There's plenty of pieces that list fantasy football's top players or sleepers who could become the next big thing.
This is neither.
Instead, this is a list of the players who I feel are most likely to leave you disappointed and might just be the most likely to leave you in the basement of your fantasy league come December.
Even worse, these are all guys who will almost inevitably be picked in the top 100 choices for your league (with just a couple of exceptions). These aren't late-round fliers, these are supposedly prime players who, unfortunately, have some concerns and risks in their games which may lead to rough seasons for any of them.
Nothing against any of these guys, as they're all solid football players (they'd have to be solid in order for thousands and thousands of people to be picking them in fantasy leagues, right?). However, if you take any of these guys in your draft, you might be in for a letdown. Although you could be in for a letdown no matter who you take really, because injuries can strike at any time (not to jinx anyone).
Anyway, here's the top 20 fantasy players who, in my opinion, may well be flops this year in order from least probable to be a bust (#20) to most probable (#1).
Greene was very nice in limited action with the Jets last year, picking up a 5.0 average per carry on just over 100 attempts. And everyone saw his breakout in the playoffs last year, with 300 yards and 2 TDs. A lot of fantasy rankings have him in the top 15 running backs, and almost all have him in the top 20 backs.
I don't know if he merits that. Honestly, he barely had 100 carries last year, on a team that ran the ball 607 times. 607!
Granted, Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are gone, leaving him in position to be the starter for this potent run-first attack with the best offensive line in the league. However, this just in—the Jets brought in LaDainian Tomlinson.
Wait, what? Tomlinson wasn't effective at all last season? Even if he does experience a miraculous rebirth in New York (not at all likely, even though he's looked quite good this preseason), Greene will still certainly have significantly more than 100 carries.
However, Tomlinson will vulture a lot of carries and probably some touchdowns, and Greene will not maintain a 5.0-per-carry average. He's not exactly a speedster, but rather a power-type back who should get closer to 4.0 per attempt.
He's not a receiving threat, either. However, he's just as likely to break out as he is to flop, meaning that out of these 20 guys, he's the least likely to fail. That possibility is still there, and there's safer options available.
Well, I'm sure that somewhere Cowboys fans are forming an angry mob right now.
And, admittedly, Austin was one of the best receivers in the league last year. I just don't think he pulls off a repeat this time around.
All season long last year I was waiting for him to fade away, as he just seemed like a bit of a fluke. Sure, he's a talented guy, and he's got good enough size and speed to beat corners.
However, I really doubt that he merits the 3rd-best receiver rating that Sporting News gave him, or even the 7th-best ranking from ESPN. I actually doubt he falls in the top 10 wide receivers this year. Now, that's certainly not bad, but don't be the idiot who spends a 3rd round pick on him and expects an improvement from last year. Not gonna happen.
The biggest problem with Austin is that there are a ton of good receiving options in the Cowboys offense.
Roy Williams has been miserable with the Cowboys, but he still has talent and might steal a few grabs from Austin, even if he loses the number two spot on the depth chart.
Jason Witten is good for a lot of catches each year (70 to 80), Felix Jones is a pretty good receiver out of the backfield, and Dez Bryant could be the rare rookie receiver who actually makes an impact.
Even the backup tight end, Martellus Bennett, could break out this year. Basically, the Cowboys' offense is loaded, so Romo has lots of people to throw to who aren't number 19.
The other problem I have with Austin is that defenses will have a full seasons' worth of film on him and will be better prepared for him than they were last year. Now, defenses can't afford to double team him (because they'd get torched by the other playmakers the Cowboys have), but maybe they'll match up against him a little better this time around.
Okay, now I'm really going out on a limb here. But I promised myself that I wouldn't say things like, "You shouldn't draft Brian Westbrook!" in this article.
Calvin Johnson was really a disappointment last year, failing to delivering on everyone's expectations.
And he probably won't make a full rebound this year.
What's worse is that I feel he is already one of the most talented wideouts in the league, but his team is terrible and has never had a history of developing wide receivers well.
Inconsistent quarterback play by Matthew Stafford doomed "Megatron" last year, and while Stafford should improve somewhat, he's not going to be a revelation this year.
There are also no other real options in the Lions' pass offense (with the possible exception of young tight end Brandon Pettigrew), so all systems are go for defenses to throw up double teams on Johnson.
These two factors will combine to make it very tough going for Johnson this year. While he could very well improve on his weak season last year, he's not an elite receiver and I don't think he's in the top 10 wideouts...I hope he proves me wrong.
I had Daniels on my fantasy team last year and he was pretty good for the first half of the season, looking like he'd reach 1,000 yards for the first time.
Then he tore his ACL, and was done for the year. That in itself isn't a huge concern, but the fact that it was the third time he's ruptured his ACL is a big problem.
Also, he was only reactivated from the PUP list on August 30th, meaning there's not much time for him to get any game action before the season starts.
Simply put, he's too much of an injury risk.
He's a very talented receiving tight end, Andre Johnson takes away a lot of coverage, and Matt Schaub is an excellent QB, but there's a big chance that he may miss some time due to injuries.
There are plenty of safer options out there at tight end.
Note: I will say that if other owners in your league are concerned about him (as they were in mine), he may be a tremendous value in the last couple of rounds. However, ESPN, for example, ranks him quite highly, and you shouldn't even think about taking him in the top eight tight ends (and only in the top 10 if you really hate the other available options).
No, I don't mean that you shouldn't pick him because of the hip injury.
You shouldn't pick him because he may not be all that great after he comes back. Brett Favre (who I will mention later) is in position for a down year after the "magical" season he had a year ago (it wasn't magical at all for me, I'm a Packers fan).
When Rice comes back, Greg Camarillo will probably have entrenched himself as the number two wideout behind another injury concern, Percy Harvin.
Rice should immediately re-establish himself as the number one option, but Camarillo will still catch some passes.
Brett Favre is the other problem standing between Rice and a great half-season.
First of all, Favre could actually miss time due to injury for the first occasion in his oh-so-long career. His ankle hasn't healed quite as well as he hoped it would, and if it wears down towards the end of the season, it could become a major concern.
I'll mention this again later, but it's a big problem for Rice as well, because Rice is not the same without Favre. After all, outside of Minnesota fans, how many people had heard of Sidney Rice before Brett Favre came to town? Not that many. The reason is that Tarvaris Jackson is not the same quarterback (not even close).
Also, Favre is due for a reversion to his gunslinging 20-plus interception ways that he displayed with the Jets and in his final years with the Packers, and that will hurt Rice as well.
All in all, don't gamble on Sidney Rice hoping for eight games of good production. It might not happen.
A lot of people are bullish on Pierre Thomas, but I'm not hopping on that bandwagon.
He was on my team last year and he didn't impress me at all. It seemed that Thomas had a great first game (126 yards) and just coasted after that. He only had six touchdowns, two less than more explosive but less consistent teammate Reggie Bush. After that first game, here's what he did: zero one hundred yard games, zero games with 20 or more carries (and only one with more than 15), and four touchdowns.
Not exactly thrilling, huh?
He is the premier back for the Saints, but Reggie Bush is going to get a lot of carries, and Bush may once again score more touchdowns than Thomas as well. Maybe Pierre Thomas gets 1,000 yards, but he won't get much more than that.
Note: In my league, I got Arian Foster three rounds after Thomas was picked. Foster is also his team's feature back, and he may well have a better season that Thomas.
Lots of issues here.
First, McNabb moves from a solid young offense in Philadelphia to an offense that has big question marks at wide receiver and running back in Washington.
Santana Moss is a decent first receiver, but Joey Galloway, Devin Thomas, and Malcolm Kelly aren't exactly Pro Bowlers at this point (Galloway's way past that point, Thomas and Kelly haven't gotten there yet).
Clinton Portis may well be on his last legs, while Larry Johnson, Willie Parker, and Ryan Torain aren't brilliant as backups.
Basically, the only bright spot for McNabb is that Chris Cooley is every bit as good as McNabb's last tight end, Brent Celek, was. And we all know how much McNabb loves to throw it to tight ends.
Second, Donovan's getting up there in years (he's 33, which isn't Brett Favre territory just yet) and this can lead to decreased durability, even for the best of them. McNabb's already had injury problems this preseason with his ankle and it's not going to be perfect from here, as the Redskins' offseason line fluctuates between mediocre and god-awful.
Overall, he's an injury concern and the supporting cast around him is average. Not a great combination...make him your backup if you can, but avoid being stuck with him as your starter.
Hmm...where do I start?
Well, first and most obviously, he's suspended (as if you didn't already know that).
Second and more importantly, he's actually been a very inconsistent player over the last four years, to the point where he is really not nearly as valuable as he might seem.
