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Fantasy Football Busts: Awesemo’s Top Three Do-Not-Draft Running Backs

Nathan Joyce



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Hitting on your first-round fantasy football draft pick is imperative if you have plans of winning the league. Finding the right players to select is important, but identifying the players who NOT to draft might be even more paramount. Especially when most of the first-round picks are going to be running backs. We’re here to help you find the right players to target, and who to leave off your draft board. As you read down this article, it’ll be like a quick-and-dirty course — a CliffsNotes version of fantasy football picks you should, or rather, should not make. We’re going to be reviewing the top fantasy football busts, or, do-not-draft running backs, based on Awesemo’s expert projections and rankings, in comparison to industry consensus draft positions and rankings.

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Awesemo’s Fantasy Football Busts: Top Three Running Backs

Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals)

There may not be a more polarizing player in Awesemo’s rankings comparative to where the rest of the fantasy industry ranks and drafts them than Joe Mixon. Our expert projections have him as RB15, which isn’t a horrible ranking by any means. However, when you compare that to his average draft position of 10.3, it’s quite a stark contrast. A first-round ADP on a guy that is seemingly ineffective in the passing game whose name isn’t Derrick Henry seems like a bit of a stretch.

With Giovani Bernard still in the mix in Cincinnati, he’s bound to cut into Mixon’s workload. In 2019, Mixon failed to break 70% snap share in 13 of 16 weeks. Most of that is thanks to Bernard’s presence in the passing game and coming in to fill the third-down role. In fact, Mixon was held to just 35 catches a season ago. He did combat some of that lost work in the receiving game through increased carries late in the season (494 yards on 95 carries in the last four weeks). That type of efficiency — and number of carries — is unlikely to be replicated for an entire season. So, without a role increase in the passing game, the idea of Mixon being a workhorse back and first-round talent is nonsense. If his 10th-overall ADP continues, he’s on the fast track to fantasy football bust for 2020.

Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns)

*Highlights Joe Mixon blurb … Control C … scrolls down … Control V*

It’s basically that simple. The situation for Chubb in Cleveland is virtually the same as what’s going on with Mixon in Cincinnati. Chubb is being drafted just three picks after Mixon (13), just outside of the first round in 12-team leagues. Early in the 2019, Chubb looked like a bell cow, averaging just a tick under 20 carries and four targets per game. He had nearly an 80% catch rate and was right around 6.5 yards per reception.

That all changed when former Kansas City standout Kareem Hunt returned. After Week 8, Chubb saw his 20 carries decreased to 18 per game, and his four targets slashed in half. Chubb never eclipsed the 20-carry mark after Week 11 and only had more than 15 carries twice in that time span. With Hunt likely not going to be suspended or hurt for the first half of the season, he’ll continue to be a thorn in the side of Chubb’s production and should, in turn, steer drafters away from him with no significant path to receptions.

More Fantasy Football Busts

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kansas City Chiefs)

Everyone loves a good rookie. They’re like the shiny new toy, or for you Family Guy fans, a mystery box.

Now, take that shiny new toy/mystery box and add in the fact that a Super Bowl-winning, offensive-minded genius coach heaped some immense praise on it, saying “He could be even better than Brian Westbrook.”

No doubt, Edwards-Helaire is an extremely talented back, but the Westbrook comp has put the hype in full-blown, can’t-slow-the-bus-down-or-it’ll-blow mode. Edwards-Helaire is the highest-ranking Kansas City back, but he just made the top 25 overall in Awesemo’s rankings. The industry, however, is incredibly high on the LSU product, having him as the 34th player off the board and drafting him in the first round at one point this offseason. The issue isn’t the talent, it’s opportunity. With Damien Williams still in town, who one could argue should’ve been the Super Bowl MVP, there will certainly be some type of split in the backfield. So, the notion that Edwards-Helaire is coming in sans OTAs and rookie camp to take over the job entirely seems to be a pipedream. Investing such a high pick in a role filled with question marks — even attached to Patrick Mahomes — when higher-ranked players like James Conner (9), Le’Veon Bell (12) and David Johnson (13) are all on the board in later rounds is quite risky.

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I'm a wannabe athlete whose athletic career ended after a long tenure riding the bench through JV baseball. The fantasy sports and sports betting degen side of me blossomed at age 12 when I found fantasy baseball and football, and led to a 12-year submergence into the poker scene -- I started playing "secret" cash games in my parents' basements by age 14. Luckily, I've finally found what I love to do -- write about "fake sports," which my girlfriend refers to it as, though it only took me until age 30. If you decide you like the words I write and follow me on Twitter (@nd_joyce), I apologize in advance for the copious amounts of dog photos you will see.

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