Potential Fantasy Busts
Fantasy writers have no problems making a clickbait article on fantasy sleepers you should draft, but when it comes to creating a list of potential fantasy football busts, there’s a lot more scrutiny. While I’m not cheering for the following players to crash and burn, I do believe they are red flags and come with some risk to disappoint based on where you are drafting them, or expectations.
Disclaimer: The players listed in this article do not match all the views of the Gridiron Experts staff.
Running Back | Dallas Cowboys
The first name on this list of potential fantasy busts for 2019, is one of the biggest studs in all of fantasy football, Ezekiel Elliott. Entering his fourth season in the NFL, Elliott is once again an elite fantasy option and is an absolute stud when he is on the field. The biggest issue right now and the reason for his potential of busting is simply his contract situation. Despite having two years left on his rookie deal, Elliott is seeking a long-term deal and wants to get paid. The three offensive weapons in Dallas are all seeking new deals in Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Elliott. Some reports have talked about Elliott not wanting to let the holdout last into the regular season, where he’d start losing game checks if he continues to hold out.
There is no doubt that Elliott still comes with a great deal of upside as the fourth player off the board in fantasy football drafts according to FantasyPro’s current ADP. Earlier in the off-season, he was going ahead of Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey, but since the holdout news, he’s fallen a couple of spots. The biggest concern and reason for being a potential bust is simply the holdout. If Elliott ends up taking a similar route that Le’Veon Bell did last year, he could be a fantasy bust and really cause frustration for owners.
Running Back | Minnesota Vikings
Entering his third season in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings is the former Florida State running back, Dalvin Cook. In his first two seasons in the league, Cook has played in just 14 games, with just two games played in his first season. He tore his ACL in October of 2017, so many fantasy owners will be banking on a third-year breakout thanks to being two years out from this injury. His knee should be fully healthy, but even in 2018 he injured his hamstring on two separate occasions and played in 11 games total.
As someone who is going off the board at the end of the first round, into the early second round, that is a steep price to pay for someone with his history of staying on the field. Talent has never been the issue with Cook, he is involved in the passing game enough to give him the upside he needs to have RB1 potential. One name to keep an eye on later in your drafts is the Vikings rookie, Alexander Mattison. It’s also worth noting that he has just two games in his career with 100+ rushing yards. Most players in this range of your fantasy drafts come with some risk, but Cook is someone I’ve been hesitant about drafting due to his bust potential given his current price tag.
Wide Receiver | Oakland Raiders
After all of the drama surrounding Antonio Brown this past off-season, are we really surprised to see him with more drama during the pre-season? The latest drama regarding Brown is his issue wearing a certain helmet that he wants to that isn’t up to the NFL standards. Not to mention, the issue that we saw with his frostbitten feet. We all know just how good Brown is, but there is some risk surrounding him this year and some legitimate reasons for concern. We’ve also seen several clips from earlier this year coming up with Brown talking about NFL not exactly being a priority. These issues need to be taken with a grain of salt as many times things like this can be an act.
As someone who will cost you a mid-second round draft pick this year, there are a few other wide receivers I’d feel safer with as well as the elite tight end options in George Kittle or Zach Ertz who are all going after him in drafts. Brown is currently the WR9 in FantasyPros ADP, and as of now, there is definitely some concern and bust potential that comes with drafting him.
Wide Receiver | Minnesota Vikings
One of the hottest players over the first half of the 2018 NFL season was Vikings wide receiver, Adam Thielen. During the first eight games of the season, Thielen totaled 925 receiving yards and six touchdowns. During the last eight games of the season, he put up 548 receiving yards and just three touchdowns. It’s also worth noting that he saw 89 targets in the first half and 64 in the second half of the season. This dropoff in production could be due to the offensive coordinator change they saw halfway through the season as they brought in John DeFilippo. There were also talks that Thielen was dealing with some calf issues halfway through the season, which never kept him out of games entirely, but it’s worth noting that there was something going on.
Whether you want to chalk Thielen’s dropoff in production to the coaching changes or not, there is definitely some risk involved with picking him at his current ADP. He’s being drafted as the WR12 off the board and will cost you a late-second round pick or an early third-round pick. If in 2019, Thielen ends up putting numbers closer to the second half of 2018 rather than the first half, he’s not going to be worth his current ADP.
