Life is full of regrets — and so is your fantasy football life! What's healthier than reliving some of the biggest fantasy regrets of the past 30 years? Well, everything is healthier than that, but that won't stop us from doing it! It's like donut lasagna!
So with that in mind, here are the 10 worst picks in fantasy football history. Hopefully, these won't open old wounds.
Average Draft Position (ADP) is pulled from a variety of sources, including MyFantasyLeague.com and Fantasy Index magazines. We tried to touch on picks that weren't just injury-related.
10 Worst Fantasy Football Draft Picks Ever
1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers (2018): ADP 1.02
Remember last year's draft? You ended up with the second pick in your draft lottery, and you knew you were getting one of the two best players in the league — Todd Gurley or Le'Veon Bell. It didn't matter who the guy ahead of you passed up. Gurley goes first — and you ring that Bell! But the Bell did not toll for thee, as Le'Veon's holdout rolled through the entire season, and you ended up with the worst pick in fantasy football history. The worst. That's just how fantasy football works.
Think about this — Bell was the top pick in many leagues last year, with Gurley going second. At least you weren't that guy! (You were? Oh boy.)
Bell scored more fantasy points in 15 games in 2017 than rookie superstar Kareem Hunt did in 16, with just Gurley outdoing him. At 26 years old in 2018, Bell was a superstar at his peak. We've lived through hundreds of player holdouts through the years, and nothing told us this would be more like Errict Rhett than any other player looking for a better contract. You can believe that whoever holds out in 2019 will have their ADP depressed a bit because of this dented Bell.
2. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings (2014): ADP 1.02
Peterson is one of the greatest fantasy football players in NFL history, posting 1.01 ADP three different times in his career. In 2012, he came up just nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's all-time single-season rushing record — less than a year after tearing his ACL in December 2011.
In 2014, with Peterson still under 30 years old, he was expected to be one of the two most dominant fantasy players in the game. After Week 1, he was indicted on child abuse charges that ended up costing him an entire season. When reality rears its ugly head during the football season, it's difficult to think about its effects on our hobby. This reality stifled the back end of Peterson's career, and his 2014 fantasy owners were left with just the eight fantasy points he scored in Week 1.
3. Kordell Stewart, QB, Steelers (1998): ADP 1.05
In an era just between Randall Cunningham's fantasy dominance in 1990 and Michael Vick terrorizing defenses through the ground and air, there was Kordell Stewart — aka “Slash!” The Steelers drafted him as an athlete, essentially, in 1995, using him mostly as a wide receiver in his first couple years in the league. He finally supplanted Mike Tomczak at quarterback in 1997, turning in one of the more magical fantasy seasons in years. He was second to only Brett Favre at quarterback, even though many expected Jim Miller to overtake him at the position before the season started. Consider that Slash was likely eligible at wide receiver, and you have the 1997 Fantasy MVP — a player who was likely a late-round fantasy pick, if at all.
Before the 1998 season started, however, the Steelers lost their offensive coordinator (Chan Gailey) and leading receiver (Yancey Thigpen), and Slash became back-Slash. As a fantasy first-rounder, Stewart's 1998 season was a disaster, finishing with seventh-round value.
4. Barry Sanders, RB, Lions (1999): ADP 2.06
How does a second-round pick make our list of the world's greatest fantasy busts? Well, when that pick is Sanders — just two years removed from rushing for 2,000 yards — who unexpectedly retires just before training camp. Sanders gave up stalking Walter Payton's career rushing record, despite being the NFL player with the highest rushing total in the first 10 years of a career. While his ADP over at MyFantasyLeague.com shows a second-round average, we should note that he was a first-round fantasy pick until his July 27 retirement, which dampened his ADP considerably in August.
