Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marshawn Lynch
- Every year, there are fantasy football players who fall short of their expectations and tank your season. Who are those players in 2018?
- Using The Action Network's projections and rankings, I identify 10 bust candidates this season you should consider fading in your fantasy drafts.
With the fantasy football season rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at 10 possible fantasy busts this season.
To compile this list, I factored in the Action Network fantasy football rankings, projections, as well as general ADP. For all of our rankings, projections and player profiles, follow the links below:
Check out more fantasy football rankings:
PPR: Top 200 | QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST | K
Standard: Top 200 | QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST | K
Player Projections: QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST | K
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Player Profiles: Top 200 | QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST | K
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
Current ADP: QB18 (Standard)
Action Ranking: QB22 (Standard)
This season, Carr will have to adapt to a new offensive system with head coach Jon Gruden. There is healthy skepticism regarding Gruden’s old-school offensive philosophy in the modern NFL: His offenses failed to produce a top-10 fantasy quarterback during his seven-year tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Carr’s fantasy upside is further capped by his limited mobility. Unlike quarterbacks such as Blake Bortles or Pat Mahomes, Carr is unlikely to buoy his fantasy value with sneaky rushing production. Per Action Network writer Ian Hartitz, “[Carr] doesn’t possess many of the traits of a fantasy-friendly quarterback.”
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Current ADP: RB10, No. 14 Overall (PPR); RB10, No. 12 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: RB13, No. 25 Overall (PPR); RB12, No. 22 Overall (Standard)
In the four games he played last season, Cook looked the part of a future fantasy superstar. He earned 85 touches for 444 total yards and two touchdowns, ranking as the No. 7 fantasy running back in that span. Then, in Week 4, Cook suffered a non-contact torn ACL.
In a 2015 study, FantasyLabs co-founder Jonathan Bales found that post-ACL injury running backs produce about 30% fewer fantasy points the season following their injury. This is particularly concerning for Cook, as his greatest physical strength is his lateral quickness. There’s almost no injury discount in his current 2018 ADP, which heightens the downside.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Current ADP: WR11 (PPR)
Action Ranking: WR17 (PPR)
Few people question Diggs’ ability on the field. Quick and instinctive, he led the NFL last year with an 83.3% contested catch rate per PlayerProfiler.com.
The big knock on Diggs is his injury history: Through three NFL seasons, he has missed eight games. He also missed nine games due to injury in his three seasons with the Maryland Terrapins (broken leg and lacerated kidney). Diggs’ slight frame (six feet, 195 pounds) and injury history give cause for concern about his reliability in season-long formats.
Let’s also not forget that Diggs plays alongside PPR monster Adam Thielen, who earned 142 targets and 91 receptions last season. Diggs is a fantastic receiver, but WR11 is a bit too high considering the downside risk.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Current ADP: RB17, No. 33 Overall (PPR); RB16, No. 25 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: RB21, No. 48 Overall (PPR); RB21, No. 41 Overall (Standard)
Henry is a tantalizing selection in 2018. His huge frame and long arms result in punishing stiff arms on the edge. Now, with DeMarco Murray out of the way, we may finally get to see Henry’s potential in a lead-back role.
However, the Titans’ acquisition of Dion Lewis puts Henry into yet another running back committee. It’s arguable Lewis is a more significant threat to Henry’s touches than Murray was. Lewis is not just a receiving back, after all: He rushed 180 times for 896 yards and six touchdowns for the Patriots last year. Action Network writer Ian Hartitz’s money is on Lewis being the Titans running back to own in 2018.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
Current ADP: RB40 (PPR); RB40 (Standard)
Action Ranking: RB56 (PPR); RB53 (Standard)
Jones made headlines from Weeks 4 to 7 last season, rushing 62 times for 346 yards and three touchdowns in those four games. However, in his other eight games last season, Jones managed just 19 carries for 102 yards and one touchdown, ceding snaps to Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery.
Jones was incredibly efficient on the ground, averaging 5.5 yards per carry (second in the NFL). But he’s one-dimensional, managing just nine receptions for 22 yards in 12 games last season. Contrast that with Williams (25 receptions and 262 yards in 16 games) and Montgomery (23 receptions, 173 yards in eight games).
With a two-game suspension to start the 2018 season, and after Jones injured his MCL in both knees last year, his downside risk is significant.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders
Current ADP: RB28, No. 63 Overall (PPR)
Action Ranking: RB33, No. 86 Overall (PPR)
Last season, Lynch averaged just 13.8 rushes per game (third-lowest of his career) and 1.33 receptions per game (lowest of his career). His diminished workload may have gone unnoticed due to his seven rushing touchdowns.
