Fantasy Football: Ranking the 50 Most Disappointing Players
Every NFL season we see a myriad of what were considered solid fantasy football players struggle out of the gate.
Chris Johnson was considered the No. 1 fantasy player heading into the 2010 season. He went on to see his numbers drop across the board the following season. Arian Foster was the consensus top overall player when the 2011 draft season came around, but he missed two of the following season's first three games and didn't get it going until late in October.
This is just the way it is.
With that in mind, here's a look at the 50 biggest fantasy disappointments in the first three weeks of the 2012 season. You will see players who haven't performed up to expectations because they haven't been able to get on the field consistently. You will also see players who have just stunk it up through the early part of the season.
Keep in mind that it is nearly impossible to assess the value of touchdown totals for players outside of the quarterback position through three games. Therefore, you will see receivers who are on pace for 16 touchdowns on this list. That is just the nature of the beast.
Without further ado...
50. Fred Davis, Tight End, Washington Redskins
2011: 59 receptions, 796 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games.
Projected 2012: 59 receptions, 757 yards and zero touchdowns.
Prior to being suspended for the final four games of the 2011 season, Fred Davis was on pace to break the 1,000-yard mark. He was well on his way to becoming a fantasy stud.
Through three games this season, Davis has struggled. He has only been targeted 16 times, which is extremely surprising considering that one would expect rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III to look for his tight end more often.
Davis ranks 20th among tight ends in fantasy points.
49. Titus Young, Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions
2011: 48 receptions, 607 yards and six touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 43 receptions, 543 yards and five touchdowns.
After excelling in the Lions' offseason program, many expected Titus Young to be a breakout performer in 2012. I had even come to the conclusion that he would be a solid No. 2 receiving option in fantasy football.
Of course, that hasn't happened to date.
In fact, Young is on pace to see his numbers drop across the board after a stellar rookie campaign. A lot of this could have to do with the struggles we have seen from quarterback Matthew Stafford, but the second-year receiver definitely belongs on this list.
48. Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars
Projected 2012: 21 receptions, 165 yards and zero touchdowns.
A lot of fantasy owners (myself included) jumped the gun on Justin Blackmon after his stellar preseason performance.
Blackmon has been targeted 15 times and has only come away with a reception a little more than 25 percent of the time. That's not the ratio you look for in a consistent fantasy producer.
Look for the 2012 first-round pick to improve as the season progresses, but the idea of him being a solid option in standard leagues this season is pretty much gone.
47. Shane Vereen, Running Back, New England Patriots
Statistics not applicable due to injuries.
Experts were expecting big things out of Shane Vereen, a second-year running back from California. He was supposed to be splitting carries with Stevan Ridley heading into the 2012 season.
He touched the ball only 15 times as a rookie last season and has yet to play a down in the first three games this season due to a foot injury.
While we will probably see Vereen on the field soon, with the way Ridley has been performing, he isn't going to make any type of fantasy impact.
46. Randy Moss, Wide Receiver, San Francisco 49ers
Projected 2012: 43 receptions, 469 yards and five touchdowns (Did not play in 2011).
Randy Moss hasn't played nearly as many snaps as we originally thought he would, and he has only been targeted 11 times through three games.
The good news is that Moss has come down with eight receptions and a touchdown on those 11 targets, an excellent ratio.
If San Francisco decides to utilize the future Hall of Fame receiver more down the stretch, he could be a solid late-season pickup.
He's definitely someone to keep an eye on.
45. Marcedes Lewis, Tight End, Jacksonville Jaguars
2011: 39 receptions, 460 yards and zero touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 32 receptions, 320 yards and five touchdowns.
Marcedes Lewis has always been an enigmatic figure in fantasy football. He has talent and a history of production.
That being said, the former first-round pick has been inconsistent at best since breaking onto the scene with a 10-touchdown performance in 2010.
Over the course of his last 19 games, Lewis is averaging just 2.5 receptions and fewer than 29 yards per outing.
44. Greg Little, Wide Receiver, Cleveland Browns
2011: 61 receptions, 709 yards and four touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 37 receptions, 395 yards and five touchdowns.
What a dramatic drop-off by Greg Little—something I did not see coming. The second-year receiver from North Carolina has put up one or no fantasy points two of his three outings.
Some of this could be due to the Browns starting a rookie quarterback, but for now Little is nothing more than a waiver-wire pickup.
I was expecting 800 receiving yards. Little is on pace for about half of that production.
43. Kenny Britt, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Titans
Statistics not applicable due to injuries and suspension.
Last year, it was injuries. This season, it is a combination of injuries and a suspension. Either way, Kenny Britt has been off the fantasy football register for a while now.
Still, it is nearly impossible to pass up on the troubled but talented receiver come draft day.
Taking him as a late-round pickup seemed to make sense entering the season, but so far it hasn't turned out that way.
Britt has 60 receiving yards in two games. He was limited in action against the San Diego Chargers in his season debut, but he played considerably more against the Detroit Lions last week.
I still wouldn't touch him as a regular contributor in re-draft leagues. Taking him doesn't make much sense.
42. Coby Fleener, Tight End, Indianapolis Colts
Projected 2012: 43 receptions, 523 yards and zero touchdowns.
I expected Coby Fleener to have a stellar rookie season with Andrew Luck and the Colts. But the rookie second-round pick has struggled through the first three games of the season.
He has caught two passes and recorded one fantasy point. Those are not exactly the numbers that I was looking for from the talented young tight end.
Fleener was never going to be a true TE1 option as a rookie, but many expected him to be a solid backup. That hasn't happened yet.
41. Michael Turner, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
2011: 1,340 rushing yards, 1,508 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 821 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Michael Turner was never an RB1 option for most fantasy owners heading into this season. Most of us knew that the dynamics weren't there for him to be that productive for the Falcons, who made the decision to limit his workload.
With that in mind, we are looking at a 500-yard drop in terms of production. This is a huge difference from last season.
But now that it appears that Jacquizz Rodgers isn't capable of taking carries away from Turner, we could see the veteran running back's role increase. I just don't see him coming close to matching his performance from last season.
In fact, Turner is on pace to have his worst fantasy season since he was LaDainian Tomlinson's backup for the San Diego Chargers in 2007.
40. Rashad Jennings, Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars
Statistics not applicable due to injury.
Rashad Jennings was jumping up draft boards prior to the start of the regular season. It appeared that the 2010 breakout star was going to get a lot of touches as Maurice Jones-Drew was in the midst of what looked to be a lengthy holdout.
But Jones-Drew reported to camp and immediately took over the starting job for the Jaguars.
Meanwhile, Jennings went down in the first game with a knee injury and has a total of nine touches so far this season.
The former Liberty standout jumped onto the scene as a second-year player for Jacksonville in 2010, recording nearly 700 yards as the primary backup to Jones-Drew. He missed the entire 2011 season and is dealing with injuries again.
Jennings is only owned by 20.5 percent of fantasy owners on ESPN. That is down from more than 60 percent in late August.
39. Mark Ingram, Running Back, New Orleans Saints
2011: 474 rushing yards, 520 total yards and five touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 421 total yards and five touchdowns.
Mark Ingram wasn't nearly as high on fantasy boards this season as he was entering his rookie campaign in 2011. That being said, there were a lot of owners holding out hope that he would be able to provide the Saints with a consistent short-yardage and red-zone threat.
That hasn't happened to date. First, the Saints are finding themselves behind in a lot of early-season games. This has taken them away from the run. Second, Ingram hasn't performed up to snuff. He is averaging fewer than three yards an attempt and 26 yards per game.
Those are not numbers you expect from a former first-round pick.
38. Jermichael Finley, Tight End, Green Bay Packers
2011: 55 receptions, 767 yards and eight touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 80 receptions, 709 yards and five touchdowns.
Jermichael Finley entered the 2011 season with high fantasy expectations. He was coming off a tremendous five-game stretch and postseason performance in 2010. However, too many dropped passes held the talented tight end back a great deal last year.
Things haven't changed through three games this year. Instead, Finley appears to be just as inept catching the ball.
More importantly, he is averaging fewer than 10 yards per reception as the Packers continue to go with the dink-and-dunk passing game.
I don't see Finley ever living up to his TE1 capabilities.
37. Jacquizz Rodgers, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
2011: 205 rushing yards, 393 total yards and two touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 304 rushing yards, 560 total yards and five touchdowns.
Quiz Rodgers is averaging a paltry 2.9 yards per attempt and 16 total yards per game through the Falcons' first three games.
Anyone who picked him up to be a solid flex option has been disappointed to date. You need someone to be able to contribute on a consistent basis at this position in your lineup. Thus far, Rodgers has been unable to do that.
Additionally, Rodgers has just seven receptions for 48 yards through three games. That is definitely alarming for fantasy owners.
You can also expect Atlanta to feature Michael Turner a bit more because his production has been much better than that of Rodgers at this point.
36. Dexter McCluster, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
2011: 844 total yards and two touchdowns
Projected 2012: 784 total yards and zero touchdowns
Most fantasy football "experts" came to the conclusion that the Chiefs had finally found a role for Dexter McCluster heading into 2012.
It hasn't turned out that way. The talented skill-position player from Mississippi is on pace to gain fewer yards than he did during a breakout 2011 campaign.
He has 13 receptions for 142 yards through three games and hasn't played a role in the running game, rushing the ball just once. More importantly, he was limited in practice on Wednesday and remains questionable for Kansas City's game with the San Diego Chargers this week.
35. Roy Helu, Running Back, Washington Redskins
2011: 640 rushing yards, 1,019 total yards and three touchdowns.
Projected 2012 statistics not applicable due to lack of playing time and injuries.
It was definitely looking like Roy Helu was going to be the Redskins' starting running back when the preseason began.
How times have changed.
Washington has now placed Helu on the injured reserve list, and he will miss the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Alfred Morris has been one of the league's most surprisingly productive rookies.
This has been disappointing for fantasy owners who selected Helu during the preseason.
34. Jonathan Stewart, Running Back, Carolina Panthers
2011: 761 rushing yards, 1,174 total yards and five touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 714 rushing yards, 986 total yards and five touchdowns.
Jonathan Stewart was limited in practice on Wednesday and is questionable for the Panthers' NFC South showdown with the Atlanta Falcons after missing Week 3.
The talented running back finds himself on this list mostly due to nagging toe and ankle injuries that have plagued him early on this season. Stewart has also seen his production slip in each of the last two seasons after recording a career-high 1,133 rushing yards in 2009.
Though he may hold some value in keeper leagues, Stewart isn't even a viable RB2 or flex option in standard leagues at this point.
33. Anquan Boldin, Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens
2011: 57 receptions, 887 yards and three touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 53 receptions, 629 yards and five touchdowns.
Many of us saw this coming. Torrey Smith was going to take over as the Baltimore Ravens No. 1 wide receiver in 2012, and that has gone according to plan through three games.
Anquan Boldin has seen his yardage average drop about 25 yards per game from last season as he attempts to make the adjustment to being a secondary option.
The transition has been difficult, to say the least. Boldin has recorded just four fantasy points over the past two games after putting up 12 in the Ravens' season-opening win against the Cincinnati Bengals.
32. Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
Projected 2012: 4,512 yards, 27 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
Sure, the 4,500 yards and 27 touchdowns are strong fantasy numbers. That Andrew Luck has struggled with decision making and throwing into tight windows surprises me the most. He is on pace to throw 21 interceptions, which I didn't even think was possible just a month ago.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft will progress as the season moves along. This should help him cut down on the mistakes and continue to rise up fantasy boards.
He just isn't there quite yet.
31. Vincent Jackson, Wide Receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2011: 60 receptions, 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 53 receptions, 1,088 yards and five touchdowns.
