NFL: Top 10 Fantasy Football Busts of 2009
Every season in the world of fantasy football, there are players who surprise everyone and come out of nowhere. They can sometimes lead your team to championship glory.
But for every diamond in the rough, there is inevitably a group of high-profile players that fails miserably to live up to expectations.
This season has been no different, with many players drafted in the first few rounds of your fantasy drafts who have likely led your fantasy teams to the bottom of the standings rather than the playoffs.
Here is a list of 2009's biggest fantasy disappointments: highlighted by five running backs who likely went in the first round of your draft, a couple of quarterbacks that were supposed to take their teams deep into the playoffs, and three wide receivers who were set to be the focal point of offenses on bad teams.
No. 10: Terrell Owens, WR, Buffalo Bills
Terrell Owens, only two seasons removed from a year in which he had 1,355 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, probably didn't get picked until the third or fourth round of your draft this year.
However, with a struggling Buffalo team, many anticipated that Owens would be the focal point of an offense that would be playing from behind most of the time and therefore throwing a lot.
That hasn't been the case, however.
The only team in the NFL that has thrown fewer passes this season than the Bills (416 attempts) is the New York Jets (377).
As a result, Owens has only 51 receptions for 764 yards and four touchdowns this season.
No. 9: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, in his second professional season, was supposed to have a breakout season in 2009.
With the addition of future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez to go with wide receiver Roddy White and a tough running game, Ryan was predicted by many to have a breakout fantasy season.
Simply said, it hasn't happened.
Ryan missed all or part of three games with a bad case of turf toe, but for the season he has only attempted 18 fewer passes than last year.
In 2008, Ryan threw for 3,440 yards and 16 touchdowns. Not only has his completion percentage dipped from 61.1 to 57.7 this season, but he has only thrown for 2,693 yards.
The lone bright spot is that his touchdown total increased from 16 last season to 20 this year—but for fantasy owners in yardage leagues, that's hardly any consolation.
No. 8: Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
After a breakout sophomore season in 2008, Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson was poised to take his spot among the top five fantasy receivers in the game.
2009 hasn't been great for Johnson. Not only has he had to break in a rookie quarterback in Matthew Stafford, but a knee injury forced him to miss two games earlier this season as well.
After having five 100 yard-plus receiving efforts a year ago, Johnson has had only three in 2009.
After 78 catches for 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2008, Johnson was probably the third or fourth wide receiver off the board in many drafts this season.
In 2009, Johnson is outside the top 20 in all three categories, with just 61 receptions for 898 yards and 4 touchdowns.
No. 7: Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions
Like his teammate Calvin Johnson, many believed this season would be a breakout one for Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith.
As a rookie in 2008, Smith ran for 976 yards and eight touchdowns, averaged 4.1 yards per carry, and caught 39 passes for 286 yards.
Likely a late first-round or early second-round pick in most fantasy drafts, many thought Smith would only improve on those numbers.
In 2009, the Lions had attempted to make Smith more of a focal point of the offense, but it was more to his detriment than his advantage.
In addition to his yards per carry decreasing to just 3.4 this season, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in their December 13th game at Baltimore.
Smith's final 2009 stats: 1,162 total yards and just 5 touchdowns.
No. 6: Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons
The No. 1 fear of all fantasy owners, particularly those with a high first-round pick, is an injury to their first-round draft choice.
For those owners out there who drafted Atlanta running back Michael Turner with their top pick this year, their worst nightmare came true in mid-November.
After rushing for 1,699 yards last season, third-best in franchise history, Turner was poised for another great season in 2009—and well on his way after nine games. In those nine games, he ran for 831 yards and 10 touchdowns.
If Turner continued that production over the final seven games, he would have finished the season with about 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns.
However, in that ninth game against Carolina, Turner suffered a right high ankle sprain that has limited his playing time ever since. He has only carried the ball in two games since the injury, totaling just 40 yards and no touchdowns.
