In fantasy football, the moves you don't make may be more important than the ones you do make.
That's why it's important to do your research before jumping right into your draft. Oftentimes, players are greatly overvalued based on their average draft position (ADP). This leads to big-name players who are in less-than-ideal situations for fantasy football being picked far too early.
So, how does one spot a player who may be overvalued? Injury history is a good place to start, as well as the player's surrounding talent and overall team situation. If you have your eye on a running back, how is their team's offensive line? If you're looking at a wide receiver, will they get enough quality targets to be fantasy relevant? These are just a few of the questions to ponder before clicking the "draft" button.
Here's our ranking of the top 10 potential busts to avoid for the 2021 fantasy football season, based on their current ADP.
10. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (Bye Week: 10)
Before you close out this tab, let us start by saying we aren't knocking Barkley's obvious talent. He's undoubtedly one of the top running backs in the game when healthy, and he could be dynamite for your fantasy squad this season.
That said, don't be the fool who takes him at or before third overall in your draft. Barkley is coming off a torn ACL and let's not forget his injury woes in 2019 as well. Can you really bank on the 24-year-old to be your RB1 throughout the season at this point?
Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara each should be off the board before you decide to take a chance on Barkley. Even then, it's a gamble.
9. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (Week: 6)
Thomas followed his historic 2019 campaign with an injury-plagued 2020. He finished with 40 catches, 438 yards and zero touchdowns in seven games.
He'll likely be sidelined to start the 2021 season too, and even when he does return, he won't be the record-breaking wideout he was two years ago without Drew Brees as his quarterback. You should draft Thomas if he slips past his ADP of the late fifth round, but it will be tough for him to be anything more than a WR2/weekly flex play if the QB situation isn't ideal.
8. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week: 9)
Mike Evans is a phenomenal receiver. He proved that yet again in 2020 when he finished as the WR8 with Tom Brady under center.
However, it's unlikely he matches his 13 touchdowns from a year ago, many of which were one or two-yard grabs. Add in the fact there are so many mouths to feed on the Bucs offense, and there's bound to be some regression here.
7. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions (Week: 9)
Swift currently is being taken in the third round, which seems a bit high considering the Lions probably won't be putting up many points this season. Plus, offseason addition Jamaal Williams will be in the mix for a fair share of carries.
Add in the fact Swift may not be ready to go for Week 1, and you have all the reasons you need to avoid the second-year running back early in your draft.
6. Melvin Gordon, RB, Denver Broncos (Week: 11)
Like Robinson, Gordon has competition heading into 2021 in the form of a highly-touted draft pick. Javonte Williams is projected to be the starting running back in Denver this season, making Gordon nothing more than a bench stash.
5. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (Week: 14)
All signs point toward a running back timeshare in Philly, not to mention quarterback Jalen Hurts is sure to steal plenty of rushing attempts from Sanders. When Hurts took over as the starter in 2020, Sanders had 46 carries to Hurts' 38.
With Kerryon Johnson, Jordan Howard, and rookie pass-catching back Kenneth Gainwell also in the mix, it's hard to picture Sanders making a huge fantasy impact in 2021.
4. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders (Week: 8)
Jacobs is the definition of workhorse. Usually, that alone makes a running back worth a high draft selection. The problem here is the Raiders went out and acquired Kenyan Drake while dismantling their offensive line. You can find multiple RBs with more upside than Jacobs in the third round, where the Alabama product currently is going in drafts. Chris Carson and Myles Gaskin are two running backs I'd draft ahead of Jacobs in this spot.
3. Hunter Henry/Jonnu Smith, TE, New England Patriots (Week: 14)
It looks like the Patriots' offense will run through its tight ends. Bodes well for the fantasy value of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, right?
Even with Mac Jones winning the starting quarterback job over Cam Newton, the Patriots likely will rely heavily on their running game to avoid putting their rookie in tough spots. Trying to predict which Patriots tight end will put up the bigger fantasy numbers isn't worth the headache. Add in Henry's injury history, and it's a hard pass for us.
2. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns (Week: 13)
Don't fall for the big name. Beckham is coming off a torn ACL and wasn't exactly a fantasy football stud prior to the injury last season. He averaged only seven targets a game while healthy, finishing with 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns in seven games. His days as an elite fantasy wideout appear to be over, so avoid him until he proves otherwise.
1. DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (Week: 14)
There's plenty of hype around the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, who's being taken as early as the sixth or seventh round. Smith's talent is undeniable, but his preseason MCL injury is worth monitoring, and there are plenty of questions about the Eagles' passing game as Jalen Hurts takes over. There are safer bets at wide receiver in the middle rounds.
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