It always feels amazing to hit on that fantasy football sleeper late in drafts that helps give your team a big boost. However, an underrated feeling is the one where you avoid the landmines or, in other words, the fantasy football busts. Last year, if you drafted players like Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, Najee Harris, Kyle Pitts, Allen Robinson, Russell Wilson, etc. you would have been very disappointed as they were all busts. In fact, some of them even became waiver wire fodder. For this piece in the NFL Draft Guide, we are going to help you avoid drafting potential busts for the 2023 fantasy football season, so hopefully you can avoid some headaches with your roster and position in the standings as well. Who do you want to avoid at their current ADPs? Let’s dive in!
Fantasy Football Busts
There are multiple things to not like about Swift going into this year from a fantasy perspective. For starters, he doesn’t stay healthy, as he has missed at least three games in every season thus far, while leaving plenty of games early with injuries as well. Next, we have to consider the Eagles offense. The running back with the most receptions on the season last year was Kenneth Gainwell… with 23 and there were just 48 total receptions by running backs (and zero touchdowns!). That’s the same amount that Swift had last year alone and he had 62 the year before. I think we see a big drop off there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he only hauls in about 30-35 passes. Next, Jalen Hurts had 13 rushing touchdowns last season, which really takes away from how many running backs can score when he is punching it in himself all the time. Lastly, the Eagles like to rotate backs as they had three guys with at least 50 carries last season. Swift has plenty of competition with Rashaad Penny, Gainwell, and Boston Scott. There’s really nothing to like with Swift at a 65 ADP cost.
DJ Moore, WR, Chicago Bears
Do people really consider going to the Bears as an improved fantasy situation for Moore? Because I couldn’t disagree more (fun with puns). Moore is coming off a pretty bad season with a career low 53.4% catch rate and finishing with just 63 receptions for 888 yards, despite playing all 17 games. And yes, the Panthers passing attack was really bad as they ranked 29th in passing yards last year, but one of the only teams worse was the dead last ranked Bears. The Bears only had 2219 passing yards last season, over 400 less than the 31st ranked Falcons. Justin Fields barely averaged one touchdown pass per game and only averaged 149 passing yards per game. On top of that, Fields has already built chemistry with Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, and Chase Claypool. His ADP is around 54, and I just don’t see any upside whatsoever in taking him there. The move to Chicago helps Justin Fields way more than it helps Moore. Guys like Terry McLaurin, Jerry Jeudy, Mike Williams, and Christian Kirk are all going after him and are all better picks.
Evans has been a guy that is very volatile and dependent on HUGE weeks to make his overall line look good. Last season, 310 of his 1124 receiving yards and five of his six touchdowns came in two games (Week 4 and 17). Outside of those two games, he had 814 yards and one touchdown across the other 13 games (pretty terrible). And that was with Tom Brady, who is no longer with the team. He now has either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask running the offense. Mayfield has never been able to support this type of receiver, the big field-stretching touchdown guy. If you look at his time in Cleveland, Jarvis Landry always out-produced Odell Beckham despite Beckham being the more talented player of the two. That has already been factored into his draft cost, as he is currently going around pick 80, but even at that pick I think he is a bust. Evans’ streak of nine straight seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards is coming to an end this year and I think we see closer to 5 touchdowns than the 13 and 14 he had in 2020 and 2021.
I get it, he was still an absolute beast last year, leading the league in rush attempts with 349 and racking up 1538 yards with 13 touchdowns. He even had a career high 33 receptions for 398 yards. So how can he be a bust? Well, he is now 29 (will be 30 by season’s end), which data has shown is a huge drop-off age in production. He also has racked up 1750 career rush attempts, which is A LOT. He is going to fall-off a fantasy cliff soon, and you don’t want to be the person holding the bag when he does. We just saw it with Ezekiel Eliott last year, who entered last season with 1650 career rush attempts, he became unstartable in fantasy and looked like a shell of the Zeke we watched from 2016-2021. That could easily be Henry this season. On top of that, the Titans look like an awful offense on paper and their over/under win total is a measly 7.5. We have already started to see a drop in yards per carry and game from where Henry was in 2018-2020, and this could be the year when father time catches up with the big back. He is too risky with an ADP of 23.
