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2014 Draft Prep: Busts, 2.0

by | Senior Fantasy Writer
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Breakouts, 2.0 | Sleepers, 2.0

When I look at a player who could be a bust, it's not always about their talent -- or lack thereof. A lot of it relates to their potential Average Draft Position.

For example, the first version of this busts column was published in April, prior to the NFL Draft, so gauging where a player would be taken by Fantasy owners was difficult. An owner might have targeted -- and still might -- Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew as starting options, which is a mistake.

Now, we have a better understanding of ADP, so we can see the players who could struggle based on where they are being drafted. But first, let's take a look back at the original list.

To recap, here are the Busts 1.0 ...

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks
Chris Johnson, RB, Jets
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Dolphins
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Raiders
DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins
Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles
Eric Decker, WR, Jets
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

Based on the response, we felt it was worth discussing a few of these players again with Newton, Foles, Lynch and Jackson. Many Fantasy owners are counting on these guys as starting options, but I have no interest in them based on where I'll have to take them.

It's the crux of how I feel about all of the players listed here. I would gladly draft Lynch in Round 3 or Foles in Round 11, but they won't be there.

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles

The Eagles did a nice job in adding talent around Foles this offseason, even with getting rid of Jackson. They brought back Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, traded for Darren Sproles and drafted Jordan Matthews. Zach Ertz will see a bigger role, and LeSean McCoy is still a stud catching passes out of the backfield. But losing Jackson will hurt since Foles targeted him more than any other receiver (70 times), and he completed 71.4 percent of those passes to Jackson. I'm also expecting Foles to regress statistically since he had just two interceptions on the season, and 10 of his 27 touchdowns (37 percent of his production) and 834 of his 2,891 passing yards (29 percent) came against two of the three worst pass defenses in 2013 with Oakland and Minnesota. He does benefit with two games against Dallas' defense this year, but that first meeting with the Cowboys isn't until Week 13. Before then he gets four games against elite defenses in San Francisco, St. Louis, Arizona and Carolina and then Seattle in Week 14. It won't be easy for Foles, and opposing defenses should have a better understanding of Chip Kelly's offense. I'll take Foles as a low-end starter, but I'm not drafting him prior to Round 8.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 60-65 overall
I'd rather have: Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers

It's hard to argue against Newton because he's been so good since starting for the Panthers as a rookie in 2011. He's never been outside the Top 7 for Fantasy quarterbacks, but that will change this year. His passing yards have declined each of the past three years. His rushing touchdowns as well. And now he has a revamped receiving corps -- Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn are gone with Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant in their place -- and changes on the offensive line. Newton should be fine coming off ankle surgery in March, but he's lost valuable time with his new receivers to develop a rapport. Newton also struggled to close last season with just one 20-point Fantasy outing in his final four games, but Carolina still went 3-1 over that stretch, which shows they can win with their running game and defense. Based on the changes at receiver, coach Ron Rivera has said the Panthers will remain run-heavy this year, which makes sense (they were No. 11 in rushing attempts in 2013). Look for Newton to be more of a caretaker than playmaker, and he's outside my Top 12 this season. I won't draft him before Round 10.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 85-90 overall
I'd rather have: Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks

I've been making the case against Lynch since prior to Super Bowl when it was apparent his touches would go over the 400 mark, which happened in the win against the Broncos. He's now at serious risk for a breakdown this season. Over the past 10 years there have been 27 times where a running back has had 400 or more touches. Only five times -- Edgerrin James (2004), LaDainian Tomlinson (2005), James again (2005), Adrian Peterson (2009) and Ray Rice (2011) -- has a running back produced an increase in Fantasy points the following season. Most succumb to injury or just general wear and tear, and Lynch is a physical runner to begin with. He's also upset about his contract, and the Seahawks have a potential stud waiting in the wings with Christine Michael, who is a top sleeper. I would draft Lynch in Round 2, but he likely won't fall that far since most Fantasy owners still view him as a Top 5 overall pick. That's too risky for me, and I can see Lynch having similar troubles to Arian Foster and Rice, who were coming off 400-touch seasons in 2013 and struggled. If you do draft Lynch in the first 24 picks make sure you handcuff him with Michael.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 10-15 overall
I'd rather have: Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, Le'Veon Bell