While his numbers might not have decreased from a season ago, we were expecting more from Vincent Jackson on a consistent basis after he joined the Buccaneers in the offseason.
Outside of a stellar 18-point performance against the New York Giants in the second game of the season, Jackson has struggled to make an impact. He only recorded a total of six fantasy points in games against the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys.
30. DeAngelo Williams, Running Back, Carolina Panthers
2011: 836 rushing yards, 971 total yards and seven touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 629 rushing yards, 778 total yards and five touchdowns.
Here's yet another Panthers running back on this list; DeAngelo Williams finds himself here due to a lack of production. Unlike Jonathan Stewart, this former first-round pick has seen his numbers drop in 2012.
He is averaging fewer than four yards per rush and fewer than 40 yards per game thus far in 2012. Williams has recorded seven or fewer fantasy points in two of the three games this season, though he put up 11 against the awful New Orleans Saints defense two weeks ago.
Even with Stewart questionable due to injuries, I advise against suiting up Williams on Sundays, at least until he is able to regain his 2009 form.
29. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Wide Receiver, Oakland Raiders
2011: 64 receptions, 975 yards and four touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 48 receptions, 522 yards and five touchdowns (prior to injury).
Darrius Heyward-Bey was having a down season prior to a devastating head injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. He had recorded only seven receptions and eight fantasy points in the Raiders' first two games.
It was expected that the former first-round pick would have a breakout 2012 fantasy campaign after recording nearly 1,000 receiving yards and four touchdowns last season.
According to The San Francisco Chronicle, there is "no timetable for Heyward-Bey's return." This is definitely something to keep an eye on following his scary head-on collision with the Steelers' Ryan Mundy last week.
28. Julio Jones, Wide Receiver, Atlanta Falcons
2011: 54 receptions, 959 yards and eight touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 80 receptions, 1,008 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Like I said before, at this early point in the season, you simply can't look at touchdowns as they relate to any other position outside of quarterback.
That said, the 16 projected touchdowns you see from Julio Jones here don't mean a whole heck of a lot.
Outside of those touchdowns, Jones hasn't been impressive in terms of fantasy football. He is on pace to record just over 1,000 yards and has seen his average per reception drop a great deal from last season.
Those are two indicators that the former first-round pick isn't ready to break out and be a true WR1 in standard leagues.
While I do have Jones on this list, I believe he will break out at some point in the not-too-distant future. If that is the case, this will be the only time you see the talented young receiver on a list of this nature.
27. Ben Tate, Running Back, Houston Texans
2011: 942 rushing yards, 1,040 total yards and four touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 565 rushing yards, 805 total yards and 10 touchdowns.
That Ben Tate is "on pace" for 10 touchdowns means little.
He is struggling to find consistent success on the ground for the Texans so far this season. Outside of his whopping 21-point performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second game of the season, the talented running back has recorded a total of two fantasy points.
26. Maurice Jones-Drew, Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars
2011: 1,606 rushing yards, 1,980 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 1,674 rushing yards, 1,893 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
Prior to a breakout 177-yard performance against the Indianapolis Colts that saw Maurice Jones-Drew put up 24 fantasy points, he had struggled through the first two games. Most of this has to do with the talented running back getting back into game shape after an extensive holdout that lasted well into the preseason.
With that in mind, Jones-Drew has been a disappointment.
But there is absolutely no reason to believe that he won't return to 2011 form and contribute RB1 numbers. In fact, he is already at that point following a stellar performance against Indianapolis.
25. Fred Jackson, Running Back, Buffalo Bills
2011: 934 rushing yards, 1,376 total yards and six touchdowns.
2012 projections not applicable due to injury.
Again, someone with injury issues finds himself on this list. Fred Jackson has only played parts of one game since being injured against the Miami Dolphins in November of last season. Jackson is one of the most productive fantasy running backs when he is actually on the field. The problem has been his inability to suit up on Sundays recently.
Many people, myself included, had Jackson as a solid RB1 option heading into the season. With the emergence of C.J. Spiller and consistent injury concerns about Jackson, it is hard to imagine being able to count on him anymore.
The Buffalo News released the following report following Jackson's Wednesday practice leading into Week 4.
Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson wasn't overly pleased with how his right knee responded at practice today....How Jackson's injured knee feels Thursday morning will be critical to determining his chances of playing Sunday.
Translation: Hold off on suiting up Jackson for at least another week.
24. Jordy Nelson, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers
2011: 68 receptions, 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 69 receptions, 891 yards and zero touchdowns.
Jordy Nelson is one of several Green Bay Packers on this list. A lot of that has to do with their early-season struggles on offense.
After putting up 15 touchdowns and a whopping 210 fantasy points last season, Nelson has caught only 13 passes and put up 17 points through three games.
As with Greg Jennings, you can expect Nelson's numbers to go up a great deal as the Packers offense gets back on track.
23. LeSean McCoy, Running Back, Philadelphia Eagles
2011: 1,309 rushing yards, 1,624 total yards and 20 touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 1,392 rushing yards, 1,596 total yards and five touchdowns.
LeSean McCoy has been disappointing thus far this season simply because the Eagles have failed to utilize the talented running back.
How the heck is he averaging fewer than 20 attempts per game while Michael Vick is putting it up nearly 42 times an outing? Does that make any sense?
While McCoy is on pace for nearly as many total yards as last season, imagine what these numbers would look like if he were rushing the ball five or six times more per game.
This has absolutely nothing to do with McCoy and everything to do with the ineptitude of the Eagles' offensive coaching staff.
22. DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys
2011: 897 rushing yards, 1,080 total yards and two touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 1,136 rushing yards, 1,440 total yards and five touchdowns.
DeMarco Murray was, and still is, getting RB1 player treatment in fantasy football. This, despite his scoring a total of three touchdowns in 16 career games, which is not starting material if you ask me.
His yards-per-attempt average has gone down by 1.2 yards, which isn't a good indicator, either.
Murray ranks 19th among fantasy running backs with 30 points through three games. This isn't the type of production that many expected from him heading into the season.
With that in mind, I don't expect Murray to continue this struggle. He has put up 270 total yards in three games and is well on his way to living up to that RB1 billing.
21. Marques Colston, Wide Receiver, New Orleans Saints
2011: 80 receptions, 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 53 receptions, 853 yards and zero touchdowns.
As is the case with nearly every Saints player, Marques Colston is struggling. After putting up three multiple-score games that saw him record more than 20 fantasy points last season, Colston has just 10 catches and 13 fantasy points through three games this season.
The issues don't stop there. Colston, who has three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, has only caught a little more than half the passes thrown in his direction. This means that Drew Brees is attempting to get the talented receiver involved but is coming away with doughnuts most of the time.
If Colston doesn't get his act together, you can expect Brees to start to look in the direction of Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham a lot more.
20. Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Denver Broncos
2010: 4,700 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Projected 2012: 4,395 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Let me be clear about one thing: No quarterback would put up consistent fantasy numbers going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans in three consecutive weeks.
It promises to get a whole lot easier against the Oakland Raiders this weekend.
That being said, Manning has struggled a great deal through the initial part of the 2012 season. He is on the QB1 fringe in 10-team leagues, right ahead of another struggling fantasy quarterback, Tom Brady.
Again, it is too early to project how the rest of Manning's season will turn out. All three of his interceptions came in the first quarter against Atlanta, so those numbers might be skewed a bit.
Check back in a few weeks to see where Manning is at that point.
19. Jamaal Charles, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs
2010: 1,467 rushing yards, 1,935 total yards and eight touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 1,722 rushing yards, 2,111 total yards and five touchdowns.
Take away Jamaal Charles' stellar performance against a horrible New Orleans Saints defense last week, and you will easily understand why he is on this list.
It isn't like the Chiefs will be playing a defense nearly that bad for the remainder of the 2012 season.
