Yes, this article is all about Fantasy Football Busts. We’ve got huge busts, disappointing busts, confusing busts and probably even some you’ll do a double take at. Who isn’t enamored with thinking about, reading about or looking at pictures of busts? No, this article isn’t about style tips for curvy women or about how to subtly pull off your aging dad bod. We’re diving into the season (way too early) as I give you my Top 12 Fantasy Football Busts of 2016.
The important question is to ask is, “can we learn anything from last year’s Fantasy Football bust list?” The answer is a definite maybe. Like with the Ashley Madison aftermath, there were quite a few high profile names on this list that you likely wouldn’t have predicted.
The Fantasy Football busts from the 2015 season reads like a pro bowl squad. With the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Eddie Lacy, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris, C.J. Anderson, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Julius Thomas and Jimmy Graham, just to name a few. This list consists of a large Alabama RB (Lacy), a few aging players (Manning, Marshawn), a preseason holdout (Dez), players adjusting to a new coaching staff (Anderson, Ryan) and a few guys switching teams (Thomas, DeMarco, Graham).
Using last season’s information in order to accurately predict the future, this criteria would lead us to names such as Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon, Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, DeMarco Murray (again), Matt Forte, Marvin Jones, Martellus Bennett and Jay Ajayi.
No one can predict the future and frankly anyone who tells you they have a proven method for proactively identifying busts is arrogant and full of themselves. Please continue to read as I present to you my list of Fantasy Football busts. These Fantasy Football busts were put together using my proven track record of proactively identifying busts and being relatively decent at predicting the future, relatively.
Top 12 Fantasy Football Busts of 2016
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bortles will need to make significant adjustments to his game in order to meet the expectations of his Fantasy owners. Many will assume Bortles will simply continue to climb the ladder of Fantasy QBs, improving on his 2015 numbers. In just his second season, Bortles finished in a tie with Eli Manning, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer with 35 TD passes, ranking second in the NFL. He finished seventh in passing yards with just over 4,400.
A look at the Jaguars off-season moves suggest they plan on significantly changing their approach for the 2016 season. The Jags had a defensive heavy draft, selecting the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Miles Jack and Sheldon Day. They also signed CB Prince Amukamara and stud DL Malik Jackson. Perhaps the most telling signing was the five year, $32.5 million contract given to RB Chris Ivory.
As Rich Hribar pointed out in his Red Zone Notebook report, Bortles was tied with Matthew Stafford for the league lead with 21 TD passes inside the 10 yard line in 2015. A number that’s likely to follow the hair line on Breshad Perriman and significantly recede. The dynamic duo of T.J. Yeldon and Denard Robinson had just three more redzone touchdowns than your Mom did last season. While Ivory seemed to flourish inside the 20 yard line, scoring seven times.
One of the more astute observations on Yeldon coming out of college was in regards to his footwork. He takes smaller steps than someone typically his size. While this may be a strength in the open field, the concern was the effect it would have on his explosiveness in and around the goal line. Bortles finished the season in the Top 10 in passing yards per game but when we look at his efficiency, it has a lot to be desired and suggests a strong possibility of regression (Fantasy buzzword of 2016).
Bortles was sacked a league high 51 times and led the league with 18 interceptions. He ranked just ahead of Johnny Manziel in completion percentage (58.58) and had an underwhelming yards per attempt average (7.31). To put that into perspective, Teddy Bridgewater’s was 7.23.
Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
Gore has defied critics time and time again throughout his career but at the age of 33, how much longer can this continue? As I mentioned in a column by Jake Ciely on RotoExperts.com, it’s virtually unheard of for a RB Gore’s age to produce significant Fantasy totals. That said, I’m not immune to the temptation of drafting Gore. There will be lots of folks like myself, assuming Gore’s days of being a Fantasy starter are essentially over and Gore’s ADP may fall to a reasonable round.
The Colts never ending ineptitude continues, as the only RB of significance outside of Gore on the roster is Robert Turbin. The opportunity will be there for Frank the Tank but as the talking heads always say, father time is undefeated. Did I just become a talking head? Gross.
Melvin Gordon III, San Diego Chargers
Players often say they write out their goals prior to each season. I assume you’ll see “be functional” in Gordon’s 2016 book of hopes and dreams. His 2015 rookie campaign was absolutely dreadful as his 3.5 yards per carry ranked 43rd out of 44 RBs with 100 or more carries. For what its worth, Matt Jones of the Redskins ranked last in in this category. Gordon’s inability also translated to the TD category, as he was one of only three RBs to accumulate over 100 carries while failing to score a single rushing TD. The other two RBs were Charles Sims and fellow rookie, Duke Johnson.
Gordon did have a very good catch rate however, hauling in 33 of his 37 targets but was one of the three least effective RBs in the passing game. Only Gordon, Latavius Murray and Justin Forsett caught more than 30 passes but averaged less than six yards per reception. The nail in the bust coffin came in the form of the news that Gordon’s off-season knee surgery was not just a routine scope but was in fact the dreaded microfacture variety. There are a few notable players who have come back from this type of procedure and continued to be productive but it’s one more obstacle for Gordon to overcome.
