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Biggest Wide Receiver Busts of 2022 - Fantasy Football Year In Review

Courtland Sutton - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

The wide receiver position is always the deepest in fantasy football, but there are always landmines in preseason drafts that can prove to be costly at the season's end. Whether a wideout had poor quarterback play compared to preseason expectations or saw a sharp decline as they aged another year, there were plenty of underwhelming players at wide receiver during the 2022 season.

However, evaluating each player on a case-by-case basis is important because it's a dangerous game to simply fade a player altogether in 2023 fantasy drafts. Some of these "bust" wide receivers will be in a better situation next year, while others could simply get luckier on the injury front. Almost all players who underperform see their ADP (average draft position) drop ahead of the next season, so savvy fantasy managers should consider taking the discount if it's appropriate.

Without further ado, let's dive into the biggest wide receiver busts of 2022.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Biggest Wide Receiver Busts of 2022

Note: Listed ADPs are from National Fantasy Championship from Aug. 8 to Sept 8, 2022; WR ranking based on PPR scoring

Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers - ADP: WR7; 2022 Rank: WR35

Samuel missed four games due to injury, but even when he was active, he was far from the top-10 receiver fantasy managers hoped for when they selected him on draft day. In 13 games played, Samuel eclipsed 100 yards just once and scored just five touchdowns all season.

There was some risk going into 2022 with Trey Lance under center, who was expected to take passing attempts out of the offense, but even with Jimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy in the lineup, he only turned in three top-24 weekly performances at the position. Ultimately, he's not a true wide receiver and Christian McCaffrey's addition to the lineup hurt his backfield work, so he was not able to turn in big fantasy days with volume or a high touchdown rate. On the year, he averaged just seven touches per game.

In 2023, he's still a player with intrigue, but his ADP must come back to reality for him to be worth a selection. If Lance is the starter in 2023, he'll once again be a threat to poach red-zone running touchdowns and make the Niners even more run-heavy.


Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts - ADP: WR9; 2022 Rank: WR20

Pittman was still a solid fantasy option, but considering he gained first-round steam in high-stakes fantasy leagues, his season was mighty underwhelming. Ultimately, the Colts' offense fell apart with sub-par offensive line play, Jonathan Taylor's injury woes, and the regression of former MVP quarterback, Matt Ryan. The assumption that Ryan was still even an above-average quarterback led fantasy managers to get too high on Pittman, which ended up being poor process.

Pittman has yet to keep the same starting quarterback two years in a row, as Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger, and Nick Foles have all started games for the Colts in his three-year career. In 2023, Indianapolis might have a rookie quarterback. Rookie signal-callers are historically not great for supporting high-end fantasy wideouts, so he could find himself in the same situation next year.

His attractiveness for 2023 depends entirely on his ADP in the thick of draft season, but after two seasons of nearly 1,000 receiving yards and at least four touchdowns, he'll remain well revered on the fantasy radar and will likely be faded by the masses next season. He might be a player to target next year if the price becomes ultra-cheap.


Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos - ADP: WR15; 2022 Rank: WR45

In Weeks 2-5, Sutton finished as no worse than the WR28 in each of those four weeks. In fact, Sutton averaged 83.4 receiving yards per game through his first five contests, which put him on pace for a 1,400-yard season. However, the rest of the year was an all-out disaster for Sutton and his fantasy managers. After Week 5, Sutton finished outside the top 65 wide receivers four times and did not see a finish higher than the WR28 in all 10 games played.

Almost all Denver Broncos players can be found on 2022 bust lists, but Sutton and quarterback Russell Wilson take the top spots. Wilson had his worst year as a pro, throwing just 16 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, so naturally, Sutton mightily underperformed. It's not fair to blame it all on Wilson, as the Sutton hype was likely exaggerated far too much heading into 2022.

Sean Payton is now the Broncos coach, but it's important to use caution when assuming a head coach can easily fix an offense. While Payton's New Orleans Saints teams consistently produced top-five offensive attacks during his tenure, there's a chance Wilson is outright washed and Sutton was never going to reach a top-15 wideout ceiling. Sutton will turn 28 in 2023 and will be three years removed from his 1,000-yard season, so if Payton's hiring makes his ADP rise to the WR2 range, he's probably someone to fade.


Allen Robinson, Los Angeles Rams - ADP: WR20; 2022 Rank: WR81

Robinson caught just 38 passes for 410 yards and one touchdown in his final season with the Chicago Bears, but the fantasy football community as a whole chalked it up to poor quarterback play and a mere down year for the former Pro Bowler. However, his regression continued in 2022 with the Rams, even when he and Matthew Stafford were healthy. On the season, he finished with 33 receptions on 52 targets for 339 yards, and three touchdowns (10 games)

In nine games with Stafford, Robinson finished as a top-24 weekly finisher at the position just three times. His highest finish came in Week 6, where he caught five passes for 63 yards and one touchdown. However, he scored fewer than 5.5 PPR fantasy points in Weeks 1, 3, 4, 5, and 9. He started as a lock in fantasy lineups, but was completely unplayable after the first couple of weeks. He missed the final seven games of the year on season-ending Injured Reserve and looks to be way past his prime as a fantasy-relevant superstar.

