Fantasy Football Busts You’ll Want To Avoid Early In Your Draft

Football | 9/2/21

Fantasy football draft season is upon us, and with it brings loads of speculation about who the next Josh Allen is going to be. While you try to figure out what player could break out in 2021, let us do the opposite and tell you what players are bound to regress. These are the tantalizing players who are likely to end your season if you draft them too early.

No One Knows What To Expect From Ezekiel Elliott

ezekiel elliott cowboys
Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

One of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott has logged a lot of yards on his knees in his first four NFL seasons. The hurt started to show in 2020 as Elliott couldn’t break 1,000 yards rushing and averaged exactly four yards per carry.

While a healthy Dak Prescott under center should take some pressure off of Elliott to be the leader of the offense in Dallas, it’s hard to recommend taking a player in the first round of your draft who is already slowing down in his mid-twenties.

Don’t Jump The Gun On Aaron Rodgers

packers qb aaron rodgers
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Coming off of an MVP campaign, there will be a lot of people aiming to steal Aaron Rodgers early in their fantasy drafts. Don’t be that person.

Quarterbacks are a dime a dozen in fantasy, and Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have the explosive legs of other QBs who you could take instead.

Saquon Barkley Will Struggle Out Of That Gate

saquon barkley
Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Coming off of a torn ACL in 2020, drafting Saquon Barkley is a big risk heading into your 2021 fantasy football season. How heavy will his workload be coming off the injury? Will QB Daniel Jones be able to take some pressure off of him to return to peak form?

Barkley is worth drafting, just not as high as he’s being projected. If he falls into the third or fourth round, he’s worth taking a flyer on.

Julio Jones Is Only Getting Older

julio jones
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Time catches up to the best athletes, and Julio Jones is no exception. He’s 32 years old this season, and he’s also suiting up for a new team for the first time in his career.

Will the more conservative throwing Ryan Tannehill target Jones as much as Matt Ryan did in Atlanta? That’s the question you need to ask yourself before over-drafting Jones.

Adan Thielen Is Primed To Bust

adam thielen
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

In his first year as “the guy” in Minnesota, Adam Thielen was kind of disappointing. He failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving and ended up being overshadowed by a rookie.

If he continues to lose ground in 2021, he should see fewer targets, making him only reliable as a red zone threat, if you can live with that.

Jalen Hurts Won’t Take Off In Philly

jalen hurts
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

There are a lot of questions surrounding Jalen Hurts on the Philadelphia Eagles. Entrenched as the starting QB, it feels like the team has spent all offseason trying to move on from the second-round player.

So why does he make this list? The fans and analysts who have supported Hurts have propped up his value. We love Hurts’ upside as a player, but not as the position he’s currently predicted to be drafted.

Kyle Pitts Is Just A Rookie

kyle pitts
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The rookie hype train is moving full speed ahead with Kyle Pitts. One of the highest-drafted tight ends in NFL Draft history, his early projections are through the roof.

Please, before drafting Pitts, remember that he is just a rookie. He might also be blanketed in coverage, forcing Matt Ryan to find a different target now that Julio Jones is out of town.

Don’t Get Over-Excited About Lamar Jackson

lamar jackson
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Quarterbacks don’t rush for 1,000 yards in one season, let alone back-to-back seasons, so why wouldn’t you take Lamar Jackson as soon as possible in your draft? Let’s follow the numbers.

After winning MVP in 2019 with 36 passing touchdowns and 1,200 yards rushing, Jackson only managed 26 touchdowns in 2020. Good numbers for a starting QB in the NFL, but not what you want to see to win your fantasy league. Will he continue to regress in 2021?

Joe Mixon Won’t Touch The Ball Enough

joe mixon
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Bengals have a bad offensive line, which should put them in a lot of long second and third-down situations. Can you guess what happens next? Joe Burrow will be throwing the ball – a lot.

As a result, Mixon won’t touch the ball as much as he should. He’s also coming off an injury. We’d be surprised to see Mixon get more than 1,000 yards.

Michael Thomas Won’t Be The Same Without Drew Brees

michael thomas
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Drew Brees was the heart and soul of the New Orleans Saints passing game for the last 16 years. With Jameis Winston now under center, there could be rough sledding for Michael Thomas, one of the best WRs in the game.

