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9 Fantasy Football Busts to Avoid in 2019

Jul 2, 2019

Carlos Hyde’s presence is a huge threat to Damien Williams’ (pictured) value

Avoiding busts in the beginning of your draft is just as crucial as finding the next diamond in the rough. The people who drafted Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, Leonard Fournette, Doug Baldwin, and Larry Fitzgerald last year know all too well that you can ruin your season in the early rounds.

The best way to save yourself from a year of agony is to identify which early-round players are most likely to perform below their expectations. A good place to start is by seeing which athletes in our Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) fall short of their Average Draft Position (ADP). However, we’ve gone a step further and have wrangled in our featured experts to give you hand. Using our half-PPR rankings, they have each chosen a high-ranking running back and wide receiver they won’t be touching in drafts this summer.

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Q1. What RB in our consensus top 24 should fantasy owners fear the most as a bust candidate?

Damien Williams (KC) | Todd Gurley (LAR) 
Consensus RB: #13 (Williams) & #10 (Gurley)
“I’ve got two players that stand out with bust potential from the top 24 as the list currently stands. Williams has been tagged as the starter in Kansas City. Any note by the coach of a job being “Player X’s to lose” leaves me reticent to climb aboard that bandwagon. I’m less worried about the KC offense overall given recent developments in the Tyreek Hill case (perhaps four games), but the presence of Carlos Hyde concerns me. Williams will have a role, but a committee (add Darrel Williams) seems more likely.

The other player that concerns me at the #10 slot is Rams tailback Todd Gurley. Gurley’s knee is worrisome, to say the least. He was limited down the stretch, and we watched the rise of C.J. Anderson during the Rams’ run to the Super Bowl. Anderson’s gone, but Malcolm Brown and rookie Darrell Henderson are ready to pounce on opportunities behind a strong offensive line. I’ve put Gurley at RB20 in my first-look 2019 rankings. I’d buy shares late, but only with Henderson as insurance, and that’s going to require two Rams backs in the top seven or eight rounds. That’s a heavy price.”
– Mike Harmon (Swollen Dome)

Damien Williams is the only one I’m not certain will start for his offense, which would obviously make him a major bust. You can say you disagree, but then why aren’t you drafting him in the first round since Andy Reid’s offense always produces top-end RBs and there will be touchdowns galore to whoever wins the job. The fact of the matter is that he only had 290 carries throughout college and no more than 13 in a game last year, so it seems irresponsible to project him as a workhorse. Carlos Hyde is roaming around the backfield too, and I’d argue he’s the better talent, so don’t be shocked if he takes over the head duties this summer.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Le’Veon Bell (NYJ) 
Consensus RB: #7
“Bell is currently the seventh-ranked fantasy running back, but I think he has the potential to be one of the bigger disappointments of 2019. He is no longer in Pittsburgh, where he played with a Hall of Fame quarterback and ran behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Instead, he is playing with second-year QB Sam Darnold and he will run behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. He also sat out the 2018 season with a contract dispute and now plays for head coach Adam Gase, who would not have given him the massive contract if he had the final say when that contract was given to Bell in free agency. The Jets have a track record of overpaying for players past their prime and I have no faith that this signing will work out for the Jets or fantasy owners that draft Bell in the early rounds of fantasy football drafts.”
– Derek Lofland (FantasyPros)

“I think it’s Le’Veon Bell. Adam Gase doesn’t care about your fantasy team and we already have seen it with the way that he used Kenyan Drake. Even if Bell gets the amount of touches that he deserves, I’m not sold on the offensive line talent in New York. Bell should at least be a good contributor but I don’t think he’s worth the first-round price tag that I’ve seen in a lot of drafts.”
– Matthew Bowe (Razzball)

Sony Michel (NE)
Consensus RB: #21
“Players drafting Michel should be a little hesitant. Watching the way the Patriots handled his use in the playoffs, it’s easy to see why he’s being drafted right around the top-20 RBs. He can get game-scripted out if a game goes south for the Pats. Last year in losses, Sony averaged 46 yards per game. That’s not great news for a player that only caught seven passes on the season. Throw in the wildcard of third-rounder Damien Harris and the Pats’ backfield looks harder to predict than ever before.”
– Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

Q2. What WR in our consensus top 24 should fantasy owners fear the most as a bust candidate?

Amari Cooper (DAL)
Consensus WR: #12
“On average, the WRs being drafted in this year’s top 12 finished games as a WR3 or worse around 35% of the time. Meaning, they were very reliable and finished on a week-to-week basis in the top 24. Cooper, currently being drafted as a top-12 WR, finished as a WR3 or worse in 66% of his games last year. Over the past three years, he finishes as a disappointing WR3 or worse 64% of the time. It’s fair to ask if this is just the player we should expect at this point four years into his career. The end of season numbers may be nice, but a player that is so boom/bust is hard to stomach with that high of a pick.”
– Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

T.Y. Hilton (IND) 
Consensus WR: #9
“I’m concerned about the opportunities afforded to T.Y. Hilton of the Colts. He’s a boom-bust option going on many years, offsetting some brutal performances with huge, highlight-worthy receptions. Hilton posted five 100-yard games last season that accounted for 57.6% of his yardage output. He’s fighting off many competitors for Andrew Luck’s eye this year, and he’ll see ample attention from opposing coordinators. The arrivals of Devin Funchess and rookie slot man Parris Campbell alongside Eric Ebron, the returning Jack Doyle (just a great name, like a P.I.), and Nyheim Hines leave me concerned. He’s a best ball receiver for sure, but a roller coaster I’m not riding week-to-week.”
– Mike Harmon (Swollen Dome)

Sammy Watkins (KC)
Consensus WR: #23
“Watkins is one of those players we have high hopes for every season. He is only 26 years old, but he has not been a top-30 fantasy receiver since 2015, which is now four seasons ago. In 2018, he was the 63rd-ranked fantasy wide receiver, while playing on the top scoring and yardage offense in the NFL. While a suspension to WR Tyreek Hill could give Watkins some more targets, that may not be enough to make him a dominant fantasy player. Watkins is one of those players that continues to not meet expectations and people think that next year will be different. He showed what was possible in the second half of 2015, but that is a long time ago and he has done nothing in recent years to justify his current ADP.”
– Derek Lofland (FantasyPros)

Adam Thielen (MIN)
Consensus WR: #13
“I don’t like the way that Thielen finished 2018 and I’m sure the rest of the fantasy players that had shares of him would agree. After beginning the season on a historic pace with eight-consecutive 100-yard games, there wasn’t much left. The targets went way down in the second half because for whatever reason Mike Zimmer wanted to be a running team. Thielen will probably have a 1,000-yard season, but I think that the amount of receptions will drop semi-dramatically from the 113 that he caught in 2018 to the 85-90 range. A third-round price tag scares me when Stefon Diggs is bound to get a lot of attention in that offense as well.”
– Matthew Bowe (Razzball)

JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)
Consensus WR: #6
“I love Smith-Schuster as much as anyone else in terms of personality, but I’m not sold on the idea that he is going to take it to the next level with Antonio Brown gone. More than likely, it means Smith-Schuster won’t be sitting in the slot with easy matchups. Rather, he will find himself double-teamed the way Brown was, which is a large part of the reason Smith-Schuster was open so often. I’d love to see him go off as the #1 overall wideout, but I’m convinced he’ll be a major disappointment in the new role.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for naming their busts to avoid. Give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice and check out our latest podcast below.

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