Fantasy Football Busts 2016
With the NFL season less than two months away, this now feels like an appropriate time to discuss some players that I do NOT like for the upcoming fantasy football season. In fact, these are seven fantasy players you couldn’t pay me to draft in any league. The following list of players are numbered for your pleasure, but are in no particular order as like I said, they’re off my fantasy draft board for 2016.
** All average draft position (ADP data) is courtesy of MyFantasyLeague.com as of July 11th, 2016.
7. Matt Jones
Running Back (Redskins)
If you’ve been following me on Twitter (@DMooreNFL ), you know that I am not a fan of Matt Jones at all in 2016. Coming into his sophomore season now, Jones will head into training camp (and presumably the regular season) as the starting running back for the Washington Redskins. Yet, besides his default role for the team as a starter, there isn’t a lot to get excited about.
Currently, Jones has an average draft position (ADP) as the RB22 in re-draft leagues, which would make him a low-end RB2 in 12-team leagues.
This seems almost reminiscent of the days where Montee Ball (Broncos, 2014) and Bishop Sankey (Titans, 2014) were treated as top running backs because of their inherited starting roles. Ball was being talked up as a potential RB1 while Sankey was mentioned as a solid RB2 despite neither really proving prior that they would live up to the hype. Ball would finish as the 90th best running back in 2014 and Sankey would be the 43rd best, respectively. Matt Jones is somehow getting the same treatment as an RB2 despite being on a team that finished with 3.7 yards per carry in 2015. Not to mention, Jones had five fumbles in 163 touches (143 rush, 19 receiving) and averaged 3.4 yards per carry. Plus, the team is gearing towards being a more pass-heavy offense with Kirk Cousins throwing to DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, Jordan Reed and new rookie Josh Doctson.
6. Blake Bortles
Blake Bortles definitely had a breakout season in 2015, finishing as the 4th best quarterback a year ago. He threw for career highs in passing yards, touchdowns and yes, interceptions. Bortles was 7th in the NFL in passing yards, tied for 2nd in passing touchdowns, but was also 1st in interceptions, 1st in sacks and 31st in completion percentage (of 34 qualified).
On the surface, Bortles had a great season with his passing yards and touchdowns totals. But when you delve deeper, his interceptions, sacks and completion percentage is scary.
Bortles does have some great targets in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas, but the team wants to strengthen their rushing attack in 2016, which was why they brought in veteran running back Chris Ivory. Not to mention, the Jaguars made some terrific improvements on defense with the free agent acquisitions of Malik Jackson and Prince Amukamara, along with drafting Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. The Jags look to be ready to run the ball more in 2016 (after finishing tied for 30th in rushing attempts in 2015) with an improved defense taking pressure off the offense as a whole. Remember, much of the passing yards and fantasy magic from Bortles last season came late in games, aka “garbage time”.
Bortles is due for some regression in 2016 and with his ADP being the 6th quarterback taken, I’m not going anywhere near him in 2016. Check out Jody Smith’s 5 Most Undervalued Fantasy Quarterbacks for 2016. Here’s a big hint, Bortles didn’t make the cut
5. Jonathan Stewart
Running Back (Panthers)
Stewart is coming off a nice season where he accumulated over 1,000 total yards and seven total touchdowns. Obviously, being the starting RB on the Panthers- who had the most rushing attempts in the NFL in 2015 (526)- helped his cause. But (yes, there is a but), Jonathan Stewart is turning 29-years-old and has missed 23 games in the past four seasons, including three in both 2014 and 2015. Think I’m grasping at straws? Well, the Charlotte Observer reported last month that Stewart was still dealing with soreness in his foot that he injured in the Super Bowl- a game that took place four months ago!
The Panthers did not add any real running back depth in the draft or free agency besides Devon Johnson (Marshall) as an un-drafted free agent. While that is re-assuring, the team has young running back Cameron Artis-Payne coming into his sophomore season along with bruiser Mike Tolbert and veteran Fozzy Whitaker still in the mix. Plus, with the Panthers getting back Kelvin Benjamin to go with Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn and Greg Olsen as the core pass-catchers. Stewart is a huge injury risk and along with his age, I wouldn’t go near Stewart as anything but an RB 4 or RB5 for 2016.
For what it’s worth, Stewart’s ADP is the 32nd running back right now (low-end RB3 in 12-team leagues).
- Check out where we have Jonathan Stewart in our 2016 Running Back Rankings
4. Jordan Matthews
Wide Receiver (Eagles)[the_ad id=”58837″]The tale of two wide receivers: Jordan Matthews was the 47th best wide receiver from Weeks 1 through 8 (in standard scoring) and then was the 9th best wide receiver from Weeks 9 through 17. Matthews definitely finished off the 2015 season right and rewarded the fantasy owners that drafted him as a high-end WR2 on average in 2015 (13th overall wide receiver taken, per 2015 ADP). Part of this turn-around can be attributed to Sam Bradford’s well-improved play in 2nd half of the 2015 season. The other part is probably because of Chip Kelly’s fast-tempo offense as well.
