Fantasy Football 2021: Joe Burrow and Bust Candidates to Avoid

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 15, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Joe Burrow and Bust Candidates to Avoid

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Not every player who is projected to get taken high in fantasy football drafts is going to have a good season. That's the way it works every year. Sure, many will live up to their potential and put up big numbers, but there are going to be some busts.

    A player doesn't have to put up no points to be a fantasy bust. If you are expecting somebody to be among the top 10 at his position and he falls well short, that's a bust. Especially if it took you a high draft pick in order to acquire that player.

    With the 2021 season getting closer, here's a look at several players who could end up as busts. So you may want to avoid taking them in fantasy football drafts this year.

Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Burrow is likely going to have a tremendous career with the Cincinnati Bengals. But he's only 24 with 10 games of NFL experience. He's also coming off ACL and MCL tears that ended his rookie season, so he may not be quite as mobile to begin his sophomore campaign.

    That's why Burrow may not put up the type of fantasy numbers that warrant a spot in the starting lineup. There are plenty more reliable, proven quarterbacks who will be available in the eighth round (Burrow's average draft position per Fantasy Football Calculator) and one of them will likely be the way to go.

    The Bengals also may rely more on their running game as Burrow gets back into the swing of things. Joe Mixon is healthy and could get more touches than ever with Giovani Bernard no longer on the team.

    If you are in a league that starts two quarterbacks, Burrow could be a decent pickup, especially if he plays up to his potential and gets better as the season goes on. But in most leagues, he's going to be closer to bust status with less fantasy relevance. Wait until he breaks out in 2022 before relying on him to lead your fantasy team.

Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Miles Sanders may be the starter for the Philadelphia Eagles, but there are a lot of other running backs on their roster. Boston Scott and Jordan Howard have returned, Kerryon Johnson signed with the team in free agency and rookie Kenneth Gainwell was taken in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL draft.

    It's highly likely that Philadelphia won't carry all these running backs on its roster. But it will have a few of them. Johnson is an experienced runner who has had success in the past, while Gainwell is an exciting prospect, so it's possible Sanders' touches drop off this season.

    Sanders also struggled to make any impact in the passing game last year, notching only 28 receptions for 197 yards. The Eagles could utilize another running back in a receiving role, which would further cut into Sanders' opportunities.

    Over his first two NFL seasons, Sanders has been a solid running back, but he's not the clear bell cow in Philadelphia's backfield. His ADP at the top of the fourth round, per Fantasy Football Calculator, is much too high and has him set up to be a bust in 2021.

Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Adam Thielen had a career-high 14 touchdowns last year after never scoring more than nine in a season over his first six NFL campaigns. And unless he gets into the end zone that frequently again in 2021, there's a strong chance that he regresses and becomes a fantasy bust.

    Justin Jefferson had an incredible rookie season in 2020, and he's the Vikings' clear No. 1 receiver. Quarterback Kirk Cousins will surely be throwing his way a lot, while running back Dalvin Cook will also get plenty of touches.

    There will still be opportunities for Thielen to have big games, but it's unlikely he will score as many times. Outside of that, he had 74 receptions and 925 yards last season, well below his numbers from 2017 and 2018, when he emerged as a top wide receiver.

    Considering Thielen's ADP is in the fourth round, per Fantasy Football Calculator, that's much too early to be taking him because of the potential for his numbers to substantially regress this season. Even if he's not a complete bust in 2021, he's likely to fail to reach the heights of last year.