Top Players to Avoid - Wide Receiver Busts | 2018 Fantasy Football

by Nick Ercolano August 08, 2018

Top Players to Avoid - Wide Receiver Busts | 2018 Fantasy Football

As 2018 fantasy football drafts rapidly approach, ya man's needs to let y'all know who NOT to draft. Which players you need to avoid in fantasy football and who are this year's top busts - so, we have 2018 fantasy football top players to avoid at the wide receiver position!

DeAndre Hopkins - Houston Texans

Current ADP: 8, WR2

Can't wait to hear the argument I get back here, but before you click away, I think that if I can't at least get you thinking about Hopkins in a different light after what I have to say, you're not human. So hear me out please. So, Hopkins is the guy that I'm avoiding in the first round, ESPECIALLY at this current ADP. He is currently my 13th ranked player overall, and is my WR4 behind both Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones. How ya like them apples. 

Ok, so a lot of what I will say for Hopkins goes double for Deshaun Watson, who may be the easiest fade for 2018 fantasy football at his ADP of like 45-50, as QB2. Hopkins is a monster, absolute animal, his talent elite, his hands, route running, etc, etc.

But when you look back at the 2017 season, the only thing that sticks out to me is REGRESSION. For a bunch of reasons.

First being this. He led the NFL with an enormous 35% target share of the Texans targets last year. The next closest player was Antonio Brown at 30%, a full 5% lower. I went back and looked at some numbers:

AB is 1. the only guy to repeat, 2. the only guy to see an increase in %. Historically, the usage and volume is a concern for Hopkins. And as good as Hopkins is at times, he's not exactly the most efficient: taking a look at some numbers last year, he was 24th in air yards, which is predictive, 16th among WRs in production premium per PlayerProfiler, 13th in target premium, 42nd in YPT, 25th in contested catch rate, 43rd in QB Rating when targeted and 101st in average separation on his target. Now my argument definitely isn't to say Hopkins is bad or last year was bad, but I think we saw Hopkins at his absolute peak, and now we're drafting him there.

They'll have a healthy Will Fuller, at least as of right now, who missed 6 games last year. They drafted Keke Coutee who is sidelined with a hammy so he may not be a factor, but they also drafted this TE Jordan Akins in the 3rd round, who is reportedly doing really well at camp and caught two touchdowns in their first preszn game, he very well may be a RZ factor. 

Those aren't my only concerns though, there are two more - it's with Watson and with their defense. We'll cover Watson first. He was electric last year. Too electric. He had a damn 9.3% TD rate, he threw 19 touchdowns on 204 attempts. If there is one number to take away from this entire video, it's that 9.3%. There is nowhere to go but down. The NFL leader is usually around 7%. There are a few outlier years, like the Tom Brady and Peyton Manning all-time TD leading years, and guess what, they barely sniffed that number, Watson's was still higher. He's a player, that as much as I hate to say it, got lucky many times. In just 7 games last year, he threw 13 interceptable passes, but got lucky on a lot of them, which went his way, that won't always happen. According to Vegas odds (5dimes.eu) Watson has the highest chances of leading the NFL in interceptions in 2018, his over/under is at 17.5, not good.  So last year Watson was stupid good, and I don't want to write that off and count it against him, but I think too much of his production came on these crazy deep balls. His adjusted completion %, as per PFF, ranked 38th of 39 QBs, only DeShone Kizer was worse. Watson will be good in fantasy, because he adds a lot of rushing upside, but statistically he won't touch the rate passing wise he was going towards in 2017 and it will be to the detriment of Hopkins.

The last thing that makes me extremely nervous is the fact that they were in run and gun mode a lot, Watson was constantly chucking up deep balls and hail marys and in shootouts, which obviously worked in the favor of their passing game, statistically speaking. That happened because their defense was literally the worst in the NFL, giving up over 27 points per game. That will not be the case in 2018. They were killed with injuries last year, mainly to J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. They'll have both guys back. They also brought in Aaron Colvin, the former slot CB and big piece of JAX's success last year, big upgrade to Houston there. They also bring in the Honey Badger, Tyrann Matheiu. To summarize, this will be a good defense once again, like they had been for the former few years under defensive-minded Bill O'Brien. And when they were a good defense, we saw what their game plan was on offense. Ground-and-pound, ranking 6th or higher in team rush attempts in every year prior to 2017. Boost for the rush game the in HOU, volume will be lower through the air now that their defense is back to normal.

