Bust to Lust - WRs

Fantasy Bust to Lust – Wide Receiver Edition

In this series, Bust to Lust, I will be looking at the positions of Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver and Tight End for Fantasy Football.

As the title suggests I’m only looking at players that were a bust in 2019 but we will lust for in 2020.

This week I look at the Wide Receiver position.

Parris Campbell – Indianapolis Colts

Parris Campbell came into the league with some hype around him potentially being the next guy to step up in Indianapolis.
Many things derailed his 2019 campaign. Let’s face it, with Luck retiring, Brissett wasn’t quite at the same level to be receiving passes from.

Injuries didn’t help the rookie get going either. Campbell played in the first 4 games of the season and started to receive more targets as he tried to find his feet in the NFL.

Rookie season

Gameweeks 1 and 2, he was only targeted once in each game catching both passes and getting his first TD of his NFL career. This prompted an increase in his targets for his next two games. Catching 3/3 in week 3 then 5/8 in week 4.

Everything had started to look promising and the potential promised was starting to shine through. Unfortunately, niggling injuries then took hold for the rest of the season. Only playing in 3 further games. Eventually breaking his foot in week 14 ending his rookie season on IR.

In total Campbell played 7 games in 2019 catching 18 passes for 127 yards. This only equates to an average of 7.1 yards per reception.

Why then does this mean that we should lust after him in 2020?

Of the 127 receiving yards, 96 were after the catch. Averaging 5.3 yards after every catch. That is better than OBJ’s 4.4, fantasy hero Michael Thomas’ 3.9 and Brady’s go-to man Edleman’s 3.2.

Again you might ask why this is important. The QB at the Colts at the time of writing is Jacoby Brissett. His average air yards prior to completion is 5.3 yards. Lending itself to Campbell being available close to the line of scrimmage to then make up the yards after the catch.

Two veteran QB’s are also linked to the Colts this season

Philip Rivers- His average air yards per completed pass was only 4.1yrds. Meaning Rivers is another QB looking for players closer to the line of scrimmage hoping for yards after the catch.

Tom Brady- His average air yards per completed pass was even lower than Rivers at 3.6. As good as Brady is seeing the game, the game has definitely gotten shorter for him. This is the start for Campbell’s case over Hilton in short areas.

The Hilton factor

Since losing Luck, TY Hilton has also had a decline. When catching passes from Luck, Hilton averaged 6 yards after the catch following an average air yardage of 10.7. Showing us that Hilton produces better down the field.

When Brissett is throwing Hilton the ball, there was only an average of 6.4 yards before the catch. Dropping Hilton’s production down to 4.7 yards after the catch which is less than Campbell’s 5.3.

All good things

Providing that Campbell can stay fit I can only see his trajectory going up. With the QB situation looking likely to be Brissett, Rivers or Brady the stats are showing that the average depth of target will be a lot shorter than Hilton thrives with. With this being the case, good things can only be on the horizon for Campbell and his volume of work looks set to go up. When it comes to fantasy we all know volume is key.

JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers

JuJu headed into 2019 with big boots to fill. Antonio Brown departed and left a big hole for JuJu to step up and own the WR1 in Pittsburgh. All was set for a big year until Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers QB got injured in week 2.

The fact that fantasy owners were drafting JuJu in the late 1st or in the 2nd round of drafts made his season even more of a bust as you didn’t get back the price you spent on him.

JuJu was still JuJu

Looking at his mega season with Big Ben in 2018 compared to the 2019 season with Rudolph and Hodges, incredibly there isn’t actually much difference. JuJu was still doing JuJu things even with the different QBs. His yards after catch went from 5.8 to 5.5 yards per reception so still managing to get the same stat lines. If anything the stats show yards before the catch went up from 7 air yards per catch with Ben to 7.7 air yards per catch from Rudolph and Hodges.

Why the bust year then?

Volume!
As I’ve just pointed out in the Parris Campbell write up, Volume is key in Fantasy Football. In the 2018 season with Ben throwing the ball, JuJu was targeted 166 times. That was with Antonio Brown also being targeted 168 times as well. The 2019 season saw JuJu only targeted 70 times. Even though he only played 12 games, 70 targets equal to just over 5 a game. Compare this to his 2018 season when he averaged just over 10 targets a game.

