There is no foolproof way to avoid drafting busts.
Drafting busts can happen to the most prepared and astute fantasy players. It happens.
However, once a player goes belly up and singlehandedly destroys your team, he is not forever damaged goods. Far from it, actually. Seemingly every year there are reclamation projects who bounce back and provide great bang for your buck.
In the following slideshow, I will highlight nine players who have a great shot of bouncing back and who could become reliable players in 2013 once again.
Ryan Mathews’ season began and ended with a broken clavicle. In between, Mathews only played in 12 games en route to rushing for only 707 yards and one touchdown. Those are hardly the numbers owners were expecting of Mathews when they took him within the first three rounds in drafts.
The talent is too good with Mathews here. While he may be a moderate health risk, Mathews will be playing with a new head coach (Mike McCoy) and he’ll have plenty of time to heal up before the 2013 season commences.
Mathews will likely be drafted as a No.2 running back in most leagues and he’ll provide nice value in rounds three and four next year.
Sure, at the end of the day Matt Stafford was a solid, starting-caliber fantasy quarterback in 2012, as he passed for 4.967 yards.
However, when you go from throwing for 41 touchdowns in 2011 to just 20 this year, you’re bound to let a lot of people down. So, for the people that spent a first or second-round pick on Stafford, they are probably cursing his name in anger.
Expect Stafford to keep slinging away in 2013 and raise that touchdown total while going back to being one of the game’s elite signal callers. While he may not throw for 40 or so touchdowns next year, there is a good chance Stafford will find middle ground and be good for around 30 touchdowns in 2013.
Once again Darren McFadden disappointed his fantasy owners by missing a chunk of the season with an injury. This is (getting injured) nothing new with McFadden, but when he does play he at least puts up monster numbers. That was not the case this year.
In 12 games this season, McFadden only rushed for 707 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Compare that to the 614 rushing yards and four touchdowns that McFadden had in seven games in 2011 and 2012 looks horrible in contrast.
While he is bound to miss a game here and there, McFadden will prove to be a good bargain in the middle rounds of next year’s drafts. In regards to McFadden, the risk will be low with the reward being very high. So, in this instance the reward far outweighs the risk.
In 2012 Larry Fitzgerald hit rock bottom, as he had a career low in touchdowns (four); had the third-lowest amount of receptions (71) and second-lowest receiving yards (798) in his career.
It was not all on Fitzgerald, as he had a revolving door of quarterbacks who were flat-out atrocious. Between Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer throwing him the ball, Fitzgerald could never get going while trying to constantly battle double-teams.
Eventually the Cardinals will hire a new head coach and upgrade the quarterback position in the offseason. With new stability at the quarterback position, there is only one way for Fitzgerald’s 2013 season to go and that is up.
Phil Rivers was drafted this year with the intention of being a starter on a weekly basis.
Inconsistencies and a lack of good weapons doomed Rivers and he was never a reliable option as a starter.
With a new head coach in Mike McCoy who has done wonders for Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow in Denver the last couple of years, expect Rivers to gel with McCoy and go back to being a potent quarterback option.
With Rivers getting great production from Danario Alexander late in the season, there is hope that with a full season of Alexander, Rivers can only get better in 2013.
Rivers is a nice option to wait for at the quarterback position in rounds eight and beyond this coming draft season.
After a prolonged holdout in the preseason, Mike Wallace never got on the same page with Ben Roethlisberger. Not to mention the whole Pittsburgh organization.
For the first time in three years, Wallace failed to top 1,000 yards receiving, as he was good for just 836 yards this year.
Wallace is a free agent and depending on where he ends up this offseason, he could be in line for a rebound season. The talent is there with Wallace and in a league that values speed, Wallace could thrive in a new environment.
After winning a second Super Bowl title last season, Eli Manning was simply not himself in 2012.
Between complacency and some general malaise in the Giants’ clubhouse, Manning could never get going in 2012, as he had his worst season in terms of passing yards (3,948) and touchdowns (26) since 2008.
It’s hard to repeat and keep up that intensity all season and the Giants were no different, as most of the team struggled. With all of his options likely coming back (Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle and potentially free agent Martellus Bennett); Manning should come out focused and raring to go in 2013.
Going hand and hand with Manning’s struggles this year was the health and inconsistency of Hakeem Nicks.
Nicks battled both foot and knee injuries in 2012 and may opt to have surgery on his knee in the offseason. As a result of the lingering injuries, Nicks failed to live up to his lofty draft status, as he was only good for 53 receptions for 692 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.
Simply put, if Nicks is healthy heading into the 2013 season, he’ll make for a great No. 2 wide receiver worth drafting in rounds five and six.
Dwayne Bowe is another free agent who could use a change of scenery.
Try as they might, Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn are not productive quarterbacks and Bowe suffered as a result. The three touchdowns Bowe had in 2012 represented a career low.
Granted he lands with a team that can exploit his talents (say Miami, Pittsburgh?), then Bowe could be in for a revival in 2013.
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