Each week of the 2021 NFL season, I will be listing certain players as potential fantasy football busts for the upcoming week. No, this does not mean I believe these players are trash and should not be rostered. The players I name in this article each week may have unfavorable matchups, situational changes that negatively impact their value, injury concerns, and other various reasons to avoid having them in your lineups for that specific week.
The adage “stick with your studs" only applies to a few elite fantasy options. You should not be married to all of your starters every week, but instead, pick and choose which players have the best matchups and highest potential of fantasy points each week. I know that can be a lot of work, but don’t worry, I have you covered!
This weekly fantasy football bust article, partnered with my weekly waiver wire article, will assist you in your sit/start decisions every single week for the 2021 season!
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2021 Fantasy Football Busts for Week 1 - Quarterback
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers @ Washington Football Team (WFT)
Justin Herbert is one of my favorite quarterbacks heading into the 2021 season. In fact, I have Herbert ranked as my QB7 for this year. As good of a season I’m expecting out of Justin Herbert and the Chargers, his Week 1 matchup is a nightmare.
The Washington Football Team is my #2 ranked defense for 2021. They allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and the 2nd fewest passing yards in 2020, and they look likely to have a better season in 2021. Herbert was lucky enough not to have played against WFT in 2020, and he will certainly be relieved once he survives Week 1 against them.
There isn’t anything negative to say about Herbert as this is strictly matchup-based. I don’t anticipate Justin Herbert to be featured in this bust article much after this week.
Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks
If you decided to wait forever on the quarterback position and drafted Carson Wentz, you may want to put him on ice for Week 1. Carson Wentz missed some valuable time due to a foot injury this preseason. He’ll be adjusting in his return from injury and to his new team/offense against a tough opponent.
The truth is, the Colts have a lot of young talent in their offense, most of which are the wide receivers Wentz will be throwing to. I expect the Colts to lean heavily on Jonathan Taylor and the run game, which negatively impacts Carson Wentz’s value.
Hopefully, Wentz isn’t your only option at quarterback in Week 1. If he is, I’d stream or straight out swap him out for someone like Sam Darnold (14% rostered).
More Week 1 Busts To Avoid:
- Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills
- Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
- Jared Goff, Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers
Find better Week 1 fantasy football players to start with our 2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Predictions.
2021 Fantasy Football Busts for Week 1 - Running Back
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns
There is a lot to like about Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s situation in Kansas City. He performed well as a rookie, but he disappointed many from a fantasy football perspective. The truth is, the expectations were set too high. It appears people are a bit more realistic on CEH this season.
Regardless if you’re high on Edwards-Helaire or not, he has a difficult matchup to kick off the 2021 season. The Cleveland Browns defense ranked 9th in rushing yards allowed and gave up the 5th fewest fantasy points to running backs in 2020. CEH has always struggled to push the pile, and until he improves in that department, the Chiefs will not lean on him in short-yardage situations.
At the end of the day, the Chiefs do not need to rely on Edwards-Helaire in order to move their offense and win games. They certainly will not need to lean on him in their Week 1 matchup against the defense that gave up the 8th most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2020.
D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Detroit Lions somehow find a way to damper the hype for their running backs. They have had just three running backs with 1,000+ rushing yard seasons since 2001. This is already not a great sign for D’Andre Swift. To make matters worse, Swift will begin his 2021 NFL season in an offense much worse than they were just a year ago.
The Lions have gone from Matthew Stafford as their quarterback to Jared Goff. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. have turned into Tyrell Williams and Kalif Raymond. My point is, Swift has an uphill battle in 2021 to become a key fantasy football asset, but I digress. This is about Week 1.
D’Andre Swift finds himself facing the 7th best defense against running backs in 2020. The 49ers will find ways to expose the Lions’ offense and will certainly encourage Jared Goff to throw the ball. This is not a great formula for D’Andre Swift to find success in Week 1.
Find better Week 1 fantasy football players on the waiver wire with our 2021 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Top Pickups.
Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears
Since Cam Akers went down for the 2021 season, Darrell Henderson Jr. is the presumed starting running back for the Los Angeles Rams. That may be the case, but there are a few things that lead me to question his workload for the season, especially in Week 1.
The Rams opponent, the Chicago Bears, gave up the 9th fewest fantasy points to running backs last season. This is not the ideal Week 1 matchup for Henderson and the Rams defense.
Now that Matthew Stafford has taken over at quarterback, you can expect the Rams to rely heavily on their passing game. Stafford has plenty of viable weapons to keep this offense moving. The addition of Sony Michel shouldn’t be ignored, either. His style fits into the Rams offense, and we can quickly see him earn more touches as the season progresses.
Fade Darrell Henderson in Week 1 and see how the rest of the season unfolds.
More Week 1 Busts To Avoid:
- Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
2021 Fantasy Football Busts for Week 1 - Wide Receiver
Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs
Odell Beckham Jr. is coming off a torn ACL, which is a challenge in itself. I’m expecting a bounce-back season from OBJ, but believe it or not, he has more to worry about in Week 1 than his ACL. The Kansas City Chiefs gave up the 2nd fewest receiving yards and 3rd fewest fantasy points to wide receivers in 2020.
