Top Wide Receivers Most Likely to Bust in 2020 (Fantasy Football)
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While it’s hard to win your fantasy football draft with your first pick, you can certainly go a long way toward losing your league with a busted early selection. We’re here to help you avoid this disaster. Here are WR1s that our writers feel could fail to return value this fantasy football season.
Q: Which current WR1 (top-12 in rankings) do you think has the biggest bust potential?
Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)
Odell Beckham Jr. is coming off a fairly disappointing season in Cleveland, finishing as the WR25 in PPR scoring. This was while playing all 16 games. The Browns have found their dynamic running tandem in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and that should continue into 2020. While Beckham finished as a high-end WR3 despite playing a full season, teammate Jarvis Landry played all 16 games and was the WR12 in PPR. The entire Browns offense was a bit of a disappointment in 2019. While Freddie Kitchens may very well have been their biggest issue, we will see if his exit fixes this highly talented group. I love Beckham’s talent, and he definitely has elite fantasy upside that we’ve seen in the past. But as of now, I’m hesitant to say he’ll return to WR1 status right away. A lot of things need fixing with this offense, which will likely be a run-first unit given how good the running game is. Landry isn’t going anywhere, and Cleveland also just brought in Austin Hooper. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of mouths to feed. I’d expect Beckham to still finish as a WR2, but I’m concerned that he won’t return value on his current WR10 price tag.
– Aaron Schill (@aaron_schill)
The Browns enter this season with their third head coach in as many years, and Odell Beckham Jr. is in for one of his least targeted seasons as a pro. Kevin Stefanski takes over as head coach after a rather impressive offensive season for the Minnesota Vikings, especially on the ground. Stefanski was their offensive coordinator for 20 games, taking over in Week 14 of 2018. Last year, his offense finished fifth in rushing attempts per game (29.2) and sixth in rushing yards per game (133.3). He ran the ball on average 31 times at home compared to 27.8 on the road, and Minnesota finished 23rd in passing (220.2), one spot behind Cleveland (222.1) despite averaging four fewer pass attempts per game. Minnesota ranked 30th in pass attempts per game (29.2) under Stefanski. Beckham, meanwhile, set single-season lows — excluding his 2017 with just four games played — with 74 receptions, 1,035 yards, and four touchdowns in 16 games. The Browns have one of the most dynamic running back duos in the league with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in addition to adding Austin Hooper to the receiving corps, taking targets away from Beckham. There are too many variables to consider Beckham a top-10 wide receiver.
– Vaughn Dalzell (@VaughnDalzell)
Odell Beckham played in all 16 games last year for only the second time in six years, but he only caught 74 of 133 targets with just four touchdowns. Many will say he wasn’t fully healthy for much of the year, but if so, why did Baker Mayfield target him so much? Clearly, the young signal-caller and his star receiver were never on the same page. In contrast, teammate Jarvis Landry received an almost identical number of targets and finished with more receptions and touchdowns than Beckham Jr. Yet, no one is talking about Landry as a top-12 fantasy wideout. Beckham reportedly made several overtures to opposing coaches and players in an effort to force a trade out of Cleveland, making it even harder to trust that he and Mayfield will produce fantasy magic together. It’s more than a leap of faith to assume a receiver with a history of soft tissue injuries — who played a full season last year yet only caught 56% of his passes and averaged 64.7 yards per game — is a safe bet to finish 2020 inside the top 12 at the position, let alone his current WR10 ADP. With a new head coach, former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, calling plays in Cleveland for an offense that will probably run through Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, plus Mayfield stuck behind an abysmal offensive line, Beckham is more likely to play the Stefon Diggs role. That should lead to solid WR2 production if he stays healthy, but likely not much more.
