Ranking the 50 Biggest Fantasy Football Flops of 2012

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIDecember 28, 2012

Ranking the 50 Biggest Fantasy Football Flops of 2012

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    Fantasy football losses aren’t always the defeated owner’s fault. If you lost a game in fantasy this year, it could have happened for several reasons.

    Maybe you ran into a buzz saw of an opponent. Maybe injuries struck your fantasy team—which hurt the players involved more than you—and rendered it uncompetitive. Maybe your studs all happened to have bad matchups at the same time and couldn’t overcome the odds. Maybe you weren’t prepared for your draft and simply ended up with a bad team.

    Well, that part is your fault.

    Or maybe—just maybe—a guy for whom you and countless others had high expectations was just a colossal flop, for injury reasons or otherwise. Well over 50 players were drafted much higher among their positional contemporaries (according to Average Draft Position information on ESPN.com) than their season-to-date fantasy position rank suggests that they should have been.

    If you’ve got a lot of these top 50 flops on your fantasy roster, chances are that that’s why your team didn’t take home the title this winter.

50. Brandon Lloyd, WR, New England Patriots

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    Average Draft Position: 18

    Position Rank: 27

    Brandon Lloyd might be worth a top-20 look at WR next season after recording 341 yards and a touchdown on 23 catches in the last three weeks, but that was well after the New England Patriots addition buried you early this season. In the 12 games prior—Lloyd played in all of them—he totaled 50 catches for 561 yards and three scores.

49. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

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    Average Draft Position: 12

    Position Rank: 21

    Philip Rivers has nearly as many combined interceptions and fumbles lost (22) as touchdowns (24) this season. 

48. Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions

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    Average Draft Position: 46

    Position Rank: 66

    The Detroit Lions offense is Calvin Johnson and…Calvin Johnson. Titus Young took a crack at producing opposite Megatron, posting nine catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks. Young was a popular sleeper but finished the year with just 383 yards and four touchdowns on 33 receptions.

47. Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals

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    Average Draft Position: 33

    Position Rank: 54

    Beanie Wells’ total production in six 2012 games when he didn't score a touchdown: 54 carries, 119 yards, one catch, 24 receiving yards and a fumble lost. In the two games that he did, he totaled 115 yards and five scores on 34 carries.

    He was hurt for the other seven.

46. Randy Moss, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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    Average Draft Position: 43

    Position Rank: 71

    Randy Moss’ first season with the San Francisco 49ers looks nothing like his first year with the New England Patriots: He has three touchdowns on the year.

45. Ed Dickson, TE, Baltimore Ravens

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    Average Draft Position: 23

    Position Rank: 52

    Ed Dickson was at least supposed to be in a time share with Dennis Pitta at the tight end position for the Baltimore Ravens. As it turns out, Pitta is the Baltimore TE you want to own if you’re going to choose one—Dickson hasn’t caught more than two passes or scored a touchdown in any game this season.

44. Kevin Ogletree, WR, Dallas Cowboys

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    Average Draft Position: 39

    Position Rank: 71

    Kevin Ogletree was the hottest pickup in fantasy football after Week 1, when he recorded eight catches for 114 yards and two TDs against the New York Giants. Since then, he has recorded 22 catches for 297 yards and a touchdown.

43. Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets

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    Average Draft Position: 49

    Position Rank: 82

    Stephen Hill was the early-season consolation prize for fantasy owners who missed out on Kevin Ogletree in Week 1. The rookie caught five passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns while showing off his upside.

    Then Hill got hurt, the New York Jets offense imploded and he subsequently ended up on injured reserve. He didn’t record more than 55 yards in any game after Week 1, scoring just one total TD.

42. Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans

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    Average Draft Position: 28

    Position Rank: 66

    Ben Tate had a big game in Week 2 (97 total yards and two touchdowns), but the handcuff to Arian Foster registered double-digit touches in just one other game this season.

41. Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants

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    Average Draft Position: 52

    Position Rank: 103

    Rueben Randle’s rookie season didn’t live up to Mario Manningham’s prior production in New York. His best yardage game was 82 yards (in Week 5), and his yardage output in the lone game that he scored a touchdown (Week 12) was 26.

40. Laurent Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Average Draft Position: 54

    Position Rank: 115

    Laurent Robinson went from being a double-digit touchdown machine with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 to getting bageled in the category in 2012 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He missed several games due to concussions, catching a pass in just five outings this season.

39. Roy Helu, RB, Washington Redskins

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    Average Draft Position: 31

    Position Rank: 123

    If you thought Roy Helu—and not Alfred Morris—would be the Washington Redskins’ starting running back in 2012, you were wrong.

    Helu has two rushing attempts on the season.

38. Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets

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    Average Draft Position: 34

    Position Rank: 100

    Santonio Holmes wasn’t a huge part of the New York Jets’ offensive explosion in Week 1, as he caught four passes for 68 yards. He totaled 20 catches for 272 yards and a TD before hitting IR after four weeks.

37. Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans

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    Average Draft Position: 32

    Position Rank: 55

    We’ve witnessed running backs Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles come back triumphantly from ACL injuries. Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt had one too but has only gone over 70 yards receiving in one game this year.

36. Robert Meachem, WR, San Diego Chargers

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    Average Draft Position: 30

    Position Rank: 98

    Robert Meachem had exactly one good game for the San Diego Chargers from a fantasy perspective: against his former team, the New Orleans Saints. He caught three passes for a season-high 67 yards and his only two touchdowns this year.

    Then Danario Alexander took his job and ran off to the end zone to dance with it.

35. Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions

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    Average Draft Position: 30

    Position Rank: 75

    Kevin Smith had a good game Week 1 against the St. Louis Rams, posting 91 total yards and two touchdowns on 17 touches. He got 18 touches in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers and gained 70 yards without a score.

    Since Mikel Leshoure has been in the lineup, Smith’s best rushing performance has been a meager eight yards.

34. Cedric Benson, RB, Green Bay Packers

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    Average Draft Position: 29

    Position Rank: 65

    Cedric Benson was getting the touches for the Green Bay Packers—he topped 20 in three of his five games played—but he never eclipsed 100 total yards and scored a touchdown in the same game. That severely limited the rusher’s upside, but not as much as his foot injury, which kept him out for the remainder of the year.

33. DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Average Draft Position: 24

    Position Rank: 55

    DeSean Jackson had flashes this year: In three games, he totaled 313 yards and two touchdowns on 16 grabs. But in the others, he never topped 77 receiving yards and didn’t find the end zone. The Philadelphia Eagles speedster hasn’t played since Week 12 due to fractured ribs.

32. Tim Tebow, QB, New York Jets

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    Average Draft Position: 25

    Position Rank: 49

    We were all duped.

31. Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins

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    Average Draft Position: 27

    Position Rank: 48

    Pierre Garcon has been fighting through a foot injury all season. When he played, he’s been pretty good, with each of his four touchdowns being accompanied by 83 receiving yards or more in a game. The issue is the six games he’s missed and the 49 combined receiving yards in three others.

    Garcon may be a sleeper next season, if healthy.

30. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Average Draft Position: 26

    Position Rank: 47

    Antonio Brown has finally begun to visit the end zone with a degree of regularity, as he has scored a touchdown in each of his last three games. The problem is that he had one score in the 13 weeks before that and topped out at 97 yards in Week 16—after the fantasy owners who started him were likely eliminated from their postseason.

29. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers

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    Average Draft Position: 27

    Position Rank: 47

    2012 has been a lost campaign for Jonathan Stewart. Through 16 weeks, the Carolina Panthers runner averaged just 3.6 yards over his 93 carries and scored just two total touchdowns.

28. Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings

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    Average Draft Position: 17

    Position Rank: 34

    Percy Harvin’s name was in MVP discussions early in the season. The Minnesota Vikings all-purpose playmaker caught 62 passes for 677 yards and three touchdowns. He even took 22 carries for 96 more yards and another score. It only took him nine games to put up those numbers too.

    Unfortunately, those nine games are the only nine that he will have played in 2012; Harvin is on IR with an ankle injury.

27. Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets

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    Average Draft Position: 20

    Position Rank: 35

    Tight ends as a whole have been disappointing this season, but Dustin Keller has to be frustrated with the outcome of his 2012 season. He has missed seven of his team’s 15 games thus far.

26. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Average Draft Position: 21

    Position Rank: 43

    Dwayne Bowe had not scored a touchdown since Week 4 before hearing his name flying around in trade rumors and finally putting his 2012 season to rest following Week 14. He finished with 801 yards and three touchdowns on 59 catches.

25. Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Average Draft Position: 17

    Position Rank: 29

    Alex Smith has only thrown five interceptions this season. He’s also tossed 13 touchdowns for the San Francisco 49ers, making his fantasy flop situation particularly peculiar. Colin Kaepernick has supplanted him as the starter, limiting Smith’s most recent start to Week 10 vs. the St. Louis Rams.

24. Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills

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    Average Draft Position: 17

    Position Rank: 36

    Fred Jackson’s 2012 campaign has been marred by injury. As one of two hyper-productive Buffalo Bills backfield playmakers, his injury woes have allowed C.J. Spiller to emerge as a top-10 fantasy running back.

    Jackson reached 100 total yards three times this year. He will have missed six games after Week 17.

