Fantasy Football Busts 2024: Could Deebo Samuel, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs Disappoint?

Who do PFN's fantasy football analysts believe could be the biggest busts that managers should consider avoiding in redraft leagues in 2024?

When we talk about fantasy football drafts, the focus is often on “who should I pick,” but the very best fantasy managers also look at it from an angle of “who should I not draft.” Understanding which players are unlikely to live up to their value on draft day is as important as understanding who could exceed their value.

That is especially important in the first few rounds. An often-used sports cliché applies perfectly in this instant; you can’t win a fantasy league in the first five rounds, but you can lose it. Draft too many players who turn out to be fantasy football busts, and you have sunk your team regardless of how good your later-round selections turn out to be.

Between now and the start of the 2024 fantasy football season, our analysts at Pro Football Network will be keeping a keen eye on the ebbs and flows of every player’s ADP in order to identify players who could fail to live up to their value.

This list will evolve over time, and as values fluctuate, new players may be added. Others, meanwhile, may be removed if their value creeps out of the range that we consider them to be bust candidates.

Which Players Could Be Busts in 2024 Redraft Leagues?

When we talk sleeper candidates for the 2024 season, we tend to look at any player being drafted outside the top 120 picks. For busts, things are essentially reversed.

A player selected 121st cannot really be a bust because we didn’t really expect anything more than replacement-level value. Therefore, our focus here will be on the early portion of the draft. We won’t set a definitive floor, but generally, we’re looking at the first five to seven rounds of the draft.

At this early stage of the fantasy season, ADP fluctuations can be wide, so some players may have a higher average draft position on certain sites. Additionally, across different scoring formats, ADP can vary, so be sure to check your scoring system and site’s ADP before locking in the players listed below.

Deebo Samuel Sr., WR, San Francisco 49ers

Brandon Aiyuk has emerged as San Francisco’s primary pass catcher, and I’m not sure that’s much of a debate. Deebo Samuel Sr. averaged 7.6 targets per game in 2021, a number that dropped to 7.2 the following season, and again to 5.9 in 2023. It’s reasonable to expect a similar trend this season.

Samuel is a great weapon, but a target count under six puts him at serious risk of underachieving should Brock Purdy be anything other than one of the 10 most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL’s history, like he was last season.

MORE: Fantasy Football Sleepers 2024

The rushing numbers are, of course, the great equalizer, but you’re walking on thin ice if you’re relying on that in an offense that features Christian McCaffrey. In 2023, Samuel didn’t have a 25-yard rush and had two four-game stretches in which he didn’t cross the goal line as a runner.

The paths to failure are too many, and his ceiling is…well, at this point is that of a fringe second-round pick, and that’s his current ADP.

– Kyle Soppe, Fantasy Football Analyst

Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

The age cliff is one of the most difficult things to navigate in the world of fantasy football. Productive veterans can watch their production drop significantly for a multitude of factors, but if you notice a drop in efficiency for a player north of 30 years old, one should take this information into consideration for their second-round pick in fantasy drafts.

Davante Adams still boasted one of the best target shares in the NFL at 33.1% in 2024. His 103 receptions for 1,144 receiving yards and eight touchdowns for a WR10 finish look very nice on the surface. However, if you look a little bit closer, there could be some signs Father Time is tapping him on the shoulder.

Adams’ yards per route run and yards after catch both dropped from among the elite to outside of the top 24 wide receivers last year. It also doesn’t help matters that the quarterback play could be substandard, plus the addition of dynamic rookie TE Brock Bowers may put a slight dent into Adams’ elite target volume this season.

Adams is still a great route runner and a savvy veteran who has all the tricks of the trade at his disposal. Yet, the situation and slight dip in production make his outlook for 2024 a bit less exciting.

– Derek Tate, Fantasy Football Analyst

Stefon Diggs, WR, Houston Texans

Stefon Diggs going off the board as the WR18 has to be one of the most perplexing ADPs I’ve ever seen. Not only do I have Diggs ranked well below ADP, but I also have him 10 spots below Tank Dell at wide receiver alone.

Diggs is my WR30, which is easily the biggest disparity between my rankings and ADP in fantasy this season. I learned a valuable lesson two years ago with Allen Robinson II.

By no means does turning 30 years old mean a player is automatically done. However, if we see obvious signs of decline once a player reaches 28, we shouldn’t expect that player to suddenly rebound at age 29, 30, etc.

Diggs showed obvious signs of decline last season. While I do think there’s a nonzero chance he can rebound, the situation is not exactly primed for him to do so.

Diggs goes from being the clear alpha WR1 for Josh Allen with absolutely no target competition to the WR3 for C.J. Stroud (who is also great), riddled with competition from two players who were vastly superior performers in 2023.