Although he appears fully healthy ahead of the 2021 season, do not be surprised to see a slow start from the 28-year-old veteran in his 7th NFL season. Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t been seen real NFL action since Week 7 of the 2020 season.
The Browns offense has run through their dual-threat running backs, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. They will want to focus on their strength against the high-powered offense of the Kansas City Chiefs, and if they can execute their run-game, they will keep Patrick Mahomes and crew off the field as much as possible.
Darnell Mooney, Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams
There are some big expectations for Darnell Mooney in 2021. His route running is amazing to watch, and he’s got the speed to break away. There are some concerns heading into Week 1, however.
First of all, Andy Dalton is expected to start for the Chicago Bears. I watched Dalton take over when Dak Prescott went down last season, and it wasn’t pretty for the Cowboys receiving options. His reign as the Bears starter will not last, but I understand why he’d be starting Week 1.
The Bears don’t want to throw Justin Fields into his first NFL game against the defense that gave up the fewest fantasy points to both quarterbacks and wide receivers last season. The Rams defense is one of the few elites in the league, and having a guy like Aaron Donald introduce Justin Fields to the NFL would not have the best long-term effects on Fields or the Bears.
I’d expect Chicago to rely on David Montgomery and the run game as much as possible in Week 1. This offense as a whole will be off to a slow start in 2021.
Kenny Golladay, New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos
Kenny Golladay was a huge signing for the New York Giants this offseason. They get a talented wideout who’s expected to be their No. 1 wide receiver, but like the Bears, the Giants offense is likely to get off to a slow start as well. Kenny Golladay has even said so himself, and he has a point.
There have been many injuries to key players on the Giants this offseason. Golladay has been dealing with a hamstring injury, which has kept him off the field this entire preseason. He’s had little to no time with his new quarterback, Daniel Jones.
The crucial time to build chemistry on the field will have to develop in the 2021 regular season for Golladay and Jones. Naturally, there will be bumps in the road, especially early on.
Kenny Golladay’s Week 1 matchup, the Denver Broncos defense, wouldn’t typically scare me off him, but they are good enough to hold off a weakened passing attack due to lack of rapport.
More Week 1 Busts To Avoid:
- D.J. Chark Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans
- Elijah Moore, New York Jets @ Carolina Panthers
- Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
2021 Fantasy Football Busts for Week 1 - Tight End
Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks @ Indianapolis Colts
I could honestly list a ton of tight ends that I believe will bust in Week 1, but let’s just keep it to a minimum, as you are likely streaming week to week at the position if you didn’t land a top option. Gerald Everett finds himself in a new offense in 2021. He no longer has to share targets with Tyler Higbee, but that doesn’t mean he’s in a better position in 2021.
Russell Wilson’s main targets are DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Wilson targeted his top tight end, Jacob Hollister, just 40 times in 2020, which resulted in just 25 receptions for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Jacob Hollister ranked 35th among tight ends in targets in 2020.
Of course, Gerald Everett could demand more target share than Jacob Hollister did last season, but Everett has a very difficult Week 1 matchup. The Indianapolis Colts defense allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to TEs in 2020. Just another reason for Russell Wilson to look for other receiving options in the Seahawks season opener.
Hunter Henry, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins
Hunter Henry has already begun his first season with the Patriots on the wrong foot, as he hasn’t taken a snap in the preseason due to a shoulder injury. This has allowed the other big-name tight end on the roster, Jonnu Smith, to build on-field chemistry with the Patriots rookie quarterback and Week 1 starter, Mac Jones.
It’s vital, especially for a rookie, to feel as comfortable as possible in their first NFL regular-season game. I don’t believe Hunter Henry provides that for Jones, at least not in Week 1.
Jonnu Smith is coming off of an 8 touchdown season and will be one of, if not the best end-zone target for Mac Jones. Hunter Henry hasn’t caught more than 5 touchdowns since his rookie season in 2016, in which he caught 8.
The Miami Dolphins gave up 5th fewest fantasy points to TEs in 2020, and although the Patriots have two very talented tight ends on the roster, one will likely out-perform the other, and I trust Jonnu Smith will be the go-to for Mac Jones early in the season.
More Week 1 Busts To Avoid:
- Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
- Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
2021 Fantasy Football Bust for Week 1 - Defensive Team
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
You may feel tempted to start the Dolphins against the rookie Mac Jones in Week 1. Well, don’t do it. The Patriots are still the Patriots under genius Bill Belichick and do not make many mistakes to benefit opposing defenses.
Even as bad as New England’s offense was in 2020, they still were middle of the road against defenses. The Patriots’ offense is completely upgraded in many offensive positions in 2021. They have a deep threat in Nelson Agholor, two high-end tight ends in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, and guys like Jakobi Meyers and Damien Harris, who are on the verge of career seasons in 2021.
It’s perfectly fine to “get cute" when it comes to the defensive position in fantasy football. The Dolphins in Week 1 just isn’t it.
More Week 1 Busts To Avoid:
- Indianapolis Colts DST vs. Seattle Seahawks
- Tennessee Titans DST vs. Arizona Cardinals