Now, our staff is making its picks for biggest busts, starting with a running back whose 2017 breakout might have raised his 2018 expectations too high.
Note: Average Draft Projection (ADP) for 12-team PPR leagues courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator (as of Aug. 23).
Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
ADP: 33.1 (RB17)
The Ravens might think Collins is their running back of the future, but he is a prime candidate for regression.
Collins took 7.5% of his carries for 15 yards or more (per PlayerProfiler), which should come down this season. He’ll also be fighting Javorius Allen and/or Kenneth Dixon for targets.
It’s likely that Collins is an early-down back on a Joe Flacco-led offense in 2018. That’s a recipe for fantasy disaster and reason enough to call him this season’s Jeremy Hill/C.J. Anderson/Thomas Rawls. – Kyle Dvorchak
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
ADP: 8.7 (RB7)
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: Gordon is not very good at running the football.
He has averaged fewer than 4.0 yards per carry in each of his three NFL seasons and graded out in only the 25th percentile per Joe Holka’s Rushing Expectation in 2017 — a metric that adjusts running back efficiency based on offensive line quality. However, Gordon has been able to compensate with a wealth of volume and touchdowns.
Unfortunately for Gordon, the Chargers are expected to face the seventh-hardest rushing schedule in 2018 after facing the sixth easiest in 2017. Talented second-year back Austin Ekeler also figures to command an increased workload after averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 10.3 yards per reception as a rookie.
Gordon is being drafted as a slam-dunk RB1 in all leagues, but any decline in touchdowns or touches will make it nearly impossible for him to live up to his current price tag. – Matt LaMarca
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
ADP: 38.1 (RB19)
Henry’s current ADP is difficult to justify given that he’s averaged less than one reception per game in his two NFL seasons.
While Henry will see plenty of carries and has touchdown upside, Dion Lewis makes more sense in PPR at a cheaper cost. He should be heavily featured on passing downs, and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur shoveled 87 targets to Todd Gurley in 2017.
And Lewis isn’t a slouch on the ground, averaging 4.8 yards per carry in his career. The Titans didn’t pay him $19.8 million — the ninth-highest salary among running backs — to watch from the sidelines. – Justin Bailey
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints
ADP: 49.1 (RB23)
Ingram will already be sidelined for Weeks 1-4, but not many people are highlighting that Sean Payton dog-housed Willie Snead last year after a PED suspension. Payton has hardly showed Ingram unwavering commitment for on-field mistakes, either.
After adjusting for fantastic offensive line play in New Orleans last season, Ingram performed well below expectations from an efficiency perspective, finishing with a 14th-percentile Expectation Score between the tackles per my Rushing Expectation metric. – Joe Holka
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
ADP: 68.1 (WR30)
Jeffery caught only 47.5% of his targets in the regular season while averaging 3.6 catches for 49.3 yards per game in 2017 — the second consecutive season his yards per game dropped by at least 19. He hasn’t had 100 receiving yards in his last 27 games and was outscored by Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor during the regular season despite seeing more targets.
From Week 13 through the Super Bowl (excluding Week 17), Jeffery fell to third on the team in targets. Even if his decline was due wholly to playing through a torn rotator cuff, the recency of his surgery and reports that he might not be ready for Week 1 aren’t reassuring and raise questions about his early-season effectiveness. – Chris Raybon
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Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
ADP: 38.5 (WR17)
Landry has an all-time high 400 receptions through the first four years of his career, but he’s last with 10.1 yards and 0.055 touchdowns per reception among all pass-catchers (including tight ends) to hit the 300-catch four-year threshold.
Since 2015, he’s third with 316 receptions but only 10th among wide receivers with 15.9 fantasy points per game.
While Landry was paid handsomely with a five-year, $75.5 million deal, he might not see the targets in Cleveland he got in Miami: Wide receivers Josh Gordon and Antonio Callaway, tight end David Njoku and running back Duke Johnson will demand more targets than DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas and the Kenyan Drake-Damien Williams duo did last year.
If Landry’s volume decreases, his career-long inefficiency could render him a low-end WR3. – Matthew Freedman
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
ADP: 43.8 (WR19)
Thomas’ five-year streak with at least 1,000 yards came to an end in 2017 when he finished with an unimposing 83-949-5 line in 16 games.
The 30-year-old averaged a career-low 11.4 yards per reception last season and ranked among the league’s bottom-20 receivers in average separation (Next-Gen Stats).
Thomas’ below-average game speed (per AirYards.com) confirms the suspicion that he’s lost a step, and the addition of talented second-round receiver Courtland Sutton could negatively impact Thomas’ deep-ball and red-zone target share.
It wouldn’t be shocking if Emmanuel Sanders wound up leading the Broncos in targets, as Sanders figures to work as Case Keenum’s 2018 version of Adam Thielen. – Ian Hartitz