Fantasy Football Rankings 2011: Peyton Manning and 10 Stars Guaranteed to Fail
It’s the beginning of the end for the likes of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, and unfortunately for fantasy owners, he’s not the only lock to disappoint this season.
We see it happen to fantasy owners every single year as several of their top picks disappoint due to injury and ineffectiveness. This year, the top of your draft board is littered with potential one-hit wonders and players on the decline. It was difficult to pick just 10 superstars you should avoid on draft day, but you’ll be thanking me for the heads up on these former studs.
One thing people need to remember about fantasy, and especially football, is that it is constantly changing. Every year we see new players fill out the top of draft boards because people are looking too heavily at the past instead of looking ahead towards the future.
Key advice to everyone: stop paying for last year’s stats.
It is rare to find the Adrian Petersons, Chris Johnsons, Larry Fitzgeralds and Antonio Gates’ of the world. There aren’t nearly as many consistently elite players as you think. Manning used to be one of them.
Heading into the season, there are serious concerns regarding nearly half of the top 40 players you’ll find on big boards. If you want to preserve your fantasy season and have a chance to win in December, you can’t afford to succumb to the hype and pay the price on any of the following superstars. Let your enemies deal with the headaches while you’re cruising to victory all season because you avoided these fantasy cancers.
These 10 players are guaranteed to disappoint you this season based on their current fantasy value.
10. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Denver Broncos
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Josh McDaniels may be insane, but he’s an offensive mad genius. He turned a perennial journeyman receiver in Brandon Lloyd into a fantasy superstar. Lloyd isn’t now, nor was he ever, a quality receiver. He is nothing more than a man who is good for one or two circus receptions per season.
He may be the No. 1 option in this offense, but he will disappoint mightily for his third- or fourth-round draft stock. He may be worth a sixth or seventh pick just because he’s guaranteed a ton of weak-armed passes from Kyle Orton, but it doesn’t mean he’ll be able to haul them in.
He will receive double teams throughout the season, and fail miserably to live up to his extreme expectations. He won't reach 1,000 yards or double-digit touchdowns in 2011.
9. Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
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I usually love players fighting for a contract, but I’m not getting my hopes up for Matt Forte, who will be selected in the second or third round of your draft. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz may love his receiving skills out of the backfield, but Lovie Smith knows his team needs to start running the ball with more power.
Enter Marion Barber.
“The Barbarian” will steal short-yardage, goal line and many third-down opportunities from Forte this season. Barber is the superior short-yardage back as he will get his head and shoulders down and plow through defenders. He has a better nose for the end zone and is one of the more underrated receiving backs in the game. He is also a fantastic pass-blocker, which has been an Achilles’ heel for the Bears.
8. Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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We’ve seen Tampa Bay receivers explode on the scene as rookies only to disappoint in the past, right Michael Clayton?
Williams is a very good talent and has the benefit of working against Aquib Talib in practice, but he will have a difficult time creating as much separation as he did last year. He is already having trouble in preseason and will see constant double teams the entire season due to the lack of quality receiving threats filling out the roster.
Josh Freeman is one of the most intelligent quarterbacks in the game, and won’t dare try to force passes Williams’ way just to please fantasy owners. A sophomore slump is in store for this Buc.
Sleeper alert: Dezmon Briscoe will score more touchdowns than Williams in Tampa.
7. Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints
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Colston is fighting for a contract, but he’s also once again fighting to stay on the field. I expect him to battle his current knee injury all season and be in and out of the Saints lineup.
I fully expect Jimmy Graham and Robert Meachem to break out this year, which will hamper Colston’s value. We saw Mike Sims-Walker and Steve Smith disappoint in their contract years last season, so the contract-year theory is not fail-proof.
Drew Brees spreads the ball too much for Colston to be considered a stud receiver this season. He is being drafted with the likes of Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker, Chad Ochocinco and Anquan Boldin. He won’t even have a better season than fellow contract-year player Mario Manningham. Do not expect 1,000 yards or double-digit touchdowns from this Saint, as those numbers are reserved for teammate Meachem.
6. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
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I had Maclin pegged as the next elite receiver before preseason started, but he has plummeted in my rankings due to his illness. His conditioning has been destroyed heading into the season and it will take him many weeks to get back to his fit self.
Maclin is the key to the Eagles offense as he is a phenomenal deep threat, but is also the superior possession receiver when compared to DeSean Jackson. He needs to be in prime shape to make a difference, so he should be downgraded on draft day. He used to be a third-round pick, but now I wouldn’t even touch him before the fifth or sixth round. This will be a lost season for the third-year wideout.
5. Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets
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We’ve been hearing Shonn Greene’s name for the past two years and he can’t seem to break out. This looked like the year, but LaDainian Tomlinson is still there to steal third-down duties.
Rex Ryan can call for him to be the Jets workhorse all he wants, we have no idea if he’ll receive all of the goal-line work or even carries between the 20s. Tomlinson was phenomenal last season and has a better nose for the end zone, despite being in the twilight of his career.
Ryan knows Greene is his bread and butter for the postseason when smash-mouth football, tough-nosed defense and clock management wins Championships.
Tomlinson is still every bit the threat he was last season, and took a pay cut to ensure success. He’s not going away and Greene will fail miserably as a second- or third-round pick. He should be plummeting down your draft boards. Wait for next year when he pulls an Ahmad Bradshaw, fighting to earn a contract with the Jets.
4. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
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Everyone hits that wall and it’s coming for Reggie Wayne. He has been the epitome of consistency with Peyton Manning, but the Colts era is officially over.
Wayne is vying for a new contract, and he won’t cash in like he thinks. His receptions, yards and touchdowns will decrease this season as he falls from his elite WR perch.
Wayne has been dealing with a knee injury for a while, and this could be the year it takes him down. He is being drafted in the second and third rounds, but with players like Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin and Mike Wallace.
Wayne is eternally tied to Manning, and with Peyton’s neck casting a shadow of doubt on his season, we're no longer living in Wayne’s World.
3. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
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It will be impossible for Michael Vick to duplicate or improve on his out-of-this-world and unforeseen 2010 campaign.
One of the greatest athletes to ever grace the field—I admire Vick’s improved pocket awareness and accuracy to go along with his envious arm strength and speed.
Still, he’s proven he’s not invincible. Defensive coordinators started to figure him out late last year. Just like the old Vick, the right amount of pressure can still force him to make quick and errant decisions, which will ultimately destroy his fantasy value as his turnovers will increase exponentially.
Nobody knew how to defend Vick in the beginning of last season, but the blueprint is out and every defensive coordinator has a copy. He’ll be good because of his ability to improvise on the ground, but he won’t near his career season.
2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to ever grace the hallowed gridiron.
As a fantasy owner of his last year, I can tell you firsthand how amazing it was to be part of his historic 2010 MVP campaign. It was more impressive to me than his record-setting 2007 campaign.
Unfortunately, he won’t mimic or improve on last year’s numbers. Since 2002, Brady has never once improved his touchdown total in consecutive years. He'll peak, drop and then peak again.
History says he won't duplicate or improve his 36 touchdowns from last year. He's up and down with his touchdowns and this will be one of his down years after throwing eight more touchdowns in 2010 than 2009.
I love his determination, dedication and preparation, but a second- or third-round pick for his services is too hefty. By all means, draft him in 2012, but he will not finish with the same amount of touchdowns as last year.
1. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts
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The Manning reign of dominance is over. He’s on the decline and he won’t be destroying your fantasy opponents this season.
Indianapolis was forced to bring in Kerry Collins, in fear that Manning won’t be ready to start the opener against division rival Houston Texans.
Not only is this the end of Manning’s supremacy, but it is the end of the entire Colts organization. Manning will cripple your fantasy team and the Colts, who will fall to the Houston Texans in the AFC South this season.
Say goodbye to the annual lock of 4,000-plus yards and 30-plus touchdowns. His neck injury is a serious concern and will have a major impact on his game the rest of the year.
You’ll be able to draft him at a discount compared to previous years, but he still won’t finish as a top 10 fantasy QB this year. I never thought I’d see the day where this well-oiled robot would decline, but his armor has been breached for good.