Lynch will need to reproduce that kind of touchdown total to remain viable as a starting option this season, and trying to nail down which weeks he’ll get into the end zone and produce value will be difficult.
Also, with the addition of Doug Martin and the Raiders’ retention of DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, Lynch will likely be in a legitimate timeshare this season. Given the value of PPR studs such as James White or Theo Riddick later in the draft, Lynch has limited value and upside as a sixth-round pick.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
Current ADP: RB16, No. 28 Overall (PPR); RB17, No. 28 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: RB19, No. 40 Overall (PPR); RB20, No. 40 Overall (Standard)
McCoy is another aging running back on this list, entering his 10th NFL season at 30 years old. He had a career-low 4.0 yards per carry last season, and the Bills’ offensive line has actually gotten worse after the retirement of Eric Wood and the trade of Cordy Glenn to the Bengals.
McCoy’s production should also decline as he deals with the quarterback competition between inefficient Josh Allen and disappointing veteran A.J. McCarron.
Still, the most obvious reason to be cautious drafting Shady is his potential six-game suspension due to domestic-violence accusations. Few meaningful updates have surfaced regarding the NFL’s investigation of those allegations, casting a dark cloud over his season-long value.
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Jordy Nelson, WR, Oakland Raiders
Current ADP: WR32 (Standard)
Action Ranking: WR40 (Standard)
Since 2001, former Packers receivers have witnessed a 23% decline in fantasy production in their first year with a new team. That’s an average decrease of 3.33 fantasy points per game in PPR formats. Even if the sample is small, it still seems evident that the Packers organization knows when a receiver is washed.
Nelson is 33 years old, with previous injuries to his PCL, MCL and ACL, plus fractured ribs and an unspecified shoulder injury last season. He should be seen as a depth selection, not as a reliable FLEX starter this season.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Current ADP: WR18 (PPR); WR18, No. 46 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: WR25 (PPR); WR30, No. 70 Overall (Standard)
While playing with Peyton Manning from 2012-2015, Thomas averaged an absurd 100.5 receptions, 1447 yards and 10.25 touchdowns per season. However, in the last two seasons without Manning, he’s averaged a more pedestrian 86.5-1016-5 seasonal stat line.
Sure, Case Keenum may be an improvement over Trevor Siemian. But, Keenum has struggled this preseason (9-of-17 for 83 yards and no touchdowns in two games), and “Swag Kelly” chants are loud in Denver. With Thomas a WR18 in current ADP, fans are drafting him based on his former production rather than his current median expected outcome.
Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Current ADP: WR45, No. 116 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: WR68, No. 162 Overall (Standard)
Williams had a disappointing rookie season, catching just 11 passes for 95 yards and no touchdowns in 10 games. Now, with Hunter Henry out for the season with a torn ACL, Williams has the opportunity to fill a big role as the Chargers’ red-zone threat.
With that in mind, Williams faces significant competition for targets. Veterans Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin showed chemistry with Philip Rivers last season, combining for 77 receptions, 1,295 yards and eight touchdowns. On top of that, Ken Whisenhunt has said he wants to get Melvin Gordon even more involved in the passing game this year. Williams likely remains at the bottom of the Chargers’ projected target share order and is worth only a flier in 2018 drafts.
Johnson’s and Chubb’s long-term prospects are still great, but neither rookie running back has an easy path to fantasy prominence in 2018. Both backs find themselves in crowded backfields on bad teams. Johnson is currently being drafted as RB26 in PPR, 11 spots higher than our RB37 ranking. Chubb is being drafted as RB43 in PPR, 10 spots higher than our RB53 ranking.
Washed Running Backs: LeGarrette Blount (Lions) and Doug Martin (Raiders)
Blount and Martin are both potential busts in standard leagues. Both veteran running backs find themselves on new teams, in crowded backfields and with declining production. Blount is RB43 in standard ADP (RB55 in our rankings), and Martin is RB46 in standard ADP (unranked by us).
Injured Quarterbacks: Andrew Luck (Colts) and Carson Wentz (Eagles)
Luck and Wentz have both proven their elite upside. However, they’re also both returning from significant injuries. Wentz is QB6 in current ADP (QB13 in our rankings), and Luck is QB8 in current ADP (QB12 in our rankings).
Yes, I realize there are four Raiders on this list. A group of washed veterans with a new HC who hasn’t coached professionally since 2008? Don’t @ me.