Fantasy Football: 2016 Studs to 2017 Duds
Heading into every football season, we feel more prepared than the previous season, and the season before that. Why? It’s likely due to the fact that we have so many avenues that lead to information, from beat reporters, to sports radio, to a television station that revolves around football 24/7. But every year, there are disappointments that we somehow missed. Looking back on the situation, we want to smack ourselves on the back of the head, wondering how in the world we couldn’t see it coming.
Seriously, how did we miss that Todd Gurley was playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in football with what was going to be a rookie quarterback under center? Why did we assume that DeAndre Hopkins was going to be quarterback-proof, even when he struggled after the catch and his new quarterback Brock Osweiler was among the worst in the league throwing deep balls? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
So instead of looking back and wondering, we are going to look at some obvious stud to dud candidates. While all of these players won’t bust, they are on my list of guys that we shouldn’t be surprised on. Over the last three years, here are the positions that have been selected in the first three rounds of drafts, as well as how many were injured, and how many turned out to be “busts.”
So when selecting which players will go from studs to duds, you want to keep in mind the history at the positions. It’s possible that a player gets hurt and is still a bust, look no further than Doug Martin in 2016. With that being said, let’s look at which players are likely to go from stud to dud in 2017.
DeMarco Murray (TEN – RB) Current ADP: 13
After finishing as a top-five running back in 2016, Murray will enter his age-29 season. I spent a lot of time researching age and what it means this offseason (read that here), and Murray essentially has a 2.5 percent chance to repeat his top-five finish, as just five of 150 running back age-29 or older seasons accomplished that. I’d feel more inclined to like Murray on volume alone, but Derrick Henry is waiting in the wings, and outperformed Murray down the stretch. Over the final six games of 2016, Murray averaged just 3.5 yards per carry behind one of the best offensive lines in football, while scoring just one touchdown. Meanwhile, Henry totaled 5.0 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns in his final five games. Murray may not completely bust, but he won’t live up to this draft spot.
Jordan Howard (CHI – RB) Current ADP: 16
When highlighting Carlos Hyde in his player profile, I came across an interesting statistic. The top eight running backs in terms of fantasy points per game were all on top-14 scoring NFL offenses. In fact, seven of the eight were on teams ranked in the top-10 for points per game. No matter your stance on Howard, the Bears are likely to finish in the bottom-half of the league in this category. Outside of his time with Peyton Manning, John Fox has been the head coach of an NFL team in 12 different seasons. Just twice have his offenses finished inside the top-12 for points, and they’ve actually been outside the top-20 in each of his last five seasons. The Bears went out and added free agent Benny Cunningham, as well as drafted third-down specialist Tarik Cohen. It’s highly unlikely that Howard sees enough work in a low-scoring offense to live up to this draft position.
Alshon Jeffery (PHI – WR) Current ADP: 29
It’s an argument that Jeffery should even be on this list, as he was not the stud he was supposed to be in 2016, though some tie that to his health. He’s going to an Eagles team that threw the ball 50 times more than the Bears, but a team that also threw two fewer touchdowns than the Bears combination of Brian Hoyer/Matt Barkley/Jay Cutler. While the Eagles receivers were not very good last year, they also saw just a 48-percent share of the targets, a league-low. Do you recall the last team who didn’t have a single wide receiver touchdown? The 2014 Chiefs. Do you remember who the offensive coordinator of that team was? Doug Pederson, the head coach of the Eagles. His offenses have ranked 27th, 26th, and 28th in passing touchdowns over the last three years.
Jarvis Landry (MIA – WR) Current ADP: 39
After finishing inside the top-16 wide receivers in each of the last two seasons, Landry’s decline has already begun. After averaging 10.11 targets per game since the start of Week 10 in 2014 through Week 4 of 2016, Landry saw his target totals decrease over the final 12 games of the 2016 season. He averaged 7.16 targets over the final 12 games of the season, leading him to average just 7.85 fantasy points per game, instead of the 9.26 he averaged when seeing 10.11 targets per game. The 9.26 fantasy points would’ve been the No. 15 wide receiver in 2016, while the 7.85 points would have been the No. 40 wide receiver. Not only are the Dolphins talking up DeVante Parker, but they re-signed Kenny Stills to big money and haven’t even talked about an extension with Landry, who is due to be a free agent at the end of this season.
LeGarrette Blount (PHI – RB) Current ADP: 67
Just one year after finishing as the No. 7 running back in fantasy, there seem to be some that’ve already moved Blount down their list, though his ADP of 67 is still too high for my taste. Most remember Blount for his 18 rushing touchdowns last season, but what they don’t remember is that he had his second-worst season as a professional, averaging 3.9 yards per carry. His 2.5 yards after contact ranked 33rd among running backs, tied with the Bengals Jeremy Hill. He’s caught just 13 passes the last two years combined. Not to mention the Patriots let him walk, and it took him months to find a team who’d like his services. It just so happens to be the Eagles team that made Ryan Mathews unpredictable, even when he was healthy. Most seem to have forgotten that Mathews had four games with 11 or more carries, but also had six games with nine or less carries before getting hurt. It’s important to know that Mathews is the far more complete running back, and even he was unplayable most of the time.