Fantasy Football: Reasons to Think Twice About 10 Fantasy Studs
The 2011 NFL Season is now underway and Americans everywhere are looking forward to yet another year of football. And with football, comes fantasy football and an opportunity for fans everywhere to own their own on-line team and compete against each other.
Fantasy owners now are no doubt making decisions about whom to draft with their first pick. However, some players who are viewed as locks for great success and production may disappoint this year. Here are 10 players that fantasy owners should think twice about before committing a top pick to…
10) DeSean Jackson
Usually a fantasy goldmine, DeSean Jackson is in truth very risky to take up for a fantasy receiver. While he consistently has 100+ yard games and one or two touchdowns, other games he disappears. Instead, the touchdowns go to the more possession-style Jeremy Maclin.
Also, Jackson has proven to be injury-prone. He is generously listed at 5’10” and 175 pounds and already has two concussions on his resume. Additionally, Jackson performs well when Michael Vick is under center, but it remains to be seen if Vick can repeat his incredible 2010 season.
9) Peyton Hillis
For any superstitious people out there, the Madden curse is surely one of the reasons Peyton Hillis makes this list. It’s not just that. Hillis is a bruiser, and powers through his defenders, rather than using speed to elude them.
Such a running style takes a great toll on a running back’s body. While the Browns have their quarterback of the future in Colt McCoy, their quarterback situation is certainly not solid or stable. Hillis remains the most important piece of the Browns offense and will continue to see a high number of carries.
And with an offseason for opponents to view his game tape, Hillis’ production is likely to go down.
8) Chris Johnson
Don’t be shocked that I am placing the player pundits still regard as perhaps the top overall pick in every fantasy draft. CJ2K has seen a significant drop in production from is 2,000 yard rushing season, as he rushed for 1,364 yards for 4.3 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns in 2010.
Yes, those numbers are still remarkable, but compared to his 2009 season of 2,006 yards, 5.6 yards per carry and 14 touchdowns, Johnson has failed to produce as consistently and as dominantly as before, and has shown that Adrian Peterson is still the best running back in the NFL.
At least from a fantasy standpoint he is. Peterson is a balanced running back—a freakish combination of speed, power and elusiveness. Johnson has an insane amount of speed and elusiveness, but his strength leaves a bit to be desired, as does his smaller stature. Teams have devised methods to slow him down and even shut him down on numerous occasions.
It certainly does not help that Johnson does not have a reliable quarterback to take pressure off his shoulders. I am not saying that Chris Johnson should not be a high pick, but with a first overall selection fantasy owners should think twice about CK2K.
7) Larry Fitzgerald
After two seasons of being regarded as the most dominant receiver in the league and incredibly lucrative as a fantasy option, Larry Fitzgerald dropped from catching 12 and 13 touchdowns in 2008 and 2009, to a mere six in 2010. The reason was no doubt due to the poor quarterback play in Arizona, as the likes of Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton all failed to get the job done. But with the addition of Kevin Kolb, Fitzgerald’s value is expected to skyrocket—right?
Not so fast. Kevin Kolb is an incredibly unproven quarterback with only a handful of starts on his resume. And of that limited portfolio, he has 11 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
Kurt Warner’s quick release was able to mask the poor play of the Cardinals offensive line, which contributed greatly to the ineffectiveness of their 2010 quarterbacks. And game tape on Kevin Kolb shows that his biggest weakness is an inability to handle pressure. Rather than calmly and coolly get rid of the football, Kolb gets jumpy and often throws either a pick or an errant pass.
Kolb’s potential is quite high, as he could potentially be the next Matt Schaub or even Aaron Rodgers; however, he could just as easily be A.J. Feely, another quarterback that Andy Reid grooms and sells off for a draft pick and then runs. Teams would realize throughout the season that they have been had.
6) Steven Jackson
One of the better running backs of this league, Steven Jackson has declined a bit as a dominant rusher, rushing for only 3.8 yards per carry in 2010 and only six touchdowns. The numbers should also be understood in the context that the emergence of Sam Bradford had supplied some more diversity on offense.
