2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Busts 2.0
Jamey Eisenberg gives you several players to avoid this season based on early Average Draft Position data.
In Busts 1.0, written in March, there was a lot of speculation on my part about where players would be drafted this year. It was early in the process -- before free agency was finalized or the NFL Draft -- and we didn't have anything close to accurate Average Draft Position data.
That has changed now.
Thanks to Fantasy Pros, which is already tracking ADP from a variety of drafts, we're able to see where players are being selected. And that's the best way to determine if a player is a bust or not.
While this data isn't finalized given that most Fantasy drafts will take place in August, it is a useful guide. It has helped solidify, or in some cases change, my opinion on players from Busts 1.0, :
- Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
- DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans
- Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings
- LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles
- Frank Gore, RB, Colts
- Adrian Peterson, RB, Saints
- Brandin Cooks, WR, Patriots
- Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
- Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
- DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
- Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs
- Martellus Bennett, TE, Packers
Of these players, I'm still shying away from Newton (Round 6), DeMarco Murray (No. 13 overall), Peterson (Round 5), Cooks (No. 28 overall), Fitzgerald (Round 5), Sanders (Round 5), Hill (Round 5) and Bennett (No. 9 tight end) given their current ADP. As for Latavius Murray, Blount, Gore and Jackson, I probably won't have much ownership of them either just given their situation for this season.
We'll see how the ADP changes once the majority of drafts happen later this summer, and that will help determine our list of guys for Busts 3.0. But for now, the players listed here are ones to potentially avoid given their current cost.
I'm not expecting Dak Prescott to be a flop in his second year as the starter for the Cowboys. I'm just worried about him living up to last year's expectations when he finished as the No. 9 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues with 3,667 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions and 282 rushing yards and six touchdowns, which tied Tyrod Taylor for the most rushing touchdowns of any quarterback last year. Early ADP shows Prescott being selected as high as the No. 9 quarterback -- ahead of guys like Kirk Cousins, Ben Roethlisberger, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota -- and that could be a mistake. While he did score at least 20 Fantasy points in 10 of 15 complete games (he barely played in a meaningless Week 17 outing), and his production was higher when Dez Bryant was healthy, there's a risk of regression, especially with a worse offensive line (Doug Free retired and Ronald Leary signed as a free agent in Denver) and no standout weapons added. I'm OK with waiting on Prescott as a low-end starting option, but he's not worth drafting as a top-10 quarterback this year.
We hope things change for Carlos Hyde once training camp starts, but it appears like the new regime in San Francisco would like him gone. There are concerns about Hyde's injury history (he's coming off a torn MCL in his knee from Week 16 last year) and a potential poor fit for new coach Kyle Shanahan's scheme. New general manager John Lynch even said of Hyde, "Do these skills translate to what we do?" That's not exactly an endorsement. And it's not just words since the 49ers signed Tim Hightower as a free agent, traded with Denver to acquire Kapri Bibbs and then drafted Joe Williams in the fourth round from Utah after Shanahan practically begged Lynch to take him. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk will also get touches, and Hyde could struggle to repeat his performance from last year when he was the No. 14 Fantasy running back in standard leagues with 217 carries for 988 yards (4.55 yards per carry) and six touchdowns and 27 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. One report at OTA's from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat suggested that Hyde was "the slowest and most indecisive running back on the team." I still consider Hyde the best running back in San Francisco, but it's clear he has to prove himself. He's a mid-range No. 2 option at best, and he should be drafted after Round 5 (his current ADP is No. 32 overall). It's also not a bad idea to target Williams as a handcuff with a late-round pick given Hyde's injury history.
It's a great story that Marshawn Lynch is back in the NFL and getting the chance to play for his hometown team. It's also a good story for Oakland after finding out the Raiders are leaving for Las Vegas that they have a native son to cheer for. And Lynch should benefit playing behind that stellar offensive line as the replacement for Latavius Murray, who signed as a free agent in Minnesota. Murray had 195 carries for 788 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns and 33 catches for 264 yards last year, and the Raiders should give Lynch the majority of those carries, especially in the red zone (Murray had nine touchdowns inside the 5-yard line). But Fantasy owners get so enamored with Beast Mode that they overlook the potential pitfalls and draft him with an early-round pick. Early ADP data shows Lynch being drafted in Round 2, which is way too soon. Lynch is 31 and hasn't played football in over a year after he retired following the 2015 season. And that season was rough for him. He was limited to seven games because of hamstring and abdomen injuries, and he finished with just 111 carries for 417 yards (3.76 yards per carry) and three touchdowns and 13 catches for 80 yards. Before 2015, Lynch had at least 1,200 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in four consecutive seasons in Seattle, and he averaged at least 4.2 yards per carry each year. But it's hard to expect Lynch to get back to that level at this point in his career, and he will also lose touches to Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. We consider Lynch a No. 2 Fantasy running back at best on Draft Day, and he's only worth drafting in Round 5 or later in the majority of leagues.
