Fantasy Football 2012: Players Who Will Bust
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Nothing can derail a season quicker than a fantasy bust. These guys are drafted, expected to carry a team to the championship, yet struggle so much that they can't even help the owner make the playoffs. It has caused me to change my views on specific players, and phrases like "I hate him, he sucked for me last year" are common.
Yes, the dreaded bust. While yesterday I looked at all the players who could be sleeper picks given the right circumstances, today I will warn you about specific players instead. These are the guys you want to avoid because their return will leave you feeling sick that you invested in them.
WR Justin Blackmon
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DUI aside, Blackmon enters into a rough situation in Jacksonville. The team has a poor offensive line, an unimpressive quarterback, their star running back is holding out, and despite their efforts, they still don't have much talent in the passing game.
He also isn't as dynamic of a player as A.J. Green or Julio Jones when they were drafted. He will struggle to create separation initially, and when he finally does get into a decent rhythm, it will be too late in the year to have justified drafting him.
Add in the media nightmare that is his DUI and Blackmon's rookie season will be a disaster.
(Sidenote, in his picture he actually looks angered by the fact he is in Jacksonville. Not a good start.)
WR Pierre Garcon
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The Redskins overpaid for Garcon because they wanted to give their young quarterback something to work with when he first got there. Unfortunately, Garcon will be a borderline receiver again. He won't be good enough to warrant how high he gets drafted, but will be decent enough that I have a hard time including him here.
I see him regressing a bit this season as he adjusts to his new team and quarterback before exploding next season. Look for about 600-700 yards with about six touchdowns. These are decent numbers, but he will give his owners headaches all season as he is such a borderline player. You never know if you should start him, and when you do, he seems to drop everything.
Save yourself the headache and don't draft him. Take a more proven commodity instead.
WR Mario Manningham
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Manningham was signed to give Alex Smith a reliable receiver, but then the team brought in Randy Moss and drafted A.J. Jenkins. With incumbent players Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams also in the mix, you will find that all of San Fran's receivers will struggle to get consistent playing time.
He showed two years ago that he could be a legitimate fantasy receiver, raking in 944 yards and nine touchdowns. Last year he regressed again though, posting a dismal 523 yards and four touchdowns. While his catch in the Super Bowl was fantastic, he is too inconsistent a player.
He will need time to adjust to a whole new system and quarterback, but by this time next year he may be the go-to guy. This season, however, he will disappoint.
TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski is making so many bust boards for the same reason. He was simply too good last year and no one expects him to repeat it. I am of the same opinion, with a few other reasons as well.
New England brought in quite a few new receivers this offseason. In no particular order, the team has newcomers Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth. It also still has Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Julian Edelman. Tom Brady likes to pass the ball around when given the chance, and Gronkowski will be the one who suffers.
There is also still the matter of Aaron Hernandez. All of this shows me that "Gronk" will not repeat his miraculous 2011 numbers. He will still be good, perhaps one of the best tight ends, but he will be taken far earlier than his 2012 numbers will warrant.
TE Kellen Winslow
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Winslow has always been a decent fantasy tight end. A serviceable fill in if you missed out on the top guys. This season will be different though. This year he isn't listed as the starter.
Zach Miller will be starting in front of him, and WInslow's numbers will show that. There are also a lot of talented, young receivers in Seattle, which will cause Winslow to lose even more playing time. He won't see the field all that often unless there are some injuries for the Seahawks.
Winslow was a reliable option in Tampa Bay, but in Seattle, he is just a depth player and a guy to bring some competition for Miller. He won't be worth drafting at all.
RB Matt Forte
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Where should I start? The holdout? The offensive line? No, lets start with the new offensive coordinator Mike Tice. He did little to improve the offensive line during his time as the O-line coach, yet managed to get promoted. I don't think his offense will work with the team.
He is also coming off an injury, which is cause for concern. As I mentioned, he is holding out for a new contract, and the team brought in Michael Bush who will take carries away from him. The line will continue its struggles, and Forte will disappoint.
Chi-Town doesn't seem to like Forte, and he may not even play at the start of the season. He isn't worth the risk that he presents.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw
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Bradshaw will be the starter all season, even though the team added David Wilson in the first round. Wilson's carries will gradually increase as the team tries to keep Bradshaw healthy this season for a change.
Bradshaw's missed four games last season, and unlike 2010, was a terrible fantasy option in 2011. He only rushed for 659 yards and a career low 3.9 yards per carry last year, and the team must not have a lot of faith that he can bounce back after taking a running back in the first round.
Another down year seems in store for Bradshaw. So if you do decide to roll the dice and draft him, make sure you grab Wilson as insurance.
QB Andrew Luck
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I am not doubting his ability. I don't think anyone does. However, for the people expecting Cam Newton-like numbers in Luck's rookie year are sorely mistaken. Luck is heading to a new, young team and will be transitioning to the NFL without much of a running game behind him.
He will be average as a rookie, perhaps even above-average. But you don't draft somebody to be above-average. Sure, he will have college teammate Coby Fleener and veteran Reggie Wayne to throw to, but he will have to adjust just like everybody else.
I assume he will look like the real deal, but won't post that great of numbers, and certainly won't justify being drafted as high as some people are talking.
QB Jay Cutler
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Everyone seems to have him locked in as a top-tier fantasy quarterback this season, which is why I have him on here. He should be good, but not nearly as good as advertised.
Having a new offensive coordinator will shake things up for him, and having that new coordinator be Mike Tice may derail that offense. Matt Forte's holdout will affect him as he was one of Cutler's favorite targets. Rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffry is talented, but seems to lack the effort needed to succeed at this level.
The addition of Brandon Marshall brings hope, but there is a reason he was traded for only two third-round picks despite being borderline elite. He is a team distraction and will be a disruptive presence for his new team.
Add in that the team did little to improve his dismal offensive line from a season ago, and Cutler will be on the run from the start again this year.
Denver Broncos Def/ST
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This team played way beyond itself last season, and this year is in for a dose of reality. Its aging (and in Brian Dawkins case, retired) defensive back group is supplemented with either unproven or under-performing players. Elvis Dumervil will see a drop off in performance, and though Von Miller is a huge talent, he can't do everything.
While the Broncos did draft quite a few defenders, most if not all will take a few years to break into the lineup. Their top pick Derek Wolfe is talented, but doesn't really fit the 3-4 scheme they run, and their new defensive backs are raw.
The biggest reason here, though, is that having Peyton Manning run the offense eliminates the need of dominance in Denver's defense. When Tebow was starting, they knew it was on them. Now, they will be middle of the pack fantasy-wise at best.