Dynasty Players to Give Up On (2021 Fantasy Football)
It’s tough to let go, especially when it surrounds a player we have believed in for quite a while. But like Bill Belichick has done so often throughout his career as general manager, it’s often best to give up on someone before it’s too late.
Here are five dynasty players whom I believe it is time to give up on before the bottom falls out.
How much longer are we going to believe Joe Mixon can be a consistent RB1? Granted, the four-year pro has had two 1000-yard seasons and is the clear-cut workhorse runner for the Cincinnati Bengals. But is that enough?
After missing 10 games this past season, Joe Mixon finished as the RB49, scoring 16.6 PPR points per game. While that seems impressive, most of his production came from a 151-yard, two touchdown performance against Jacksonville. In his other five contests, he averaged 11.2 PPR points per game with a high of 14.9.
He now enters his fifth season, with a quarterback coming off an ACL injury, a suspect offensive line, and an organization that is in constant turmoil.
Yes, he was the RB13 and RB10 in the two seasons prior to this past season. Do we really believe that he can do that again after proving he can’t stay on the field (one full season in four years) and playing for an offense that may be the worst in the AFC? There’s no doubt Mixon is talented, but so long as he’s in Cincinnati, he’s a high-floor, low-ceiling player.
This one hurts me because I had touted Mecole Hardman as a breakout candidate for the 2020 fantasy football season. If you read any articles of mine in the past 18 months, there’s a good chance you would’ve seen something about buying Mecole Hardman or that he was consistently undervalued.
Well, I was wrong. Hardman has all the talent in the world and looked as though he could be the next Tyreek Hill. Yet, his poor route running combined with the lack of opportunity has shown he’ll never truly develop into the WR2 we had all hoped he could be.
Just like his rookie year, he was extremely hit-or-miss in 2020. He saw more than three targets just seven times last season, and he caught more than three passes on just three occasions. His best game by far was his nine-catch, 96-yard performance against the New York Jets in Week 8, but that was one of only three occasions in which he scored double-digit PPR points. All of his 10+ point outings were due to scoring a touchdown.
He is still extremely young, as he’s entering year three of what is all but certainly going to be a top-three offense in 2021. Unfortunately, it’s likely that Kansas City brings back Sammy Watkins for yet another year or adds a third wideout to their already embarrassment of riches at the position.
So long as Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are playing in Kansas City, Hardman will not take the next step needed to be a consistent fantasy WR2. It’s time to give up on his blazing speed and get you someone who can actually contribute on a weekly basis.
Do you know how long Mike Williams has been in the league? He was a part of that abysmal receiving class that included John Ross and Corey Davis being picked inside the top-10. Despite playing 15 or more games in each of his last three seasons, Williams has topped 1,000 yards just once. He has never caught 50 or more passes.
Williams’ fantasy relevance is merely an aberration, as he has kept his name floating around as a potential breakout merely by happenstance. Following his injury-plagued rookie year, Williams managed just 43 receptions for 644 yards. However, his abnormal 10 touchdowns allowed him to finish as the WR32.
In 2019, he finally eclipsed 1,000 yards. However, he did so by averaging an obscene 20.4 yards per reception, and he only scored two touchdowns as a result. In 2020, he was mediocre on both fronts, finishing with 48 receptions for 756 yards and five touchdowns.
You would think after three consecutive disappointing seasons that people would’ve given up on Mike Williams already. However, Justin Herbert’s ascension to Rookie of the Year and Hunter Henry’s impending departure have people believing Williams can finally live up to the hype in 2021. Take advantage of this foolish belief.
Williams will never be anything more than a low-end WR3 so long as he’s in a Chargers uniform. If you could sell him for a late-second or early-third rookie pick, you should count your blessings. Williams, for all intents and purposes, is a fantasy bust. If I’m going to roster a big play, inconsistent receiver, I’d rather pay a fourth round pick for Nelson Agholor than keep Williams on my squad.
“Woah, Dan, hold the phone a bit. Henry Ruggs was drafted less than a year ago, and you’re already jumping ship on the first wideout selected in the 2020 NFL Draft?” Not only am I jumping ship, but I’m swimming away before it hits the iceberg.
Henry Ruggs is an immensely gifted athlete, with the speed and big-play ability that makes him seem like the second-coming of Tyreek Hill. Yet, he’s played more like Mecole Hardman than he has like Hill. In a season filled with rookie wideouts immediately asserting themselves as the dominant force on their offense, Ruggs played as if he was only allowed to run one route.
Ruggs was utilized as the vertical threat for an offense that focused on quick passes to the tight end and the run game. In that limited fashion, however, Ruggs played his role well. He was meant to clear out space over the middle of the field so Darren Waller and the running backs would have more room to operate. The problem was that Ruggs rarely commanded any targets of his own, even in single coverage.
Ruggs saw 43 targets in 13 games, which he leveraged into 26 receptions for 452 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdowns came against broken coverage, with the most infamous one being against Greg Williams’ unforgivable zero-blitz on a Hail Mary. There’s no reason to think Ruggs will command more targets next season.
There’s already been talk about Las Vegas adding a big-name wide receiver like JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Darren Waller will still be soaking up targets in Las Vegas for the long haul. Derek Carr is a solid quarterback, but he’s a safe one that doesn’t take risks. Even so, Nelson Agholor was able to outplay Ruggs last season in virtually the same role. If they bring Agholor back, what chance is there for Ruggs to grow?
Rookies always seem to get a pass when they perform poorly in year one, so it’s time to dump Ruggs before he disappoints again in year two. You won’t recoup value, but Ruggs is a sunk cost that could easily become another hit-or-miss deep threat in Jon Gruden’s run-heavy offense.
Evan Engram’s career-high in targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns came in his rookie season. Since then, he’s been one of the most disappointing fantasy tight ends over the past three years. All due respect to “Pro-Bowler” Evan Engram, but he’s never been able to translate his incredible athleticism and intangibles to production on the field.
How much of this has to do with Daniel Jones’ poor play or the unimaginative play-calling of former and current Giants’ play-callers is up for debate. Still, you can’t help but concur that Engram has never lived up to his reputation as the “next elite tight end.”
Last year, Evan Engram saw a whopping 109 targets, six less than his rookie season. Despite playing all 16 games and receiving a tremendous share of opportunity, the fourth-year tight end came away with 63 receptions for 654 yards and one receiving touchdown. Some targets were uncatchable, even for the Travis Kelce’s of the world, but others were clear drops due to Engram’s lack of concentration.
I think it’s best to sell Evan Engram before he plays another down in 2021. How long you want to wait this offseason before doing so is up to you. Like many of the players on this list, he has all of the talent in the world. However, whether it be circumstance or just bad luck, he hasn’t been able to capitalize.
Maybe someone on this list can pull a DeVante Parker or Corey Davis and turn their careers around. Still, I would rather get out too early than too late, and I think now is the time to give up on these players before their values hit rock bottom.
Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League or head to more advanced strategy – like What is the Right Amount of Risk to Absorb on Draft Day? – to learn more.
Dan Ambrosino is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Dan, check out his archive and follow him @AmbrosinoNFL.