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Bust WRs for Fantasy Football in 2024

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So far this offseason, the FTN Fantasy crew has been busy at work preparing fantasy managers for the upcoming NFL season. On top of excellent NFL prospect breakdowns, there have been plenty of articles written about veteran players who fantasy managers will need to know come fantasy draft season.

 

You can check out articles centered around the quarterback sleepers and busts, running back sleepers and busts, and wide receiver sleepers done in previous weeks. Today, we will be focusing on the wide receivers who can bust in fantasy in 2024. Check out the players to be cautious of next season below.

Check out our whole sleepers/busts series here: QB sleepers | QB busts | RB sleepers | RB busts | WR sleepers | TE sleepers | TE busts

2024 Fantasy Football Busts: Wide Receiver

DJ Moore, Chicago Bears

2023 provided everything that fantasy managers have dreamed of for DJ Moore since he was drafted in 2018. Moore’s first season in Chicago saw him set career highs in receptions (96), receiving yards (1,364) and receiving touchdowns (8) while earning the second-most targets in his career (136). Moore finished as the WR9 in PPR points per game (16.9) and had six top-10 scoring weeks.

Fantasy managers will take that performance and elevate Moore into one of the top receivers drafted, especially since the Bears are poised to upgrade their quarterback position to Caleb Williams, the best passer in college football and slam-dunk top pick in the 2024 NFL draft. However, despite the upgrade in quarterback, it may be hard for Moore to recreate the same ceiling outcome that he hit in 2024.

Moore thrived in 2023 operating as the primary read in Chicago’s passing attack with a quarterback in Justin Fields who struggled to get through his progressions. This led to a passing attack that had Moore nearly earning as many targets as the next two players (Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney) combined (151). The targets will not be so consolidated in 2024 considering the Bears have already added Keenan Allen to the passing attack.

Allen has an injury history, but when he’s healthy he’s shown that he is an elite target earner and producer. Allen has played in at least 13 games in eight of his first 11 seasons. In those seasons, he has averaged 140.5 targets, 95.6 receptions, 1,123.7 yards and 6.3 touchdowns.

Even with all that, the Bears are a favorite to select a wide receiver if one of the top three options happens to fall to their ninth pick in the first round. That introduces even more target competition for a rookie quarterback to utilize.

Ultimately, Moore is a fantastic player coming off his best career and getting arguably the best passing quarterback he has ever played with. However, it will be hard to replicate his 2023 season (and meet lofty 2024 expectations) based on the changes occurring around him in the Bears’ offense.

Marvin Harrison, Rookie

Marvin Harrison  2024 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Busts

Recent rookie receiver success stories like Justin Jefferson (1,400 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020), Ja’Marr Chase (1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2021), Garrett Wilson (1,103 yards and four touchdowns in 2022) and Puka Nacua (1,486 yards and six touchdowns in 2023) will undoubtedly make rookie receiver ADP rise in future years. Each of these players produced fantastic results in their first season in the NFL and each was immediately fantasy-relevant.

However, it is important to remember that the initial expectations were also very grounded in fantasy for each of these players. None of the wide receivers listed above was selected higher than WR29 in initial PPR drafts, and they were typically selected outside of the first six rounds in their respective fantasy drafts. Now we have a prolific rookie wide receiver class entering the NFL with a prospect (Marvin Harrison) who most view as the best receiver prospect in years hitting the NFL. His status, combined with the recent success of rookie receivers, will undoubtedly lead to an inflated ADP.

In early best ball drafts on Underdog Fantasy, Harrison is going off the board as WR9 with an ADP of 17.5. The hype around Harrison is warranted after he produced 144 receptions for 2,474 yards and 28 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Ohio State. But even with that production profile, taking a rookie receiver in the top two rounds is a lofty price.

Harrison may produce a top-10 finish in his first season in the NFL, but it is far from certain. Part of the appeal of previous rookie receivers was the fact that they were available at a reasonable price in drafts and then gave you a WR1 season. For Harrison to pay off, not only does he have to have a WR1 season, but he needs to hit a top-five outcome regardless of his landing spot.

Maybe the hype will temper once Harrison finds a landing spot and fantasy draft data becomes more widespread. However, if his current ADP holds, it makes far more sense to target an equally talented rookie wide receiver in Malik Nabers (WR21 on Underdog) or Rome Odunze (WR28 on Underdog) to get in on the rookie hype at a more realistic price.

Calvin Ridley, Tennessee Titans

Many were excited about Calvin Ridley’s return to football in 2023 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The last time we had seen Ridley, he was averaging 10.4 targets per game with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. That, of course, was fresh off a season that saw him produce 90 receptions for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. Needless to say, expectations were high for Ridley to join a rising Jaguars offense helmed by Trevor Lawrence.

Unfortunately for fantasy managers, Ridley failed to provide a level of production that met his massive hype. The veteran receiver posted a solid but unremarkable 76 receptions for 1,016 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in a season that was marred by offensive inconsistencies and drops. Ridley had 13 games with at least seven targets, but just eight games with five or more receptions and seven games with at least 80 receiving yards.

FTN’s weekly fantasy finishes tool shows that Ridley became the poster child for the idea of “boom or bust production” in 2023, finishing with nearly an equal amount of top 10 finishes (5) as finishes outside the top 45 (7).

There were enough flashes for fantasy managers to believe Ridley still has some untapped potential if he can get his catches under control. Plenty will view his massive contract with the Titans (four years, $92 million) as an indicator that he will be a top receiver in the league. However, there are reasons to question how much more Ridley can produce.

