Kansas City Chiefs RB Larry Johnson: Time and injuries seem to have caught up with Johnson (30 on Nov. 19th). Though the NFL’s former rushing champ has held off backup Jamaal Charles for the starting running back job, his production has steadily decreased over the last couple of years. Ran for only 874 yards on 193 carries with a 4.5 ypr average and five TDs in 2008 plus only had 12 catches for 74 yards.
New York Jets RB Thomas Jones: On his fourth team in nine years, Jones (31) continues to complain and get no respect around the NFL. Ran for over 1312 yards and 13 TDs for the Jets in 2008, but the team seems ready to step away from him. The former Georgia star wants a contract and the team didn’t blink this offseason as they brought in rookie Shonn Greene and are working a possible renegotiation with multi-purpose back Leon Washington. Stay away, because I could see Washington and Greene taking carries from Jones real soon in new head coach Rex Ryan’s system.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford: With the success of 2008 rookie quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, everyone immediately believes Stafford will be the next golden boy of the NFL. However there is one big in that the Lions are a rebuilding team with over 20 new faces after their much publicized and embarrassing 0-16 season. The Lions gave Stafford a huge contract (six years, $72 million, with $41 million guaranteed), but he has a lot to learn as shown by an inconsistent preseason. I think it takes a couple of years for this former underclassman to adjust to the NFL after never consistently winning in the SEC in college.
Jacksonville Jaguars QB David Garrard: The Jaguars starter will never be a fantasy football player’s dream passer as he is more efficient than putting up eye-popping numbers. Garrard and the Jags struggled in 2008 as he threw for for numbers of 3,620 yards, 15 TDs and 13 INTs after receiving a big contract. With head coach Jack Del Rio on the hot seat, look for the abrasive coach to lean on his running game led by MJD and hope that Garrard can return to his 2007 form where he led the team to the divisional round of the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Torry Holt: The Jaguars had a ton of injuries and inconsistently in their receiving corps in 2008, so they signed former Rams veteran Holt to wash away the taste of Matt Jones, Jerry Porter, and Reggie Williams. The move to bring in the seven-time Pro Bowl player looks good on paper, but Holt’s knees have bothered him over the last couple of years and his production slipped below 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since his rookie year in 1999—finished with 64 catches for 796 yards, a 12.4 ypc, and only three TDs.
Baltimore Ravens RB Willis McGahee: You would have thought that McGahee (170 rushes for 671 yards, 3.9 ypr, and seven TDs in 2008) after getting out of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s doghouse this offseason would have had a chance at being a featured back again. But it looks like being the Ravens’ main ball carrier has passed the former Bills star by. The team this preseason seems to be leaning towards 2nd year backs Ray Rice and Le’Ron McClain carrying the load. McGahee is coming off a 2008 season where he missed games due to injury and he had multiple offseason surgeries (ankle and knee).
New England Patriots RB Laurence Maroney: After promising seasons in 2006 and 2007, this former University of Minnesota running back crashed hard in 2008. Maroney could not stay healthy (shoulder injury) and he only played in three games, which prompted the Patriots organization to question his toughness. The fourth year running back has never run for over 900 yards and it seems Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is ready to move on with his running back by committee philosophy. Maroney will have to battle newcomer Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis just to get on the field this season.
Seattle Seahawks RB Edgerrin James: Always beware of an older back joining a new team. James (31) comes to the Seahawks as the NFL’s 11th all-time rusher with 12,121 yards his ten-year career. But you could see last year that the Cardinals did not have confidence in him for the majority of last season—only seven starts finishing with numbers 133 rushes for 514 yards, 3.9 ypr, and three TDs with a long run of only 35 yards. James' carries have decreased over the past three years and he missed the Seahawks’ training camp, which maybe a blessing in disguise. With Seahawks head coach Jim Mora looking to lean on starter Julius Jones, the former Colts star maybe relegated to short yardage situations. Also the Seahawks offensive line has been decimated by injuries during the 2009 preseason.
New Orleans Saints WR Bobby Meachem: All preseason, the New Orleans area has been abuzz about Meachem—five catches for 106 yards and one TD (64 yards) in the first two preseason games. Everyone is wondering if the former University of Tennessee star is ready to live-up to the high expectations that the Saints had when they selected him in the first round of 2007. Over his first two years in the NFL, Meachem was plagued by injury (lost rookie year to a torn ACL) and dropping passes. Though it looks like he may have turned the corner this preseason, I am not ready to say he has passed WR Marques Colston, RB Reggie Bush, WR Devrey Henderson or WR Lance Moore as one of quarterback Drew Brees’ main targets.
Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez: I know you are probably thinking: How can the NFL’s all-time leading tight end in terms of catches (916) and yardage (10,940) be on my Stay Away List? Well…Gonzalez is starting with a new team in the Falcons (traded for a second round pick) and their head coach Mike Smith has an affinity to run the ball and play tough defense. With so many other great tight ends on the board (Gates, Keller, Winslow, Witten, and others), I just don’t see a reason to spend a pick in the first six rounds of your FF draft on him. I know the 10-time Pro Bowl player and surefire Hall of Famer is coming off a season where he put up 96 catches for 1058 yards, 11.0 ypc, and 10 TDs, but he is a huge question mark when quarterback Matt Ryan will be going to RB Michael Turner and WR Roddy White first.
Others to Stay Away From
QBs — Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington (run-first team and he is a game manager type); Carolina Panthers QB Jake Delhomme (five INTs in the Panthers’ playoff loss to the Cardinals in 2008...enough said); Miami Dolphins QB Pat White (will get a few snaps in the Wildcat, but still not ready to be under center); Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick (America’s No. 1 sports radio topic will be stuck on the bench behind McNabb as he knocks off over two years of rust)
RBs — Oakland Raiders RB Justin Fargas (injured – hamstring and will be splitting carries); Washington Redskins RB Clinton Portis (too injury prone, slowing down, and will be splitting carries); Buffalo Bills RB Dominic Rhodes (stuck behind Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson)
WRs — Arizona Cardinals WR Steve Breaston (injured—knee and 2008 is looking like a career year); Pittsburgh Steelers WR Hines Ward (play is more gritty now and Santonio Holmes is Big Ben’s go-to-guy); Buffalo Bills WR Josh Reed (with T.O and Lee Evans around, he will be lucky for a couple catches a game…did I mention T.O)
TE’s — Baltimore Ravens TE’s Todd Heap and LJ Smith (run-first team, too injury prone, and both their production has slipped over the years), Cleveland Browns TE Steve Heiden (Will not even come close to replacing Winslow); Jacksonville Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis (great name and size, but plays like a Yugo).
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)Posted in 2009 Fantasy Football Guide, 2009 Fantasy Football Season, Fantasy Football, Fantasy Football Top 10 Tagged: 2009 Fantasy Football Guide, 2009 Fantasy Football Season, Fantasy Football, Football, Larry Johnson, NFL, Sports, Tony Gonzalez, Willis McGahee