23. Philadelphia Eagles D/ST

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    Average Draft Position: 6

    Position Rank: 28

    To say that one of the most highly-drafted fantasy D/ST units was a disappointment this season would be a gross understatement. The Philadelphia Eagles have picked off precisely one pass since firing their defensive coordinator over two months ago.

22. San Francisco 49ers D/ST

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    Average Draft Position: 1

    Position Rank: 7

    The San Francisco 49ers D/ST was drafted in the seventh round of 10-team leagues on ESPN.com, on average. The Chicago Bears D/ST was taken a full three rounds later and has been far more productive.

    This lesson bears repeating: Wait on drafting your fantasy defense.

21. Mason Crosby, K, Green Bay Packers

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    Average Draft Position: 3

    Position Rank: 25

    That lesson goes double for kickers—especially kickers that have only been perfect on field-goal attempts in a game just three times over 15 games.

20. Baltimore Ravens D/ST

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    Average Draft Position: 2

    Position Rank: 14

    The Baltimore Ravens D/ST was selected in the early ninth round of the average 10-team ESPN.com draft. Based on season points to date, it probably shouldn’t have been drafted at all.

19. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans

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    Average Draft Position: 2

    Position Rank: 9

    Few, if any, receivers have been as boom-or-bust as Andre Johnson this season. In his top five fantasy scoring days, the Houston Texans superstar has averaged 160.6 yards and 0.8 touchdowns. In his other 10 outings, he’s put together averages of 65.4 yards and no scores.

    At least he’s played all of the Houston Texans’ games this season.

18. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans

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    Average Draft Position: 4

    Position Rank: 13

    Chris Johnson was a first-round pick in fantasy football but hasn’t lived up to expectations and has been extremely inconsistent. His season began as a nightmare—he had 45 rushing yards on 33 carries in his first three weeks—before fantasy owners began to dump him off to any takers in a trade.

    Then he turned it up, rushing for 91 or more yards in six of his next seven games. Just when confidence returned to Johnson as a must-start, he rushed for fewer than four yards per carry against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars defense.

    Since, he’s rushed for over 51 yards once (Week 15) and now has a new Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator.

17. Fred Davis, TE, Washington Redskins

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    Average Draft Position: 9

    Position Rank: 41

    Fred Davis was drafted as a top-10 tight end. He didn’t score a single touchdown in seven games with the Washington Redskins. 

16. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

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    Average Draft Position: 6

    Position Rank: 19

    Eli Manning hasn’t missed any time on the NFL field but didn’t show up in the touchdown column in four separate games for the New York Giants this season. In six others, he threw for just one score.

15. Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots

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    Average Draft Position: 6

    Position Rank: 16

    With the exception of Week 16 (one catch for 13 yards), Aaron Hernandez has had a strong close to the 2012 season. Between Week 13 and Week 15, he caught at least eight passes for at least 58 yards per game with three total touchdowns.

    Unfortunately, he missed almost half the season (seven games) prior to that.

14. Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers

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    Average Draft Position: 5

    Position Rank: 19

    Jermichael Finley has become more well-known for his drops than his fantasy production. Despite playing in more than twice as many games as Aaron Hernandez, he trails the New England Patriots tight end in total 2012 fantasy points.

13. Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers

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    Average Draft Position: 4

    Position Rank: 14

    The most productive fantasy day by a San Diego Chargers tight end is Dante Rosario’s four-catch, 48-yard, three-touchdown outburst in Week 2.

    Dante Rosario is not Antonio Gates.

12. Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers

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    Average Draft Position: 3

    Position Rank: 15

    Vernon Davis has been the most productive Davis at the tight end position in fantasy football, but that’s about it. He’s been blanked twice and totaled five catches for 56 yards in his last five games.

11. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers

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    Average Draft Position: 13

    Position Rank: 33

    Jordy Nelson had two massive games in Week 6 and Week 7, combining to produce 17 catches for 243 yards and four touchdowns. Besides that, he has 29 grabs for 415 yards and more missed games (four) than touchdowns (two).

    He was also targeted once against the Arizona Cardinals and left the game before coming up with a catch, but fantasy owners should go right back to the well in 2013. Nelson may be Aaron Rodgers’ No. 1 WR.

10. Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Average Draft Position: 6

    Position Rank: 23

    Mike Wallace has eight touchdowns on the season but very few big fantasy games by virtue of low yardage totals. That may be a product of injuries to his Pittsburgh Steelers signal-callers, but it’s irrefutable that Wallace’s 311 yards and two touchdowns in his last seven games aren’t going to cut it as a No. 1 fantasy receiver.

