2020 Fantasy Football Busts

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Steelers running back James Conner picks up yardage against the Dolphins Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 at the Heinz Field, Pittsburgh. (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

Before every season, analysts try to predict which players are going to be fantasy football busts in order to avoid them in drafts. Some projections are more obvious than others. For example, predicting that Le’Veon Bell was going to struggle behind the Jets’ miserable offensive line in 2019 was almost a given. However, anticipating busts that are not in obviously-poor situations can be much more difficult. In this article, I’m going to highlight five players that I think will be fantasy football busts this season. 

James Conner

After a breakout season in 2018, Conner was hit by the injury bug last year. The Steelers’ back only played 10 games and rushed for less than 500 yards. With rumors swirling that Pittsburgh will not extend Conner after this season, it’s clear his time as the Steelers’ workhorse back is coming to an end. Conner’s ADP (Average Draft Position) in the fourth round is way too high, as I think he will struggle to finish as a top-20 fantasy running back. Pittsburgh’s fourth-round draft pick Anthony McFarland will join Conner and Jaylen Samuels in a very crowded backfield. Conner has struggled with injuries throughout his young career, and I see that trend continuing throughout next season. He won’t be able to stay on the field for the entire year, and Pittsburgh clearly has other plans for their running back position. All of that translates into Conner being a strong bust candidate heading into the 20/21 NFL season. 

Austin Ekeler

After Melvin Gordon’s departure, Ekeler is the clear #1 back for the Chargers. However, Los Angeles isn’t in the exact same position as last year. The Chargers lost Philip Rivers in free agency, effectively dropping them out of playoff contention. Ekeler — who did most of his damage through the air in 2019, catching 92 balls for 993 yards — will have to build chemistry with a new quarterback. This likely means a drop in production as a pass-catcher and an increase in carries. In reality, we have no idea if Ekeler can handle the load as a workhorse back. While he’s been relatively efficient, he has never received more than 132 carries in a season. Given that Ekeler is far more effective as a pass-catcher, the inevitable drop in targets will certainly hurt his fantasy value. I don’t think he’ll be able to make up the difference in added carries either. While Ekeler is extremely talented, he won’t finish anywhere near the RB4 spot he earned in 2019 (PPR).

Amari Cooper

If you’ve listened to my podcast, The Rollout, you know that I believe Cooper will be one of the biggest fantasy football busts this year. He has always been extremely inconsistent, and the addition of CeeDee Lamb only makes Dallas’ receiving core more crowded. Cooper’s ADP (late-second/early-third round) is way too high, and the inevitable decrease of targets because of the Cowboys’ addition of Lamb will translate into a serious drop in production. Cooper won’t finish as a top-15 fantasy receiver this season.

Mike Evans

While I think Evans is extremely talented, a top-15 fantasy finish is not in the cards for him this year. Evans caught a career-low number of balls in 2019 due to the emergence of Chris Godwin. Godwin will continue to establish himself as a top receiver in the game, and the Buccaneers replaced Jameis Winston — an extremely high-volume passer — with Tom Brady. While that propels Tampa Bay into championship contention, it severely caps Evans’ and Godwin’s respective fantasy ceilings. Brady simply doesn’t have the arm that Winston does. Not to mention the Buccaneers’ addition of Rob Gronkowski, who is notoriously Brady’s favorite target. All of these factors will translate into a poor fantasy season for Evans. 

Kenyan Drake

After being traded to the Cardinals halfway through last season, Drake came into his own as a rusher. The young back had a few monster games for Arizona, racking up over 100 rushing yards on three separate occasions. This dominance has kickstarted Drake’s fantasy value, as shown by his ADP (early third round). While I do like Drake’s fit in the Cardinal’s offense, I don’t predict similar production in this upcoming season. Kliff Kingsbury runs a high-octane, passing-oriented offense that will focus on the newly-acquired superstar DeAndre Hopkins, as well as Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald. Drake receiving 20+ touches in a game will be a rare occurrence this year, as he will likely play second-fiddle to Arizona’s passing game. 


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