Fantasy Football Outlook 2016: Bust Picks

Here are our bust picks for the 2016 NFL season, supported by cold, hard stats.

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Here are our bust picks for this season. Enjoy!

 

Bust Pick: Quarterback – Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

ESPN’s 15th ranked QB; We say he will be the 20th ranked QB

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After an abysmal Week 1 performance, Derek Carr got off to a blistering start last season, averaging 25.5 fantasy points per week from Weeks 2 to 10. However, the end of the season was a completely different story as Carr let down his fantasy owners by only averaging a mere 17.3 fantasy points per week from Weeks 11 to 17. Unfortunately for Carr, he likely will not be able to attain the incredible red-zone touchdown rate that fueled his fantasy performance in the beginning of last season.

Last season, Carr had a 32% red-zone touchdown rate, which was 8% above the league average among qualified quarterbacks. Like most red-zone statistics, red-zone touchdown rate has a very weak year-to-year correlation (0.3), which makes it highly susceptible to regression to the mean. For Carr, who had a sky-high red-zone touchdown rate last season, this likely means that his rate will regress, thus resulting in lower fantasy scores. In fact, we saw a bit of this regression at the end of last season. From Weeks 2 to 10, Carr averaged 2.6 touchdowns per week and 25.5 fantasy points per week. But wouldn’t you know, in Weeks 11 to 17 when Carr only averaged 17.3 fantasy points per week, he only averaged 2.0 touchdowns per week.

Even if Carr keeps up this incredible rate, his touchdown total is likely to fall due to the horrible efficiency Raiders’ running backs had in the red zone last year. To put this into perspective of how bad they were, the Raiders scored 83% of their red-zone touchdowns in the air, despite throwing on only 55% of their red-zone plays. It is extremely likely that Raiders’ running backs, Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington, have more success in the red-zone next year, thus limiting Carr’s red-zone touchdowns. With that being said, we do not expect Carr to live up to his hype this year, as we expect him to finish around the 20th best quarterback, not the 15th.

 

 

Bust Pick: Running Back – Jeremy Langford, Chicago Bears

ESPN’s 22nd ranked RB; We say he won’t crack the top 25 (or likely even the top 30)

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After being picked in the 4th round out of Michigan State, Jeremy Langford had almost no impact in the beginning of his rookie season, as he only racked up 34 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns in the first 6 weeks. However, everything changed in Week 8 when the Bears’ all-star running back, Matt Forte, went down with an injury and Langford assumed the starting role. Langford went on a tear, averaging 14.8 fantasy points during that 5-week stretch. While this might seem promising for a young back such as Langford, he had a copious amount of issues last year, mainly regarding his efficiency.

Last year, nearly nothing went right for Langford. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry, which was 4th worst among running backs with at least 100 rushes. Additionally, he was worst in the league with only 2.7 yards per carry against base defenses. On top of that, he only averaged 1.8 yards after contact per rush attempt, which also is worst in the league. By no means was he explosive either, as he only had 2 runs of 15-plus yards, also among the worst in the league. While Langford is usually thought of as a skilled pass-catcher, the stats were no more in his favor than they were for rushing. Langford only had 22 receptions on 40 targets last season, meaning he only caught about a pass per game. While he only had 40 targets, he led running backs in drops (8) and drop rate (26.7%).

Langford’s success last year was largely dependent on touchdowns, as he scored 4 in that 4-week stretch but only 2 in the rest of the season. Touchdowns are not very correlative from year to year so we can not expect him to keep up that rate of 1 touchdown per game, which we saw in the rest of the season. With that being said, we do not think he will live up to be the 22nd ranked RB or even crack the top 30 for that matter.

 

 

Bust Pick: Wide Receiver – Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings

ESPN’s 41st ranked WR; We say he will be the 50th ranked WR

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After sitting out the first 3 weeks of the season, Stefon Diggs was electric in his rookie debut. In his first 3 games (Weeks 4 to 6), Diggs averaged an impressive 14.3 fantasy points per week, which would have been 4th in the league had he kept up that pace. Unfortunately, he did not; he wasn’t even close. In fact, Diggs was downright horrible for the rest of the season. In Weeks 7 to 17, Diggs didn’t exceed 55 receiving yards nor did he have a receiving touchdown with the exception of 2 in Week 15.

While his production after Week 6 might have been bad, his efficiency was even worse. Most of the routes Diggs ran were fairly short, as he was only 42nd among receivers in yards per reception, despite his fast speed. Diggs was even worse in receptions per game, as he only finished 57th among receivers. What’s worst of all, is that Diggs finished an alarming 120th in catch percentage!

What’s even more concerning as a fantasy owner is that Diggs might be the 3rd receiver for the Vikings! Laquon Treadwell, the Vikings’ first-round draft pick out of Ole Miss, has clearly established himself as the primary receiver, and Diggs has not done enough to separate himself from Cordarrelle Patterson as the clear number 2. With that being said, we believe it is extremely unlikely that Diggs will finish as the 41st ranked receiver, thus justifying our ranking of around 50th.

 

 

Bust Pick: Tight End – Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

ESPN’s 7th ranked TE; We say 8th, but he will vastly underperform in terms of fantasy points (weak tight end field this year)

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Last season, Tyler Eifert played spectacularly as he finished 6th among tight ends in fantasy points despite missing 4 games. Had he played those 4 games, he likely would have been the top scoring tight end. While he only had 615 receiving yards last season, he finished tied for 2nd in the league with 13 receiving touchdowns. Eifert’s fantasy performance last season was largely dependent on touchdowns, particular red-zone touchdowns, which is concerning for the same reasons we described above.

Last year, Eifert finished with 13 receiving touchdowns on only 52 receptions, easily giving him the highest touchdown percentage in the league. As we described before, red-zone touchdowns have a very weak year-to-year correlation so we can not expect his spectacular performance from last year to carry over to this year. Had Eifert only scored 8 touchdowns (much closer to mean), he would have only finished as the 9th TE last year. Additionally, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Tyler Boyd, a prolific red-zone receiver, who should certainly steal some red-zone targets from Eifert.

What’s most concerning about Eifert is that he is highly injury-prone. In his short NFL career (3 years), he has already missed 19 out of a possible 48 games. In addition, Eifert is already hurt coming into the 2016 season with an ankle injury, with his Week 1 status “murky at best” according to ESPN. With all of that being said, we believe that Eifert will underperform his expectations this year, whether it be due to injury or skill (really a lack of).

 

Data courtesy of Football Outsiders, Football Reference, ESPN, CBS Sports, http://www.4for4.com, and Bleacher Report. Thanks for reading!

Article written by Jason Platkin

Photo Credits: John Munson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports, Joe Robbins/Getty Images, Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsTony Avelar/Associated Press

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