When looking back on a fantasy season, it’s usually amusing to look at the draft. See which players were drafted early and tanked, and see who got great value on a player in the later rounds who turned out to be a stud. It’s easy to look back and ask what were you thinking; however, that’s how the game works. For the 2017 season, here are some of the biggest busts and biggest values of the year.
The ADP figures were taken from fantasyfootballcalculator.com for the 2017 season, and all final standings are based on PPR scoring.
Biggest Bust: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ADP: 7.04 (7th QB drafted), finished 19th among QBs
After adding DeSean Jackson as another weapon, with tight end Cameron Brate emerging and the addition of O.J. Howard through the draft, Winston (above, right) was poised for a big year. He ended up being a big disappointment. He finished with 19 touchdowns passes (a number Mike Evans owners also were well aware of) and he turned the ball over 18 times. He missed a few games with a shoulder injury, so his yardage totals are lower as well, but overall, the season was rough for Winston's fantasy owners. He could bounce back in 2018, but he’s going to be hard to trust on draft day.
Best Value: Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
ADP: 12.01 (18th QB drafted), finished 3rd among QBs
This one is hard because fantasy owners loved having Wentz on their roster... right up until the fantasy playoffs. Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14, leaving owners scrambling for the fantasy semifinals and finals. However, he likely helped get fantasy owners to that point. In his second year in the league, he doubled his touchdown output (33 vs. 16) while cutting his interceptions in half (7 vs. 14). He also ran for twice as many yards (299 vs. 150). His total yardage was less, but he also missed three games. He’s going to be tough to trust initially in 2018, as he recovers from ACL surgery, but his progress will be monitored through the offseason.
Biggest Bust: Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins/Philadelphia Eagles
ADP 1.11, (7th RB drafted), finished 37th among RBs
Week after week, Ajayi was a bust. He was a bust in Miami and then he was a bust in Philadelphia, at least in terms of fantasy points. He had two touchdowns all year, and one was in Week 16, when most fantasy owners were in the fantasy title game in spite of him, not because of him. His role in the passing game was about the same as it was in 2016, but the rushing yards weren’t there. In 2016, he had a few 200-yard games. With only two 100-yard rushing efforts (Weeks 2, 6) and just one other game with 100-plus yards from scrimmage (Week 11), he wasn’t the same explosive player he was in 2016.
Biggest Bust: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
ADP: 2.01, (8th RB drafted), finished 23rd among RBs
The discrepancy between his ADP and his final position isn’t as great as some (Paul Perkins, what were we thinking?) but the fact that this player was drafted as a RB1 and finished outside the RB2 range is enough to cause fantasy owners frustration all year. Murray (right) remained relatively healthy (playing 15 out of 16 games) and ended the year with his lowest rushing yardage total to date. All stats were down from last year, and it may just be that Murray is getting older (he’ll be 30 for this season) and is losing work to Derrick Henry. Murray's 2018 value will depend on what team he ends up playing on.
Best Value: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
ADP 13.12, (59th RB drafted), finished 3rd among RBs
In many leagues, Kamara was undrafted and ended up being one of the best running backs in both standard and PPR formats. He and Mark Ingram tag-teamed to sink Drew Brees’ value and become a Pro Bowl backfield, the most productive running back tandem in the league. Kamara, in his rookie season, managed 728 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 81 receptions, 826 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He’s a RB1 in 2018.
Best Value: Dion Lewis, New England Patriots
ADP 14.06, (65th RB drafted), finished 10th among RBs
For the first five games of the season, Lewis didn’t touch the ball more than 10 times. He started seeing more work, and no fantasy owner could figure out the Patriots' backfield. (But what else is new?) He seemed healthy, but he just wasn’t getting the work. Slowly he began to emerge as a running back that fantasy owners could trust in a flex spot. In the last three weeks of the season, he scored five touchdowns. It’s hard to really consider him a great value based on the fact that he couldn’t be trusted (and was not likely used in the first third of the fantasy season), but his final numbers give him a place on this list.
Biggest Bust: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
ADP 2.01 (6th WR drafted), finished 49th among WRs
Now this will likely be blamed on the injury to Aaron Rodgers, however, plenty of other players throughout the league had to play with a backup quarterback and did not fail as miserably as Nelson (right) did. Even when Rodgers came back for one week, Nelson didn’t perform well. He did not have more than 35 receiving yards in a game from Week 7 on. He had six touchdowns on the season, all within the first five weeks of the year, all with Rodgers at quarterback. Nelson is going to be 32 years old next season and is no longer a WR1.
Biggest Bust: Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
ADP: 2.09 (10th WR drafted), finished 33rd among WRs
In Week 7, Cooper had 11 receptions for 210 yards and two touchdowns. In the remaining 15 weeks of the season, he had 37 receptions for 470 yards and five touchdowns. For someone that was a high WR2 with upside, this season was a giant disappointment. While Derek Carr also struggled, Michael Crabtree ended the year with similar numbers, and he was not being drafted until almost three rounds later.
Best Value: Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
ADP: 10.09 (46th WR drafted), finished 9th among WRs
Hailed as a preseason sleeper, Thielen lived up to the hype. This was his fourth season in the league, and he certainly had a breakout campaign even though the end of the season was a little slow. He had 91 receptions for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns. Fantasy owners were a little disappointed in the playoffs, as he only had five catches for 54 yards in Weeks 15 and 16, combined. However, looking ahead to 2018, he’s a solid WR2 option.
Best Value: Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions
ADP: 9.08 (42nd WR drafted), finished 10th among WRs
Golden Tate was the big name for Detroit; however, this is a team that likes to throw the ball. Someone had to step up and this year, it was Jones. He cracked the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in five seasons, and he ended the year with nine touchdowns. Matthew Stafford seems to look for Jones, and while it’s not a flashy name to take on draft day, he’s certainly a WR2 worth considering in 2018.
Biggest Bust: Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
ADP: 5.05 (4th TE drafted), finished 42nd among TEs
Reed was an injury concern heading into the year, as he had yet to make it through a full 16-game season. However, he usually manages to play for around 10 games. In 2017, he was active for six, and in one of those games he had one reception for five yards. It was a lost season for a player that entered Week 1 already banged up. He had one good game (the only game where he found the end zone for his only two touchdowns on the year). Fantasy owners should be wary drafting him in 2018.
Best Value: Evan Engram, New York Giants
ADP: 14.07 (22nd TE drafted), finished 4th among TEs
Don’t draft rookie tight ends, they said. They never perform well in their first season, they said. Well, that all may be true, but Engram didn’t get the memo. In his rookie season, he was the best performing rookie tight end in terms of fantasy points with a final stat line of 64 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns. He was the fourth-best tight end overall, finishing ahead of players like Jimmy Graham, Delanie Walker, and preseason favorite Hunter Henry. The New York Giants have some work to do in the offseason, but Engram has potential to be a TE1 in 2018.
— 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.