Fantasy Football may breed new superstars like Michael Thomas, Jay Ajayi and Ezekiel Elliott each and every year. However, this same process will inevitably stamp dozens of players with the “bust label” that is near impossible to shake for the remainder of their respective careers. In the wake of a season as unpredictable as ever, reviewing this past year’s top 10 “busts” against average draft position (ADP) could provide a cautionary tale for fantasy players looking to avoid a repeat of their previous mistakes.
Todd Gurley (ADP: 2.4)
Boy, where did we all go wrong. A decorated runner out of Georgia, Gurley burst onto the scene immediately as a rookie for the Rams, bolting through and around defenders with his rare size/speed combination. The pieces were all there for an even stronger encore, with a young quarterback in Jared Goff entering the fray likely necessitating the pounding of the rock to ease the transition of the Rams’ new franchise passer. However, it wasn’t meant to be. With defenses keying in on Gurley due to a lack of any semblance of a passing game, Gurley faced the wear and tear associated with a stacked box and a weekly basis. Gurley will likely rebound from this past year alongside Goff’s projected development, however, his story presents an important lesson for fantasy players: pay attention to the entire situation surrounding a player, not just the offensive line.
Adrian Peterson (ADP: 6.6)
Forever enshrined on fantasy football’s Mount Rushmore, Adrian Peterson’s days atop the fantasy leaderboard have come and gone. Though Peterson’s physicality and skill defy logic, the wear and tear associated with his punishing running style finally caught up to him in a manner similar to many runners at his age. Despite his physical makeup more closely reminiscing that of an alien, the laws of football still apply to Peterson: after age 30, watch out. A nosedive in production is just around the corner. Don’t expect big things from the man known as AD as he looks to continue 1 his career as a Saint.
Allen Robinson (ADP: 11.9)
Robinson was an intriguing talent out of Penn State, but no one could have expected what we saw in his sophomore season. With tremendous jump ball ability, Robinson quickly became Blake Bortles’ number one receiver. But therein lies the problem. Bortles, despite his physical gifts, simply never possessed the mental makeup to be a top passer and that, alongside other intriguing receiver options on the Jags, caught up to Robinson. Quarterback play matters, especially with a player like Robinson, who lacks the speed to beat defenders beyond the 50/50 ball. Robinson is a likely WR2/3 heading into this fantasy season.
Jamaal Charles (ADP: 16.5)
Similarly to Peterson, Charles met the fate associated surrounding the age 30 mark. Charles dealt with injuries throughout the season that prevented him from seeing the field with any consistency, and considering the talent in front of him in the form of Spencer Ware, was never truly needed. The lesson here: always pay attention a player’s injury history. Charles has dealt with nagging injuries from the beginning of his career coming out of Texas, making his ADP in the second round this past year far too rich.
Keenan Allen (ADP: 21.1)
Allen has never lacked the ability to be a top flight receiver. However, even in his real draft year, injury questions plagued his draft stock. Allen, when healthy, served as Philip Rivers’ clear number one receiver, but the combination of injuries and emergence of Melvin Gordon have created a murky fantasy picture for the former stud, not to mention the entrance of acclaimed wideout Mike Williams. The story with Charles and Allen is similar: injury history matters. There is such thing as injury prone players, and history has a tendency of repeating itself.
CJ Anderson (ADP: 28.6)
This one was really just a fluke. Destined to see a large amount of work given a lack of experienced QB talent, Anderson was injured before the season even began. He presents an intriguing mid-round possibility for this season as other less experienced fantasy players forget about him. Additionally, with little-to-no competition around him, Anderson’s projected value grows.
Sammy Watkins (ADP: 29.0)
Though injuries also hindered Watkins’ season, the games in which Watkins actually did play continued to prove that he is failing to live up to his prolific pre-draft profile. An electrifying talent when healthy, Watkins’ relationship with Tyrod Taylor failed to blossom as planned, which, although due in large part to being hurt, is concerning considering that the Bills have drafted Zay Jones. Though Jones at first glance appears to be a compliment to Watkins, the former Clemson Tiger is entering a contract year due to the Bills not picking up his fifth year option, which is quite revealing of their internal thinking surrounding a player once thought to be a cornerstone. Watkins, now healthy, could serve as a functional WR2 with a much higher ceiling, but it is likely that his time as a top receiving contributor is unlikely to return in the near future.
Jeremy Langford (ADP: 43.8)
Those who took Langford with the hopes that he would continue his ascension towards being the cornerstone of the Bears’ offense were met with colossal disappointment. Langford’s early injury opened the door for Jordan Howard to emerge as a young star, relegating Langford to a change-of-pace role that he never recovered from. Given the lack of opportunity, Langford can be safely avoided unless fantasy owners get antsy about acquiring a handcuff for Jordan Howard.
Michael Floyd (ADP: 55.2)
Floyd had it all. Size, talent, opportunity, strong quarterback play and a good supporting cast. Despite all of this, Floyd was unable to keep his nose clean. Floyd’s minimal history of off-field incidents (DUI in 2011) didn’t lend itself to the idea that there would be issues beyond the football field, and yet here we are. In the wake of an “extreme DUI” charge, Floyd is now a member of the Minnesota Vikings after a brief stint in New England. However, that’s not where the problems truly started. With the accelerated aging of Carson Palmer, Floyd production and place in the offense suffered, as he was passed over for opportunities by younger players such as JJ Nelson, relegating him to a changeup role. Floyd’s skill has never been the question, but in Minnesota, where the Vikings are gearing up to pound the rock with the best of them, Floyd’s fantasy prospects look bleak at best. He’s a player to avoid.
Note: ADP data gathered from https://fantasyfootballcalculator.com/adp?format=standard&year=2016&teams=12&view=graph&pos=all