The Big Ben Factor

So JuJu needs Big Ben to be healthy as we know Ben likes to throw the ball. Even when there is a player like Brown taking the targets, JuJu will still see a high volume of the passes thrown. Granted we haven’t seen how JuJu will do as a number 1. But Roethlisberger already had the connection with him even if Diontae Johnson and James Washington are in the mix.

2020 ADP value

If Big Ben is throwing the ball expect JuJu to have a bounce-back year. In JuJu’s rookie season (2017) he bagged himself 137.9 half ppr fantasy points in 14 games and then had a breakout year in 2018 racking up 229.2 half ppr fantasy points finishing as the WR8 in a full 16 games.
2019 had a drastic change to his fantasy stats only racking up 90.6 half ppr fantasy points.

With this, we are looking At a drop down the ADP list for JuJu potentially giving us a value pick with massive upside.
In 2019, JuJu in a half ppr draft would have been going around the 16th pick as the 6th WR off the board. 2020 has already seen his ADP tumble down to the 35th pick as the 16th WR off the board.

We are looking at a WR1 being taken in the WR2 ranks giving us back some value with that potential huge upside.

AJ Green – Cincinnati Bengals.

2019 was a washed-out season for AJ. Injuries laid him out for the full season and uncertainty remains around what 2020 looks like in terms of playing time and more importantly the colour of his jersey that’s he’s going to be wearing.

Cinci look like they are willing to Tag AJ but whether or not he signs and plays for the Bengals remains to be seen. However, if he does Don a Bengals jersey for 2020 we know one thing. When on the field he’s going to produce.

Always productive

Since joining the Bengals in 2011, AJ has gone over 1000 yards in every season except for 2016, 2018 and obviously 2019 as he didn’t play. The two seasons he played in and was under the 1000 yard mark he was injured in both.

In 2016 he was just short of 1000 yards getting 964 and that was playing in only 10 games. Whilst In 2018 AJ had another injury-plagued season playing in only 9 games and getting only 694 yards.

Something to prove

At 31, by NFL standards he’s not a spring chicken but AJ will want to prove he still has a good number of seasons left in him

2020 gives us an opportunity to grab AJ lower down in the draft. His ADP right now is 65 as the WR30 off the board. If he’s under the franchise tag he will want to come out and prove that he still has his game and gain a new deal for the next few seasons.

In Cinci, he’s been the Number 1 WR and their go-to guy. Every season that he’s played 10 games or more, AJ has been targeted well over 100 times by his Quarterback. Averaging around 14 yards per reception. Just in case you haven’t got it yet, volume is key in Fantasy Football.

The Joe Burrow factor

Everything right now is pointing towards the Bengals using the number 1 overall pick on their next and future QB Joe Burrow. Granted anything can happen as the last few NFL drafts have proven to us but this seems pretty certain to happen.

Joe is a winner, his numbers this year are historic. 5,671 yards, 60 passing TDs, sprinkle in 368 rushing yards with 5 rushing TDs and only 6 interceptions from 527 attempted throws. So he has the ability to play.

The NFL is a tough nut to crack if you don’t have the cahoonas to go out and take on the D line bearing down on you wanting to rip you apart. Judging by Joe lighting up a cigar after his win in the National Championship, it gives me the impression he’s got the swagger to back himself in this league.

Joe having a strong game with added swag should boost the play in Cinci. Add that to the crop of offensive weapons the Bengals have in Mixon, Boyd, Ross and a healthy AJ. This should boost Burrow’s confidence, which can only improve his play. Which can then have a great knock-on effect for AJ Green getting more targets. Seeing as he is the Alpha he will thrive.

Burrow – He’s only a rookie!

Yes, he is. However, he has played in a pro-style offence and has defeated top defences. He’s shown at the highest college level he can read a defence before the snap and change plays at the line of scrimmage. Having AJ Green for you to use when needed can only help when these calls need to be made to make plays happen. 

With a generational talent like this, the Bengals have to get behind him and this can only mean good things for AJ. Let’s not forget this guy is an Elite talent with something to prove. Game on for Green.

That is it Rush Nation, my Busts to Lusts at the Wide Receiver position.

Next up is the Running Backs

-Pittsy @PittsyNFL

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