A breakout player can give your roster a boost, and sleeper prospects off the waiver wire can save your fantasy football season, but drafting a bust can sink your season before it even begins.
Here’s a look at five bust candidates at wide receiver this year that fantasy managers should consider avoiding at their current average draft positions.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett’s going 88th overall in fantasy drafts this summer. That is a considerable dip after he ranked 44th in scoring last year, but the dip is warranted. Even in a down season in which he missed three games with an injury, ex-Hawks quarterback Russell Wilson had an average of 9.9 intended air yards per pass last season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. That ranked first in the league. For comparison, most of Geno Smith’s pass attempts are closer to the line of scrimmage, and while Drew Lock does like to throw deep, he threw just 16 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions when he was a 13-game starter in 2020. Lockett’s QBs will derail his fantasy outlook.
Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns
Cooper’s going 57th overall in fantasy drafts this offseason after finishing 70th in scoring last year. Even after becoming the new No. 1 receiver in Cleveland, Cooper’s stock shouldn’t be that high. Deshaun Watson will miss the first 11 games of the season, and even when he Watson does return, he’ll need some time to get on the same page with his WRs. Cooper might have some strong performances late in the year, but the Browns are still set to feature a run-heavy offense this season, and Cooper will be playing with Jacoby Brissett for more than half the year.
D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
Yeah, you want to avoid Seahawks wide receivers this season. Metcalf had a solid 75/967/12 stat line last season, finishing 39th in scoring. He and Lockett combined to catch 20 touchdown passes, and those TDs were big factors in their fantasy production. Fantasy managers shouldn’t expect the same kind of scoring through the air this season. Wilson had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2021 and he still threw 25 TDs in 14 games. For comparison, Geno Smith’s career-best was 13 TDs back in 2014. Even if he showed some improvement this year, Smith’s not going to come close to Wilson’s passing numbers. And if Drew Lock wins the job, his turnovers will hurt Seattle’s chances of scoring. Metcalf is going too high at 47th overall.
Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers
Similar to the Seahawks, the Steelers have a troubling quarterback situation for fantasy managers. Mitchell Trubisky’s best season came in 2018 when he totaled 3,223 passing yards with 24 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. Meanwhile, Kenny Pickett has looked sharp in preseason, but he’s still an unproven rookie. Pittsburgh’s offense will likely lean on running back Najee Harris. And when they do pass, Johnson’s competition for targets will include Chase Claypool and promising rookie George Pickens. Johnson’s probably being drafted too early at 40th overall.
Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
OK, to be clear, in a PPR league, you’re probably not going to regret drafting Kupp with your first-round pick. But some managers are drafting Kupp first overall, expecting a repeat of his 2021 performance. Kupp is probably going to have a good season, but receivers rarely post back-to-back career years, and he’s unlikely to approach 2,000 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in 2022. Before last season, Kupp had six or fewer TDs in three of his first four seasons. Granted, that was before Matthew Stafford joined the Rams, but Kupp’s TD total seems almost certain to decline this fall.
Again, he’s not a bust as a first-round pick, but he’ll be a bust to fantasy managers hoping for Kupp’s numbers from last season.