Bust. It’s the dirtiest four-letter word in fantasy football.
Fantasy managers who drafted players such as James Robinson, Miles Sanders, Allen Robinson and Brandon Aiyuk last season know the term (and its consequences) all too well. Selecting a player who disappoints in the early rounds can be detrimental to your chances of fielding a contender, so it’s obviously something we all want to avoid.
Fantasy busts include players who ultimately don’t live up to their draft position. This can also include players who had a tremendous late-season statistical surge during the previous campaign who might be overvalued as a result. A player who you pick to be your backup quarterback or tight end in the later rounds is not defined as a bust, since a dud mid- to late-round selection is often times replaceable on the waiver wire.
With that in mind, here’s a list of 10 players to beware with your valuable draft capital. I’ve limited the list of 10 to running backs and wide receivers, because the majority of quarterbacks and most tight ends won’t be selected as top-70 picks in 2022 drafts.
Tyreek HillWR, Miami Dolphins
Hill has long been one of the elite fantasy wideouts, but I’m concerned about his 2022 outlook. Now in Miami, he’ll see an enormous downgrade at quarterback from Patrick Mahomes to Tua Tagovailoa. Hill will also have to share targets with Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki (among others), and his schedule is one of the least favorable at wideout. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hill finished outside of the top 12 fantasy wideouts this year.
Javonte WilliamsRB, Broncos
I love Williams’s talent and would have ranked him in the top five among running backs had the Broncos not re-signed Melvin Gordon. While I think Williams should see more touches as an NFL sophomore, it probably won’t be enough for him to warrant being a top-10 player at his position. Gordon is still an effective runner, averaging 4.5 yards a tote last season, but Williams is still being selected as a low-end No. 1 runner in drafts.
AJ BrownWR, Eagles
I don’t doubt Brown’s skills, but I am concerned about his ceiling in Philadelphia. The Eagles led the NFL in rushing percentage a season ago, and Jalen Hurts has a lot to prove as a passer in the NFL. Brown will also have to contend with DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert for targets, and he hasn’t been the most durable player in recent years. If you do draft Brown, it shouldn’t be as more than a mid-level No. 2 fantasy wideout.
Diontae JohnsonWR, Steelers
Johnson has been an absolute targets machine in recent seasons, but that came with Ben Roethlisberger under center. The Steelers new starting quarterback, whether it’s Mitchell Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett, will come with question marks not only for the offense as a whole but for the value of its pass catchers. Johnson is still coming off the board as a low-end No. 1 fantasy wideout, which might come back to bite managers.
Cam AkersRB, Rams
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Akers made a miraculous recovery from a torn Achilles towards the end of last season, and he’ll open the 2022 campaign atop the Rams running back depth chart. That’s the good news. The bad news is that coming back from an Achilles injury can be tough, and he’ll still have to contend with Darrell Henderson for touches. Akers is also coming off the board in the second round in some drafts, and that’s simply too rich for my blood.
DK MetcalfWR, Seahawks
Metcalf is coming off a season where he finished as the WR14, but he was unreliable in the stat sheets for managers. In fact, he recorded fewer than 12.1 points nine times in his final 12 games. The Seahawks will be turning to either Drew Lock or Geno Smith at quarterback after Russell Wilson trade, neither or whom will elicit much excitement when it comes to selecting either Metcalf or Tyler Lockett in upcoming fantasy drafts.
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
Thomas is expected to return this season, but can he be the same elite player he was in 2019? I have my doubts, and the Saints might, too. Coach Dennis Allen said Thomas has “a few hurdles” to clear in his return from an ankle injury that has kept him out for most of the last two years. The team has also added rookie Chris Olave and veteran Jarvis Landry, and it’s anyone’s guess how Thomas will perform without Drew Brees.
Cordarrelle PattersonRB, Falcons
Patterson shockingly finished last season as the No. 9 running back based on fantasy points, but the wide receiver-turned-running back faltered down the stretch. In fact, he scored fewer than nine fantasy points in six of his final eight games and had just one game with more than 14 points in that time. The Falcons have added rookies Drake London and Tyler Allgeier, too, so Patterson’s role could be scaled back this season.
Devin SingletaryRB, Bills
Singletary was a league winner for fantasy managers scoring 16-plus fantasy points in each of his last four games while seeing a bananas 38.7% of the touches. I doubt he will see a similar role on a regular basis in 2022, however, as the Bills added James Cook in the NFL draft and still have both Zack Moss and Duke Johnson on the roster. Singletary might be as a decent flex option, but don’t use his late 2021 stats surge as a basis.
Rashad Penny, RB, Seahawks
Much like Singletary, Penny was a league winner for countless fantasy managers in the final weeks of 2021. He rushed for 671 yards and averaged 22 fantasy points over his final five games, so his value is certainly on the rise. Or is it? Chris Carson (neck) might be back for this season, and the team took Kenneth Walker III in the second round of the NFL draft. Penny is also an injury risk, so avoid him as more than a No. 4 back.
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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!