In two games against teams that can actually play NFL-caliber defense, Charles has recorded 90 rushing yards on 19 carries. While those numbers aren't indicative of the production we will see from the talented running back, they do go a long way in determining why he is on this list.
18. Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears
2011: 81 receptions, 1,214 yards and six touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 85 receptions, 1,141 yards and five touchdowns.
Brandon Marshall is nearly on pace to repeat his 2011 performance. That isn't the point here. Many people expected the enigmatic receiver to be a viable WR1 option, considering he was reuniting with Jay Cutler in Chicago.
That hasn't happened quite yet.
Marshall continues to struggle with drops and has caught a little more than half the passes thrown in his direction. He ranks 26th among wide receivers in fantasy points. If you take away Marshall's season-opening 17-point performance against the Indianapolis Colts, the numbers aren't even pedestrian at this point.
17. Ryan Mathews, Running Back, San Diego Chargers
2011: 1,091 rushing yards, 1,546 total yards and six touchdowns.
Projected 2012 statistics not applicable due to injury.
After missing the first two games with a fractured clavicle, Ryan Mathews netted 44 yards on 10 rushes in his season debut against the Atlanta Falcons last week. But the former first-round pick has now missed 10 games due to injuries in his first three seasons.
Many people were expecting Mathews to be a viable RB1 option heading into the season. While this might be the case, he continues to struggle to make an impact on a weekly basis. That's something you can't tolerate from your top running back in fantasy football.
It really is that simple.
16. Matt Forte, Running Back, Chicago Bears
2011: 997 rushing yards, 1,487 total yards and four touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 666 rushing yards, 1,200 total yards and six touchdowns.
While it does appear that Matt Forte could be ready to go on Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys, I would definitely be hesitant on starting the former Pro Bowl running back. That statement alone should indicate just how disappointing Forte has been so far this season.
Of course, it all has to do with injuries for Forte. He missed the Bears' victory over the St. Louis Rams last week after putting up 200 total yards and a score on 30 touches in the Bears' first two outings.
With the addition of Michael Bush, who seems better suited than Forte for short-yardage situations, I expect Forte to take a hit in terms of fantasy production. After all, he didn't fare all too well in those situations last season.
Time will tell.
15. Darren McFadden, Running Back, Oakland Raiders
2011: 614 rushing yards, 768 total yards and five touchdowns in seven games.
Projected 2012: 891 rushing yards, 1,462 total yards and five touchdowns.
Darren McFadden broke through big-time last week against what had been a stellar Pittsburgh Steelers rush defense. This could mean that the talented running back is ready to show us that the first half of his 2011 season wasn't a fluke.
It is his performance in the first two games that puts McFadden on this list. He recorded a total of 54 yards on 26 rushes against the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins.
Additionally, if you take away McFadden's long touchdown run against Pittsburgh, he is averaging only a little more than two yards per attempt this season.
14. Tony Romo, Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
2011: 4,184 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Projected 2012: 4,485 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Tony Romo has struggled in his last two games. The former Pro Bowl quarterback has thrown one touchdown pass and two interceptions during that span.
These are numbers that fantasy owners do not expect from a quarterback who threw 34 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions in his prior 17 starts.
As someone that advocated for Romo as a high pick in fantasy drafts, I am more surprised than anyone by his lack of production. I don't think this type of performance is sustainable moving forward.
Expect Romo to improve a lot as the season progresses.
13. Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints
2011: 5,476 passing yards, 46 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Projected 2012: 4,821 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.
More than 4,800 passing yards and 37 touchdowns would be a fantastic fantasy season for a vast majority of quarterbacks. Both of those numbers represent dramatic decreases from last season for Drew Brees.
More importantly, the Saints quarterback has provided a few negative plays for fantasy owners the first three games. He has thrown five interceptions on a league-high 137 pass attempts. That equates to a pick for about every 27 attempts, compared to a much better fantasy ratio of one interception per 46 attempts last season.
Brees has seen his fantasy output drop a great deal. He is on pace for 66 fewer fantasy points than last season.
