Fantasy Football 2021: Wide Receiver Busts to Avoid
It's impossible to know how an NFL player will fare during an upcoming season. There are projections based on stats and likelihoods, but even those are wrong sometimes. Injuries could derail a player's season, or he could just underperform.
That's part of what makes fantasy football drafts so difficult. No matter how much preparation you put into it, there's always a chance your players end up as busts and you end up at the bottom of your league's standings by the end of the season. And there may be nothing you can do about it.
The deepest position in the draft is wide receiver, as you can get potential sleepers in the late rounds. Plus, some of the players who don't even get drafted will become key waiver-wire pickups down the line.
But like every position, there will be some wide receivers who are busts, too. While it's impossible to know who they'll be right now, we can at least make some educated guesses.
Here are a few wide receivers you might want to avoid taking in drafts.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans has recorded more than 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven NFL seasons and is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he had a career-high 13 touchdowns. However, it's unlikely the soon-to-be 28-year-old repeats that level of production in 2021, partially because of the team he plays for.
There are a ton of playmakers on Tampa Bay's offense. Evans is in the same receiving corps as Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, who played only eight regular-season games last year after serving an eight-game suspension. Godwin should put up big numbers this year if he stays healthy, and Brown will likely be more of a factor. Plus, tight end O.J. Howard is coming back from injury to play alongside Rob Gronkowski.
Not only was Evans' production a bit inconsistent last year, his fantasy numbers were also touchdown-dependent. He ended up having a solid year because of how many times he got into the end zone, but that number is likely to drop this season.
There are too many other options in the Bucs offense and not enough consistency from Evans to warrant taking him as early as the fourth round, which is his average draft position (per Fantasy Football Calculator). Take a more consistent receiver who is assured of getting more targets instead.
Kenny Golladay, New York Giants
The Giants gave Golladay a four-year, $72 million contract to become their new No. 1 wide receiver. But that doesn't mean he should be considered among the top receivers in fantasy this season, and there are several reasons why the 27-year-old won't put up top-tier numbers.
Daniel Jones is entering his third NFL season, and he's still struggling. It's not safe to bet on a receiver who relies on the 24-year-old to throw passes. Plus, New York may be more run heavy this season, considering Saquon Barkley is back from injury and is one of the top running backs in the NFL when healthy.
Even if Jones makes big strides, there are a lot of other receiving options in the Giants' offense, including Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, rookie Kadarius Toney, Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph. There will only be so many targets to go around.
Golladay was limited to five games with the Detroit Lions last year, and he's already been banged up in his first training camp with the Giants. He's missed some time with a hamstring injury, which the team was "optimistic" wouldn't be a serious issue, according to ESPN's Jordan Raanan. Still, it's not reassuring that Golladay has already been dealing with an ailment given his recent past.
There are too many risks associated with Golladay to take him around his ADP in the seventh round (per Fantasy Football Calculator), as he has the potential to be a bust in his first year with the Giants.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Justin Jefferson had one of the best seasons by a rookie wide receiver ever in 2020, and he's now the No. 1 receiving option for Minnesota. Expect him to follow it up with another huge year that could impact Thielen's fantasy relevance moving forward.
Thielen is turning 31 later this month, and it's possible that he's going to continue to regress a bit at this point in his career. He hasn't reached the 1,000-yard mark since 2018, plus he's had only 104 catches in 25 games over the past two seasons.
In 2020, Thielen's production was touchdown-dependent. He got into the end zone 14 times, which made him a solid fantasy option. But it's unlikely that happens again this season, especially with Jefferson and some other youngsters likely to take a bigger share of targets.
With an ADP in the fourth round (per Fantasy Football Calculator), Thielen is too big a risk that high. There are younger receivers trending upward who will be available at that stage and would be better choices than the veteran.