I always hesitate to use the word "bust" because readers often associate that word with players who will have absolutely horrible seasons. I prefer to use the word "overvalued" instead. As a drafter, this is what I am always looking for: value.
If a player is going two rounds higher than I projected him at, I'm not going to draft him, no matter if I think he's going to have a good season or not. In this article, I recommend three players at each of the three defensive positions (DL, LB, DB) who I believe will be significantly overvalued heading into the 2010 fantasy season.
1. RDE Kyle Vanden Bosch (TEN)
I never understood the fascination IDP owners have with "KVB." Yes, he did have a couple of double-digit sack seasons. But hell, I could have put up those numbers when I had the best defensive tackle in the league, big daddy Albert Haynesworth, sucking up three blockers.
Just look at what Haynesworth's arrival has done for Andre Carter's production. Without Fat Albert, KVB only managed three sacks. And this loser is going to the Pro Bowl? C'mon people.
2. RDE Dwight Freeney (IND)
There are three things that are inevitable in life: death, taxes, and Dwight Freeney being taken way too early in fantasy drafts. He is usually a safe bet for double-digit sacks, but that's all he's going to get you. He had six solo tackles last year (excluding solo tackles obtained by way of a sack) and put up a goose egg in three games.
He never had more than three solo tackles in any one game. He could have 20 sacks and still not be a top-10 defensive lineman because of this fact. So, when the guy next to you at the draft thinks he's a genius for drafting Dwight Freeney with one of his early defensive picks, feel free to ridicule him.
3. RDE Antwan Odom (CIN)
Odom had eight sacks in his first five games last season. But five of those came against the Green Bay Packers. At that point in the season, my 78-year-old grandma could have had a sack or two against their offensive line. I'm just not buying what Odom is selling. To me, it seemed like Odom's production was quite fluky, and I'm not willing to spend anything but a very late-round draft pick on him.
1. SLB Brian Cushing (HOU)
Don't get me wrong, Cushing was a beast in 2009. However, the fact remains that he is a SLB, and I can count on one hand the number of fantasy-worthy, strong-side linebackers there are.
Cushing is athletic enough to overcome the SLB stigma and be a solid fantasy linebacker. I just don't think he's a top-eight linebacker like many IDP owners do. I see him being a top-level, tier-three linebacker. But, I guarantee some overzealous IDP owner will take Cushing ahead of established fantasy linebackers like Barrett Ruud and David Harris. Oh well!
2. MLB David Hawthorne (SEA)
Hawthorne's emergence is one of my favorite 2009 IDP stories. He went from relative obscurity to carrying many IDP teams to their respective championships. However, I'm a realist. The Seahawks paid a lot of money to MLB Lofa Tatupu, and he will be starting next year.
Unless the Seahawks move to a 3-4 system, and Hawthorne manages to obtain a starting inside linebacker position, or he starts at WLB in their current 4-3 system, his value will diminish substantially. He will fall out of the top 20. He also has to fend off Aaron Curry.
3. ROLB James Harrison (PIT)
During the last eight games of the 2009 season, it became apparent who the new IDP pass-rushing stud was in Pittsburgh, and his name wasn't James Harrison. Over these last eight games, Harrison had just two sacks compared to teammate LaMarr Woodley's 11.5.
Woodley is younger and more talented than Harrison, so this transfer of productivity was inevitable. Many owners in leagues that reward heavily for sacks may still be tempted to take Harrison with an early pick...don't.
1. FS Darren Sharper (NO)
Sharper will come into the 2010 season being highly overvalued. Many IDP "newbies" will just look at Sharper's overall fantasy points (second most in my scoring system) and draft him unreasonably high. I say unreasonably high because Sharper's overall fantasy numbers were highly inflated due to four defensive touchdowns.
I'm willing to bet my left nut that Sharper doesn't have four defensive touchdowns again next year. And, he's not a good enough tackling point-producer to retain even top-15 value. I see Sharper being on the outskirts of the top 20 defensive backs, and that's only because he has been somewhat consistent in coming up with turnovers. Avoid in tackle-heavy leagues.
2. FS Louis Delmas (DET)
I'm not saying that Delmas is going to be a "bust" per se. However, I do think he will be drafted too high next year. If you take away his two defensive touchdowns and his safety, Delmas' numbers are fairly mediocre. He had just 64 solo tackles and only two INTs.
I think Delmas' tackle and interception numbers will improve next year but at the expense of his defensive touchdowns. With this being said, Delmas is a top-15 player next year, NOT a top-five.
3. FS Danieal Manning (CHI)
First off, who spells their name this way?
Anyway, Manning was a top-10 defensive back for the first half of the 2009 season. He quickly fell out of favor with the Bears coaching staff, however, after getting burned in coverage on multiple occasions. The Bears may decide to slide SS Kevin Payne or Al Afalava over to FS and reserve Manning for nickel situations. If this happens, Manning's value diminishes greatly.
If you liked this article, make sure and read my companion article: 2010 IDP Sleepers.
Here's an interesting article I stumbled upon this morning: "Man Gets All Stabby After Wife Cancels ESPN"