In case you missed it, I wrote about four underachieving players that are on their way to being crowned “Busts of the Year” the other day (link here), and wanted to talk about four more underachieving players that are also heading towards “Bust” status.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Since his breakout season in 2015, Devonta Freeman’s fantasy value has steadily gone down with each passing season. Here are Freeman’s PPR (point per reception) points per game numbers from 2015 to 2019:
2015 – 21.1 PPR points per game in 15 games (1st among Running Backs)
2016 – 17.8 PPR points per game in 16 games (7th among Running Backs)
2017 – 14.3 PPR points per game in 14 games (13th among Running Backs)
2018 – 7.0 PPR points per game in just 2 games (Tied-61st among Running Backs)
2019 (3 games) – 8.7 PPR points per game (39th among Running Backs)
8.7 PPR points per game. That is what Devonta Freeman is averaging this year. Carlos Hyde, Raheem Mostert, Peyton Barber, and Tony Pollard are all averaging more points per game than Freeman. For a player that was drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round of your fantasy draft and was “supposed to be” a rock-solid RB2, Freeman is underachieving big time and will likely be on the ballot for “2019 Bust of the Year.” The writing has been on the wall for a while, though, as Freeman simply isn’t the same running back that he was four years ago. He’s averaged a paltry 3.7 yards per carry and has caught just nine receptions for 61 receiving yards through three games. Speaking of his usage out of the backfield, Freeman’s receiving numbers have steadily been in decline since the 2016 season, as well. Here are his receiving numbers from 2015 to 2017 (excluding last season where he played in just two games before going on Injured Reserve with a foot injury):
2015 – 97 targets, 73 receptions, 578 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns
2016 – 65 targets, 54 receptions, 462 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
2017 – 47 targets, 36 receptions, 317 receiving yards, one touchdown
As you can see, Devonta Freeman isn’t what he used to be and at this point in his career he is a borderline RB2/Flex play. He can’t be trusted as a reliable fantasy running back anymore. Sure, he may have a big game or two, but players like Malcolm Brown (Week 1), Raheem Mostert (Week 2), Peyton Barber (Week 2), and Jordan Howard (Week 4) are capable of having one or two big games per year too. The difference between those running backs and Freeman is Freeman’s draft day cost was significantly higher than those other running backs. Ultimately, Freeman is an RB2/Flex play right now and is going to have a tough time giving fantasy owners a proper return on investment this season.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns
The expectations for Odell Beckham Jr. in his first season as a Cleveland Brown were extraordinarily high this past summer. He was finally getting away from a Quarterback that was hindering his success in Eli Manning and would now be catching passes from what many believed was a budding superstar in Baker Mayfield. Look, it’s way, way too early to completely give up on Baker Mayfield as a real-life quarterback and as a fantasy Quarterback. Baker has started all of 16 games thus far in his career and is simply going through some growing pains. I talked at length about the struggles of Baker Mayfield in Part 1 of this series, so it’s only fitting that I now discuss his number one wide receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. The underachieving nature of this connection cannot go unnoticed. It can’t. “OBJ” is arguably the most physically gifted wide receiver not only in the NFL but in all of sports. He is a freak of nature that makes plays no one else can make. BUT, if you take away his 89-yard touchdown reception in Week 2 against New York, Beckham Jr. would be averaging 12.3 PPR points per game, which would rank 45th among all receivers.
That’s an extreme example since it’s silly to just exclude a long touchdown reception, but my point is, even when you include that big play from Week 2, Beckham Jr. ranks 16th among all receivers with 17.9 PPR points per game heading into Week 3. While that is not horrendous, it’s not what fantasy owners expected when they drafted him at the tail end of Round 1 or the beginning of Round 2 in their 12-team PPR draft last month. His target numbers are there (10 targets per game), as are the receptions (6.3 per game), but the one touchdown through three games is a bit concerning. In his first 59 career games prior to the 2019 season, he averaged 1.3 touchdowns per game, which is absolutely ridiculous when you think about it. If the touchdowns don’t start to pile up for him this season, he’ll likely be stuck in the WR15-WR20 range by the end of the season. The upside is obvious, but Cleveland’s struggles at quarterback and along the offensive line should leave you concerned about Beckham Jr.’s fantasy outlook moving forward.