While the Zero-RB Theory reached fidget-spinner levels of popularity last season, the wide receiver busts were arguably the biggest takeaway.
After the dreaded running back bust brigade of 2015, the wide receivers of the NFL collectively said, “Hold my beer!” The Top 3 players by Average Draft Position (ADP) performed up to their standard, but after that, it was a mess.
The next four guys by ADP were all wide receiver busts by some degree, whether it was injuries, bad quarterback play or their own disappointing production. Overall, seven of the first 13 receivers off the board would be considered wide receiver busts.
You don’t believe me? Well, you obviously did not draft A.J. Green, Allen Robinson, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, DeAndre Hopkins, Dez Bryant or Keenan Allen. All of those guys went in the first 24 picks in most drafts. NONE of them finished there at the end of the season.
How to Spot the Wide Receiver Busts
The injuries were fluky and they are impossible to predict. Green, Jeffery, Dez and Allen all had different ailments hold their production. However, all four do have an injury history at this point, as this was not the first time each has missed significant time.
Keenan Allen, in particular, is a curious case. In his four season career, he has now missed 26 games, with three season-ending injuries. Dez Bryant has now missed 10 games over the past two seasons and is inching closer to 30 years old. A.J. Green has missed nine games over three seasons, which is not terrible but is certainly a red flag as he is getting older as well. Jeffery has missed 11 games over the past couple of seasons.
What I am getting at is that injury history is a factor. Compared to someone like Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham, each of whom has played in 40-plus straight games.
The other key reason for the wide receiver busts is terrible quarterback play. Robinson, Marshall and Hopkins had some of the worst signal callers in the league throwing them the ball last season. Bad quarterback play can make a sleeper as well as a bust. If you are drafting a guy in the double-digit rounds and he overcomes bad QB-play to be a fringe WR2/3, then it’s a great value! When you take Hopkins or Robinson in Round 1 and they end up at the same spot? That’s where you see wide receiver busts.
If you are drafting a guy in the double-digit rounds and he overcomes bad QB-play to be a fringe WR2/3, then it’s a great value! When you take Hopkins or Robinson in Round 1 and they end up at the same spot? That’s where you see wide receiver busts.
So let’s keep these key factors in mind as we identify some wide receiver busts for the 2017 Fantasy Football Season. I am focusing on players currently being drafted in the Top 24 at the position. I am also not saying these players will fall off the face of the Fantasy Earth. It is more that I am predicting that they will not come close to their ADP cost. The ADP data is up to date from Fantasy Pros as of July 27th.
2017 Wide Receiver Busts
Too. Many. Mouths. Between Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, James White, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Malcolm Mitchell … and that guy Rob Gronkowski, there are just too many options in New England.
Over the past five seasons, the Patriots have not had more than one player with over 1,000 yards receiving. Tom Brady just spreads the ball out too much. Hell, only twice in that time frame have they had two guys with 100-plus targets.
Look at it this way: Cooks is leaving the best year-to-year passing offense in NFL history. In that offense, he finished 10th in scoring at the position, with less competition for targets. Can he repeat that level of success with a team that throws less and has twice as many options? Give me Julian Edelman three rounds later for what will likely be similar production.
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles (Positional ADP: 15; Overall ADP: 31)
We will forever chase 2014/2015 with Alshon. After posting back-to-back stud seasons as a WR1, there has been a steady decline. Some of that has been due to injuries, while some of it due to bad quarterback play.
The fact of the matter is that he has 1,628 yards and six touchdowns over the past two seasons combined. There will be guys drafted as WR1s that will match that production this season.
Jeffery does have a new home in Philadelphia. The quarterback play should be slightly better, but lest we forget that Carson Wentz came in like a Bald Eagle and went out like a hummingbird last season. Wentz had just nine passing touchdowns over the last 12 games of the season. He also got to 255 yards passing just twice over that time frame.
Not only that, but the Eagles also added Torrey Smith, and still have Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz and Darren Sproles. This will be a committee approach, one in which no one will come close to producing like a WR1. The fact that Doug Baldwin with back-to-back Top 10 year-end performances is going after Jeffery is basically grand larceny.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (Positional ADP: 16; Overall ADP: 34)
— Buffalo News Sports (@TBNSports) July 14, 2017
I just do not trust Watkins to stay healthy at this point. This one could bite me in the butt because there is basically no competition for targets in Buffalo. I just do not want my late-2nd/early-3rd round pick to miss half of the season.
I have mentioned before and I will always come back to it: you cannot win your Fantasy Football league in the early draft rounds, but you can lose it. A few guys going around the same time as Watkins: Isaiah Crowell, Drew Brees, and Travis Kelce. None of those names will shake the draft room up; they might even get ridicule. But I would bet a lot of money that all three of those guys perform at or around their draft position.
I cannot promise that with Watkins. Even if he does not get hurt, the Buffalo offense is LeSean McCoy. They will not be slinging it around. I will need more upside and a higher floor for a pick this high.
Keenan Allen (Positional ADP: 20; Overall ADP: 43)
Speaking of guys that I cannot trust to stay healthy…. I just feel for the guy. Almost. Wait, no, I hate him for ruining multiple Fantasy seasons for me two years in a row!!!!
I’m only half-kidding. In all seriousness, Allen has just terrible luck. I mean a kidney problem, a broken collarbone and a torn ACL literally have nothing in common. They are completely different types of injuries that happen from completely different circumstances with completely different tissues/parts of the body.
When he is on the field he is well worthy of this positioning. But I cannot count on him for even half the season at this point. Not everyone comes back from ACL injuries like Adrian Peterson a few years ago. Give me the safety of Jarvis Landry all day, especially in PPR, over Allen.
Tyreek Hill (Positional ADP: 23; Overall ADP: 50)
— SoCalledFantasyExprt (@SoCalledFanEx) July 17, 2017
Every year there is a player or two that the majority of the Fantasy Community thinks will bust, and they most definitely do bust. I think Tyreek Hill is that type of player for the wide receiver busts.
12 touchdowns off of 85 offensive touches is completely unsustainable. This type of touchdown percentage is reserved for either a big, bruising, goal-line back or a tall, jump-ball receiver. Hill is neither of those things at just 5’10’’ and 185 pounds.
Obviously his return game boosts his stock, as he had three return touchdowns last season. Arguably the best two returners in NFL history are Devin Hester and Dante Hall. They had just three instances of back-to-back years of three or more return touchdowns combined. It is unlikely Hill can match last season’s total.
So if he is losing a score or two from special teams, he will need a huge boost in offensive production. His Fantasy production off of offense alone would have been good for the 25th spot at the position. If he loses a couple of touchdowns that we talked about from his unsustainable touch rate, he drops to WR4 territory.
So you will need Hill to not only retain the majority of his return touchdowns but gain serious touches and yards to come close to his draft position. He also must do this while staying healthy (he is a small guy, I can definitely see him getting nicked up for a game or two) and avoiding off-the-field issues.
There’s just too much risk. I’d go with Julian Edelman or Golden Tate over the young Chief.
See where these guys stack up in our SCFE Wide Receiver Rankings!
|2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit|
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