The First Round Bust Zone
A few days ago I posted First Round BUST – part 1. In that article, I talked about the top half of the first round and the likelihood of those players busting. Well, now we enter the riskier part of the first round, the last 6 picks. I will be using PPR ADP from Fantasy Football Calculator and an honorable mention at the “13 spot” as well. Just a reminder that my ratings are graded on a scale of 1-5 Osweiler heads, with 1 being not likely to be a first round bust and 5 being very likely to be a first round bust. Here’s a quick reminder of the first round ratings.
|Odell Beckham Jr.|
7. LeSean McCoy
I started this offseason REALLY excited about LeSean McCoy. Then slowly as news started to come out about the Bills trading Sammy Watkins and whispers of them tanking along with the Jets, I started to get scared. But first things first. McCoy is a good fantasy running back. Last season he was setting the world on fire and he showed Buffalo fans that he still has it at age 29. Well, one thing to note about last season was the McCoy had his lowest attempts per game since 2011, at 15.6 (average in that time was 18.3). If age does begin to affect his production, he could slip down in total scrimmage yards this season.
He still catches the ball quite often, and he should get around 60 targets. With that being said, Buffalo now has Jordan Matthews on their team in the slot position. I don’t think that Matthews is a major threat to McCoy’s targets, but even a minor bump down in an offense that may struggle is troublesome. This combined with only two 16 game seasons in 8 professional seasons causes McCoy’s stock to be a large risk (but it could be worth it).
8. Melvin Gordon
I go back and forth on Melvin Gordon daily, I swear. I own him on a few of my fantasy teams and it honestly doesn’t feel great, even though he did awesome last season. Since I’m 50/50 on him, Gordon gets a rating of 2.5 Osweilers to account for the good and the bad about him. I’m going to split him up by things that I like and things that I don’t like.
Things I like: Gordon is uncontended in the Chargers’ backfield. Gordon is the goal line back on a high caliber offense. Gordon can catch the ball and has PPR value on top of his TD production (but there is a caveat in the next section).
Things I don’t like: He has a concerning injury history since entering the NFL, specifically his knees. He carried only a 3.9 YPC last season. All 10 of his rushing TDs came from inside the 10-yard line (I.E. Not many big play rushes). Keenan Allen staying healthy this season could cap Gordon’s receiving numbers this year.
9. A.J. Green
I’ll say it. A.J. Green shouldn’t even be this low. He is Andy Dalton’s favorite target, a red zone monster and has big play ability. For crying out loud, he almost got to the 1,000-yard benchmark in 10 games. People have soured on him because of the injury he suffered near the end of last season. According to Sports Injury Predictor, Green is at low risk to suffer another injury based on his injury history. Now, their percentages can be taken with a grain of salt, but his injury history is fairly light. It shouldn’t be hard to realize that with proper rehab he can get right back into the game.
There are some worries about the offensive line being an issue in Cincinnati this season, but luckily Andy Dalton ranked as the 11th quickest in time to throw by NFL’s Next Gen Stats. With Mixon rounding out the backfield, defenses will have to decide between defending the pass or the run. Cincinnati can do both, and I expect Green to be a prime benefactor.
10. Devonta Freeman
Two years ago you would have heard me tout Tevin Coleman as the leader of the Atlanta backfield. Last year you would have heard me say that Freeman owners should beware that Coleman might push for an even split of carries. In 2017, I’m finally submitting myself to the safety blanket that is Devonta Freeman. The Falcons have done the exact same thing, because they recently re-signed him to a five-year, $41.25 million contract that extends him to the year 2022 (That’s so far ahead for a running back it sounds like a sci-fi movie). He is undeniably the Falcons running back.
Devonta Freeman has proven that he didn’t fade after the couple week boom in 2015. He’s accumulated 27 TDs in the last two years, but to pair with that he’s posted 3,175 scrimmage yards. Why would you NOT want this guy on your fantasy football team at this point? Sure, he had a concussion in training camp, but he’s already cleared protocol and sounds ready to go for the regular season. Freeman’s injury history is extremely small and it seems unlikely for him to get re-injured based on anything that has already happened to him (freak injuries aside). I see little chance that he becomes a first round bust.
