I don't want to be negative. I don't like to be negative. In my ideal world, every player would live up to expectations, nobody would ever get hurt, and every Fantasy championship would end in a tie.

Okay, that last bit is a lie, but the rest is true, and I always feel like I have to get that out of the way when I'm writing or talking about my bust candidates for the upcoming season. I don't hate these players, obviously, despite what some of the less generous commenters might say. I'm not rooting for them to fail. I might even, under specific circumstances unique to a given draft, draft one or two of them.

It's not that I don't have the courage of my convictions, it's just that most of these bust calls come down to price. There are a handful of players I probably won't end up drafting in any of my 12 or so leagues this year, but I think I've already drafted at least three or four of them when they were the right price for the right league. And, in those instances, I especially hope I'm wrong about my skepticism. 

But the truth of the matter is, someone on your team is going to disappoint you. If it's only one pick, you're probably walking to a championship, frankly. And some of these players below will still be very, very good Fantasy options, despite my pessimism. But in most of my drafts, most of the time, they won't be on my team. Here's why:

Chris Towers' Busts 2.0

A month ago, before pitchers and catchers had even reported for Spring Training, I wrote my Busts 1.0 column, focus on 12 players I probably wasn't going to be drafting in 2024. Some stuff has changed since I wrote that, but my thoughts on many of the players haven't, so here's how this is going to work: I'm taking four names out of my Busts 2.0 picks, I'm keeping eight, and I'm adding six more, and I'm explaining my thoughts behind each decision below:

No longer a bust

  • Yainer Diaz, C, Astros – I initially opted to do a bust at each position, and Diaz was my catcher pick, given his lack of a track record at the MLB level. But his work in the upper-minors was in line with what he managed last season, and he has the quality-of-contact metrics to back it up, too. I'm usually not the one who drafts Diaz, but I can't exactly make the case for it. 
  • George Kirby, SP, Mariners – I don't love Kirby's price, and he often goes as a top-five pitcher, which I really can't get behind. But, while I don't really see the upside for KIrby, who is neither a standout in quality of contact suppression nor strikeout rate, I do find it hard to see how things go wrong enough for him to be a true bust. A bad pick as a top-10 pitcher? Sure, but he's not someone I'm actively avoiding at this point. 
  • Michael King, SP, Padres – King is another one I can't see myself drafting at his 13th-round cost, but I expected there to be more hype for him, and that hasn't really come to fruition. He's a high-risk, high-reward pitcher, with ace upside and significant injury concerns, and that's a fine pick in the middle rounds. 
  • Emmanuel Clase, RP, Guardians – There are legitimate red flags in Clase's profile after his strikeout rate collapsed from 28.4% to 21.2% last season. However, he still has elite quality-of-contact suppression and control, and even if he's just a ~3.00 ERA pitcher, he's going to rack up a ton of saves. There are definitely worse closer picks you can make. 

