Each and every fantasy football season, a grip of highly-drafted players end up disappointing millions of fantasy owners (a few names from last year: Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, Chris Johnson, etc.).
Sometimes Fantasy Football Busts are hard to predict, as players can have all the talent in the world, yet they can face injury, offensive collapse, bad coaching support, and more… sometimes these things are out of our control; it’s part of the game!
Well, while it’s impossible to predict some player downfalls, or freak injuries, we can at least identify “high-risk” fantasy football candidates, and using their ADP Rank, determine if the risk is worth the current market value.
Essentially, every player, and I mean every player, is worth drafting if the price is right. Meaning, a bust today could be a bargain tomorrow. The key to every single draft selection you make, or trade for that matter, is drawing that “do-don’t” line the best that you can.
Below are a list of “Potential Bust Candidates” heading into 2013; however, instead of just telling you to avoid these players at all costs, I will attempt to draw “that line” in the sand so that each player’s value is truly defined and known.
2013 Bust Candidates
What a tough player to rank heading into the 2013 fantasy football season! After suffering a brutal concussion in Week 11 of the 2012 NFL season, McCoy went on to miss four games due to the head injury. His recovery was extremely slow-moving during his four-week absence, as he experienced headaches, dizziness, fatigue, sensitivity to both light and noise, and from those Weeks 12-15, there was considerable chatter on NFL news wires suggesting that McCoy was done for the season. He wasn’t, though, and he came back strong in Weeks 16 and 17, totaling over 100 yards in both contests. He even pulled in 9 receptions in that Week 16 effort. Recapping things, McCoy returned to action late in the year, bounced-back to form in those two post-injury outings, showed no signs of lingering head issues, and is only turning 25 come July… so, what is there to doubt about the runner heading into 2013 and beyond? Two words: Jahvid Best.
Ok, so I’m going to reiterated what I said above before I continue… tagging someone as a “potential bust” does not, by my definition, mean that the player in question is a player to avoid at all costs… every player has an acceptable “get” or “draft” value, and every player has a “let someone else grab ‘em” value. So, why do I bring up Jahvid Best when speaking about reasons to doubt McCoy in 2013? Well, like McCoy, Best suffered a HUGE concussion back in 2011, one he still has yet to recover from. I know what you’re thinking… one concussion was more severe than the other, right? Or, maybe you’re saying to yourself, it’s too hard to compare such things. Well, clearly there is some truth to that, but one has to look back to Best’s college days to pinpoint the concussion that he suffered that more so mirrors the one McCoy encountered last fantasy season.
You see, Best suffered his McCoy-like concussion during the second quarter of Cal’s November 7, 2009 match-up against Oregon State. While rushing for a touchdown, Best hurdled a defender into the end zone, was pushed in mid-air and landed on the back of his head causing his helmet to come off. After a 13-minute stop in play, Best was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported to the Highland General Hospital in Oakland (this was his second concussion within two weeks, the first being mild). Best missed the remainder of his college season, and he entered the 2010 NFL Draft. Best’s concussion, and let’s call it a “brutal” concussion, had many NFL scouts worried entering the 2010 NFL Draft, and there were many fantasy circles avoiding Best as well. You most likely know the rest of the story, but to refresh your memory, Best suffered a second brutal concussion in October of 2011, one that, as said above, has had him on the shelf ever since.
Before you scream it out loud, again I realize that comparing head injuries, and all of the unsaid variables, is not an exact, or accurate, science, especially when we’re talking about different kinds of head impacts, prior concussions, time frames, and more; however,[level-all] what I think is relevant with all of this comparing is the fact that the writing was, in a sense, on the wall for Jahvid Best. It’s not that having a single concussion, or even two, puts you on some sort of career-ending path. However, when you have a concussion as severe as both Best and McCoy had, and I’m talking about Best’s college-suffered concussion, well, we’re looking at an entirely different thing. And, when you have a severe concussion, or a series of smaller concussions, your concussion susceptibility increases beyond concern; either of these two (many concussions, or a severe concussion), in my opinion, puts one on the reservation list for that career ending path that I mentioned up above. What do we know about concussions?
Research has shown that repeated concussions occur with less impact, or force than prior concussions; slower recovery after each successive concussion has also been found.
