2015 Fantasy Football: First-Round Bust History

There will be many more 2015 Fantasy Football Rankings and features in the late spring and summer, including tons of 2015 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts and Player Rankings. I’ll also have an extensive 2015 NFL Fantasy Football Preseason Stock Report. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

2015 Fantasy Football – First-Round Bust History (Feb. 17):

If you’ve played fantasy football for a while, you know that whiffing on your first-round pick can prove to be pretty costly. Despite this, there are several first-round consensus players who bust each year.

In this article, I’m going to look at my top 12 rankings over the previous nine years to see if we can establish some sort of trend for finding potential fantasy busts.

2014 Fantasy Football Top 12:

  1. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs.
  2. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. (BUST)
  3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles.
  4. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers.
  5. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions.
  6. Matt Forte, RB, Bears.

  7. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints.
  8. Montee Ball, RB, Broncos. (BUST)
  9. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys.
  10. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals.
  11. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos.
  12. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers. (BUST)

Adrian Peterson (Off-the-Field): It’s hard to criticize anyone for drafting Adrian Peterson, because no one saw that coming. I think we were all shocked when Peterson was arrested and suspended prior to Week 2.

Montee Ball (Injuries): Montee Ball struggled to start the season and was living up to his low expectations of being a typical Big Ten plodder before getting hurt. Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson both outplayed him by a wide margin, so Ball could never reclaim his job.

Doug Martin (Inexplicable Regression): I’m not sure what happened to this guy, but he’s the second Buccaneer running back in the past decade to suffer a major decline. Martin, following Cadillac Williams’ footsteps, was awful despite being in just his third year.

Arguments can be made that both Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham busted, but they produced a combined 18 touchdowns despite being banged up.

2013 Fantasy Football Top 12:

  1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings.
  2. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs.
  3. Trent Richardson, RB, Browns. (BUST)
  4. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks.
  5. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills. (BUST)
  6. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens. (BUST)

  7. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions.
  8. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans. (BUST)
  9. Arian Foster, RB, Texans. (BUST)
  10. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers. (BUST)
  11. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins.
  12. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles.

Trent Richardson (Trade): The Browns traded Trent Richardson, who had issues in Indianapolis because he never learned the playbook. Richardson also sucked, but he would have been better off staying in Cleveland.

C.J. Spiller (Injuries): Though he never missed much action, C.J. Spiller was hampered by nagging injuries all season.

Ray Rice (Injuries, Workload): Ray Rice was also hurt by numerous injuries. He seemed worn down as well, thanks to a ridiculous workload that he has shouldered over the years.

Chris Johnson (Inexplicable Regression): Chris Johnson doesn’t care. He continues to blame others for his ineptitude, but he’d be performing much better if he put more effort into football.

Arian Foster (Injuries): And yet another running back who led the NFL in carries the preceding year goes down. Surprise, surprise.

Doug Martin (Injuries): Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you must go running back in the first round. They’re stupid. Six of 11 first-round running backs busted last year. A bust rate over more than 50 percent is unacceptable.

2012 Fantasy Football Top 12:

  1. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles. (BUST)
  2. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens.
  3. Arian Foster, RB, Texans.
  4. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers.
  5. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots.
  6. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions.

  7. Drew Brees, QB, Saints.
  8. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders. (BUST)
  9. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans.
  10. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons.
  11. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. (BUST)
  12. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots.

LeSean McCoy (Injury): LeSean McCoy wasn’t doing quite well because the players around him were terrible, but the nail in his 2012 fantasy coffin was an injury he suffered in November. He was the primary back in just eight games.

Darren McFadden (Injuries): Darren McFadden lost his burst, probably because of all of the injuries he’s incurred throughout his career. A horrible zone-blocking scheme didn’t help matters.

Larry Fitzgerald (Terrible Quarterbacks): Larry Fitzgerald was droppable by the end of the season. His quarterbacks just couldn’t get him the ball. Fitzgerald produced before with crappy quarterbacks, so this regression was perplexing.

2011 Fantasy Football Top 12:

  1. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans. (BUST)
  2. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens.
  3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings.
  4. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles.
  5. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers. (BUST)
  6. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans. (BUST)
  7. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers.
  8. Arian Foster, RB, Texans.
  9. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders. (BUST)
  10. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions.
  11. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs. (BUST)
  12. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers.

Chris Johnson (Inexplicable Regression): Well, maybe it’s not that inexplicable. Chris Johnson spent too much time clamoring for a contract this offseason. As a result, he looked slow and sluggish.

Rashard Mendenhall (Injuries): Rashard Mendenhall’s carry total went down from 324 in 2010 to 228 in 2011. He battled nagging injuries all year and didn’t look very good running the football.

Andre Johnson (Injury): There was nothing you could do about this.

Darren McFadden (Injury): Darren McFadden was awesome early, but he never returned to the lineup after getting hurt in the middle of the season. This was pretty predictable.

Jamaal Charles (Injury): Jamaal Charles tore his ACL in Week 2.

