The biggest fantasy football busts entering the 2022 NFL season

As important as finding out who the breakout players in fantasy football will be is knowing which players to avoid. These 20 draft killers are players to avoid entering 2022.


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Brady had a busy offseason, retiring and unretiring, as he tries to win yet another Super Bowl. Some of his supporting cast has changed, with Rob Gronkowski gone, and new head coach Todd Bowles could take a more conservative approach on offense than Bruce Arians. With the added doubts about Chris Godwin’s health entering the season, Brady has a lot going against him to match his recent history.


James Conner, RB, Cardinals

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Conner had a breakout season with Arizona, making the Pro Bowl with over 1,100 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns. He could be set for an even bigger workload with Chase Edmonds out of the picture, though the injury history suggests Conner is a major risk to repeat. Last season was only the first time he’s played 15 games, and he’s been injured every season of his career without having a bell-cow role.


Amari Cooper, WR, Browns

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Cooper was shipped away from Dallas to become the Browns No. 1 wideout. He showed some slight decline in recent seasons and would take an even bigger hit if Deshaun Watson is suspended for his off-field troubles. The more conservative Cleveland offense also comes as a disadvantage.


J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ravens

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Baltimore has a bevy of running backs on the roster after an injury-ravaged 2021 season, including a season-ending injury for Dobbins. While he’s considered the lead back with a top 50 average draft position, Dobbins has a lot of competition in what could be another committee that includes Gus Edwards, Mike Davis, and rookie Tyler Badie.


Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys

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Elliott is a superstar, but at this point, his name outweighs his production. He’s averaged around four yards per carry over the last two seasons and needed all 17 games to reach 1,000 yards rushing last year. Tony Pollard has been a more productive runner than Elliott recently and could eventually replace him.


Justin Fields, QB, Bears

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Fields’ versatility as a runner makes him an intriguing fantasy option, but the Bears haven’t done him any favors. They failed to upgrade the offensive line, and also didn’t add a star addition at wideout after losing Allen Robinson. Fields is set up for failure once again.


Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders

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Jacobs has never fulfilled the hype as a former first-round pick, averaging only 4.2 yards per carry over his first three seasons. New head coach Josh McDaniels has no incentive to stick with Jacobs, considering he didn’t draft the running back, and the former Pats assistant has also shown a penchant for throwing the ball. There are big risks for Jacobs in his walk year.


Jerry Jeudy, WR, Broncos

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Jeudy is a popular sleeper with the addition of Russell Wilson, potentially shooting his name up on draft boards. However,  the wideout has seen his fair share of struggles in two seasons and could be the Broncos No. 3 receiving option if Tim Patrick continues to produce. Drafted as a top 70 pick, Jeudy isn’t worth the price.


Mac Jones, QB, Patriots

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Jones had a tremendous rookie season, though he still wasn’t more than a backup in fantasy football. That’s unlikely to change after an offseason in which the Patriots were mostly stagnant on offense, failing to add any big-time weapons beyond DeVante Parker. The loss of coordinator Josh McDaniels and lack of a proven replacement also hurts.


D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seahawks

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Metcalf showed major regression last season with Russell Wilson missing significant time. After finishing with over 1,300 yards in 2020, he failed to crack 1,000 yards last season. The current quarterback duo of Geno Smith and Drew Lock doesn’t leave much reason for optimism, but Metcalf’s draft stock is still that of a superstar.


Elijah Mitchell, RB, 49ers

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Mitchell was a surprise breakout player in his rookie season, emerging as San Francisco’s starting back and accumulating 100 yards per game. He enters the year as the team’s primary ball carrier, but if the history of Kyle Shanahan has shown us anything, it’s that running backs are replaceable. The team drafted Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round, and also still have Jeff Wilson, Trey Sermon, and JaMycal Hasty on the roster. Many a fantasy manager has been burned drafting the highest-priced Shanahan running back, and that could happen again in 2022.


Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Falcons

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Patterson was one of the biggest surprises of 2021, becoming Atlanta’s top running back with over 1,100 yards from scrimmage. He’s tops on the depth chart again, but it’s a lot to ask for a repeat in his age 31 season and after the loss of Matt Ryan.


Hunter Renfrow, WR, Raiders

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Renfrow could be the lasting holdover of the Jon Gruden era after signing a contract extension. He’s coming off a breakout year with 103 receptions for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns, but much of that production came after the Raiders cut Henry Ruggs and Darren Waller was injured. With the addition of Davante Adams and a healthy Waller, Renfrow should be back in his complementary role.


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James Robinson, RB, Jaguars

James Robinson, RB, Jaguars

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Robinson has been a revelation for the Jags in his first two NFL seasons, though he’s also missed time to injuries. Jacksonville now has a new coaching staff, and Robinson could be set to lose playing time to 2021 first-round pick Travis Etienne.


Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

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Rodgers has won back-to-back MVPs, but winning the award again this season could be much more difficult after the Packers lost their top two wideouts. While likely to still be very productive, Rodgers’ draft value could be too hefty given the risks of new faces and rookies as his weapons.


Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers

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Samuel was everything for the 49ers offense last season, finishing the regular season with 136 touches and 18.2 yards per reception. Relying on a repeat could be very difficult, as Samuel has a long history in both college and the NFL, plus a rookie quarterback in Trey Lance.


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DeVonta Smith, WR, Eagles

DeVonta Smith, WR, Eagles

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Smith’s talent is clear, but his situation was made much more difficult by the addition of A.J. Brown. The former Heisman Trophy winner is no longer the top receiver on his team, and that especially creates a problem in a run-heavy offense.


Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Lions

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St. Brown had a terrific rookie season with 90 catches for 912 yards and five scores. The talent is clear, but it should also be mentioned that Detroit didn’t have many viable options at receiver last season. That’s changed in the offseason after the team signed D.J. Chark and drafted Jameson Williams in the first round.


Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans

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Tannehill has rarely been employed as a fantasy starter, but he now runs the risk of being unrosterable. The team traded superstar A.J. Brown and could lean on the run even more than in recent seasons.


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Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

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Thomas had a historic 2019 season, but he’s missed the majority of the last two years. The Saints have their fingers crossed that Thomas is finally healthy, but they have also added Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave in the offseason. With Drew Brees also long gone, selecting Thomas in the top 100 comes with major risk. 

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