2020 Fantasy Football: Busts 1.0 include 2019 sensations Lamar Jackson, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry
These 12, some among the biggest stars of 2019, are unlikely to be worth what it will take to land them in drafts.
I like writing about sleepers and breakouts. I hate writing about busts. No one actually enjoys tearing down players, especially great ones, but that's part of the job.
This is Busts 1.0 for 2020. Some of these names will change throughout the offseason, especially once we get past free agency and the NFL Draft, but these are players with some flaws.
It could be because of expected Average Draft Position, meaning someone will likely be drafted too high. Or it could be because of a potential regression in production coming this season.
In full disclosure, I hope that I'm wrong on all of these guys. But we know even great players fail from time to time, and these are guys I'll likely be avoiding based on their expected cost on Draft Day this season.
BAL Baltimore • #8
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
This is all about his likely ADP, which I expect will be in Round 1 in most leagues. And I get why that will happen. He was awesome in 2019 as the No. 1 quarterback and MVP of the NFL. Jackson exceeded expectations last season with 3,127 passing yards and 1,206 rushing yards, while also accounting for 43 total touchdowns. But it's hard to repeat as the No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in consecutive years, and the last guy to do it was Drew Brees in 2012-13. It could be because of injury, which was part of the problem for Patrick Mahomes in 2019 after dominating the year before. Or it could be poor play since the NFL tends to catch up to groundbreaking things. I'd love for Jackson to dominate again, but there could be some slippage in his stats. As a result, the earliest I would draft him is the end of Round 2, which isn't likely to happen in most leagues.
TEN Tennessee • #17
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
I'm not sure how many Fantasy managers are going to view Tannehill as a No. 1 quarterback this year, and I hope that's the case. Despite his amazing finish in 2019, which helped the Titans reach the AFC Championship Game, he should not be considered a starting Fantasy option in 2020. And that's assuming he returns to the Titans since he's an impending free agent. Tannehill closed the regular season in 2019 by averaging 25.5 Fantasy points per game in 10 starts, and he only had one game over that stretch with fewer than 20 points. I expect him to have plenty of good moments this season, but this is just the second time in his career that he averaged more than 20 Fantasy points per game for a season. Maybe the move to Tennessee and leaving Miami turned Tannehill into a star, and he definitely played that way. But I expect some natural regression for the 31-year-old, and he's just a No. 2 quarterback worth drafting with a late-round pick.
TEN Tennessee • #22
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
This is one I'm probably going to regret because Henry was a beast in 2019. But I'm concerned about drafting him in Round 1, especially in PPR. He's about to get a hefty raise as a free agent, likely from the Titans, and we've seen how that's gone for several running backs recently, including Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell. He's also coming off a huge workload in 2019 with 386 carries and 409 total touches, including the playoffs, and there could be wear and tear issues coming up, especially for a bigger running back. There's also the lack of work in the passing game to be worried about. He had 18 catches last season, which were a career high, and he has fewer receptions (57) than games played (62) over four years in the NFL. If the touchdowns regress -- he had a career-high 18 last year -- then he could struggle. I'll take Henry in Round 2 in all leagues, but most Fantasy managers seem inclined to draft him in Round 1, which is likely a mistake.
LAC L.A. Chargers • #25
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
I'm not sure where Gordon will play in 2019 since he's a free agent. But I do know I likely won't be drafting him in the first three rounds unless it's just the perfect scenario. And will a new team, if he leaves the Chargers, make him the featured running back? We'll have to wait and see. But like Henry, running backs who get paid make me nervous given their track record. And Gordon didn't look as explosive in 2019 following his four-game holdout when he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry. He only had one game with more than 100 rushing yards and seven games with 50 yards or less. Now, Gordon has always been a good option in the passing game, which hopefully will continue. And he has at least nine total touchdowns in four years in a row. His destination in 2020 will determine his Fantasy outlook, but he's not someone I plan to covet in most leagues as of now.
ATL Atlanta • #24
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
There's a report that Freeman could be released by the Falcons this offseason in a cost-cutting move, which makes sense. His best days seem to be behind him after his play in 2019, followed by two years of battling various injuries. And if he goes to a new team in 2020 it's doubtful he'll be given a featured role. Freeman could become a good pass-catching back in a tandem, and his 59 receptions in 2019 was No. 8 among running backs. But he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry last season, which was a career low, and he's trending in the wrong direction at 28. If he stays with the Falcons then he's a high-end No. 3 running back worth drafting in Round 6. But if he leaves Atlanta, where he plays will determine his value, which I expect will be lower as part of a committee.
SF San Francisco • #31
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Mostert has one of the best stories in the NFL. He was cut by six NFL teams before catching on in San Francisco, and he finally had big success in 2019 in helping the 49ers reach Super Bowl LIV. Last year, Mostert closed the season by scoring a touchdown in eight of his final nine games, including the playoffs, with 12 touchdowns over that span. But only twice during that stretch did he have more than 15 total touches, which included the NFC Championship Game against Green Bay when Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was hurt. And he only had 17 receptions on the season, including the playoffs. San Francisco could make things easy on Mostert by parting ways with Coleman (salary-cap move), Matt Breida (a restricted free agent) and Jerick McKinnon (salary-cap move), which would take him off this list. But if Coleman is back, along with Breida, then Mostert could be overvalued in Fantasy leagues this year. In a crowded 49ers backfield, the earliest I would draft Mostert is Round 6 in non-PPR leagues and Round 7 in PPR.
