Compiling a bust list for Fantasy Football should be at least a little bit of torture for a Fantasy analyst. Sure, you can choose to put the highest drafted quarterback on the list (I did), and you may even get away with a couple of mid-round veterans who are obvious regression candidates (I did that too), but at the heart of every bust column there should be at least a couple of superstars who you have to bet against.
And that should be uncomfortable.
Harris was one of only three running backs in the NFL to score 300 PPR Fantasy points in 2022, and he did it as a rookie. Adams has finished first or second at wide receiver each of the past two years and was fifth per-game in 2019 and first per-game in 2018. These are super-duper-stars, who are both consensus top-10 picks according to Fantasy Pros PPR ADP.
That ADP both emboldens me and gives me pause. For one thing, it seems like the whole world disagrees with my evaluation of their 2022. On the other hand, you can have a pretty good season and still bust as a top-10 pick. Just remember, I don’t think these guys are terrible, or will end up on the waiver wire. I do think they’re very unlikely to justify their current ADP and their floor is much lower than people are accounting for.
While both players will have new quarterbacks in 2022, we’ll start with Harris because I’m most convinced he’s being over-drafted. While Harris did finish RB3 overall last year that was mostly on the back of compiling and playing 17 games. On a per-game basis he was RB8 and I’m concerned he could be worse in 2022. So much of Harris’ value was wrapped up in the fact that he led all running backs in catches with 74. That was largely because the Steelers threw the ball 664 times.
I project a massive decrease in pass attempts regardless of who wins the competition between Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. Both are far more mobile than Roethlisberger, and mobile quarterbacks are more likely to take off and run or try to extend the play with their feet. Roethlisberger was content to get the ball out of his hands as fast as possible. The tendency also makes it likely that the share of running back targets decreases as well as the total volume of targets.
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The problem for Harris is that we don’t really have any reason to expect this offense or offensive line to be significantly better, so there’s little reason to expect an increase in efficiency or touchdowns that would make up for his decrease in targets. Unfortunately, he’s being drafted as RB5 ahead of backs like Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, and Aaron Jones. I’d rather have all three, and I wouldn’t draft Harris before Round 2.
Adams, who left the Packers to join his friend Derek Carr in Las Vegas, has more of a circumstantial bust case. I assume everyone would expect a small downgrade in efficiency from Adams. Carr isn’t Aaron Rodgers after all. But at least in terms of efficiency metrics, the only real difference between the two the past three years is in the area of touchdowns and interceptions.
Rodgers has produced a 6.8% touchdown rate while Carr’s has lagged well behind at 4.3%. In that same three-year stretch, Adams has scored on 7.6% of his targets. League average last year was 4.5%, and it seems fair to expect Carr to be better with Adams, which is why I boosted Carr to 5.0% in 2022 projections, while Adams fell to 5.9%. Last year a 5.9% rate would have only cost Adams one touchdown over the season based on his 169 targets. But that last number brings us to our biggest concern.
No other Packer has more than 68 targets in a season over the past three years. Adams has thoroughly dominated targets, averaging 10.6 per game. In Las Vegas he’ll be joined by Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. They earned a combined 221 targets for the Raiders last year, and Waller missed six games. Furthermore, Josh McDaniels offense has a much longer history of targeting slot receivers and tight ends than it does outside wide receivers. McDaniels will alter that, I have no doubt, but Renfrow and Waller will not be used like Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan.
All that’s to say that I project Adams for 148 targets this season and that feels closer to his ceiling than his floor. Assuming his catch rate and yards per catch remain steady, he could still be worth a Round 2 pick if he matches the touchdown rate I suggested above. But it was just three years ago that Adams posted a 3.9% TD rate and only averaged 7.9 yards per target. If that happens, Adams will not be worth a Round 3 pick.
Here are the rest of my busts for 2022: