Fantasy Football Draft Busts: A player to fade from every single team

The term “bust” doesn’t fit perfectly with every team, but the following are players whom I’ve deemed overvalued in drafts. For my sleepers, go here.

Arizona Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald

He’ll see a nice improvement in environment with the Air Raid coming to the desert, but Fitzgerald will also have more competition for targets. The Hall of Famer will soon turn 36 years old and managed just 6.6 YPT while finishing 59th among WRs in yards per route run last season, so fantasy owners should aim higher.

Atlanta Falcons: Calvin Ridley

He’s an exciting young player with a bright future, but Ridley’s not in a great situation for a huge sophomore campaign. His TD percentage is sure to regress (he had 10 touchdowns on 92 targets as a rookie), especially with the Falcons realizing they were allowed to throw to Julio Jones in the RZ during the second half of last year. With Austin Hooper ready to breakout, Devonta Freeman finally healthy again and Mohamed Sanu still around, it’s going to take injuries for Ridley to be worth his ADP.

Baltimore Ravens: Wide Receivers

As someone who loves Lamar Jackson, can’t stop hyping Mark Andrews and has Mark Ingram ranked much higher than his ADP, there’s not a lot of hate from me with Baltimore, but I’m not drafting any of its wide receivers, mainly for the reasons I love the other three Ravens.

Buffalo Bills: LeSean McCoy

He’s now 31 and approaching 2,500 career carries, managed 3.2 YPC to go along with an ugly elusive rating last season and is almost certainly an inferior option to rookie Devin Singletary at this stage of their careers. There are better ways to spend roster spots than to use one on McCoy, even if his cost is free.

Carolina Panthers: Greg Olsen

He’s 34 years old, has missed 16 games over the last two seasons (when he’s failed to total 500 yards) and has dealt with foot issues for a while now. Even if a fully healthy Olsen returns, he’ll now be sharing the field with two WRs in D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel who are more worthy of looks, so it’s not a good situation for the aging tight end.

Chicago Bears: Tarik Cohen

He was being drafted too high even before Matt Nagy came out and said he plans on using him less this season. Cohen can be plenty helpful in PPR formats, but the 5-foot-6 back has a hard cap on his touch ceiling, greatly limiting his upside.

Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green

He’s still being drafted as a borderline top-25 wide receiver despite undergoing ankle surgery that will have him missing “multiple regular-season games.” Green hasn’t reached 1,100 yards or scored nine touchdowns in a season since 2015. Drafters are taking a far too optimistic view of his injury status.

Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Landry

He was one of the bigger busts last season who continually burned fantasy owners on a weekly basis despite seeing a ton of volume and often finding himself in extremely favorable matchups (enticing DFS users over and over), and then Cleveland added Odell Beckham Jr. during the offseason. After Landry saw 94 targets over the first half of last season, Baker Mayfield settled in, and Landry was given 55 targets over the second half (producing just 56.0 ypg and two scores). He will almost certainly see his lowest target share in years in 2019.

Dallas Cowboys: Jason Witten

While returning to the field may have been a smart way to exit a rough situation in the MNF booth, Witten is 37 years old and averaged his fewest ypg (35.0) since his rookie season the last time we saw him before sitting out a year. There are a bunch of intriguing tight end sleepers, so Witten shouldn’t be an option even in the deepest 2-TE leagues.

Denver Broncos: Courtland Sutton

He struggled as a rookie, and while it’s safe to expect improvement in Year Two, it’s not going to be easy in a Broncos environment that now features Joe Flacco (who owns the lowest YPA in football since signing his big contract in 2013) throwing to him. He’ll be competing for inaccurate passes with a returning Emmanuel Sanders, DaeSean Hamilton and rookie TE Noah Fant, so target other WRs with more upside around his ADP.

Detroit Lions: T.J. Hockenson

Rookie tight ends rarely make fantasy impacts, and we should expect nothing less from one playing for a slow Lions team (Detroit ranked 29th in pace in neutral situations last season) that’s going to feature the run while also employing two strong WR options (including in the red zone). The rookie is even slated to open the year behind Jesse James on the TE depth chart. Hockenson is a fine dynasty investment, but otherwise, take a flier on Gerald Everett or Darren Waller instead.