Keenan Allen WR
LAC L.A. Chargers • #13
Age: 27 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Allen, in theory, should be good with any quarterback he plays with because he's a standout receiver, but I don't like the loss of Philip Rivers for his Fantasy value. The same goes for Mike Williams. The Chargers will likely go with Tyrod Taylor to open the season and then eventually a rookie, but we'll see what happens with their quarterback plan for 2020 over the next two months. Allen has been awesome in all Fantasy leagues when healthy for most of his career, and he was just the No. 6 PPR receiver in 2019 with 104 catches for 1,199 yards and six touchdowns on 149 targets. This is now three years in a row with at least 97 catches, 1,196 yards and six touchdowns, and hopefully he's still productive with a new quarterback. He's still worth drafting as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver, but he'll be closer to Round 4 than Round 2 if he still had Rivers on his side.
MIA Miami • #11
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Finally, we saw Parker's potential fulfilled in 2019. Maybe it was Adam Gase being gone from Miami. Maybe it was Ryan Fitzpatrick. Maybe it was Parker finally staying healthy and motivated, and the results were awesome. He set career highs in catches (72), yards (1,202), touchdowns (nine) and targets (128), and he was the No. 11 PPR receiver for the season. He scored at least 20 PPR points in five of his final seven games, but now he has to do it again in 2020. The healthy return of Preston Williams (ACL) should impact Parker, who had the majority of his production after Williams was hurt in Week 9. And we'll see how many games Fitzpatrick starts after the Dolphins likely select a quarterback in the NFL Draft. I'm fine with Parker as a low-end starter this season, but he's not someone I would consider a must-start Fantasy receiver now. The earliest I would draft him is Round 5 in all leagues.
Stefon Diggs WR
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Diggs doesn't seem happy with the Vikings after he has removed all references to the team from his Instagram account. It appears like he wants out of Minnesota, but reports are the Vikings aren't going to trade him. I can see both sides of this because Diggs is a great receiver, but I've said for years he might never reach his statistical peak in Minnesota, especially with Kirk Cousins under center. As usual, Diggs had plenty of great moments in 2019, scoring at least 15 PPR points in six games. But he also had seven games with nine PPR points or less, and he didn't exactly dominate when Adam Thielen was dealing with a hamstring injury. With Thielen healthy and the run game dominant for the Vikings thanks to Dalvin Cook, Diggs' ceiling should again be limited. He's a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in all leagues, but I'd rather draft him in Round 5 than Round 3 in 2020.
NE New England • #11
Age: 33 • Experience: 12 yrs.
This is totally contingent on what happens with Tom Brady. If Brady leaves the Patriots as a free agent, which could happen, then Edelman is definitely a bust candidate. It's highly doubtful that whoever New England would replace Brady with will enhance Edelman's value. Now, if Brady is back with the Patriots, Edelman should be fine as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in non-PPR leagues and a borderline No. 1 option in PPR. He had one of the best seasons of his career in 2019 with a career-high 1,117 yards to go with 100 catches and six touchdowns on 153 targets. He's coming off a shoulder surgery this offseason, and he'll be 34 in May. So there is reason for concern, Brady or not. But Brady's decision on where he plays in 2020 will impact if Edelman is a Round 3 pick in PPR (Round 4 or 5 in non-PPR) or more of a mid-round selection if he's dealing with a new quarterback.
Zach Ertz TE
PHI Philadelphia • #86
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
As of February, I have Ertz ranked as the No. 3 tight end behind Travis Kelce and George Kittle. But I could consider moving him down a spot or two behind guys like Mark Andrews and Darren Waller if the Eagles make a significant transaction this offseason to enhance their receiving corps. We already saw Ertz take a step back in his production in 2019 from his dominant season in 2018, and he could continue to slide as Dallas Goedert's role increases. He went from 116 catches, 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns on 156 targets in 2018 to 88 catches, 916 yards and six touchdowns on 135 targets last year. He's still a No. 1 Fantasy tight end in all leagues, but he should be drafted at least a round behind Kelce and Kittle, who are top 20 overall selections. And if Philadelphia makes a splash in free agency or the NFL Draft at receiver, it could continue to hurt Ertz's Fantasy value in 2020.
Tyler Higbee TE
LAR L.A. Rams • #89
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Higbee helped a lot of Fantasy managers in 2019 with his outstanding finish to the season. He scored at least 18 PPR points in five games in row, with four games of at least 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns over that span. But now he has to prove he can do it again, which could be difficult if the Rams keep all their skill players in place. He had at least eight targets in all five of those games, and that kind of volume in Sean McVay's offense is awesome. But he's competing with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Gurley and Gerald Everett for targets, and that will be hard to do on a consistent basis if everyone is healthy. The expectations will be for Higbee to be a top 10 Fantasy tight end on Draft Day, but it's probably safer to select him as a borderline starter in all leagues. I'm likely going to settle for Higbee instead of target him, which means I probably won't draft him a lot this season.
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