11. Jordy Nelson
*Sigh*. I know. I know. I should really stop doubting Jordy. He’s a great football player who runs great routes, even if he doesn’t have the burst anymore. He also has an all-star quarterback in Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. These are the reasons that he is still being taken in the first round. With that being said, there are reasons that he could be a first round bust.
The first thing that I believe will change in Green Bay is the pass attempts.
GB passing attempts rank last few seasons: 5, 18, 20, 18, 16.
I think 2016 might have been a slight outlier. https://t.co/Tde4JYi7QZ
— Kent Weyrauch (@CCNP_Kent) August 3, 2017
The pass attempts of Green Bay were much higher last year than the previous 4 seasons. The key cog that was missing? A running game. The Packers have shown their support of WR-turned-RB Ty Montgomery, but they also draft three running backs int his years NFL draft. Packers’ Head Coach Mike McCarthy has expressed his interest in returning to a more balanced game plan. Last season Jordy received the most targets he’s seen in his career with 152. I would bet money that his targets settles in the 130 range at the end of 2017. On top of that, Jordy’s catch rate has gone down every year since 2009. This is not a good sign for the future.
12. Jay Ajayi
Oh no. He didn’t… Is that a FIVE Osweiler rating?! Yes, yes it is. I am not a fan of Jay Ajayi going into the 2017 season. Of the players currently being top 12 in ADP, he has the largest chance to fail by his own merit. I can already sense some confused looks coming through the screen. Well don’t worry, there is reasoning behind my thoughts. I promise. I truly believe that Ajayi will be a first round bust.
First, Ajayi’s production was heavily influenced by the availability of pro-bowl C Mike Pouncey. Jay Ajayi averaged 130 yards per game when Pouncey played and 62.2 yards when he didn’t. Pouncey also has not played a complete 16 game season since 2012, and on top of that, he’s already obtained a hip injury this offseason. Now, he does look like he will be good to go for week one availability, but the likelihood that Pouncey plays 16 games seems slim.
Second, Ajayi had three 200+ yard games last year. They were great, sure. However, two of those three games were against the Buffalo Bills. Last season the Bills were 29th in rushing yards allowed and 31st for rushing TDs allowed. Now, the truly savvy players out there know that Ajayi plays the Bills twice every year because they’re both in the AFC East. But in 2017 those two games occur in weeks 15 & 17. I.E. You won’t get those juicy matchups in the fantasy regular season, and most won’t get the week 17 matchup at all.
Third, Jay Ajayi has some underlying stats that show his ineffectiveness on the whole. Player Profiler has a stat called ‘production premium’ which is basically comparing Ajayi’s production in certain situations to other running backs who were in that same situation. Ajayi had a -6.3 in this stat, which might not mean much without a scale, but it landed him as the #54 running back. Additionally, Football Outsiders run rigorous statistics on many facets of the NFL. Jay Ajayi had a success rate (which is explained in detail here) of 43%, good enough for 32nd among running backs with at least 100 rushes last season.
For an alternate viewpoint on Jay Ajayi, check out Jen Smith’s Five Safe Players article.
Honorable Mention – Jordan Howard
I’ll keep this last one quick because Ajayi fans might have smashed their screen after that last one. Jordan Howard is a guy who could be a first round bust for this coming season. Now, before I say anything else, the reasons for his possible busting has already seemed to lower his ADP. Through August FF Calculator shows his ADP dropping at least 2-3 spots, which is a big shift this high in ADP.
Howard might suffer the sight of stacked boxes all season, a la 2016 Gurley. Even if Mitch Trubisky is the future, the Bears currently don’t have a WR corps. Kevin White is the top option and he can’t even run a full route tree or remember the playbook. Howard was great last season and to be honest if he was in a better situation he would probably be better there. With that being said, his situation is cemented, and he would need to massively overcome some obstacles in the 2017 season in order to stay in RB1 consideration.
Thanks for reading! Follow me on twitter at @CCNP_Kent and stay connected at TFA for all your in-season fantasy football needs!