Risk management is fundamental to any fantasy football strategy. Let’s be honest: No one wants to endure heartbreak. To help fantasy gamers avoid sob sessions this season, we’re unveiling our top bust candidates, position-by-position. Today, wide receiver.
Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders
Dalton Del Don: I planned on naming Brown as my WR bust even before news broke that his feet suffered frostbite and he threatened to quit football over a helmet issue, so it’s safe to say he’s not someone I’ll be targeting in drafts. He enters with other concerns as well, namely now having Derek Carr throwing him the football, which is a major step down from the ideal conditions in Pittsburgh (and an especially awkward fit with a QB who rarely throws deep after Brown led the NFL in downfield targets over the last three years). Oakland also looks to have a very tough schedule against the pass. Now on the wrong side of 30, Brown is coming off his lowest yards-per-target mark (7.7) since 2012, so there were already reasons to pass at his ADP even before the mysterious injury and helmet fiasco.
Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
Brad Evans: The facts of Ridley's breakthrough 2018 depicts a classic hyper-efficiency case. The tell-tale signs: 1) Matt Ryan posted a 129.0 passer rating when targeting Ridley, 2) He notched the 15th-highest catchable target rate (84.8%) of any wide receiver, 3) He tallied 10 touchdowns, 4) He totaled a minuscule seven red-zone receptions on one of the lowest target shares among top-30 fantasy producers (15.2% overall; 12.2% inside the 20). Unless he attracts more tosses from Ryan, which is very doubtful with boss hog Julio Jones on roster, a regression seems inevitable. Total it up and it's unlikely he'll profit at his 56.1 (WR25) ADP.
Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
Liz: After Cooper Kupp tore his ACL in 2018, Woods stepped up in a massive way. Working the perimeter and moving inside, Woods saw his target share increase, averaging over eight looks per game. With Kupp back to health and the Rams expected to utilize Gerald Everett’s ability as a mismatch weapon in the red area of the field, it’s unlikely that Woods will find his way to top-10 fantasy production again in 2019. I admire what Woods was able to accomplish last season, but in the fourth round of twelve-team exercises, I prefer Brandin Cooks’ consistent usage and big play ability. This is a classic case of stanning for the player IRL, but not digging his fantasy peak value price tag.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Scott Pianowski: I’ve been a Thielen fan for years, but it’s the context that worries me. The Vikings scaled back the offense in the second half last year, and they want to continue to play 1977 football: win through defense and the running game. Given the limitations of Kirk Cousins, I understand that mindset. And Thielen is likely to lose some slot reps this year, those wonderful targets that generally make for crisper completions and lesser coverage.
The third round is hairy for most fantasy picks, I get it. But Thielen’s overall haul last year suggests a floor that doesn’t really exist now.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
Matt Harmon: The people are excited about Golladay, and we have plenty of reasons to be. He took major steps forward last year as a downfield separator and as a dominator at the catch point. He showed some flashes of being a future No. 1 wide receiver in the league. He should be that for the Lions this year but Marvin Jones and T.J. Hockenson are more legitimate competition for targets than their draft prices imply. Even if he was the alpha, how much is being the alpha in Detroit of all places worth? We saw this scenario for six weeks late last year without Jones or Golden Tate. Golladay averaged 9.7 targets per game and had three big lines (8-113-TD, 5-90, 7-146) but mixed in three contests with fewer than 60 yards, including a five-yard clunker. The Lions have expressly told us they want to be conservative. The smart move is to pass on the No. 1 in this scoring unit in Round 4 and grab a No. 2 in a high-flying offense like the Bucs or Falcons in the following round. Love the player, hate the offense.