Fantasy Football: Predicting a "Bust"

Taylor RummelSenior Analyst IJune 26, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 16:  Larry Johnson #27 of the Kansas City Chiefs heads out to the field prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints on November 16, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)

The absolute worst nightmare for every fantasy football manager is the thought of spending an early round pick on a player who "busts."

Last year, the following players were major busts:

  • Joseph Addai, (first round)
  • Larry Johnson, (second round)
  • Willis McGahee, (second round)
  • Braylon Edwards, (second round)
  • Laurence Maroney, (third round)
  • Rudi Johnson, (fourth round)
  • Edgerrin James, (fourth round)
  • Selvin Young, (fifth round)

Here's a quick take on the situation that each of the above players were in last year, and why they were so bad:

  • Joseph Addai-  He was coming off of a robust season that had him totaling over 1,400 total yards and double digit touchdowns, but missing four games due to injury hampered his ability to "get going" so to speak.  Also the fact that he was apart of a high-powered passing and not running certainly could have contributed to why he didn't put up impressive stats last year.
  • Larry Johnson-  Three years removed from his latest great season, (and coming off of two disastrous seasons), many were expecting a bounce back year for Johnson; but it didn't happen.  Now he was oft-injured, and did face numerous off-field as well as on-field problems, but that, and the fact that he was apart of the lowly Chief's offense proved to be the reasons as to why he has not achieved statistically the last two seasons.
  • Willis McGahee-  After four consecutive seasons of nearly 1,000 yards, McGahee hit a wall last season.  He didn't participate in three games, but that doesn't cover the fact that this guy stunk last season.  The Ravens actually used back Le'Ron McClain more than they used McGahee last season, (beating him by 62 carries).  The shared job coupled with the injury probably factored into him having a "down" season.
  • Braylon Edwards-  Edwards experienced his worst season since his rookie one last year.  Part of the blame fell on the fact that he dropped nearly everything thrown his way, (perhaps a bit sarcastic).  Another share of the blame was on the Browns just being terrible last season.  They were 4-12.  When you are that bad, it's hard for anyone to get going on the offense.  And the last fact, (one that gets overlooked), is that quarterback Derek Anderson was missing from six games last season.  Edwards probably did not have as good as chemistry with Quinn as he did with Anderson, so perhaps that is why Edwards' stats were not as good as they could have been.
  • Laurence Maroney-  Maroney was injured for all but three games last season, so that fact alone can explain why he had next to no numbers to show.  But when you look at his previous career stats, you see that he has never eclipsed 900 rush yards or six rushing touchdowns.  Perhaps Maroney has been overrated the last few seasons?  It also hasn't helped that he has been apart of the passing machine that is Tom Brady & Co. since his inception in the NFL.
  • Rudi Johnson-  "The Cincy Wonder" fell off the map during the 2007 season, and then again in his first season as a Detroit Lion.  The Lions had just selected rookie running back Kevin Smith, and he had started all but one game during the course of the season.  The fact that Johnson rid the bench, and was apart of arguably sport's worst team, perhaps kept him from sustaining a good statistical season.
  • Edgerrin James-  This 30 year old suffered his first downer year last season, only totaling 514 yards and three rushing touchdowns.  He missed three games, and had fellow running back Tim Hightower breathing down his neck all season for carries, (which he received).  That and the fact that he is in a pass-first, second, and third offense could have been the reason as to why he essentially did nothing for fantasy teams last season.
  • Selvin Young-  Who you might say?  This guy was figured to handle the load for the notoriously mysterious Denver backfield, and unfortunately for his owners, got injured in week six.  But before he got injured, he didn't receive the amount of carries that fantasy owners were expecting, averaging only around nine attempts a game.  I know I attribute those low totals to the fact that Denver uses all of their backs equally it seems.


So now let's put all of these players into a "chart" to see just what reasons caused the players to bust.



  1. Three players played in an offense built for the position opposite theirs (e.g.: running back playing in passing offense).  37.5%
  2. Three players played on terrible teams.  37.5%
  3. Two players were part of a running back by committee.  25%


Now let's look at players who are apart of those situations this year:


  • Steven Jackson
  • Frank Gore
  • Kevin Smith
  • Pierre Thomas
  • Knowshon Moreno
  • Derrick Ward
  • Darren McFadden
  • Chris "Beanie" Wells
  • Cedric Benson
  • Dwayne Bowe
  • Joseph Addai
  • Larry Johnson


Steer clear of those players, (and players in the situations mentioned above)- in your upcoming fantasy draft, and you will minimize the chance of selecting a player who will ultimately bust.