasy managers, many of whom were fortunate enough to snag him in the late rounds, after QBs like Alex Smith, Eli Manning, and Jimmy Garoppolo had been selected. (Apologies, Niners fans, for lumping Jimmy G. in with those other two.)
Look, few could have seen the Mahomes Madness coming. I certainly didn’t. But the lesson from this situation is clear: Fantasy success often boils down simply to foresight. It boils down to seeing what others can not, to identifying both the coming year’s breakout performers and which sure-fire, can’t-miss, league-wrecking studs will, in fact, turn into utter flops.
Picking a fantasy roster before you’ve even seen one regular-season snap is far from an exact science, but we’re here to help evaluate the evidence and remove some of the guesswork. Here are five sleepers and five busts whose performance will shape your fantasy league this season.