I can't lay out my argument against Hopkins anymore than I just did. I would happily take a top-tier RB over him.

If you still disagree - please drop a comment down below telling me I'm a piece of shit, I'll at least get a good laugh out of it - and a thumbs up would be appreciated because I put a lot of hard work into these videos - thank you and love you! 

Brandin Cooks - Los Angeles Rams

Current ADP: 47, WR22

Cooks is like Hill, but like a poor man's version of him. In the sense that he has a new QB, in a new situation where there are more mouths to feed. Both great players, but you're naive to think that the volume will be anywhere close to what it was.

Cooks will "replace"Sammy Watkins in an offense that spreads the ball around a TON and ranked 24th in pass attempts/game. No reason to think that number goes up given the additions to this defense. What concerns me is that I think Watkins was an even better fit for this team from a fantasy perspective than Cooks is. Watkins scored 8 touchdowns on just 39 receptions last year. He was a frequent target of Goff’s in the redzone, which is what boosted that tuddy total so heavily.

Cooks, on the other hand, saw just two redzone (12) and a single ten-zone target (6) more than Watkins did last year despite seeing 43 more total targets on the year. Cooks has never been a threat down in the RZ, it’s not surprising given his skill set and size (5-10, 189). Goff clearly prefers using his big-bodied guys down there. The most RZ targeted players for the Rams last year were Cooper Kupp (6’2”), Todd Gurley (6’1”) and Watkins (6’1”). 

Cooks is also moving over to this offense where we have to ask ourselves, how often will they REALLY utilize his best asset… speed? Brady was, and has always been amongst the NFL league-leaders in pass attempts, air yards, etc. Goff won’t be. The other thing that should make you nervous is what Vegas has as his over/under - it's 799 receiving yards and 5.5 touchdowns. Now everything isn't perfect with Vegas, but there's a reason they stay in business homies. They're pretty damn close with most of their shits. You really gonna be happy with your 4th or even 5th round pick putting up 800 yards and 5 touchdowns, maybe 6? Didn't think so. According to Vegas, that's what they project for Cooks.

Lastly, I truly believe, in my black heart of hearts, that the Pats didn’t bring Cooks in last year to be their “WR1”. It was a one-year rental, a really good, REAL-LIFE football move for the Patriots. Then the Julian Edelman injury happened and Cooks was forced into leading the team in targets. I don’t think that’s what Uncle Bill had in mind when they brought him in to be honest.

And at that -- Cooks finished as fantasy’s WR15 on a ppg basis (0.5 PPR, min. 13 games played). You move him over to the  Rams where the target competition is much higher,  and the depth of throws are the opposite of that. Not to mention Brady to Goff.

Just don’t draft Brandin Cooks this high please.

Pierre Garcon - San Francisco 49ers

Current ADP: 81, WR33

Garcon just turned 32.... He's returning to this hyped (the new toy effect!!! that I've been talking about) SF offense in 2018 after missing the 2nd half of last szn with a neck injury... a broken neck at age 31? Hmmm...

When I do my player analysis, I try to understand both sides of the picture. Why do some fantasy guys like this player, while I don't? And my focus of the player becomes dispelling what they like about him. That's what I'm doing for Garcon.

Last year, people were very excited about Garcon entering the year, as was I. He became virtually the only option in SF's passing game and he reunites with Kyle Shanahan who used him relentlessly as his X receiver back in Washington, where he had a career year back in 2013 - 1. that was literally five years ago guys when Garcon was 26-27 in the prime of his career - he led the NFL with over 180 targets, has almost 1,350 receiving yards, somehow still finished only as WR13 in fantasy, but a great year nonethemore.

Well, last year prior to the injury, Garcon was doing his ting. The usage was about where we expected it to be. He was seeing tons of targets, he had 40 catches and 500 receiving yards through 8 games. He hadn't scored a TD yet, however. As impressive as his target (65) and catch totals were, Garcon was still just WR40 in STD and WR29 in PPR (FPPG) at that time.... WR29 in PPR guys. That was with literally no one else to throw the ball to. He's not seeing over 8 targets/game like he was at that point, and even at that, WR29 last year, and getting drafted as WR33 coming off a year-ending injury at age 32? Come on now.

