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USATSI

Compiling a bust list for Fantasy Football should be at least a little bit of torture for a Fantasy analyst. Sure, you can choose to put the highest drafted quarterback on the list (I did), and you may even get away with a couple of mid-round veterans who are obvious regression candidates (I did that too), but at the heart of every bust column there should be at least a couple of superstars who you have to bet against. 

And that should be uncomfortable. 

Those superstars, for me, are Najee Harris and Davante Adams in 2022. And it's very uncomfortable.

Harris was one of only three running backs in the NFL to score 300 PPR Fantasy points in 2022, and he did it as a rookie. Adams has finished first or second at wide receiver each of the past two years and was fifth per-game in 2019 and first per-game in 2018. These are super-duper-stars, who are both consensus top-10 picks according to Fantasy Pros PPR ADP

That ADP both emboldens me and gives me pause. For one thing, it seems like the whole world disagrees with my evaluation of their 2022. On the other hand, you can have a pretty good season and still bust as a top-10 pick. Just remember, I don't think these guys are terrible, or will end up on the waiver wire. I do think they're very unlikely to justify their current ADP and their floor is much lower than people are accounting for.

While both players will have new quarterbacks in 2022, we'll start with Harris because I'm most convinced he's being over-drafted. While Harris did finish RB3 overall last year that was mostly on the back of compiling and playing 17 games. On a per-game basis he was RB8 and I'm concerned he could be worse in 2022. So much of Harris' value was wrapped up in the fact that he led all running backs in catches with 74. That was largely because the Steelers threw the ball 664 times. 

I project a massive decrease in pass attempts regardless of who wins the competition between Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. Both are far more mobile than Roethlisberger, and mobile quarterbacks are more likely to take off and run or try to extend the play with their feet. Roethlisberger was content to get the ball out of his hands as fast as possible. The tendency also makes it likely that the share of running back targets decreases as well as the total volume of targets.

The problem for Harris is that we don't really have any reason to expect this offense or offensive line to be significantly better, so there's little reason to expect an increase in efficiency or touchdowns that would make up for his decrease in targets. Unfortunately, he's being drafted as RB5 ahead of backs like Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, and Aaron Jones. I'd rather have all three, and I wouldn't draft Harris before Round 2.

Adams, who left the Packers to join his friend Derek Carr in Las Vegas, has more of a circumstantial bust case. I assume everyone would expect a small downgrade in efficiency from Adams. Carr isn't Aaron Rodgers after all. But at least in terms of efficiency metrics, the only real difference between the two the past three years is in the area of touchdowns and interceptions. 

Rodgers has produced a 6.8% touchdown rate while Carr's has lagged well behind at 4.3%. In that same three-year stretch, Adams has scored on 7.6% of his targets. League average last year was 4.5%, and it seems fair to expect Carr to be better with Adams, which is why I boosted Carr to 5.0% in 2022 projections, while Adams fell to 5.9%. Last year a 5.9% rate would have only cost Adams one touchdown over the season based on his 169 targets. But that last number brings us to our biggest concern.

No other Packer has more than 68 targets in a season over the past three years. Adams has thoroughly dominated targets, averaging 10.6 per game. In Las Vegas he'll be joined by Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. They earned a combined 221 targets for the Raiders last year, and Waller missed six games. Furthermore, Josh McDaniels offense has a much longer history of targeting slot receivers and tight ends than it does outside wide receivers. McDaniels will alter that, I have no doubt, but Renfrow and Waller will not be used like Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan.

All that's to say that I project Adams for 148 targets this season and that feels closer to his ceiling than his floor. Assuming his catch rate and yards per catch remain steady, he could still be worth a Round 2 pick if he matches the touchdown rate I suggested above. But it was just three years ago that Adams posted a 3.9% TD rate and only averaged 7.9 yards per target. If that happens, Adams will not be worth a Round 3 pick. 

Here are the rest of my busts for 2022:

Busts 3.0
Projections powered by Sportsline
BUF Buffalo • #17
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
38th
QB RNK
1st
PROJ PTS
474.4
SOS
11
ADP
23
2021 Stats
PAYDS
4407
RUYDS
763
TD
42
INT
15
FPTS/G
27.9
I do this every year, so I'll be short. The No. 1 quarterback doesn't often repeat, and even when he does he doesn't often justify his ADP. Last year Allen did manage to repeat (depending on your scoring system), but he outscored Tom Brady by a half a point per game. Brady went several rounds later in most drafts. Outside of that, there's a little bit of uncertainty about how the Bills offensive coordinator change will affect the offense and whether Allen's performance as a passer in 2020 or 2021 is more reliable. If you must have an elite quarterback, just wait a round and take Justin Herbert or Patrick Mahomes. But don't take any of them before late Round 3.
CIN Cincinnati • #9
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
107th
QB RNK
10th
PROJ PTS
352.5
SOS
23
ADP
59
2021 Stats
PAYDS
4611
RUYDS
118
TD
36
INT
14
FPTS/G
23.9
Burrow's ADP is one of the most mystifying of the offseason to me. He's QB4 in NFC drafts and QB6 in Fantasy Pros consensus. He's going 11 picks before Jalen Hurts, 15 picks before Dak Prescott, 30 picks before Brady. I'd rather have all of them over Burrow, who finished last year QB9 per game despite an insane 8.9 yards per pass attempt that will likely regress close to a yard in 2022.
NE New England • #37
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
76th
RB RNK
31st
PROJ PTS
192.1
SOS
30
ADP
65
2021 Stats
RUYDS
929
REC
18
REYDS
132
TD
15
FPTS/G
14
Harris scored 15 touchdowns on 202 carries last season. The year before he scored twice on 137 carries. Obviously Cam Newton has something to do with that, but there's been enough hype about Rhamondre Stevenson this offseason that I'm expecting a full-blown committee much like was saw at the end of last year. There will likely be a third back handling the passing downs, but even if there's not, Stevenson is far more likely to land that role than Harris.
ATL Atlanta • #84
Age: 31 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
92nd
RB RNK
37th
PROJ PTS
196.7
SOS
2
ADP
78
2021 Stats
REC
52
TAR
69
REYDS
548
TD
11
FPTS/G
14.7
Patterson was one of the best stories in football last year as the 30-year-old wide receiver turned running back, and for at least half a season looked like it could stick. But he faded hard in the second half, he's now 31 years old, and the team would really like it if Tyler Allgeier could take over early downs work this year. You should never bet on career years from 30-year-old running backs, but especially when they do it like Patterson did. He's a fine pick around pick 100, not before.
SEA Seattle • #14
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
54th
WR RNK
24th
PROJ PTS
240.7
SOS
3
ADP
44
2021 Stats
REC
75
TAR
129
REYDS
967
TD
12
FPTS/G
14.4
It's still astonishing that the Seahawks chose to enter training camp with Drew Lock and Geno Smith as their top two quarterbacks, but here we are. Metcalf is an elite talent at wide receiver, so I get why he's being over-drafted, but this profiles as the worst offense in the league and a low pass volume offense at that. A slow, run-heavy offense with terrible quarterback play is no place for a Round 4 wide receiver.
DEN Denver • #10
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
69th
WR RNK
32nd
PROJ PTS
236
SOS
5
ADP
69
2021 Stats
REC
38
TAR
56
REYDS
467
TD
0
FPTS/G
8.5
I loved Jerry Jeudy's profile coming into the NFL but he's shown us very little in the two years since he was drafted to justify the first round-pick the Broncos spent on him. Jeudy will battle Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and KJ Hamler for targets, and so far this offseason the last other three are getting a lot more positive buzz and a lot more reps with Russell Wilson, because Jeudy hasn't been able to stay on the field. It sounds like he'll be a slot receiver with Sutton and Patrick remaining outside, and I'm losing faith he'll justify even a sixth-round pick in that role.
ATL Atlanta • #8
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
41st
TE RNK
3rd
PROJ PTS
175.2
SOS
9
ADP
31
2021 Stats
REC
68
TAR
110
REYDS
1026
TD
1
FPTS/G
10.4
I hate that we're here again because Kye Pitts has superstar upside. He also has Arthur Smith running the offense and Marcus Mariota or Desmond Ridder throwing him passes. He finished TE11 on a per-game basis last year, and now with a quarterback downgrade he's being drafted as TE3 in Round 3. Pitts will do awesome things once again, but he's also going to miss ADP again. He would need to match last year's production, and add four touchdowns, to match Dalton Schultz's 2021. Schultz saw Amari Cooper leave and is now being drafted 30 picks later than Pitts. That's the move to make.
SF San Francisco • #85
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
55th
TE RNK
5th
PROJ PTS
218
SOS
2
ADP
40
2021 Stats
REC
71
TAR
94
REYDS
910
TD
6
FPTS/G
14.1
I'm not quite as certain Kittle is being overdrafted as Pitts, but I am very concerned what Trey Lance is going to mean for this offense. He all but ignored Kittle in limited action last year and averaged just 26 passes per game in his two starts. That's not enough volume to sustain Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Kittle. It might not be enough to sustain two of them at their ADP.