2010 Fantasy Football Top 12:

  1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings.
  2. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans.
  3. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens.
  4. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars.
  5. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. (BUST)
  6. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons.
  7. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans.
  8. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers.
  9. Randy Moss, WR, Patriots. (BUST)
  10. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions.
  11. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers. (BUST)
  12. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers.

Frank Gore (Injury): Frank Gore was a bust because he played in only 11 games, and was limited in several others. You usually can’t project injuries, but Gore is a player who always seems to be hurt, even dating back to his college days.

Randy Moss (Age): The Randy Moss thing befuddled me. Tom Brady and Moss showed good chemistry in the preseason, so Moss’ rapid decline came from out of nowhere. Or did it? Moss turned 33 seven months prior to the start of the 2010 season. One of my rules is that you should never pick a non-quarterback 32 years or older early in your fantasy draft. Non-quarterbacks tend to decline at 32 or 33. That’s not always the case – see Derrick Mason – but it usually is. I don’t know why I didn’t listen to my own advice with Moss. I guess I just figured that Brady would be able to carry him. Whoops.

Ryan Mathews (Injury): Ryan Mathews had a decent Week 1 performance against the Chiefs, considering the sloppy conditions at Arrowhead. However, after generating 55 yards on just seven touches against the Jaguars in Week 2, he suffered a high ankle sprain during that contest and was never the same until late in the year. As I said, you usually can’t project injuries. This one came out of nowhere.

2009 Fantasy Football Top 12:

  1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings.
  2. Matt Forte, RB, Bears. (BUST)
  3. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars.
  4. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers. (BUST)
  5. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans.
  6. Steve Slaton, RB, Texans. (BUST)
  7. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers.
  8. Randy Moss, WR, Patriots.
  9. Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins. (BUST)
  10. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons. (BUST)
  11. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams.
  12. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans.

Matt Forte (Inexplicable Regression): Matt Forte had an incredible rookie year and was also very good in 2010 despite the fact that Mike Martz didn’t give him 250 carries for the first time in his career. So, what happened in 2009? Forte admitted that he didn’t put enough effort into his workouts the preceding offseason and was consequently out of shape.

LaDainian Tomlinson (Age): LaDainian Tomlinson had 12 touchdowns in 2009, but really struggled overall. He rushed for just 730 yards and caught only 20 balls. Tomlinson was only 29 heading into the 2009 campaign, but already had 2,100 carries under his belt. That’s the red flag number for running backs.

By the way, for those concerned about Steven Jackson wearing down, he’s only at 1,878 carries, so he should still have one really good year left in the tank.

Steve Slaton (Inexplicable Regression): It’s hard to believe that Steve Slaton had 1,282 rushing yards, 377 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie in 2008. In 2009, however, Slaton averaged 3.3 yards per carry and lost five fumbles, prompting Gary Kubiak to bench him. I’ll never understand what happened to Slaton. He definitely had the talent, but perhaps he just didn’t love football enough to put in the necessary offseason work to be a great player.

Clinton Portis (Age): As with LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis was over the 2,100-carry mark. Avoiding players who hit this plateau is a valuable lesson I learned during the 2009 season.

Michael Turner (Overuse): I don’t know why I had Michael Turner so high because I wrote the following in the 2009 fantasy rankings:

If you take [Turner’s] 376 attempts and add on 18 from the playoff loss to Arizona, you get 394 carries. Why is this important? Check out this fantasy football article chronicling the history of running backs with high carry totals and how they performed the following year. It’s not pretty.

2008 Fantasy Football Top 12:

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
  2. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
  3. Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
  4. Joseph Addai, RB, Colts (BUST)
  5. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
  6. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
  7. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots (BUST)
  8. Randy Moss, WR, Patriots
  9. Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins
  10. Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys
  11. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills
  12. Ryan Grant, RB, Packers

Joseph Addai (Injury): Joseph Addai rushed for 1,072 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 2007, but couldn’t follow that up because of health issues. Addai has been banged up ever since.

Tom Brady (Injury): There was only one first-round quarterback bust in the past five years. That was Tom Brady, who suffered that nasty knee injury in the season opener against the Chiefs. Obviously, no one could have predicted that.

2007 Fantasy Football Top 12:

  1. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
  2. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
  3. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
  4. Joseph Addai, RB, Colts
  5. Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs (BUST)
  6. Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots (BUST)
  7. Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
  8. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars (BUST)
  9. Travis Henry, RB, Broncos (BUST)
  10. Willie Parker, RB, Steelers
  11. Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
  12. Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys

Larry Johnson (Overuse): Like Michael Turner in 2009, Larry Johnson’s 2007 campaign was doomed because he carried the football 416 times in 2006. Everyone say thank you to Herm Edwards for ruining Johnson’s career. And I’m not being facetious here – Johnson is a douche, so Herm did the right thing.

Laurence Maroney (Overrated): Bill Belichick spent a first-round pick on Laurence Maroney, so I figured he was good. Not quite. Maroney did average 4.5 yards per carry in 2007, generating 835 rushing yards in the process. However, he never became a big part of the passing game; he caught just four balls that year. Ultimately, Maroney just sucked, and because Belichick overrated him, I made the same mistake.