Still in Busts 2.0

  • Cody Bellinger, OF, Cubs – Bellinger made some real changes to his approach to help cut down on strikeouts, but he still wildly overperformed his quality-of-contact metrics in a way that makes me doubt the power and batting average from last season. It's a five-category skill set, but so is Christian Yelich's, and he goes two rounds later (and wasn't arguably the worst hitter in baseball for two seasons before 2023). 
  • Matt McLain, SS, Reds – McLain has battled oblique injuries since the end of last season, which is a pretty big red flag. But there are some in his profile too, beginning with subpar contact rates, middling raw power, and an all-fields approach that may make it tough to maximize his power even in a very good park. I can certainly see the upside, but there's a lot of ways things can go wrong for a sixth-round pick with a limited track record.  
  • Elly De La Cruz, SS, Reds – With top of the line power and speed, the best-case scenario for De La Cruz puts him in contention for the No. 1 pick this time last season. And while his defense likely insulates him from too much playing time risk, there's still a scenario where he ends up back in the minors, and it isn't an especially unlikely one – De La Cruz hit .191 with a 36% strikeout rate in the second half last season, so a repeat of that could earn him a demotion. It's not the likeliest outcome, but I'm not sure there's another player going inside the top-75 with as much demotion risk as De La Cruz – and his ADP is 28.0. 
  • Ha-seong Kim, SS, Padres – The problem with Kim is that he just isn't a very good hitter. Last season was probably the best we're going to see from him with the bat, as the gap between his .313 expected wOBA and his .330 actual wOBA indicates. There's likely to be significant regression from a pretty low floor, and that's going to put even more pressure on him to run to make up for it. He stole 38 bases last season, and if he does that again, you're going to be happy with a top-100 pick even if the bat regresses. But if he steals 25 bases? Well, that's an awfully high premium to pay for what is no longer a difference-making stolen base total, and it's worth remembering he stole just 12 bases in 2022 and six in 2021. 
  • Lane Thomas, OF, Nationals – In the minors, Lane Thomas had a .755 OPS. Prior to 2023 in the majors, Thomas had a .726 OPS. Before last year's All-Star break, Thomas had an .845 OPS; after the break, he had a .705 OPS. There's still a decent power-speed combination here, but it mostly just seems like Thomas got on a heater for a few months last season, and is likely to be a batting average liability on a bad offense. That's fine as a fourth outfielder; less so from a 10th-round pick. 
  • Joshua Lowe, OF, Rays – The concern here is playing time, even before the hip injury that has Lowe's Opening Day status in question. The Rays faced two must-win games in the Wild Card round last season, and Lowe was on the bench for one of them. The Rays are going to try to eke out every minor edge they can, and if that means benching Lowe against lefties, they've already shown they will do that. That didn't stop Lowe from being a top-30 player in Roto leagues last season, but there's a razor-thin margin for error on this team. Lowe's plate discipline is pretty bad even though he was shielded from most tough lefties, and a month-long slump could cost him playing time in a way you can't really say for most top-100 picks. 
  • Tyler Glasnow, SP, Dodgers – Glasnow is an incredible pitcher, but we're really spending a top-50 pick on him as the No. 12 SP? For a guy whose career high in innings at the MLB level is 120, and who hasn't reached 150 innings at any level since 2017? The Dodgers only goal this season is to get to October as healthy as possible, which means they're going to be extra-vigilant about injuries, and I just have a hard time betting on Glasnow to stay healthy at this point in his career. If the Dodgers got 70 innings out of Glasnow in the regular season but he's ready for October, that's probably a success in their eyes. And it would be a disaster for a third- or fourth-round pick.
  • Blake Snell, SP, FA – I already had Snell as a bust well before he made it to mid-March without signing. Teams are clearly skeptical of buying into the 2023 NL Cy Young award winner, and it's easy to see why: He had a 5.40 ERA on May 19 last season and was being discussed as a drop candidate in Fantasy circles. When he's on, Snell can post ERA and strikeout numbers few pitchers can compare to, but he also rarely posts helpful WHIPs, doesn't pitch consistently deep into games, and is as erratic as just about any pitcher in baseball. And he's still a top-70 pick by ADP? No way. 

