2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Adam Thielen, Antonio Brown headline wide receiver busts
You want to know who to draft, but you need to know who not to draft. Our Fantasy team gives you their bust picks for 2019
Not all busts are created equal. In our staff picks for wide receiver busts, we've got players being drafted in the first and second rounds on average, and we've got players in the sixth and seventh rounds. Those early-rounders might have more risk, but ultimately, it's about avoiding wasted picks, no matter where they come in the draft.
Not all of these players will miss, or even be bad, necessarily. It's about the return on your investment, and the chances that you won't get enough from them to justify the cost. They may not sink your season, but you still may want to avoid the risks these players represent.
Here's who you'll be hearing from:
- Jamey Eisenberg, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Dave Richard, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Heath Cummings, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Ben Gretch, CBS Fantasy Editor
- Chris Towers, CBS Fantasy Senior Editor
I hope Brown is OK with the foot problem he's dealing with in training camp, but it's just another red flag to avoid him until the end of Round 2, at the earliest, in any format. By then, he's usually off the board, which is fine for me. He's 31, looked a little slower in 2018 and now has a downgrade in every category moving from Pittsburgh to Oakland. Now, I still think you should consider Brown as a weekly starter, but just don't expect him to post the same kind of production he had with the Steelers. Remember, he's never caught a touchdown from any quarterback aside from Ben Roethlisberger. That will change, hopefully, but I'm worried about Brown in 2019.
I like Thielen a lot, but I'm worried about his production this season compared to the expectations of Fantasy managers for him. His ADP is the No. 10 receiver off the board, and that's just too soon. I'm fine drafting Thielen as a No. 2 receiver in the middle of Round 3 (Round 4 in non-PPR leagues), but that doesn't appear likely. I'm also concerned about what happened to him at the end of last season. It's a small sample size, but Thielen did not play at a high level once the Vikings went to Kevin Stefanski as the offensive coordinator in the final three games in 2018. Over that span, Thielen had 10 catches for 137 yards and no touchdowns on 12 targets, and he scored six PPR points or less in two outings. Wait for Thielen. Don't reach for him on Draft Day.
Landry had a respectable season in 2018, his first with the Browns, and he was the No. 18 receiver in PPR. But in Fantasy points per game, he was the No. 27 PPR receiver at 13.5 points. And in the eight games with Freddie Kitchens calling plays, Landry's average points per game declined to 12.1. Again, that's still solid, but he did that without Odell Beckham on the field. It's hard to envision Landry staying near the 150-target mark. And he's never been a consistent touchdown producer with only four receiving scores in three of his past four years. Landry is a fine No. 3 Fantasy receiver in any format, but don't draft him as a starter this season.
As a talent, Thielen is fantastic, but it's real hard to see him repeat the eight-game 100-yard streak he had to begin 2018. His success was helped in large part by the Vikings run game not being as strong as coach Mike Zimmer wanted it to be. Now that Dalvin Cook is healthy, Thielen could see his numbers tumble like they did to end last season. Only seven times in Thielen's last two seasons has he had a good game in the same game as a Vikings running back. So unless (until?) Cook misses time, Thielen won't be worth a top-30 pick, which is what his ADP is right now.
A.J. Green WR
CIN Cincinnati • #18
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Green's value isn't depressed enough! I don't mind the theory that Green would make for a stash-then-start receiver, but he's not worth his current ADP of 48th overall. We know he's not going to make Week 1. There's a chance he doesn't play in Weeks 2 or 3. Then when he comes back, there's no telling when he'll snap back into football shape. And given how two of his last three seasons ended with injuries, you can't feel confident he'll finish the season whenever he comes back. He might even be slowing down after falling below 80.0 yards per game over the last two seasons.
When Freddie Kitchens took over the playcalling for the Browns last year, Landry's targets crumbled from 11.8 to 6.9 per game. That was without Odell Beckham on the field. Chances are good Landry will play more in the slot and should feast on weak coverage, but his good games for Fantasy will be too few and far between. He has just 11 career games with over 100 yards (out of 80), and needed nine-plus targets in nine of them.
For much of 2018 Adam Thielen was a superstar. He posted a catch rate of 73.9% and averaged 12.2 yards per reception. Through Week 13 he was the No. 1 receiver in PPR leagues with nearly 100 catches. Then his offensive coordinator got fired, his team went run-heavy, and Thielen earned 12 targets in the season's final three games. Mike Zimmer is still in Minnesota and John DeFilippo is not. The power struggle was decided, and the verdict was an offense that would pound the ball on the ground. Thielen is still a phenomenally talented receiver, but he's sharing targets with Stefon Diggs, and there aren't enough for either of them to be a No. 1 receiver. If one of Thielen or Diggs gets hurt I'd expect the other to be a superstar, but as long as both are healthy they're No. 2 receivers.
