Monday I gave you 10 early sleepers so I figured it was only right to write a list of 10 early busts. Plus this comes will a much shorter introduction. Who says no!?
Now I use the word “bust” simply because that’s the word circulating in everyday fantasy use that’s the opposite of “sleeper”, but most of the names on this list aren’t going to be busts in the Todd Gurley sense of the word. This is a list comprised more of players at the step before busts, like, “get ready for a letdown” type players; guys who might not live up to their production last season and current ADP and/or hype.
Maybe if I feel daring I’ll predict one player to have a Todd Gurley-esque collapse this year.
QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Let’s start the list with a guy no one seems hot on. Back in March, I wrote a piece on Newton’s fantasy value and how it’s more or less tied to his rushing ability. With Ron Rivera stating that the Panthers are planning on using Newton less of a runner, it only makes sense that his fantasy value has been in a steady nose dive. The Panthers have added some weapons around Cam in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel but unless Cam takes a big step forward in the quarterbacking department, I don’t see him being as relevant this year as in years past.
HB DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
To be perfectly honest, I’m amazed that the season Murray put together last year after the awfulness that was his 2015 season with the Eagles. He came about as close to a full Cowboys return as anyone could have expected. However, Murray is sadly fighting two different forces to remain fantasy relevant in 2017: Father Time and Derrick Henry. Murray was the clear starting back in Tennessee last year but Henry certainly showed flashes and you can bet that the Titans will want to start making the move to a younger backfield. Plus now Marcus Mariota has Corey Davis to throw to which he will do over 100 times this season (mark my words).
WR Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots
I’m telling you, there’s only one person that you can rely on in New England to give you consistent fantasy production and his name is Tom Brady. Everyone else, they might be great, they might also rip your heart out and stomp all over it. There has been plenty of buzz surrounding Cooks now that he’s joined the Patriots but I’m still unsure exactly how he’ll be used in the Patriots offense and what his level of production will be. If he becomes Brady’s go-to-guy and replaces Julian Edelman, sign me up. But if he’s only good for three to four looks down the field, then I might pass.
HB Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings
Another Murray who is in line for what could be a disappointing 2017 fantasy campaign. Last year Murray’s fantasy relevance came almost entirely from his usage on the goal line and ability to punch short runs for touchdowns. That role still might be his in Minnesota but there’s a big obstacle in his way: the offensive line. Well, and Dalvin Cook. So two big obstacles in his way. The Vikings’ offensive line is nowhere near as good as the Raiders and Murray’s ability to score touchdowns could take a big hit because of that. Since Murray doesn’t really offer that much else from a fantasy perspective, and is now sharing a backfield with a more talented rookie, I’m watching his value get flushed down the toilet right now live.
WR Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
Hill broke out onto the real and fantasy football scene in a big way last year. He came out of nowhere to put up 593 yards and 6 touchdowns through the air and 267 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. However, with a year for defenses to gameplan against Hill, does that remove some of his explosiveness and game wrecking ability? Also, don’t let Andy Reid saying he wants to double Hill’s snap count goat you into drafting him way, way too high. Just because Hill will be on the field more often doesn’t mean this level of production will just naturally double. Let’s not forget, he still has Alex Smith throwing him the football.
QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Prescott is definitely one the aforementioned “not busts, just players who might not be as good as they were last year” guys. Prescott’s rookie season was legendary and his fantasy stats back that up. He was 6th overall among quarterbacks in total scoring and 10th in average fantasy points per game. I’m not saying that Prescott is in for serious sophomore slump—though that is a thing (did I mention Todd Gurley?)—but I wouldn’t expect the same level of success from him now that defenses have a year to prepare for him and adjust.
HB LeGarrette Blount, FA
Obviously if Blount doesn’t find a team to play with in 2017, his fantasy value will be quite literally zero. Even if Blount does land with a team—I’ve heard anyone from the Ravens to the Giants—he won’t be producing 18 touchdowns like he did last year. Much like Latavius Murray, Blount’s fantasy value last year was directly tied to his 18 touchdowns. Without those, he’s nowhere near a top 10 fantasy back. I do like him on the Ravens for the record as the Ravens don’t have a clear lead back. Same with the Giants. But we saw how well Blount works on a team not called the Patriots before. It’s not great.
Editor's note: This was written before the Patriots signed Blount to a very rare tender. Basically Blount is still a free agent, unless he doesn’t sign with a team by July 22nd. Then he can only sign with the Patriots. None of this helps his fantasy stock.
WR DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Stop me if you’ve heard me talk about the Buccaneers in fantasy before. Their offense is shaping up to be one of the most explosive on paper and has the potential to be a big time fantasy producer. But don’t let that inflate your opinion on Jackson. Moving to Buccaneers has not increased Jackson’s fantasy value and in fact has lessened it a bit. In Washington, Jackson was the number one option—number 1b on those rare games when Jordan Reed was healthy—while in Tampa, he’ll be the clear number 2 behind Mike Evans. His addition is amazing for Jameis Winston fans, but his personal value has not skyrocketed because of the change of scenery.
TE Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Injuries. That’s the only reason that I’m not sold on Gronk. If he can stay healthy through the entire year, he’s the best tight end ever in fantasy. If he can’t, he’s the best tight end ever in fantasy for five weeks and you’ve wasted a high pick on him.
HB Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
Here’s my pick for a player who’ll come crashing down to Earth and won’t be on half the rosters that draft him come Week 6. Yea, I’m going there. Howard had a terrific rookie season and finished a top 10 back in fantasy scoring. However, the Bears then failed to do anything else during the offseason to make this offense better. So how will defenses play the Bears in 2017? Just put nine in the box and dare Mike Glennon/Mitchell Trubisky to throw the ball to... Cameron Meredith, whatever injury that’s sure to claim Kevin White and Kendall Wright. Sorry Bears and Jordan Howard fans, he’s in for a rough season.
Which player are you avoiding?
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