Think Steve Young, Austin Collie, or even a less thought of case in Kurt Warner… and now Jahvid Best. All four suffered one of the following: 1) consecutive concussions beginning to occur with less impact, or force, than prior concussions, or 2) An extremely severe concussion that put that player on the shelf longer than a player suffering a typical freak-occurrence concussion. Think back a bit… did things get better for either Steve Young or Austin Collie? Did Collie become more susceptible? The answer has to be yes!
I realize that many will still suggest that it’s difficult to draw parallels between Jahvid Best, Austin Collie and LeSean Mccoy, but when a player suffers what we’ve been calling a “brutal” or “severe” concussion, one that causes significant missed games, slower than normal recovery timeframes, and initial effects that linger for weeks, months, or sometimes longer, it’s safe to say that the player in question has a significant chance of facing another concussion if shoved back into a high-impact environment, not to mention, that the player in question will in all probability have a higher likelihood of concussion-related injuries, and at even less an impact, or force, than before. And, when/if that player suffers another concussion, that player has a good chance of having a slower recovery than before.
Ok, so after all that being said, it’s time to define where it is safe, and not safe, to draft LeSean McCoy entering 2013 fantasy football drafts.
Let’s begin with McCoy’s ADP, which hovers around 1.07. At a glance, that actually seems like quite a bargain, given he has 1-3 overall fantasy upside. He does! Let’s not confuse his talent and only judge him for, what I admit to be, educated and caution-driven speculation. Predicting injury with McCoy is smart speculation, but it is speculation. One shouldn’t completely toss aside McCoy’s age (turning 25), low mileage, and incredible Marshall Faulk-like abilities… if healthy, McCoy could absolutely be the No. 1 overall fantasy scorer in in 2013 (in many scoring formats). But, with the risk that one single hit could rip him from your fantasy line-up, and possibly your entire fantasy season, is 1.07 a safe place to invest? No way. I think he starts looking more attractive when you hit the very bottom of the first-round, and I’m talking both dynasty and redraft, but especially dynasty. And, at that acceptable value, and let’s just call safe 1.12, one HAS TO acquire Bryce Brown. Acquiring Brown is an absolute must for all McCoy owners in all formats. Without the handcuff, I don’t buy at all. There is no more important handcuff in 2013.
Brown is not a long-term threat to McCoy, unless McCoy suffers another terrible concussion that causes symtoms and after effects that mirror Best’s… let’s not get crazy here, that’s how we have to look at Brown… I admit, I was super-excited about this kid after his two monster starts in 2011, where he rushed for 178 yards and 2TDs in Week 12, and then 169 yards and 2TDs in Week 13… waves of fantasy owners everywhere thought this kid was the next top 5RB to explode onto the fantasy scene, and McCoy owners everywhere were freaking out. Brown is a talent, no doubt, but he proved he can’t hang onto the football, nor did he continue to look dominant the series of games after those two monster performances… he is not McCoy-like, nor will he ever be. Can he fill in and produce top 5-10 fantasy running back numbers for half a season, much like Ben Tate would/could if Arian Foster suffered a significant injury? Sure! That’s why he is the miracle handcuff in this situation… he is talented enough, by far, to thrive in a small window of time, and with no pressure (which he wouldn’t have if let’s say McCoy was ruled out for a significant amount of time). Neither Tate or Brown will ever likely be a consistent top 5-10 runner, especially if they headed elsewhere to different rosters… their value is in their situation, and their talents are amplified by their offenses and how reliant those offenses are on the running back position.
In conclusion, both redraft and dynasty league owners should draft LeSean McCoy with caution entering 2013. Draft him as near to second-round value as possible, and absolutely reach for Bryce Brown, even if you have to play it safe and snag him a round or two ahead of his going ADP. And if you are in an existing dynasty league, and own McCoy, don’t read this article and then go sell off McCoy for trash, or even less than high second-round value… instead, just go get Brown via trade and lock up what I’d then consider a very secure situation. While having just McCoy worries me to no end, having both runners handcuffed together is actually about as secure as any low-end RB1 out there, and even more secure in some cases… Not every handcuff will continue to produce low-end RB1 numbers in the starter’s absence – but this one will, which is why this handcuffed-duo is way more valuable than just owning McCoy.
