The number one thing most fantasy players do when projecting their version of the “Mel Kiper Big Board” prior to their draft is look at stats from the previous year. Yes, it seems sensible; yes, it’s helpful; yes, it has value in it; but no, it’s not giving you the whole picture. For instance, it’s really easy to get fooled by one season’s worth of greatness – or, on the opposite end, a season’s worth of underachieving. My point – collect more data, look at trends, and don’t get stuck on what your memory most easily and recently recalls.
Now let me explain – when I say “bust” I mean that they will likely be drafted too highly and will not be able to live up to the expectations that come with being taken so highly. Rather, I’d love to have any or all of these guys if it means I can grab them on the cheap – 1, 2, 3, maybe even 4 rounds lower than what their current ADP is. Here’s three players that I’d put in the “bust” category.
I find it a little funny that I’ve included Johnson on this list. I think he’s going to have a great season and will be a threat as a runner and a pass-catcher; he’s young; and he’s in Bruce Arians’s high-octane offense. What’s not to like, right? But again, like I said, it’s about value. Johnson is going as high as 4 or 5 in PPR leagues. To spend a top 5 pick on the Cardinal running back, could be unwise.
While everyone will remember Johnson’s explosiveness and in particular his week 15 performance in the the fantasy playoffs where he torched the Eagles’ defense, we can’t be dismissive of some red flags that potentially exist: (1) Johnson is the worst projected 1st round RB when running in between the tackles — averaged 5.88 ypc outside the edge, but only 3.0 when rushing inside; (2) his rushing isn’t necessarily his strong suit — it’s his pass catching ability — so how will he respond when defenses begin curbing his production; and (3) the Arizona coaching staff relied on running back by committee for most of last season and have hinted at doing the same this year.
I expect Johnson to be very good this year — and will be a great RB1. I’d just prefer to get him with a second round pick and not a first. But with elite, top tier RBs in low supply this year, I don’t think he’ll get out of the first round.
Another player I love winds up on the “Bust List”. Like Johnson, I think Reed is an exceptional player and one of the best at his position. One key difference between the two, though, is the injury history with Reed. The Washington tight end is going in the 4th round in drafts — and in many ways that’s understandable. He’s coming off a season in which he caught 87 passes for almost 1,000 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Probably behind Gronkowski and Eifert, Reed is the next TE people want (add Olsen in that conversation too). But beware of three areas of concern with Reed.
First, this isn’t a guy who skates along injury free most years. In 5 years, Reed has suffered 5 concussions and 3 hamstring injuries. Second, Kirk Cousins will have a young, big, speedy WR on the outside in Josh Doctson that will likely take some looks away from the tight end. Lastly, in the two seasons prior to 2015, Reed never caught more than 50 balls for 500 yards nor did he score more than 3 touchdowns. You can easily argue 2015 was an anomaly — and with the injury history, it’s hard to take Reed at that ADP without feeling a sense of buyer’s remorse.
The Seattle RB is currently going off the board in fantasy drafts in the 4th round. You heard me right. Let’s remember what Rawls is and what he’s proven (or not proven) in the NFL up to this point — he came to Seattle as an undrafted free agent and in his rookie season, started a whopping 7 games. Talk about a small sample size.
Take a couple other pieces of information into consideration before thinking I’m nuts and Rawls is the next Marshawn Lynch in Seattle. One, the Seahawks became the first and only team since 2000 to draft not 1, not 2, but 3 running backs in one draft. Not to mention Christine Michael is still there in the Seahawks backfield. So to think Rawls is going to win the starting job handily or to take for granted that he will get the bulk of the carries in a backfield that consists of 4 other RBs seems a little hasty.
Secondly, Seattle’s offensive line is widely recognized as less than average. They’re pretty fortunate that Russell Wilson is so mobile and elusive.
And three — just for good measure — Rawls injured his ankle at the end of last season and is still not fully recovered. Seattle has not disclosed how much preseason play the second year back will see, but it’s not likely to be very much.
Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.