    When you consider that he scored both touchdowns and racked up 112 yards against the San Diego Chargers in Week 14, the numbers become more disappointing: 199 yards over six games.

9. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders

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    Average Draft Position: 10

    Position Rank: 24

    Darren McFadden has three total touchdowns this season and four missed games. It’s a massive gamble to consider him a No. 1 fantasy running back—like he was drafted in 2012—next year.

8. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys

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    Average Draft Position: 9

    Position Rank: 24

    DeMarco Murray’s promising sophomore season was derailed early in Week 6, when the Dallas Cowboys running back had to leave the game after accumulating 97 total yards on 15 touches against the Baltimore Ravens.

    He missed the next six games due to a foot injury, and Murray’s only 100-yard rushing day was in Week 1.

7. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Average Draft Position: 3

    Position Rank: 20

    LeSean McCoy’s concussion prevented him from playing in four of the Philadelphia Eagles’ games this season. The career 4.6 yards-per-carry guy is averaging just 4.2 yards per tote this season with a long of 34 yards and a career high in games missed.

    To top it off, McCoy has scored two rushing touchdowns in 2012—15 fewer than his career-high 17 TDs in 2011.

6. Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers

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    Average Draft Position: 14

    Position Rank: 30

    Ryan Mathews has matching clavicle breaks to thank for his bookend two-game absences this season. In 12 games for the San Diego Chargers, the alleged feature back narrowly missed 1,000 total yards (959 on 223 touches) but scored a single touchdown: a rushing score against the New Orleans Saints in Week 5.

5. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Average Draft Position: 8

    Position Rank: 27

    Similar to Philip Rivers, Michael Vick has more combined picks and fumbles (14) than total touchdowns (12) this season. Vick has missed six games as the Philadelphia Eagles toyed with the idea of trotting out Nick Foles as their starting quarterback, but an injury to Foles has given Vick the job in Week 17.

    Vick likely won’t be in Philadelphia in 2013. His rushing is a coveted—albeit no longer rare—commodity in fantasy football. Because the dynamic star should get another shot somewhere next year, he bears watching in the offseason.

4. Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants

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    Average Draft Position: 10

    Position Rank: 49

    It seems like Hakeem Nicks has missed more than three games this season—and the reason is deeper than his goose egg in Week 15. Nicks has already missed a career-high number of games, is averaging a career low in yards per catch (13.1) and the lowest catches (4.4) and yards per game (57.7) since his rookie season.

    Nicks has even scored just three touchdowns this year: half as many as his rookie year in 2009.

    All of this adds up to a massively disappointing 2012—and a major sleeper candidate for 2013.

3. Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers

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    Average Draft Position: 5

    Position Rank: 92

    Greg Jennings is the fourth-highest-scoring wide receiver on his own team. In seven games for the Green Bay Packers, Jennings has come up with 28 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. The 8.8 yards-per-catch average is the lowest in his career by far: Jennings’ worst season in that department outside of 2012 was his rookie year, when he averaged 14.0 yards per catch.

    Given that the Green Bay Packers offense kept rolling without him, it’s easy to imagine that Jennings will be in a different uniform next season.

    He already sees it that way.

2. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Average Draft Position: 5

    Position Rank: 46

    Maurice Jones-Drew hasn’t played a game since Week 7. The Jacksonville Jaguars featured back had exactly one game with more than 95 total yards—and it was a good one.

    He ran for 177 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, adding two catches for 16 yards, against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3. Other than that, he totaled 70 touches for 307 yards in five games. 2012 brings to a halt Jones-Drew’s three-year streak of 1,600 total yards or more.

1. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

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    Average Draft Position: 3

    Position Rank: 38

    Larry Fitzgerald is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL and has not missed a game since 2007—which is exactly why he is this season’s biggest fantasy flop. With 785 yards and four touchdowns on 69 catches through 15 games, Fitzgerald needs 215 yards in Week 17 to continue his five-year streak of 1,000-plus receiving yards into a sixth campaign.

    He has caught precisely one pass in four contests thus far and topped 100 yards just twice.

    A five-game stretch after the Arizona Cardinals bye (from Week 11 to Week 15) left Fitzgerald with 10 catches for 89 yards and no scores. If his name wasn’t Larry Fitzgerald, there’s absolutely no way that he’d still be owned in 99.7 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

    If the Cardinals add a capable quarterback this offseason, Fitz’s name will be on sleeper lists all over the place. He’ll provide even greater fantasy value if Arizona doesn’t add a QB, but if it doesn’t, it will probably have a new GM in 2014.

    Fitzgerald’s skills didn’t magically diminish—but adequate quarterback play certainly disappeared from under center in Arizona.

    For more fantasy football analysis, follow Jamal on Twitter