Ridley will go from a fairly aggressive passing offense with Trevor Lawrence to a more methodical offense with a far more questionable quarterback in Will Levis. According to FTN’s Pace and Run/Pass Report, the Jaguars were 10th in the NFL in 2024 in pass attempts per 60 minutes (37.6). The Titans were 29th in the same metric (29.7). Yes, the Titans brought in a new offensive coordinator, but they have also spent this offseason investing in upgrades for the offensive line (center Lloyd Cushenberry) and in the backfield (Tony Pollard).

Even if the Titans become more pass-happy with new, offensive-minded head coach Brian Callahan (formerly the Bengals OC), he will be competing with a true alpha target earner in DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has nine seasons with at least 15 games played (including 2023). Eight of those seasons have seen him earn at least 127 targets.

Ridley will be highly drafted based on his perceived ceiling as a downfield threat. However, there are reasons to question if he can truly hit that ceiling more consistently in 2024 in a lower-volume passing offense with a mystery box quarterback.

Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings

By all accounts, Jordan Addison had a successful first season in the NFL. He finished his first season tied for second among rookie wide receivers in targets (108). He was fourth in receptions (70) and third in receiving yards (911). His 10 receiving touchdowns were not only first among the rookie class, but they were tied for the fourth most of any receiver in the NFL. There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Jordan Addison going forward in fantasy.

However, it would be unwise to make his first year’s NFL production will be the baseline for his production going forward. A lot of things went right for Addison in his first season that may not go right in 2024.

For one, Addison had the benefit of playing seven games without Justin Jefferson across from him at receiver. Jefferson is one of the most talented players in the NFL and while he would have the ability to draw coverage, not having him in the offense allowed Addison to function as the team’s top receiver and soak up extra targets. The FTN Splits Tool illustrates just how much Addison benefitted from Jefferson’s absence in the lineup.

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Even when Jefferson returned to close out the 2023 season, Addison’s target share was bolstered by the loss of T.J. Hockenson. Addison played just eight games with both Hockenson and Jefferson. In those games, he averaged 5.5 targets, 3.5 receptions, 48.6 yards and scored five touchdowns. Those totals are fine, but skewed by six receptions, 111 yards and two touchdowns in Week 14.

It is hard to imagine that Addison can produce the same volume of work in an offense that will not only have Jefferson (and eventually Hockenson) back in the fold, but will be doing so with either Sam Darnold or the third or fourth rookie quarterback in the class.

Targeting youth and upside is fun in any fantasy format, but fantasy managers would be wise to select safer options with less competition in the range Addison goes in drafts.

Romeo Doubs, Green Bay Packers

Romeo Doubs Green Bay Packers 2024 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Busts

2024 was a successful season for Romeo Doubs. The second-year wideout continued to produce in an ambiguous Packers passing attack, setting career highs in targets (96), receptions (59) and yards (674) while tying for the lead in receiving touchdowns for the Packers (8). Doubs finished his second season as the WR36 in PPR scoring and averaged 10.3 fantasy points per game.

Many fantasy managers will attempt to target pieces of the Packers’ passing attack in 2024, ultimately leading them to Doubs as a WR3 with upside. However, FTN’s advanced stats illustrate that targeting Doubs may be a dangerous proposition.

Doubs had a similar target share to Jayden Reed (17.6%) but was well behind him in opportunity share (11.1%). Doubs was well behind Reed in targets per route run (23.9%), but also finished behind Dontayvion Wicks (20.2%) and Christian Watson (19.1%) despite their inconsistent playing time. When it came to receiving yards, Doubs (16.0%) finished behind Watson (19.0%) and Reed (19.9%). It is worth noting that Doubs ran more routes than both Reed and Watson last season yet produced less than them.

Ultimately, the danger with Doubs is that his fantasy production is buoyed by his 59 receptions (in PPR leagues) and an unsustainable touchdown rate. Those are bad bets to make on a wide receiver, even if it is an offense with a still ambiguous passing attack like the Packers. 

Jerry Jeudy, Cleveland Browns

A new team and large contract will undoubtedly cause the masses to flock to Jerry Jeudy again in 2024. The fantasy community just can’t quit Jeudy, a first-round pick in 2020 who was meant to carried lofty expectations thanks to his quick feet and route-running acumen.

Unfortunately, those things haven’t translated very well to fantasy football. Jeudy failed to capitalize on a relatively successful 2022 season (67 receptions on 100 targets for 972 yards and six touchdowns) within Sean Payton’s Denver offense. The veteran receiver hit the 16-game mark for the first time since his rookie season. His availability didn’t translate to production as evidenced by a decrease in targets (87), receptions (54), receiving yards (758) and touchdowns (2).

Fantasy managers hoping for a career renaissance in Cleveland should probably temper their expectations. According to FTN’s Pace and Run/Pass Report, there wasn’t much difference between the two teams in 2023. Cleveland (1,115) and Denver (1,078) ran a similar number of plays, but Denver edged out the Browns in passing plays per 60 minutes (37.3 vs 34.4).

Not only is Jeudy heading to a slightly more run-focused offense, but he will be doing so on a team that has far more established passing weapons at their disposal. Cleveland had three different players (Amari Cooper, David Njoku and Elijah Moore) eclipsed 100 targets in 2023 compared to Denver’s zero. Ideally, Jeudy will slot somewhere between Moore (104 targets) and Njoku (123 targets), which isn’t a major impact role in fantasy. That doesn’t even account for the fact that the quality of targets between Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson isn’t very different at this stage in their careers.

If you are in the market for a wide receiver who has struggled to stay healthy, earn targets, convert receptions, amass receiving yards or consistently find the end zone, Jerry Jeudy is the perfect player for you. However, it is probably better to consider Jeudy a player you are fine facing off against in your opponent’s lineup until he proves he can be more than an inconsistent flex option in fantasy. 

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