Lastly, I’m labeling Gordon as a bust, not because I don’t think he can bounce back and be somewhat capable. I think he’ll be a bust because the “post hype sleeper” crowd seems to have targeted Gordon as one of their main attractions. If I could land Gordon as my RB4 in a 10 team draft, then I’d be pleased. But the Twitter hype train is sure to raise his ADP to an unrealistic level.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
I like Freeman as a player and think he was severely underrated coming out of college but I never imagined he’d finish anywhere near a RB1 in Fantasy as he did in 2015. I realize a large portion of the Fantasy community despises the analytics trend but, stay with me for a second. Using math, I’m going to demonstrate how I was able to decipher that Freeman may not be quite as good as we were lead to believe early on last season.
Through Atlanta’s first seven games, Freeman averaged 4.74 yards per carry and scored 10 total TDs. Here comes the heavy analysis… Then after that, teams were like, Whaaaaat?! We have to stop this dude! From then on, Freeman averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and scored four total TDs. 35-percent of Freeman’s total yardage came via his 73 receptions. While Tevin Coleman probably isn’t the next Jamaal Charles, he’s certainly capable of handling more than what we saw last year.
Freeman would make a great RB2 or even RB1 if you could grab him late in round 2 or early round 3. The problem is, there’s zero chance of that happening.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (Champions of the 2016 off-season)
Disclaimer: Sammy Watkins is awesome.
He’s a freak athlete with a ton of talent who I would gladly take on the team I root for or my dynasty league team. Unfortunately for Fantasy Football owners and for Bills fans sober enough to comprehend complete sentences, the news of Watkins breaking his foot this off-season could be devastating. A healthy Sammy Watkins would not have made any of my Fantasy Football Bust lists for 2016. As of late June, his goal was to simply be ready for Week 1 of the NFL season. Guy gets injured. Guy rushes rehab. Guy misses training camp. Guy is ready for season. Guy re-injures injury. Guy misses games. Been there, done that. No thanks.
Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens
Steve Smith is as entertaining as they come. I love his drive, competitiveness and honesty. However, these are not compliments you give someone who is going to significantly improve your Fantasy team. Smith is now 37 years old and since 1920, only seven times has a 37 year old WR eclipsed 800 yards receiving. Five of those instances are by Jerry Rice.
Perhaps even more importantly, Smith is attempting to come back from one of the most devastating injuries a professional athlete can suffer, a torn Achilles tendon. I’m going to let someone else take a chance on Smith this year and use that pick on someone with upside later in my draft.
Ted Ginn Jr., Carolina Panthers
Last season was magic for Ginn as it seemed almost every fourth pass he caught was good for a TD. In fact, it seemed that way because that’s almost exactly what happened. Ginn entered the 2015 season with 11 career receiving TDs and then proceeded to catch 10 on just 44 receptions. Cam Newton passed for the second most TDs in the NFL with 35, yet the Panthers ranked just 27th in pass attempts. Ginn’s 2015 TD to catch ratio is as unsustainable as President Obama’s R&B career.
Pierre Garçon, Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins is coming off a career year, as he was ranked in the Top 13 in passing TDs and passing yardage. The team’s previous leading receiver, DeSean Jackson, missed six games in 2015. Garçon didn’t take advantage of this situation and finds himself with back-to-back seasons of less than 800 yards receiving.
It’s only June and there are already rumors suggesting the team may cut Garçon, in part because of newly drafted WR Josh Doctson. Garçon is just 29 years old (30 in August), but his time as a viable Fantasy contributor may be nearing an end in Washington.
Victor Cruz, New York Giants
As of June 21, Cruz said his goal was to participate in Giants mini camp. I believe that was also his goal last season … the season he did not participate in. Cruz returns to the Giants this season only to find the team has drafted a younger, faster version of himself in Sterling Shepard. Friendly reminder, Cruz hasn’t played football in essentially two years. The last season he did put on the pads, he had less than 1,000 yards receiving and only four TDs. Let’s not get too excited here.
Torrey Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Fantasy Football Twitter is already driving the Torrey Smith hype train for 2016. There are plenty of folks pointing out the fact that a No. 1 WR in a Chip Kelly offense is considerably productive. This is true as Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson and Jordan Matthews were all extremely Fantasy relevant in Kelly’s system. There are two problems as I see it. One, the San Francisco 49ers are nowhere near as talented as the Eagles teams Kelly had at his disposal. Two, Torrey Smith is not as talented as Maclin, Djax or Matthews.
I love the concept of drafting Smith as a WR4-5 with potential to be a serviceable WR3 or bye week replacement. However, I’m adding him in my bust list because I have a feeling the hype will move his ADP into WR3 territory by the time the season rolls around.
Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
See comments for Blake Bortles.
Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
I’m going to keep this one simple. Coming into the 2015 season, Barnidge had a total of 44 career receptions and three TDs. At age 30, Barnidge saw 125 targets, caught 79 passes for over 1,000 yards and nine TDs. I believe in Browns coach Hue Jackson. I also believe Barnidge somewhat passed the eye test last season. He looked athletic enough to create mismatches for him to take advantage of. Lastly, I believe Robert Griffin stinks at playing quarterback and unlike JLo, he rarely utilizes his tight end.
Well, there are your 2016 Fantasy Football Busts? Agree or disagree? Leave me a comment and we’ll discuss. don’t forget to check out the So-Called Fantasy Experts Top 200 staff rankings!
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