Fantasy Football Studs Last Season Who Now Anchor 2011 Fantasy Benches
Twenty one fantasy studs from 2010 have turned in disappointing seasons in 2011, causing their owners to frantically search the waiver wire or trade for replacements.
Some of these declines are the result of being benched (Kyle Orton), while other players have just failed to recapture the magic of last season (Chris Johnson). Still others have suffered devastating injuries or simply been unable to find a team for 2011.
You won’t find any players on this list who were never really fantasy studs. Rex Grossman has been benched in Washington, but not too many people were counting on Grossman to carry their fantasy teams to a title.
To have been a stud, the player should have been owned by the great majority of fantasy leagues. It should be a player whose production was enough that he couldn’t just be replaced by any guy on the waiver wire.
Let’s hope you didn’t have any of these former stars on your fantasy team.
21. David Garrard, QB, Free Agent
David Garrard enjoyed a career year in 2010, throwing for 23 touchdowns in just 14 games. Garrard completed 64.5 percent of his passes and posted a 90.8 passer rating. He wasn’t an ideal No. 1 fantasy quarterback but as a fill-in or spot starter, Garrard helped out a lot of fantasy teams.
This year, Garrard was a surprise cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars in training camp. After unsuccessful attempts to latch on with a team, Garrard underwent surgery for a herniated disc in mid-October.
20. Nate Kaeding, K, San Diego Chargers
One of the main rules of fantasy football is to never pick a kicker higher than the last round. After all, most kickers produce generally the same production with only a few consistently exceeding the norm.
Nate Kaeding may be the exception though. He plays for a high-scoring San Diego offense that averaged 27.6 points per game last season and he set a career-high with 40-plus yard field goals.
This year, Kaeding suffered a torn ACL on the opening kickoff of the entire season.
19. Jacob Tamme, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Jacob Tamme broke out last year with a strong season that included 67 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns, numbers that were serviceable to any fantasy owner who picked him up after Dallas Clark went down with an injury.
Tamme’s fall this year was to be expected but the drop in his stats has been alarming. He has just one catch in six games. To put that in comparison, he averaged over four catches per game in 2010.
18. Kyle Orton, QB, Denver Broncos
The benching of Kyle Orton for former first-round pick Tim Tebow has been much anticipated although Orton didn’t play well enough before to state his case to be a starter.
Orton threw for 3,653 yards and 20 touchdowns last year, helping Brandon Lloyd shock the football world with a league-high 1,448 receiving yards. Orton wasn’t an ideal No. 1 fantasy quarterback, but he did average 281 passing yards per start—a better total than Jay Cutler or Tony Romo.
In just five games in 2011, Orton has already thrown nearly as many interceptions (seven) as he did all last year (nine), and his yards per game is down to just 195.
17. Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For most wide receivers, their breakout season doesn't come until at least their third season in the league. Mike Williams did so in year one, catching 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns and establishing himself as quarterback Josh Freeman’s top option in the passing game.
The regression of Freeman and Williams have coincided with one another this season, and Freeman has caught just one touchdown in seven games.
16. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I remember my team being rumored to take Knowshon Moreno in the 2009 draft as the replacement to Brian Westbrook.
I sure am glad that move didn’t happen. Moreno had a decent enough season as a second-year running back, rushing for 779 yards and five touchdowns, but this year he has been surpassed on the depth chart by Willis McGahee.
Moreno has just 123 ground yards and no touchdowns for the Broncos. He will only serve a purpose on fantasy teams should McGahee go down with an injury.
15. Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
The former first-round pick put together his finest season in 2010, setting career highs with 58 receptions, 700 yards and 10 touchdowns. The touchdown total was three more than he had caught in his previous four seasons combined.
Marcedes Lewis’s numbers this year stand at just 15 catches for 174 yards and no touchdowns, making him no longer a tight end worth starting in fantasy leagues.
With rookie Blaine Gabbert struggling under center, Lewis may not recapture the production he put up in 2010.
14. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashard Mendenhall quickly fulfilled his expectations as a first-round pick taken in the 2008 NFL draft, rushing for 1,108 yards in ’09 and 1,273 last year. His 13 touchdowns on the ground made him a top-10 pick in most fantasy leagues.
Mendenhall’s yards per carry (3.9) hasn’t dropped off in 2011, but he is seeing the ball less and thus gaining fewer yards and scoring fewer touchdowns. Mendenhall is on pace for just 842 yards and six touchdowns, numbers that would make him a good No. 2 or 3 fantasy option, but not No. 1.
13. Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
Antonio Gates has been a great story since he broke into the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2003. A former college basketball player, Gates impressed scouts enough that the San Diego Chargers signed him to play tight end—and Gates has rewarded them with seven Pro Bowl seasons.
Last year, Gates caught 50 passes for 782 yards and 10 touchdowns, despite foot injuries that slowed his production in the final games. He is at just 17 catches for 201 yards and one score through seven games in 2011.
This is an obvious correlation of Philip Rivers’ decline in production but also a factor of Gates’ ongoing battle with injuries.
12. Chad Ochocinco, WR, New England Patriots
For most fantasy owners, Chad Ochocinco had become much more of a name than a great wide receiver but still the 32-year old caught 67 passes for 831 yards and four scores last year, topping 100 yards twice.
