First, a disclaimer: Just because we call someone a "bust" doesn't mean we don't like them for Fantasy or think they'll be bad. For example, I called Austin Ekeler a bust in our running back preview, but I'd still be okay with ending up with him as my No. 1 running back. Just probably not in the first round, especially in a Non-PPR league. Given that that's where you'll probably have to take him this season, which means it's a bad investment. At least in my eyes.
This is all in the eye of the beholder, obviously. My bust pick could be someone you think is going to break out into an even bigger role, while my sleeper pick could be someone you think won't even have a role. Ultimately, you have to make the call for yourself on Draft Day. We're just here to guide you; you've still gotta click the button.
I love Jackson. He was amazing last year, and he should be special again this season. I have him ranked as the No. 2 quarterback behind only Patrick Mahomes. But this listing is all about his ADP, which is Round 1 on CBS Sports. And I get why that is happening for the reigning NFL MVP. 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 2011-12. Guys fall off due to injury, which was part of the problem for 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 or beginning of Round 3 in one-quarterback leagues (he's a first-round pick in two-quarterback and Superflex leagues). Even Mahomes being drafted in Round 1 is too soon, so I plan to avoid both quarterbacks at that cost.
Rodgers didn't have a good Fantasy season in 2019, but he did finish as the No. 7 quarterback in total points and No. 10 in points per game for quarterbacks who made at least 10 starts. But Rodgers should be considered a borderline Fantasy starter at best this season, and he's only worth drafting with a late-round pick. He only had six games last season with at least 20 Fantasy points, and this offseason has been a nightmare for him when it comes to personel. Green Bay lost right tackle Bryan Bulaga, tight end Jimmy Graham (although that might be considered an upgrade, especially if Jace Sternberger steps up as a sophomore) and his main receiver acquisition in Devin Funchess, who opted out as a result of the coronavirus. Along with that, the Packers added another quarterback in Jordan Love in Round 1 of the NFL Draft and a third-string running back in A.J. Dillon in Round 2. The latter selection suggests Green Bay wants to run the ball more with Dillon, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. And what happens if Davante Adams gets hurt again like he did last year? Rodgers could still finish as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback again, but his upside feels capped. He's someone to settle for, instead of target, on Draft Day.
TEN Tennessee • #22
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Henry was a beast in 2019 as the NFL's leading rusher, but I'm concerned about drafting him in Round 1, especially in PPR. He just had 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. The Titans have already fallen victim to this scenario once with Eddie George, who went from over 1,900 total yards and 16 touchdowns in 2000 to 1,200 total yards and five touchdowns in 2001. And there are many other examples of running backs over the past 30 years with 370-plus carries who tend to fall off, which Football Outsiders dubbed the Curse of 370 in 2004. Now, Henry told CBS Sports in late January that he "could play a whole, full season right now," and he expects to be fine in 2020. But if his rushing falls off, Henry isn't the kind of back who can fall back on his receiving game. 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. I'll take Henry in Round 2, but most Fantasy managers seem inclined to draft him in Round 1, which is likely a mistake.
Le'Veon Bell RB
BAL Baltimore • #26
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Bell was a bust in 2019, and I'm not sure things will be much better this year. While the Jets invested a lot in their offensive line, especially with Mekhi Becton in the first round of the NFL Draft, Bell is likely going to lose some of the 311 touches he had from last year to Frank Gore and Lamical Perine. And Bell just had his worst average in the NFL at 14.3 PPR points per game, as well as a career-low 3.2 yards per carry. He's still someone to draft as a No. 2 running back in all leagues, but the earliest I would draft him is Round 4, even in PPR. Let someone else deal with the headache of Adam Gase screwing with Bell's touches because of Gore or Perine. It will happen, and you could regret drafting Bell with a pick in the top 40 overall.
My biggest concern for Hopkins is the target share. He's had at least 150 targets in each of the past five seasons, and in the past two years with Deshaun Watson, Hopkins has received at least 30 percent of the team's total. In looking at the Cardinals last year, Larry Fitzgerald led the team with 109 targets, and Christian Kirk was right behind at 108, although he missed three games due to an ankle injury. Those two remain in Arizona, and although their targets should decline with Hopkins on the roster, it might not be by much. So now the question becomes if Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray will be throwing more after he attempted 542 passes as a rookie in 2019. Our projections at CBS Sports have him at 555 attempts, which seems realistic. A 30% share of the targets would be 166 this season from Murray. That would be the third-most targets of Hopkins' career (he had 192 in 2015 and 175 in 2017), and I don't expect that to happen. I like Hopkins a lot. But he's no longer a top-five Fantasy receiver now that he's with the Cardinals.
