News & Analysis

Biggest free agent busts for fantasy in the last decade

With NFL free agency set to kick off next week, we’re about to get our first glimpse of what the 2020 fantasy football landscape will look like. The NFL Draft is also going to play a big factor, but this year’s free agency has the potential to be one of the most impactful we’ve seen in recent memory. Of course, as history has shown, players switching teams in free agency isn’t always the best thing for fantasy purposes. Here are some of the biggest free agency busts for fantasy football purposes over the last decade.

Le’Veon Bell, Jets 2019

Too soon? Bell went from an elite fantasy option in 2017 to massive disappointment in his 2018 holdout season. He then followed that up with a lackluster 2019 season where he finished 16th among running backs in fantasy scoring despite touching the ball 311 times.

Nick Foles, Jaguars 2019

After achieving legendary status with Eagles fans for his 2017 Super Bowl run, Foles was signed to be the starter in Jacksonville this past season. Things didn’t quite work that way. An early-season injury opened the door for Gardner Minshew. Foles did manage to get back on the field, but the Jags pulled the plug on him in favor of Minshew at the end of the season.

Jerick McKinnon, 49ers 2018

You may not remember McKinnon because he hasn’t played an NFL snap since 2017, but the former Vikings back was coming off two strong seasons in Minnesota. He was widely touted as a fantasy breakout candidate in 2018, with his ADP pushing all the way up to 3.10. But an ACL tear and lengthy recovery has likely cost McKinnon his peak years.

Terrelle Pryor, Redskins 2017

Perhaps the biggest bust in fantasy football history, Pryor ended up being drafted 32nd overall as the 14th wideout off the board in fantasy drafts in 2017. That’s an early third-round pick in 12-team leagues. He went on to finish 102nd at the position with just 20 catches for 240 yards and a score. Players who outscored Pryor in 2017 include the likes of Tavarres King, Roger Lewis, T.J. Jones and Brandon Coleman.

Eddie Lacy, Seahawks 2017

OK, so it wasn’t a huge shock that Lacy failed to deliver in Seattle after posting back-to-back disappointing campaigns with the Packers. However, there was a lot of buzz at the time surrounding Lacy as a potential Marshawn Lynch replacement. The good news is that we didn’t get out of control, and Lacy ended up being a 10th-round fantasy pick in PPR leagues.

Adrian Peterson, Saints 2017

No one expected a 32-year-old Peterson to rekindle his past fantasy glory with the Saints, but fantasy drafters did spend a sixth-round pick on him in 2017. That was six rounds ahead of Alvin Kamara. Peterson ended up playing just four games for the Saints before being traded to the Cardinals. He finished as the No. 53 fantasy running back. Meanwhile, Kamara finished third at the position.

DeMarco Murray, Eagles 2015

Dallas did its part to effectively run Murray into the ground in 2014, feeding him an enormous 392 carries. Murray had nearly 200 fewer carries in 2015 and just wasn’t a fit in Chip Kelly’s offense. He was the ninth running back in ADP and finished a disappointing 16th at the position.

Torrey Smith, 49ers 2015

After posting top-30 fantasy finishes among wideouts in three straight seasons, Smith went to San Francisco and dropped off a cliff. He finished a lowly 54th in fantasy scoring at his position in 2015. To be fair, fantasy drafters didn’t take the cheese on him, as his ADP settled in the 11th round as the 52nd wideout taken.

Steven Jackson, Falcons 2013

One of the best fantasy backs of his generation, Jackson had a forgettable two seasons with the Falcons at the tail end of his career. Perhaps it was the eight-straight seasons with at least 1,000 rushing yards or his name-brand recognition, but fantasy drafters endorsed him with the 2.04 pick in 2013 ADP. Jackson plodded his way to a 30th-place fantasy finish.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts 2013

Running back is a fickle position. In 2013, Bradshaw was coming off a 1,000-yard season where he finished a respectable 20th among running backs in fantasy scoring. He went on to play just 19 more NFL games with the Colts over the next three seasons and was barely on the fringes of the fantasy radar during that stretch.

Michael Bush, Bears 2012

The big back finally broke out in his fourth season with the Raiders, posting 997 rushing yards and seven scores on 256 carries. He also caught 37 balls for 418 yards and a score. Added all up, it was good enough to rank Bush as the No. 11 PPR back in 2011. Fantasy drafters selected Bush on average in the seventh round in 2012, but — buried behind Matt Forte — Bush finished 45th among running backs in fantasy scoring.

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