Matt Ryan finished as the second-best fantasy quarterback in 2016
Following the end of a fantasy football season, hindsight is always 20/20. It can be entertaining to look back at the draft results to see where certain players were taken in comparison to how they finished the season. While it is hard to judge a "biggest bust" or "best value" at a position, we still can take a look to some of the players who exceeded their ADP – or cost fantasy owners the season.
For the most part, players that were injured are excluded from the list as it's hard to predict injuries. All ADP figures are taken from fantasyfootballcalculator.com, and these results are from mock drafts on Sept. 1 and 2. All final standings are based on PPR scoring.
Biggest Bust: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
ADP: 3.04 (1st QB drafted), finished 18th among QBs
After a disappointing season in 2014, Newton dropped in drafts before ‘15. And then he put together his best season with 3,837 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He had a career-high 132 rushing attempts for 636 yards and 10 more scores. Following his MVP campaign, fantasy owners were optimistic that 2016 would have more of the same. Instead, Newton’s numbers dipped across the board: 3,509 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 90 rushing yards, and five rushing touchdowns. He finished the year as a QB2. It's going to be hard to trust him for 2017, although the potential is still there.
Best Value: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Undrafted, finished 2nd among QBs
It's actually almost unbelievable that Ryan was undrafted. Convinced the mock draft was missing something, I looked back at two of my leagues (one with 10 teams, another with 12), and Ryan was not taken. He ended the season with the second-most fantasy points, the second-most passing yards, the second-most touchdowns, and the same amount of interceptions as Aaron Rodgers (seven). Julio Jones had a great season, and Ryan was able to benefit from the running game as well. It's going to be tough to trust him as a top-10 quarterback next year because he has disappointed in the past, but he should at least be drafted.
Biggest Bust: Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
ADP: 1.02 (1st RB drafted), Finished 15th among RBs
So many things went wrong for Gurley this year. He was coming off a solid (although, arguably not spectacular) rookie season and he showed promise. The Rams needed something to jumpstart their offense, and Gurley was supposed to be it. He stayed healthy, and yet, he struggled week after week. He didn't break through tackles and push for extra yards. At times, he looked intimidated by the stacked boxes and just waited for the hit to come. Whether it was his confidence that was lost or his running ability, Gurley was a disappointment. He still finished as a RB2, but he had more yards in three fewer games in 2015 than he did in 16. He should be drafted as a RB2 for 2017.
Biggest Bust: Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
ADP: 1.08 (5th RB drafted), Finished 19th among RBs
While Gurley is the biggest name that fantasy owners think of for a running back bust, Miller was just as disappointing. The fifth running back off the board finishing 19th in total fantasy points is just as deflating as being the first running back off the board and finishing 15th. Heading into the season, many experts predicted a breakout year for Miller. He'd get his shot as the lead back on a run-first team. He had the most carries in his career (268) and he did break 1,000 rushing yards, but with only six total touchdowns, the fantasy numbers weren't there. He had four games with more than 100 rushing yards; he also had four games with less than 60. He also had the fewest receptions and receiving yards than he's had in the past two seasons. He's a RB2 for next year, depending on what Houston's offense looks like.
Best Value: LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
ADP 7.10 (34th RB drafted), Finished 9th among RBs
With Dion Lewis not able to go at the beginning of the season and James White filling in as the pass-catching back, Blount had the carries all to himself for the most part this season. He was the clear goal-line back and converted game after game. He posted career highs in carries (299), rushing yards (1,161), and touchdowns (18), leading the league in the last category. He scored in 13 of 16 games this season. The touchdown figure is likely not repeatable, so even though he finished the season as a RB1, he should only be drafted as a RB2 in 2017.
Best Value: Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
ADP 9.03 (40th RB drafted), Finished 11th among RBs
Ajayi fell down draft boards because many experts thought Arian Foster would put together a solid season, making him nothing more than a Foster handcuff. Well, Foster was banged up and then retired, while Ajayi produced 100-yard rushing game and three 200-yard rushing games in 2016. He was a little boom-or-bust, but he'll likely have the job all to himself in 2017. With a healthy offensive line, Ajayi is a clear RB1. He should be drafted among the top 10 at his position in 2017.
Biggest Bust: Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
ADP: 1.12, (6th WR drafted), Finished 26th among WRs
Robinson owners don’t need anyone to tell him he was a bust. The Jacksonville offense just couldn't click in 2016. Robinson was the sixth wide receiver drafted, if not higher, and finished as a WR3. He did have the seventh-most targets in the league, but he reeled in less than half of those, finishing with 73 receptions on 151 targets. By the end of the season, guys like Tyreek Hill, Jamison Crowder, Mike Wallace, Pierre Garcon and Terrelle Pryor all had more fantasy points that Robinson. With Blake Bortles still as his quarterback, fantasy owners should expect a season like 2016, but with a hope that the ’15 numbers are still a possibility.
Best Value: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
ADP: 11.03, (50th WR drafted), Finished 7th among WRs
Some fantasy owners believed the preseason hype that the rookie would have a big role in the Saints’ offense. Comments from New Orleans and Drew Brees indicated that Thomas was going to pass Brandon Coleman on the depth chart. In 2016, the second-round pick from Ohio State did just that, emerging as the No. 2 WR behind Brandin Cooks. In fact, Thomas ended the season with just 17 fewer points than Cooks in standard scoring and he topped him by nine in PPR formats. Thomas’ role should continue to expand, and his draft position will soar as well. He's a solid WR2 option for 2017.
Biggest Bust: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
ADP: 2.02 (1st TE off the board) finished 26th among TEs
Fantasy owners knew that Gronkowski was injury-prone heading into the year and yet, he still went in the first round of many drafts. It is always hard to call a player a bust when they were injured, but Gronk technically played in eight games this season, although fantasy owners only wanted to start him in four of those. He sat out the first two games with a lingering hamstring injury. The first week he was active (Week 3), Gronk rewarded fantasy owner's patience with zero points. Week 4 provided one reception for 11 yards. Weeks 5-8 were the only weeks that Gronk lived up to his lofty draft status. For the first tight end off the board, Gronk likely lost fantasy owners their league. He's going to be a TE2 next year, as he can't stay on the field.
Best Value: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Undrafted, Finished 2nd among TEs
After losing Teddy Bridgewater, Rudolph wasn't supposed to have a big season. He had never had more than 500 yards or 53 receptions in a season. Yet, in 2016, he had 83 receptions and 840 yards with Sam Bradford as his quarterback. He added seven touchdowns and finished second in fantasy points among tight ends. He actually led his position in targets and tied for the second-most touchdown catches. The Vikings needed a reliable pass catcher and he stepped up. While he may end up disappointing, his 2017 value will be as a back-end TE1.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.