I'm not ready to buy back in on Beckham being a top-tier Fantasy option again. He struggled in 2019 with the Browns as he again battled injuries. While he didn't miss time, he had a career-low 64.7 yards per game and scored just four touchdowns while not appearing to have a great rapport with Baker Mayfield on the field. The Browns added another significant weapon on offense with Austin Hooper, and new coach Kevin Stefanski wants to run the ball given the offense he oversaw in Minnesota. Jarvis Landry (hip) also is expected to be fine this year, meaning Beckham has plenty of teammates who also want the ball, including Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. I'm fine with Beckham in Round 4 in all leagues, but I expect most Fantasy managers will reach for him in Round 3. That could be a pick you regret in 2020 — just as you did in 2019.
TB Tampa Bay • #87
Age: 32 • Experience: 11 year
I'm excited that Gronkowski is back in the NFL. It's more fun when he's playing. And it's great that he was able to reunite with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. But while Gronkowski has the greatest rapport with Brady of anyone on the Buccaneers, this is the most talent he's ever had to share the field with in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. And the last time we saw Gronkowski in 2018 with the Patriots, he was mediocre at best, catching 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns on 72 targets. He averaged just 10.1 PPR points per game that season, which was his worst year since his rookie campaign in 2010. He'll be 31 when the season starts, and he hasn't played a full season since 2011, although he said he feels great following a year off. I have Gronkowski ranked as a top-10 Fantasy tight end, but even that feels too high. The earliest I would draft him is Round 9 in all leagues, but I'm not confident in him producing at a high level.
CLE Cleveland • #81
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Hooper was a star in 2019 with the Falcons, and he was rewarded with a four-year, $44 million contract, including $23 million guaranteed, by the Browns. He's now the highest-paid tight end in the NFL. If he plays like he did last year in Atlanta, when he was the No. 3 PPR tight end at 14.7 points per game (behind only George Kittle and Travis Kelce), then the money would be worth it. But I'm expecting a downturn in production in Cleveland. The Falcons led the NFL in pass attempts last season with 684, while the Browns were at No. 19 at 539. It's doubtful Baker Mayfield's attempts rise under Kevin Stefanski, who was the offensive coordinator of the Vikings, and they were No. 30 in pass attempts at 466. Hooper also shares the field with standout players in Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Hooper still thrived on the same field with Jones and Ridley, but Ryan was clearly better than Mayfield. I would only settle for Hooper this season with a late-round pick as a low-end starting option.
HOU Houston • #4
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
I'm typing this in CAPS: I STILL LIKE WATSON AND WOULD DRAFT HIM, JUST NOT AS A TOP-5 FANTASY QUARTERBACK. Losing Hopkins is just too much, especially since the Texans will ask two receivers with a notable injury history to help replace his numbers. Right around 30% of ALL of Watson's numbers came on passes thrown to Hopkins. It's just too much for Watson to overcome on his own. I'd take him in Round 6, not Round 5 or earlier.
Once among the most consistent quarterbacks in Fantasy, Rodgers finished 15th in consistency (games with 22-plus Fantasy points). Nearly 30% of his overall Fantasy numbers came in just two games. His completion rate has faded to right around 62% over the past two seasons and his touchdowns have settled in at 27 per year even though in 2019 he had the second-most pass attempts inside the 10-yard line.
I see Taylor with a July ADP of late Round 3 in National Fantasy Championship drafts and I squirm. I love the talent, and he's built like a tractor, but I worry about the opportunities being plentiful this year. Marlon Mack isn't built strong, but he's still managed to top the 1,000-total-yard mark in each of his past two seasons with at least eight scores in each. If you can do that, you don't stink. As the incumbent, Mack figures to be the Colts' first guy up on running downs this season, and a favorable early-season schedule might give him the chance to fend off Taylor from taking his entire workload through mid-October. What good does that do Taylor? Plus neither guy will have an easy time taking the passing downs and two-minute drill snaps away from Nyheim Hines. Taylor was a stat machine in college (the only player in FBS history to rack up over 1,900 rushing yards in each of three seasons), but he also had a bunch of turnovers (18 fumbles in 41 games) and isn't an accomplished pass catcher. Taylor will be a fantastic breakout candidate in 2021, but I'm nervous about overspending for him on Draft Day. His ADP makes him a bust.
