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Fantasy Football: One player to fade from every team

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The term “bust” may not fit perfectly for all, but I view the following players as overvalued in fantasy drafts compared to the market. For my sleepers go here.

Arizona Cardinals: Chase Edmonds

He was Arizona’s best running back last year, and Kenyan Drake is now gone, but Edmonds also brings the clear risks associated with the “RB dead zone.” Edmonds has just one career carry inside the five-yard line and is going to share work with newcomer James Conner, so there are better ways to spend a sixth-round fantasy pick.

Atlanta Falcons: Mike Davis

Davis was plenty helpful for a stretch last season, but he ultimately wore down when he was given a career-high 165 carries while replacing Christian McCaffrey. Atlanta has arguably the thinnest backfield in the NFL, and with Kyle Pitts and Arthur Smith joining the team, it’s easy to see the bull case for a Falcons running back. I’m just not convinced the 28-year-old Davis (who finished bottom-15 in rushing yards over expectation last season) will be able to take advantage of it.

Baltimore Ravens: All wide receivers

While it’s reasonable to expect Baltimore’s passing game to bounce back after last season’s production didn’t quite match 2019 and the team added new weapons during the offseason, it would have to take a big discount for me to draft any Ravens wideouts right now. Rookie Rashod Bateman has a bright future as the team’s eventual alpha, but he’s undraftable in many fantasy leagues after undergoing core muscle surgery.

Newcomer Sammy Watkins couldn’t provide fantasy value as Patrick Mahomes’ No. 2 and has also been sidelined with an injury. Marquise Brown finished strong last season, but he too suffered a hamstring strain. In other words, draft Mark Andrews.

Buffalo Bills: Zack Moss & Devin Singletary

Both backs will split work on a team that ranked bottom-10 in run rate last season and has one of the league’s best goal-line rushers as their quarterback, a stealer of short TDs. Over the final 10 weeks when both were healthy, Moss averaged 9.7 carries while Singletary saw 9.1. Moreover, from 2018-2020, Josh Allen ranked bottom-five in target percentage (14.6%) to his running backs.

Carolina Panthers: DJ Moore

Hear me out, as this one falls under the “overvalued” category; I wouldn’t dare call every fantasy analyst’s favorite receiver a bust. But Robby Anderson goes multiple rounds later despite ranking No. 7 in target share last season and now having a former teammate as his new quarterback.

Moreover, rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. looks like the real deal, so expecting Moore to finish No. 2 in air-yards share like last season seems like a stretch (Christian McCaffrey returns as well). Moore had two(!) catches in the red zone last season.

Chicago Bears: Andy Dalton

This is a weak bust pick of course, but no other Bears fit, so this is me saying don’t even waste a late pick on Dalton in Superflex formats, even with his strong surname. Justin Fields’ time might come as soon as halftime of SNF in Week 1.

Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow

Burrow is likely to make a leap in Year Two, but his ADP expects a major one. He was the QB18 on a per-game basis as a rookie last season, when he posted a modest 6.7 YPA. He’s now returning from a torn ACL and MCL as well as damage to his PCL and meniscus, so it’d be a stretch to expect many (if any) rushing stats this year. Cincinnati’s offensive line remains a real problem, as is facing the Ravens, Steelers, and Browns defenses six times. Burrow has a bright NFL future, but with a shaky coaching situation and limitations coming off a serious injury, he’s an easy fade in 2021.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9)
Joe Burrow has a lot to overcome in 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Cleveland Browns: Kareem Hunt

Hunt scored 11 touchdowns last season and will continue to benefit from a strong system and arguably the league’s best offensive line. And although Hunt’s efficiency dropped off when he took over the starting role last season, his fantasy value would unquestionably shoot through the roof should Nick Chubb go down. But it very well might take an injury (from the best player at his position in the NFL) for Hunt to be worth starting in fantasy leagues with a little touchdown regression, and that’s tough for someone being drafted as a top-25 fantasy back.

