Draft Strategy

3 Fantasy “Hype Busts” From 2016 and the Warning Signs We Ignored

Fantasy Football Busts

wet floorNBA is done, NHL is done, so with that, I can officially welcome you to the summer of research in the world of fantasy football.

All Fantasy owners are desperate to draft players who are “sure things,” yet one of the biggest skills you can have in fantasy is to separate legitimate optimism from the summer hype! Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest hype busts from the Summer of ’16.

Todd Gurley

2016 ADP: 1.02 | PPR: 1.06

Why the hype?

The Los Angeles Rams running back was regularly drafted No. 2 in 2016, a lofty perch indeed. Gurley was in this draft position based on his quality and production in 2015, and he was expected to build on this in 2016 greatness. Gurley totaled 1,294 yards from 13 games in 2015 which is pretty much 100 yards per game. Impressive, most impressive, but he was not a fantasy stud yet.

Warning signs

Taking a closer look at his 2015 statistics, there are some warning signs which are easier to see in retrospect. In the first four games where he enjoyed a full complement of snaps, Gurley managed a superb 629 total yards (table). This was 48.6% of his overall total, topping 125 rushing yards in each performance. He managed only once more to top 100 yards rushing after this as teams learned from actual NFL game tape on him.

Date OPP Score Att Yards TD Rec Yards TD
Sun 11/1 vs SF W 27-6 20 133 1 3 13 0
Sun 10/25 vs CLE W 24-6 19 128 2 4 35 0
Sun 10/11 @ GB L 10-24 30 159 0 0 0 0
Sun 10/4 @ ARI W 24-22 19 146 0 2 15 0

Reality in 2016

Gurley didn’t have a terrible season and was still worth having in your squad. He still managed to rank 20th in running backs which is good enough for an RB2 slot in 10-team leagues. The reason he is first on the list is this: when you are picking second overall, you must ensure you get an equivalent return on your selection. If the player doesn’t deliver at this elite level, it emphasizes the significance of their failures. Unfortunately for Gurley, this is what happened last year, despite playing all 16 games.

A cautionary tale in 2017 for…

Jay AjayiJay Ajayi, who had three 200+ yard games last season is expected to be drafted somewhere towards the top of the second round. His total yards for last year reached 1,423 from 15 games, at just under 100 yards per game.  His first year in the league produced a modest return of 277 yards, explained primarily by Lamar Miller being the starter. Injuries aside, Ajayi won’t fall back to this level. Remember though, the Dolphins surprised many by reaching the play-offs last season, and a drop in team performance may negatively affect Ajayi’s production.


Allen Robinson (Bonus Allen Hurns too)

AROB 2016 ADP: 1.12  | PPR 1.09

Hurns 2016 ADP: 6.06   | PPR 6.05

Why the hype?

The Jaguars won the 2016 off-season after finishing with an underwhelming record of 5-11 in 2015. Blake Bortles moved into his third season and was expected to take a step forward following a 35 touchdown season.  And the players who were going to benefit from all the positive moves were the two Allen’s: Robinson and Hurns.  Robinson was considered one of the premier wide receivers in the game following a stellar 2015 season (80-1,400-14).  Hurns scored a touchdown in seven straight games and recorded stats of (65-1,031-10).

Warning signs

[the_ad id=”66786″]The Jaguars failed to climb out of their losing season slump.  Blake Bortles had mechanical issues which he and the team were aware of but he didn’t work hard enough to fix them before the season started.

Reality in 2016

It was a terrible season for the Jaguars all round.  Gus Bradley was fired, Bortles regressed, and Robinson and Hurns recorded significant drops in yardage and touchdown production.  Robinson recorded only seven fewer catches but his yardage production was almost halved whilst his touchdown receptions fell beyond a 50% drop (73-883-6).  Hurns missed five games which impacted upon his output. However, his stats line still looked weak at (35-477-3).

A cautionary tale in 2017 for…

Only the Jaguars seem to consistently end up with a whole which is far less than the sum of their parts. Given this, it ‘s hard to pinpoint a team which will see such a drop off in production from their premier receivers.  Keep half an eye on Denver.  Veteran receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are two quality receivers.  There is a chance however that the Broncos quarterback play suffers this year.  It is feasible that Trevor Siemian regresses and Paxton Lynch fails to materialize as a starter.  The Broncos are also in, arguably, the toughest division in the league.  They have a suspect offensive line, and their divisional rivals have all improved in recent years.  Moreover, all have fearsome pass rushers (Bosa, Houston, Mack) intent on stopping the ball being propelled towards the wide outs.

Cam Newton

2016 ADP: 3.11

Why the hype?

The question should be ‘why not?’  He was the league MVP and led his team to a 15-1 regular season record and the Super Bowl.  He was the best player in the league, of course, there was hype.

Warning signs

It was there for all to see. In 2014, despite the Panthers winning the division, Newton’s fantasy production almost mirrored that of 2016.

Passing Rushing Fantasy
Season Cmp Yard TD INT Att Yard Avg TD FPts FPts/G
2014 262 3,127 18 12 103 539 5.2 5 312.3 22.3
2015 296 3,837 35 10 132 636 4.8 10 455.5 28.5
2016 270 3,509 19 14 90 359 4 5 317.4 21.2

Reality in 2016

Newton’s rushing production dropped nearly 300 yards in 2016, and his rushing touchdowns halved.  A reduced threat from the leader of their offense saw the Panthers drop from 1st to 4th in the NFC South.  Newton wasn’t able to salvage the Panthers’ season, or his statistics, through passing.  He only threw 300 fewer yards in 2016, but his touchdown number suffered greatly, dropping from 35 to 19.

A cautionary tale in 2017 for…

If only there was someone who could use Newton’s unfortunate production drop as motivation. That’s league MVP, Super Bowl runner-up, and quarterback of the NFC South division winners in 2015 Cam Newton I’m talking about. Now, where do I start to look for someone who matches this description for 2016?

Final Reminders: Rookie Busts Can Rebound

Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson did have modest expectations despite being just a rookie in 2016. Doctson was drafted 22nd overall but managed to make just two catches for 66 yards last season. Injuries plagued his season, and with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon plying their trade in pastures new, the 2017 starting trio should be Terrelle Pryor, Doctson with Jamieson Crowder in the slot. This offers Doctson a chance at second season redemption.

Laquon Treadwell selected one place after Doctson in the draft, at 23rd overall claimed a single catch for 15 yards last year. If he maximizes his talent and Bradford has a good season he could take advantage in 2017.

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