With the playoffs underway in the vast majority of fantasy football leagues, fantasy owners can immediately tell you who the most valuable players of 2011 have been.
They can also tell you who the biggest busts of the year have been, too.
This holiday season, let’s highlight the men that fantasy owners think deserve coal in their stockings instead of presents Sam Hurd could provide.
Here are the 13 biggest busts in fantasy football for the 2011 season!
1. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Johnson was the highest profile holdout during training camp, but instead of doing sit-ups in his driveway and taking vitamins to pass the time while his contract demands were met, he must have been downing Twinkies and Kool-Aid.
Johnson was probably taken in the first round of most fantasy drafts, and then turned out to be about as helpful as Tony Mandarich. Over the first eight games of the season, all Johnson managed was one 100-yard-game, one measly touchdown and a 2.8 yards per carry average. It was like having Ron Dayne on your roster.
Do not be fooled by Johnson’s numbers at season’s end. He will likely break the 1,000-yard barrier thanks to three monster contests, but it was too little too late for many fantasy owners who were already out of playoff contention because of Johnson’s pathetic opening two months.
Fantasy owners knew going in that Vick was no Cal Ripken Jr. in the durability department, so him missing some games due to various injuries was not really the problem. The problem was what he did when he was healthy.
Vick currently has a 13-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio that is unacceptable for the fantasy owners who grabbed him in the first or second round of their drafts. He has not had a 300-yard passing game since early October and has shockingly only ran for one score after nine rushing TDs in 2010. Your lack of production has your fantasy owners barking, Ron Mexico!
3. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Give Johnson props for being possibly the only player this year to pull both hamstrings during the season. Rated as the No. 1 fantasy receiver by many publications coming into the season, Johnson has missed more games than he has played in and has been outgained by the likes of Jason Avant, Nate Burleson and Harry Douglas. And both plays where he injured his hammies, he was not even touched!
4. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
I do not like labeling someone a bust because of an injury, especially a season-ending one, but Charles has to be part of this list considering he was drafted in the first round or retained as a keeper in 95-99 percent of fantasy leagues.
Charles wasted no time becoming a bust, tearing his ACL in the second week of the season. For a guy coming off a season where he has amassed over 1,900 combined yards, this was devastating for the fantasy owners who drafted him to be their franchise player.
And for those who figured they could ease the pain of losing Charles by picking up other Chiefs who would get extra carries in his absence, things got worse as Thomas Jones, Jackie Battle and Dexter McCluster all did little.
5. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 2011 version of Freeman unfortunately looked a lot like the 2009 rookie version, not the Freeman fantasy owners saw last season who had a 25-to-6 TD-to-INT ratio.
Freeman suffered the same cruel fate that several young quarterbacks have this season. Instead of his development taking a step forward, it took two steps back. Maybe 10 steps back in his case. Freeman is among the league’s worst in interceptions, TD-to-INT ratio and QB rating and has been a full-time fiasco from start to finish.
6. Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns
Hillis might be the Right Said Fred of fantasy football, a one-hit wonder who will be relegated to no-name status within a matter of years.
That’s sadly how things are headed after Hillis went from a bruising 1,000-yard back to a 400-yard guy who pulled his hammies as much as Johnson did and actually missed a game due to strep throat. He has a better chance at being the Republican nominee for President than being in Cleveland next year.
7. Chad Ochocinco, New England Patriots
Ochocinco can write an autobiography, but he cannot learn a playbook, at least not one as intricate as New England’s. Ochocinco fell behind early and never caught up. He could not beat out Deion Branch for a starting spot all season, which is pretty sad considering many thought Ochocinco was primed for a huge year since he was playing with Tom Brady.
Ochocinco has just 14 receptions in 14 games. That is not a mistake or misprint. He finally scored a touchdown this past weekend, and that was only because Branch missed the game due to injury. Let the Ochostinko jokes begin!
8. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Talk about a sophomore slump! In 2010, Williams and the aforementioned Freeman had a Regis and Kelly kind of chemistry. In 2011, though, they had more problems getting on the same page than Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries
Williams went from 964 yards and 11 touchdowns last year to 701 yards and three touchdowns this year, including going without a catch in his last game against the Dallas Cowboys. Way to end the season on a high note, Mike!
9. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
Jackson found new and innovative ways to screw over fantasy owners in 2011. Just call him the Enron of fantasy football. He had a 50-yard gain wiped out because of taunting, he dropped countless touchdown passes and was benched for parts of games and suspended for one game because of his detrimental conduct. Jackson gave fantasy owners more headaches than touchdowns and 100-yard-games, that’s for sure
Even though fantasy owners knew he had a serious back injury, many of them thought Manning might only miss a game or a month when Draft Day came around. So Manning was selected in the high-to-middle rounds by millions of fantasy players, only for them to find out shortly afterward that his chances of playing this season were slimmer than Taylor Swift.
The best part is that owners in dynasty leagues may not even be able to keep Manning. Who knows if he will ever play again, and if he does nobody knows what team he will suit up for and how rusty he will be. Would you protect him if he is traded to the Seattle Seahawks and throws like Joey Harrington during the 2012 preseason?
It was painfully obvious what Rivers did during the lockout—watch tapes of Brett Favre. There is no other reason to explain why Rivers turned into an interception machine after being such a responsible passer for most of his career.
Rivers is among the NFL’s worst at throwing picks with XX interceptions. But Rivers has salvaged his season and is thus not ranked higher here because of what he has done during these past crucial weeks. He has looked like a totally different QB since favorite tall targets Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd returned from injuries.
12. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
A wide receiver cannot throw himself the ball. Wayne found this out the hard way this year. After having Manning hand-deliver him pinpoint passes for a decade-plus, the spoiled Wayne had to put up with Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins and Dan Orlovsky tossing to him. That’s the main reason why Wayne will probably fail to get 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2003.
13. Philadelphia Eagles Defense
When Vince Young labeled the Eagles “The Dream Team” before the season started, that was the kiss of death. It was like Young borrowed the lips of Batman’s nemesis, Poison Ivy.
Even though Philly spent millions on Pro Bowl defensive players, the Eagles defense is ranked below-average in points allowed, interceptions and fumble recoveries. They were predicted to be a top-five fantasy defense by most experts at the beginning of the season. This proves experts can be wrong.