Green Bay Packers: Jimmy Graham

He managed to play a full season again last year but saw his TDs drop from 10 to 2 with his red-zone looks getting cut into a third from his last season in Seattle. Entering his age-33 season, Graham will be competing for looks with Davante Adams and an improved Marquez Valdes-Scantling, while GB also spent a third-round pick on TE Jace Sternberger. Again, there are a lot of intriguing tight end fliers (Jordan Thomas is another) this year, making picks like Graham suboptimal.

Houston Texans: Keke Coutee

He has nice PPR potential as Houston’s slot man, but Coutee repeatedly suffered hamstring injuries during his rookie season last year and is currently sidelined with an ankle sprain. He’ll also be competing for targets with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller at WR, while Duke Johnson provides a much better threat as a receiver out of the backfield, and it’s possible Jordan Thomas may emerge at tight end as well. Most importantly, Coutee simply needs to learn how to stay on the field.

Indianapolis Colts: Marlon Mack

No running back in the NFL relied more on game script than Mack last year, and Indy’s entire season outlook took a major hit once Andrew Luck retired. Mack’s a poor blocker and also cedes passing down work to Nyheim Hines, and his elusive rating was outside the top-50 backs last year. Mack isn’t going to enjoy life without Luck.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette

Volume matters most, and a healthy version of Fournette would see a good amount this year, but few players can match his injury risk, and he’s also been bad when on the field during the first two years of his career. Moreover, some minor Chris Conley buzz has been odd after he finished 94th out of 96 receivers in yards per route run while playing for the league’s No. 1 offense last season and is now going to Jacksonville. Take a flier on D.J. Chark instead.

Kansas City Chiefs: Sammy Watkins

He once looked promising, and of course, we want ties to Kansas City’s league-best offense. That said, Watkins hasn’t reached 600 yards since 2015 and averaged just 51.9 ypg with three touchdowns over 10 contests on the explosive Chiefs while dealing with his usual foot injuries last season. KC is loaded with weapons on offense, and even if something were to happen to Tyreek Hill, there’s a deep-threat replacement ready in second-round pick, Mecole Hardman.

Los Angeles Chargers: Austin Ekeler

After getting 6.4 YPC (and owning impressive under-the-hood stats) in limited work, Ekeler’s play noticeably dropped off once given a starting opportunity last season, when his YPC fell to 3.2. It’s looking increasingly likely Melvin Gordon misses games, but there remains a possibility he returns at any second, eliminating all of Ekeler’s value, which is already capped with Justin Jackson likely sharing significant work.

Los Angeles Rams: Todd Gurley

While Round 2 prices in some of his risk (he’d be the top overall player if fully healthy), Gurley’s upside just isn’t the same now that he’s looking at fewer touches even if everything goes perfectly health-wise, making him just not worth the (significant) risk. The arthritic knee condition can’t be healed, and it’s an injury that’s so serious, it kept him off the field during the most important moments last season, so fantasy gamers will be constantly worried it pops back up any time.

Beware of these potential busts
Beware of these potential busts. (Photo by Yahoo Sports)

Miami Dolphins: Kalen Ballage

He has terrific speed, but that never translated into big production in college, and Ballage was tackled by the first defender on 43 out of 45 touches last season. The superior Kenyan Drake (he does need to work on his blocking, however) is out of his walking boot and is more deserving of touches, and Miami is likely to have a shaky QB situation with arguably the league’s worst offensive line.

Minnesota Vikings: Adam Thielen

He had 39 catches for 448 yards and three touchdowns over the second half of last season, including seeing just 12 targets over the final three games after the team fired its OC and switched offensive philosophies to feature the run game. The Vikings hired Gary Kubiak as assistant coach and will employ the same play-caller from those final three games (new OC Kevin Stefanski), and Thielen also has to compete for looks with one of the better young receivers in the league in Stefon Diggs, so he’s a bit riskier than ADP suggests.

New England Patriots: Sony Michel

There’s league-leading TD potential here, but Michel is often removed from the field on passing downs (he saw fewer than one target per game last year) and most importantly, has a distressing history with one knee in particular. The Pats spent a third-round pick on Damien Harris, who’s the better target given their prices.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees

He’s 40 years old and more of a caretaker at this point of his career, as New Orleans has enjoyed great success since becoming more of a run-heavy team. Brees managed just 6.7 YPA with a 7:5 TD:INT ratio over the final six games last year (playoffs included), and while maybe it was due to playing injured or just small sample noise, it could also be a red flag that the decline phase is here. The Saints ranked in the bottom-10 in pass attempts per game last season, so even if Brees returns to his prime, his lack of volume (and even more importantly, any rushing ability) gives him lower fantasy upside than at least a dozen passers in 2019.

