Which Studs From 2017 Will Be Duds in 2018? (Fantasy Football)
If you’re like me, you have tons of conversations about fantasy football throughout the year. One of the most annoying things I hear on a regular basis is someone basing all of their judgement on last year’s production. While it does carry weight in conversation, it’s not the end-all-be-all. If it did mean as much as they claim, your draft board would look the exact same as last year’s leaderboard.
Do you know which players you would’ve had on your roster last year if you went with that approach in 2017? Matt Ryan, DeMarco Murray, LeGarrette Blount, Frank Gore, T.Y. Hilton, Tyrell Williams, Terrelle Pryor, and Martellus Bennett are the frontrunners who went from stud to dud in 2017. So today, we’re going to attempt to predict which players will go from stud to dud in 2018, because there will be plenty of players who fall into that category. Now it’s important that you remember it’s all relative to where they are drafted. When I say “bust,” it’s relative to where they finished in 2017.
Alex Smith (QB – WAS)
I’ve been a supporter for Smith as a quarterback, saying that he deserved MVP consideration for his performance last season which netted him the QB4 finish despite not playing in the final game of the season. But with that being said, he’s going to a new team that doesn’t have Andy Reid or Matt Nagy calling plays, and it’s going to be nearly impossible for him to be as efficient as he was last year without Tyreek Hill running under his deep balls. I actually like Smith more than most this year (QB17), but he’s not going to finish as a stud again.
Jared Goff (QB – LAR)
This one is pretty simple, as most don’t realize what happened with Goff last year. Did you know that he finished with just 477 pass attempts? Just one other quarterback with 480 or less attempts finished inside the top-18 and that was Tyrod Taylor who rushed for 427 yards and four touchdowns. His early ranking in both ECR and ADP suggests owners believe this will continue. Their defense got a whole lot better this offseason and you really don’t think they’re taking carries away from Todd Gurley, do you?
LeSean McCoy (RB – BUF)
It’s hard to say this about one of the best running backs of the generation, but his time of being a stud is over. Not only is he now 30 years old, but the Bills offensive line lost three of their key members this offseason and they didn’t do a good job replacing them. On top of that, he’s going to be playing for one of the worst offenses in the league. Over the last six years, just 10 of the top-12 running backs (72 total) were a part of bottom-10 scoring offenses. Avoiding aging running backs on bad offenses typically goes well for fantasy owners.
Carlos Hyde (RB – CLE)
He was one player I was extremely excited to own everywhere I could last year, but in 2018, you’re better off avoiding the Browns backfield. The Browns drafted Nick Chubb at the top of the second-round, and he’s essentially a younger, faster version of Hyde. They also have Duke Johnson there for all the third-down work that’s needed, which is where Hyde did a lot of his damage last year, as his 350 receiving yards ranked 17th among all running backs. He’s likely stuck in-between 10-12 touches per week, which will equate to a bust.
Latavius Murray (RB – MIN)
There are some who are expecting the Vikings backfield to be split similar to the way it was last year with Jerick McKinnon and Murray, but I’m not one of them. Dalvin Cook had a stranglehold on the job prior to tearing his ACL, as he averaged 23.7 touches per game in his first three full games. With his injury coming so early in the year, he’ll be back for Week 1, which would have Murray return to a 6-10 touch role, which is unusable for fantasy, making him a high-end backup running back.
Tyreek Hill (WR – KC)
While going through research this offseason, there were a few stats that stood out to me. One being that 628 of his 1,183 yards and six of his seven touchdowns came on deep targets. Alex Smith threw the best deep ball in the league last year, and it wasn’t all that close. He also finished with just 105 targets, while no other wide receiver who finished top-16 had fewer than him. The addition of Sammy Watkins will not help him get more targets, and they may actually go down. On top of all that, he’s going to have the worst schedule among wide receivers in 2018, meaning his efficiency will decline even if his targets don’t.
Brandin Cooks (WR – LAR)
Going from Drew Brees and Tom Brady to Jared Goff is a downgrade no matter how you look at it. Cooks was able to quietly finish as the No. 7 wide receiver in fantasy last year, but going to the Rams who spread the ball around is going to be a problem for him. Equally talented Sammy Watkins joined them last year (though late in the offseason) and netted just 70 targets on the season in the role that Cooks will be filling. Even though Watkins caught more touchdowns than he should’ve, he finished outside the top-30 wide receivers. Cooks is extremely talented, but the Rams offense just doesn’t cater to one receiver, and he’ll likely be viewed as a bust because of it.
Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE)
When you go from a team who targeted you 161 times in 2017 to a team where you’d be lucky to see 120 targets, it’s going to hurt you on the stat sheet, especially when your career average is 10.1 yards per reception. The Browns aren’t going to be throwing the ball a ton with Tyrod Taylor, who has never thrown more than 437 pass attempts in one season. They further showed their commitment to the run when they drafted Nick Chubb, and that was after adding Carlos Hyde in free agency. With Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, David Njoku, and Antonio Callaway there, 120 targets might be a generous number.
Devin Funchess (WR – CAR)
Despite being one of the top-20 wide receivers over the second-half of the 2017 season, Funchess is going to head back to fantasy irrelevance soon. There were a lot of reasons Funchess came into the targets he did, though those reasons have since been addressed. Not only is Greg Olsen coming back to the lineup, but D.J. Moore was drafted in the first-round to help solidify the wide receiver position. When you add it all up, he’s now fourth in the pecking order for targets, which isn’t great when they’re coming from the inconsistent Cam Newton. He’ll still be a red zone presence, but he’s going to be a dud when compared to last year.
Evan Engram (TE – NYG)
Think about this for a minute. Not only did Odell Beckham Jr. miss essentially the whole season, but so did Brandon Marshall, and even Sterling Shepard missed time with injuries. Because of all that, Engram walked into 115 targets, which ranked second among tight ends. Not only are Beckham and Shepard back to full-health, but Saquon Barkley has been added to the pass-catching group. Engram won’t be a complete bust, but when compared to 2017 and where he’s being drafted, yeah, he will be.
Cameron Brate (TE – TB)
When going through Brate’s numbers last year, there was a large red-flag in them. He did finish as the No. 8 tight end on the year, but it was his second-half numbers that were scary. After averaging 6.3 targets, 4.4 receptions, 57.9 yards, and 0.57 touchdowns in the first seven games, Brate went downhill. In his final nine games, he averaged just 3.7 targets, 1.9 receptions, 20.7 yards, and 0.22 touchdowns. The emergence of O.J. Howard is real, making Brate a highly-likely bust candidate.