The New England Patriots went out on a limb to acquire the services of Ochocinco, but the six-time Pro Bowler has done virtually nothing in two months. He has just nine catches for 136 yards, and the Patriots are reportedly looking to get second-year receiver Taylor Price more involved in the offense.
11. Carson Palmer, QB, Oakland Raiders
Before enjoying a nine-month retirement, Carson Palmer had just completed a solid fantasy season with the Cincinnati Bengals, throwing for 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns.
He did throw 20 interceptions, but the high passing yardage and touchdown totals made Palmer a solid No. 2 option as a quarterback.
Palmer is now a starter on the Oakland Raiders, but there aren’t going to be too many fans reaching out to sign him. In his first taste of action in 2011, Palmer threw three interceptions and posted a 17.3 passer rating in 21 attempts.
10. Terrell Owens, WR, Free Agent
Just a year ago, Terrell Owens was the leading receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, catching 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns.
In 2011, Owens has yet to find an NFL team. The demand isn’t too high for a 37-year-old with a poor attitude who is coming off knee surgery.
The good news for T.O though is that the Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League have expressed interest in signing him. If any of you play Arena fantasy football, keep an eye out for Owens.
9. Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Fantasy football players who selected Matt Cassel in the 2010 draft were rewarded with an outstanding year from the sixth-year pro, who threw 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, earning a Pro Bowl nod.
Cassel has regressed mightily this year. Not having star running back Jamaal Charles has undoubtedly put more pressure on Cassel, and his numbers are just mediocre: nine touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 79.3 passer rating.
8. Brandon Lloyd, WR, St. Louis Rams
Brandon Lloyd came out of nowhere in 2010 to lead the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards. He also totaled 11 touchdowns, outplaying many of the game’s great receivers in terms of fantasy production.
Lloyd has come back to earth in a big way. He was just average in four games in Denver before a trade sent him to the St. Louis Rams. Lloyd has averaged 63.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns in two games with the Rams, but that is a far cry from the stellar totals he posted in 2010.
7. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans
Andre Johnson has been a top-three wide receiver in the NFL for several years now, and while the talent is still there, he has struggled with injuries in 2011.
Johnson is averaging close to 90 yards per game when he does play, but his hamstring has been an ongoing issue, and he missed the last four games for the Houston Texans.
There is still half a season to play and a strong second half from Johnson could still give him 1,200 or so yards.
Johnson also has the quarterback in Matt Schaub to do so.
6. Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fantasy football owners had to know Josh Freeman wasn’t going to duplicate his numbers from last year, particularly the unbelievable ratio of touchdowns to interceptions: 25-6.
Freeman threw for close to 3,500 yards and ran for 364 more on the ground, establishing himself as a quarterback capable of making plays through the air and on the ground.
Freeman has been just downright miserable this year though. His 10 interceptions are already four more than all of 2010, and he has just seven passing touchdowns in seven games.
5. Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland Browns
Fantasy football magazines warned owners about this. Sports Illustrated projected Peyton Hillis to be the No. 1 fantasy draft in 2011, saying, “The party is over for last year’s surprise.”
SI couldn’t have been more accurate.
Hillis—whether you call it a product of the Madden Curse or simply a one-year wonder—is on pace for just 481 rushing yards. He has just two touchdowns after seven games, and he’s also battled his share of injuries, missing three games and parts of two others.
4. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
I predicted Philip Rivers as the NFL MVP this season, figuring even if he doesn’t win it, he will still likely finish as one of the top three quarterbacks. After all, Rivers had been remarkably consistent during his five years as a starter—throwing for at least 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in each season.
In 2011, Rivers is on pace for over 4,200 passing yards, but he has tossed just seven touchdowns in seven games. The most obscure statistic for Rivers is the interceptions, as the three-time Pro Bowler is leading the NFL with 11.
3. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Jamaal Charles went No. 1 overall in Sports Illustrated’s mock draft. Most leagues saw him go in the top three picks, with fantasy owners hoping for a repeat of his 1,467 yards on an amazing 6.4 yards per carry.
Charles is actually at 6.9 yards per carry this late in the season—but that’s because he got hurt in Week 2 and was placed on injured reserve. Charles’s backup, Jackie Battle, has provided solid fantasy production, but he’s been nowhere near what Charles would have done.
2. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Though no fault of his own, Peyton Manning has hurt a lot of fantasy teams. The four-time NFL MVP had thrown for over 4,000 yards for five straight seasons and averaged 31 touchdowns during that span.
Manning hasn’t seen the field yet in 2011, due to three neck surgeries in two years. His replacements at quarterback—first Kerry Collins, then Curtis Painter—are hardly worthy of fantasy consideration.
1. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Along with picking Philip Rivers to win the league MVP award, I also chose Chris Johnson to lead the NFL in rushing yards. After all, CJ2K had just signed a brand new contract that paid him as one of the game’s biggest playmakers.
Johnson has failed to live up to that deal though, playing passively and without aggression at running back. He ranks dead last among starters in yards per carry (2.9) and his 302 rushing yards through seven games ranks as tied for 34th in the league, behind players like DeMarco Murray and Cam Newton.
CJ2K’s production has been poor enough that the running joke is he should change his name to CJ20YPG, since he is having trouble averaging even 20 yards per game.