5. Terrell Owens, WR, Eagles (2005): ADP 1.11
Prima donna wide receivers are sometimes problematic for fantasy owners, as opposing defenders love teeing off on them, and their teammates might get unhappy with them. But to that point, Owens was a fantasy superstar, coming off a 2004 season in which he was a top-5 receiver in just 14 games in his first year with the Eagles. Before the 2005 season, though, Owens hired agent Drew Rosenhaus, and the wheels started coming off. After holdout threats, locker room fights and his teammates tiring of his act, Owens was finally suspended by the team for detrimental conduct when he agreed that Brett Favre would be better under center than his current QB, Donovan McNabb. Through Week 8, T.O. was second in fantasy points for WRs, but a half-hearted apology read by Rosenhaus caused head coach Andy Reid to deactivate Owens for the remainder of the season. The Eagles released him after the season, well after many fantasy owners did the same.
6. Daunte Culpepper, QB, Vikings (2005): ADP 1.07
With a linebacker's body, the agility of a decathlete and a cannon for an arm, Culpepper was a 260-pound fantasy points machine. With the Vikings in 2004, he led all quarterbacks in passing yards, rushing yards (breaking Dan Marino's NFL record for combined yardage) and fantasy points. In 2005, the only quarterback to get picked ahead of him was Peyton Manning, who was coming off breaking Marino's TD-pass record with 49 in 2004. But a slow start to the season (eight INTs and zero passing TDs in his first two games) had fantasy owners cringing. In Week 7, Culpepper suffered damage to several of the ligaments in his right knee, ending his season. Nick Saban would trade for Culpepper for the next season in Miami (after team doctors advised against signing Drew Brees), and the rest is fantasy disappointment history.
7. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots (2016): ADP 1.11
After Gronkowski finished 2015 as one of the top-10 fantasy players in value, many fantasy owners were happy to go against the grain and make Gronk a first-round fantasy pick in 2016 — despite the fact that he was a tight end. That's a testament to just how great his 2014 and '15 seasons were when he finished with over 1,100 yards and at least 11 touchdown catches in both seasons.
In 2016, though, injuries piled on top of each other, from a pulled hamstring to a pulmonary contusion to his chest to a season-ending herniated disk that required surgery. Both Gronk and his fantasy owners were walking gingerly after that 2016 season. It would be the future Hall of Famer's worst statistical year — coupled with his highest ADP. Ouch!
8. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts (2013): ADP 1.09
Richardson was a fantasy breakout with the Browns in his rookie season, with 11 rushing touchdowns and top-10 fantasy points at RB. The Alabama product was a star on the rise, and fantasy owners were happy to draft him in Round 1. But two games into the season, Cleveland traded him to Indy, where he joined fellow 2012 rookie Andrew Luck, causing fantasy owners to mock the fumbling Browns and praise the Colts. Instead of rewarding those who drafted Richardson in Round 1, he would struggle all season and eventually lose the starting job by Week 12.
9. Randy Moss, WR, Raiders (2005): ADP 1.09
Take note of just how many fantasy first-round disappointments came out of the 2005 season! Moss had a disappointing 2004 season while dealing with a hamstring injury (yet Culpepper still somehow posted a record-breaking year). The Vikings traded Moss to the Raiders before the 2005 offseason, and injuries continued to hamper him on the West Coast. He finished with 1,005 receiving yards, and 14 wide receivers would finish with more fantasy points. Things got worse in 2006 and didn't brighten again until Bill Belichick and Tom Brady rescued him in 2007 with New England.
10. Terry Allen, RB, Redskins (1997): ADP 1.06
Allen made fantasy waves for a few years in the early '90s as Herschel Walker's replacement in Minnesota. With four 1,000-yard rushing seasons in five years, his name was often called out in the early rounds of most leagues. But in 1996, in his second season with the Redskins, the Clemson product rushed for 21 touchdowns, making him the second-most valuable fantasy player behind just Brett Favre. Unfortunately, fantasy owners should have been leery of relying on Allen — who had an ACL injury on each knee in his career — as their first pick, and he fell out of the top 25 RBs in 1997.