12. Wes Welker, Wide Receiver, New England Patriots
2011: 122 receptions, 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 85 receptions, 1,339 yards and zero touchdowns.
Outside of a stellar performance against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday, Wes Welker has been nowhere to be found this season. He recorded a total of 10 fantasy points in the Patriots' first two games.
A lot of this had to do with New England's struggles on offense. In fact, once the Pats went in Welker's direction last week, their offense seemed to come alive.
Still, it is alarming that Welker is averaging fewer than nine targets through the first three games. I wonder if the addition of Brandon Lloyd has had a negative impact on his fantasy output.
11. Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers
2011: 67 receptions, 949 yards and nine touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 83 receptions, 518 yards and zero touchdowns.
Greg Jennings being on this list probably doesn't come as much of a surprise. While he is on pace for more receptions than last season, Jennings has been victimized by injuries and the Packers lack of offensive production.
He has failed to score a touchdown and is averaging about six yards a pop this season. Those numbers are going to go up once Jennings returns to full health, but for now he belongs on this list.
10. Steven Jackson, Running Back, St. Louis Rams
2011: 1,145 rushing yards, 1,478 total yards and six touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 747 rushing yards, 939 total yards and zero touchdowns.
Has Steven Jackson finally started to show his age? Or does his lack of production have more to do with pedestrian run-blocking? And what about his current injury issue?
I guess it could be a combination of all three.
Regardless, Jackson's production has dropped a great deal from last season. That is the bottom line. He ranks 36th among fantasy running backs in points, right behind Miami Dolphins rookie Lamar Miller.
That has to tell you something.
9. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots
2011: 5,235 passing yards, 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Projected 2012: 4,731 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Tom Brady is on pace for his lowest touchdown total since his first full season as the Patriots starting quarterback in 2001. I don't think those numbers are going to be continue, but they are alarming for fantasy owners.
More importantly, it seems that New England is a little bit off in regard to its passing game. At least, the Pats were before a breakout performance against the Baltimore Ravens last week.
That Andrew Luck has more fantasy point than Brady through three games is reason enough to have Brady on this list.
No one would have expected that in August.
8. Rob Gronkowski, Tight End, New England Patriots
2011: 90 receptions, 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 75 receptions, 832 yards and 11 touchdowns.
It would be unrealistic to expect Rob Gronkowski to repeat his 2011 performance, but I definitely did not expect a drop like this through three games.
Anyone who said they expected Gronkowski to be No. 8 overall among fantasy tight ends through three weeks is either lying or knows absolutely nothing about football.
7. Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys
2011: 63 receptions, 928 yards and nine touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 69 receptions, 875 yards and zero touchdowns.
Talent doesn't necessarily equate to performance on the football field. The same thing can be said of talent as it relates to fantasy football.
After a solid offseason, a ton of "experts" were expecting big things from Bryant heading into 2012. It goes without saying that this hasn't happened.
That Bryant is ranked just ahead of Travis Benjamin in terms of fantasy production has to tell you something. He has failed to score a touchdown and hasn't had a double-digit scoring performance in any of the first three games.
Talk about a fantasy dud.
6. Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals
2011: 80 receptions, 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 75 receptions, 965 yards and five touchdowns.
I absolutely despise putting Larry Fitzgerald on this list, but it has to be done. The future Hall of Fame wide receiver is on pace for career-low numbers in receptions and touchdowns. In fact, he isn't even on pace to record 1,000 yards for just the second time in his stellar career.
Of course, a lot of this has to do with Arizona's less-than-spectacular quarterback play and emphasis on the run game. The Cardinals have only passed the ball on exactly half of their plays thus far. In comparison, they ran the ball just over 41 percent of the time last season.
I guess when you are winning down the stretch it makes sense to play ball-control offense. In terms of production, Fitzgerald has only caught 58 percent of the passes thrown his way this season.
All in all, it promises to be a down season for the veteran receiver. While this could equate to a playoff berth in Arizona, it won't help fantasy owners.
5. Michael Vick, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
2011: 3,303 passing yards, 589 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Projected 2012: 4,826 passing yards, 501 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns and 32 interceptions.
As misleading as that 32-interception projection might be, it tells you exactly how bad Michael Vick has been this season. In short, it has been an utterly disastrous start for the former Pro Bowl quarterback.
It has gotten to the point where Andy Reid has had to field questions about possibly looking in the direction of rookie signal-caller Nick Foles at some point this season.
Vick can't hang on to the ball, which has led to a lot of negative plays in fantasy football circles. His 42 fantasy points rank below rookie Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. That is simply stunning, if you ask me.
At this point, it has to be concluded that Vick isn't a viable QB1 option. Instead, owners who have solid backup options have made the decision to drop the veteran in lieu of more consistent production.
That Christian Ponder, Alex Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick have to be considered better fantasy options than Vick tells the entire truth here.
4. Matthew Stafford, Quarterback, Detroit Lions
2011: 5,038 passing yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Projected 2012: 4,602 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
I saw first-hand just how much Matthew Stafford has dropped off from a season ago. He struggled with pocket presence, field command and accuracy against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2. In short, Stafford looked like a shell of his 2011 self.
It is startling that Stafford, who threw three or more touchdowns seven times last season, has thrown only three touchdown passes in three games this year.
Adding insult to injury, Stafford suffered a hip injury in practice last Thursday and had to leave the Lions game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. While he is likely to play this week, fantasy owners should take note.
3. Cam Newton, Quarterback, Carolina Panthers
2011: 4,051 passing yards, 706 rushing yards, 4,757 total yards, 35 total touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Projected 2012: 4,256 passing yards, 432 rushing yards, 22 total touchdowns and 27 interceptions.
Cam Newton is ranked this high simply because he is on pace for 13 fewer touchdowns and 10 more interceptions than last season. It doesn't take a math major to understand what that is going to do to his fantasy value.
Of course, Newton isn't helped by the three interceptions he threw against the New York Giants last week. And it is possible that that could be a growing trend.
Newton is also on pace for nearly 300 fewer rushing yards and is leading a Panthers offense that continues to struggle outside of a stellar performance against a lackluster New Orleans Saints team in Week 2.
While we might not find Newton on this list come midseason, he definitely belongs here right now.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers
2011: 4,643 passing yards, 45 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Projected 2012: 3,973 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
It is nearly impossible to expect Aaron Rodgers to produce at a high fantasy level when he has been sacked 16 times in three games, including a whopping eight times against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half of their Week 3 matchup.
More notably, the Packers have struggled on offense. They rank 26th in scoring, a far cry from their record-breaking performance last season.
Rodgers is tied with Mark Sanchez in terms of fantasy points this season. Do I really need to say anymore?
It is nearly impossible to expect this lack of production from Rodgers to continue. He has faced three of the top defenses in the NFC through the first three games and promises to gain momentum moving forward.
I don't expect to see Rodgers on this list at the end of the season.
1. Chris Johnson, Running Back, Tennessee Titans
2011: 1,047 rushing yards, 1,465 total yards and four touchdowns.
Projected 2012: 240 rushing yards, 576 total yards and zero touchdowns.
Ouch, these numbers are absolutely horrible. It has gotten to the point where people are considering dropping Chris Johnson from their lineup altogether. Although there might be some hope that Johnson will regain old form, it doesn't appear that is going to happen anytime soon.
Just look at his numbers for a second. After recording 2,500 total yards in 2009, it has been all downhill since. Johnson has seen his rushing yards, rushing average and touchdowns drop in each of the last two seasons.
He has now hit rock bottom following the first three games of the 2012 season. Johnson has put up a total of eight fantasy points and is averaging less than 1.5 yards per attempt.
Not only is Johnson no longer a viable RB1 option, I have a hard time recommending that people even start him as a flex player.
Until he proves us wrong, Johnson will forever be that enigmatic fantasy performer that we all began to know last season.
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