There is certainly opportunity in Los Angeles, but I think it's more likely Williams goes backward in Fantasy production than forward. He scored 10 touchdowns on 66 targets last year and averaged just 41 receiving yards per game. With Hunter Henry back, I could see Williams losing a few red zone targets even if he picks up some of the downfield work Tyrell Williams left behind. In his first two years in the NFL, Mike Williams caught 54 of 89 targets for 759 yards. In 2019, I have him projected for 57-806-7 on 88 targets. That's a fine upside No. 3 receiver but it's not someone you should be drafting early in Round 5 or 6.
PHI Philadelphia • #17
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Alshon Jeffery was fantastic last year once he was healthy enough to play. That's been the case for a lot of his career. But his volume has been cut significantly since he joined the Eagles. In Jeffery's last four years in Chicago, he averaged 9.1 targets per game, or 145 per 16 games. In two years in Philadelphia, that number tumbled to 7.3, or 117 per 16 games. It's possible to be a top-20 receiver in Fantasy with that type of volume. He did it in 2017 thanks to nine touchdowns. Brandin Cooks, Tyler Lockett, and Amari Cooper did it in 2018. The problem isn't that Jeffery can't justify his ADP. The problem is that with his volume he needs everything to go right, and he's a player who has rarely had that happen. There are a bunch of young breakout wide receivers with a similar floor and a higher ceiling. Take one of them on Draft Day instead.
I don't really love the term "bust" for wide receivers because they are easier to project, which is a big reason I favor them early in drafts. But Brown is one whose ADP is at a place where I just like other options better. The targets will be there, but I'm concerned about his ability to maintain his typically awesome efficiency numbers with a new quarterback and at age 31.
SEA Seattle • #16
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Seattle's defense is probably going to be a lot worse than last year's iteration of this team, and Lockett should be in line for a substantial target increase even if they don't throw more, which they very well might. But drafters are well aware of this, as well as his otherworldly efficiency in 2018, and my concern is that target increase might not be quite as substantial as his ADP suggests it will need to be to offset any efficiency regression.
Cooper Kupp WR
LAR L.A. Rams • #18
Age: 26 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Kupp is yet another wide receiver I like, same as with Brown and Lockett, but whose price puts him in a range where I simply have other targets I favor. Kupp was phenomenal in 2018 before an ACL injury cut short his season, and I expect he'll be a solid player in 2019 as well, but I frequently opt for higher-upside targets in the range of drafts where he goes. My unwillingness to target him isn't helped by my actively targeting both Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods earlier in drafts.
GB Green Bay • #17
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The Fantasy community has Davante Adams as nearly the consensus No. 2 wide receiver, coming off his massive breakout season. However, we also have Aaron Jones as a popular breakout candidate, and either Geronimo Allison or Marquez Valdes-Scantling as popular sleepers. Given his relative inefficiency (career-high 8.2 yards per attempt), can Adams get the targets he needs to repeat his 2018 season? If he's at 150 targets — the most Aaron Rodgers had ever given a wide receiver before Adams' 169 in 2018 was 152 – you're probably looking at 1,200 or so yards. Adams has a high floor, but I don't think he has the realistic upside a lot of other elite WR do.
Amari Cooper WR
DAL Dallas • #19
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
After he got to Dallas, Amari Cooper played at a 94-catch, 1,289-yard, 11-touchdown pace, so it's no surprise he's a popular breakout candidate. But 54.8% of his total yards and five his six touchdowns in the regular season came in just two games, while he was held under 75 yards in six of 11 games, including four with 36 or fewer. That still sounds like the same frustrating, inconsistent guy he's always been. Are we overreacting to a couple of huge games? Haven't we fallen for this with Cooper before?
In 18 games including the playoffs, Williams had exactly three games with more than 75 yards receiving and 10 with less than 50. We expect his target share to improve with Tyrell Williams out of the picture, but Hunter Henry should also see an increase over the 73 that went to the team's tight ends in 2018. Williams isn't going to sustain a once-every-seven-targets touchdown pace, so is he going to see enough targets to make up for whatever touchdowns he is sure to lose? Williams might meet his WR25 cost, but I'm not sure he's likely to exceed it by much, let alone by more than the likes of D.J. Moore or Will Fuller might.
So which Fantasy Football busts should you avoid in your draft? And which superstar QB isn't a trustworthy QB1 option? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Allen Robinson's disappointing season, and find out.
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