It's one thing to fall off of elite status like Adam Thielen but remain a flex consideration. Robinson's fall from the top is even more dramatic. Entering his age-30 season, there's a good chance he'll be completely off the fantasy radar for the remainder of his career.


Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills - ADP: WR21; 2022 Rank: WR34

The hype train got off the track after Davis had a monstrous four-touchdown game in the 2021 playoffs, but once again, he failed to convert a high percentage of his targets in 2022. While Davis had a couple of week-winning performances this year suited for Best Ball, he was a liability in traditional fantasy football formats. In 16 games played, Davis produced two WR1 weeks and two WR2 weeks. Otherwise, he posted 10 weeks outside the top 36 wide receivers and six weeks outside the top 60 wideouts.

Catching just 48 of his 93 targets, his boom-or-bust profile doesn't yield enough "boom" to be worth a selection as a hefty price tag in PPR leagues. Despite totaling 836 yards and seven touchdowns, he failed to finish as a high-end WR3 for the third consecutive year.

Buffalo looked depleted at pass-catcher in the AFC Divisional loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, so there's a good chance they make an attempt to bring in a legitimate wide receiver. If that's the case, Davis will be relegated to the WR3 and mere field-stretcher role. He'll still be on the fantasy and DFS radar, but he shouldn't be drafted among the top-25 wideouts again in his current situation.


Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans - ADP: WR24; 2022 Rank: WR51

Cooks posted a 90-catch, 1,000 yards season with quarterback Davis Mills in 2021, so most fantasy gamers assumed he'd have a similar or even better season with Mills entering year two of his NFL career. However, that was far from the case. Cooks still led Houston with 93 targets, but he caught just 57 of them for 699 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. Cooks was rumored to be a trade candidate at the trade deadline and he wasn't happy when he remained a Texan after the deadline passed.

There are rumors he could be on the trade block this offseason, but if he remains a Texan, he might be headed toward another down season. Even if Houston brings in a highly touted rookie in Bryce Young or CJ Stroud, we can't assume either of them will be superstars right away.

If he's traded to a juicy landing spot with a high-end quarterback, his ADP could return to the WR2 range. That said, we just saw Michael Pittman Jr. and Courtland Sutton bust after a projected situation upgrade, so it's important not to get too high on the soon-to-be 30-year-old wide receiver.


Elijah Moore, New York Jets - ADP: WR32; 2022 Rank: WR80

Moore's rookie season was cut short by injury, but we saw flashes of fantasy upside in 2021 in his limited action. Heading into 2022, we knew Garrett Wilson could eat into his workload, but no one knew just how much Moore would struggle. In 16 games, Moore totaled 37 catches on 65 targets, 466 yards, and one touchdown. He scored fewer than 6.6 PPR fantasy points in 10 of those 16 games.

His best performance of the season came in Week 12, where he finished as the WR28 with two catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Ultimately, he was arguably the biggest fantasy bust wideout of the year, since he wasn't even roster-able at the end of the season and was a complete waste of a draft pick. Moore demanded a trade near the deadline but New York's front office did not fulfill his request. However, the team fired offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who Moore reportedly had a major problem with.

Additionally, the Jets are rumored to be interested in Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr, so Moore has a chance to bounce back at a discounted price in 2023. If Zach Wilson remains the Jets' signal-caller, his fantasy outlook is bleak once again.


Honorable Mentions

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers - ADP: WR18; 2022 Rank: WR29

Johnson finished the year with 147 targets (T-eighth most) but hauled in just 87 receptions for 882 yards and no touchdowns. While he underperformed ADP, he was still a flex-worthy option, so he's worth a mention here.

Johnson is a buy-low candidate in dynasty leagues and should carry plenty of fantasy intrigue in 2023. As Kenny Pickett and the Steelers' offense grows and improves together, Johnson should see an uptick in fantasy scoring.


Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans - ADP: WR47; 2022 Rank: WR85

Burks battled a turf toe injury that caused him to miss four games on Injured Reserve and he missed one and three-quarters of a game after being knocked out on his first career touchdown reception. There were some promising signs from the first-round pick, but he ultimately finished far below his ADP.

However, his quarterback situation was murky after Ryan Tannehill suffered a high-ankle sprain, so it was tough to fully evaluate him. If Tennessee's offense can add offensive line help and Burks can stay healthy, he still has top-24 upside.

His best performance came against the Green Bay Packers, where he hauled in seven of his eight targets for 111 yards and caught a deep ball on Jaire Alexander.


Chase Claypool, Chicago Bears - ADP: WR48; 2022 Rank: WR70

Claypool is a mere honorable mention selection because he wasn't expected to do much this season. However, he got the chance to be the Bears' clear No. 1 wideout after a midseason trade and was ultimately a worse fantasy option after the change of scenery.

In seven games with Chicago, Claypool caught just 14 passes for 140 yards and no touchdowns. Claypool's 2020 rookie season in which he totaled nearly 900 yards and 11 touchdowns seems more and more like an outlier season the further away it becomes. Surely, Chicago will add more weapons at wideout this offseason, so Claypool's fantasy value could be as low as ever.

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