Rob Kelley's ADP so far is OK in Round 8. It's just his situation that kind of stinks. Kelley is doing the right things to hold onto his starting job as the No. 1 running back for the Redskins. He's in better shape after changing his diet this offseason, and he's trying to improve as a receiver. But barring an injury to fourth-round rookie Samaje Perine, this is going to be a time share, which also includes third-down back Chris Thompson. New Washington offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh said the Redskins will use a "hot-hand" approach, which should be bad for all three running backs, although Thompson's role is relatively locked in. For Kelley, the Redskins clearly wanted to bring in competition, even though he played well as an undrafted rookie free agent from Tulane last season. Kelley took over as Washington's starter in Week 8 and had four games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in nine outings and two other games with at least seven points. If you project his stats from those nine starts (151 carries for 601 yards and six touchdowns and 11 catches for 81 yards) over 16 games, Kelley would have finished with 268 carries for 1,068 yards and 11 touchdowns and 20 catches for 144 yards. But it's unlikely Kelley will see that much work this year, and he could easily be replaced by Perine as the starter. We're not giving up on Kelley this season, but he's not someone you should invest heavily in heading into training camp.
The running back situation in Kansas City this year with Spencer Ware and rookie Kareem Hunt kind of feels like what happened in Chicago last year with Jeremy Langford and Jordan Howard. Langford was the incumbent but was far from impressive, and Howard was a fifth-round pick who eventually became the starter and a Fantasy star. The same thing could happen here, although Ware is a better talent than Langford. We don't expect Ware to disappear this season, but he was basically handed the starting job for the Chiefs last year by default when Jamaal Charles started having knee problems in the preseason. Ware did an admirable job with 214 carries for 921 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns and 33 catches for 447 yards and two touchdowns, and he was the No. 16 Fantasy running back in standard leagues. Hunt is going to have to take the job away from Ware, barring an injury, but that could happen if Ware struggles as he did down the stretch last season. Despite his overall success, Ware only had four games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league and just one after Week 7. He wasn't bad since he scored at least seven Fantasy points in 12 outings, but the Chiefs are clearly looking for more explosive plays from their backfield, which is why Hunt was added in the third round. It's fine to draft Ware as a No. 3 Fantasy running back this season with a mid-round pick, but don't reach for him as a starter (his ADP is Round 4 as of now). Hunt could easily be the best Chiefs running back in 2017, and he's the one to target on Draft Day in the majority of leagues.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy maintains that Ty Montgomery will be the team's starting running back this year. And Montgomery is saying and doing all the right things to keep the job, including bulking up to handle the rigors of running between the tackles and learning the ins and outs of the position after being a converted wide receiver. But despite all of that, there is a clear line of competition behind Montgomery after Green Bay drafted three running backs, including fourth-rounder Jamaal Williams, who could eventually win the starting job. And Fantasy owners need to realize that Montgomery was good and not great in 2016. He only had one game with double digits in carries despite the Packers being depleted in their backfield, and he only scored double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league three times. Montgomery is not going away as part of the Packers offense, but he could easily fall behind Williams or fellow rookie Aaron Jones on the depth chart. I'd rather have Williams in standard leagues this year, but Montgomery should be better in PPR. Still, I'm waiting on Montgomery in all formats with just a mid-round pick because it's doubtful the Packers lean on him as a starter for the entire season. And currently his ADP is Round 5, which is too rich for me in any format.
You have to love offseason workout reports when players are running around in shorts and there's little to no contact in practice. After OTA's, there was one report from NJ.com that said Jeffery was just "Ehhhhhh" with his performance. Then, coach Doug Pederson made it a point to say that Jeffery was a player who stood out during OTA's, with the Philly Voice reporting that Jeffery "indeed looked good." Like most things, the truth is somewhere between both of those opinions, but my concern is Jeffery being overdrafted by Fantasy owners, and early ADP data shows him going as the No. 13 receiver, ahead of guys like Doug Baldwin, Davante Adams, Demaryius Thomas, Terrelle Pryor, Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins -- which could be a mistake. I like the fit for Jeffery with the Eagles, and I'm glad he's betting on himself to earn a big payday after signing just a one-year deal as a free agent. But he's struggled with injuries each of the past two seasons after being limited to 21 games over that span, including a four-game suspension last year for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. And he might not be dominant like he showed at times in the past for the Bears. We're nitpicking here with Jeffery, but he should not be drafted before Round 4 in standard leagues and toward the end of Round 3 in PPR. He's currently being drafted at No. 30 overall in standard leagues, and that's just a little too soon.