Since the injury occurred, we saw Marquise Goodwin breakout and earn himself a $20.3M contract from the 9ers. All reports out of training camp have been dynamite for Goodwin, that he is Jimmy G's favorite and number one target. They also traded up in the draft to snag Dante Pettis 44th overall, the impressive WR from U of Washington. I don't think Pettis is going to be a thing in 2018 redraft leagues, but still, it's definitely not a positive for Garcon. They signed Jerrick McKinnon, the excellent pass-catching back to a fat contract and we witnessed a mini-breakout of sorts by George Kittle down the stretch last year, something I expect to stay the course into 2018 as long as he's healthy.

Ultimately, you're paying the same price for Garcon as you did last year. But, with way more competition, another year older, coming off of a serious injury. Garcon’s a guy that has never been a tuddy-machine. He relies on his target volume and raw athleticism and size to beat defenders over the middle. As you age, those attributes start to dwindle. It might not come all at once, but I think we’re going to look back at 2018 and see Garcon finish with around 50-55 catches, 600 yards and 3-4 touchdowns, ultimately a fantasy WR5 that you wasted a draft pick on in my opinion.

If you want access to all of my top busts, sleepers, rankings, cop my draft guide!!!!!

Honorable Mention

Tyreek Hill - Kansas City Chiefs

Current ADP: 32, WR13

I really thought this was going to be an easy fade for everyone. Turns out it's not. Hill's ADP has stayed pretty much within the 25-30 range since February which is mind-blowing to me. 

So here's my thing with Hill - He's a phenomenal players, one of my absolute favorites to watch. I touted him last year, but I'm staying away this year at his crazy 3rd round price.

You want to talk about Watson having crazy efficiency, Hill was basically they WR version of him. Hill's lat 13 TDs, dating back to 2016 have come from 30 yards out or further. That's unreal. You can't do that forever. To be a consistent NFL scorer, you need to be involved in the RZ and the 10Z, which he wasn't last year, he saw just 4 RZ targets and just a single target inside-the-10. And now what, they add Sammy Watkins who is hyper-efficient down there. The Rams ran tons of inside slants to him on the GL last year to perfection. He caught 7-of-10 RZ targets for TDs and 4-of-5 in the 10Z - you bet your ass Andy Reid is going to use him down there.

The other thing is this. You might say, yeaaaaa, but Patrick Mahomes is coming in, bigger arm more deep throws! Guess what, Alex Smith was incredible last year on deep passes. He attempted the 6th most deep balls among QBs and had the single highest completion % on those deep balls. So, in order for that to even stay consistent, Mahomes needs to have not only huge volume throwing downfield, which isn't out of the question, but also stupid efficient with those throws - just to match what Smith did last year - so you can say best case scenario for Hill, the QB situation is on par with 2017.... Guess what, now add Watkins in the mix, and volume just becomes an issue... Good day.

Oh, not to mention - the Chiefs start off their szn with a game at the Chargers, at the Steelers, against the 49ers, at Denver, versus the Jags, then in Foxborough at New England before playing the Bengals and Broncos again. As far as I’m concerned, only the 49ers are an average or below avg pass defense in this group, and they did add Richard Sherman to the mix. The rest are very, very good. The Bengals surprisingly were tied as the 3rd best pass defense in the NFL in 2017 (6.5 YPA!!!). I'm not one to dig too deep into SoS past like the first four weeks, but this one was just too hard to ignore. This dampers Hill's outlook and might shake Mahomes a bit.



Nick Ercolano
Nick Ercolano

Author



Leave a comment


Also in Blog

Week 12 - Top Waiver Wire Pickups
Week 12 - Top Waiver Wire Pickups

by Nick Ercolano November 19, 2018

Howdy, here's the BDGE top waiver wire pickups for Week 12 of fantasy football ya bish.

Continue Reading

Week 11 - Injury Watch
Week 11 - Injury Watch

by Noah Pires November 17, 2018

Looking at who's in/out for Week 11 and analyzing which players are impacted by these injuries. We're also diving into some waiver wire fill-ins as well as deep league stashes for you hippy MF'ers.

Continue Reading

Week 11 - Top DFS Picks and DraftKings Lineups
Week 11 - Top DFS Picks and DraftKings Lineups

by Nick Ercolano November 17, 2018

Every Saturday you know we're breaking down the top DFS, DraftKings players of the week. Cheers to Week 11 if you're still alive.

Continue Reading