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18 Early Fantasy Football Busts to Avoid

It’s never too early to start talking about fantasy football busts. Finding out which players may heavily underperform expectations takes far more than just comparing their final ranking last year with their current ADP or consensus rank. That’s because injuries and changes to a player’s role or situation can have huge impacts on every player’s season-long output or final ranking. Injury-prone players or athletes who start the season hurt are always a massive risk, especially in the early rounds. Plus, changes like the loss of a reliable quarterback or the potential for a younger player to steal a veteran’s job are risks to account for when evaluating every skill player across the football landscape. Inconsistent, boom-or-bust athletes who produced the majority of their fantasy points in a few games are another trap that ensnares plenty of fantasy managers each year.

Our featured pundits know exactly what to look for when identifying potential busts. So to help you begin your research, they’ve each listed an RB and WR they think have the biggest odds of falling short of expectations. Read on below to see who you may want to think twice about selecting and why.

Early Fantasy Football Busts

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

Najee Harris (RB – PIT )

“Najee Harris has held off Jaylen Warren the last 2 years with strong finishes, but after the Steelers declined his 5th-year option, there’s no allegiance to him as a former first-round pick. Don’t be surprised if Warren usurps him as the Steelers RB1 and finishes inside the top-24 where Najee falls outside the top-40 RBs. From a rushing efficiency standpoint, Warren was superior across the board by any advanced rushing metric compared to Harris. The former UDFA ranked 4th in yards per carry (5.2) and 3rd in rushing yards per carry after contact (3.7).”
Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

Kyren Williams (RB – LAR )

“The low-hanging fruit here has to be Kyren Williams. At RB7 overall, he is simply too expensive for his risk. A day three running back is always a surefire bet to lose on, but add in the Los Angeles Rams spending a third-round pick on Blake Coruam and this is a recipe for disaster. If the circumstances were not bad enough, Williams missed his rookie season due to a foot injury and is currently sidelined during OTAs with another foot injury. We’ve seen in the past that no matter how good a running back performs when they are a day three draft pick, they are treated as disposable in the NFL. If you don’t believe me, take a look at Tyler Allgeier and Dameon Pierce who both had excellent seasons and were quickly replaced and made obsolete.”
Aaron St Denis (Fantasy Football Universe)

“The player that immediately jumps out is Kyren Williams. Since entering the NFL, Williams has missed time with a broken foot, incurred multiple ankle injuries, left last season’s Wild Card loss with a broken hand, and is missing OTAs with what has been described as “Foot issues.” That laundry list of injuries prompted the Rams to spend third round draft capital on Michigan running back Blake Corum. Couple Corum’s addition with a healthier version of Cooper Kupp and now both his carry and target share are going to be eaten into. ”
James Emrick-Wilson (Armchair Scouting)

Kyren Williams should put fear into managers’ eyes as a potential bust candidate in 2024. Despite the recent news on his foot injury, Williams was already a risky player in drafts, being ranked as the RB7. Williams had a very efficient 5.0 YPC and double-digit touchdowns despite missing four games due to injury. The addition of Blake Corum will shortly remove some touchdown opportunities from Williams. I am concerned that he can’t handle a workhorse-level workload without causing some type of injury. ”
Steven Pintado (The Fantasy Coaches)

James Conner (RB – ARI )

“James Conner makes me very nervous at his cost as a Top 24 running back. He has been excellent for some time but the Cardinals clearly signaled their intent by drafting Trey Benson. This is no longer a one-man backfield, and they’re unlikely to be such a high-scoring team that you’d want a Cardinals committee back. No thank you!”
Ben Wasley (The Fantasy First Down)

D’Andre Swift (RB – CHI )