Running Back | Kansas City Chiefs
If you picked up Damien Williams last year off the waiver wire towards the end of the season, there’s a good chance he helped you win a championship, or at least make a playoff run. In the final three weeks of the 2018 season, Williams was the number three running back in fantasy, scoring an average of 24.8 PPR points per game. During that time, he caught 17 of 18 passes for 127 and two receiving touchdowns. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that Andy Reid loves pass-catching running backs and Williams has the skill set that most closely fits this role. There is no denying the upside that Williams brings with his potential role in that offense, but there is definitely some risk involved. Carlos Hyde is currently someone who many fantasy owners are targetting late and think can overtake Williams. While Hyde is serviceable in the passing game, he isn’t someone that fits the mold as someone that can produce high-end fantasy numbers in that explosive Chiefs offense. The real upside that comes with Williams is the passing game volume that he should get. If you buy into Williams, you’ll need to use a late-second or early-third round pick. While the upside is there, the bust potential for Williams is inevitable.
Quarterback | Kansas City Chiefs
Before you freak out and scroll past this next name on the list, hear me out. After coming off his truly historic season, Patrick Mahomes is being drafted as the 38th player off the board, making him a late third-round pick. It never fails that someone in your leagues ends up reaching for a quarterback. If you’re still playing in redraft leagues, there’s probably still some casual fans out there thinking about taking Mahomes in the first round. While I do still have Mahomes ranked as my QB1 for 2019, there’s not a chance I’m using this high of a draft pick on a quarterback. If you really want to grab an elite quarterback, you can wait for a few rounds and take Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, or Deshaun Watson. Personally, I’ll be waiting until the later rounds to grab a quarterback per usual.
Even though we’ve found out that Tyreek Hill is in the clear and Mahomes will likely come out and be a stud fantasy option again, regression is impossible to ignore. The last quarterback we saw finish as the QB1 in two straight seasons was Drew Brees in 2011 and 2012. As much as I like Mahomes and think he’ll be great again, based on his current ADP, his bust potential is inevitable.
Wide Receiver | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As someone who has been a major fan of Chris Godwin since he entered the league, we’ve officially gotten to the point where the hype is a little overboard. As of now, Godwin is the 18th wide receiver off the board and the 40th player off the board, making him a late third-round or early fourth-round pick. Earlier in the off-season, I actually had Godwin as a breakout candidate, and still, think he should produce good fantasy numbers. While I do still like him a lot in that high-powered offense, the price tag has gotten to a point where he’s definitely got some bust potential. Simply put, I’m confident Godwin will take a step forward in 2019 and produce good fantasy numbers, but his price tag has gotten to the point where he comes with risk and ultimately, bust potential.
Running Back | Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry may be a popular breakout candidate for some fantasy owners after his performance at the end of the 2018 season, but I’ll be avoiding him once again this year. Over Henry’s career, he’s had 24 of 47 games with 10 carries or fewer. He’s had 18 of 47 games with 0 targets and 43 of 47 games with two targets or less. Another stat from Henry’s career that is pretty telling is that 1,087 of 2,293 (~47%) of his rushing yards have come from Week 12 or later. One of the main reasons that I’ve never been a fan of Henry is that for whatever reason, whoever the coaching staff has been, they’ve never given him the consistent volume and involvement in the passing game that he needs to be a stud in fantasy football. Regardless of multiple coaching changes, the Titans have been through, lacking the upside and points that come from receptions will always cap his production. Dion Lewis was brought in to be a change of pace back and thrives in the receiving game. In 2018, Lewis quietly caught 59 of 67 targets for 400 yards and one touchdown.
Henry has been dealing with a calf injury on the first day of training camp and spent time with a walking boot. He’s been expected to come back and be ready for the start of the season, but there’s definitely some concern there. Another reason to be concerned is that offensive lineman Taylor Lewan is facing a four-game suspension which doesn’t help anything. As someone who is being drafted as the 20th running back off the board, there is a risk that he comes with drafting him every year and this year is no different. Don’t be the owner that gets fooled by Henry’s end of season numbers.
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