Fantasy football season may not be here just yet, but mock draft season is in full swing. I’ve made it a point to be consistently mock drafting a team (or two, or five) since May and I’ve begun to see trends emerging. Some trends get me excited, like Tate consistently falling to me in the 5th round. Other trends trouble me, and I want fantasy football players to steer clear of them. I’ve summarized some of the more concerning ones with this line-up of faux-stars who have high bust potential. When I refer to a bust, I’m not saying the player will be terrible, per say, I’m simply pointing out that they aren’t likely to perform at the level expected of their average draft position (ADP). ADP for this article is collected from Fantasy Football Calculator from May 30-June 30, 2018.
(ADP 9.04, QB9)
Garoppolo had an exciting finish to the 2017 season; he led a depleted San Francisco roster to a 5-0 finish after being traded from New England. Garoppolo proved he has the ability to manage the game and be a great NFL quarterback. What he didn’t prove, however, that he can be a fantasy QB1. In those 5 games last season, he threw for over 300 yards just twice and never threw more than 2 touchdowns in any game. In two of those games, he completed just 60% of his passes and threw 5 total interceptions, compared to 6 touchdowns. He had a positive touchdown to interception ratio in just two of those games. San Francisco did little to nothing in the offseason to help Garoppolo; they failed to make a significant investment in their offensive line and passed on superstar potential wideouts like Watkins and Robinson. That leaves Garoppolo with the rookie Pettis, Goodwin, and Garcon as his primary weapons.
Pierre Garcon is a shell of his former self: since finishing as WR13 in 2013, Garcon has failed to finish as a WR2, has only caught 75 passes and 1,000 yards once, and is averaging just 3 touchdowns per season. Goodwin finished as WR29 in 2017 but demands high volume to perform. He had 3 great games with Garoppolo last season (Weeks 13-15) where he averaged 8.3 targets per game. In those games, he averaged 6 receptions and 106 yards. In Weeks 16 and 17 he saw just 5 targets per game, he averaged 2.5 receptions and 32.5 yards. In those 5 games, he caught just one touchdown. Garoppolo is currently being drafted over more proven and consistent quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford (ADP 9.09, QB 10) and Matt Ryan (9.12, QB11), players with better weapons like Mahomes (11.06, QB16), and players with more upside like Dak Prescott (13.10, QB21).
(ADP 3.01, RB15)
If this team had a captain, Mixon would be wearing a “C” on his chest because his ADP baffles me. Mixon averaged a dismal 3.5 yards per carry on 187 carries in his rookie season. He had just 2 games last season with more than 75 rushing yards, and just 4 with more than 50 rushing yards. He averaged just 10 points per game in PPR formats and finished with an equal number of touchdowns fewer fantasy points than Gio Bernard despite rushing the ball 73 fewer times than him. Mixon finished as RB34 in 2017 and essentially nothing has changed in terms of the Cincinnati depth chart, offensive line, coaching and offensive scheme; leaving little justification to him rising 19 spots in ADP. I expect Mixon to finish as a low end RB2 at best in 2018, and I wouldn’t be surprised to him continue splitting time with Bernard and the rookie Walton.
(ADP 2.10, RB14)
In McKinnon’s two seasons with significant volume, he’s finished as RB32 (2016) and RB24 (2017). In those two seasons, McKinnon has averaged just 154.5 carries per season and a troubling 3.6 yards per carry. Perhaps more concerning, however, is his career rushing touchdown total of 5. The argument for McKinnon, however, often comes down to his ability to catch the ball; but I’m not sold on that either. McKinnon finished 31st among RBs in receiving yards in 2016 and although he got to 12th among RBs in 2017 in that same category, he only has 5 career receiving touchdowns. Even with Cook out for most of 2017, McKinnon only saw 20 attempts (carries and targets combined) in 4 games. Regardless of the coaching scheme in San Francisco, McKinnon has proven he’s not a high volume back and I expect Breida and Williams to take touches away from him.
(ADP 4.06, WR18)
This one almost hurts to write because, like most, I want to like JuJu, but his ADP doesn’t make any sense. Smith-Schuster finished 2017 with 58 receptions, 917 yards, and 7 touchdowns; making his rookie campaign very successful on the surface. He benefitted in large part, however, by Brown’s 2 game absence. With Brown out of the line-up, he averaged 7.5 receptions on 8.5 targets and caught 109 yards and 1 touchdown per game. With Brown in the line-up, he averaged 3.5 receptions on 5.1 targets and 0.4 touchdowns per game. Smith-Schuster had 7 games with less than 50 yards and 5 games with 5 or less targets last season. Pittsburgh has a healthy Vance McDonald and a rookie James Washington to add into an offense that already features Eli Rogers along with Bell and the aforementioned Antonio Brown. There are simply too many other options in an offense with an aging quarterback for me to spend my 4th round pick on Smith-Schuster. Cooper (4.08, WR20), Jeffery (4.11, WR21), Tate (4.12, WR22), Cooks 5.06, WR23), Jones Jr. (5.08, WR24), and Landry (5.09, WR25) are all safer options with just as much, if not more, upside.
(ADP 6.11, WR30)
In his 23 career starts Fuller has finished 3 games with more than 75 receiving yards, 2 of those games came in 2016. He has caught more than 5 receptions just once, and that was also in 2016. The argument for Fuller often comes down to a 4-week span-when Watson was taking the fantasy world by storm. In those 4 games, Fuller pulled in 7 touchdowns (77% of his career touchdowns), which is impressive. What’s not impressive is that out of those 4 games, he caught 59% of his targets and pulled in more than 62 yards just once. I anticipate Houston emphasizing a running game built on Miller’s stability and Foreman’s breakaway potential in 2018; in an attempt to keep the regression-bound Watson healthy. Fuller can easily get lost behind Hopkins and if I’m taking a shot on upside in this part of my draft I’d much rather take Sammy Watkins (6.12, WR31) Jamison Crower (7.08, WR33) or Randall Cobb (7.12, WR35).
(ADP 5.12, TE5)
Olsen’s 2017 was defined by his foot injury, but his struggles went beyond that. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards in Week 1. From when he returned in Week 12 he has just 1 game with more than 3 catches and just 1 game with more than 27 receiving yards. Olsen was made a clear third choice behind Funchess and McCaffery. Now Olsen will also have to compete for volume with first-round pick D.J. Moore and a more balanced running game led by C.J. Anderson. Olsen is trending downward overall, with his 2016 receiving yards and touchdowns down from 2015. Olsen may have some juice left in the tank, but not enough to justify taking him above Engram (6.09, TE6), Rudolph (7.03, TE7), or Walker (7.07, TE8).