New to Busts 2.0

  • Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles – I don't feel great about this one. It makes me uncomfortable. And a little itchy, maybe. Rutschman is an incredible player, and one of the better bets to win an AL MVP over the next decade or so. But he was the No. 40 hitter in the FanGraphs Auction Calculator last season, and now he's going as the 44th player off the board in ADP. It's a price I can't justify for a hitter who doesn't steal bases and probably isn't an elite power hitter. Rutschman is awesome, and he'll likely have a playing time edge on the field at catcher, though I'm not sure how realistic it is to expect him to repeat his 687 plate appearances from last season. I think what's happening here is that Rutschman is the clear top catcher in Fantasy right now, and this is just where the top catcher in Fantasy has tended to be drafted over the past few years. But he doesn't have J.T. Realmuto's five-category skill set, which was what separated him from the pack at the position. Rutschman is an awesome player, and a big boost to every Fantasy lineup he's in. But unless he takes another step forward as a power hitter – a tough ask, given his home park – I'm not sure it makes sense to pay for a nearly three-round premium for him over the rest of the field. 
  • Anthony Volpe, 2B, Yankees – This time a year ago, Volpe was a top-five prospect in baseball, but for Fantasy purposes, he was a prospect with a pretty glaring flaw in his game: He hit .249 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2022. He cracked the Yankees Opening Day lineup and while he was a 20-20 player, the batting average crashed to .209, and his quality of contact metrics don't suggest that there was much bad luck there – his expected average was .230, which is better, but still a huge problem. The biggest problem is that Volpe was just hopelessly overmatched against everything but fastballs as a rookie; Volpe had a very solid .349 xwOBA against fastballs, but his .244 xwOBA against all non-fastballs, a 15th percentile mark. If Volpe wants to run more, he could make up for what he lacked as a hitter, but 24 steals just isn't enough to justify what is typically a 10th or 11th-round pick. There's very little difference between what Trevor Story has done in parts of two disastrous seasons with the Red Sox and what Volpe did as a rookie – except for about 70 picks in ADP. Volpe had better have had one heck of a swing change this offseason. 
  • Tommy Edman, OF, Cardinals – When Edman is healthy, he's giving you similar production to guys like Andres Gimenez and Kim who are going inside or around the top-100. He'd be a nice, lower-priced alternative to those types, except I'm really starting to worry about this wrist injury. He had surgery on his right wrist back in October, and was supposed to be ready for the start of Spring Training, but the latest update we've gotten is that he's still experiencing pain in that wrist and has not been able to swing a bat right handed. Edman isn't going to be ready for the start of the regular season at this point, and I'm wondering if he's going to be right at any point. Edman's ADP his dipped to 208.3 in NFC drafts over the past week, but even at that price, it might end up being a wasted pick.
  • Freddy Peralta, SP, Brewers – Even when things are going right for Peralta, he doesn't really give you an ace workload. In 13 starts after the All-Star break last season, a stretch which saw Peralta sport a 2.81 ERA, he averaged just 5.7 innings per start. Now, given his strikeout skills, you can still get near-ace level production from him in that regard, as you got last season when he struck out 210 batters. But he also has a history of arm issues, including three IL trips due to shoulder injuries, plus a lat injury in 2022 that cost him more than two months. Peralta has ace upside on a per-inning basis, but given workload and injury concerns, you'd like a bit more consistency from a top-20 SP price. He doesn't bring that to the table. 
  • Carlos Rodon, SP, Yankees – You never want to overreact to spring results, especially for an established veteran like Rodon, who has no risk of losing a rotation spot if he pitches poorly. He's working on stuff this spring, including a new cutter, and it's easy to write off poor results in his first couple of spring outings … except that Rodon certainly has something to prove to us, right? His 2023 was an unmitigated disaster, as he struggled to a 6.84 ERA while giving up 15 homers in just 14 starts, and now he's opened spring giving up three homers in his first 5.2 innings. It's a miniscule sample size, but it's giving us no reason to believe Rodon has fixed the issue that plagued him even when he was healthy in 2023. Rodon's velocity was also down 2.1 mph in his most recent start, and I'm worried that trying to develop a cutter could make both his fastball and slider less effective if the pitches start to blend into one another. Maybe I'm worrying about nothing, but I went into camp excited about the potential for a bounceback from Rodon, but nothing I've seen so far has justified that excitement. Quite the opposite, in fact! 
  • Alexis Diaz, RP, Reds – Diaz has mostly made it work for him so far, sporting a 2.47 ERA in his first two seasons with the Reds. But there are some real red flags in his profile once you get beyond his (admittedly elite) strikeout rate. Among pitchers who have thrown at least 130 innings since the start of 2022, only two have a higher walk rate than Diaz's 12.8% rate, and only 16 have a lower flyball rate than Diaz's 46.5% mark. A flyball pitcher in the best home run park in the majors who walks more batters than just about any pitcher in baseball? Again, he's made it work for him so far, but it feels like Diaz is dancing on a knife's edge, and as we saw in the second half last season when he posted a 4.61 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, when things go wrong, they can go extremely wrong for him. Diaz is being drafted as the No. 9 closer right now, but I'd much rather have Paul Sewald, Andres Munoz or Evan Phillips, all of whom are going more than a round later on average.