Le’Veon Bell, Royce Freeman, Leonard Fournette, and Dalvin Cook. The biggest connection between these players is not that they are all NFL running backs, but that they were massive busts in fantasy football last season. All of these players went into last year hyped up and with expectations of a breakout fantasy season, only to drastically disappoint. None of these players broke 650 yards or 5 touchdowns, with Bell putting up 0s across the board. There are plenty of players like this every season, so let’s try to predict which players will the biggest fantasy busts before you draft them (Half-PPR scoring).
5. Nick Chubb
Chubb is a phenomenal talent who was an absolute steal last season. Unfortunately for Chubb, this season paints a different story. The Browns have so many mouths to feed this season compared to last season that he is unlikely to see the end zone as often as many fans are anticipating. Chubb is also a relative non-factor in the passing game, which in any PPR format is a huge knock. However, the main problem facing Chubb will come in week 11 with the return of Kareem Hunt. It would seem hard to believe that the Browns would be willing to risk the negative PR associated with the signing of Hunt if they did not anticipate on utilizing his talents. This will take a sizable bite out of Chubb’s workload at the worst possible time: right before the fantasy playoffs. It is CRITICAL to draft for the playoffs. With the enormous risk of Chubb splitting time with Hunt, his average draft position (ADP) of 19 is far too expensive.
4. Derrick Henry
Henry finally broke out at the end of last season, showing off his ability to be one of the better backs in the league. However, it would be quite bold to assume he will match this production next season. While he certainly ended the season strong (585 yards and 7 touchdowns in his last 4 games), his production before that was abysmal (474 yards and 5 touchdowns in his first 12 games). To be willing to select Henry with your fourth pick (ADP 37) based on 4 good games is unnecessarily risky. Along with that, there are the myriad of other problems facing Henry. Like Chubb, Henry is minimally involved in the passing game and is therefore not ideal for a PPR format. His best offensive lineman, Taylor Lewan, is slated to miss the first 4 games next season due to a PED suspension. Meanwhile, starting-caliber running back Dion Lewis is the default in any passing situation and could work his way into the running game if Henry stumbles out of the gate. Worst of all, Henry is currently dealing with a calf injury. While it is not believed to be serious, drafting running backs who have leg injuries in the preseason (particularly calves and hamstrings) is always dangerous; if the injury lingers, Henry will not have a chance to live up to the hype. Even if he fully recovers and is back for week 1, missed time in training camp often leads to injuries down the road or being out-of-sync with the offense to start the season. Long story short, avoid Henry.
3. Kyler Murray
While Murray has the potential to put up huge numbers in both through the air and on the ground, he is being drafted WAY TOO HIGH! Murray is currently being drafted before Wentz, Brees, Wilson, Rivers, Brady, Newton, and many others. He is being drafted 7th at the position, which means that he will likely be a starting QB in your league. Conventional wisdom says that when drafting quarterbacks one ought to stay away from rookies, rookie head coaches, bad offensive lines, and teams without many surrounding weapons. Murray fails every one of these tests. The biggest of these issues is the offensive line. Constant pressure forces many mistakes. Even though Murray was very good at not turning the ball over in college, the NFL has shown itself time and time again to be a different beast. There are almost always growing pains for rookies and Murray has many factors that indicate these pains could be quite severe. He will be a great fantasy asset in the future, but pass on him this year.
2. Damien Williams
Damien Williams is being taken egregiously high at 21st! WHY?!?! This puts him just one pick after Antonio Brown and means he is being taken before T.Y Hilton, Kerryon Johnson, Aaron Jones, Adam Thielen and many others. This is for a player who has broken 100 rushing yards exactly twice in his 5 year career (and only once in the regular season). He has not shown enough to warrant such an early pick. But it gets worse. Williams is currently dealing with a hamstring injury that has caused him to miss a good chunk of camp. If there is one thing to know heading into your fantasy draft, know that hamstring injuries almost always seem to linger for running backs. It gets even worse. Over the offseason the Chiefs acquired Carlos Hyde. Hyde has put up far more impressive career numbers than Williams and has proven he can be a workhorse running back; therefore, it would not at all be shocking to see Williams end the season with less than 500 total yards an 5 touchdowns. Do not waste a second or early-third round pick on him.
1. Chicago Bears Defense
Surprise! The biggest fantasy bust isn’t even a player, but a defense. How can a defense be a bust? How about by being picked 98th! A defense being picked in the 10th round is beyond blasphemous to anyone with fantasy experience. For context as to how early this is, the Bears defense is being drafted before Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Adrian Peterson, and N’Keal Harry. Defense should not be drafted until the last two rounds, if at all. Depth is far more important in fantasy than making a perfect starting lineup. What makes this pick perhaps even worse is that the Bears could very well not even be the best fantasy defense in 2019! The Chargers, Patriots, Rams, and Jaguars all have defenses that could easily end up outperforming Chicago this season, yet the Bears are somehow being taken almost 90 picks before the Patriots! It shouldn’t need to be said, but absolutely do not take any defense in the first hundred picks. There is no chance that picking the Bears defense this early will end well, so the Chicago Bears defense can be declared a certain bust.