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Senior Fantasy Football Expert Shawn Childs breaks down and forecasts the top players from the biggest colleges in the nation! In this edition, he takes a look at Joe Mixon, Sterling Shepard, Baker Mayfield and many more of your favorite Oklahoma players! Stay tuned for more College Football Player Breakdowns!
RB Joe Mixon – In his first season in the NFL at age 20, Mixon gained 913 combined yards with four TDs and 30 catches while receiving 218 touches. He only had one game with more than 15 Fantasy points in a PPR league (Week 12 vs. CLE – 165 combined yards with one TD and three catches). The Bengals gave him staring carries in Week 11 (20), Week 12 (23), and Week 17 (18). Over his last five games played, Joe gained 385 combined yards with a TD and nine catches. In 2017, Cinci’s RB rushed the ball 339 times for 1,267 yards and six TDs while receiving 79 catches for 728 yards and two more TDs on 100 targets. Mixon has three-down ability, but he did struggle in his assignments in pass protection in his rookie season. Cinci should give him about 275 touches in 2018 leading to about 1,300 combined yards with eight to ten TDs and 30+ catches with much more upside if given a higher share of the offense.
WR Sterling Shepard – Shepard was just a Fantasy tease in 2018. He posted an elite game in Week 3 (7/133/1 on ten targets) setting up a great opportunity after the injury to Odell Beckham in Week 4. Unfortunately, an ankle injury in Week 5 led to two missed games. He looked the WR1 part in Week 9 (5/70) and Week 10 (11/142), but migraines led to two more missed games. Sterling lost his way in two games (3/56 and 2/16) when he returned to the starting line while flashing for the third time in 2017 in Week 15 (11/139/1). He battled a hamstring and neck issue late in the year leaving a Fantasy owner scratching his head with his 2018 value. Shepard is the clear WR2 in this offense with possession value in most weeks. Last year he showed his game offered more than 5/50 skill set with his ability to beat a defense with his legs (three catches over 40 yards). His next step is 80+ catches for 1,000 yards with five to seven TDs.
QB Baker Mayfield – In his last three seasons as a starting QB for the Oklahoma Sooners, Mayfield passed for 12,292 yards with 119 TDs and 21 Ints highlighted by his senior season (4,627 yards and 43 passing TDs). Baker even chipped in at Oklahoma with 893 yards rushing on 316 carries and another 18 TDs. Mayfield plays with vision and accuracy while bringing toughness to the QB position. He throws the ball well on the run while showing the ability to make tough passes in tight coverage. Baker isn’t afraid to let his receivers win jump balls in single coverage deep in the passing game. His feel for play development is a huge asset, and his legs will help extend drives and lower his mistakes. Mayfield could very well hit the ground running in his rookie season leading to 16 starts. His receiving core has enough talent to lead to a top finish in QB scoring if given an opportunity to play all year. Worth a bench flier as a QB3 just in case Baker comes quicker than expected.
WR Kenny Stills – Over the last two years for Miami, Stills has 100 combined catches for 1,573 yards and 15 TDs on 186 targets. The best success of his career came in his second season in the NFL with the Saints when Kenny caught 63 of his 84 targets for 931 yards and three TDs. His catch rate has been short in 2016 (51.9) and 2017 (55.2) while catching 24 passes for over 20 yards and six catches for 40+ yards. The loss of Jarvis Landry should be a big win for Stills. He has a deep speed skill set over his five years in the NFL, but New Orleans used him more productively in 2014. Kenny should push his catch total over 70 while posting his first season with over 1,000 yards receiving. His ability to score should create a Fantasy buying opportunity in 2018. Last year he had three strong playable games (6/85/2, 7/180/1, and 5/98/1) for the daily market. A healthy Ryan Tannehill will be a plus for him as well.
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QB Sam Bradford –After a poor start to his career over five seasons with the Rams (18-30-1 record with 58.6 percent completion rate), Bradford proved to be serviceable over the last 2+ seasons (16-15) highlighted by success with the Vikings (71.8 percent completion rate) with an excellent TD to Int ratio (23:5). In 2016, he had only two games with over 300 yards passing and two games with three TDs. In his only full game last year, Sam passed for 346 yards and three TD. The Vikings struggled to block for him in five games (4, 6, 5, 5, and four sacks) in 2016. Bradford is a former first-round draft pick (2009) with one more chance to showcase his upside. The Cardinals will throw the ball, but they don’t have an impact TE with questions in their depth at WR. This offense will flow through David Johnson requiring Sam to be a good game manager, which points to 4,000+ yards passing with just above the league average in TDs. More of QB2 with a tough passing schedule in the year.
RB Samaje Perine – Over three seasons at Oklahoma, Perine rushed for 4,122 yards on 685 carries with 51 TDs. His best year came in his freshman year (1,821 combined yards with 21 TDs and 15 catches) due to splitting touches with Joe Mixon over the last two years. Samaje runs in a similar way as Maurice Jones-Drew where he breaks and sheds tackles at the first and second levels of the defense with an uncanny feel to keep his balance. His best success will come from power while showing sneaky separation speed at the linebacker level when tacklers are trying to get a hand on him. His top gear is well below the top RBs in the league. I don’t think he’ll be dead in the water in the passing game. He caught 40 passes for 321 yards and two TDs in his college career. Most scouts don’t believe in his value on the outside, but I see a player that will win many one-on-one battles in the open field due to his ability to beat up his opponents. In his rookie season, Perine gained 785 combined yards with two TDs and 22 catches on 197 touches. His lack of explosiveness led to one run over 20 yards in his 175 carries. As bad as he may look, Samaje did flash in Week 11 (126 combined yards with one TD and one catch) and Week 12 (130 combined with three catches). In these two games, Perine had 51 combined touches. He’s a must-handcuff to Derrius Guice.
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WR Dede Westbrook – After a quiet junior season at Oklahoma (46/743/4), Westbrook broke through with an impactful senior campaign (80/1524/17). His best success came over a four-game stretch starting in game 4 (7/158/2, 10/232/3, 9/184/3, and 9/202/2). He scored all of his TDs over the last ten games of the year. Most of his scoring came only long passes where he has his man beaten by more than a step and more than a few TDs coming on wide open looks. Dede has a DeSean Jackson feel to him, but he’ll be challenged more off the line of scrimmage in the pros while facing tighter coverage. His lack of size (6’0” and 178 lbs.) hurts his ability to make long plays in his rookie season. Over seven games in the NFL, Dede caught 27 of 51 targets for 339 yards and one TD while never gaining over 20 yards on any game. His best value came over a three-game stretch from Week 12 to Week 14 (17 catches for 200 yards and one TDs on 27 targets. Westbrook missed the first nine games due to a slow recovery from an abdomen injury. With a full season of health, Dede should be more valuable as a Fantasy option. I’d temper my expectation for Westbrook in 2018 due to the depth at WR. Big play upside with a chance at 50+ catches for 750+ yards and a handful of TDs.
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