No one is perfect when it comes to fantasy football. No matter how hard anyone tries, everyone will make at least one blunder this fantasy season. The key to winning your league, however, isn’t always about picking the best team. Injuries happen and matchups change. A common saying is that nobody wins the league in their draft. However, it is quite easy to lose your league in your fantasy draft. One bad first round pick, coupled with one occasion of being too slow on the waiver wire, can be enough to derail an entire season. That’s why I’m here to help you with that dreaded running back position.
Every season, new players break out and lead teams to glory. Some players also fall off and become busts. The goal every season is to not draft the busts that inevitably come every season. With the wear and tear running backs feel throughout the season, they are the hardest to predict, but I’m going to try it anyways. The three running backs that will fit the bill and you should avoid drafting include Nick Chubb, Joe Mixon and Dalvin Cook.
Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
ADP: RB10, 15th Overall
FlurrySports Ranking: RB11
My biggest fantasy running back bust prediction of the year goes to Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns.
There is no question that when Chubb is on his game, he is an elite challenge. The only problem for Chubb is he plays on the Browns. Even with the ample amount of talent they had last year, Cleveland still couldn’t make the playoffs. While Chubb was a lone bright spot over the course of the season, his production dipped when Kareem Hunt returned from suspension in Week 9. Before the return of Hunt, Chubb scored in double digits every single game. When Hunt returned, however, he scored under 10 points four times. In the nine games that Hunt was back, Chubb only reached the end zone twice and never had more than five targets in a game.
When it comes to PPR, pass catching value and touchdowns are extremely important. Consistency is key to being able to make it into the fantasy playoffs. Chubb didn’t show fantasy owners any of that last season. Three out of Chubb’s eight touchdowns were in one game and five within two games. With Hunt slated for a full season this year, Chubb being a top-10 RB may be too high, making him an obvious fantasy running back bust candidate. He simply does not have the consistency needed.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
ADP: RB8, 10th Overall
FlurrySports Ranking: RB8
The second potential fantasy RB bust also comes from the AFC North division, in running back Joe Mixon of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Mixon is more of a pass catching option than Chubb. But even with that part of his game, he still struggled to produce last year. While some of that can be attributed to poor quarterback play, much more is due to the offensive line. Mixon finished with less than 12 points eight times and less than 10 on six occasions. While he did have some breakout games, two of those came against a lackluster Browns defense.
Joe Burrow is a fantastic prospect and one of the best quarterbacks I’ve seen come out of the NCAA in an awfully long time. His accolades speak for themselves. However, Burrow is still a rookie and has a lot to learn. If this Cincinnati offensive line continues to give their offense no time to throw, they could not only struggle passing, but also have to try and lean on Mixon and the running game. With a strong division and tough matchups against the NFC and AFC South outside of division games, Mixon will find it hard to deliver the consistency and overall ability a top-eight fantasy back should.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
ADP: RB4, 5th Overall
FlurrySports Ranking: RB5
No, I am not just saying this as a Green Bay Packer fan. Stay away from Dalvin Cook until the late first or early second round. Cook had a fantastic 2019 season. He is an elite talent with an elite workload and will be a good option in fantasy again this year. So, how will last year’s sixth-ranked running back be a bust? It all starts with the pieces around him.
Stefon Diggs’ departure will not just have an impact on the air attack. With Diggs out of the equation, quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is already inconsistent at best, now has to rely even more on receiver Adam Thielen. So, what happens when defenses double him? The second receiver in the depth chart is rookie Justin Jefferson. While he is certainly an intriguing prospect, can he hit the ground running? If he can’t, Cousins may find defenses doubling Thielen, stacking the box against Cook and forcing Cousins to beat them. If Cousins can’t deliver, Cook will have a hard time getting fantasy owners points against defenses now selling out on the run.
Cook will be relied on more this season, at least during the beginning while they deal with finding a replacement for Diggs. He will feel more wear and tear and will get more touches. The question will quickly become of whether or not his body can handle it. Cook suffered two shoulder tears in college, he tore his ACL in his rookie season and late last year suffered a shoulder joint sprain. Running backs don’t last long in the NFL, mostly because of all the hits they take. At just 24 years old, Cook is already showing signs of wearing down durability-wise. Cook has not proven he can take the hits for a full season. Are you sure you want to trust someone at that high of a pick without knowing he can play a full season?
When you consider injury history, Cousins’ consistency and unproven weapons around him, minus Thielen, Cook is definitely a potential fantasy running back bust this season.