David Johnson was the biggest running back bust this past season
The NFL and fantasy football season may be over, but this is a great time of year to look back and see how things went overall. On draft day, most people are excited about their teams, and they are hoping for the best. However, not all of those draft picks pan out, and others end up potentially winning you the league (especially value picks).
The ADP figures were taken from MyFantasyLeague for all drafts starting after May 1, and all final standings are based on PPR scoring.
Bust: Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
ADP: Drafted 51st overall, QB4
The buzz in the offseason was that Mayfield and the Browns were going to be a force to be reckoned with. They added Odell Beckham Jr. to help Mayfield. Along with Jarvis Landry, this should have been a high-powered offense. However, Mayfield could not seem to get it going, as he finished as QB20. He played in all 16 games (compared to 14 last year) and only had 102 more yards and five fewer touchdowns. He also added seven more interceptions. It's going to be hard to trust Mayfield in 2020.
Value: Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
ADP: Drafted 109th overall, QB16
Many players in the fantasy championship (and perhaps even those that won their league) had Jackson in their lineup. He was drafted as QB16, which was even behind the Chicago Bears DST. While Jackson wasn’t poised to make a huge impact this year, he took the reigns on a team that was building its offense around him and succeeded. Most of his fantasy success was the result of Jackson as a runner. However, he’s succeeding and is appearing to be a safe runner (for now). He’ll be a QB1 next year.
Bust: David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
ADP: 7th overall, RB5
Johnson was likely the biggest running back bust in 2019. He played in 13 games, technically, but one of those games was when he was the "starter" but didn't receive a carry. After Week 6, he didn’t receive more than five carries. He ended the year with 345 yards and two rushing touchdowns, along with 370 receiving yards and four more scores. Johnson is 28, and with Kenyan Drake (an unrestricted free agent) and Chase Edmonds also in the mix, it seems that Johnson's days as a workhorse back are no more. It won't be cheap because of his contract, but the Cardinals could decide to cut ties with Johnson via a trade or outright release. A change of scenery could go a long ways towards re-establishing his fantasy value. If Drake is re-signed, Johnson is relegated to the RB2 range.
Bust: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
ADP: 8th overall, RB6
Conner played the first half of the season but then was plagued with injuries, which is what made him a bust. He played in 10 games, but he was banged up for a lot of those games after the bye. In 13 games in 2018, he had 973 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Fantasy owners were hoping for a repeat of this success, especially now that Le'Veon Bell was on the New York Jets. However, Conner managed just 464 yards and four rushing touchdowns. In the receiving game, Conner had 497 receiving yards and a touchdown in 2018 compared to 251 yards and three scores this past season. He's an RB2 heading into 2020 but RB1 upside remains.
Value: Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
ADP: 76th overall, RB30
This may be a little skewed, knowing that some of this ADP data was prior to when it became clear that Melvin Gordon was going to hold out. However, many fantasy owners didn’t know the extent of the hold out before their drafts. While Gordon was sitting, Ekeler was putting up some big numbers. He had six touchdowns in the four weeks without Gordon and totaled 220 rushing yards and 270 receiving yards during that span. After Gordon returned, Ekeler had five touchdowns (all receiving), 337 rushing yards and 723 receiving yards. Ekeler will likely be an RB2 next year, but this valuation depends on what happens with Gordon.
Value: Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins/Arizona Cardinals
ADP: 79th overall, RB32
Despite only playing 14 games, Drake managed to finish as a solid RB2. He truly excelled when he was in Arizona, scoring eight touchdowns in eight games (he had zero in six games in Miami). Drake had 643 rushing yards in Arizona and 174 in Miami. He also added about 170 receiving yards in each location. It’s highly likely that Drake will re-sign with the Cardinals. If so, he should be drafted as a high RB2/low RB1 for 2020.
Bust: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
ADP: 15th overall, WR6
To be fair, the biggest bust was Antonio Brown, who was drafted as WR9 but played in one game. However, aside from Brown, his former running mate was perhaps the biggest bust. Drafted as the sixth wide receiver and finishing as the 65th is a pretty big gap. Smith-Schuster had one 100-yard game and three touchdowns in 2020. Obviously, not having Ben Roethlisberger healthy hurt his fantasy value, but no one expected that big of a drop. Smith-Schuster's draft value will take a hit heading into 2020.
Bust: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns
ADP: 12th overall, WR5
Beckham was supposed to be a difference-maker for the Browns. He ended up with a similar stat line to his last season with the Giants. He had 74 receptions (compared to 77 in 2018) for 1,035 yards (compared to 1,052) and four touchdowns (compared to six). It seems that Beckham will return with the Browns in 2020, but fantasy owners need to consider him more of a WR2 with possible upside than the WR1 that he has been drafted as.
Value: Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
ADP: 42nd overall, WR16
Edelman has always been a solid option in PPR formats, but in 2019, he had a year reminiscent of 2013. As Tom Brady gets older, he is going to look for short passes to Edelman more often than not. He trusts him in the slot, and Edelman has actually had six touchdowns in each of the past two years. While Tom Brady’s future in New England is not guaranteed, assuming he comes back for 2020, Edelman will be a WR2.
Value: DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
ADP: 170th overall, WR57
Somehow, Parker ended up as a WR1 in 12-team fantasy leagues. He had 128 targets, and he caught 72 yards for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns. He had nine touchdowns in his previous four years in the league, combined. Parker had a connection with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he showed that he can be a solid playmaker for the Dolphins. Parker will be a WR2 for fantasy in 2020 even if Fitzpatrick doesn't return as the starter.
Bust: O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ADP: 55th overall, TE4
In the offseason, it seemed that Howard was going to be a focal point of the Bucs offense. He had surpassed Cameron Brate on the depth chart and Jameis Winston was going to have a great year. The reality is that neither tight end performed very well, as Chris Godwin had the breakout year. Brate had 36 receptions for 311 yards and four touchdowns. Howard had 34 receptions for 459 yards and one touchdown. As long as both players remain in Tampa Bay, neither can be trusted as a TE1 next year.
Value: Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
ADP: 108th overall, TE11
Quietly, Hooper was a solid tight end from week to week. In his fourth year in the league, he had the most targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns of his career. He missed three games with a sprained MCL and then didn’t perform as well at the end of the season. However, depending on where he lands (he’s a pending free agent), Hooper could have TE1 value and should be drafted as a top-5 tight end for 2020.
— 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.