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Biggest Busts of 2018 - Wide Receiver


The NFL might be a passing league these days, but there were still plenty of busts at the wide receiver position in fantasy football in 2018.

17 wide receivers broke the 1,000-yard barrier in this season. Eight receivers had 100 receptions or more. Guess what? None of them are mentioned in this column. I am here to focus on the receivers that laid eggs the Easter Bunny would be proud of. These are the guys who cost fantasy football players titles and prize money because they did not deliver the numbers they were expected to.

Here are fantasy football’s biggest busts of 2018 at wide receiver!

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Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos/Houston Texans

2018 Stats:  59 receptions, 675 yards, 5 TD

I can assure you as a fair fantasy football journalist that I am not highlighting Thomas in this article simply because he hurt my fantasy squad more than he helped it this season with his inconsistent antics. I think I speak for everyone and anyone who owned Thomas in 2018 that we expected a little more from a man who averaged 1,303 receiving yards per year over the past six seasons than 675 yards, a shortage of targets, several dropped passes and a torn Achilles.

You can argue that Thomas should be a double bust since he failed to live up to expectations with both Denver AND Houston. In Denver, he was overshadowed by top target Emmanuel Sanders and newcomer Courtland Sutton whenever Case Keenum would throw his dying quails downfield, while in Houston he had one good game during his seven-game stretch as a Texan – and many of his owners, including yours truly, probably did not use him that week because he had not been doing anyone any fantasy favors with his numbers. Hopefully, Thomas rebounds from his major injury and gets himself back into the good graces of fantasy players next season.

 

Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions

2018 Stats:  35 receptions, 508 yards, 5 TD

Jones has always been known as one of the streakiest receivers in fantasy football. For a month, he will be a ghost that we barely hear a peep from, then the following month he will be the second coming of Jerry Rice. This is why Jones has frustrated fantasy owners over the years, but he was coming off the best season of his career after giving fantasy players 61 receptions for 1,101 yards and nine touchdowns in 2017 and was a top-15 WR on many fantasy draft boards in August.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford spread his passes out more than he usually does, however. Instead of a two-way target split between Jones and Golden Tate, it was a three-way split due to the emergence of flashy Kenny Golladay. Jones only topped the 70-yard plateau in one of his nine contests and then suffered a season-ending injury that ruined the second half of his year. Jones should bounce back in 2019, but that does not help the fantasy owners who had him in 2018.

 

Chris Hogan, New England Patriots

2018 Stats:  35 receptions, 532 yards, 3 TD

It pains me to put Hogan on this list when he is from my alma mater of Monmouth University in central New Jersey. I wish I was writing glowingly about how he and Tom Brady had a Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga type chemistry and combined for countless touchdowns and led me and millions of others to fantasy riches and championships. Instead of being one of fantasy football’s biggest booms, though, he was one of its biggest busts.

Hogan had everything going for him entering the 2018 season. Julian Edelman was suspended for the first four games, tight end Rob Gronkowski seemed more interested in Hollywood than the NFL, and the Patriots did not bring in any big-time pass catchers during the offseason (Phillip Dorsett?). The world was his oyster. Yet during the first month when Edelman was out, all Hogan could muster was 109 receiving yards and two scores. Hogan was so bad at separating from cornerbacks that the Patriots had to take a gamble on Josh Gordon, who helped to make Hogan irrelevant fantasy-wise for much of the season. Hogan proved he is a No. 3 WR in the NFL and a non-factor in fantasy leagues unless you use him in the perfect one-week spot.

 

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals

2018 Stats:  69 receptions, 734 yards, 6 TD

Fitzgerald is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. We all know this. Fantasy players who owned him in 2018 wish he did not have the worst year of his storied career when they had him on their fantasy squads, however. Fitzgerald had his lowest amount of receiving yards of any of his 15 seasons, the second-lowest amount of catches in over a decade, and only had one 100-yard-game. If you thought Carolina’s D.J. Moore, Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin, and Atlanta’s Mohamed Sanu would all end up with more receiving yards on the season than Fitz, then you are a smarter person than me and should be the one writing this column.

Father Time and Fitzgerald cannot be blamed for what transpired this season. Arizona’s offense was as inept as a bachelor is at keeping his apartment clean. The Cardinals were dead last in total offense and passing offense as rookie signal caller Josh Rosen threw more interceptions than touchdowns, and that was after injury-prone veteran Sam Bradford started the season and became one of 2018’s biggest free-agent flops. The jury is out on whether Fitzgerald will retire or return for another season, but I personally hope he does not end things on this sour note.

 

Kelvin Benjamin, Buffalo Bills/Kansas City Chiefs

2018 Stats:  25 receptions, 380 yards, 1 TD

Benjamin’s fantasy value had steadily declined since his sparkling rookie season in 2014 when he dazzled fantasy players and dominated defensive backs with his 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns. Since then he has gone from fantastic first rounder to someone who might have a hard time making it on an NFL roster in 2019.

Benjamin was probably thought of by many as a decent sleeper during drafts because Buffalo had about as many options in its passing attack as a vegetarian does at a bacon convention, yet while Zay Jones and Robert Foster were catching Josh Allen passes during the latter part of the season, Benjamin was released and eventually signed with the Kansas City Chiefs to be their No. 5 receiver. His effort, understanding of offenses and his diminishing skills were all called into question, so the chances of him getting taken in fantasy drafts in August and September are slim unless he becomes a sudden starter on Kansas City or if there are leagues out there where you can stash 10 receivers on a roster.

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