2020 Fantasy Football Receiver Bust Candidates: Why fade five of the top wideouts in the NFL?

Risk management is fundamental to any fantasy football strategy. Let’s be honest: No one wants to endure an early pick not working out. To help fantasy gamers avoid disappointment this draft season, we’re unveiling our top bust candidates, position-by-position. Today, wide receivers.

DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

Yahoo ADP: 16.7 overall (WR5)

Scott Pianowski: Hopkins had it pretty good in the Houston scheme of things, especially once Deshaun Watson arrived. Hopkins long ago proved he can thrive with just about anyone, but check Hop’s WR leaderboard placement in the Watson Era — second in catches, third in yards, first in touchdowns.

Oh yeah, there’s one other thing — Hopkins ranks first in targets over the last three years. This enabled him to remain a fantasy monster despite good-not-great efficiency metrics. His catch rate of 64.7 percent is good, not elite. His yards-per-target of 8.45 is similarly respectable, but not transcendent.

So the volume game was good to Hopkins in Houston; he’d get off the bus and immediately be peppered in targets. It’s possible the Cardinals might not run things that way. The Air Raid tends to favor matchups and the collective of options over specifically targeting a speciality player. And Hopkins also has to deal with the challenge of joining a new team, tied to the strangest and most truncated preseason of our lives.

I’ll surely dance with Hopkins again, but I can’t draft him proactively in 2020. Bust is probably too strong a word, but the fact that I’m fading him, that’s an actionable piece of advice you can consider.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Yahoo ADP: 23.3 (WR6)

Dalton Del Don: Godwin is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL right now, but his 2020 ADP of 23.3 is too high after not even ranking in the top-30 in WOPR last season (“Weighted Opportunity Rating” has a year-to-year stability of 0.61, which is about as strong as it gets for projecting receivers). He’ll now be sharing targets with Rob Gronkowski to go along with Mike Evans on a team with a much-improved defense that’s switching its base offense to 12 personnel.

Moreover, Jameis Winston just produced ideal fantasy conditions with the NFL’s first 30/30 season, but Godwin will now be catching passes from a 43-year-old quarterback who showed serious signs of decline over last season’s second half and is now switching systems during a truncated offseason. There may not be many wide receivers in football better than Godwin right now, but there are plenty who are in better fantasy situations, as it’s far more reasonable to expect WR2 production than top-five output like his ADP suggests.

Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

Yahoo ADP: 31.3 (WR11)

Andy Behrens: Thielen presents a level of risk and worry that simply isn’t present with the other receivers in his tier. He’s now 30 years old and coming off a season in which injuries limited him to just 10 games. Thielen is his team’s unchallenged No. 1 receiver, which we generally like, but the Vikings are plainly a run-first group. It’s certainly possible that Thielen may return to the 2017-2018 version of himself, though it’s equally possible last year’s hamstring issues were the beginning of a decline. He isn’t an undraftable receiver for me by any means, but I’d prefer several of the ascending talents available in later rounds — players like D.J. Chark and Terry McLaurin. If you want Thielen in the third, you can have him. I won’t fight you for him.

Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

Yahoo ADP: 37.6 (WR13)

Matt Harmon: The Dallas offense is going to destroy souls this season. At the helm of the ship, Dak Prescott has the inside track to finish as a top-three fantasy quarterback. All that said, I don’t want anything to do with that offense’s No. 1 receiver as long as he sports a WR9 ADP on 4for4’s industry wide look. Cooper is capable of putting up dominant lines that win you weeks but is just as capable of throwing up air balls. The reality of his inconsistent production is hard to avoid at this point in his career. And it’s easy to explain why; he is and always has been inconsistent as an individual player. He is what he is at this point in his career.

It’s really hard to justify Cooper going where he is in drafts, especially relative to his teammates. The ascending Michael Gallup already held a higher percentage of the team targets (21 percent) and air yards (28 percent) in the 14 games he players last year. Gallup goes over 40 picks after Coopers the WR29. Rookie CeeDee Lamb is all too likely to get 100 targets right out of the gate. How can you project Cooper for the 130-plus looks he’d likely need to kick back reward as your WR1? I’d love to play Cooper in high-scoring affairs in DFS or have him as my hammer-dropping WR2. Current ADP makes the latter a fever dream scenario only.

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

Yahoo ADP: 54.8 (WR20)

Liz Loza: Sutton broke out last year, posting 72 receptions good for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns. While he may not be the flashiest of players, the SMU product deserves credit for reeling in 72 balls, especially since he drew just 92 catchable targets. Admittedly, it’s only a 5-game sample, but Sutton’s numbers didn’t exactly wow with Drew Lock under center, as he averaged just over 10 fantasy points per game (half-point PPR) from Weeks 13-17. With rookies, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler joining the receiving corps, as well as anticipated growth from second-year tight end Noah Fant - in an already low passing volume offense - opportunities are going to be Sutton’s biggest obstacle to fantasy production. That’s why he’s ranked outside of my top-20 fantasy players at the position.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy football crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Matt Harmon, Liz Loza, Scott Pianowski

Listen to the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast