Fantasy: Bust candidates to avoid in your draft (Updated)
More in this series
- Breakouts to target (Updated)
- Busts to avoid (Updated)
- Sleepers to steal (Updated)
- Risky picks to gamble on (Updated)
- Super-deep sleepers (Updated)
In an effort to save you the frustration that comes with a disappointing fantasy pick, here are this year's top bust candidates.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
There aren't any real bust candidates among the top fantasy quarterbacks this year and outside of the elite names, you don't have to invest high picks on the position, which limits the risk of being let down.
However, some concerning trends with Russell Wilson's outlook and how they could impact his performance in 2021 are worth mentioning.
Now that trade rumors have subsided, Wilson will play at least one more year with the Seahawks. And while he was dominant in the first eight games last season, his struggles in the final two months remain worrisome.
"Teams just started to figure us out," receiver DK Metcalf explained, via The Athletic's Michael-Shawn Dugar. "We've been running deep pass ever since (coach) Pete (Carroll) got there. Play-action. Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, go deep. Teams just said, 'We're just not gonna let you all go deep.'"
Russ cooked in the first eight games of 2020, averaging the second-most fantasy points among quarterbacks (29.52) in that stretch. But he was the QB16 on a per-game basis (17.08) over his last eight contests.
It was the second straight campaign Wilson's production faded as the year progressed. In 2019, he came out as the QB2 in fantasy points per game (23.29) in the opening eight contests, only to deliver QB14 per-game numbers (18.42) in his next eight appearances.
More concerning perhaps is how his head coach seemed to react to this development.
A heavier dose of the running game is not what Wilson's fantasy managers want to hear. That move, the uncertainty surrounding Seattle's offensive line, and the number of quality fantasy QBs heading into 2021 make it fair to question Wilson's ADP in the seventh round.
Wilson also has the second most difficult schedule at his position based on our metric.
That puts a lot of pressure on new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, who has to increase the tempo of the unit enough to fulfill Carroll's desire for more rushing volume, while also keeping Wilson busy through the air.
By all accounts, it sounds like that's what Waldron plans to do, and Seahawks players appear to be excited about having more pace to their attack. But a new system could lead to a slower start this season as everyone gets more comfortable with it.
Don't be surprised if Russ flips the script and begins the year with some quieter outings before catching fire midway through the season when starters have mastered the scheme.
Other QB bust candidates:
- Matt Ryan, Falcons - The 36-year-old's career splits without Julio Jones are scary and should cause concern for fantasy managers.
- Daniel Jones, Giants - With the status of Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay unclear for the start of the season, the turnover-prone Jones could be in tough behind a weak offensive line.
- Jameis Winston, Saints - Even if he wins the starting job, which is likely at this point, Taysom Hill is going to remain involved, which lowers Winston's ceiling.
David Montgomery, RB, Bears
Montgomery might be the easiest fade on this list, which is a stunning comment to make about a player who finished as the RB4 last season and averaged the eighth-most fantasy points per game (17.7) among running backs.
That's because he capitalized on a lack of backfield competition after Tarik Cohen went down with a season-ending injury. He then kicked his production into overdrive thanks to an absurdly weak schedule down the stretch.
Montgomery failed to crack 90 rushing yards in a game before accomplishing the feat four times in his last six appearances. Of his 10 touchdowns on the season, just two came before his Week 11 bye.
The 23-year-old also got a significant receiving boost from Cohen's absence. Montgomery saw three targets in each of the first three outings with Cohen in the lineup, only to see that number spike to five per contest after the pass-catching specialist was sidelined for the year.
In addition to Cohen coming back at some point this season, the Bears added free-agent Damien Williams and rookie Khalil Herbert to the backfield. The depth issue is now solved, and the combination of Cohen and Williams could severely limit Montgomery's involvement in the passing game.
Rookie quarterback Justin Fields creates an interesting wrinkle, as well. The Bears' first-round pick rushed for more touchdowns than every quarterback in this class other than Trey Lance. It's possible we see him steal a couple carries around the goal line.
That leaves us with a volume-dependent running back, who is unlikely to see the same target share and could have some of his scoring opportunities vultured by a new dual-threat QB.
It's enough to treat Montgomery as a low-end RB2 in fantasy and not the top-10 option he appeared to be at times last season.
Other bust RB candidates:
- J.K. Dobbins, Ravens - The sophomore will need a massive touchdown total to overcome his lack of receptions in a Baltimore offense that rarely throws to their RBs.
- Miles Sanders, Eagles - Philly's continued desire to add running backs this offseason doesn't bode well for Sanders emerging as a workhorse.
- Melvin Gordon, Broncos - When your team trades up to draft a runner early in the second round, it's a bad sign for your future production.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Browns
However, he's yet to crack the top 30 in that category since joining the Browns - coming in as the WR33 and WR39 over the past two seasons.
The 28-year-old is also recovering from a torn ACL suffered in Week 7 last year. And though all reports indicate his rehab is going well, he'll be nine months removed from surgery when training camp gets underway, putting his early season availability and effectiveness in doubt.
The biggest issue for OBJ in Cleveland remains his volume. During those five seasons in New York, he saw 10.5 targets per outing, while his brief stint with the Browns has resulted in 7.7 targets per contest. In more practical terms, that's the difference between a top-five target getter and being outside the top 25.
Beckham can still be a fantasy starter, but his days as a WR1 might be over barring a trade or a dramatic shift in the Browns' play-calling. Cleveland was among the bottom five in pass attempts in 2020. With a strong rushing attack powered by quality backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, as well as a defense that should be improved following several key offseason additions, we're not likely to see their offense turn pass-happy anytime soon.
It's time to lower your expectations for Beckham, to view him as a boom-or-bust WR3 who could get off to a slow start depending on the health of his knee come September.
Other bust WR candidates:
- Adam Thielen, Vikings - He's been held under 60 yards in 17 of his last 25 games and will also face touchdown regression in 2021.
- Kenny Golladay, Giants - Missing a big chunk of practice time with a hamstring injury is especially problematic for a receiver on a new team. Even when he returns, target competition will be an issue in a passing attack loaded with skill-position talent.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers - Miscast as a No. 1 receiver after Antonio Brown left, JuJu has settled in as a volume-dependent option in an offense likely to run more in 2021.
Mike Gesicki, TE, Dolphins
Gesicki finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end in 2020 and is going off the board as a TE1 in this year's drafts, but he's an incredibly risky option to trust in your lineup.
The majority of his production last season came after No. 2 receiver Preston Williams was lost for the year in Week 9, including a few games where the Dolphins' top target DeVante Parker was sidelined.
Prior to Week 9, Gesicki was averaging the 22nd-most fantasy points (8.4) among tight ends, with just two notable performances in those first eight outings.
With Williams sidelined, Gesicki's production skyrocketed to 13.2 fantasy points per game, sixth best at his position over that span.
Not only are the Dolphins getting back Williams and Parker, they added free agent Will Fuller and first-rounder Jaylen Waddle to the receiving corps. Miami also drafted a potential Gesicki replacement at tight end in third-rounder Hunter Long.
While the rookie won't immediately assume top spot on the depth chart, his presence is noteworthy as Gesicki enters the final year of his contract.
Even if Tua Tagovailoa breaks out in his second season, which we expect to happen, the increase in target competition will make it tough for Gesicki to maintain consistent numbers - as we've seen in the past.
He doesn't belong in the TE1 mix and anyone who drafts him will end up dropping him back on the waiver wire in the first few weeks.
Other bust TE candidates:
- Dallas Goedert, Eagles - Until Zach Ertz is traded or released, it's hard to get behind Goedert at his current ADP.
- Evan Engram, Giants - He'll deal with the same issue as Golladay, trying to find consistent targets in an offense filled with capable pass-catchers.
- Hunter Henry, Patriots - Henry missed multiple weeks in August with a shoulder injury. Once healthy, he'll be sharing targets with fellow tight end Jonnu Smith in a low-volume passing attack.
More in this series