When Chubb returned last year and was fully healthy down the stretch, the Browns made it clear he was their main back (they confirmed this with a big new offseason contract as well), as Hunt averaged a meager 6.8 carries and 3.0 targets over the final six games

Don’t hesitate to draft Damien Harris over Hunt, and if you’re looking for a backup with upside, grab AJ Dillon instead.

Dallas Cowboys: Amari Cooper

I’m fully in on Dallas’ offense this year, so take this more of me loving CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup compared to the ADP of Cooper, who was slow to recover from offseason ankle surgery and is reportedly “very Vitamin D deficient." However, it’s worth noting Cooper was unquestionably the team’s WR1 when Dak Prescott played last season (but TD Lamb is coming on strong).

Denver Broncos: Noah Fant

Fant has off-the-charts workout metrics and would be a major breakout candidate in the right situation, but he’s in a tough one with the Broncos. Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton should eat targets in Denver (KJ Hamler has upside to emerge as one of the league’s best WR3s too), whose new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater also ranks bottom-three in target percentage to tight ends over the last three seasons.

Detroit Lions: D’Andre Swift

Swift has monster fantasy upside after scoring 10 touchdowns and seeing 57 targets over just 13 games as a rookie, but he’s also a clear risk. His availability for Week 1 is in question, and more worrisome is the recurring nature of his groin injury. The Lions have an underrated offensive line and a run-first mentality, but the coaching is going to be shaky, and Jamaal Williams could split work with Swift even when healthy. Detroit’s coaching staff referred to Williams as the team’s “A” back during summer, for what it’s worth. 

Green Bay Packers: Robert Tonyan

Tonyan killed it for fantasy managers last season as a waiver-wire pickup who scored 11 touchdowns (tied with Travis Kelce) at the game’s thinnest position. He did so while seeing just 59 targets though, so realize Tonyan’s floor is low once Green Bay’s TD regression hits. Put differently, Tonyan pulling down a touchdown on 18.6% of his catches is historically unsustainable, nor is it a sign that increased targets are to come. The Packers also go from having an extremely easy pass defense schedule in 2020 to one that projects to be among the toughest this season. I’ll let others draft Big Bob this year.

Houston Texans: Phillip Lindsay

Houston is a tough one for this exercise with so few fantasy options, but Lindsay seems to be gaining some buzz as Houston’s preferred fantasy back. That said, he’s going to be part of a three-man rotation in the backfield of arguably the worst team in football, with David Johnson getting the key passing down role.

Indianapolis Colts: Carson Wentz

It’s good news for the rest of the Colts’ fantasy values that Wentz looks likely to play Week 1, but he remains a tough draft buy. He somehow took the most sacks (50) and threw the most interceptions (15) in the NFL last year — and he only played 12 games. Wentz also finished second to last in YPA (6.0) and CPAE (the latter behind only Dwayne Haskins).

Recall: Wentz’s one big outlier season (in which his backup went on to win the Super Bowl) relied heavily on unsustainable third-down variance.

Jacksonville Jaguars: DJ Chark

Chark has no ties to Jacksonville’s new coaching staff, best displayed by Urban Meyer saying the WR is a “big guy who played little last year, and that can’t happen.” Newly signed Marvin Jones has reportedly looked like Jacksonville’s WR1 throughout camp and has a history with OC Darrel Bevell. Laviska Shenault also appears ready to break out in Year Two and is certain to open the season ahead of Chark on the target tree.

Chark has impressive workout metrics, is one year removed from a big season, and now has a potential generational talent taking over as his quarterback, but fantasy managers are making a leap drafting him as a top-40 WR with him currently dealing with a broken hand and those aforementioned questions.

Kansas City Chiefs: Mahomes and Kelce**

I’m targeting Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Mecole Hardman this season, making Kansas City a tough team for this exercise. But since I rank Josh Allen ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Darren Waller ahead of Travis Kelce, I could argue both KC stars are ever so slightly overvalued at fantasy drafts.