“D’Andre Swift (RB23 in the rankings) is someone I will avoid drafting this year. He was the RB23 last season, averaging 11.2 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. While the veteran lost nearly every goal-line touchdown to Jalen Hurts, Swift accounted for over 66% of the Philadelphia Eagles’ backfield rushing attempts. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen with the Chicago Bears with Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson around. More importantly, he went from playing behind arguably the top offensive line in the NFL to one that ranked 23rd in run blocking by PFF in 2023. Furthermore, the Bears should be a pass-first offense with Caleb Williams under center.”
Mike Fanelli (FantasyPros)

D’Andre Swift is currently the consensus RB23, and I am having none of it. We saw what happened to Miles Sanders in Carolina after leaving the supremely run-friendly Eagles last season. Now, history is set to repeat itself in Chicago. Swift also faces way more competition in his new backfield than Sanders did in the form of Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert. Herbert offers consistency while Johnson showed off his chops in the passing game. Swift is talented enough to become the 1A in this backfield, but I don’t see him as a major upgrade over the incumbent backs given his track record. And with all the other weapons available to Caleb Williams in the passing game, I’m not counting on Swift getting enough touches to warrant his current ranking.”
Jeremy Shulman (Fantasy Football Universe)

James Cook (RB – BUF )

“James Cook is really talented, but the situation he’s in is less than ideal. Despite his talent, Cook is undersized at 190 lbs. He loses too many TDs to Josh Allen near the goal line. In nineteen games last season (regular season and playoffs), Cook rushed for a paltry two TDs. In addition, Allen’s athleticism hurts Cook’s reception potential since Allen is elusive enough to escape on his own when under duress. With a current ranking at RB 14, drafters will get burned if they draft Cook at his 2024 price tag.”
Mark Ringo (Sleepers and Busts)

Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE )

“Rhamondre Stevenson finds himself in a very tough spot for 2024. The Patriots offense projects as a bottom 5 unit in the league, and with that may come limited big game potential for Stevenson on a weekly basis (only 4 TDs in 12 games for 2023). What also draws me away from Stevenson are health concerns, with Stevenson playing in only 12 games in two of his three seasons in the league. I also am asking myself, is drafting a New England Patriots player going to help you win your fantasy leagues in 2024? The answer from me is a big, resounding, no.”
Ed Birdsall (Talking Points Sports)

Josh Jacobs (RB – GB )

“Josh Jacobs is quickly shifting from an inspiring fantasy name in a new offense, to one I am terrified to draft. Although Green Bay is an exciting team, out of the backs with 200+ rushes last year, Jacobs had the second-fewest yards (only ahead of Javonte Williams). Inefficient runners in Green Bay have had a role, with A.J. Dillon having 178 carries last season, creating a path for Jacobs to have a solid floor. However, the role that is more valuable for fantasy is the role vacated by Aaron Jones. Jacobs will take on some of the vacated work, but the Packers drafted MarShawn Lloyd in the third round who (I believe) has a similar skill set to Jones. Plus, we recently found out Jacobs is already dealing with a hamstring injury. Jacobs will likely have a solid fantasy season. However, having him ranked inside the ECR top 10 backs ahead of names like Isiah Pacheco and De’Von Achane is too rich for my liking. ”
Ellis Johnson (RotoBaller)

“Call me a hater, but there’s no way I can endorse Josh Jacobs as the RB10. The volume he endured in 2022 stole his tackle-breaking juice in 2023, and I don’t know if it ever returns. Last season, Jacobs had the 12th-highest stuff rate while also crawling in at 37th in missed tackles forced per attempt and 44th in yards after contact per attempt (per Fantasy Points Data). With my man crush, MarShawn Lloyd, breathing down Jacobs’ neck all year, Jacobs could cede more volume to the talented rookie than many are projecting. He has to own this backfield to pay off on his current ranking. ”
Derek Brown (FantasyPros)

De’Von Achane (RB – MIA )

“The biggest bust candidate has to be De’Von Achane. There is no denying how explosive Achane is, but Raheem Mostert is still the lead back, Jeff Wilson is still there, and they drafted speedy Chris Brooks. Achane is also a smaller back that missed time due to injury last season. While I love the talent and potential, there is plenty of risk in drafting Achane as your RB1.”
Steve Anagnos (Double G Sports)

