Some of this Year’s Biggest Busts, and What We Can Learn From Them

Author:  Marc Schwartz (@fantasyfballOG)

Aaron Rodgers

floyd-rodgers.jpg

There are other names that could be mentioned at the QB position.  A draft pick spent on Stafford, Wentz, Cousins, and even Russel Wilson didn’t pay off given the depth at the position.  But Rodgers was going 20 picks higher than any other QB in many drafts.  And for your investment, you were rewarded with a player who is averaging fewer points per game than Mitch Trubisky. 

If you got it wrong with Rodgers, you only have yourself to blame.  The insider industry, by and large, was against the idea of drafting him or Wilson at their price.  Rodgers busting this year was a shocker, but it really just illustrates what some have picked up on for years – there’s no reason to take one in the first 5 rounds, barring some type of silly scoring method.   I know what you’re thinking!  What about Pat Mahomes?  If Mahomes went in the 5th round, sure that would be a great deal.  But QB’s continue to be an overvalued asset year in and year out, so I have no doubt that he’ll be a 2nd rounder next year.  And yes, we pass on him there.   It is going to feel strange to see Rodgers still available in the 5th round, but unless his team adds major talent around him, he doesn’t belong higher.

 

LeSean McCoy

McCoy was a popular fade for regulars, but he consistently went in the early to mid- 3rd round in both formats.  After a couple of big seasons, some figured he had a decent enough floor through volume, even on a team that lost major pieces on offense. It didn’t work out like that, and McCoy has really sunk a lot of teams this year, because he teased just enough to stay in starting lineups, especially through the bye weeks.  And that likely left a mark, as he’s ranked just #44 in RB points per gain PPR.

There’s plenty to learn here.  Again, he was a popular fade.  I think most people knew that Buffalo was a bad team, but I think some people figured they were always bad,  and that it couldn’t be much worse.  Well, they lost 2 Mauling Pro Bowlers on their offensive line in Wood and Incognito.  And that wasn’t even their only loss on the line.  They came into the season with the worst offensive line, bottom of the league pass catchers,  and Nathan Peterman starting at QB.  It was clearly a terrible situation.  And sure, volume RB”s can overcome such scenarios, but after they’re 30?  How was he ever going to give a positive return on investment in the 3rd round?  He was being drafted at his ceiling. 

 

Alex Collins

Alex+Collins+Buffalo+Bills+vs+Baltimore+Ravens+pe-eju-nmc8l.jpg

I feel really dumb about my projections on Collins this year.  Mostly because this situation could have been more easily pegged for what it was.  In my preseason articles, I mentioned that “While Collins can’t really cut well and doesn’t have any long speed…..”   I’m not even going to finish the rest of the line, because it doesn’t matter.   There’s no real prototype for a successful fantasy RB in today’s NFL who can’t cut and doesn’t have long speed.  At best they’d be a rotational piece, and I should have seen that. 

Collins went from an upside 6th round pick to a 3rd round pick over the course of the draft season.  Coming off of a breakout year, you could ignore his weaknesses in the 5th or 6th round, but passing on stud WR”s for Collins early in the draft was costly. 

Collins was a late round pick in the NFL draft, with a poor scouting report, and he was waived by Seattle in favor of Eddy Lacy.  He showed some good burst and strength last year, but he was always a player with a very limited skill set.   I saved some face on Collins, quickly pegging him as a trade bait candidate, but the damage had already been done.  He was brutal this year; and he actually looked worse on the field than he did on paper, as he fell into the end zone a few times to salvage some value. He was indecisive, and defenses seemed to be a step ahead of him every time he touched the ball.  

 

Rex Burkhead

The only saving grace for Burkhead was that he gave you mercy when he we was placed on the I.R.   Prior to that, the “do it all” utility player who was a sneaky 6th round pick gave you near goose egg after near good egg.  Burkhead has 20 PPR points in 5 games this year.  So why was he such a trendy RB-3, going as high as the 5th round sometimes?  He finished very hot last year, and appeared to be reliable pass catcher and goal line back.  With Sony Michel missing the entire preseason, it stood to reason that Burkhead would be given 12-14 touches per game, with some receptions and all of the goal line work. 

Were there clues about him being a potential bust?  The Patriots drafted a running back in the 1st round!  They never do that.  And yet they did that.  I remember thinking that, but once Michel was officially out for all of the preseason, the narrative shifted to:  a Patriots rookie running back can’t just jump into a legit workload after missing so much critical time with the team.   I repeat:  Michel was a FIRST ROUNDER.  It doesn’t take running backs anywhere near as long to find their groove in the NFL as most other positions.

Meanwhile, James White has always had a knack for getting into the end zone, and had 4 touchdowns in the Patriots 3 post-season games last season.  It was never a lock for Burkhead to man the goal line duties.   Clearly outclassed in talent by Michel, and no match for James White as a receiving back, Burkhead’s floor was horribly overestimated.   

 

Chris Hogan

890673600.jpg

Perhaps the biggest head scratcher of all, I’m not sure there is even anything to learn from what happened to Chris Hogan this year.  Hogan was a borderline WR-1 when he was on the field in 2017.  He was also fairly explosive and came on strong down the stretch of his first season with the Pats.  The Patriots then lost Cooks and Amendola , so we had every reason to think that Hogan had a reasonable floor and a high ceiling. What did we get?  Hogan has dressed for every game, yet has only hit 50 yards twice. 

With all of the issues that the Pats had at receiver this year, and with even Gronk playing poorly and missing time, how did Hogan turn into a completely different player than he was in the two previous seasons?    Why was he so quickly written off by coaches in the game plan, when they seemed desperate at times for pass catchers? 

There’s not much to say here, because it still doesn’t make much sense.  He appeared to have a fantastic situation.  My only note on Hogan worth mentioning is that many casuals had the wrong idea on him.  Some thought of him as just another Pats slot WR.  But Hogan was more of a deep threat, and caught a lot of home run balls in previous years.   He didn’t have the footwork of Edelman or Welker, but he was just as physical, and he has better straight line speed.   Brady has been more of a check-down QB this year, so that does explain a little bit of what we’ve seen.  But how his role shrunk to nothing this year – I’ll never understand it. 

 

Larry Fitzgerald

Mr. Fitzgerald:  I’d like to introduce you to….Father Time.  Oh, you two have already met.  I see. 

Fitzgerald’s fantasy draft value had risen in each of the past two seasons, appearing to age like a fine wine, according to the numbers.  He defied his own age for so long, we all forgot that you do need to be able to run and cut to get open in the NFL.     Much like LeSean McCoy, it’s not just Fitz’s age that made him a giant risk – it was that the team around him fell apart.  And this just reinforces the narrative – old players on teams that are in deep decline have to be faded.    

Marc Schwartz