Las Vegas Raiders: Josh Jacobs

Jacobs led the NFL with 35 carries inside the five-yard line last season (15 games), which is certainly good news for fantasy value. But that volume still didn’t result in Jacobs being a top-10 RB in fantasy points per game, and his new teammate Kenyan Drake tied him with the same number of carries inside the five last season. While it’s reasonable to expect Jacobs to get more short-yardage work than the smaller Drake, he now has more competition at the goal line and should see even less work as a receiver. In fact, Jacobs is no longer setting any receiving goals with Drake in town (he has one career third-down target).

The Raiders’ highly questionable recent draft history is also catching up to them, and the team’s “revamped” offensive line is a euphemism for “got much worse” during the offseason. Jacobs has been the most game-script-dependent RB in football, averaging more than twice as many fantasy points during wins than losses.

Las Vegas is currently favored in just five games this season.

Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams

I absolutely love the idea of Williams in Year Two with Justin Herbert; the upside is so clearly there. But Williams has never even earned 90 targets during his career, can play recklessly, and has “missed extended time with a hip flexor” recently. Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler are going to soak up targets, while Tyron Johnson and Josh Palmer are more than capable deep replacements. It also might be worth noting Herbert got just 6.6 YPA over the final nine games last season and may have to continue to deal with shaky coaching

Los Angeles Rams: Darrell Henderson

Henderson finishing as a top-five fantasy RB is absolutely within his range of outcomes as the Rams’ feature back, but his lack of durability helped push the team to trade for Sony Michel. Henderson not only has to beat the odds by staying healthy while seeing more touches, but he suddenly has real competition too, as Michel quietly led all backs in yards per touch and finished second in rush yards over expectation last season. LA didn’t treat Henderson as a workhorse when Cam Akers was out last year, and his ADP remains far higher than Michel’s.

Darrell Henderson, Jr. (27) of the Los Angeles Rams
Will Darrell Henderson end up disappointing fantasy drafters? (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins: Will Fuller

Fuller has one of the lengthiest injury histories in the league and missed extended time with a lower-body issue throughout August while trying to learn a new system. While positive reports about Tua Tagovailoa are encouraging for Fuller’s outlook, rookie Jaylen Waddle also looks like the real deal, so there will be plenty of competition for targets with DeVante Parker (and Mike Gesicki) also in Miami. The Dolphins’ offensive line doesn’t appear conducive for a deep threat like Fuller, who’s also suspended Week 1. 

Minnesota Vikings: Adam Thielen

One could easily argue Thielen is underrated not being drafted as a top-20 wide receiver after just scoring 14 touchdowns over 15 games, but fantasy managers have been reluctant to buy last year’s stats — for good reason. He’s 31 years old, has an injury history, and is now without question behind Justin Jefferson on a run-first team. Thielen is due for major TD regression (although Irv Smith going down admittedly helps), and no other receiver’s fantasy value relied more on scoring in 2021.

New England Patriots: Cam Newton

Only Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott had more rush attempts inside the five-yard line last season than Newton, and he’s a quarterback who missed a game. Still, as nice as the rushing stats are for fantasy, Newton’s struggles passing were at times downright ugly. Learning a new system and dealing with COVID could be to blame, but the safe bet is Mac Jones taking over the starter’s job soon and never turning back.

New Orleans Saints: Michael Thomas

Something hasn’t been right with Thomas and the Saints since last season, and his delayed offseason surgery suggests he may never play for the team again. Thomas not only has an uncertain timetable while recovering from ankle surgery, but he’ll be returning to a team no longer helmed by Drew Brees. Thomas can no doubt be a helpful PPR asset down the stretch, but he’s never scored double-digit touchdowns in his career (even while seeing 185 targets in 2019), and he’s now approaching 30, coming off major surgery, and has a huge downgrade at QB.

Over 12 career games without Drew Brees, Thomas has recorded three touchdowns.

New York Giants: Kenny Golladay

While receivers who signed big contracts to change teams during the offseason have seen big targets right away recently, Golladay will have to do so while missing a bunch of camp time with a hamstring injury and entering a situation in New York with plenty of capable receivers (including a first-rounder) and Saquon Barkley returning.

