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8 Players Who Will Disappoint (Fantasy Football)

Sep 1, 2021

Every season, we get captivated by the players who went out and had a huge year that led their fantasy managers to championships. Those athletes often end up being the same ones many target the next season, only to find out that they paid a premium based on last year’s performance and will get a lot less production from that selection than they had hoped. This type of player isn’t the only one you have to worry about as a regression candidate, though.

There are other talented guys who unfortunately just face a much harder path to success this season than they had previously, and that can be for any number of reasons. Our featured pundits are here to help identify who those players are so you don’t get left holding the bag all season long. Read on below to see who will either come back down to Earth from a productive 2020 or just be flat-out unlucky in 2021.

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Q1. Which RB do you expect to regress significantly in 2021 and why?

Josh Jacobs (LV) 
“While Jacobs himself could still very well be improving as a runner, his situation went from good to horrendous within the past year. The Raiders’ offensive line was gutted this offseason, and after being ranked 14th overall by Football Outsiders in 2020, they are expected to fall to 27th by the average line predictions from PFF, theScore, and 4for4. To make matters worse, they signed Kenyan Drake as the 14th highest-paid RB in the league to all but destroy any hopes we had for Jacobs as a receiver. He will now be even more pigeon-holed to favorable game scripts, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking him anywhere before RB22 in half-PPR leagues, even after his RB8 finish last year.”
– David Zach (FantasyPros)

“While Josh Jacobs has slipped a tier or two since his pre-draft rankings last season, I still expect the Las Vegas Raiders’ running back to regress in 2021. While Jacobs played in two more games last year than he did in 2019, it was 13 more receptions that played a role in Jacobs jumping from 18th to eighth at his position. The inclusion of Kenyan Drake, who has averaged 57 targets over the last three years, has me worried that we could see more of what we saw from Jacobs in 2019.”
– Michael Hauff (FF Faceoff)

David Montgomery (CHI) 
“I think you have to expect significant regression from Montgomery this year, as I think most fantasy managers are in light of his ADP. Montgomery’s dynamite season last year came on the back of his strong finish to the season against a weak slew of defenses as everyone knows, so nobody expects him to finish as the RB4 again. But although Tarik Cohen has been placed on the PUP list, the Bears signed Damien Williams, who is a far cry from Ryan Nall as a backup. Williams has shown some pass-catching chops in the past, and while he won’t take over the Cohen role, he should factor in enough to take away a chunk of the 80% or so of running back snaps Montgomery saw without Cohen last year. Add in Justin Fields likely taking over as quarterback soon, which should take away some of Montgomery’s volume, and there’s just no way you could possibly feel comfortable expecting him to finish anywhere close to where he wound up last year.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Miles Sanders (PHI) 
“Sanders is one of the most exciting RBs to watch in the entire NFL, but he’s been a headache for fantasy managers over the past couple of seasons. While he could be incredible for fantasy if he was given the workload that a Christian McCaffrey or Ezekiel Elliott got, the Eagles’ coaching staff has refused to lean on him and they’ve consistently rotated in multiple other options. With Nick Sirianni coming in as the head coach, there was some optimism that things could be different this time around. However, the Eagles have Boston Scott and Jordan Howard still on this roster and they added Kenneth Gainwell in the NFL Draft, therefore signaling that we should be expecting more of the same. With Jalen Hurts taking away some rushing volume, plus the presence of multiple other RBs in this backfield, there doesn’t appear to be much upside to selecting Sanders this upcoming season. He can be viewed as a low-end RB2 this year.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Kareem Hunt (CLE) 
“Hunt had 198 carries last year and I expect that number to drop by as many as 50 with a healthy Nick Chubb this year. He is still a useful RB3/flex in PPR, but this becomes a clear Chubb backfield in 2021 if you paid attention to the latter part of the Browns’ season.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Q2. Which WR do you expect to regress significantly in 2021 and why?

Adam Thielen (MIN) 
“Based on Expected TD Rate, Thielen should have had 5.5 receiving touchdowns last season on his 925 receiving yards. He finished with 14! He was incredibly efficient in the red zone, catching eight touchdowns on only 12 targets. This high level of efficiency makes Thielen a very risky investment for fantasy this upcoming season. With Justin Jefferson stepping up and assuming the WR1 role in this offense, Thielen now has to keep up this unprecedented touchdown rate in order to return value on where he’s being drafted. Cousins and Thielen certainly have the chemistry to make that happen, but it’s not exactly a sure thing. If you can get Thielen as a WR3 on your roster, where you can live with the potential range of outcomes, I’m okay with that team-building strategy. However, having to rely on him as anything more than that is a recipe for disaster.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

“A bad recipe for success is an aging wide receiver who is seeing decreasing targets and is highly touchdown dependent, and that’s what you have with Adam Thielen. After seeing 296 targets in his last two healthy seasons, Thielen saw just 108 last year, as Justin Jefferson emerged as the No. 1 option in the passing game in Minnesota. Thielen was saved by his 14 touchdowns (third among receivers, most in franchise history since Randy Moss in 2003), but again, going back to his last two healthy seasons, he had just four and nine touchdowns, respectively. I find myself winding up with Thielen fairly often because fantasy managers seem to share my concerns (and perhaps even moreso than I do), but absent absurd touchdown production again, he’s nothing more than a low-end WR2 rather than the eighth-ranked wideout he finished as last year.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Mike Evans (TB) 
“Evans had the second-highest touchdown-to-reception rate of 18.6% among top-24 WRs last season, yet he was second-lowest in targets and receptions per game among that same group. It has long been proven that targets and receiving yards are a better predictor of fantasy success. But what’s more, is that approximately 70% of the time over the past three years, a receiver’s touchdown rate regresses towards the league average of ~8.5%. Sprinkle in a full year of Antonio Brown and a new third-down RB and receiving specialist in Giovani Bernard, and I’m just not convinced Evans will be able to maintain his existing target share nor scoring rate.”
– David Zach (FantasyPros)

Marvin Jones Jr. (JAC) 
“Jones Jr. is a player with some understandable buzz heading into this season. After leaving Detroit behind, the veteran receiver will be catching passes from Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville. Draft Jones appropriately. However, I have a hard time seeing Jones replicate his 978 yards receiving and nine touchdowns from last season. While the drop won’t be steep, a breakout from Laviska Shenault will be Jones’ biggest hurdle.”
– Michael Hauff (FF Faceoff)

Cole Beasley (BUF) 
“Cole Beasley finished as the WR26 last year in half PPR. Gabriel Davis emerged as a favorite target of Josh Allen‘s in big spots (especially in the red zone) and Emmanuel Sanders is also now part of this WR corps. I don’t expect Beasley to see 100 targets in his career again. He’s also 32 years old, a tenuous age for a WR.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Thank you to all the experts for giving their biggest regression candidates. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice. Also, please check out our latest podcast episode below.

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