Fantasy Football Busts 2021: Ja’Marr Chase and Baker Mayfield highlight players from AFC North

    Fantasy football busts are tricky to see coming, but looking at the numbers, here are five players to avoid from the AFC North this year.

    Fantasy football busts are tricky to foresee. I’m generally pretty optimistic, so predicting someone to do poorly just never feels right. However, knowing what players may be overvalued or due for a down year can be incredibly helpful in fantasy football.

    Could RB J.K. Dobbins be a bust for fantasy football in 2021?

    PPR ADP: 28 (RB15)

    Dobbins is a conundrum to me. Being the lead running back on a team that primarily focuses on running the ball seems like a good place to be. In PPR, though, being so run-heavy can be a negative.

    Dobbins ran 134 times for 805 yards and 9 touchdowns last year. Yet, QB Lamar Jackson was the team’s leading rusher, finishing with 1,005 yards on the ground. On top of that, Dobbins only caught 18 of 24 targets for 120 yards. He was barely used in the passing game and wasn’t the team’s leading rusher. That worries me.

    Dobbins could be fine, but going as RB15 is a high price to pay. I think he finishes around RB15-20, but his upside is so much lower than others going around him. In terms of his draft cost versus production, Dobbins feels like one of the biggest fantasy football busts in the AFC North for 2021.

    Is Ja’Marr Chase set to disappoint fantasy managers this year?

    PPR ADP: 63 (WR24)

    The weapon the Bengals added to their passing game in the 2021 NFL Draft was Burrow’s former LSU teammate, WR Ja’Marr Chase. Chase was taken fifth overall and was clearly the best WR prospect in the class. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be a stud immediately.

    Last year, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire lit the fantasy community on fire, thanks in large part to his draft capital and landing spot. The Chiefs felt like a perfect fit, but in the end, CEH struggled and finished the year as a disappointment. I envision something similar for Chase this year.

    Taking Chase as the 24th receiver off the board means you’re putting him in your lineup each week and aren’t questioning it. I believe you should question it. Other WRs in that range are more stable with similar upsides (like his teammate Tee Higgins).

    Chase might be a monster in a year or two, but I’m not trusting him to do much this year. He’s someone I’ll pass on in almost every format until he proves he’s worth that cost. For now, he’s on my list of fantasy football busts.

    QB Baker Mayfield could be a fantasy football bust this season

    PPR ADP: 136 (QB16)

    The Browns are just not geared toward passing the ball. Last year, Mayfield threw just 486 passes for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. These aren’t terrible numbers, but they’re also not great. They’re just blah.

    In superflex leagues, I like Baker as a QB2 option. But in most 1QB leagues, I’m avoiding him entirely, opting instead to grab a higher-upside QB like Justin Fields or Trey Lance. I’d much rather catch lightning in a bottle as a backup QB than have someone like Mayfield clogging my bench.

    Can we trust Odell Beckham Jr. as a reliable fantasy option?

    Odell Beckham Jr. was once the WR1 in all of fantasy. He was one of those elite fantasy receivers that you could set your watch by. He was known for making amazing catches and being cocky no matter what. Sadly, those days are behind us.

    I’m not saying OBJ can’t get back to that old version of himself — he definitely can. But he’s going to need a lot of help and Cleveland’s offense isn’t the best pairing for him.

    In 2020, the Browns ran the ball a total of 495 times, fourth-most in the NFL. They threw for 501 times, fifth-fewest in the NFL. This team runs the ball so often and so well that their passing game is an afterthought.

    This doesn’t appear to be changing either, which doesn’t bode well for OBJ. Being the team’s WR1 is great, but when the passing volume is so low it almost doesn’t matter. Could he breakout and become the old Odell Beckham Jr. we all remember? Sure, but I’m betting on the opposite and calling him a bust at his current cost.

    Will JuJu Smith-Schuster disappoint fantasy football managers as a potential bust in 2021?

    PPR ADP: 71 (WR29)

    In 2020, all three starting WRs for the Steelers were starting options in your fantasy lineups. Chase Claypool averaged 13.4 PPR fantasy points per game, and Diontae Johnson finished with 14.8. Still, just behind Johnson was a familiar face: Smith-Schuster (14.6 PPR ppg).

    If JuJu did so well last year, why are you calling for him to be a bust this year? Well, the obvious answer is that I have to pick one of these WRs to stumble, and I think he’s the odd man out.

    Johnson’s going as WR21 and Claypool as WR28, so at least Smith-Schuster is the cheapest option. Even though he finished last season as WR16 in PPR scoring, I sincerely doubt that he finishes the season as WR29 this year. There are just too many mouths to feed.

    I think Claypool will earn more targets in his second year. Furthermore, I think Johnson gets his drops under control. And lastly, I believe rookie RB Najee Harris carves out a solid role for himself as a pass catcher. Thus, JuJu lands on the list of fantasy football busts heading into the 2021 season.

    Andrew Hall is a writer covering the NFL and fantasy football and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewHallFF and find more of his work for Pro Football Network here.

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