Fantasy Football: Players Entering Career Defining Seasons

After so long, pedigree and draft stock become irrelevant in fantasy football if a player fails to deliver results on the gridiron. At the same time, patience is a virtue when it comes to waiting for an asset to appreciate in value. The issue is, not all top prospects pan out at the NFL level. At some point, owners need to move on and avoid a sunk cost or unreasonable bias towards an underperforming draft pick. The three names mentioned below are on the cusp of that exact description, making 2018 a make or break season for their respective fantasy and real-life careers.

DeVante Parker

Coming out of the University of Louisville in 2015, DeVante Parker was often compared to A.J. Green from a skill set perspective. At 6’ 3” / 212 pounds, the comparison makes sense. So far in his NFL career, Parker has struggled to deliver on the potential he showcased in college.

Across three professional seasons, the 25-year-old wide receiver has failed to eclipse 57 receptions or 744 yards in a single campaign. Over that span, Parker has posted annual PPR finishes of the WR78 (2015), WR49 (2016) and WR50 (2017). One positive note is that he has earned an increased workload in three consecutive years, with target totals of 51, 90 and 96 dating back to his rookie season. Despite his inconsistent output thus far, the Miami Dolphins opted to exercise Parker’s fifth-year team option for 2019 this offseason. It’s an encouraging sign that the organization still has faith in the former 14thoverall pick’s talent, as the deal contains a $9.4 million club option.

In order for Parker to surface as a reliable weapon in fantasy circles, it is imperative that he capitalizes on the 160 targets left behind from Jarvis Landry. The return of Ryan Tannehill figures to increase the likelihood of that occurring, as Parker registered his best receiving line in the NFL with the quarterback in 2016 to the tune of 56 receptions for 744 yards and four touchdowns.

Durability will also play a crucial role in Parker’s success or demise as a fourth-year pro since he has been limited by numerous soft tissue injuries throughout his career. Surprisingly, DeVante has only missed five regular-season contests for the Dolphins to date. Even so, his role and overall production have suffered from suiting up at less than full strength on a regular basis. Like it or not, he is now a screaming value in all league structures as a potential WR1 for Miami. With a handful of other targets for head coach Adam Gase to utilize at receiver like Kenny Stills or Danny Amendola, Parker will need to deliver on his potential in 2018 or risk being written off for good at the professional level.

Corey Coleman

As the 15th overall selection in 2016, most fantasy football owners have already chosen to label Corey Coleman as a bust. Rightfully so, the wide receiver has posted pedestrian receiving lines of 33-413-3 (2016) and 23-305-2 (2017) to begin his NFL career.

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Availability has been a primary reason why Coleman has started slow, as he has appeared in 19 of a possible 32 career games to date. In turn, his output has translated to PPR WR81 and WR92 finishes over the past two years.

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With a make or break campaign on the horizon, Coleman’s outlook is rather cloudy in a suddenly revamped Cleveland offense. At best, the Baylor product will enter the regular season as the WR3 behind Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry for the Browns. At worst, Coleman will fall behind talented rookie Antonio Callaway on the depth chart. At this point, a trade appears to be the best-case scenario for Coleman’s fantasy stock. Rumors have indicated that Cleveland’s front office is willing to move him for the right price, as the organization has concerns about his work ethic.

Still only 23 years old, Coleman is best viewed as a hold in dynasty formats for the time being. While he has failed to live up to the first-round rookie draft capital that was required to secure his services back in 2016, there is still plenty of time for a solid return on investment. He is also on the redraft radar for 2018, but with minimal expectations. For what it’s worth, Coleman recorded 74 receptions for 1,363 yards and twenty touchdowns during his final collegiate season in 2015. There’s no denying his talent. It’s a matter of opportunity and consistency moving forward.

Kevin White

Due to the fact that he has appeared in 5 of a possible 48 games in the NFL at this point in his career, it is easy to question the talent of Kevin White. Before doing so, understand that the former 7thoverall pick in 2015 is now virtually free to acquire in redraft and dynasty formats.

Sure, White will have to compete for snaps with the likes of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller at wide receiver in Chicago’s revamped offense. The team has also made it clear that White is entering a career-defining season, as the organization elected to decline the West Virginia product’s 2019 team option worth $13.9 million. In other words, White will have to prove his worth in 2018 in order to earn another contract with the Bears.

While coach speak should usually be taken with a grain of salt, Matt Nagy’s comments about White this offseason are encouraging. The head coach has repeatedly expressed confidence in White’s ability and preached that his big ceiling in the NFL remains intact. Sophomore quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has also publicly supported White’s dedication to bouncing back this offseason, which will make the duo an interesting story to monitor in training camp on the practice field.

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All in all, the positive remarks indicate that White is impressing the franchise across the board despite a lackluster start to his career. In order for him to become relevant in fantasy, the 26-year-old will have to buck his current trend of durability woes. Fantasy owners can remain patient for only so long, making 2018 White’s final opportunity to prove that he is not a complete bust.