I've always felt that he's, for the most part, a pretty overrated player, even without his big off-the-field problems. Anyway, here's some stats to support this argument:
2006: 18 TDs, 23 INTs, 3500 yards, 59% completion, 75.4 passer rating
2007: 32 TDs, 11 INTs, 3150 yards, 65% completion, 104.1 passer rating
2008: 17 TDs, 15 INTs, 3300 yards, 59% completion, 80.1 passer rating
2009: 26 TDs, 12 INTs, 4300 yards, 66% completion, 100.5 passer rating
Well, there you have Dr. Roethlisjekyll and Mr. Hydeberger, I guess. That's about as inconsistent as you can get. Not to mention he was never great at racking up tons of yards until last year.
While he's not at the 80.0 rating level, he's also not at the 100.0 rating level either, but rather somewhere in between. Who knows with him though? After his suspension, he could be the 2007/2009 version of himself, but he also might be the 2006/2008 Big Ben.
In other words, too risky.
Could he have been any worse last year?
The Bears sold the future of their franchise to get this guy, and he was truly horrible. Twenty-six interceptions is as bad as it gets, and it's even worse knowing that he was supposed to be an elite passer. If you are (or maybe were) a Bears fan, then you saw how inaccurate Cutler was at times last year and how he made some abysmal decisions on the field.
He looked like Brett Favre, when Favre was at his worst.
Anyway, the options this year aren't much better for Cutler than they were a year ago, with only Chester Taylor being added.
That said, there is actually a lot of upside in the receiving corps, and Greg Olsen is an above-average pass-catching tight end. So there are guys who can catch the ball, it just comes down to Cutler to get it to them and not the opposing team.
With Mike Martz as the new coordinator for Chicago, Cutler might rack up a ton of yards and touchdowns. However, Martz' system will force him to make quick decisions, which was never Cutler's strength, and could lead to lots of mistakes.
Now it's Cutler's teammate's turn.
Forte was every bit as big of a disappointment as Cutler was last year, and possibly even worse for fantasy owners because he was a first round pick, while Cutler wasn't.
This time around, Forte won't be the only back following the addition of Chester Taylor. He'll still get the bulk of the work, but Taylor will take quite a few carries away.
Maybe it's a good sign for Forte, as he'll get less worn down (which is the motive behind a lot of two-back systems in the league). However, he's going to lose yardage and some touchdowns because of Taylor, and that's a bad sign considering his yardage and touchdown totals weren't eye-popping last year (929 yards, 4 touchdowns).
Finally, the Bears' offensive line has not improved since last year, when it helped accentuate Forte's awful season.
Overall, if you can get Forte in the seventh round or later, go for it. However, the Bears' offense was a total mess last year and it might not be great this year either.
There are better values like Felix Jones and Arian Foster available later in the draft, and they both may be just as likely to put up 1,000 yard campaigns as Forte is.
Similarly to Pierre Thomas, a lot of people are on the bandwagon for this guy.
Admittedly, without Willie Parker in the lineup for the Steelers his value takes a big step forward.
However, his rookie season was basically a total loss due to a fractured shoulder, making last year his "rookie" year. This means he may just be in for a sophomore slump this season, as Matt Forte was last year.
This is made even more possible by the fact that there's not really anyone to spell him and keep him from wearing down. Yes, Mewelde Moore and Jonathan Dwyer are decent backups, but they'll both only be getting token carries.
He's a very talented player, and had a great season last year. However, his numbers might not be as great this year, and he's going a little too high in fantasy drafts for him to be of good value.
Okay, okay, I'll stop picking on the Bears and Steelers...
Sims-Walker, similarly to Miles Austin, was a revelation last year. Another similarity to Austin is that I doubt he'll follow it up with an equally great second season as a starter.
There are several reasons for this, not the least of which being that the Jaguars are a very weak team, who are more committed to running the ball with Maurice Jones-Drew than they are to throwing it with their inconsistent quarterback David Garrard (who will also be mentioned later).
However, the biggest issue with Sims-Walker is that he managed to catch more than two passes just once in the Jaguars' final five games, and got over 46 yards just once in their final six games.
This shows, pretty clearly, that defenses were able to adjust to him, most often by sending an extra safety to guard him. In addition to this, Sims-Walker was slowed a bit by leg injuries toward the end of the season.
Another concerning issue relating to Sims-Walker is that even during the first half of the season, he was wildly inconsistent. In four home games he gained 464 yards, but got only 90 yards in four away games.