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

Deebo Samuel (WR – SF)

“Deebo Samuel ranked as the WR12 overall despite playing 15 games in 2023. Notably, he scored the second-most total touchdowns (12) with his dual role as a rusher and receiver leading all wide receivers in total red-zone touches. However, his long injury history raises concerns due to his physical playing style. Additionally, there’s potential for TD regression given his performance exceeded expectations in the previous season, ranking as just the WR26 in expected points per game (10.9). Moreover, relying on rushing production can be unpredictable year-to-year, and the emergence of Brandon Aiyuk further complicates Samuel’s outlook as he enters a contract year. ”
Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

Davante Adams (WR – LV )

“Davante Adams is going to be a risky proposition for this season. At 31 years old, he is now racing full speed ahead towards the age cliff, which will catch up with him any day now. As we all know, Father Time is undefeated. Add in the lack of a quarterback with any level of skill to throw him the ball and it is going to be a rough year in Vegas. Whether the starter is Aidan O’Connell or Gardner Minshew, this offense figures to lack any real touchdown upside. Add in a rapidly expanding tight end room that features two of the more talented youngsters in the league Michael Mayer and rookie Brock Bowers, and it’s clear this season is going to be a full youth movement for the Raiders. Adams’ best chance to salvage one last relevant season, is a trade to a contender, but even then, contenders will have far more weapons to eat into his piece of the pie.”
Aaron St Denis (Fantasy Football Universe)

Stefon Diggs (WR – HOU )

“In the final eight weeks of the 2023 fantasy season, Stefon Diggs had just one game with over 7 half-PPR fantasy points. He now moves to a team with a worse quarterback (sorry, CJ Stroud, but you’re no Josh Allen just yet) and way more target competition in Nico Collins, Tank Dell, Dalton Schultz, Joe Mixon plus strong wide receiver and tight end depth. I don’t see a clear path to a top 24 finish for a player who looked close to washed at the end of last season. I’m steering well clear of Diggs at this price.”
Ben Wasley (The Fantasy First Down)

“Fantasy players should avoid drafting Stefon Diggs at his current WR21 price in the rankings. The veteran wide receiver has had back-to-back years with late-season struggles. He was the WR47, averaging 7.5 half-point PPR fantasy points per game over the final nine weeks of the 2023 season. More importantly, Diggs is no longer the clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver on his team. Nico Collins and Tank Dell had impressive years last season. Fantasy players should draft Malik Nabers (WR26 in the rankings), Zay Flowers (WR27), George Pickens (WR29), and Christian Kirk (WR30) well before Diggs.”
Mike Fanelli (FantasyPros)

Justin Jefferson (WR – MIN )

“Jefferson lost his QB, Kirk Cousins, to free agency and for the time being, it’s Sam Darnold throwing him the rock. Note- the most TDs Darnold has ever thrown in a season is 19! However, I’ll reconsider Jefferson if rookie QB J.J. McCarthy has a solid preseason and starts sooner rather than later, but until then, I’m not as confident in Sam Darnold running the Vikings’ offense as my peers in the fantasy industry are. With a current ranking at WR 4 Ringo says, no thanks. Justin “Don’t call him George” Jefferson is all yours. Weezy!”
Mark Ringo (Sleepers and Busts)

DJ Moore (WR – CHI )

“DJ Moore currently sitting at 15 in the concensus rankings is worrisome. Last year Moore saw career highs in receptions (96), Yards (1364) and touchdowns (8) while seeing 136 targets. We know year over year, “career years” don’t keep stacking up, now you add top 10 pick Rome Odunze and Keenan Allen to the Bears wide receiver room and Moore has alot more target competition. Moore is a fantastic player, but his 2023 season will be hard to replicate, and It’s not wise to draft a player at their ceiling, which is what you’ll be doing taking Moore as WR15.”
James Emrick-Wilson (Armchair Scouting)

