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Players That Could Be Fantasy Football Busts in 2021

| July 18, 2021 6:18 am PDT

The last NFL season was strange for everyone. It was weird for the fans, it was different for sports bettors, and it certainly felt a bit off in fantasy football, too.

There was plenty of confusion and unexpected happenings, and injuries added to the pain. Anyone who drafted Saquon Barkley or Christian McCaffrey in the first round last season knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Looking to 2021, guys like that could be fantasy football bust candidates. Needless to say, there also may be guys you might want to avoid in 2021 fantasy drafts.

Do either of them make the list for the 7 fantasy football busts to avoid in 2021 drafts? Read on to find out.

Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants

Barkey is a freak athlete and a fantasy football god – I get it. However, he shredded his knee last year and was limited to just two games.

It was a bad injury in general, but Barkley also sustained damage to his meniscus and PCL, in addition to an ACL tear. He’s a 24-year old athletic phenom, so it’s not at all unrealistic to just shrug all that off.

In theory, a healthy Barkley has a massive role and offers league-winning upside.

However, that’s still a huge injury, Barkley still plays for a suspect offensive team in the New York Giants, and New York’s offensive line is a big question mark.

Barkley hasn’t been his usual amazing self consistently with Daniel Jones running the show, either, while it’s unclear how quickly Barkley will be back to handling all of the touches for the G-Men.

Again, this is Saquon Barkley we’re talking about. He went off as a rookie despite a lot of these concerns, and he was still plenty useful in year two. But you’re taking on considerable risk in the middle of the first round in most 2021 fantasy football drafts.

At that cost, he is a major fantasy football-bust candidate.

A.J. Brown, WR, Titans

Once Corey Davis left for the Big Apple, anyone who had A.J. Brown shares in dynasty leagues got excited. And heading into 2021 redraft leagues, Brown’s upside was clear.

Brown still has a very high ceiling in a dynamic Titans offense, but it’s tough to ignore the potential cap to it with the arrival of Julio Jones.

A healthy Jones is technically still one of the top receivers in all of football, which in theory would be reason enough to take a good amount of action away from Brown.

Jones being on the field also frees him up, so this debate could honestly go back and forth.

But Jones is a better player than Corey Davis, and Brown no longer has this passing game all to himself. Needless to say, after finishing last year as the 9th best receiver in most fantasy leagues, Brown’s current 2nd round ADP feels a tad steep all of a sudden.

Aaron Jones, RB, Packers

This is one of the most obvious 2021 fantasy football busts worth debating. There are a few reasons to fall out of love with Aaron Jones.

I’ll list them off for you here.

  • The Aaron Rodgers Saga
  • A.J. Dillon’s Rise
  • Defenses Adjusting
  • Soft Tissue Injuries
  • That Massive Contract

Individually, a lot of this can be explained away and may not be that scary. Jones could smash once again if Aaron Rodgers stays in town; while there is a solid argument, he could do so even if he doesn’t.

Dillon could actually compliment him and keep him fresh, or he could just be a strict backup that fails to threaten him. Defenses could try to adjust to Matt LaFleur’s brilliant system, and maybe they just fail.

Those pesky soft tissue injuries Jones has dealt with in the past could pop up in mild fashion, or they could not be an issue at all.

And that hefty contract? That could serve as motivation for Jones to just ball out even more.

I do think all of these things are problematic as a collective, though, while there is a pretty good breakdown of how running backs fail to deliver after signing big contracts.

This could be an isolated situation, but Jones is a tiny dude, and everything else here isn’t being made up.

There is a serious amount of risk for a guy with first-round ADP right now.

Kenny Golladay, WR, Giants

It isn’t a major reach to list Giants skill position players as possible 2021 fantasy busts. New York hasn’t been reliable on offense for ages, so the math checks out.

This one is a bit more interesting, though, seeing as Kenny Golladay is easily the most talented receiver Big Blue signed on in quite some time.

The bad news is the Giants just don’t have anything for us to latch onto and feel good about. Daniel Jones has flashed ability, but he’s also spread the ball around fairly well, and he’s never been able to produce consistently.

None of that sounds particularly great for Golladay, who is coming off of a lost year due to injury. He also joins that weird group of players who both got paid and left the only team they ever knew.

Historically, that’s a bad combination.

Golladay isn’t as big of a risk as some of these other potential 2021 fantasy football busts, though. You’d only be tempting the fantasy gods with a round-five pick in most drafts.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders

I want only good things for Josh Jacobs. He’s yet to consistently prove himself as a receiver, and he’s had health issues, but the kid is otherwise a total menace with the ball in his hands.

When he’s able to be fed, Jacobs has often crushed, and we saw it in 2020 when he finished the year as fantasy football’s 8th best RB.

How do the Raiders reward him? By siphoning his pass-catching duties with the arrival of Kenyan Drake.

I do still think Las Vegas has every intention of riding Jacobs as their main guy but paying Drake a fat sum of cash isn’t something they did on a whim.

That tells us, at a minimum, they want Drake on the field in clear passing situations, and/or they want to keep Jacobs fresh. That’s good for Jacobs and the Raiders but not ideal for fantasy owners.

There is still a top-10 upside here because Jacobs is awesome, and it’s arguable the risk is now baked into his round three ADP. I just don’t know if I can stomach it.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

I love me some Aaron Rodgers, and I certainly enjoyed all of the touchdown lobs he lofted down the field en route to his third career NFL MVP last year.

A-Rod was money in the bank, while he and Davante Adams form one of the best QB-WR duos in the NFL.

That’s if he opts to stick in Green Bay, that is.

The Aaron Rodgers drama has been well documented, but it’s gone nowhere. Here we are, inching closer to the start of the 2021 NFL season, and nobody has a clue what this guy is going to do.

Even when asked about it during The Match, Rodgers decided to dodge questions. We’ll find out eventually, but there’s so much risk involved here. Consider the following.

  • Rodgers’ injury history
  • His age (37)
  • Uncertain future
  • Tough season to repeat

Rodgers is no spring chicken at 37, and he has a history of soft tissue and bone injuries. That’s a bad combination as he gets older.

Throw in the uncertainty, plus the natural regression after a career year, and investing an early pick in Rodgers feels like a mistake waiting to happen.

A healthy and focused Rodgers is still a scary thing for the rest of the NFL, but you’ll need to take the plunge by round six if you want him. I do have interest, but it’d need to be 3-4 rounds later.

James Robinson, RB, Jaguars

One more player I will look to avoid in 2021 fantasy football is cult hero James Robinson. The guy was such a fun story last year and for so many reasons.

Jacksonville was a mess in their offensive backfield, as they cut loose Leonard Fournette, and the next guy up was sidelined with COVID-19. In came Robinson, the versatile unknown that went undrafted.

Robinson ended up being the steal of all steals, as he piled up over 200 fantasy points in just 14 games.

He finished 2020 as the 7th best fantasy back, and dynasty brethren thought they hit the motherload.

Insert Urban Meyer, and the Jags hit the reset button with the selection of Clemson phenom Travis Etienne.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean Robinson’s days as a lead rusher are over. In fact, there is word out of Jacksonville leaning hard on a run-heavy system with three backs getting touches.

Here’s what Meyer had to say about their approach to 2021.

“We wanna be top eight in the league [in rushing]. And with James Robinson, Hyde, and Etienne, we think we’re there.”

Keep in mind that this is the franchise that is breaking in yet another rookie quarterback and is giving Tim Tebow a job. The Jaguars – and Meyer – simply can’t be trusted, and Robinson now has to share his steak with another uber-talented dog.

His round six ADP lessens the sting, but Robinson is not the full-blown feature back you grew to love.

Avoiding Fantasy Football Busts in 2021

Everyone wants to nail their first-round pick, they want to snag some quality fantasy football sleepers, and they definitely want a team that can win a title.

But just as badly as they want all of that, they also want to avoid those massive fantasy football busts that can derail their season.

Some fantasy busts can’t be avoided. C-Mac is a great option at #1 this year, and the case was the same a year ago. Injuries happen, and sometimes we simply can’t project them.

Fantasy managers can note prior injury history, news, offensive systems, and roles going into the new year. Whether all of that combines to lower a player’s ceiling – or there is just one glaring issue – the writing can often be on the wall before we even select a player.

Hopefully, this list of 2021 fantasy football busts saves you from unnecessary strife this season. At the very least, I hope you at least think twice before clicking on each player.

Ready to draft your 2021 fantasy football squad? Not so fast. Be sure to brush up on more 2021 fantasy football advice through the content below.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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