Sam Bradford should improve a lot in 2010 and should help to continue to diversify the Rams offense and allow Jackson more running room in 2011. At 28 years of age, however, Jackson is not getting any younger. He has also had the difficult task of being the workhorse for the St. Louis Rams for many years.
It is possible that the running back is in decline, and fantasy owners should be wary before drafting him early.
5) Peyton Manning
Similar to Chris Johnson, Manning should still be one of the top quarterbacks taken in fantasy drafts. With no strong running game in Indianapolis, he will still be the workhorse of the Colts offense and continue to put up a great deal of yardage.
However, Manning is getting up there in age, now at the 35 mark. From this point on, most quarterbacks, even the best the league has ever seen, will begin to decline.
Glimpses of this process may have been apparent last season. Manning threw consecutive interceptions in many games, and he did not look quite himself at times. Even more worrying is that Manning will be coming back from neck surgery, which could potentially affect his play to some extent.
4) Michael Turner
Michael Turner is still a top running back, but has been gradually declining since his breakout season in 2008 of 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns. After an injury-plagued and inconsistent 2009 season, in 2010 Turner recorded 1,371 yards, 4.1 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns.
Not bad numbers, but it is the first time in his career that he has averaged fewer than 4.5 yards per carry in a single season. At 29 years of age and approaching the feared 30 mark for running backs, Turner may simply be declining more and more as his career goes on and 2011 could prove to less magnificent than fantasy owners expect.
3) Chad Ochocinco
Chad Ochocinco is no longer a star and no longer a potent fantasy weapon, as his best years appear behind him. But his fantasy career appears to have been jumpstarted by his trade to New England, where many expect him to be resurrected by Tom Brady’s amazingly accurate arm and Bill Belichick’s genius coaching, similar to the Randy Moss experiment.
Don’t believe the hype.
Ochocinco will certainly be more productive than he was last season, but he has declined a great deal as a receiving threat. He is no longer one of the elite receivers in this league. He does not even make the top 10 list anymore for wide-outs. Perhaps not even top 15.
His hands are much more inconsistent now and he drops way more passes than he did in his prime. His speed is no longer blindingly quick and he no longer needs to be double covered all of the time.
Ochocinco will be a reliable target, and will certainly catch more than the four touchdowns he caught all of last season. But don’t expect him to be a consistent threat and one you can rely on to score points for your offense.
2) Darren McFadden
Regarded as an incredible talent, Darren McFadden was taken fourth overall in the 2008 NFL draft and in 2010, recorded 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns for 5.2 yards per carry. He is expected to make more leaps forward in 2010 and play at least as well as he did in 2010.
Still, anyone who plans to take McFadden should be wary. Up until his breakout season in 2010 McFadden was regarded as a bust for such a high pick. He has already shown that he is injury prone and can be inconsistent. Don’t be surprised if McFadden’s 2010 season turned out to be somewhat of a fluke and he reverts back to being a talented, yet underachieving back.
McFadden is a solid option for anyone looking for a second running back. For a first string running back, however, there are better options out there.
1) Michael Vick
Starting only 12 games in 2010, Michael Vick still managed to score more fantasy points than any quarterback, including the MVP Tom Brady and the Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers. With that in mind, analysts everywhere almost unanimously are proclaiming Michael Vick as one of the top quarterbacks and top players overall to be selected in fantasy drafts.
However, talented as Vick is, don’t completely give into the hype. At least not yet.
It should not be ignored that at the end of the 2010 season, teams were beginning to figure out how to effectively game-plan against Vick and limit his production. I still expect Vick to be an effective quarterback in 2011, but it will be very difficult for him to repeat his 2010 success.
And despite his improved pocket passing, Vick is still a scrambler at heart. With that kind of playing style, it is highly likely that Vick will be injured and lost for a few games in 2011 or even for a significant portion of the season.
His recent struggles against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second preseason game (three interceptions in one half of football) are also worrying. It is likely that he will revert back to his Atlanta Falcons self, with little comfort in the pocket and looking to run when the first option is not open.
Any fantasy owner who wishes to take Vick will be taking a player with by far the most upside, but it is also a very risky selection. More cautious owners would be wise to pass on him in favor of Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees.