The term 'bust' is relative. Rare is the player I refuse to draft regardless of round. When I think of a bust, I think of a guy I wouldn't draft at his average draft position. If I can get him after that point, that's different. I'd take my enemy's cat in Round 17 if I thought it would help my Fantasy team win.
Last year's busts were either laughable or stunningly on point.
I cringe seeing C.J. Spiller, Robert Griffin, Andre Johnson and Reggie Bush written about as busts last year. For whatever it's worth I did say Spiller would be a "dynamo" if Fred Jackson got hurt, that RG3 would have weeks where he'd put up "solid numbers" but that his "sleek frame" was part of his downfall, and that I "can't help but think (Johnson will) have a good season in helping Houston make a playoff run" but not be worth the Round 2 price tag. Bush I flat out whiffed on.
The other seven guys -- especially Miles Austin and Kenny Britt, right down to their projections -- were good calls. I'm learning from last year and coming out swinging this year with another 10 names who are good but not good enough to draft on par with their averages.
Note: I had Tom Brady and Russell Wilson originally as busts based on ADP, but not anymore. Some might say I'm chickening out. To them I say "Bawk-bawk." The Patriots have reloaded to the point where Brady has a realistic chance of maintaining his three-year statistical average of 4,654 yards and 36.3 touchdowns. Wilson also has the look of a quarterback who can get by with his current receiving corps and still be productive. I am fine calling Brady a Top 5 quarterback who might actually get drafted as a relative bargain. While I wouldn't reach for Wilson, I wouldn't call him a bust based on his 73.36 draft average.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: Some people rank Cutler among the top sleepers in Fantasy because of new coach Marc Trestman bringing his version of the West Coast offense to Chicago. In time, Trestman's playbook could make a 4,000-yard passer out of Cutler, but it seems unlikely this year. He didn't have a good training camp and his preseason began inauspiciously with two interceptions, a fumble that a teammate recovered and three sacks taken. There seems to be a disconnect of sorts between Cutler and Trestman and until it's solved, he's not going to be a great Fantasy weapon. He's also due to start the season against three tough pass rushes: Cincinnati, Minnesota and Pittsburgh. You can do better with a late-round quarterback pickup.
I'd rather draft: Sam Bradford, Matt Schaub, Josh Freeman
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: You know the name and expect big games, but he's got a chance to come up lame. A changed receiving corps combined with a refreshed philosophy on the run game might hurt his production, from pass attempts to completion percentage. Mike Wallace cashed a big check in Miami, eliminating the big deep threat the Steelers need for Big Ben to be great. Heath Miller was Roethlisberger's security blanket last year but isn't likely to be as explosive coming off of a torn ACL. It leaves Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders as Roethlisberger's best receiving threats -- neither one has proven to be a legitimate weapon for defenses to get scared of. Moreover, the Steelers are going to demand more of their run game, which means more handoffs for Roethlisberger. Like Cutler, Big Ben is just not expected to be good enough to draft over some other passers you'll look at in the late rounds. I haven't drafted Roethlisberger to any of my Fantasy teams this summer.
I'd rather draft: Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer
Andre Brown, RB, Giants: Count me in the David Wilson camp for the Giants' running back workload race. Brown looks like the better bargain on Draft Day but questions about his durability have followed him since college. Brown hurt his left foot in 2007 and again in the spring of 2008 (but didn't miss any college games). He ruptured his Achilles in 2009, had a minor toe injury in 2010, was out of the league in 2011 and had a concussion, minor shoulder ailment and a broken fibula in 2012. It's too bad because Brown is a pretty good talent with the size to be an effective goal-line rusher, but he'd need a serious Wilson injury and his own body to stay strong to ever get a chance at being the primary running back for the Giants. Don't overdraft him.
I'd rather draft: Mark Ingram, Ronnie Hillman, DeAngelo Williams
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: I think it's gutsy to take Gore with a third-round pick, which is what his draft average is as of now. Most people gravitate toward Gore because of his familiar name and steady production (at least 1,200 total yards each of the last seven seasons) but we've seen his reps dwindle under coach Jim Harbaugh at about a carry on average per year. We've also seen him become less of a weapon as a receiver -- he had 46 catches in 2010 (pre-Harbaugh) and 45 catches combined under Harbaugh in 2011 and 2012. There's going to be a conscious effort to keep Gore fresh as he not only turned 30 in May but went over 2,000 carries during the Super Bowl last year. Besides, the year after a Super Bowl run isn't so good for running backs in the first place. I'm fine with taking Gore as my Flex in Round 4 or beyond, so long as I find Kendall Hunter with one of my last picks. But, I'm settling for Gore, not trying hard to land him.
I'd rather draft: Lamar Miller, David Wilson, Roddy White
Chris Ivory, RB, Jets: If you're into running backs who play a few weeks, then get hurt, then come back and play, then get hurt again, Ivory's your man. Only once in his last seven years of playing football has Ivory managed to string together more than five consecutive games of action. As a pro he's totaled 15 or more carries seven times, doing it in consecutive games just one time over three years. The laundry list of injuries Ivory has dealt with include a season-ending knee injury in 2009, another knee injury, a concussion and a Lisfranc in 2010, a sports hernia and a hamstring in 2011 and a hamstring again in 2012. Oh, and he missed 17 days of Jets training camp with a hamstring this summer. And, by the way, the Jets' offense is a mess. He's going to be a headache to own this season. Bilal Powell is the Jets running back you want.
I'd rather draft: DeAngelo Williams, Mark Ingram, Bilal Powell
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: Anyone who suggests McFadden as a nice No. 2 running back is blind. Not only is he a walking injury risk but he happens to be the only decent offensive weapon on a team loaded with weaknesses. That puts the target squarely on him and I'm not sure he's good enough to consistently beat eight in the box Adrian Peterson-style. Moreover, everything else about Oakland is brutal. The offensive line is beat up already, sporting two has-beens at the tackle spots. The receiving corps has potential but with Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor and Tyler Wilson making up the quarterback group, the passing game doesn't look good. The defense has a lot of holes and could mean a lot of playing from behind. Nothing makes McFadden appealing other than his contract-year status, but that's meaningless if he can't play 16 games.
I'd rather draft: David Wilson, Darren Sproles, Le'Veon Bell
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots: Call me a nerd or a worrywart or whatever, but there's nothing the Patriots can say or do to change the fact that Amendola is an injury risk. Last year alone he had an ankle injury, a dislocated clavicle and an heel injury that needed a walking boot. The year before he dislocated his elbow and tore his triceps. Amendola has proved this preseason that he's a dynamic version of Wes Welker -- able to run incredible routes both in the short area and deeper down the field. Tom Brady will go to him often, particularly when an opponent is ignorant enough to cover him with a linebacker or inadequate cornerback. So long as he's on the field he's going to be a stat machine. But it feels like he's tough to count on for more than a dozen games. That makes him too risky, even for me, with a pick at 54th overall or higher.
I'd rather draft: Pierre Garcon, Eric Decker, James Jones
Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings: Rich, old and slow is the way to go through life if you're retired or the man behind pogs, but it's not good if you're a football player. Jennings has missed part of the last two seasons with injuries and jumps from the Packers and Aaron Rodgers to the Vikings and Christian Ponder. That's like leaving a free meal at Quality Meats for the White Castle drive-thru. And while I love a good slider (double with cheese of course), I'd rather have the bone-in ribeye. Rodgers is the ribeye, Ponder is the slider and Jennings has enough dough from the Vikings to feed himself as much of whatever he wants without caring about hoisting a championship. Don't be surprised if teams start to worry more about rookie Cordarrelle Patterson than Greg Jennings by the time the season finishes up.
I'd rather draft: Michael Floyd, Chris Givens, Justin Blackmon
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: Nicks has quite a medical record and has had trouble staying healthy over the last calendar year. He missed time already in training camp with a groin pull and seemingly dragged his feet to get back on the field, raising the ire of coach Tom Coughlin. That leads me to believe that Nicks is worried about getting hurt in his contract year, kind of like DeSean Jackson did in Philadelphia a couple of years back. Nicks might realize that if he gets hurt again he'll jeopardize his chances of getting paid a lot of money. He'd be right -- no team will roll out the Benjamins for a player who breaks his foot in an offseason practice or comes up lame in a training camp drill. That's Nicks, and after playing last season at less than 100 percent we saw a player who was masterful in one game and mostly a disappointment in the rest. Someone else can draft Nicks in my Fantasy leagues.
I'd rather draft: DeSean Jackson, Antonio Brown, Cecil Shorts
Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: When camp started there appeared to be more mojo in the Dolphins' new logo than there was between Wallace and Ryan Tannehill. Their timing was off and questions arose over just how effective Wallace would be. In recent preseason play the two have started to hook up more, and that's all well and good, but I'm not buying. Wallace figures to be next in a long line of receivers who underwhelm after landing a lot of guaranteed money with a new team. Tannehill isn't as good as you might think, his pass protection is iffy and even though the Dolphins will be in a lot of games where they'll need to pass, you can bet your stone crab claws that defenses will try to eliminate Wallace first. That's a lot easier to do in Miami than it was in Pittsburgh. I'd be stunned if Wallace wound up with over 1,000 yards.
I'd rather draft: Cecil Shorts, T.Y. Hilton, Tavon Austin