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Potential WR1 Busts (2019 Fantasy Football)

Apr 25, 2019

Can Brown thrive under Jon Gruden?

We’ve recently examined players that are poised to make the jump from WR3 on draft day to WR1 during the regular season. In order for these sleepers to deliver, there, of course, have to be players on the other end of the spectrum that disappoint. As such, we’ve asked our writers to identify current WR1s who could bust this season.

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Which current WR1 do you think has the biggest bust potential?

Antonio Brown (OAK)
“Brown has finished in the top three among fantasy wide receivers for the last five years, so he has been as consistent as any fantasy wide receiver in the NFL. I do think he has a chance to thrive in Oakland and be among the most targeted wide receiver in the NFL. However, there are a lot of issues with his lofty ECR of seven. He will be playing with QB Derek Carr, who is a significant downgrade from QB Ben Roethlisberger. He will be playing with head coach Jon Gruden, who did not look like he had kept up with the new passing offenses that have emerged in the NFL since he left coaching in 2009. Brown is going to be playing on one of the worst rosters in the NFL and he does turn 31 years old this year. The bet is that the volume of targets will make up for the drop in efficiency, but to be the seventh-ranked receiver, he will probably need close to 250 fantasy points. That may be a tough total to tally given the quarterback, head coach, and the weakness of the overall roster.”
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)

Amari Cooper (DAL)
“Personally (as a Cowboys fan), I hope this doesn’t come true, but for me, it’s pretty easily Amari Cooper. He’s currently WR12 in ECR, but his bust potential is much higher than those ranked above him. We saw some fantastic games from Cooper in 2018 — 38 PPR points in Week 12 and 49 points in Week 14 — but he was also the ultimate boom-bust player along the way. Even if you exclude his six-game run with the Raiders which saw him total less than 20 yards on four different occasions, Cooper’s nine games with the Cowboys were also littered with “bust” games. Of the 158 PPR fantasy points Cooper scored as a member of the Cowboys, 55% of those points came in the two games previously mentioned, and of the remaining games, Cooper failed to reach nine fantasy points on four occasions. If you’re drafting a WR as a number one at the position, you not only need a guy that can put up big games but also provides a certain level of consistency. For me, Cooper’s price tag is just too high for a guy that has shown inconsistency over the course of his career and isn’t likely to buck that trend in a run-first offense.”
– Kyle August (@kyleFFfellas)

Tyreek Hill (KC)
“Knowing what we do about the Tyreek Hill off-the-field situation, he’s a clear avoid in drafts right now. When drafting a wide receiver in the first few rounds, you need to be guaranteed 120-plus targets no matter what, and from the way things look right now, Hill may not have a team come September. At the very least, he’s likely looking at a suspension as the league has been strict on things like this. Just remember — you can’t win a league in the first few rounds, but you can certainly lose one (just ask Le’Veon Bell drafters last year).”
– Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)
“OBJ’s first year in Cleveland could be a resounding success, but it could be a disaster. I love the Browns’ move to acquire Beckham from the Giants to pair with Baker Mayfield, but the team has a proven track record of underachieving. Freddie Kitchens has never been a full-time coordinator, let alone a head coach, Baker may go through a sophomore slump, and it’s unclear how all of Cleveland’s new pieces will fit together on offense. There’s also the matter of OBJ’s commitment to the franchise. He clearly wasn’t thrilled to be shipped from Times Square to the banks of Lake Erie. His durability is a concern too, as he’s missed 16 games over the last two seasons due to injury. I believe the Browns will work this year and compete to win the AFC North, but this is a volatile franchise that made a ton of changes. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the bottom fall out, either.”
– Zak Hanshew (@ZaktheMonster)

JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)
“It really depends on how you define bust. Based on suspension and injury potential alone, Tyreek Hill and Odell Beckham have to top the list, but in terms of missing out on the top 20 WRs, it would be JuJu. Don’t get me wrong, I love JuJu and his game, but he just isn’t in this class of receivers quite yet. For as much of a dork as Antonio Brown was/is, he is a superior wide receiver that opened up opportunities for JuJu. Without his presence this year, plus a dwindling Big Ben, JuJu may have to move outside where he will take on much more difficult matchups. I’m expecting extra targets, but nowhere near the explosion everyone seems to be forecasting. Most likely, JuJu takes a step back this year, not forward.”
– Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

“Discussing busts when in reference to players ranked as WR1s ultimately comes down to a discourse of players to avoid due to projected fantasy finish and ECR/ADP not matching up. If there is any WR1 that fits this bill for me ahead of the draft it is JuJu Smith-Schuster. JuJu will now draw the top shadow corners in the league and will be double teamed every snap he sees on the outside. The addition of Donte Moncrief should help roll some coverages away from him when he lines up in the slot, but JuJu is going to be the player opposing defenses gameplan for weekly. The Steelers are likely not done adding to their receivers room, and may even add a day three tight end to share snaps with Vance McDonald. I love JuJu in dynasty, but he will not be making any of my redraft teams at his current ECR and ADP.”
– Raju Byfield (@FantasyContext)

A.J. Green (CIN)
“To be clear, I still think A.J. Green has a couple years left in the tank. He’s here because I just know he’s not playing 16 games. The last time we saw elite WR1 A.J. Green was 2015. In 2016, Green was on his way to a monster season but only played 10 games. In 2017, Green played a full season and severely disappointed with just 75-1078-8. In 2018, Green played just nine games. Now entering his age-31 season playing for a bad team, it is foolhardy to expect Green to suddenly be that guy from 2015 that is both an elite producer and capable of staying on the field. Green will still be an excellent fantasy asset when he plays, but there are too many ways for him to disappoint this season for me to trust him as a WR1.”
– Jason Katz (@jasonkatz13)

Mike Evans (TB)
“On the surface, this might look like a questionable call. Evans is coming off a career-high in receiving yards (1,524), both DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries are gone — freeing up 179 targets — and Bruce Arians is bringing his explosive downfield passing game to Tampa Bay. Yet Evans’ usage has dipped over the past two seasons, falling to a career-low 23 percent in 2018. Compounding that concern, Arians has publicly touted that emerging receiver Chris Godwin could catch 100 passes this season in the Larry Fitzgerald slot role. Meanwhile, TB’s talented tight end O.J. Howard remains on the precipice of a true-blue breakout. Throw in the lack of clarity perpetually looming over Jameis Winston and Evans might be a tad too touchdown-dependent to be relied upon as a consistent WR1.”
– Brandon Katz (@great_katzby)

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