Overall, this inconsistency, paired with the fact that defenses figured out a good strategy to guard him, will likely lead to a big dip in numbers for him this year.
You won't be able to get him as a free agent in your league, but that would be the only place where I'd recommend picking him up.
Well, Hines Ward has been around forever, hasn't he?
And he's only the first of the two aging star wide receivers that I'll mention. Ward is 34, which isn't ancient, but he's certainly lost a step. However, despite not having as much speed as he used to, he's a very tough player and has reliable hands, meaning that he still gets a lot of catches.
I've already mentioned that Roethlisberger may struggle this year, and Ward's performance could be tied to Roethlisberger's.
While Ward's age is the biggest concern for fantasy owners, the fact that Dennis Dixon/ Byron Leftwich will be starting at QB for the first part of the season can't help either.
Eventually, Ward's age will catch up with him, and the fact that he was bothered by hamstring injuries last year make him a bit of an injury risk for this year as well, as his tough, contact-drawing style of play has caused injuries in the past.
Well, it kills me to say this because Driver's one of my favorite players of all time, but this won't be his year.
Actually, any year from here on out probably won't be his year. Don't pay for the production he got last year, as Greg Jennings will almost definitely get more touchdowns than he did last year (he got only four last year).
Now, I do think Driver has a decent chance at crossing the 1,000 yard mark again this year, as it seems he always does. There are some positive things going for Driver, such as the fact that he's very durable and consistent, and has reliable hands.
However, James Jones and Jordy Nelson may start to emerge the way Jermichael Finley did last year, and if either of them does, it'll most likely be at Driver's expense, just the way Finley's breakout was over the second half of last year.
Driver's been one of the most consistent players in the NFL over the last decade, and he's never really shown signs of slowing down. However, it has to happen sometime, and this year might be "the year."
I hate to say it, but at 35 years old, Driver may have seen the end of his endless streak of 1,000-yard campaigns, and with it, possibly the end of being a very solid fantasy starter.
There are younger, better options out there for you.
Wow...I know some Eagles fans who really love this guy.
If Donovan McNabb was still around, I'd say Celek is a good tight end who would get a lot of targets. However, without McNabb all of the Eagles' offensive players will probably take at least a small hit in their stats, but none more so than Celek.
McNabb throws it to tight ends more often than possibly any other NFL quarterback, explaining why guys such as L.J. Smith weren't nearly as valuable once they changed teams and quarterbacks.
Thus, with a different QB throwing the ball for the Eagles I think Celek suffers a pretty big drop in numbers this year. Now, it probably won't be a huge drop, as the Eagles will still have the same style of offense, but Kevin Kolb may be less inclined to check down to the tight end.
There is some upside for Celek, though, as the Eagles' offense is mostly air-based, so he could get quite a few catches. Also, the Eagles can't seem to run the ball in the red zone, meaning Celek could repeat his eight touchdown performance from last year.
Just don't pick him in the top five tight ends, as the downside is that he may get way fewer targets with Kolb under center.
Barber lost quite a bit of playing time to Felix Jones toward the end of the season last year, as Jones finished with a ridiculous 5.9 yards per carry and was extremely explosive.
Meanwhile, Barber was hampered by leg injuries most of the year, making it two straight years that he's been slowed by injuries. Even though he only missed one game last season, he looked kind of sluggish at times.
This year, he'll probably lose some more carries to Jones, as the Cowboys might give each of them an even share of the workload.
Felix is the more explosive of the two, but Barber is still one of the best in the business when it comes to breaking tackles, and he'll absolutely have the controlling share when it comes to short-yardage situations.
Personally, I feel that Jones is ready for a breakout season, and that would certainly come at Barber's expense, leaving Barber as a goal-line back who will get touchdowns but not a lot of yardage.
Once the NFL's old man returned for one last shot at the Super Bowl, the value of the rest of the Vikings' offensive players (Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Peterson, Visanthe Shiancoe) skyrocketed because no matter how much Favre's performance drops from last year's incredible effort, he'll still most likely be better than Tarvaris Jackson.
However, Favre's value doesn't increase any, even though he makes the players around him better from a fantasy perspective.
In fact, Favre's value has taken a pretty good hit from where it was at the end of last season. With Favre's long, long history of throwing interceptions, it was a miracle that he only threw 7 last year. There's almost no way he repeats that performance, and this year, possibly for the first time ever, he might actually be labeled an injury concern.
