With the NFL season now gearing up, fantasy football drafts around the country are doing much of the same. As fantasy draft days begin making their marks on calendars and the days begin dwindling, fantasy owners are tediously compiling their lists of who they’ll draft and who they’ll avoid. Here are three players–two newcomers to the league and one sophomore–that are under huge pressure to perform, and just may not live up to the hype.
- Melvin Gordon–RB, San Diego Chargers
Last year, the Chargers traded up to draft Melvin Gordon 15th overall, making him the RB of the future. The back out of Wisconsin was billed as a tall, powerful runner with plus speed and great burst, ranked by NFL scouting as an instant starter. Fast forward one year and Gordon, as well as the Chargers, were a huge disappointment. Playing in 14 games, Gordon coughed the ball up five times, losing four of the fumbles. And his ability to hold onto the ball wasn’t the only issue that plagued him–he seemed to bounce to the outside too often and couldn’t get off the line, leading to an abysmal 3.5 YPC average.
This year, Gordon will have a chance to turn those numbers around. Still a highly touted prospect, he has a chance at becoming a solid, top 15 or top 10 rusher if he’s able to recapture the magic he bottled up at Wisconsin. However if he continues to fumble and can’t find holes in the line, he may find more time riding the bench this season.
- Derrick Henry–RB, Tennessee Titans
In recent years, the Tennessee Titans haven’t had an abundance of luck at the running back position. The Shonn Greene experiment failed, which wasn’t wholly unexpected, as Greene wasn’t a particularly successful back elsewhere. But Bishop Sankey, a second round pick out of Washington, didn’t fare much better when given two years of RB duties. Antonio Andrews and David Cobb have been underwhelming and are, to put it bluntly, slow.
Will Derrick Henry be the answer to these problems? We don’t know. The Titans have a pretty poor offensive line, so it’s difficult to determine whether the multitude of RBs who have cycled through the Tennessee backfield are a product of the bad o-line, or simply made it look worse than it is. Henry could benefit from a strong sophomore year out of Mariota, but the potential to become the next Sankey/Andrews/Cobb is still there.
- Carson Wentz–QB, Philadelphia Eagles
There is a chance–it could be small, could be large depending on whom you ask–that Carson Wentz won’t receive a single snap this year. Would that qualify him as a bust, hardly. But with Sam Bradford handed the starting role over Wentz from the get-go, the number two overall pick of last year’s draft might have difficulty breaking out if he’s busy riding the pine.
Wentz, along with fellow QB Jared Goff, were at the forefront of what was a mostly weak QB draft class. Taken second overall sets sights extremely high for any player, let alone one who will be playing backup his first season. Only time will tell how successful Wentz is, but if Eagles fans boo Bradford off the field in just a few games in, he may get his chance to prove himself.
To fans, owners and players, becoming a fantasy football bust isn’t nearly as big of a deal as becoming a bust on the team. It’s too early to determine whether these three players were worth their draft slots regardless of if they were taken in 2015 or 2016. As the season gets started, it’s worth keeping your eyes locked on the three before you declare boom or bust.