By Jeff Pratt
Week 17 of the NFL season has come and gone, and you know what that means: Fantasy football is over. For some of you, the end of the year brought joy and celebration as you emerged victorious in your respective leagues. For the rest of you, this year ended in disappointment as your beloved squad failed to win it all. Throughout the year, there were many players who surprised us all, and there were quite a few players who let us down as well. Here are the top 5 fantasy busts and surprises for the 2019 NFL season:
5. Derrick Henry
After three seasons had passed, many wondered if Derrick Henry would ever reach the potential that they saw from his monster 2,200+ yard junior year at Alabama. Henry finally rewarded those who stayed patient with him this year, rushing for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns, while also adding two receiving touchdowns and 206 receiving yards. The biggest concern for Henry earlier in his career was his consistency. However, he was nothing but consistently dominant down the stretch of the 2019 fantasy season, scoring 23+ points in six of his final seven games (PPR). Henry will dominate wherever he ends up next year, and was one of the most valuable fantasy players of 2019.
4. Chris Godwin
Godwin was absolutely stellar this year, finishing with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns in only 14 games (he missed two due to a hamstring injury). He produced more catches, yards, and touchdowns than Mike Evans — the consensus #1 receiver for the Buccaneers heading into the season — at only 23 years of age. Regardless of whomever is Tampa Bay’s quarterback next year, both Godwin and Evans should continue to dominate.
3. DeVante Parker
DeVante Parker wasquietly awesome this season, finishing with 72 receptions for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns. This almost quadrupled Parker’s production from last year, making him the only bright spot in an otherwise depressing Dolphins season. Parker scored over 20 points five times this year (PPR), including a 34.9 point breakout game against the Eagles in Week 13, making him one of the most surprising players of the season.
2. Aaron Jones
Aaron Jones rushed for 1,084 yards and 16 touchdowns this year, while also catching 49 balls for 474 yards and three additional touchdowns. This statline alone was enough for Jones to stand as the #2 running back for 2019 (PPR), but what is even more impressive is that he did it within a backfield committee consisting of another talented running back in Jamaal Williams (who rushed for 460 yards). Jones was a fantasy monster this year, and is a lock for a top 10 fantasy pick next season.
1. Lamar Jackson
We all knew this was coming. Jackson proved each and every one of his doubters wrong this year, finishing with 3,127 passing yards and 36 passing touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns. This was good enough for Jackson to end the year as the #1 fantasy quarterback and likely the NFL MVP. Not bad for a running back (sorry, I had to do it).
5. Baker Mayfield
On average, Baker Mayfield was the fifth quarterback to come off the board in fantasy drafts this year. He obviously did not live up to these expectations, finishing the season as the #20 quarterback, only averaging 14.3 points per game. Despite having one of the best offensive cores in the league to work with in Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Mayfield struggled to produce all year. The Browns finished the year 6-10, and with reports that both Beckham and Landry want out of Cleveland, Mayfield may have even less to work with next year.
4. JuJu Smith-Schuster
Smith-Schuster struggled with injuries all season, only allowing him to play 12 games. Unfortunately, when he did get on the field, he was not nearly as effective as many people were expecting. Smith-Schuster was pegged as a breakout candidate by almost every fantasy expert this year after Antonio Brown was traded and he emerged as the #1 option in Pittsburgh. However, after Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending injury after Week 2, Smith-Schuster failed to build chemistry with the Steelers’ inexperienced backups in Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. JuJu finished the year as the #65 fantasy receiver (PPR), averaging less than 10 points per game. He certainly qualifies as a bust.
3. Odell Beckham Jr.
This was supposed to be Odell Beckham Jr.’s year. He finally escaped the clutches of Eli Manning — who could not complete a pass longer than 20 yards — and was primed to be the #1 option for the highly-touted Baker Mayfield. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned. Beckham Jr. finished the year with another 1,000+ yard season, but never really built a rapport with Mayfield. He only found the endzone four times, and scored over 20 fantasy points just twice. Fantasy experts were adamant that Beckham Jr. would figure it out, declaring week after week that “this is going to be his breakout game”. The true breakout game never came, and Odell greatly disappointed his fantasy owners this year.
2. David Johnson
David Johnson is still a complete mystery for everyone outside of the Arizona Cardinals organization (and maybe even inside their organization). After scoring 18+ points in five of his first six games (PPR), Johnson failed to receive more than five carries for the last 10 games of the year. He only scored more than 10 points once in that 10-game span, and never rushed for more than 20 yards. Is he hurt? Do the Cardinals not believe in him anymore? Whatever the case is, his fantasy owners were left dumbfounded this season. Johnson will be a free agent this year, and will almost certainly find a new home where he can attempt to prove his worth again.
1. Antonio Brown
Brown caused more headaches for fantasy owners this year than any other player in recent history. He is supremely talented, but as everyone knows, the off-field incidents only allowed him to play one game for the Patriots this year. On average, Brown was taken in the second round of fantasy drafts this year. The uncertainty of the NFL’s investigation into Brown made it seem like he could be signed by a team at any moment, but that moment never came. In reality, Brown was a waste of a draft pick and time this year, making him the biggest bust of the 2019 fantasy season.