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USATSI

The start of the NFL calendar in March told us a lot about where teams are heading into the NFL Draft. And it was wild. We had franchise players traded (Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill), a huge retirement and then comeback (Tom Brady) and several stars signing as free agents (Leonard Fournette, James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Allen Robinson). And those are just a few of the names who made headlines.

Several players improved their Fantasy value during this time, but others could see a dropoff in production. And that's why we're here. It's time for an updated version of players I'll likely be avoiding this season with Busts 2.0.

We'll see what happens when the Average Draft Position data starts to matter later this summer. That's when you can really qualify a bust candidate. But these are players I'm concerned about based on what we know so far this offseason.

Quarterbacks
Projections powered by Sportsline
KC Kansas City • #15
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
52nd
QB RNK
2nd
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
12
2021 Stats
PAYDS
4839
RUYDS
381
TD
39
INT
13
FPTS/G
32.7
Mahomes will likely be fine once the NFL Draft is over and we can see what the Chiefs receiving corps looks like. And I don't mind the group Kansas City put together now with Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling joining Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman. But those guys aren't Hill, and collectively they might not provide the difference-making plays he offered on a weekly basis. We have a four-game sample size of Mahomes without Hill in 2019, and Mahomes had two games with 32-plus Fantasy points and two with 19 points or less. Over that span, he averaged 26.8 Fantasy points per game, and that's more than respectable. But I'm not counting on him to produce at that level in 2022. I'm still drafting Mahomes as a top five Fantasy quarterback, but I've seen him selected as the No. 2 passer off the board following the Hill trade. I'm not sure he has that type of upside right now with his No. 1 receiver now playing for the Dolphins.
GB Green Bay • #12
Age: 38 • Experience: 18 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
105th
QB RNK
13th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
39
2021 Stats
PAYDS
4115
RUYDS
101
TD
40
INT
4
FPTS/G
26
I've written off Rodgers enough times over the past few years to know this posting can come back to haunt me. But this season feels different. You need playmakers to succeed, and Rodgers lost two of his top receivers this offseason in Adams and Valdes-Scantling. Without Adams, Rodgers might not finish as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback this year. Now, Rodgers has done fine without Adams in a small sample size over the past three seasons. In seven games without Adams over that span, Rodgers has four outings with at least 30 Fantasy points and only two games with 19 points or less. Hopefully that continues. But if Rodgers goes into the season with guys like Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers and a rookie or two in prominent spots, it will be hard to justify drafting Rodgers as a starting Fantasy quarterback. As such, he's ranked closer to No. 15 for me than in the top 10. I'm not drafting Rodgers as a starter this year.
Running Backs
Projections powered by Sportsline
DAL Dallas • #21
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
48th
RB RNK
20th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
5
2021 Stats
RUYDS
1002
REC
47
REYDS
287
TD
12
FPTS/G
15.1
I'm hopeful that Elliott rebounds in 2022 and that the knee injury he said he played through last season was the reason for his decline. But 2021 was frustrating for Elliott and Fantasy managers who rostered him, and it's hard to justify drafting him in the first three rounds this season. Elliott went 10 games in a row last year with fewer than 55 rushing yards, and he became touchdown dependent to save his Fantasy production. He did have some productive games as a receiver, including three outings with at least six catches, but Tony Pollard looked like the best running back in Dallas almost every time he touched the field. We'll see how Elliott does this offseason and the reports on his health. And we'll also monitor reports on Pollard maybe taking on a bigger workload this season. But Elliott is no longer a running back to covet on Draft Day with a first- or second-round pick. If you want someone in the Cowboys backfield, just wait for Pollard in Round 6 or 7, and he might be better than Elliott as a Fantasy option in 2022.
SF San Francisco • #25
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
40th
RB RNK
19th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
NR
2021 Stats
RUYDS
963
REC
19
REYDS
137
TD
6
FPTS/G
18.3
Mitchell was great as the lead running back for the 49ers as a rookie in 2021, but history isn't on his side heading into his sophomore season. Kyle Shanahan has been the 49ers coach since 2017, and he's had a different leading rusher in every year (Carlos Hyde in 2017, Matt Breida in 2018, Raheem Mostert in 2019 and Jeff Wilson in 2020). We'll see if Mitchell can break that trend, but he should have some competition for the lead role from Trey Sermon, Wilson and do-it-all receiver Deebo Samuel. San Francisco general manager John Lynch even praised Sermon at the NFL Combine, saying that "Trey is someone we're really excited about." And you also have the dynamic of Trey Lance taking over at quarterback, and he could steal rushing production. Mitchell also struggled with injuries in 2021, missing six games with various ailments, and he had a limited role in the passing game with just 19 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown on 20 targets. In non-PPR leagues, Mitchell is worth drafting in Round 4, and he did have 1,100 total yards and six touchdowns in 11 games. Hopefully, he can repeat as the best running back for the 49ers for the first time under Shanahan and be great again. But in PPR, the earliest Mitchell should be drafted is Round 6. I'm concerned that anything sooner than that is a mistake.
SEA Seattle • #20
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
70th
RB RNK
32nd
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
220
2021 Stats
RUYDS
749
REC
6
REYDS
48
TD
6
FPTS/G
12.2
Penny returned to Seattle on a one-year, $5.75 million contract, and that was likely his best choice as a free agent when it comes to playing time. And he could be in a great situation if Chris Carson (neck) is slow in his recovery or doesn't return at all. But the bigger concern for Penny is that this Seattle offense could be awful now that Wilson is in Denver. We still don't know who the Seahawks will use at quarterback, and clearly that will impact Penny's value. You don't want to chase his amazing production to close last season when he scored at least 19 PPR points in four of his final five games. Over that span, he had 671 rushing yards (7.3 yards per carry) and six rushing touchdowns, and I expect that might be the best stretch we'll ever have of Penny's career. Also, keep in mind the injury history for Penny, who has missed 20 games over the past two seasons. The earliest I'd gamble on Penny is Round 6 in PPR (Round 5 in non-PPR), and we'll see what Seattle does at quarterback coming out of the NFL Draft. Ultimately, that will determine how good -- or bad -- this Seattle offense will be in 2022.
DEN Denver
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
76th
RB RNK
31st
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
63
2021 Stats
RUYDS
592
REC
43
REYDS
311
TD
2
FPTS/G
12.2
I like the move of Edmonds to Miami as a free agent, but I'm afraid he might get overdrafted. He might not even be the best running back for the Dolphins with Raheem Mostert also in the backfield given that Mostert was with coach Mike McDaniel in San Francisco. I still consider Edmonds a flex play in the majority of leagues. But I wouldn't plan to draft him with the hope of a huge role in the passing game. No 49ers running back had more than 33 receptions over the past four seasons if McDaniel is going to replicate that offense with the Dolphins. And Edmonds doesn't exactly profile as a workhorse running back with only four games of at least 15 carries in his four-year career. He also has just three rushing touchdowns combined in the past two seasons. The positive for Edmonds is that Mostert has struggled with injuries in his career and missed 16 games last season with a knee injury. And the Dolphins seemingly prioritized Edmonds as the first free agent running back to sign this offseason. But I won't be drafting him before Round 7 in most leagues, and I anticipate him being gone by then, especially in PPR. Instead, I'll wait for Mostert after Round 8, and he could be the best running back in Miami this season.
ATL Atlanta • #84
Age: 31 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
82nd
WR RNK
54th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
NR
2021 Stats
REC
52
TAR
69
REYDS
548
TD
11
FPTS/G
14.7
Patterson returned to Atlanta this offseason on a two-year, $10.5 million deal. Hopefully, he can build on his breakout performance from 2021, but Fantasy managers shouldn't be chasing that production. He had a career-high 153 carries for 618 yards and six touchdowns, and he matched his career best with 52 catches for 548 yards and five touchdowns on 69 targets. Finally, in his ninth season in the NFL at 31, Patterson was a standout Fantasy option. But it's hard to imagine him producing at that level again -- or anything close to it. While he could remain the lead running back for the Falcons, they also might need him more at receiver following Calvin Ridley being suspended and Russell Gage leaving the team as a free agent to Tampa Bay. You want him lined up in the backfield as much as possible, but his increased workload last season might have caught up to him. He scored eight PPR points or less in each of his final four games, and this Falcons offense could be brutal with Marcus Mariota taking over at quarterback for the departed Matt Ryan. I don't mind Patterson as a flex option in the majority of leagues, but I'm not drafting him as a starter. The earliest I would consider Patterson is Round 7 in all formats.
Wide Receivers
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIA Miami • #10
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
2021 Stats
REC
111
TAR
159
REYDS
1239
TD
9
FPTS/G
21.6
Hill will remain a top-tier Fantasy receiver following his move from the Chiefs to the Dolphins, but you don't go from Mahomes to Tua Tagovailoa and get better. Are the Dolphins going to give Hill 135-plus targets, which is what he's had in three of the past four years? Maybe, but we know Tagovailoa also has to feed Jaylen Waddle and to a lesser extent Mike Gesicki, Ced Wilson and the running backs. Can Tagovailoa consistently help Hill make plays down the field? Maybe, but we know there's a significant difference in arm talent for these two quarterbacks. I do expect Hill to have plenty of touches in the backfield in Miami a la Samuel for the 49ers, and Hill has two seasons on his resume with at least 22 carries. That will help manufacturing production for Hill. But he's no longer someone to draft in the first round in the majority of Fantasy leagues, and the earliest I would select him is late in Round 2. He got paid a lot going to Miami with a four-year, $120 million extension, but his production will go down without Mahomes on his side.
