James Robinson ended up being a steal if you took a chance on him on draft day
Fantasy owners may know the biggest busts and values from their 2020 drafts. As the season went on, some fantasy owners were frustrated, while others were patting themselves on the back for grabbing a late-round guy that ended up being a stud (never mind those late-round guys that didn't pan out).
Running back took the biggest hit when it came to busts this year. Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in Week 2. Ezekiel Elliott was basically replaced by Tony Pollard by the end of the season. Clyde Edwards-Helaire made fantasy owners look good after Week 1 and then was a bust. Joe Mixon and Austin Ekeler (both picks in the first two rounds) spent most of the season on the bench. It was tough to pick the biggest busts, as most fantasy owners probably have a story about how their team could have been so much better if… However, each year, it helps to look back (as hindsight truly is 20/20… or 2020?) and see the mistakes fantasy owners made on draft day.
Bust: Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
ADP: QB 9
Finished: QB 22
Wentz was one of those quarterbacks who fantasy owners grabbed in the middle rounds. They weren't necessarily expecting Patrick Mahomes numbers, but they certainly thought they had a solid quarterback who they could plug into their lineup each week and wouldn't hurt them. He wouldn't necessarily win them each week, but he wouldn't lose it for them either. Well, fantasy owners, you'd be wrong. In 12 games (before he was benched), he threw for 2,620 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He did have five rushing touchdowns (and 10 fumbles, four of which were lost). Overall, it was a disappointing season for Wentz, his fantasy owners, and the Eagles. The Eagles have reportedly been in trade talks for Wentz, but their asking price is too high. See where he ends up in 2021 before determining his fantasy value.
Value: Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
ADP: QB 35
Finished: QB 9
The rookie Herbert was expected to play at some point in 2020, but most people didn't think it would be as soon as Week 2. After Tyrod Taylor was injured and then a trainer botched a pain injection and punctured his lung, Herbert was thrown into the game. He threw for 311 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in that game — against the Chiefs. He continued to play well and the Chargers had to let him keep going, eventually earning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He ended the season with 4,336 yards, 31 passing touchdowns, five rushing touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. He set six rookie records and the Chargers have found their quarterback. He's a QB1 for fantasy owners in 2021.
Bust: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
ADP: RB 1
Finished: RB 54
McCaffrey was drafted first overall in most drafts. He was drafted in the first round in every draft. After playing in two games (and doing exactly what fantasy owners expected), McCaffrey injured his ankle. He continued the season with a shoulder injury and other ailments that left him playing in one more game. He ended the season with 225 rushing yards, 149 receiving yards, and six total touchdowns. While you can't predict injury, fantasy owners that drafted McCaffrey early had to struggle to fill that void for most of the season. He should be treated as an RB1 next year, but owners may be a bit more cautious.
Bust: Mark Ingram II, RB, Baltimore Ravens
ADP: RB 21
Finished: RB 78
Currently, Ingram is a free agent, as the Ravens released him already. He was a healthy scratch at the end of the season, and fantasy owners likely were disappointed in their RB2/3. For the first six games of the season, he was decent, but after suffering an ankle injury in Week 6, Ingram never was able to return as the lead back. Between injuries and J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards stepping up (then a stint on the COVID-19 list), Ingram was done in Baltimore. He ended the season with 299 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and 50 receiving yards. Fantasy owner should wait and see where he ends up, but he likely will be a late-round pick in 2021.
Value: James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
ADP: RB 58
Finished: RB 6
Probably the best value of the year, James Robinson was an undrafted free agent for the Jaguars (and likely fantasy owners) who panned out. Robinson missed one week and tied David Montgomery for the fifth-most rushing yards in the league on the season. He had 1,070 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns, 49 receptions, 344 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns. While rookies don't often repeat their success, Robinson looked good on a team that needed a spark. Fantasy owners should consider him an RB1 for 2021.
Value: David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
ADP: RB 26
Finished: RB 4
While Montgomery's jump isn't nearly as big as Robinson's, many fantasy owners didn't trust him heading into the year. Somehow, he finished as the fourth-best running back in terms of fantasy points (PPR formats). What's odd about Montgomery's season stats is that in the first nine games of the season, he had 472 yards and one touchdown. In Weeks 12-16, he had 529 yards and six touchdowns. While Tarik Cohen's injury may have helped that, he was injured in Week 3, so it's not clear why Montgomery's post-bye stats are so much better than the beginning of the season. For fantasy owners, the potential is there, but with Cohen back next year, it's not clear how the Bears are going to use their running backs. His ADP should rise, but he should be in the RB2 range.