New York Giants: Golden Tate

He’s opening the year serving a four-game suspension, is currently in concussion protocol, and if you’re somehow able to roster him for long enough, will be seeing passes from Eli Manning and Daniel Jones once he returns. Tate was not good after being traded to Philadelphia last season, and he’ll be learning another new system this year.

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New York Jets: Le’Veon Bell

He just sat out an entire year, has played 16 games only once during his career (and not since 2014) and is about to see a big downgrade in offensive lines, so Bell seems risky as an automatic RB1 like the market suggests. He’s easily one of my favorite running backs ever to watch, but Bell’s patient style might not fit best in New York, where his new coach finished last in plays per game last season (and in 2016), didn’t even want to sign the back in the first place and is a little bit out there. Sam Darnold could very well develop into a star, which would certainly help, but there are other backs I prefer at Bell’s cost.

Oakland Raiders: Antonio Brown

He’s dealing with a frostbite injury that sure didn’t look great, is in a debate with the NFL over a helmet and will be experiencing a big downgrade in quarterbacks in Derek Carr, who rarely throws deep (no WR had more downfield targets than Brown over the last three seasons). Oakland has a tough-looking schedule against the pass, and now on the wrong side of 30, Brown is coming off his lowest yards-per-target mark (7.7) since 2012. It’s already difficult to switch systems when playing the wide receiver position, and Brown’s missed practice with his new team throughout most of August. His off-field distractions date back to last season, and at this point probably shouldn’t be totally ignored.

Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Ertz

He just set the NFL record for catches by a tight end, but it’s tough to expect anything close to a repeat. Ertz averaged 831 yards (and five TDs) over his previous three seasons, which seems like a reasonable projection for 2019. The Eagles have a deep receiving corps, including another tight end who’s currently being drafted as a top-15 option in NFFC leagues, as Dallas Goedert is too good not to see the field more this season. Philadelphia runs an innovative offense, and Ertz should have a fine season, but I’m expecting a step back and view him as a tier below Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Don’t just draft last year’s stats.

Pittsburgh Steelers: James Washington

I’m betting on Donte Moncrief running away with Pittsburgh’s WR2 role (with Diontae Johnson a legit threat to overtake the WR3 job at some point too), and while Washington has been given praise by teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster, he’d need to show some pretty huge strides after an awful rookie campaign.

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson

The Seahawks ranked last in passes per game last season and enter 2019 with the same offensive system and same plan to win games in place. Wilson is terrific in real life, but he attempted just 206 passes over the final eight games last season (Ben Roethlisberger attempted 203 passes in December) and while an effective rusher, ran the ball a career-low 67 times in 2018 (he’s run for one TD or fewer in three of the last four seasons). No matter how good Wilson is, his TD% is one of the safest bets to regress in 2019, and with no projectable reason to expect any real increase in volume, it’s tough to treat him as an elite QB being mostly a game manager on one of the most run-heavy teams in football.

San Francisco 49ers: Matt Breida

He’s one of the fastest running backs in the league and would have nice upside should he become San Francisco’s workhorse (and Jerick McKinnon looks likely to open the year on IR), but Breida is a smallish back who’s simply a massive injury risk. He’s looked great in the preseason but realize, the durability concern here is real.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Peyton Barber

We’ve already seen what he can do with a full workload, and it was detrimental to fantasy owners who used up a starting spot on him. There might be leagues deep enough for this type of weekly production to be helpful, but I have yet to play in one. Ronald Jones or any back who’s an unknown (including Dare Ogunbowale) would qualify as a better fantasy pick than Barber.

Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis

While volume is usually a good thing, it’s not great when 112 targets are turned into just 891 yards (and four scores) like Davis did last season. Put differently, Davis finished 11th in target share and No. 8 in WOPR yet wasn’t a top-20 fantasy wide receiver despite playing all 16 games, which isn’t easy to do. Maybe he makes a massive leap in Year Three, but he’ll have to do so with the same rough QB situation in Tennessee, and more likely Davis sees a sharp drop in targets to newcomers Adam Humphries, A.J. Brown, as well as the returning Delanie Walker.

Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice

There’s a workhorse role there for the taking in Washington, but Guice is a huge injury risk and will have to deal with a shaky QB situation and an offensive line possibly missing Trent Williams. Moreover, Adrian Peterson recorded the fifth-most carries in the NFL last season, so the 34 year old isn’t just handing the job over either.

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