This looks like a classic case of “shiny new toy syndrome” that fantasy managers suffer from, where rookies get overvalued. Is Gibbs talented? Yes. Will he perform well this season? Seems likely. However, is he worth an ADP of around 41? I don’t think so. Let’s take a look at the Lions last season, when D’Andre Swift was the guy picked early (99 rush attempts, 542 yards, five touchdowns, 48 receptions, 389 yards, three touchdowns) and Jamaal Williams was overlooked (262 carries, 1066 yards, 17 touchdowns, 12 receptions, 73 yards). I could see a somewhat similar situation happening this season with Gibbs and David Montgomery (78 ADP). They don’t really need Gibbs operating in a slot receiver role when they already have Amon-Ra St. Brown doing that at an extremely high level of production. In a vacuum, I would rather have Gibbs than Monty, but at their costs, I would take Monty every time over Gibbs.
Jones had the best year of his career last year, but it still really wasn’t all that good. He threw for 3205 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions; considering he played 16 games.. we are talking LESS THAN ONE touchdown pass per game. That is abysmal. He did add a hefty 708 rushing yards and seven touchdowns to his resume, which helped him land a T-9 finish at the QB position in fantasy. However, the likelihood of him repeating such low interception and fumble totals is low, as is him repeating that rushing production (his previous career highs were 423 yards and two touchdowns). The Giants have a slightly better supporting cast for him this season, but with his ADP at 103, I would rather have Anthony Richardson, Aaron Rodgers, Geno Smith, and more over Jones and they are all going later than Jones in drafts.
JuJu goes the latest in drafts (113 ADP) of anyone I have listed, but I just can’t see value in taking him. He is simply… not that good at football. He was the de facto number one receiver in the most explosive offense in the league last year in the Kansas City Chiefs, as they averaged the most yards and points per game, and he still didn’t produce. He finished the season with 78 receptions for 933 yards and three touchdowns across 16 games of action (an average of 11.8 fantasy points per game in PPR). Now he heads to one of the worst passing offenses in the league with the Patriots, who probably have a bottom-3 QB situation in the entire league. The upside is just so limited and I would rather take my chances on any of the Ravens wide receivers that are all going after him in the draft (Rashod Bateman, Zay Flowers, and Odell Beckham).
Waller has some hype around him as a new addition to the Giants offense, but is that really warranted? There are a ton of negatives with Waller. For starters, he has been pretty bad over the last two years, racking up just 83 receptions for 1053 yards and five touchdowns across 20 games. The next part is the fact that he has only played 20 games over the last two years and health issues have been a factor for Waller in his career. Next, he goes to a team that averaged 50 LESS passing yards per game last season and a team that had a QB who threw just 15 touchdowns. To make matters worse, the Giants starting tight end last year had just a 30-268-2 line across 12 games, so it’s not like Jones was really looking his way. With his ADP being around 71, I would rather spend a bit more on guys like T.J. Hockenson, George Kittle, Kyle Pitts, and Dallas Goedert, or spend less and risk less draft capital and get someone who carries just as much risk as Waller does.
I lump these two together because they play for the same team, at the same position, and have nearly identical ADPs (Johnson 79, Pickens 86). I just don’t like this passing attack or think all that highly of Kenny Pickett as a QB. The Steelers averaged just 200 passing yards per game last season and scored 18 points per game (both of which ranked in the bottom-10). Pickett was terrible, throwing for 2404 yards and just seven touchdowns across 13 games. Johnson and Pickens both had lackluster seasons as Johnson finished with 86 receptions for 882 yards and ZERO touchdowns, while Pickens finished with 52 receptions for 801 yards and four touchdowns. They finished as WR28 (Johnson) and WR40 (Pickens) in total scoring, and it gets even worse if you look at points per game as they had terrible averages of 10.6 (Johnson) and 9.8 (Pickens) points per game. I am sure they will have some decent weeks this year, but overall they lack upside and I just don’t see the value in picking them. I would much rather take my chances on guys who have lower ADPs like Kadarius Toney, Jordan Addison, and more.