Not only will Thomas miss the start of the season, but his chemistry with Winston is a complete unknown.

Tyler Lockett Will Be Boom Or Bust

tyler lockett
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The best wide receiver in Seattle is D.K. Metcalf, despite Tyler Lockett’s best efforts to prove otherwise. In 2020, Lockett was a boom or bust fantasy option, and he will be again in 2021.

Will he hit 100 receptions and 10 touchdowns? Maybe, maybe not. The Seahawks also have a new offensive coordinator, and we don’t know yet if that means more emphasis on the running game or not.

Josh Allen Won’t Repeat His 2020 Season

josh allen of the buffalo bills
Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Josh Allen may have been the biggest surprise of the 2020 fantasy football season. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, tossed 37 touchdowns, ran for 421 yards, and scored eight touchdowns on the ground.

In his first two seasons in the NFL, Allen failed to complete over 60 percent of his passes and looked lost under center. While we don’t think last season was a fluke, we would strongly suggest against drafting a player with only one elite season under his belt.

DeVonta Smith Needs To Bulk Up

davonta smith
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

DaVonta Smith had a great training camp for the Eagles and should be poised to be a breakout star in his first season. Still, we caution jumping on the bandwagon on sheer excitement alone.

Smith has a very small frame and already has a knee injury before playing a regular-season snap. Pair that with a work-in-progress passing attack, and the first season for this future star could be pretty tough.

Deebo Samuel Is Destined For The Injured List

deebo samuel
Norm Hall/Getty Images
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Deebo Samuel should be a fantasy stud as a do-it-all wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers in 2021. When he plays, he’ll be a “must-start,” but how much will he play.

Since coming to SF as a rookie, injuries have been the story of Samuel’s career. He reportedly changed his training during the offseason to help him stay on the field, but we can’t guarantee how well it worked.

Do You Trust Raheem Mostert To Stay Healthy?

raheem mostert
Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images

One of the faster players in the NFL, Raheem Mostert will be tempting for fantasy owners but buyer beware. Mostert has an injury history, and Kyle Shannahan will likely limit his carries to keep him healthy.

If Mostert falls to the late rounds in your draft, go ahead and grab him, but avoid him early unless.

Don’t Be Fooled By Trevor Lawrence

trevor lawrence
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s not that we don’t believe in Trevor Lawrence as the franchise QB for the Jacksonville Jaguars. We just don’t believe the team’s offensive line will be able to protect him.

Lawrence is going to make rookie mistakes, probably throw a lot of interceptions, and also flash signs of his immeasurable talent. Talent that you should wait next year to draft.

Mac Jones Is No Prized Pony

mac jones
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Patriots’ rookie QB Mac Jones’ hype train is running full steam ahead since he beat out Cam Newton for the starting job in New England. The team even released Newton, putting their full support behind the former Alabama signal-caller.

How much will Jones actually throw the ball as a rookie though? New England has a spectacular offensive line, and will probably use it to plow over teams with the run game while Jones really adjusts to the NFL’s game speed.

D’Andre Swift Won’t Be Fast In Detroit

dandre swift
Nic Antaya/Getty Images
Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are in a massive rebuild. They have a new QB under center and a new head coach trying to implement his system. On gamedays, running back D’Andre Swift stands to profit the most from the system. We just wish he had better talent around him.

Sorry Lions fans, Jared Goff will not be the savior of your football program. There’s a reason the Rams were so willing to swap him with Matthew Stafford.

Melvin Gordon Will Be Unreliable In Denver

melvin gordon
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

In his second year in the Denver backfield, Melvin Gordon will look to eclipse 1,000 yards for just the second time in his career. The highly talented, but often injured runner, will be unreliable at best if you take the plunge and draft him.

Add to those concerns that Gordon has only averaged over four yards per carry twice and isn’t getting any younger, and it’s clear he shouldn’t be very high on your draft board.

Where Does Keenan Allen Fit Into The Chargers’ Passing Attack?

keenan allen
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

A high target volume wide receiver like Keenan Allen is coveted in PPR leagues, so you might be surprised to see him on this list. With a new offensive coordinator and head coach in Los Angeles, we just wonder where Allen fits in.

Justin Herbert should air it out more in his second year, leaving limited grabs in the middle of the field where Allen thrives. Currently valued as a high fantasy pick, press the brakes and consider available options first.