2017 was a bad year for a lot of players. Whether it be from injuries, trades, or just having a bad year (sports, am I right?), some players just couldn’t put it together in 2017. Of those players, some aren’t worth worrying about – their poor performance was a testament to their fantasy value, or lack thereof. Others, however, deserve a second chance and the opportunity to prove that 2017 was a fluke. Without further ado, here are five players you should forgive in 2018.
Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders, WR
2017 was a season of lows for Amari Cooper. He had career-lows in catch rate (50%), targets (96), receptions (48), and yards (680). Cooper did, however, catch a career-high seven touchdowns. In 2017, Cooper finished as the WR #31 in standard scoring – a far cry from his WR #12 finish in 2016. There are reasons to believe that Cooper will bounce back in 2018 and that 2017 was just an outlier. 2017 was the first season in which Amari Cooper did not get 130 targets or 1,000 receiving yards. His ADP places him in the fourth round – primed for a steal on his bounce-back season.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans, QB
Marcus Mariota has yet to finish as a QB1 in fantasy football. He’s come close (finished as the QB #13 in 2016), but never quite broken into the QB1 scene. Mariota, in 2017, threw a touchdown on 2.9% of passes and an interception on 3.3% of passes. The reason to believe Mariota will have a good 2018 is simple: Mariota has grown in the Titans’ offense. In 2017, Mariota threw a career-high 453 passing attempts (and completed a career-high 281 of those attempts) while rushing the ball for over 300 yards and five touchdowns. Marcus Mariota has attempted 60 runs in each 2016 and 2017, and should look to keep it up in 2018.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals, RB
Joe Mixon’s rookie parade was rained on by the likes of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. Mixon played in 14 games but only started in seven. He also finished as the RB #32 in 2017, netting 626 yards on 3.5 yards per carry. Mixon got a decent workload in 2017, receiving an average of 12.7 carries. According to Rotoworld, Duke Tobin, the Bengals’ player of personnel, said at the Combine that they envision Joe Mixon as their bell cow in 2018. While that was said in late February, I’m all for punching a ticket on the Mixon hype train this season.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers, WR
Randall Cobb will be the No. 2 receiver in Green Bay this season. The last time he was the clear-cut No. 2 in Green Bay, he set career-highs in receptions (91), yards (1,287), and touchdowns (12). That was in 2014, which was also Davante Adams’ rookie season with the Packers. The next season, while Adams was still finding his role and working his way up the depth chart, Cobb set a career-high in targets (129). Since then, Adams has found his way into the Packers’ WR1/2 spot and pushed Cobb into mediocrity. Now that Jordy Nelson is in Oakland, Cobb is the de-facto No. 2 in Green Bay once again and should be more than worth his late-eighth-round ADP in 2018.
Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles, RB
Jay Ajayi had an interesting 2017. For those who don’t remember, after seven games with the Miami Dolphins, Ajayi was traded to the eventual-Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played seven more games. In Miami, Ajayi averaged a “meh” 3.4 yards per carry, whereas he averaged an impressive 5.8 yards per carry in Philadelphia. Jay Ajayi finished as the RB #33 in standard scoring with a total stat line of 208 rushes, 873 yards (4.2 yards per carry), and one touchdown. Those 5.8 yards per carry are the key to my argument. Ajayi displayed his talent in Philadelphia and, with the departure of LeGarratte Blount, should be poised to earn forgiveness in 2018.