Final Countdown: The Biggest Fantasy Football BUSTS Of 2019
You have waded through all the articles and research. You read The Perfect Draft for your draft selection, you printed out your customizable cheat sheet using the best projections and rankings in the fantasy football industry and you are ready to absolutely crush your league using the ULTIMATE Guide To Win Your League in 2019. One of the things we have tried to impart to subscribers on RotoExperts this season is that even more so than finding the perfect breakout players, avoiding bad process players creates the strongest roster. These fantasy football busts are all indicative of guys who project poorly for very obvious, mathematically based reasons.
Of course, every player in fantasy football in 2019 has a price. If Derrick Henry is languishing in the sixth or seventh round, I could feel incentivized to take him just because the price is so cheap relative to the market. However, keeping dust buckets who are too good to cut but too bad to start is maybe the worst spot you could put your roster in. These are fantasy football busts for a reason!
Fantasy Football Busts In 2019
Quarterback Fantasy Football Busts
Drew Brees: It pains me to say this about one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, but for fantasy football, you can do much better than Drew Brees in 2019. The last three seasons, Brees’ pass attempts have declined precipitously to the point of throwing only 489 passes last year. While he maintained stellar efficiency and marched his team to the NFC Championship, the identity of the Saints has clearly flipped over the last two seasons and the signing of Latavius Murray signals more of the same. Going back to even 2017, the team was shifting to a ball control, run the ball style offense.
So why would you take Drew Brees? His passing projections make him look similar to Ben Roethlisberger who goes two rounds later in drafts and he doesn’t have the ceiling of Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray or the now semi-injured Cam Newton. Leave Drew Brees for the less savvy owners in your leagues unless he falls after all of the high-upside rushing quarterbacks and can be had for free.
Russell Wilson: Russell Wilson has finished as a top 12 fantasy quarterback every season of his career but it is unlikely that he hits that mark in 2019. Wilson had the lowest rushing attempt total of his career in 2018 with only 67 rushing attempts in 16 games. Compare that to his best fantasy season, 2017, where he ran the ball 95 times for 586 yards. With the Seahawks hiring Brian Schottenheimer and transitioning to the leagues run heaviest offense, Wilson basically has to be the most efficient QB in football to be viable in fantasy.
In 2018, 8.2% of Russell Wilson’s passing attempts went for touchdowns. League average for that number is closer to 5.1%. Wilson’s previous career-high touchdown percentage as 7% in 2015. His career average is 6%. All of this is a long way of saying Wilson is unlikely to throw 35 touchdowns on only 427 passing attempts in 2019. With no fundamental changes in the way the organization is approaching this upcoming season, the most likely outcome is that Wilson significantly underperforms his ADP.
Running Back Fantasy Football Busts
Le’Veon Bell: There are many reasons why Bell will both be a fantasy football bust and why you could convince yourself that he is a first-round fantasy football draft pick. We at RotoExperts, lean more towards the side that there is so much uncertainty in projecting Bell that it is hard to value him as highly as he is drafted. Bell has not played football since 2017, is changing teams for the first time in his career, playing with a worse quarterback/overall offense than his years in Pittsburgh and there are massive pace concerns as well. The Adam Gase Dolphins ran some of the slowest offenses in modern NFL history, including running the fewest amount of total plays in 2018.
Of course, Sam Darnold could take a massive step as one of the next best young QB’s and nullify a lot of these concerns, but not all of them. The team has also seemingly fallen in love with Ty Montgomery and there has been talk of them forming a “one-two” punch where Bell is the thunder to Montgomery’s lightning. That would be a legit disaster for fantasy football drafters taking Bell in the first round.
James White/Tarik Cohen: This is more a point about these types of running backs than it is White and Cohen. White and Cohen certainly COULD have very good fantasy seasons. Josh Gordon could get suspended again, Julian Edelman could be over the hill and White might end up with over 100 targets again. However, drafting satellite backs in the mid-rounds when players like Duke Johnson, Giovani Bernard, Jalen Richard, and even Chris Thompson have very equivalent target projections does not make a ton of heuristic sense if your heuristic is that at running back, more touches equals more profit.
The issue with drafting White and Cohen is that you are essentially drafting them at their ceiling production. White is not going to earn more carries over Sony Michel and the Bears added not one but two extra running backs to the fold this offseason. The Bears have already openly spoke about scaling Cohen’s touches back in 2019 and the Patriots drafted yet another multi-dimensional running back in Damien Harris this offseason. The likelihood of White or Cohen providing profit at their current ADP in the fifth/sixth rounds of drafts is low enough that they can easily be classified as fantasy football busts in 2019.
Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Busts
Dante Pettis: In one of my most popular tweets of the offseason, I outlined the reasons why I am wildly skeptical about Pettis being a top-100 player in 2019.
-Had only 45 targets as a rookie
-His team drafted 2 players at his position & signed vet Jordan Matthews
-Is drawing 100% dead to be top target of his team
-Relied on YAC for fantasy points
and is somehow a top-100 pick in fantasy?https://t.co/P9lMefK2MP
— Davis Mattek (@DavisMattek) August 16, 2019
Simply put, it is hard to imagine Pettis getting enough volume in the San Francisco 49ers offense to justify being drafted over some of the other high-octane options next to him in ADP. Even if Pettis wins the job as the top wide receiver in targets for the 49ers, he will not out target George Kittle. He also is going to be competing for targets with the running backs (Tevin Coleman and Matt Brieda). Our target expectation has Dante Pettis as the most targeted wide receiver on the 49ers roster but still not worthy of his current ADP.
None of this is to mention the fact that a breakout season from Deebo Samuel or Jalen Hurd would be a disaster for Pettis’ redraft fantasy value, as would any sort of cratering in Pettis’ per target efficiency (10.4 yards per target) would essentially make an uber-replaceable fantasy WR4. That is not the sort of player you should be investing top 100 fantasy football picks in. The combination of volume questions, stiff competition at his position and the negative coach speak surrounding Pettis make him a clear fantasy football busts candidate.
Jarvis Landry: For his entire career, Jarvis Landry has been one of the most volume reliant players in fantasy football. Landry averaged over 7.0 yards per target only once in his career (2016) and saw his catch rate and production crater last year when his average depth of target increased. Landry had been above a 66% catch rate for his entire career but plummeted to 54.4% last year when the Browns asked him to play a real WR1 role that ended with 6.6 yards per target.
This season, he will no longer come close to being the WR1 on his team for the first time. The Browns added Odell Beckham Jr., Landry’s college teammate, to the mix. We have Odell projected for a top-five target share (and total targets) of any player in the NFL. By giving Landry close to his career norms in yards per target, catch rate and touchdown rate, you are again looking at a fairly replacement-level player. If Odell were to get injured or the Browns were to have no development amongst their secondary pass-catchers (Njoku, Higgins, Callaway, even Nick Chubb) it is possible that Landry might again see between 120 or 140 targets but his median expectation is much worse than that.
Tight End Fantasy Football Busts
Vance McDonald: Quick! Name the last age-29 breakout you can remember at the tight end position! That is the situation that drafters are putting Vance McDonald in by selecting him in the top 80 picks of fantasy football drafters. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner recently re-iterated that “Vance McDonald is never going to play the full game” which is what some assumed when Jesse James left the team in free agency to join the Detriot Lions.
McDonald does have a very intriguing ceiling to me if James Washington, Donte Moncrief, Eli Rogers, Jaylen Samuels, and Ryan Switzer all prove to be significantly worse with Antonio Brown out of town. There is a volume vacuum that I believe McDonald (career 7.8 yards/target) is capable of filling but it is clear the coaching staff responsible for doling out targets and playing time does not exactly feel the same way. Take into account the fact that McDonald is already dealing with minor injuries and you have the profile of what a bust at the tight end position looks like.
Eric Ebron: There is almost a perfect storm that is going to contribute to those drafting Eric Ebron being disappointed. Andrew Luck has put in only four practices in the entire offseason and is still fighting through some sort of nebulous lower-body injury that Colts are unwilling to be forthcoming about, while at the same time, Jack Doyle is showing no ill effects from his offseason surgery. In games that Doyle and Ebron were both active for last season, Doyle played more snaps and had more targets than Ebron.
The fact is that Ebron is still an effective touchdown weapon but the Colts added Devin Funchess who runs a similar route tree to Ebron in the offseason and will be replacing the Chester Rogers/Zach Pascal/Dontrelle Inman grouping with Parris Campbell/Funchess. Being markedly better at pass catcher while Doyle is back to steal snaps and targets and potentially not having Andrew Luck throwing him passes is a very clear explanation to how Eric Ebron is going to fall back to the pack at tight end.