It is uncomfortable declaring players potential “busts” after last weekend. Injuries often force you to take a step back from watching this game to ask “is it worth it? Will it last?” And from a fantasy lens, nearly a dozen players will be sidelined, impacting the depth of your league and roster. Starting stars is as justifiable as ever, but I am still here to dump a little cold water on your optimism, highlighting a handful of upcoming “busts” for the forthcoming slate of games. Let me be clear — I like fun, I prefer to focus on positives and, most of all, do not hate any of these players. I simply believe they will perform below their normal output.
Falcons RB Todd Gurley vs Bears (+3)
Total: o/u 47.5 - 89% Started
The fantasy collective always instructs you to chase volume, as it is the most predictable element of fantasy football and offers a general floor. Few players are hovering barely above their floor through two weeks like Todd Gurley. The Falcons running back holds the overall RB11 usage and has turned it into RB36 production — a main reason why we avoided backs drafted in his area (Rounds 4-6). I’m not telling you to bench Gurley, especially in this injury environment, but consider how amazing last week’s gamescript should have been — up 26-7 — and it resulted in just 61 yards on 21 carries.
This aligns with the eye test. Gurley is now a one-speed player, has not forced a single missed tackle through 120 minutes of football, owns just two receptions in two games and has just three touches inside of the 10-yard line (the same as Ito Smith). On a team that is 28th in rushing snap rate through two games, Gurley’s fantasy value is rooted in scoring a touchdown.
Prediction: 19 carries for 61 yards. 1 reception for 7 yards.
Texans QB Deshaun Watson vs Steelers (-4)
Total: o/u 44.5 - 74% Started
This marks Watson’s second straight week on this list after a 16-point performance against the Ravens. What a brutal opening three contests for Watson and Co., Chiefs, Ravens and now the Steelers. Unfair, football scheduling spirits.
What’s also unfair is Houston’s treatment of this offense. We all hoped that a play-calling shift from Bill O’Brien to Tim Kelly would make things easier, likely in the form of layups and effortless completions. Through two games that simply remains a dream — Just five completions to running backs, seven completions to safety blanket Randall Cobb. In fairness, Watson is getting rid of the football a tenth of a second more quickly in comparison to 2019, and his Average Intended Air Yards has dropped by half a yard, but so far that is not enough to overcome good defenses attached to great offenses — like the Steelers this Sunday.
Pittsburgh’s defense is showing a few more loose ends this season compared to last — but they’re getting amazing play from Tyson Alualu on top of the other stars already on the roster. Each week I attempt to identify two or three matchups where the defensive front could completely overpower the offensive line — a true mismatch. This is one of those occasions, especially if the Steelers correct their early season tendency of allowing one or two meaningful 20-plus yard catches per game. The Texans have run just three plays inside their opponent’s 10-yard line (last in the league), so their reliance on big plays continues to be troublesome.
Prediction: 23 of 36 for 255 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception and sacked 4 times.
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Bills WR John Brown vs Rams (+2.5)
Total: o/u 46.5 - 47% Started
The Bills have totally turned the keys of the offense over to Josh Allen — 46 passing attempts and 14 carries in Week 1 (out of 87 plays), 35 passing attempts and four carries in Week 2 (out of 61 plays). This has resulted in WR8 usage for Stefon Diggs and overall WR20 usage for John Brown. Allen’s struggles on downfield passes in his first two seasons are well known, always possessing the arm strength but lacking the loft or touch. That has changed this year, as Allen has connected on 12-of-14 attempts traveling 15-plus yards this season — a completion percentage difference of 53% compared to previous seasons.
That is incredible improvement and speaks to the leap that Allen is making. Call me a pessimist, but some regression is inevitable in this area, at least to a league average rate. Brown has been sensational, scoring a touchdown and recording at least 70 yards in each game this season. But due to predicted regression and his natural slotting as second in the target tree behind Diggs, Brown might struggle to keep up the amazing pace he’s set through two weeks.
Prediction: 5 targets, 4 catches for 51 yards.
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Broncos RB Melvin Gordon vs Bucs (-6.5)
Total: o/u 43.5 - 86% Started
It’s been a volume-based start for Gordon, turning RB13 usage into RB10 overall scoring. My fear is rooted in the change at quarterback, with Jeff Driskel taking over for an injured Drew Lock. Driskel led the NFL in Average Air Yards per Attempt last week and is clearly not afraid to attack vertically, but far too often I saw a quarterback tuck the football and shell up in confusion when his primary read was not available. The Bucs defense has done a great job of bottling up opposing runners on a per carry basis and is most vulnerable to receptions out of the backfield, an area where the Broncos have not featured Gordon thus far this season (just five total catches).
Prediction: 15 carries for 41 yards. 3 receptions for 20 yards.
Raiders WR Henry Ruggs vs Patriots (-6.5)
Total: o/u 47.5 - 10% Started
You’re looking at the biggest supporter of Henry Ruggs in the football world, and even I would not start him again until we see the same kind of usage that was displayed in Week 1. The Raiders have multiple options on offense to attack defenses — Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller and Ruggs. Unfortunately, and likely in part due to Ruggs’ knee injury that limited him in Week 1, the Raiders rank last in targets directed towards wide receivers through two games. I simply can’t see Bill Belichick allowing a player like Ruggs to rack up production against his defense. Granted, Ruggs has the speed to break a big play at any moment.
Prediction: 6 touches for 60 total yards.