From Week 10 through the end of last season, Diggs averaged 9.8 fantasy points per game. After averaging 2.87 yards per route run in 2022 (third in the league), that number fell to 2.03 (31st). His 7.4 yards per target was a whopping two-yard decline from the previous year, taking him from 17th to 62nd. Diggs was even outgained by Khalil Shakir over the second half of the season.

Now, consensus is saying that guy is worth drafting in the third round? I’m sorry, but I just can’t get behind a player who very clearly declined last season suddenly rebounding at age 30.

Diggs will almost certainly be better than he was over the second half of last season. But I see him as a low WR2 (at best), with a floor that he’s completely finished. I want no part of that.

– Jason Katz, Fantasy Football Analyst

Malik Nabers, WR, New York Giants

You can both love the talent and hate the price. Malik Nabers profiles well and may be a fantasy difference-maker early in his career, but asking him to be a weekly starter in his first season as the focal point of an awful offense is a bit optimistic for me.

Last season, a year in which opponents had to fear Saquon Barkley in the backfield and the Giants had a top-10 pass rate due to game flow, not a single player on this team reached 800 receiving yards (in fact, only one cleared 552) or caught five touchdown passes.

In drafting Nabers as a top-30 receiver, you’re essentially asking him to do both in his debut season (Jordan Addison was WR30 on a per-game basis as a rookie with a 70-911-10 stat line).

Could he? Anything is possible, but Addison was able to reach the level that ADP is expecting Nabers to get to, thanks to Justin Jefferson attracting attention and better quarterback play than New York has access to.

Nabers is a dynasty buy and a redraft full fade for me.

– Kyle Soppe, Fantasy Football Analyst

Hollywood Brown, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Hollywood Brown is set to join Patrick Mahomes and a Kansas City Chiefs offense that has made some big-time additions this offseason. This has fantasy managers pretty excited about Brown’s fantasy outlook in 2024, with his current ADP currently sitting at No. 54 overall as the WR33 off the board.

I find this to be a bit too expensive for my liking, seeing that Brown had just one year in which he finished as a top-35 fantasy WR (2021, when he was the WR1 in Baltimore for Lamar Jackson).

Yes, Mahomes is certainly a passing upgrade to Jackson, but Brown also has significantly more target competition in Kansas City than he ever did in Baltimore or Arizona.

TE Travis Kelce is still a target hog, Rashee Rice enjoyed a breakout rookie year after his role significantly expanded over the back half of his 2023 campaign, and Xavier Worthy brings everything Brown does to the table (including more vertical speed with his 4.21 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine) but is a better YAC threat in the manufactured touch space. He’s also a better route runner than the former Oklahoma product.

Brown will undoubtedly have some big performances in this offense, but they’ll be difficult to predict. With the other collection of pass catchers on this roster, I don’t think he’ll see enough volume to return on his WR33 draft price in 2024.

– Derek Tate, Fantasy Football Analyst

Calvin Ridley, WR, Tennessee Titans

I promise you I see the irony in me fading two 29-/30-year-olds during the second year of my philosophical shift to not avoiding older players just because they’re older. But that’s kind of the point. When I fade older players, it’s not solely because of their age — it’s because of the combination of their age and obvious decline.

Calvin Ridley averaged 13.5 fantasy points per game last season, finishing as the overall WR27. He was incredibly disappointing, considering his ADP had pushed up into the back end of the second round by late August.

But looking back on it, is it really that surprising that a 28-year-old WR who hadn’t played football in nearly two years and hadn’t played well in three returned to a new team with a significantly worse QB and didn’t play well?

The fantasy community is not exactly bullish on Ridley this season. He’s going as the WR36, which is completely reasonable. But considering I have him ranked as my WR48, it’s still much too early for my blood.

Ridley put several poor performances on film last season. He struggled to separate and only commanded a target on 21.4% of his routes, 39th in the league. He resembled nothing of the elite WR1 we remember from 2020.

Now, Ridley’s on a new team, which is historically not a good thing for wide receivers. He faces increased target competition from DeAndre Hopkins, Tyler Boyd, and two pass-catching RBs in Tony Pollard and Tyjae Spears.

Most importantly, Ridley is headed for yet another downgrade in quarterback, going from the mediocre Trevor Lawrence to the below-average Will Levis.

The potential for the Titans to be more pass-heavy under Brian Callahan is a positive. But Levis would need to improve, Hopkins would need to take a step back, and Ridley would have to rebound in his age-29 season.

Even outside the top 36, there are too many receivers who are younger, more talented, and with more upside than Ridley to justify drafting him.

– Jason Katz, Fantasy Football Analyst

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