DJ Moore has a clear upgrade at QB and will be the top target for superstar prospect Caleb Williams. So why do I view him as a potential bust? Since 2013 there have only been 6 receivers to have over 1000 yards with a rookie QB under center. Last season, only one receiver finished in the top 20 with fewer than 1000 yards, and that was Deebo Samuel who had 12 total touchdowns and over 200 rushing yards. Still, if you want to say Williams is no ordinary rookie, Moore is also competing with Keenan Allen and 9th overall pick Rome Odunze for targets. Considering Moore has a career-high of 8 touchdowns, he will need to become the 7th WR since 2013 to have 1000 yards with a rookie QB to return on his WR15 ECR ranking. With the target competition and history of WR production with rookie QBs, I struggle to see this happening.”
Ellis Johnson (RotoBaller)

Drake London (WR – ATL )

“I, like everyone else in the world that we live in, am so excited to see what kind of promise the Atlanta Falcons have in 2024. But when we start talking about Drake London and have him ranked in the ECR over guys with proven track records such as Michael Pittman Jr., Deebo Samuel Sr., and even Mike Evans for some, I just can’t do it. Maybe it is just me, but I want the proven commodities in at the back end of round two in my drafts, and London is not that. London has had subpar QB play his first two years in the league that have led to fewer than 1000 yards in both campaigns, fair enough, but any fantasy manager that takes London is banking on a massive breakout season. At that price, with who else will likely be on the board at that spot of the draft, I just cannot do it and will happily be proven wrong.”
Ed Birdsall (Talking Points Sports)

Puka Nacua (WR – LAR )

“The biggest bust WR candidate has to be Puka Nacua. He’ll be productive, but he’ll never justify his position at WR7 and first round ADP. Puka’s best production came with an injured Cooper Kupp on the sidelines and a healthy Matthew Stafford on the field. Kupp is back and healthy, so Puka drops out of the first round on my board.”
Steve Anagnos (Double G Sports)

Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR )

“Cooper Kupp’s current ranking at WR23 assumes that he will reproduce in 2024 as he did last year. I just can’t say for certain that he can even do that at this juncture. Last season, in the 12 games in which both Kupp and Puka Nacua were healthy, Nacua led the duo in target share, air yard share, end zone targets, and fantasy points per game (WR12). Kupp was the WR23 in fantasy points per game in this sample. If Nacua takes another step in his development and Kupp’s skills erode any further, Kupp could be regulated to WR3 production in 2024. ”
Derek Brown (FantasyPros)

DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI )

“I love DeVonta Smith the player. DeVonta Smith the consensus WR22 is, however, too rich for my blood. Consider all of the moves the Eagles made this offseason. First, Saquon Barkley is a supreme talent who will now command touches in both the run and passing game. Next, a healthy Dallas Goedert has always siphoned targets away from Smith, capping his value. Goedert is currently healthy. Finally, and perhaps the most under-the-radar concern, is the additions of Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean in the draft. Philadelphia now boasts an upgraded secondary, so it’s likely Barkley sees much more run later in games. And if Smith’s field stretching ability isn’t needed, he may be featured less as a result. Again, Smith is a talented player, but it will be hard for him to return on WR2 value this upcoming season.”
Jeremy Shulman (Fantasy Football Universe)

Marvin Harrison Jr. (WR – ARI )

“For receiver, I have to say Marvin Harrison Jr. is a potential bust candidate. Harrison Jr. is a fantastic talent, but the Cardinals offense is not elite yet. I have concerns with Kyler Murray‘s ability, especially late in the second half of the season. In games from November to January, Murray averages 221 yards and 1.3 passing touchdowns per game. Asking Harrison, a rookie receiver, to dominate an offense with few supporting cases is challenging. If Harrison was WR 20, I’d feel better about him, but WR11 has high expectations that he may fail to produce. ”
Steven Pintado (The Fantasy Coaches)

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