When Keenan Allen tore his ACL in Week 1 last year, the Chargers -- and many Fantasy owners -- must have wondered if their passing game was destroyed. After all, Allen was the best receiver for the Chargers. Tyrell Williams and Hunter Henry were unproven, and Antonio Gates was over the hill. As we know now, Williams and Henry turned out to be quality weapons, Gates was productive for another year and Philip Rivers didn't exactly miss Allen with the second-most touchdown passes of his career with 33 and his fourth year in a row with at least 4,200 passing yards. This year, Rivers has all those weapons at his disposal again, along with a brand new toy in rookie Mike Williams, who was the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Allen should still be the No. 1 receiver for the Chargers, but the crowded receiving corps should lower his Fantasy value, although he's currently being drafted in Round 4. That is, if he's healthy, and he said in April that his knee was at 85 percent from last year's injury. He should be fine for training camp, but Allen has appeared in just 9 of 32 games over the past two seasons after he played only eight games in 2015 because of a lacerated kidney. Allen should still be considered a starting Fantasy receiver coming into the season, but he's a low-end starter at best, especially in standard leagues. Mike Williams, Tyrell Williams, Henry and Gates will all be fed targets, and the running game should be strong with Melvin Gordon. It adds up to Allen being worse off now then before he got hurt last year, and his Fantasy production should suffer in 2017.
I'm not of the belief that Julian Edelman is just going away now that Brandin Cooks is in New England. The two-year contract extension Edelman signed in June says the Patriots are still fond of Edelman as well. But this receiving corps is loaded, and Edelman should see a dip in production. Along with Cooks, Rob Gronkowski is back from last year's back injury, Dwayne Allen was added via trade and the team still has Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell, as well as running backs out of the backfield in James White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead. Last year, when Gronkowski was injured, Edelman had a spike in targets from 7.6 a game when Gronkowski was healthy to 11.6 when Gronkowski was hurt, not including the playoffs. You should expect the lower target total this season with all the additional firepower, and Edelman is now a No. 3 Fantasy receiver at best. His value is higher in PPR leagues, but Edelman should not be considered a starting option coming into the year, which is what his current ADP suggests as the No. 22 receiver off the board.
There are differing opinions on Brandon Marshall this year. Some Fantasy analysts believe he'll lead the Giants in touchdowns since he's been a great red-zone threat throughout his career, and he is similar in stature to former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, who was a favorite target for Eli Manning (Marshall is 6-foot-4/230 pounds and Burress played at 6-foot-5/232 pounds). Others believe Marshall, 33, started to fade last year with the Jets when he was a disaster with 59 catches for 788 yards and three touchdowns on 128 targets. I don't expect him to repeat last year's performance, especially since Manning is a huge upgrade over the dumpster fire he had at quarterback with the Jets in 2016. But Marshall also will play second fiddle at receiver for the first time in his career because of Odell Beckham, who actually has more red-zone touchdowns over the past three years than Marshall (19-18). Along with rookie tight end Evan Engram and second-year receiver Sterling Shepard, Marshall might not get the usual allotment of targets he's used to (he's averaged 145 a year during his career), especially with Beckham still expected to get fed quite a bit. Marshall's early ADP is the No. 25 receiver off the board, which is too soon. He's a mid-range No. 3 Fantasy receiver this season worth drafting in Round 6 or later.
We expect Kelvin Benjamin to be in shape by the time training camp starts, but there was a report in late April that he weighed as much as 280 pounds. What? Benjamin is a big man at 6-foot-5, and the Panthers list him at 245 pounds, so it would be bad for his career if he got that heavy in the offseason. Rivera refuted the report that Benjamin is 280 pounds, but he acknowledged that Benjamin needs to work on his conditioning. "Am I concerned? Yes, because he is heavy. I'm going to admit that right now," Rivera said. "But is he working hard? Absolutely." Even at 245 pounds, Benjamin has a lot to prove after a disappointing season in 2016. He was coming off a torn ACL, but he managed just 63 catches for 941 yards and seven touchdowns on 118 targets. He was the No. 18 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues, but that's somewhat misleading given his week-to-week production. Benjamin only had five games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, but he also had five games with five points or less. The addition of rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel should impact Benjamin's targets in a negative way, and he could struggle if he's out of shape, especially with Newton coming off shoulder surgery. Benjamin should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in the majority of leagues, and he's only worth drafting with a mid-round pick (his ADP is Round 5). His value will improve if he shows up to training camp in shape, so keep an eye on his weight in late July.
In 2015, when the Titans' best receivers were Dorial Green-Beckham, Harry Douglas and Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker was a star. He had 94 catches for 1,088 yards and six touchdowns on 134 targets. Last year, Tennessee upgraded its receiving corps slightly with the additions of Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe, and Walker took a dip in production to 65 catches for 800 yards and seven touchdowns on 102 targets. But this season, the Titans have gone all-in on receiver with free agent Eric Decker and rookies Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor joining Matthews and Sharpe, and Tennessee also drafted another tight end in rookie Jonnu Smith. Walker should still be a prominent weapon for Marcus Mariota, but he should continue to trend down with his targets, receptions and yards. And if his touchdown production starts to slide, it could be messy for Fantasy owners who invest in Walker this year, and his early ADP has him in Round 7 in the majority of leagues. He's being drafted ahead of guys that I like better in Kyle Rudolph, Zach Ertz, Hunter Henry and Jack Doyle, and that could be a mistake. Walker should still be considered a No. 1 Fantasy tight end this year. But it's hard to consider him a potential top-five option since he's now part of a crowded receiving corps in Tennessee.
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