2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Busts 1.0 – CBSSports.com

If sleepers and breakouts are the most exciting lists of the offseason, busts may be the most important. 

It’s much easier to lose your league during the draft than win it. Avoiding the players who will cripple Fantasy owners in 2017 is the easiest way to make sure you’ve given yourself a chance to compete. 

I break busts into two categories, players that I think will far under perform their draft position and players who could end up getting cut because they’re irrelevant to Fantasy. I’ve got eight specific bust candidates I’ll be avoiding, and we’ll get to those in a minute. First, a couple of groups of players that are probably best left to your league-mates.

Patriots wide receivers

Before I get all of New England in the comments, let me be clear: The Patriots are the clear favorites to steamroll the league.
Tom Brady
is my No. 1 quarterback. Rob Gronkowksi is my No. 1 tight end. But drafting any of the Patriots receivers is a mistake at their likely cost.


Brandin Cooks
is the leader of the pack and an exceptionally talented wide receiver. He’s also likely a third-round pick and will find his way into the top 15 of many WR rankings lists. That cost is simply too high for me. I broke down the Patriots targets in my expectations piece, and there are likely less than 300 targets for receivers in this offense. I’m not sure how Cooks gets more than 100 of them unless the Patriots completely alter the role and involvement of
Julian Edelman

Speaking of Edelman, even if he keeps his role, it’s almost certainly going to be slightly reduced in the best case scenario. That’s a problem, because for Fantasy purposes he’s a fairly inefficient receiver on a per target basis. Last season he needed 159 targets to be a No. 2 in PPR leagues. A reduction of 20 or 30 targets would be a big deal.

The other Patriots receivers won’t be drafted high enough to be traditional busts, but with this target crunch we’ve been talking about, it’s difficult to see
Malcolm Mitchell
or
Chris Hogan
delivering even late-round value without an injury. Draft Tom Brady in the 3rd or 4th round. Take Gronk as early as the 2nd, but I’d avoid the New England receiving corps.

Rookie tight ends

This was a fantastic class of tight ends. O.J. Howard is a prototype. Evan Engram is a receiver in a tight end’s body. David Njoku is an elite athlete. But they’re all rookie tight ends, and rookie tight ends are almost always disappointments. Yes,
Hunter Henry
was an exception last year, but it took half of the
San Diego Chargers
receiving corps getting injured and an unsustainable touchdown rate to make that happen. You’re better off with guys like
Eric Ebron
,
Martellus Bennett
and
Jack Doyle

Let’s get to the rest of the busts:

1
I talked about the two categories at the top of this piece, and Adams definitely falls into the camp of not delivering on his average draft position. Adams was a top-10 wide receiver last season on the strength of 12 touchdown receptions despite not reaching 1,000 yards receiving. He’s just the third receiver in the past 10 years to score that many TDs with so few yards, and both were
Green Bay Packers
. Greg Jennings followed that year up with an impressive 1,292 receiving yards and nine TDs. James Jones became Fantasy irrelevant. Adams will be somewhere in the middle, but I would expect he’ll lose at least four touchdowns this year and be more like a high-end No. 3 than the top-10 option he was in 2016.
2
I’m not one of those people who disliked Cook coming into the draft, but I hate his landing spot for 2017. I don’t know how you couldn’t. Cook goes to a far-from-prolific offense that just added a running back in free agency (
Latavius Murray
) and still has a holdover who will get touches (
Jerick McKinnon
). My biggest fear is that Cook is stuck in a two-down role that doesn’t include short-yardage work. That would make it nearly impossible for him to be more than a No. 3 RB. The
Minnesota Vikings
offensive line should be improved, but improvement was ensured by how bad it was last year. Without a workhorse role or elite efficiency, it will be very difficult for Cook to make a big Fantasy impact as a rookie.
3
I was concerned about Hill being the type of bust you end up dropping, at least until
Jeremy Maclin
was cut. Now it seems far less likely that he’ll flame out, but also far more likely that he’ll be over-drafted. And there’s still a small chance he’s both. I wouldn’t go so far as to call Hill a gadget player, but I also don’t see him being successful long term as a traditional No. 1 WR. Hill is an excellent No. 3 WR with upside, and he’s a No. 1 in leagues where you get credit for return yardage. But in a standard league, if people are drafting him in the fourth round, he is likely to disappoint. The
Kansas City Chiefs
offense with
Alex Smith
isn’t set up to support a No. 2 receiver and a top tight end in Fantasy, and
Travis Kelce
‘s production is more reliable. 
4
This is crazy. Lynch is a 31-year-old running back who did not play in 2016. He was actively bad in 2015. He comes out of retirement to join his hometown
Oakland Raiders
(and sell a bunch of gear), and people are talking like it’s 2014 again. I would be surprised if the Raiders give him more than 180 carries. I would be more surprised if he stays healthy for a full season with a lead running back’s workload. I would be downright shocked if both of those things happened and he was effective. This is far more likely to be a committee situation with both
Jalen Richard
and
DeAndre Washington
involved. They may both be more effective at this stage of their careers. Lynch is a touchdown-dependent No. 3 running back.
5
This isn’t all that different from the Marshawn take above, minus the year of retirement. But Marshall looked like a guy preparing for retirement last year with the Jets. Plenty of people are giving him a free pass because of the Jets’ terrible quarterback play but he was flat out bad himself. In fact, Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson were both more efficient. We know he’s at best the
New York Giants
‘ No. 2 receiver, and I expect
Sterling Shepard
to give him a run for his money. Quite simply, I won’t draft Marshall this year unless he falls into the double-digit rounds.
6
All
Donte Moncrief
does is catch touchdown passes. Like almost literally. He doesn’t get a high share of his team’s targets, he doesn’t catch a high percentage of the targets he does get and he doesn’t have a high average per reception. He just catches touchdowns. Because he’s young and was hurt during his third year, I can completely understand thinking that his breakout may still be coming. But people are drafting him as if it’s a certainty. No thanks.
7
The expectations for Peterson aren’t as high as they are for Lynch, but he seems even more likely to just completely disappear from the Fantasy landscape. Peterson was amazing in 2015, but after last year’s poor performance and injury,  that looks more like a last gasp than a sign of things to come. I’m afraid his ADP is about to get out of control with all of the positive reports coming out of OTAs. 
8

Dak Prescott
did a phenomenal job last year. He looks very well suited to manage the situation the
Dallas Cowboys
are putting him in. He’s a great story, a huge bargain and a big part of the Cowboys’ success. He is a good quarterback. He’s also a low-volume passer who relied on six rushing touchdowns to be a No. 1 QB in 2016. If you’re expecting a repeat, or progress, you’re going to be disappointed. Prescott is an excellent No. 2 QB and a fine streaming option. Unfortunately he’ll be drafted as a starter, and you won’t be able to use him that way.

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