Before the fantasy football season starts, we all think we know everything, right? We’ve seen all of the expert rankings – including our very own Razzball rankings – and we’ve made our own personal determinations based on personnel, coaching staffs, analytics and those magical gut feelings that lead us to the Promised Land. We’re so prepared. We can’t miss. Fantasy Football Busts 2022.
Then the season starts, and all hell breaks loose. Football is simply too violent and unpredictable for things to go as planned. That said, let’s jump into the biggest busts of the 2022 fantasy football season (two per position).
Quarterback Busts – We’re pumped about Denver’s blockbuster trade!
Runner-up: Matthew Stafford
Biggest bust: Russell Wilson
When Peyton Manning retired from the NFL, he left a hole in the Broncos’ organization the size of Antonio Brown’s ego. Of course, we all know what came next, the parade of laughingstocks and disappointments, including Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, Joe Flacco and Drew Lock, amongst others. So when Denver finally made a bold move and traded for nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, everyone understandably got excited, including many members of our fantasy football community.
What we didn’t realize is that Seattle’s organization and faithful were the ones who were rightfully excited. Wilson had worn out his welcome with the Seahawks for a number of different reasons, and his play on the field was already declining. Yet, we had him ranked as the No. 8 fantasy quarterback heading into this season, ahead of the likes of Tom Brady, Tua Tagovailoa and Dak Prescott, to name drop a few. Now, by comparison, Wilson sits as the No. 21 fantasy QB, shockingly behind Marcus Mariota, Jared Goff and Jacoby Brissett.
So what went wrong? Well, if Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are the “dream” QB-Coach combo, Wilson and Nathaniel Hackett represent the deepest and darkest nightmares of John Carpenter and Tim Burton. Hackett is completely overmatched and out of his depth, while Wilson’s arm strength and mental preparation simply aren’t what they used to be. It was a match made in hell. On the bright side? We nailed six of the top seven fantasy QBs in our preseason rankings.
Running Back Busts – Jonathan Taylor is an “obvious” No. 1 overall selection
Runner-up: Najee Harris
Biggest bust: Jonathan Taylor
I’m tellin’ ya… we could have seen this coming with Jonathan Taylor. I know he checks all of the boxes in theory – third-year RB in his physical prime coming off a monstrous season – but what about considerations for the overall explosivity of a team’s offense?
Somehow, people were excited about the Colts’ acquisition of washed-up Matt Ryan, so concerns about Indy’s lack of offensive balance were floating under the radar, if anywhere. Now, after going as the consensus No. 1 overall pick in most fantasy drafts, “JT” sits as the No. 37 RB, stunningly behind the likes of Jeff Wilson, Eno Benjamin and Kenyan Drake, who got released by the lowly Las Vegas Raiders before the season!
In fairness, however, Taylor has been dealing with an ankle injury. Still, nine weeks into the season, he only has one notably strong performance, which came in the Colts’ opener against the bottom-tier Texans. But, any way we slice it, Jonathan Taylor has been a team killer.
Wide Receiver Busts – Three for the price of one
Biggest bust: Deebo Samuel
It pains me to anoint Deebo as the biggest bust at the wide receiver position because he happens to be one of my favorite players in the entire league. But, to do the job properly, we have to separate our personal biases in this business. Let’s just get real about Deebo Samuel — we ranked him as the No. 5 WR before the season when in reality, he’s currently ranked 32nd. This is improper ROI, the type of return that can sink a fantasy team that has struggled to plug holes with successful waiver wire claims.
So what the heck happened here? Well, Deebo is currently dealing with a hamstring injury, not to mention the other mouths to feed in San Fran, including George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and now Christian McCaffrey, a fantasy football legend. Fluctuation at the quarterback position never helps, either; the Niners started the season with sophomore Trey Lance under center, but now they are led by veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. All things considered, the San Francisco 49ers haven’t been playing up to par, either. It’s been a mixed bag of impediments to Deebo Samuel’s production, but the simple reality is that he hasn’t performed to the level we expected.
Tight End Busts – I’m not even going to make the “Pitts” pun
Runner-up: Darren Waller
Biggest bust: Kyle Pitts
This one has to be the head-scratcher of the season. Kyle Pitts is the highest-drafted tight end in the history of the NFL. He’s 6’6″, 246 pounds, long, graceful and crazy athletic. The Atlanta Falcons lost former WR1 Calvin Ridley for the season after he bet on NFL games in 2021. The door was wide open for targets galore.
Then Arthur Smith happened. The pre-narrative was that the Falcons could be a tank-type team, one looking to secure high draft picks and improve upon their overall talent pool. But Smith — actually, to his credit, in my opinion — refused to think that way about his squad. In his professional opinion, the Falcons would be most successful deploying Marcus Mariota as a game manager, one who would — more often than not — be handing the ball off to Cordarrelle Patterson, Tyler Allgeier and/or Caleb Huntley. And, well, here the Falcons are — somehow tied for first place in the NFC South with Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Bucs.
But we don’t care about any of that for fantasy! We wanted 10 targets a game for Pitts! Of course, that hasn’t happened, and our preseason TE2 currently rests as the TE20. Maybe we meant to add a zero after that two in the preseason?
Tune in next time for my most pleasant surprises of the fantasy football season.
John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NFL for 18 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things football throughout another action-packed season.