Updated: Thursday, July 19, at 12:50 p.m. EDT
Avoiding dangerous pitfalls in fantasy football is virtually as important as finding the hidden gems. Suggesting someone is “overvalued” means gamers can find similar results from a later selection, or the standards have been set too high based on Average Draft Position data (ADP).
The dreaded “bust” label invokes the thought of a player being completely useless, but it can also cover when a first-rounder drastically disappoints. Missing by a round or two even slightly so early can be a costly mistake without making up ground later in a draft.
All ADP data is based on 12-team, PPR scoring
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: Overvalued (ADP: 5:12)
Wilson could be in for major regression. The Seahawks are improved along the offensive line, which certainly helps his cause, but the emphasis will be more running. It’s no secret the ground game will see more action with Rashaad Penny being selected in Round 1. Chris Carson has looked brilliant this offseason, too. Most important of all, tight end Jimmy Graham is no longer a Seahawk, and the front office did nothing of note to immediately replace him. Forgive my skepticism when it comes to Brandon Marshall contributing anything meaningful, Tyler Lockett is flimsy, and Paul Richardson is now a Washington Redskin. Doug Baldwin has been a quality wideout the past three seasons, yet he cannot do it all alone. Wilson led the NFL in touchdown passes a year ago and may not be asked to do nearly as much this go around. This could play out as a scenario where gamers overpay for past production via inflated expectations.
NEW – Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Bust (ADP: 6:10)
Preface: Newton has a definitive “bust factor” about him, which isn’t to say he automatically will be awful, but there are enough factors working against him to make it entirely possible. The Panthers brought in Norv Turner to lead the offense, and his vertical game requires deep drops in the pocket behind a weakened offensive line. Newton already takes too many hits. The system is complex and requires time to master. Newton’s ultimate separator is his ability to rack up rushing TDs. How willing will the Panthers be to continually allow a 29-year-old Newton to take the lead on the goal line? Newton hasn’t completed better than 60 percent of his throws in any the the past four seasons, and he has not topped the almost routine 4k yardage mark since his rookie season. With only one year of more than 24 passing TDs to his credit, Newton requires his legs to create starter-worthy points.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys: Bust (ADP: 1:03)
Just like with Cam Newton, Elliott has many red flags that trend his stock th wrong direction. Zeke is a fine example of how a player can be a bust in an unconventional sense. He is going, on average, No. 3 overall, which suggests gamers expect an elite performance to return on investment. For argument’s sake, let us pretend Elliott struggles to deliver and finishes with RB2 stats — roughly 1,100 total yards and fewer than 10 offensive touchdowns. Such a performance would require owners to cover the difference in effective value elsewhere. It certainly is doable, but when spending a top-three pick, do you really want to require a midrounder to pick up some slack? At any rate, the main thought process here is the Cowboys have little to work with in the receiving corps to keep defenses honest, and the offensive like could take a small step backward. Furthermore, the blocking lost with Jason Witten’s retirement will be missed. The silver lining with Elliott is raw talent. He’s a gifted player who can post quality numbers, but it might not be pretty.
NEW – Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns: Bust (ADP: 8:09)
Try to find a way without several injuries where Johnson comes close to his 2017 numbers. We’ll wait. … He saw a wide receiver-like 93 targets for 74 catches a year ago, and he has at least 74 looks in each of his three seasons. The biggest boost to his 2017 value was an unforeseen four touchdowns on the ground. That isn’t happening again. He scored one rushing TD in his 177 attempts prior to that year. Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon are going to steal far too many targets to keep alive the only thing regularly making Johnson fantasy-viable. Where will he find consistent rushing attempts (82 last year) behind two capable backs? All told, Johnson likely means more to the real version of the Browns than he will to any of our fake teams in ’18.
C.J. Anderson, Carolina Panthers: Bust (ADP: 8:08)
Some drafters may be encouraged by Anderson’s 1,007-yard season in 2017 with the Denver Broncos, though the bigger takeaway may be he started all 16 games for the first time in his career. While he isn’t a dangerous receiving threat, most any hope of him contributing in this are is removed by Christian McCaffrey’s presence. The Panthers lost All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell in free agency, and additions in the passing game suggest a strong desire to open up the offense. Cam Newton is always a TD vulture. CJA will need to be more explosive than last year’s 4.1 yards-per-tote average and find the end zone with greater frequency (once every 82 attempts last year) to be better than a roster-filler for fantasy.
NEW – Doug Martin, Oakland Raiders: Bust (ADP: 11:04)
There really isn’t any incentive to take a chance, even as late as his ADP, on the former Buccaneer. Marshawn Lynch may be nearly three years older, but he looks infinitely younger on the field. Martin has averaged a pathetic 2.9 yards per carry over his last 19 games, and he has just two relevant seasons in his entire career. At 29 years old, coupled with injury history and a crowded backfield, there simply is no upside. Anyone expecting another monster season — or, frankly, anything remotely close — is living in the past.
NEW – David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals: Overvalued (ADP: 1:04)
After missing all but one game last year, the 2016 fantasy MVP returns to a new offensive system that features either a fragile journeyman or a rookie. The receiving corps could struggle mightily, which will allow defenses to crowd the box. Johnson, if we’re being objective, is the current definition of a one-year wonder. We simply do not know if he will ever be more than just a dude at this point. While he was so dynamic in ’16 that this notion is seemingly unfathomable, it deserves consideration. Besides, after such a good year, the odds of him coming close are extremely low. That truly was a career year for the overwhelming majority of RBs. Unfortunately, if an owner wants to find out for themselves if he is indeed special, Johnson drafters will be required to invest heavily.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals: Overvalued (ADP: 2:12)
There’s little question about Mixon’s potential, and while he definitely was overvalued as a rookie, it’s not so obvious this time around. His ADP should make him an RB2 for many gamers, which in and of itself is not a reach, but he’ll also be some teams’ No. 1. The fear is Cincinnati’s offensive line has been drastically reworked, including a rookie center and two new starting bookends. Giovani Bernard is paid far too handsomely to sit idly by and watch. Mixon should be good but won’t be great, so this is more of a “temper your expectations” warning than an outright plea to avoid him. In all likelihood, gamers will be able to find similar production a few rounds later.
