Every fantasy season is vastly different from the season before it. Despite having players that are perennially top performers, there’s a lot of turnover in the top 12 players per position from year to year. In 2017, only five of the top 12 running backs and four of the top 12 wide receivers were also in their respective top 12s in 2016. This could happen because of injury, age, change of scenery, or just natural regression, but looking at the players who finished on top last year should NOT automatically be how you rank the top players going into your draft. Let’s look at the top players from last year with the biggest chance of busting this season.
Alex Smith blew everyone away last year with his deep passing success and finished as the QB 4 overall. He had never been known as a deep ball threat, but that’s what Tyreek Hill will do for you. In Washington he doesn’t have a weapon like Hill, and he’ll likely revert back to the quarterback he’s been most of his career. A smart, quick strike passer who excels at the intermediate game. The highest he’s ever finished before last year was QB 13.
Alvin Kamara won’t be a dud, but compared to how early you have to draft him, he won’t be worth the draft capitol. Kamara scored with an efficiency level last year that will be impossible to sustain, and while many would like to believe his usage will increase, head coach Sean Payton has repeatedly said it would be a mistake to give him more than 15 touches a game. Mark Ingram is in the last year of his contract and the Saints will likely run him into the ground when he returns from his four game suspension to get every bit they can out of him. Kamara’s role isn’t going to change that much, but his efficiency has to.
A big contributor to Hyde’s top 12 finish last season was his work in the passing game. He was 5th among running backs in targets with 83, which he turned into 59 catches for 350 yards. Duke Johnson however, was 4th in running back targets last season, and he will remain the favored passing game back on Hyde’s new team: the Cleveland Browns. The Browns also used an early second round pick on Nick Chubb who will eat into Hyde’s workload on the ground. Hyde simply won’t get enough volume to be a starting running back on your fantasy team.
Tyreek Hill’s 10.1 yards per target was the highest rate of any wide receiver in the last five years. That won’t be repeated. Alex Smith’s deep passing was far better than anyone else in the league last year and now Hill has a second year quarterback who’s played one NFL game. The last thing bringing Hill down is Sammy Watkins. Hill was the unquestioned number one receiver on the Chiefs last year and now he’ll have to share that load with Watkins, a much more traditional number one receiver.
Jarvis Landry has averaged 142.5 targets a year in his career, and needed 161 last year to become a top 12 receiver. Tyrod Taylor has never thrown more than 436 passes in any season, and to get to 142.5 targets on that many attempts, Landry would need almost a 33 percent target share. That will be impossible with Josh Gordon, Duke Johnson, Corey Coleman, Antonio Calloway, David Njoku, and Carlos Hyde all right there behind him.