I never like making the fantasy football bust series. I really don’t. I want everyone to be good, and I want everyone’s sleepers to hit, and I don’t want anyone to be a bust. Unfortunately, fantasy football doesn’t work that way. That means we have to take a look at some bust wide receiver candidates for 2022 fantasy football. There are no criteria here except for the ol’ gut. Generally, I looked for guys getting drafted at or above their perceived ceiling for 2021 fantasy football. To find these numbers, I used 4for4.com’s consensus average draft position tool. Let’s dive in.
Wide Receiver Bust #1: Terry McLaurin, Washington (WR17, 44 overall)
Terry McLaurin has never finished higher than 20 at wide receiver in the season-ending ranks. According to DynastyLeagueFootball.com, he has finished as WR26, WR20, and WR29 in his three years in the league. And nobody is doubting his talent, here. He’s one of the best young wide receivers in the league (though at 27 he’s probably older than you thought). While he should get better targets this year from Carson Wentz compared to Taylor Heinecke, I don’t really know how much more room McLaurin has to grow this season. McLaurin has 264 targets over the last two seasons, which ranks tenth, and he has 2,974 air yards in the same timeframe. While he ranks fifth in unrealized air yards, he failed to convert 53% of his air yards into yardage, which is 5% higher than average. That means that he doesn’t really have that much to grow, as converting those into yards gives him about an extra 2.5 yards per game.
That’s all before we get into wondering if the Commanders’ offense is suddenly extremely crowded, meaning that it could be a loss of opportunity for McLaurin, who suddenly has to contend with Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel, and not the Brothers Sims and Antonio Gandy-Golden for targets in this wide receiver room. McLaurin has never finished higher than WR20 and doesn’t have a lot of room to grow. If you’re betting on touchdowns, I can’t argue with you, but that’s a wobbly argument there.
Wide Receiver Bust #2: D.K. Metcalf, Seattle (WR19, 48 overall)
D.K. Metcalf finished as WR23 last season, and some people want to blame that on losing Russell Wilson for a part of the season, and that’s well and good. But, do people realize that Russell Wilson isn’t walking back through that door? Everything about the situation around D.K. Metcalf got worse (except his pocketbook) and we moved him up from his WR23 finish last year to WR19, based on vibes? Vibes around a Drew Lock-Geno Smith camp battle? Is that where we want to lock in a top-24 wide receiver? Because I don’t. In the best of times, this would be a steal for Metcalf. But harkening back to the good times are killing your fantasy teams in 2022 if you think they’re coming back in the Seattle passing game anytime in the near future.
Think of it this way: you’re D.K. Metcalf, and the team that you’re on traded your stud quarterback for Drew Lock and Noah Fant. You then went out and got some offensive linemen and a running back in the draft. You also parted ways with your offensive coordinator before last season because he didn’t want to run the ball more. Would you feel particularly good about your prospects heading into 2022?
Wide Receiver Bust #3: Jaylen Waddle, Miami (WR15, 37 overall)
Waddle is the second-highest drafted real-life WR2, behind Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins, as he is going WR15 off the board. Last year, he finished as WR15, in his rookie campaign. It makes a lot of sense for fantasy football prognosticators to hope that he just treads water with the Miami Dolphins adding Tyreek Hill. Unfortunately, I don’t think that comes to fruition. First, Tua Tagovailoa is an inconsistent quarterback. At this point, we aren’t really sure which Tua we will get from week to week. But, what we do know is that Mike McDaniel comes from the Kyle Shanahan system, which mostly involves getting the ball to your best player as much as humanly possible. For San Francisco last year, that was Deebo Samuel. For Miami this year, the best player is Tyreek Hill, not Jaylen Waddle. That’s why I fear that Waddle’s talent increase won’t offset his drop-off from 142 targets (tenth in the league). Waddle finished with just 6.3 air yards per target, which is how he went from 142 targets to 104 receptions to 1,015 receiving yards.
Those short-area targets will get soaked up by newcomer Chase Edmonds out of the backfield, and Tyreek Hill will take the over-the-top targets, leaving Waddle as a man without an area on the football field. He was a volume-based WR15 last year, lost a ton of his volume upside, and remains WR15. It just doesn’t make sense!