Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Currently being drafted in the 1st round in MFL10’s, Kareem Hunt’s price tag is far too high for my liking heading into 2018. He is a player that I would not feel comfortable drafting as my first pick. For Hunt to give you a proper return on investment, he’ll need to accumulate at least 1,600 total yards and 12 total touchdowns. With Spencer Ware returning from injury, a young Quarterback taking over the offense and some key losses to their defense, I’m expecting a less than stellar season out of Hunt. For those that forgot, Ware was supposed to be the lead back in Kansas City heading into the 2017 season, with Hunt serving as the back-up. An MCL/PCL injury in the preseason caused Ware to miss the entire 2017 season. Expect Ware to be more involved in the Kansas City ground game than many are predicting.
Hunt accounted for 272 of the 315 carries among Chiefs running backs last season. That is a whopping 86.3% of the carries that went to Hunt; it will be hard for Hunt to see the same percentage of carries in 2018 with Spencer Ware returning. A 65%/35% timeshare seems much more plausible for the upcoming season. For as much as we knock Alex Smith for his deficiencies in specific areas, he was quite impressive in 2017. He finished as the 4th best fantasy quarterback and set career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns. With Patrick Mahomes taking over, expect a hiccup in the proficiency of the Chiefs offense, at least until Mahomes proves he is the real deal. With an inexperienced quarterback, it’s conceivable to think the Chiefs will be punting more than they did in 2017, which means fewer touches for Hunt.
Lastly, the Chiefs made some significant changes to their defense this off-season and are undergoing a complete transformation on that side of the ball. They traded their best cornerback, Marcus Peters, to the Los Angeles Rams. Long-time Linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali were released. Their starting safety in 2017, Ron Parker, was also let go. The Chiefs defense is no longer the premier defense it was just a few seasons ago. What happens when a defense isn’t as productive as it’s been in the past? More time on the field for opposing offenses and subsequently, less time on the field for their offense. Add all of this up and Kareem Hunt is an easy choice for bust of the year.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Currently, here is a list of the wide receivers being drafted from WR6-WR10 in MFL10 drafts: Keenan Allen, A.J. Green, Davante Adams, Mike Evans, Doug Baldwin. When analyzing those five players, the wide receiver that carries the most significant “bust” potential is Mike Evans — and it’s not close. First and foremost, let’s look at each of those players’ quarterback: Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston. We can squabble about Dalton not being the greatest quarterback, but with an improved offensive line, Dalton should rebound in 2018 and bring A.J. Green back into the Top-10 at the wide receiver position. The other three are all premier quarterbacks in the NFL, and then there’s Jameis Winston. He is suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season and rumors are circulating that he could even be let go by the Buccaneers next season. If Winston can’t get on track, and soon, Evans is in for another wildly disappointing season and an uncertain future. I’ve never questioned the raw talent and skills with Evans. We’ve seen him perform at the highest level before (WR3 in 2016) but without a reliable quarterback throwing him the ball, it will be hard to trust him as a reliable fantasy option. At his current 2nd round price tag, he carries far too much risk for my liking. It’s a common cliché in the fantasy industry that you can’t win your league in the first few rounds, but you can certainly lose it. Evans is a player that can dramatically reduce the chances of your team being successful if the situation around him does not improve.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Jerick McKinnon signed a 4-year, $30 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March. In Kyle Shanahan’s offense, the hope is McKinnon will play the role that Devonta Freeman played in Atlanta when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator there. The expectations for McKinnon are unrealistically high heading into the 2018 season. Considering McKinnon has never been an efficient high-volume running back in his four-year career, it’s not wise to spend a high draft pick on him. His physical frame is not prototypical size for a three-down back. At 5’9”, 210 lbs., he is better suited as a “change of pace” back or receiver out of the backfield. In that area, he has been effective (51 receptions, 421 receiving yards in 2017). However, if you’re expecting McKinnon to have 20+ touches per game and be an efficient between the tackles runner, you’re in for a rude awakening. His career average is just under 11 touches per game, indicating he’s never been used as a featured back. In the two seasons where he’s had at least 150 carries (2016 and 2017), he averaged 3.4 YPC and 3.8 YPC, respectively. It’s more realistic to view McKinnon as a point per reception specialist similar to the likes of Chris Thompson and Duke Johnson, and less realistic to consider him as a featured back that will exceed 200 carries and be a threat out of the backfield, similar to Melvin Gordon or LeSean McCoy. As a result, I’ll be targeting a player with more upside and less risk in the 3rd round of my drafts this summer.