SEA Seattle • #14
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
50th
WR RNK
22nd
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
22
2021 Stats
REC
75
TAR
129
REYDS
967
TD
12
FPTS/G
14.4
We keep waiting for Metcalf to get traded, but that might not happen if the Seahawks consider him a building block for the future. And they should given his potential as a 24-year-old star. Most likely, Seattle will look to trade Tyler Lockett, who is 29 and might not be as productive when the Seahawks complete their rebuilding process following the Wilson trade. Lockett is also a bust candidate, but he seems more obvious. Fantasy managers are still counting on Metcalf to be a standout Fantasy receiver, but that might not happen without Wilson. We'll see what Seattle does at quarterback, and that could determine what happens with Metcalf as a Fantasy receiver this year. For example, someone like Baker Mayfield will keep Metcalf in the No. 2 receiver range. But a quarterback like Drew Lock or a rookie will drop Metcalf down to a No. 3 option. I'm not overly optimistic as of this writing in early April, and I will likely avoid Metcalf in most leagues this year. The earliest I would draft him now is Round 5.
ARI Arizona • #10
Age: 30 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
45th
WR RNK
20th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
20
2021 Stats
REC
42
TAR
64
REYDS
572
TD
8
FPTS/G
14.7
Hopkins could benefit this season with more targets if the Cardinals don't bring back or have significant replacements for Christian Kirk or A.J. Green. But Hopkins could also be in trouble if Kyler Murray decides to hold out and misses any time in the regular season, which is something that could happen given Murray's unhappiness with his contract. Hopkins also could be nearing the point in his career where he starts to slow down since he'll be 30 in June. He missed significant time due to injury in 2021 for the first time in his nine-year career. After missing Weeks 9-11 due to a hamstring strain, he suffered what was eventually revealed to be a sprained MCL prior to Week 15 that required surgery and forced him to miss the rest of the season. He should make a full recovery by training camp, but Hopkins is no longer worth drafting in the first two rounds in the majority of leagues. The earliest I would draft Hopkins is Round 4, but that's only if Murray is ready to go by Week 1, which is something we'll have to monitor this offseason.
DET Detroit • #14
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
77th
WR RNK
34th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
NR
2021 Stats
REC
90
TAR
119
REYDS
912
TD
6
FPTS/G
13.4
I was excited for St. Brown when he was drafted by the Lions last season. I liked the situation with their barren receiving corps, and I expected St. Brown to have the chance to make plays for Jared Goff. St. Brown didn't really take off until the end of the season, but he was on a rocket ship over the final six games of the year. Over that span, St. Brown had at least eight catches, 73 yards and 10 targets in each outing, and he scored five touchdowns. He scored at least 15 PPR points in each game and at least 23 PPR points in five of those games. He averaged 24.5 PPR points in those six games. It was amazing, but you have to put it in context. T.J. Hockenson missed five of those games with a thumb injury, and D'Andre Swift missed four of those outings with a shoulder problem. And now the Lions added D.J. Chark this offseason as a free agent, and more receiving help could be coming via the NFL Draft. We'll see what happens, and St. Brown is still going to be productive. But he will likely struggle with more weapons on the field, and the earliest I would draft St. Brown is Round 6 in the majority of leagues.
Tight Ends
Projections powered by Sportsline
SF San Francisco • #85
Age: 29 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
45th
TE RNK
5th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
23
2021 Stats
REC
71
TAR
94
REYDS
910
TD
6
FPTS/G
15.8
At the NFL Combine in early March, nearly every incoming rookie tight end I interviewed said they wanted to model their game after Kittle, which makes sense. He's the most complete tight end in the NFL with his receiving and blocking ability, and he's a star. And he's still going to be a great Fantasy asset this season. But he continues to struggle with injuries, and he missed 13 games over the past three years with various ailments. And now you have to deal with Lance taking over at quarterback, which could be a problem for Kittle. He played in two games with Lance in 2021, and Kittle combined for just five catches for 69 yards on 12 targets. It's a small sample size, and Kittle and Lance should be able to connect for plenty of production. But now Kittle is the No. 5 Fantasy tight end coming into the year for me behind Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller and Kyle Pitts, and the earliest I would draft him is Round 4. If he makes it there, he's a great value pick, but I still expect Fantasy managers to draft him sooner than that, which could be a mistake.