Bust: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
Drafted: WR 1
Finished: WR 93
Granted, much of Thomas' 2020 season was spent on the bench. However, it wasn't just the injury that kept him sidelined. Sure, he suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1 which cost him time. He also missed a game for punching a teammate and dealt with an injured hamstring. Technically, he played in seven regular-season games. He ended the season with 40 receptions for 438 yards and no touchdowns. He had two games with over 100 yards, but for the No. 1 wide receiver on draft day, this was definitely a huge disappointment. With Drew Brees retiring, it's not clear who will be throwing Thomas the ball in 2021. Fantasy owners should keep him as a low-end WR1 for now.
Bust: A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
ADP: WR 28
Finished: WR 68
Green is 32 and was coming off a lost season in 2019. He did stay healthy in 2020, but his performance suffered. The team struggled at quarterback after losing Joe Burrow, but Tee Higgins outperformed him. Green ended with 523 yards and two touchdowns. Green is slowly losing fantasy value. Those who trusted him after 2019, were let down. He will no longer be with the Bengals, most likely, as he is a free agent. Depending on where he signs will determine his fantasy value. However, it is not likely he's higher than a WR3.
Value: Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
ADP: WR 66
Finished: WR 6
In his rookie season, Jefferson had 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. He had seven games with over 100 yards, and while there were certainly other games in the season where he had less than 50 yards, overall he ended the season as a No. 1 receiver. Fantasy owners who either drafted him in the late rounds or picked him up off the waiver wire were able to insert him into their line-up and leave him there, regardless of match-up. Looking ahead to next year, he should be a WR1.
Value: Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers
ADP: WR 57
Finished: WR 19
After four years with the Jets, Anderson played his first season with the Panthers under his old college coach, Matt Rhule. Fantasy owners clearly weren't impressed with the trade, drafting him as the 57th wide receiver overall. However, he finished in the top 20. He had his first 1,000-yard season (1,096 yards), although he only had three touchdowns. The touchdown total was the fewest since his rookie year. There is clearly room to improve for the 27-year-old. He had a connection with Teddy Bridgewater, but it seems as though Bridgewater may not be the quarterback in 2021 for the Panthers. Keep an eye on who will be throwing to Anderson, but he will likely be in WR3 territory.
Bust: Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
ADP: TE 4
Finished: TE 31
Following his first 1,000-yard season in 2018, Ertz ended 2019 with 916 yards and six touchdowns. Fantasy owners were hopeful for another year for the tight end to approach 1,000 yards and have another six to eight touchdowns. There didn't seem to be any reason to doubt that, although Dallas Goedert was still in the picture. Ertz was drafted as the fourth tight end off the board, and he finished No. 31. He did miss five games because he was injured, but that doesn't explain the one touchdown he ended the 2020 season with. He didn't have any games with more than 70 yards. It seems that Ertz will be on a new team for the 2021 season, and that will determine the fantasy value for the 30-year-old.
Value: Robert Tonyan, TE, Green Bay Packers
ADP: (not drafted)
Finished: TE 4
For fantasy owners, Travis Kelce was far and away the best tight end in 2020. Darren Waller was the clear-cut No. 2. After that, Tonyan, Logan Thomas, and T.J. Hockenson all were within a few points of each other (depending on league scoring). Logan Thomas was drafted as TE 33 and Hockenson as TE 13. All were certainly values, but Tonyan, who seemingly came out of nowhere, was the best value in leagues where owners took a chance on him. Tonyan has actually been in the league (on the Packers) for three years, but in 2020, he had 586 yards and 11 touchdowns (tied with Kelce for the most TDs by a tight end). After his incredible three-touchdown game in Week 4, Tonyan struggled a bit but picked up his touchdown streak toward the end of the season. Fantasy owners will likely be looking at Tonyan as a top-10 tight end next year.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
(Top photo by Rick Wilson/Jacksonville Jaguars, courtesy of jaguars.com)