Dynasty Bust WRs (Fantasy Football)
Continuing our series on dynasty busts, we move to the wide receiver position. When talking bust, I’m not just looking for players that will underperform, but rather players whose actual value will be drastically lower than their perceived value. The reality is that a lot of the rookies can go here.
Fantasy owners have a tendency to overvalue and overdraft rookies. The problem arises when they begin passing over better players (usually at other positions) to try and find the next Mike Evans type of rookie season.
Most rookie wide receivers will be “busts” this year. This list will focus on young receivers unlikely to ever materialize into anything useful.
Laquon Treadwell (WR – MIN)
Yes, we are starting with a non-rookie. Although, to be fair, for all intents and purposes Treadwell is still a rookie given how little he played last year. At one point, he was the consensus top WR prospect, but he ended up being the fourth receiver drafted last year at 23rd overall.
Out of every receiver taken in the first two rounds in 2016, Treadwell the only one who was completely useless. It is not that common for a receiver to be taken that high with no deliberate attempt to use him. Treadwell finished 2016 with one catch for 15 yards.
One of the biggest knocks against Treadwell is his inability to separate from defenders. He’s a big guy (6’2, 215 lbs), which helped him thrive in college over much smaller defensive backs. He could simply overpower them.
That won’t work in the NFL. It’s very telling that he couldn’t beat out the likes of Charles Johnson or Adam Thielen (who is very talented) for playing time. The Vikings’ GM praised Treadwell as one of the hardest working kids he’s ever seen.
So what’s the problem? He’s just not that talented. You can’t survive purely on “big.”
In addition to his struggles with separation, for a bigger receiver, he doesn’t “go up and get it” as he should. A receiver that isn’t a great route-runner who also can’t separate needs to be able to win jump balls. He does not.
Best case — he’s the third receiver on a run-first offense with a mediocre quarterback operating behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Worst case — he continues to be inactive on Sundays and is eventually cut. I just don’t see any reward here.
Mike Williams (WR – LAC)
Full disclosure: the reason I opened with Treadwell is to make this one easier to write. Mike Williams is 2017 version of Laquon Treadwell.
He’s big. He looks the part. He was a high-profile receiver in college. They had similar numbers.
Do you know what else they’re saying about Mike Williams? He struggles with consistency. He’s not a great route runner. He can’t separate. I do want to be clear that I don’t think Williams will be completely useless (and to also be clear, I do think that about Treadwell).
The problem is he’s kind of a one trick pony. He’s been known to make big plays, but he doesn’t seem to have that ability to take over a game, which I believe is the type of receiver he is expected to be. When he missed games due to injury, the Clemson offense was just fine.
That shouldn’t be the case. Williams excels on the back shoulder throw and the timing routes. That’s heavily reliant on rapport with the quarterback. Philip Rivers is fully capable of establishing that type of relationship with Williams, but Rivers isn’t exactly trending upwards.
At best, Rivers probably has three-to-four more competent years left. In the meantime, Williams enters a less than ideal situation for a rookie WR trying to get on the field.
Keenan Allen is still the guy. Granted, he will probably be on IR by October, but he’s still there.
Tyrell Williams is a tremendous talent coming off a 1,000-yard season. Mike Williams is undoubtedly behind both of them, and then there’s Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman. If Mike Williams were an elite talent, there would be no concerns. But he’s not, so there are.
I don’t expect Mike Williams to be able to make much of a splash as a rookie unless the Chargers get decimated by injuries at the position. Given how young Allen and Tyrell Williams are, Mike Williams is going to need something to break right to become the player he was drafted to be.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT)
Are we ever going to learn when it comes to USC wide receivers? (The “other”) Steve Smith, Dwayne Jarrett, Patrick Turner, Damian Williams, Robert Woods, Marqise Lee, Nelson Agholor, and now JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Aren’t you impressed by the lofty company he keeps? Do you know the last USC wide receiver to have a successful NFL career? Some guy by the name of Keyshawn Johnson. He was drafted in 1996 and went first overall.
Smith-Schuster was taken by the Steelers towards the end of the second round. Obviously, no one expects him to be Keyshawn Johnson, but the Steelers have been searching for a second act next to Antonio Brown for some time now. With all due respect to Martavis Bryant, the first attribute a football player must have is he must play football.
Smith-Schuster is a middle of the road prospect with some very positive attributes (great at using size to his advantage, difficult to tackle, willingness to give full effort to make the catch), but also has concerning ones (not that fast, too many drops, has to make too many contested catches). If Martavis Bryant can get his head on straight, Smith-Schuster has no chance of being more than the third receiver. However, even if Bryant goes full Josh Gordon on us, the scouting reports and the history of USC receivers point to Smith-Schuster being nothing more than a middling option and not one likely to make any meaningful fantasy contributions.
Next week, the Dynasty Busts series concludes with TEs.