Fantasy Football rankings 2018: Rookie sleepers, breakouts, and busts from expert who called Deshaun Watson's hot start

Rookies can make or break a fantasy roster. Studying schemes and roster depth are two key components you should look for when drafting a rookie. Finding that elusive rookie standout, like Alvin Kamara in 2017, can be the difference between competing for a fantasy football championship or going home with nothing. Luckily, no one is better at recognizing those breakouts than Dave Richard.

The award-winning CBS Sports Senior Fantasy Writer was the first fantasy writer for NFL.com before moving to CBS Sports in 2006. Since then, he has crunched the numbers, studied the film, developed tiers and trade charts, previewed every NFL game, talked to the decision makers and earned multiple honors for doing so.

If you're already a CBS Sports Fantasy reader, you might know Richard as the guy who told you about Joe Mixon. If you listened to his advice, you were happy you did.

Mixon finished the season with 913 total yards and four touchdowns -- just 22 yards and two scores off Richard's preseason projection. 

Richard also projected early the huge rookie season Christian McCaffrey would have. He also said Deshaun Watson would be the No. 1 rookie QB in the league, and to stay clear of Patrick Mahomes, who wouldn't get a chance in Year 1 in Kansas City. He was right on both counts.

Now Richard has released his introduction to the Class of 2018, offering projected statistics and when to draft the top players at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. He's sharing it early over at SportsLine.

We can tell you Richard is eyeing Seahawks running back Rashad Penny, noting he should easily get over 200 carries, but only requires a mid-round pick. He's a sleeper who could pay huge dividends if you snag him.

"Statistically speaking, Penny was more impressive than Saquon Barkley. He led the FBS in rushing yards (2,248) with over 100 yards in 11 of 13 games, including over 200 yards in each of his final five. He had a touchdown in 12 of 13 games," Richard told SportsLine. "Does his success in the scheme he ran in at San Diego State (the same one Ronnie Hillman and Donnel Pumphrey thrived in) translate to the NFL? Seattle seems to think so." 

Richard also says Derrius Guice will have huge season with the Redskins.

"With one draft pick, Jay Gruden wiped out all the rushing woes from the past three seasons and cemented an aggressive runner with very good speed and cutting skills as his primary running back," Richard says. "Guice figures to give way to Chris Thompson in passing situations ... but that doesn't change the outlook of a rookie more than qualified to notch Washington's first 1,000-yard rushing season since Alfred Morris in 2014."

He's also identified a rookie quarterback that should be starting by midseason and will explode as soon as he's under center. A late pick on this QB could give your team the push it needs to a playoff berth or championship. 

So which of the Class of 2018 is worth your draft pick, and when? And which rookie QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs are better to avoid? Visit SportsLine now to see Dave Richard's coveted introduction to the Class of 2018, all from the acclaimed Fantasy Football expert who was all over Deshaun Watson's hot start!

Our Latest Stories