CHI Chicago • #32
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
A year ago, I was pumped to see Montgomery pulverize and dance around defenses in the Chicago offense. Instead, his 2.33 yards after contact per attempt ranked 44th out of 45th and his elusiveness rating by Pro Football Focus ranked 31st out of 45 running backs (both categories based on a running back with at least 100 carries). Quite frankly, Montgomery was lucky to get the 1,074 total yards and seven scores he has in 2019 given the poor play of his offensive line, his own mediocre work and a dead-even split in snaps played with Tarik Cohen. Obviously Montgomery had a sizable lead in touches over Cohen, but will that be the case again this season if Montgomery can't make moves behind the Bears' not-so-hot offensive line? Eventually, the Bears can't keep giving Montgomery chances. A Round 5 pick is too soon.
For most wide receivers, 8.3 targets per game is great. For Beckham, it was a career-low in 2019, and he could be headed for even fewer in 2020. The Browns added Austin Hooper to their passing game, still have Jarvis Landry to take targets away and own the best 1-2 punch at running back in the entire league. Pair that with an offense that figures to be more conservative (and definitely better engineered), and Beckham's upside is shaky. It's great he's entering the season healthy, but he's ended each of his past three years with injuries and hasn't even had 1,100 yards or more than six scores in any of them. There's just too much risk to confidently take him in Round 3.
Keenan Allen WR
LAC L.A. Chargers • #13
Age: 29 • Experience: 9 yrs.
The only quarterback Allen has ever known in the NFL is Philip Rivers. He's gone. If Rivers was replaced by a quality veteran arm, Allen would probably be good to go. But it's Tyrod Taylor (at least to start the year), and that's unsettling. The last time Taylor took the field as a starter, he completed 49.4% of his throws and was wholly inefficient with the Browns. He also led only one receiver to over 700 yards in three years as a starter for the Bills. And even if (when?) Taylor is replaced by rookie Justin Herbert, Allen still figures to deal with uneven play. Given the quarterback issues, it's a longshot for Allen to hit 1,000 yards for the fourth straight year.
No one wants to call Jackson a bust. But just like with Mahomes last year, it's the right thing to do. You should not draft a quarterback in the first two rounds. But you definitely shouldn't draft a quarterback with Jackson's regression profile in the first two rounds. You should expect he'll lose at least 10 passing touchdowns from his 2019 campaign and upwards of 300 rushing yards. Even if he finishes as the No. 1 quarterback again, he won't separate himself from the field like he did in 2019. Draft a running back or a receiver or Travis Kelce instead at this spot.
Kyler Murray QB
ARI Arizona • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
So this is awkward. Yes, Murray is listed as a breakout in my QB preview. Yes, he's also likely to bust at his current ADP. That's because he's being drafted as the No. 4 quarterback, according to ADP, despite the fact he finished outside the top 12 on a per-game basis last year. There's plenty of room for Murray to break out and still not live up to this billing. In fact, it's the most likely outcome. Prescott, Wilson and Watson should all be drafted ahead of Murray.
This one hurts, because before the draft I thought Taylor could be a generational back. I still do. But he's almost certain to open the year in a time share with Mack on early downs, and he has very little chance to take Hines off the field on passing downs. In fact, I'd expect Mack to be second in line for running-back targets. Taylor's price has fallen a couple of picks since we learned of the shortened training camps, but even in the fourth round he's a reach. There's a chance these rookies justify their ADP in the second half of the season, but there's a lot more downside than upside at their cost.
Cam Akers RB
LAR L.A. Rams • #23
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Akers doesn't have Taylor's pedigree and isn't going to the team with the best offensive line in football. But like Taylor, he's in a three-headed competition, and Rams coaches have indicated it will be a three-headed committee (at least to start the year.) Worse yet, they currently prefer Henderson on passing downs and Brown in short yardage. The Rams profile as a pass-heavy team, with a mediocre offensive line. That's not great for Akers if he's a two-down back who isn't guaranteed red-zone work.
Because running backs are going so early, you really have to look more at where the receivers are being drafted relative to one another. Hopkins is currently the fifth receiver off the board, and that's terrifying to me. Last year's 7.8 yards per target was the second-lowest mark of Hopkins' career, and that matters because he figures to see a serious reduction in targets. Kliff Kingsbury runs a spread offense, and targets will be spread around between Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald and Kenyan Drake. If you give Hopkins 140 targets at his career efficiency, you're looking at 1,148 yards and seven scores. And there's no guarantee he matches his career efficiency with a less experienced quarterback.
PIT Pittsburgh • #18
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Count me out on the Johnson hype. He was a mediocre prospect with mediocre college production, and his rookie year wasn't all that special either. At best he'll be the No. 2 behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, but he has extra competition this year with the additions of Eric Ebron and Chase Claypool. There is no justification for drafting him before Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks or Marvin Jones.
