“Where did it go wrong?”
“How did it get this bad?”
“Should I have prepared more for my draft?”
If you’re asking questions similar to these after ten weeks of fantasy football, chances are you drafted a bust or two (or three). I’m here to tell you it’s ok; this happens even to the most seasoned of fantasy managers. With so few weeks remaining in the NFL season, it’s time to be realistic and accept your fate, do something constructive, and critique the performance of world-class athletes.
Unlike a normal bust list, we’re handing out awards; whether a player was drafted early or everyone’s favorite sleeper, nobody is safe. These are the names that helped tank your season, and it’s time to hold them accountable.
Biggest 2023 Fantasy Football Busts (So Far)
Trent Richardson Award for Biggest Bust: Najee Harris
Injuries weren’t factored into these awards, so Nick Chubb and Justin Jefferson aren’t eligible. That leaves former first-round pick Najee Harris, who has seen his stock fall ever since an RB3 finish as a rookie. This season, he’s the PPR RB29, a lackluster follow-up to last season’s just-ok RB14 finish.
Things are trending even further downwards for Harris; Mike Tomlin named Jaylen Warren Pittsburgh’s new starting running back on Sunday against Green Bay. However, Harris has found the end zone twice in two straight games. That isn’t enough to erase weeks of subpar play, but there’s hope that Harris can give fantasy managers a decent return on their investment the rest of the way.
DeMarco Murray is an Eagle Award for Worst Star in New Spot: Calvin Ridley
Calvin Ridley’s most recent appearance on a football field, prior to his season-long suspension for gambling on NFL games, was a disappointing finish with the Falcons after being drafted as early as the second round. In spite of a hype-filled summer as Trevor Lawrence’s “top option,” it’s been another disappointing year for the now-Jaguar. A massive start to the season saw Ridley finish with 24.1 fantasy points against the Colts. But after that hot debut, Ridley surpassed 10 points in just three of the following eight weeks.
While the occasional boom game still occurs, no manager in their right mind can feel confident starting Ridley week in and week out. Christian Kirk, Evan Engram, and Travis Etienne have all retained their roles as key cogs in the Jacksonville offense, making it nearly impossible for a newcomer to assert himself as a clear number-one in the passing game.
Kyle Pitts Award for Most Frustrating Star: Kyle Pitts
Low-hanging fruit? Maybe, but it’s undeniable that Kyle Pitts has been nothing but fantasy frustration since entering the league three years ago. Even with expectations lowered, Pitts has followed up last year’s disastrous TE33 season with a TE17 ranking in 2023. Progress, but not enough for the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history.
Much of the head-scratching for fantasy managers is thanks to Arthur Smith, a coach who enjoys blaming fantasy football for his failure to keep Atlanta’s best offensive players involved. Currently, Pitts isn’t even the highest-scoring tight end on the Falcons; that honor goes to veteran Jonnu Smith (TE14). Maybe once Smith (Arthur, not Jonnu) is replaced, Atlanta’s collection of first-round skill players can find some success, but that isn’t happening any time soon. Until then, Pitts’ route running will serve as little more than a cardio workout.
Kenny Golladay Award for Never Draft Again: Darren Waller
The last time the Giants brought in a big-bodied pass-catcher to change the offense, things didn’t work out. While the results haven’t been nearly as bad for Waller, this is not a player that can ever be trusted again. In spite of massive preseason hype due to his status as Daniel Jones’ favorite target, both Waller and the Giants’ offense failed to get off the ground. A combination of disastrous play-calling, atrocious offensive line play, and quarterback injuries stifled any hope of a Waller renaissance; his recent injury has ended any hope of finishing the year as a top-10 tight end.
Waller did show some promise, especially with backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor; he was the TE3 between Weeks 5 and 7. Although there is still obvious talent, his frequent injury history has made relying on him impossible going forward. The eight-year veteran has now played in just 25 games over the past three seasons. Managers can certainly take the plunge on Waller as a late-round flier next summer, but his days as a true starting tight end in fantasy are over.