Reggie Bush, RB, Lions

Bush is still going to have a good season and be a Top 20 Fantasy running back. But he's going to regress this year and shouldn't be considered a stud. He's had at least 200 carries each of the past three years, but the Lions will likely give more work to Joique Bell this season, who will also work at the goal line. Bush is still a candidate for 50-plus catches, which he did last season for the first time since 2008, and he can still attain 1,200 total yards and six touchdowns. But don't rely on him the same way you have the past three years when he was the featured option for the Dolphins (2011-12) and Lions (2012). Bell's role will expand significantly, and the Lions have talked about using Bush like he was with the Saints based on the connection with new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. I've seen Bush being drafted as early as Round 3, which is too soon, and I'd rather have Andre Ellington, Bishop Sankey, C.J. Spiller and Toby Gerhart. All four of those running backs are flawed to some degree, but their ceiling is higher this season if Bell is 100 percent, since he'll cut into Bush's role this year.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 30-35 overall
I'd rather have: Bishop Sankey, C.J. Spiller, Toby Gerhart

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers

The Chargers are saying all the right things about Mathews this season. New offensive coordinator Frank Reich said Mathews is "our guy," and general manager Tom Telesco called Mathews "our bell cow." That all makes sense and should be accurate, but the addition of Donald Brown will cut into Mathews' workload. And having Danny Woodhead on board is also a detriment. One statement from the team directly to me came from coach Mike McCoy at the owners meetings when he said the Chargers could use a running back by committee approach. McCoy learned under John Fox when the two were in Carolina, and he's used to having multiple backs handle the load. "You get in there, you get on a little bit of a roll and you're going to stay in there," McCoy said in March. I still like Mathews as a No. 2 running back, but he's outside my Top 20. The earliest I would draft him is Round 5.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 30-35 overall
I'd rather have: C.J. Spiller, Toby Gerhart, Shane Vereen

Ben Tate, RB, Browns

I had high hopes for Tate last season with the Texans. Foster was coming off a heavy workload in 2012, and Tate was entering a contract year. The thought was Foster, if he missed time, would give Tate an opportunity to shine. Well, Tate got that opportunity after Foster suffered a season-ending back injury, but he struggled. He had seven games in 2013 with at least 15 carries and finished with double digits in Fantasy points just twice. The Browns are going to give him plenty of chances to carry the ball, but this is a team that failed to have a running back rush for more than 75 yards in a game with only four rushing touchdowns. And Tate is expected to share touches with talented rookie Terrance West, which has prompted coach Mike Pettine to say the Browns will be running back by committee. I don't mind Tate as a flex option this year because there will be moments of solid production. But if you draft Tate as a starter he will almost certainly let you down. The better move is to pass on Tate in Round 5 and wait for West in Round 8.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 50-55 overall
I'd rather have: Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley, Joique Bell

Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants

Jennings has a great opportunity in front of him. He's expected to start for the Giants, and he could be a three-down back based on their offense. But I'm skeptical of drafting him as a starting Fantasy option, and he should only be considered a flex. The Giants drafted Andre Williams, who could work at the goal line, and David Wilson (neck) appears on track to return. Jennings should be the best Giants running back this year, but it looks like a crowded backfield. Jennings is also 29 and stepping into a starting role for the first time in his career. He's had trouble staying healthy, and last year was the first time he had sustained success when he took over for the injured Darren McFadden in Oakland. Jennings performed well with at least nine Fantasy points in six of his final eight games, including double digits in five of those outings. But I'd be shocked if he can replicate that performance, especially in competition for touches with Wilson and Williams. If Wilson isn't able to return I'll change my opinion on Jennings, but I wouldn't draft him before Round 6 in the majority of leagues.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 50-55 overall
I'd rather have: Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

Most casual NFL fans don't like when players talk about holdouts or seem to be upset about their job status. The public perception is these players are getting paid a lot of money to play a game. But you have to feel a little sorry for Johnson. He's been the best player for the Texans for the majority of his career, and he might have been the best receiver of his era with a better quarterback situation. But he's struggled through the Matt Schaub tenure, and instead of upgrading the position this offseason the team gave him an unheralded rookie in Tom Savage and a career backup in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Johnson might not show up for training camp, and it's unlikely he gets traded. Johnson has never scored more than nine touchdowns in a season, with 11 combined the past three years, and his ability to catch 100-plus passes and 1,400-plus yards -- which he's done four of the past six years -- is in jeopardy with the new quarterback. Johnson is still worth drafting as a No. 2 receiver, but he shouldn't come off the board before Round 5 in most formats.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 40-45 overall
I'd rather have: Michael Crabtree, Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon

DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins

Kelly didn't make Jackson into a great receiver. He was pretty good under Andy Reid as well. So Jackson can still perform at a high level under new coach Jay Gruden, but anyone expecting Jackson to be a No. 1 receiver like he was in 2013 is mistaken. And he might not be a Top 24 Fantasy receiver either. Things worked out perfect for Jackson last season when he had a career year in catches (82) and yards (1,332), and he tied his career high in touchdowns (nine). Jeremy Maclin (ACL) was out, and Jackson has shown he's less-than-stellar when he's not the No. 1 option, since he struggled the previous three seasons when Maclin was healthy. Pierre Garcon is the top target for the Redskins -- he led the NFL in targets in 2013 -- and Jackson might not top 65 catches or 1,000 yards. He'll definitely have his moments, and you'll want to start him the two games he faces the Eagles. But I only want Jackson as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in Round 7, and I don't consider him a starting option coming into the year.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 60-65 overall
I'd rather have: Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, Julian Edelman

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills

Watkins has the chance to be great. It's just a matter of when. But it's unlikely to happen this season. For Watkins to be a consistent Fantasy caliber receiver, he has to get significant improvement from quarterback EJ Manuel, who struggled as a rookie and dealt with knee problems. Buffalo's best receiver -- in part due to Manuel's inconsistent campaign -- was Robert Woods, who was No. 55 in Fantasy points in 2013. The Bills also have to become more balanced after being No. 2 in rush attempts as a team last year and still expecting big things from C.J. Spiller while also having Fred Jackson and now Bryce Brown on the roster. And rookie receivers have also had a hard time shining right away, as Tavon Austin and DeAndre Hopkins showed last year despite marginal hype. You can gamble on Watkins as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but I'd rather draft him as a No. 4 option if possible. The later you can get him the better off you'll be based on the minimal risk.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 90-95 overall
I'd rather have: Terrance Williams, Jeremy Maclin, Kendall Wright

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers

Davis was awesome last season with 52 catches for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns. He finished as the No. 2 tight end in standard leagues, and now he wants to be paid like one of the best tight ends in the game. But for Fantasy, he has to prove that he's more than just a touchdown-reliant producer. You can't ignore his ability to find the end zone, but in the three years prior to 2013 he averaged six touchdowns a year. If that happens again with his similar production from last season, he would finish as the No. 7 tight end in standard leagues, which is why he's ranked No. 6 behind the expected Top 3 of Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas, as well as Dennis Pitta and Jason Witten. I like Davis, and I still expect a Top 10 finish, depending on his contract status. But I wouldn't draft him in Round 4 or 5 and I'd rather wait on Pitta, who is a tremendous breakout candidate.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 45-50 overall
I'd rather have: Dennis Pitta, Jason Witten

Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns

I liked Cameron last season coming into the year, and he played well with 80 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns to finish tied for No. 6 in Fantasy points in a standard league. The overall numbers look good, but Cameron wasn't very consistent with just seven or more Fantasy points seven times. He had just three games with more than six Fantasy points in his final 11 outings. Granted, poor quarterback play was a factor, and we hope a full year of Brian Hoyer and/or Johnny Manziel helps Cameron shine. The thought is without Josh Gordon (suspension), Cameron will thrive with additional targets. But he was already third in targets for tight ends last year with 117, and opposing defenses will key in on stopping him. My biggest fear with Cameron is the loss of Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner -- who have done wonders with tight ends in their respective careers (keep an eye on Kyle Rudolph in Minnesota) -- will hurt Cameron in a negative way. I still consider Cameron a Top 10 Fantasy tight end, but I'm not touching him before Round 7. I'd rather have Pitta, Witten, Jordan Reed or Rudolph, so someone else can take Cameron in Round 5.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 65-70 overall
I'd rather have: Jordan Reed, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph
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