Winning your fantasy football league can often be determined by avoiding busts on draft day. However, avoiding busts is easier said than done, so it goes without saying that the more you prepare for your fantasy football drafts, the more likely you will avoid the minefield of potential busts. Running backs are especially prone to busting, which is one reason why people employ the “Zero RB” strategy. So in this article, you will find four of the top potential fantasy football busts at running back in 2020.
What Is a Bust?
A player can be called a “bust” when their performance on the field does not live up to their price on draft day. Any player that underperforms their preseason price can be termed a bust, but a true bust is one that drastically underperforms in relation to the price you paid to acquire them.
For example, the Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery was drafted as high as the third round last season entering his rookie year. As the lead back on a team that went to the playoffs the previous season, fantasy managers saw the potential for Montgomery to provide workhorse numbers that can help stabilize a fantasy roster. However, Montgomery severely disappointed with just 889 yards, six touchdowns, and a paltry 3.7 yards per carry. In retrospect, Montgomery may not have been worth even a 10th round pick in 2019, much less a third or fourth.
An important distinction when talking about fantasy football busts is that there is always a point at which a bust becomes a value. Every year certain players get labeled as “busts,” and when the majority of your league members are paying attention, that player may drop like a rock in the draft. If you notice a “bust” dropping multiple rounds, you should start to consider adding them, as they become much less likely to bust at a lower draft price.
Top 2020 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts
Austin Ekeler was a revelation last year and helped many fantasy managers hoist championship trophies at the end of the season. But Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is gone, and with a new man under center, it is questionable whether Ekeler will continue to see as much attention in the passing game. Given this uncertainty, combined with the idea that it’s unwise to draft a player coming off his best season, Ekeler should be treated with caution in drafts.
The old adage of “don’t pay for past performance” is especially applicable when it comes to running backs. The position is overly prone to injuries to begin with, but that is especially the case for a running back coming off a season of a large workload. The magic number many view as a red flag is 300 carries. Since 2011, only a single running back increased their rushing yardage after a season of 300+ carries. Derrick Henry was amazing last year, but with 303 carries, he will almost certainly regress in 2020.
As one of the top rookie running backs entering the league in 2020, the hype behind Taylor has been building all offseason long. At an ADP (average draft position) in the first half of the fourth round in a 12-team league, the price does not seem overly high for Taylor considering his upside. After dominating the Big 10 at Wisconsin, it’s easy for people to assume that he will be given the majority of carries in Indianapolis and can blossom into a perennial top pick in fantasy leagues.
However, you should always be hesitant when it comes to rookies, as we saw with the example of David Montgomery. While Taylor has a better pedigree than Montgomery, he’s entering a completely different situation. Montgomery was the lead back on the Bears, while Taylor is likely going to play second fiddle to Marlon Mack, at least at the beginning of the season. This leads us to a bigger point: rookies are inherently more likely to be harmful busts on your team.
For example, you may not realize Taylor is a bust until halfway through the season, at which point he may have already cost you multiple victories in the standings. And let’s say you give up on Taylor in week eight, only to see him finally grasp the offense and take over as the lead back after you dropped him. With a rookie, you are paying up for potential and nothing more. There is no evidence yet of what a rookie can do in the NFL, which should make you much more wary of drafting one.
When he ran the ball, Devin Singletary was excellent in his rookie season, amazing 5.1 yards per carry on 151 attempts. The problem, however, is a lack of valuable touches. The Buffalo Bills drafted another running back this year, a big bruiser named Zack Moss, and their GM has come out and said they plan to use him at the goal line. Singletary had just two carries inside the five-yard line last year, and that is unlikely to change significantly in 2020.