He also goes from indoors/Matt Stafford to outdoors/Daniel Dogecoin. Golladay typically relies on a terrific contested-catch ability, and it's questionable whether Jones gives him the same deep opportunities (with a shaky offensive line) as Stafford did. Dealing with a soft tissue injury already, I’d rather listen to Kenny G than draft him at his ADP.

New York Jets: Tevin Coleman

I’d much rather Ty Johnson, and yet Coleman sports a much higher ADP. Coleman couldn’t stay on the field nor did he have any success while on it despite being in Kyle Shanahan’s system over the last two seasons, and he’s now 28 and joining the Jets in a three-man committee. No thanks.

Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert

Goedert’s fantasy value seemed to be on the rise entering the offseason, but that changed with Zach Ertz’s unexpected return to Philadelphia. Over the last three seasons, Carson Wentz had the highest percentage of throws to tight ends among all quarterbacks, but he’s no longer in Philadelphia. New starter Jalen Hurts infrequently targeted his tight ends in college, although the Eagles’ current personnel should change that. Goedert is a candidate for further growth and a fine top-10 fantasy TE, but he’s being a bit over-drafted now that it’s looking increasingly likely the anticipated added volume just might not be there.

Pittsburgh Steelers: JuJu Smith-Schuster

Smith-Schuster is a fine PPR floor pick, but his upside is limited as the third-best receiver on a team with a 39-year-old QB who got just 6.3 YPA last season and may or may not be totally washed. Even if Ben Roethlisberger bounces back with a new offensive coordinator, Chase Claypool is going to see more playing time in Year Two as a developing alpha. Rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth looks like an immediate red-zone threat as well, while rookie RB Najee Harris adds another capable pass catcher.

Smith-Schuster ran the most routes in football and ranked top-15 in targets (128) last season but was incredibly dependent on volume, as he ranked No. 41 in target share, No. 82 in air yards share, and No. 97 in yards per target

San Francisco 49ers: Deebo Samuel

Samuel is a tackle-breaking machine who somehow had more yards after the catch than receiving yards last season, but his style has led to a long injury history (including the dreaded Jones fracture). He’s also third in line for targets on an SF team that projects to be among the most run-heavy in football.

Seattle Seahawks: Rashaad Penny

A healthy Penny has theoretical fantasy upside with Chris Carson having never played a full season during his career. But Carson is the unquestioned starter when healthy, while Penny has a long injury history himself, and suddenly his roster spot is in danger after possibly getting beaten out of the RB2 job by Alex Collins.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rob Gronkowski

Gronkowski returned from retirement to play all 16 regular-season games and score two touchdowns in the Super Bowl last year. Remarkably, it was the first time he played 16 games in a season since 2011, and Gronk is now a year older and coming off a postseason run into February. Tom Brady attempted the second-most throws in the end zone last season, and his rapport with Gronkowski is obviously a plus. But O.J. Howard returns after he missed most of last season, and there might not be a more crowded WR room than Tampa Bay with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown all vying for targets (as well as the addition of a proper third-down back in Gio Bernard).

Tennessee Titans: Julio Jones

Jones is a Hall of Famer, but he’s now 32 years old coming off an injury-plagued season, and is joining a new team that plays outdoors. The Titans also just lost Arthur Smith (a big reason for their recent offensive success), and A.J. Brown deserves all the targets he can handle. Moreover, Jones recently missed a month of practice, so it seems aggressive he’s being drafted as a top-20 WR in Yahoo leagues (laughably ahead of Tyler Lockett and Brandon Aiyuk).

Washington Football Team: Curtis Samuel

The idea of Samuel following Scott Turner to Washington might not pay as many fantasy dividends as expected after he missed a ton of camp reps throughout all of summer while dealing with a groin injury and COVID. A slow start is almost certain, and even when up to speed, Samuel could settle in as the No. 4 option (behind Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, and the RBs) on a potentially dominant defensive team.

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