Maurice Jones-Drew (Veteran Presence): We’ve seen it many times recently. DeAngelo Williams with Jonathan Stewart. Joseph Addai with Donald Brown. Thomas Jones with Cedric Benson and Shonn Greene. Veteran running backs tend to get more motivated when their team spends an early pick on a running back. That was the case with the Jaguars in 2007. I thought Jones-Drew would get the bulk of the workload in his second season, but Fred Taylor had other ideas. Taylor rushed for 1,200 yards that year.

Travis Henry (Injury): Before Travis Henry took up getting arrested as a hobby, he was a pretty good NFL running back. He rushed for 1,211 yards and seven touchdowns with the Titans in 2006, so I thought he could have a huge season in Mike Shanahan’s offense the following year. Unfortunately, Henry had a lingering knee injury all season that caused him to miss four games.

2006 Fantasy Football Top 12:

  1. Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
  2. Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks (BUST)
  3. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
  4. Tiki Barber, RB, Giants
  5. Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
  6. Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys
  7. Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins
  8. Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts
  9. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
  10. Torry Holt, WR, Rams
  11. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
  12. Randy Moss, WR, Raiders (BUST)

Shaun Alexander (Overuse): Yet another running back to lead the NFL in carries (370).

Randy Moss (A-Hole): Randy Moss completely quit on the 2006 Raiders. A year later, he caught 23 touchdown passes.

Fantasy Football First-Round Bust History Summary:

Some interesting things:

1. Of the 33 first-round busts over the past nine years, only four have been receivers. One was Andre Johnson (injury), while two others were both Randy Moss. So, if you’re taking a receiver (or tight end) in the first round, it’s almost a lock that you’ll get a reliable fantasy stud. Thus, taking the sure-bet receiver over the risky running back is the wiser move.

2. Only one top-12 quarterback has busted since 2006 (two if you were crazy enough to have QB Dog Killer up there). Signal-callers are usually really safe.

3. Three of the 33 first-round busts were age-related. If you spend an early pick on a non-quarterback, make sure he’s A) younger than 32 and B) not about to hit the 2,100-carry mark that season.

4. Four other first-round busts were running backs who led the NFL in carries the previous year. Avoid these guys as well.

2015 Fantasy Football Potential Early Busts:

Check back later in the spring when I will look at some of the players chosen in or near the first round of 2015 Fantasy Football Drafts (or mock drafts). I’ll try to identify the riskiest early selections in 2015 Fantasy Football.

More 2015 Fantasy Football Articles:
Fantasy Football Rankings

2015 Fantasy Football Rankings:
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Flex Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 8/27 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 8/27 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings - 5/14 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Dynasty - 5/14 (Walt)

2015 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 9/3 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/27 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/20 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/13 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Experts Draft - 8/11 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/7 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/6 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 7/31 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 7/23 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft (2-QB) - 7/15 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft (PPR) - 7/6 (Chet)

2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 PPR - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 2-QB - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 Touchdown League - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Custom - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: Dynasty Rankings - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Top 200 Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
Chet Gresham's 2015 Fantasy Football Positional Cheat Sheet - 9/4 (Chet)
Chet Gresham's 2015 Fantasy Football Overall Cheat Sheet - 9/4 (Chet)

2015 Fantasy Football Articles:
2015 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Training Camp - 9/10 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Tight End Matchup Chart: Week 1 - 9/9 (Chet)
Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Matchup Chart: Week 1 - 9/8 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Sleepers - 9/8 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Running Back Matchup Chart: Week 1 - 9/7 (Chet)
Fantasy Football Quarterback Matchup Chart: Week 1 - 9/6 (Chet)
2015 NFL Preseason Recap, Fantasy Football Notes - 9/4 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - 9/4 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Quarterback Targets - 9/4 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Busts - 9/4 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Goal-Line Running Backs - 9/3 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football News - 9/1 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football: Better Than ADP - 8/31 (Chet)
Daily Fantasy Football: Running Backs - 8/27 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football: Late-Round Running Back Fliers - 8/24 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Fallout: Jordy Nelson Injury - 8/24 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Players to Target - 8/22 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Spreadsheets - 8/22 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Round-by-Round Strategy Guide - 8/20 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: The Perfect Draft - 8/20 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Players to Avoid: LeSean McCoy - 8/18 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Values: Wide Receivers - 8/14 (Chet)
Daily Fantasy Football: Wide Receivers - 7/29 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Value Profile: Brian Quick - 7/22 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Value Profile: Eli Manning - 7/17 (Walt)
Daily Fantasy Football: A Primer - 7/10 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Value Profile: Jarvis Landry - 7/7 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Offseason Stock Report: Up - 5/15 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Offseason Stock Report: Down - 5/15 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: First-Round Bust History - 2/17 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: Overdrafted Players - 2/15 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: Running Backs with Most Carries - 2/15 (Walt)

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

2024 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 21

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12