With the RB busts behind us, it is time to jump into the pass-catching studs that broke our hearts in 2022. This list is long and full of names many of us were ecstatic to roster. Some of the names you will read today are middle rounds names you took a chance on, and that tends to happen each season. The real issue with busts is the names of guys drafted early as WR1-2 names to carry your WR corps for the season.
@BobbyLamarco and Mitch will be chatting about wide receiver busts on the Tuesday night Razzball YouTube channel. I will follow today’s article up with some of the other positions throughout the month of January. As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to drop those at the bottom of this thread.
I was a WR early and often drafter as my favorite approach, and, for the most part, the names brought excellent value. Do not get me wrong, my WRs were not all hits, and there were some big disappointments. I will continue to push WRs early and often into 2023, but some of these names will most certainly plummet down draft boards. Some will prove to be bargains in 2023, but buyer beware based on what we saw in 2022. Additive to the underperforming names below, make sure you pay attention to injured WRs as we move into the 2023 draft season, especially a name like Cooper Kupp. Though I think Kupp will be healthy and a certain first-round selection, he is a year older, has big question marks at QB (and overall team), and is coming off a concerning lower body injury that could linger.
Coming in at the top of my WR busts list is Diontae Johnson, my man crush at WR since his 2019 rookie campaign. Johnson increased his catches each year since coming into the league (59, 88, 107), then put up a disappointing 86 in 2022. The raw number 86 is not necessarily a low number from a WR going outside of the 4th-5th round until you factor in that Johnson had exactly ZERO TDs. If that 86-0 catch-to-TD ratio is not bad enough, consider Johnson had those ZERO TDs on exactly 147 targets. Are you serious? Seriously, are you serious? 147 targets with ZERO TDs makes absolutely no sense to me.
I am having a hard time wrapping my head around that ratio. Some of the issues with the lack of receptions and TDs have much to do with the rotating QB tandem of Trubisky and Pickett. Trubisky is simply not a starting QB you want to see throwing to one of your top WR, and with the Pickett-to-Pickens connection looking real, Johnson slipped in 2022. Many another year at camp and a relationship between Johnson and his QB will help. Look for the lesser 2022 stats to improve in 2023, leading me the believe Johnson will be a little bit of a value.
Like Jonathan Taylor disappointing in 2022 (see last week’s article: RB busts), his teammate, Michael Pittman, was also a huge disappointment based on the draft capital it took to land him. NOTE: I selected him at 3.02, and he certainly did not return that value. Or did he? Coming off a promising rookie season (40-503-1), Pittman exploded in year two with 88 catches for 1,082 yards and six TDs (129 targets). If I would have told you going into the 2022 season that both Pittman’s targets and catches were going up, you would have been ecstatic to land him, as I did, as your WR2.
Context is important, so even though his targets went up by 12 and his catches by 11, somehow his TDs decreased by 50% and his yardage dipped by more than 150 yards. I keep looking at the numbers assuming they must be wrong, but then I recall watching the Colts play, noting just how bad that offense was outside of the first half of the Vikings game. Then, I remember the Vikings game saw two TDs from the DST vice the offense. Truth be told, the Colts were an abomination on offense and Pittman, somehow with 99 catches, was a key part of that.
How is a 99-catch season a disappointment? How about only two games over 75 yards? How about only three TDs during the fantasy football season (the fourth TD was in Week 18 when it did not matter)? How about a mind-blowing ten weeks between his first and second receiving TD? Are you serious? This is my WR2 on a stacked team? He felt like a must-start based on draft position, but I started sitting him in favor of Chris Olave around Week 6, which turned out to be a good decision, but man, oh man, 99 catches and a disappointment just does not make sense unless you really dive into those 99 catches as I did above. I just need to stop trying to figure it out and understand it is what it is. Pittman, moving into 2023, should come at a massive discount, but I am probably out unless the Colts bring in a QB I trust much more than Matt Ryan. Hint….that name is NOT Sam Ehlinger!
Headed into the 2022 draft season, I had Brandin Cooks on my radar as a solid WR3/4 option. Cooks seemed to always be the WR who killed me when I played against him. He seemed to always command the ball and put up big stats in our match-ups. I was able to land him as my WR4 and was giddy like a schoolgirl about the possibilities. Little did I know how bad Davis Mills and the other 14 Houston QBs could be coupled with Cooks heading down the WR Diva path mid-season. Cooks was not good in 2022, posting his third-lowest catch/yard total and his second-worst TD figure.
In looking back at Cooks since his 2014 rookie year, I noticed his catches were not where I had assumed they were. Would you be surprised to know Cooks has never had a 100-catch season? In fact, he has only had one 90-catch season (2021). That recency bias (most catches in one season) may have led to my over-appreciation of Cooks. Now, on the positive side, Cooks is a target hog logging six seasons of 114+ targets, and he has turned those targets into six 1,000+ yard seasons. The TDs have never been huge, but in full-PPR settings, Cooks has always been a nice WR to round out your corps group. Well, 2022 was simply different. Cooks was not good, and I am probably out on him for 2023 based on the QB position in Houston, and the diva-esque approach Cooks took to the 2022 season. Let someone else make the mistake.
Allen Robinson had a chance to play with Aaron Rodgers and took the money instead…TWICE! Leaving Jacksonville, the Packers were in play for Robinson and each time, he took the money over winning by signing with the Bears and Rams. Sure, the Rams had just come off their Super Bowl victory, but let’s be honest, the Rams leveraged their future for the big game win. Good immediate results, but not a good long-term plan for success. Robinson had an incredible 2015 season (80-1400-14) and has only approached those numbers twice, with Chicago in back-to-back seasons (2019-20).
Injuries and a lack of viable QB play in Los Angeles doomed Robinson, who did not see more than seven targets or five catches in any game in 2022. Think about that from a legit NFL WR on the other side of Cooper Kupp, who could not make it happen. With Kupp seeing a lot of attention, Robinson should have feasted against second-line DBs, but it just did not click for him in the pass-heavy Rams offense. For a guy drafted up the board, he was far from a top-flight WR option. The injuries finally took their toll after Week 11, and he did not suit up again in 2022.
Additional bust-worthy WR names:
DJ Moore – Carolina was not good, and their QB carousel did not help Moore’s chances though he did have some nice games down the stretch.
Deebo Samuel – Fun to watch, but outside of one 75-yard TD catch (mostly RAC), his season was lackluster at best.
Tee Higgins – Solid final numbers, but do not forget the two games he suited up and was slated to play only to end up as DNP after fantasy lineups were locked.
Courtland Sutton – Can we just admit Russell Wilson is far from the answer in Denver?
Darnell Mooney – Chicago cannot throw the ball. End of analysis.
Elijah Moore – Zach Wilson is not good at QB.
Gabriel Davis – Some had Davis as their sleeper/break-out WR for 2022. That did not age well.
Rashod Bateman – Injuries derailed his season and certainly did not help Lamar.
Adam Thielen – Looks like 2021 was the last time we will see Thielen with solid numbers. I see him as being done in Minnesota.
Thank you for hanging around the Razzball water cooler with us during the 2022 fantasy season. We will be around during the off-season with both articles and podcasts. Look for us on the Razzball YouTube site and drop your questions both here and there. Remember, your 2023 fantasy football season draft prep starts as soon as the playoffs are complete. Guess what? Those playoffs are complete, so get to work.
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It’s so painful to admit this, but I get the feeling the Thielen’s done as well.
May make it even tougher for Jefferson to free himself up next year if they don’t grab a good replacement for AT.
Thanks for the write-up.
What’s up Jolt! Good to have you back. I think AT is done. He was a solid play in 2021 and has been a red/end zone threat. In 2022 he just was not the same dude. I do like Osborn and think he’s a good option but they will need at least one additional WR in place when AT moves on.
what that CIN coach did to higgins owners (whew, i’m not one anywhere, lucky for me) was worse than a few years ago with mixon (mixon owner i had/have been/am) when he was DTD (coach’s quote as late as thurs the first week) then that turned out to be like him missing 8-9 consecutive weeks or whatever it was. everybody remember anytime he says anything and what it’s really worth.
only one of these guys that burned me badly was d-jo, owned him in tons of spots. he seemed nice and ADP cheap compared to expected production. really ugly that one spot i had him i also had b.cooks and thielen (didn’t have to start all 3 almost ever). also have b.cooks and thielen (but not together, whew) in 2 other separate dynasties. a-rob i learned my lesson last year, he was garbage on CHI and it wasn’t just the CHI QB situation/lack of throwing on CHI. every time i watched a CHI game there he was out there looking pretty bad. didn’t look any better early this year when LAR were healthy. i guess i’m glad his ADP didn’t fall even more as if that happened i might’ve had some a-rob this year. also didn’t have any IND players this year at all, JT i almost never draft in that range (except for this year in the 2 spots where it’s random i got the 1.2 in both and got CMC in both), pittman seemed too ADP expensive, p.campbell i’ve learned my lesson (outside of like a short term WR 6-7 in deep BN leagues, and rarely) finally (and this year was his “best” year too, for what that says about him). only had hines in one spot (which is a big improvement compared to last year) and not for long.