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants: Bust (ADP: 1:11)
This one is in the same vein as the Ezekiel Elliott inclusion: Beckham has to be special in 2018 to live up to a No. 11 overall placement. Coming off a season-ending injury, he returns to New York with a contract dispute looming and a new coaching staff. While a talent of OBJ’s caliber can adjust to most any system, it is a new offense nonetheless. Eli Manning is 37 years old and has visibly regressed the past two years. To help offset this, New York’s second overall selection in April’s draft was spent on running back Saquon Barkley, whose all-around contributions will take plays away from Beckham. Second-year tight end Evan Engram will do the same, and Sterling Shepard is capable of being more than just a piece to the puzzle. Beckham isn’t a lock for elite production.
Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears: Bust (ADP: 4:05)
Even though Week 1 will mark a full year since Robinson’s ACL tear, he’s still coming back from knee reconstruction — never an easy task. Following a breakout 2015 effort, A-Rob basically disappeared in ’16. It wasn’t entirely his fault, though ignoring only two 100-yard games and no TDs over the final six weeks is difficult. He will catch passes from second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in a new offense with a freshman coach. This system relies on ground production and short-area passing, this system could rely heavily on passing to backs and tight ends. Historically, the Windy City hasn’t fostered many stud fantasy receivers, with Alshon Jeffery in 2014 being the last 1,000-yarder for the Bears, and no quarterback has thrown for 4,000 yards in team history. Robinson is hardly a sure bet to produce like a third-rounder. Or even a sixth-rounder.
D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers: Bust (ADP: 9:11)
Over the long trajectory of a rookie contract or even career, Moore should be anything but a fantasy disappointment. However, he must learn an NFL offense and live up to first-round expectations for a team reliant on controlling the clock. Even though this coaching staff wants to open it up, Cam Newton displays limitations as a passer and has two safety blankets in Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey to gobble up looks. Moore is an intermediate weapon whose ability to shake defenders will be his biggest asset in development. Moore isn’t without value, though it could take longer than many gamers can afford to wait before he returns meaningfully on investment.
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos: Bust (ADP: 13:10)
This one will be brief: Sutton needs an injury to Demaryius Thomas and/or Emmanuel Sanders to see enough looks to matter. He won’t live up to even a 13th-round ADP without significant help, and all of this is assuming Case Keenum wasn’t a one-year wonder. Don’t waste a pick in single-year formats.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions: Bust (ADP: 13:05)
Golladay has a fine chance at eventually being a quality fantasy contributor, but just how does he get there in 2018 to live up to anything earlier than a late flier. Per the ADP data, gamers have taken him as early as Round 7. The Lions retained Jim Bob Cooter as the offensive coordinator, Eric Ebron is out, and the offensive line was improved. Checks for Golladay’s case. However, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones also return. So does Theo Riddick. Not good. Finding consistent targets to provide Golladay enough action to deserve regular fantasy utility is unlikely. Don’t get caught up in his potential and 2017 hype.
NEW – Will Fuller, Houston Texans: Overvalued (ADP: 6:10)
Injuries are always a concern with Fuller. On one hand, playing opposite DeAndre Hopkins clearly helps Fuller by opening up single coverage. On the other, he’ll never see the bulk of the looks and is overly dependent on scoring touchdowns. In 2017, he scored seven times in a span of just four games — consecutively, mind you. The prior season, Fuller’s two TDs came in a four-game span. Think of it this way, he was explosive in six of his 24 career games and added a single 100-yard game in the remaining contest … good luck trying to put that into a weekly lineup. Given his low volume of looks and, subsequently, receptions, Fuller is suited only for non-PPR systems.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns: Bust (ADP: 13:03)
Maybe disappointment is more apt. He shouldn’t be a total disaster, but gamers looking for a plug-n-play starter are considering the wrong player. Njoku profiles as a matchup play and will have to battle a bevy of mouths to feed in this offense. Jarvis Landry should hog most off the intermediate looks, and Josh Gordon figures to see his share all over the field. Corey Coleman has the wheels to be a primary deep threat, and three capable running backs will make their cases for touches, especially Duke Johnson on third down. Njoku is crazy talented, yet it may prove difficult for him to find regular looks. Expect similar stats to last year: low volume, high TD efficiency, and don’t be the person taking a flier on him in Round 8, as we’ve seen in recent drafts.
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers: Overvalued (ADP: 5:04)
This one is tricky. Some gamers will overrate him, as evidenced by a ridiculous high selection of 28th overall. Anything later than his ADP is perfectly fine, as long as one understands what they’re drafting. Entering his age-32 season, Graham, two years removed from a catastrophic knee injury, has flashed some of what had made him one of the most dangerous weapons in fantasy. He remains a scoring threat, which should keep his fantasy value afloat, but expectations have to be restricted. His days of 80-plus grabs are gone. Joe Philbin returns to Title Town to command the offense. Historically, tight ends have been involved but hardly were the focal point of his designs. Given the weaponry Green Bay fields, Graham could outright disappear several weeks. Don’t automatically assume because of Aaron Rodgers that Graham will return to his elite ways some four-plus seasons ago.