– Paul Ghiglieri (FantasyGhigs)
Beckham is likely going to be a popular name for this topic, which isn’t great when you consider he is already coming off a disappointing season. The disaster that was the “Freddie Kitchens Era” in Cleveland, combined with Beckham’s youth and track record, should make him an appealing bounce-back candidate in 2020. However, that just isn’t the case. There was yet another coaching change in Cleveland this offseason, and it doesn’t appear like it’ll help Beckham return to fantasy glory. New head coach Kevin Stefanski loves to run the ball. He comes from Minnesota, where Kirk Cousins once attempted 10 passes in a game last year. This led to Stefon Diggs seeing just 94 targets despite Adam Thielen missing six games due to injury. Beckham will likely take on Diggs’ deep-threat role in the offense. This should lead to him becoming more of a high-variance fantasy asset rather than a weekly WR1. Beckham is too talented to disappear off the fantasy radar, just as Diggs was last season. Still, it’s fair to question how many opportunities OBJ will see in this new offense.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)
Mike Evans (TB)
Currently ranked seventh among fantasy wide receivers, Evans is coming off a season where he had 67 receptions for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns. A big target at 6’5″ and 231 pounds, his specialty is the deep pass. He has averaged 17.7 and 17.3 yards per catch the last two seasons, respectively, and his career average is 15.7. Evans was effective playing with Jameis Winston, who took a lot of chances throwing the ball down the field. That is not Tom Brady’s game at this point in his career. Brady throws the ball more to running backs and slot receivers underneath to moves the chains. Although he did not have a deep target like Evans, Brady only averaged 6.6 yards per attempt last year. At this point in Brady’s career, he may not have the arm strength to take advantage of Evans’ size and ability to stretch the field. There is also the question of whether Brady will be able to stay healthy for 16 games at his age. I like Evans’ talent, but I’m not sure he is playing with a quarterback who will be able to maximize his fantasy production. He’s currently valued at his peak production, with little room for downside. I could see Evans finishing outside of the top-2o wide receivers, which makes him a very risky selection.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
Despite missing three games in 2019, Mike Evans still had a productive year. He hauled in 67 receptions for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns across 13 contests. The 26-year-old will now catch passes from future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. However, there have been questions surrounding Brady’s arm strength, and he dealt with elbow issues at the end of the 2019 campaign. Evans is currently seventh among all wideouts in the expert consensus rankings, but with the switch at QB from Jameis Winston to Brady, I could see Evans failing to finish in the top 15. Evans will see a lower target share with Chris Godwin poised to take over the slot, which Brady heavily relies on, and he will also need Brady to prove he can consistently hit his downfield passes. There are too many factors against Evans to produce top-10 numbers, making him a risky draft selection among the top-12 wide receivers in ECR.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)
This pick is not an indictment of Mike Evans as a player; by all accounts, he is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and has shown consistent production throughout his career. Yet, the reason I believe he has the biggest bust potential among the top-12 wide receivers is mainly due to his circumstances. Last year, before Evans suffered a season-ending injury, he and Chris Godwin were the No. 5 and No. 2 PPR wide receivers, respectively. It is extremely rare to find two wide receivers on the same team both finish in the top 12, as it has only happened one other time since 2015 (Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs in Minnesota in 2018). Now, we must remove the Jameis Winston variable from the equation and insert a 43-year-old quarterback who likely won’t repeat his 614 attempts from 2019. The Buccaneers’ wide receivers benefited from Winston’s erratic play, as it allowed them to catch the 50/50 balls and enhance their upside as a result. Tom Brady won’t be nearly as careless with the football, resulting in fewer jump balls and “danger plays” that could yield increased fantasy production. Brady’s arrival also limits the probability of the Buccaneers needing to play “catch-up” and pass more often to get back into the game. Given Winston’s turnover propensity, Tampa Bay seemed to often dig itself into a hole early. Tampa Bay ran 43.7% of its first-quarter plays while losing, which ranked fifth-most in the NFL. This necessitated the Buccaneers becoming more pass-heavy, thus allowing both Godwin and Evans to see plenty of targets. When Brady was with the Patriots, only 19.0% of their first-quarter plays were run while trailing. I can easily see the Buccaneers’ total passing attempts and yardage falling as Brady plays a safer, more efficient style of football. As such, the offense won’t be able to sustain both Godwin and Evans at their current rankings. Since Brady historically favors the slot receiver and will be less likely to take chances with the football, Evans has the greatest bust potential of the top-12 wideouts.
– Dan Ambrosino (@AmbrosinoNFL)
D.J. Moore (CAR)
I’m a fan of Moore and had several shares of him last year. But I feel that WR might be the most situation-dependent position in fantasy football, and I have too many questions about the Panthers right now. There’s a shiny new coach who could be great, but the jury’s obviously deliberating for now. While Teddy Bridgewater is solid, his career average of 174 passing yards per game doesn’t point to top-12 production for any wide receiver in Carolina. He will also have to fend off some guys who have been in this category before, as well as some up-and-coming challengers. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t (at worst) a solid number two receiver in fantasy, but I’m pumping the brakes on Moore’s current value for now.
– Sheldon Curtis (@sheldon_curtis)
Kenny Golladay (DET)
Kenny Golladay had an under-the-radar season last year, finishing as the WR6 in half-PPR leagues. However, most of that was on the back of the league-leading 11 receiving touchdowns he scored. His 2020 season calls for immense regression, especially considering had only 65 receptions on 116 targets, both of which were in the bottom six among top-24 wide receivers. Additionally, scoring 11 touchdowns on 65 catches gave him a 16.9 percent touchdown rate, which led all receivers with at least 35 receptions last year. In fact, that was the 10th-highest touchdown percentage among receivers over the past five years. Golladay also did a good chunk of his damage while Matthew Stafford was having a career season. If Stafford returns to playing as he did in the first half of last season, Golladay might not have trouble repeating his success, but there’s no way we can expect those numbers from Stafford two years in a row. In his three-year career, Golladay has never topped 70 receptions or 120 targets in a single season, and he’ll have trouble doing so this year with Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, and T.J. Hockenson all returning to compete for targets.
– Sam Hoppen (@SamHoppen)