Matt Forte had a somewhat quite year in 2012 in the receiving department, at least compared to previous seasons; although, overall, the runner had a relatively good fantasy season in 2012. He rushed for 1,094 yards, pulled in 44 receptions for 340 yards, and scored 6 total TDs; that’s the most rushing yards that Forte has totaled up since 2008 (1,238). So, why are so many down on Forte entering 2013? It’s almost head-scratching how doubted the runner is in extremely-early 2013 mock drafts. I’ve grabbed Forte in the late second-round in some recent dynasty expert mock drafts, and I have had an overwhelming amount of people ask me why I grabbed Forte so high… Forte suffered three ankle tweaks in 2012, so he played hurt for a majority of the 2012 season, and he only missed two games… he should have missed more games, but he played through the injury, which really just caused the injury to linger… In Week 17, Forte rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown (on 24 carries), and he pulled in two receptions for 21 yards. Is Forte still a bust candidate, though? Yes. For sure. Forte’s durability is becoming a bigger and bigger concern at the age of 27… and if one had to pay first-round value, or even high second-round value, I’d say snag someone safer with your selection on draft day, as the injury risk is just too great at that kind of price tag… Currently, though, Forte’s early 2013 ADP is hovering around the 3.05-3.11 range. I’m sorry, people, but that’s low-risk. He could miss 2-3 games and still earn you that kind of value… and if he doesn’t miss any games, you’re looking at first-round value at the cost of a middle-to-late third-round pick. Keep Forte on your “Bust Radar”, no question, because if his ADP climbs, he is risky… but if this middle-to-late third-round ADP sticks heading into August drafts, and I’m thinking it might not, Forte will be on my “steal” list.
With a current ADP around 2.10-2.12, Chris Johnson looks more like “bust candiate” than a “value grab” heading into 2013. Johnson had a better season than most give him credit for, as he ran for 1,243 yards and 6TDs, with 36 receptions for 232 yards and 0TDs. He is playing far from his 2009 performance level, where he ran for 2,006 yards, pulled in 503 yards and scored 16 total touchdowns, but CJ2K’s extremely slow 2012 start (where he rushed for 4, 17 and 24 yards in his first three games) could have August drafters pushing him from “Potential Bust” to “Potential Value Grab”… Let’s call him a “bust” at his current second-round ADP, but let’s also tag him as a player to monitor ADP-wise, as a change in ADP could turn him into a huge “undervalued” type player.
After playing in just six games in 2012, where he rushed for just 414 yards and 1TD, it’s hard to consider Maurice Jones-Drew anything close to a first-round talent anymore. I wouldn’t even grab MJD in the second-round (in any format) heading into 2013. The little guy will be 28 this upcoming season, and he has seven NFL campaigns under his belt… that’s a lot of miles, and 28 isn’t a great age for runners with that kind of mileage. It’s tough to find a consistent ADP value for Jones-Drew, as he is all over the map. I’ve seen him go as early as the middle of the second-round in early 2013 yearly league mock drafts, and I’ve seen his ADP fall as far as 3.08. I advise fantasy owners to consider him “bust material” anywhere in the late second-round, and maybe even the early third-round… I think that line in the sand, where MJD turns “bust” to decent value, is the middle of the third; once, and if, he falls into the fourth, he turns into a “very solid” grab. MJD’s August ADP will decide whether he is a “potential bust” or “potential value grab” entering 2013!
As I write in detail here, I am not a fan of Eddie Lacy heading into his rookie season. Granted, he doesn’t even have an NFL landing spot yet, but I don’t like his upright and full-back running style, and he has some injury concerns I just can’t ignore… recent news suggests that the runner will not participate at the NFL Combine due to a partial hamstring tear. It’s tough to predict injury with any player, especially an incoming rookie… sometimes it’s even unfair to tag an incoming rookie as injury-prone (think Adrian Peterson, whom was more doubted than supported entering his rookie season; although, I boldly, back then, called him a top 5 overall player)… Again, take a look at my detailed write-up on Lacy if you want more information on why I doubt him heading into his rookie season.