No. 5: Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
When the Chicago Bears traded Kyle Orton to the Denver Broncos in the offseason for disgruntled quarterback Jay Cutler, Bears fans were ecstatic.
Cutler, coming off a season in which he threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns with just 18 interceptions, would surely take the Bears offense to the next level...right?
In 15 starts, Cutler has thrown for just 3,390 yards and 23 touchdowns. However, the reason Cutler can be considered a bust this year in fantasy has more to do with his interception total.
Through 15 games, Cutler has thrown 26 interceptions. In fact, in seven games this season, Cutler has thrown for two or more interceptions, including his career-worst game at San Francisco on November 12th, when he threw five picks.
If Cutler was your starting quarterback in Weeks One, Seven, 10, 12, or 15, you probably lost.
No. 4: Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
New Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley loves to throw the ball...a lot.
As the offensive coordinator of the Super Bowl runner-up Arizona Cardinals, his offense led the league in pass completions and was third in the NFL in passing touchdowns with 31.
Throw in the fact that the Chiefs traded for quarterback Matt Cassel in the off-season and sent tight end Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta, and the stars were aligned for wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to have a huge season.
Bowe, likely somewhere between the fifth and tenth wide receiver off the board in many drafts, has actually regressed after catching 86 balls for 1,022 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2008.
Unlike many of those on this list, Bowe's season wasn't derailed by injury; rather, he sent it off the tracks himself by testing positive for a banned substance and being suspended for four games.
In the 10 games that Bowe has played in, he has caught just 46 balls for 583 yards and 4 touchdowns. All are a far cry from what fantasy owners were expecting of him in 2009.
No. 3: Clinton Portis, RB, Washington Redskins
After two consecutive seasons averaging over 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns as the starting running back in Washington, most fantasy owners were more than happy to draft Portis in the late first or early second rounds of their drafts.
Unbeknownst to the fantasy owners that drafted him was that they were getting the Portis from 2006, not the one from 2007 or 2008.
Through the first five weeks of the season, Portis owners may have been wondering what they got themselves into, as he was averaging just over 67 yards per game and had only one touchdown.
Then in Week Six, against a hapless Kansas City rush defense, Portis ran for a season-high 109 yards that included a career-best 78-yard burst.
Portis would play in just two more games, suffering a severe concussion in the team's eighth game against the Atlanta Falcons. Placed on IR to finish his 2009 season, Portis finished with just 494 yards rushing and 2 total touchdowns.
No. 2: Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
As a rookie in 2008, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte ran for 1,238 yards, caught 63 balls for another 477 yards, and totaled 12 touchdowns.
When the Bears acquired quarterback Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos, many thought the move would help open up running lanes for the promising young Forte, and his role in the offense would increase.
Forte has remained a focal point of the Bears passing game, catching 54 passes for 448 yards but with no touchdowns this season.
However, in the running game, which was supposed to open up because of the presence of Cutler, Forte is averaging a half yard less per carry than he did in his rookie campaign (3.4 compared to 3.9 in 2008).
In addition, Forte's total touches per game has gone down from 23.7 to 19.7 per game, and so has his overall production. For the season, Forte has run for just 828 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Needless to say, Forte has been a colossal disappointment for fantasy owners who picked him.
No. 1: Steve Slaton, RB, Houston Texans
By far, the biggest bust in fantasy football this season has been running back Steve Slaton of the Houston Texans.
After a rookie season where he ran for 1,282 yards, including five 100-yard games and 377 yards on 50 receptions, the young Slaton was considered by many as one of the top five players in fantasy football this season.
In fact, in most drafts around the country, after names like Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew went off the board, the young Slaton wasn't too far behind.
By all accounts, 2009 has been a nightmarish season for Slaton and his fantasy owners.
Not only was Slaton benched in November for his ineffectiveness in the running game, but he was later placed on IR with a shoulder injury, ending his season.
In total, Slaton's 2009 season stats read like this:
11 games played, no 100-yard rushing games, 437 rushing yards, 44 receptions for 417 yards, and 7 total touchdowns.