Tyler Higbee TE
LAR L.A. Rams • #89
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
In the first 57 games of Tyler Higbee's career, he had seven games with more than five targets. Then Gerald Everett got hurt and Higbee saw 56 targets in the Rams final five games of 2019. It wasn't just Everett's injury of course; the Rams completely changed their offense to feature Higbee and Robert Woods, and for what it's worth, Higbee delivered. It's tough for anyone to know what Sean McVay's plans are for 2020, but Higbee is being drafted in the seventh round ahead of Evan Engram, Hunter Henry and Hayden Hurst, and there's more probably downside than upside at that cost. I'd anticipate he's third at best in the Rams pass offense in 2020, and there's a small chance he's not even the primary pass-catching tight end.
It's tough to find busts at quarterback, but Rodgers probably qualifies, especially considering the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. The Packers grabbed a bulldozing running back in Round 2 and Rodgers' heir-apparent in Round 1, both of which suggest moving the offense away from being dependent on the veteran passer. Add in that Rodgers no longer has the same type of mobility that gave him a sneaky strong rushing floor during his Fantasy peak, and he's one to avoid.
Drew Brees QB
NO New Orleans • #9
Age: 42 • Experience: 20 yrs.
Brees won't be a total bust, but he isn't a volume passer anymore and set a career high in 2019 with a 7.1% touchdown rate after 6.5% in 2018. Those are both more than a percentage point higher than his excellent career rate, and those touchdowns have masked how his upside isn't the same without the big yardage totals. I expect some of those scores to shift back to his running backs in 2020, and Brees also brings some age-related risk. He's just not someone I'll take on Draft Day.
James Conner RB
ARI Arizona • #6
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
I'm using Conner to represent a host of backs at the beginning of what I call the "Running Back Dead Zone," all of whom have been productive before but whose ADPs are a little loftier because of it. Unfortunately, the long-term history at running back suggests the part of 2020 drafts filled with Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Leonard Fournette, Conner, Le'Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Chris Carson could be loaded with landmines. Each is an example of needing to pay for past production when a player's situation has changed, which might be the surest sign of overvaluation at RB. Each is at least 25 years old with some type of injury history behind them, and younger backs behind them on the roster. You may broadly agree but have a favorite or two you think this doesn't apply to, and I will acknowledge expecting some to have solid seasons. But tread lightly — Fantasy Football history is unfortunately littered with great backs who couldn't reverse the decline phase, and these backs cost a third or fourth round pick that forces you to pass up some truly fantastic receiver options.
SF San Francisco • #31
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Mostert is a classic case of a TRAP back, which is to say he thrived on low-value touches and high efficiency. Low-value touches are rush attempts outside prime scoring area, and Mostert got just six touches inside the 10-yard line last season. Jeff Wilson got 10, and Tevin Coleman — who had the exact same number of carries as Mostert in the regular season — totaled 17. Now that's one area of Mostert's profile that could improve, and he did add a couple of short-yardage scores in the playoffs. However, he also totaled just 17 receptions through the playoffs last year, and banking on a back who is a great athlete and incredibly fun to watch but is nevertheless reliant on elite rushing efficiency and splash touchdowns is typically a losing option. That's before considering Mostert was a late breakout with a short track record — Mostert had just 48 career touches before his age-27 season last year — and plays in an offense that favored a committee last year.
Adam Thielen WR
MIN Minnesota • #19
Age: 31 • Experience: 8 yrs.
It's not really fair to call Thielen a bust, but I don't typically draft him at this price. We know the Vikings want to be a low-volume passing team, although it wouldn't be surprising if game script forced them to throw a bit more in 2020. Still, Thielen will be 30 this year, is coming off soft tissue injuries last season, and his path to upside resides in dominating targets and his offense throwing more than expected. If I'm going to stomach team volume concerns, I'd look at younger, frequently cheaper options like A.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs, both of whom I'd argue have more upside.
BUF Buffalo • #1
Age: 34 • Experience: 11 year
Sanders is going pretty late to be a bust pick, but he's the wide receiver whose ADP I have the biggest issue with. No Saint other than Alvin Kamara or Michael Thomas has hit 75 targets in a season since Kamara was drafted three seasons ago. As if that target concentration didn't make being a viable third weapon precarious enough, Jared Cook established himself behind those two with a solid run when healthy on 65 targets last season. Sanders posted fewer than 45 receiving yards in 13 of 20 games across two teams last year, and is a 33-year-old who is only a year and a half removed from an Achilles injury. Competing with Cook for No. 3 looks, I don't see the floor or the ceiling to justify his 10th-round ADP.
So which Fantasy football busts should you completely avoid? And which running back going off the board early should you fade? Visit SportsLine now to get cheat sheets from the model that called Baker Mayfield's disappointing season, and find out.