His ankle hasn't healed the way he expected it to, but why would it have? He'll be 41 this year and injuries don't heal nearly as fast at that age. Add that to the fact that he'll gradually be collecting more hits as the season wears on, and he might actually [gasp!] miss some games.
Almost inevitably, Favre will make more mistakes passing the ball this year than he did a season ago, and without his favorite target Sidney Rice, and with big-play man Percy Harvin an injury risk due to migraines, Favre could revert to his old interception-tossing ways that he displayed as recently as 2008 with the Jets.
Garrard is on a bad team, meaning that he might throw a lot.
That's about the only thing you can like about him. However, even with the Jaguars being a losing team, they still prefer to run the ball and Maurice-Jones Drew is the clear-cut best player on their offense.
A few years ago, he threw only three picks and looked like an efficient passer who wouldn't hurt your fantasy team with bad mistakes. Well, he hasn't really looked like that since 2007.
Last year, he threw ten interceptions. That's not that bad in and of itself, but he also fumbles. A lot. That's actually the cause of a bunch of his turnovers, and he doesn't make up for it by throwing many touchdowns: just 15 in both of the last two years and he's never thrown more than 18, so don't expect that to change.
The only real upside Garrard has is that he is a mobile QB, and he'll certainly pick up a couple hundred yards running the ball.
However, that's probably the only thing separating him from someone like Matt Hasselbeck.
Why on earth is everyone picking Brandon Jacobs so early?
He didn't cross 100 yards once last year despite being the starter and playing in 15 games, and he has never made it through a full season without getting hurt. In addition to this, Ahmad Bradshaw is in the Giants' backfield as well, sharing carries with Jacobs.
Jacobs was a major disappointment last year, finishing with 835 yards on 3.7 yards per carry to go with only five touchdowns. Big guys like Jacobs should at least get enough goal-lines touches to be able to score more than five times and that's a pretty big concern considering that he got a full season's worth of carries, with 224.
The other problem with Jacobs is his backfield-mate, Ahmad Bradshaw.
Bradshaw finished with more total yards than Jacobs on less carries and got seven touchdowns to Jacobs' five. Bradshaw also had two 100-yard games despite never getting more than 14 carries. In my opinion, he will continue to outplay Jacobs this year and will probably end up taking over the bulk of the work for the Giants, leaving Jacobs with carries only in short-yardage situations.
You really have to feel sorry for Steven Jackson. He's a great talent stuck on a perpetually rebuilding team. He is basically the Rams' entire team, and has been for a few years now.
Unfortunately, pity is not going to keep him off the number one spot of guys you shouldn't draft, and here's why:
He will inevitably be a first round pick. Now, if he produces like he did last year then there's no problem.
But he won't do that. In fact, last year was the first year out of the last three that he didn't miss time due to injury. That lack of durability is a major concern, but 12 or 13 games of Steven Jackson is still better than a lot of guys.
Teams will stack eight in the box to stop him, as they've been doing for quite some time. This is because, even (or maybe especially) with Sam Bradford now at QB, the Rams won't be beating too many teams through the air.
Next, because the Rams are so bad, they won't be scoring many points, meaning not so many touchdowns for Jackson. After all, he had only four last year. Four touchdowns!? For a guy you'll have to use a first-round pick on, that's not great value. Their offensive line is a mess as well, and they'll constantly have to go to the air in losing situations.
Now, none of this has stopped Jackson in the past, but age and a ton of mileage might do the trick this time around, as he's averaged over 20 carries a game for five straight years now.
Here's some other guys who you shouldn't even bother picking up off the free agent wire:
Jeremy Shockey: He's never gotten over 900 yards or 7 TDs, and he's always hurt... In my opinion, maybe the league's most over-rated player.
Jason Campbell: A new team won't help him too much, especially when that team is the Raiders.
Matt Hasselbeck: Two words- he's done. He's had a nice career, but it's pretty much over.
Kevin Smith: He tore his ACL, and it looks like he'll lose his job to a rookie. Not great. He's still young, though.
Willis McGahee: Between weeks 3 and 17 last year, he did nothing. Oh, and there's a guy named Ray Rice in Baltimore.
Roy Williams: Wow... the Cowboys look stupid for trading for him, don't they?
Devin Hester: Johnny Knox is the better deep threat, and the Bears have other options. Oh, and he's not the return man anymore... what's the point?
Antonio Bryant: Fact is, no matter where he lands, he wasn't good last year, and he wasn't good this preseason. Don't expect the 2008 Bryant, or anything resembling him.