But now that Chip Kelly is gone, Matthews’ fantasy football stock for 2016 and beyond takes a big hit as new head coach Doug Pederson strolls in. Chip Kelly’s 2015 Eagles ran the most plays from scrimmage in the NFL (1,148) while Pederson’s Chiefs ran the 13th most plays from scrimmage (1,037). Also, the Eagles were tied for 6th with the most passing attempts in 2015 (623) while the Chiefs tied for 29th most (473). The team will not run as many plays and will throw the ball less in 2016 under a new regime. Not to mention that Matthews unsuccessfully tried playing outside in OTAs (organized team activities) and failed. Currently being drafted as a low-end WR2 (22nd wide receiver taken), there is no way I’m going near Matthews in 2016.
- Not everyone agrees with me, that’s cool, check out: JMAT Fantasy 2016: Undervalued From the Slot
3. Travis Kelce
Tight End (Chiefs)
Fresh off a new five-year $46 million dollar contract extension signed at the end of the 2015 season, Kelce will be entering his third full year in the league (sat out 2013 after suffering major knee injury) and will look to continue improving after finishing as the eighth best tight end in fantasy football last season.So far so good, but despite being the third best tight end in first half of the 2015 season (Weeks 1 through 8) Travis Kelce was the 15th best tight end in the second half of the season (Weeks 9 through 17).
From Weeks 1 though 8, Kelce had five games with 50+ receiving yards, But only had two such games in the season’s second half. Furthermore, outside of his Week 1 game (6/106/2), Kelce had only three touchdowns over the next 15 games, or one every five games on average. Per NFLSavant.com, Kelce had 13 red-zone targets in 2015, which was only good for 13th best in 2015 out of all tight ends. Kelce also had the 9th most targets of all tight ends in 2015. Despite all of this and being in a very limited passing offense run by Andy Reid, Kelce’s ADP is the 4th tight end taken overall. In an offense that tied for the 29th most passing attempts in 2015 and with Jamaal Charles returning, I can’t go near Kelce in 2016 especially with his outrageous price tag.
2. Coby Fleener
Tight End (Saints)
Coby Fleener has a lot of hype going into the 2016 season. He signed a five-year $36 million dollar contract with the Saints back in March after spending his first four years in Indianapolis with the Colts. Fleener has received a lot of praise from teammates, coaching staff and beat writers from when OTAs and mini-camp took place last month. But it may be too much hype for Fleener, as he hasn’t really done much on the field to warrant the praise. Fleener did have a solid 2014 season (51/774/8), but has just nine touchdowns in his other three seasons combined. Also, outside of 2014, Fleener has a 31.36 yards per game average from his 44 games in 2012, 2013 and 2015 (1,380 yards in 44 games).
The Saints 2015 starting tight end, Benjamin Watson, is now with the Ravens after signing with Baltimore in the off-season. He had a terrific season in 2015 as the 7th highest scoring tight end in standard leagues. Watson tapered off in the second half last season, with the 12th most points of all tight ends in comparison to the 6th most points in the first half of the season. Fleener steps into his shoes and hopes to replace his production.
Even though the Saints attempted the most passes in 2015 of any team, Fleener will fight for targets with Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Mark Ingram and even rookie Michael Thomas and back-up tight end Josh Hill (who had the 15th most red zone targets in 2015 with 11 despite being a back-up). Fleener’s ADP right now has him being taken as the 6th overall tight end, ahead of players like Delanie Walker and Gary Barnidge. There is no way I pay that kind of price for Fleener in 2016.
- Suggested Read: Fantasy Draft Tips: The Three Tight End Technique
1. Larry Fitzgerald
Wide Receiver (Cardinals)
In reverse of the other wide receiver on this list, Larry Fitzgerald finished as the 3rd best wide receiver (in standard scoring) in the season’s first half, but then was the 35th best wide receiver from Weeks 9 through 17. Noticeably, Carson Palmer had a similar fate (QB3 in the first half, QB14 during the second half). The potential factor? David Johnson’s emergence.
After Chris Johnson broke his leg in week 12, David Johnson (from Weeks 13 to 17) was the top running back in both standard and PPR (points per reception) leagues. Now with David Johnson expected to be the lead back in Arizona in 2016, Fitzgerald may not be able to replicate anything close to his 109/1,215/9 stat-line in 2015 and will also be fighting for targets with emerging wide receiver studs John Brown and Michael Floyd. Not to mention, Fitz is also fighting father timeb(will be 33 before Week 1). While Fitzgerald is actually being drafted as a high-end WR4 (37th wide receiver taken) right now, I expect his ADP to rise once we get into training camp. I still will want no part of Fitzgerald in 2016.
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Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL