In early March there is no such thing as reliable ADP, so for this early version of my busts column, I'm using the Fantasy Pros consensus rankings for the month of March. For the most part these have been updated to reflect Aaron Rodgers staying in Green Bay and Russell Wilson getting traded to the Broncos. They do not appear to reflect the coming regression for Joe Burrow.
In 2021, Burrow led the NFL averaging 8.9 yards per pass attempt. He also posted an exceptional 6.5% touchdown rate. For reference, Deshaun Watson is the active leader in yards per attempt at 8.3. He and Patrick Mahomes are the only two active quarterbacks above 7.8 for their career. As for touchdown rate, Mahomes is the all-time leader at 6.4%. He, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson are the only three quarterbacks above 5.9%.
Let's say that we've decided Burrow is already the third or fourth-best quarterback in the NFL. We'll project him at 7.9 yards per attempt and 6.0% touchdown rate. He would need more than 36 pass attempts per game just to match last year's per-game numbers. In 2021 he averaged 32.5 attempts per game. Is a 10% increase in pass volume possible? Sure. In fact, if Burrow's efficiency regresses as expected you would expect an increase in pass attempts.
The problem is that even with that increase in pass attempts, assuming he's one of the three or four best passers in the league, he should only be expected to match last year's 23.8 FPPG. In 2021 that average made him QB9. In 2020 it would have made him QB12.
I want to be clear, I do think Burrow is an exceptional quarterback. He's one of just 13 quarterbacks to average at least 8.5 Y/A with a minimum of 500 pass attempts. Recently that's included names like Watson, Mahomes, Rodgers, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, and Carson Palmer. None of those guys ever followed up with another year above 8.5 Y/A the following year.
The fact that Burrow finished as QB9 with historic efficiency in 2021 means we should be leery about drafting him any higher than that in 2022. His current consensus ranking is QB6 and there's just very little reason to believe he can justify that ADP, much less make you a profit on it.
- Chris' 1.0 Series: Sleepers | Breakouts | Busts
- Dave's 1.0 series: Sleepers | Breakouts | Busts
- Jamey's 1.0 series: Sleepers | Breakouts | Busts
- Heath's 1.0 series: Sleepers | Breakouts | Busts
Here are six more players I don't expect to justify their current consensus ranking.
Dalvin Cook RB
MIN Minnesota • #4
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Cook will be 27 at the start of the season and has serious injury concerns (he's never played more than 14 games in a season). He's also coming off his worst year as a pass catcher and there are rumors that Minnesota's new leadership would like to start fresh by trading some of their more expensive pieces, maybe even Cook himself. All that uncertainty and risk makes it hard for me to draft Cook as the No. 5 back off the board, or even in Round 1 at all. I'd rather have younger backs like Javonte Williams or D'Andre Swift and I'd strongly prefer my top-five wide receivers in PPR.
Cam Akers RB
LAR L.A. Rams • #3
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Cam Akers shocked the world by coming back from his torn Achilles and participating in the Rams' Super Bowl run. That alone was enough to calm concerns that the injury could impact the rest of his career, but I was not prepared for how high everyone else would be on him. Akers sits at RB7 in the early rankings, ahead of Williams, Swift, Kamara, Joe Mixon and a handful of other backs I'd prefer. I have low confidence that Akers will be a true feature back even after his recovery. The fact that Darrell Henderson was used prominently in the passing game during the Super Bowl makes me even more concerned because Henderson is still on the roster. I'd prefer to wait until Round 4 for Akers, but I definitely wouldn't take him as a top-seven running back.
ARI Arizona • #10
Age: 30 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Hopkins came out as a low-end No. 3 wide receiver in my initial projections. I bumped him up to a borderline No. 2 just because of his track record, but last year was concerning. His target share fell to the 20% range after a career closer to 30%. He was essentially in a three-way tie with Christian Kirk and A.J. Green for the portion of the season that they were all healthy. Also, like Cook, there's his age and recent injuries. He will turn 30 in June and had two significant injuries last year. There is at least some risk that we've seen his last elite season. Volume, age, and injury concerns mean I can't draft Hopkins at WR15, which is his current consensus ranking.
Deebo Samuel WR
SF San Francisco • #19
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
I had a hard time finding a second wide receiver, it will probably get easier after free agency (or if Jerry Jeudy really sticks at WR19) but for now, I think Samuel is probably the best bet, if only because he did things receivers just don't do. He led the league at 18.2 yards per catch and scored eight times on just 56 carries. Those numbers should both regress. All of the 49ers pass catchers have risk if the 49ers trade Jimmy Garoppolo as expected because we just don't know if Trey Lance is an NFL passer yet. I like Samuel as a high-end WR2 this year, but his consensus ranking is currently WR7.
Dawson Knox TE
BUF Buffalo • #88
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Dawson Knox looks way too much like 2020 Robert Tonyan, and we pretty much all agreed Tonyan couldn't repeat his 2019. Knox only had 71 targets in 15 games and somehow scored nine touchdowns anyway. He ranked 18th at the position in receptions, 15th in yards, and tied for first in touchdowns. His numbers are remarkably similar to Hunter Henry's from last year as well. Henry is TE16 in the consensus rankings while Knox comes in at TE8. And now Knox may have his Jonnu Smith in Buffalo with the addition of O.J. Howard.