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Fantasy Football: Busts

Fantasy Football: Busts

Courtesy of Photobucket

Flex your fantasy muscle by avoiding Forte in the early rounds

Consistency is the hardest part to forecast when it comes to looking ahead to the fantasy football season. Will a breakout player continue to progress, or will he fall short of the hype? Does a proven veteran have one more productive year in him, or are his fantasy fortunes a thing of the past? Don’t worry, we are here to help you sort the deception, and determine who is overvalued coming into to the 2011-2012 NFL season.

Running Backs
Let us start with a player who, if owned, likely led your fantasy team to the promise land. Peyton Hillis did it all for the Browns last year, racking up just shy of 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Browns. His numbers were comparable to that of Chris Johnson, a consensus top 2 pick. Hillis is no bargain this year, as Mock Draft Central lists his current ADP at 15.15 which reflects fantasy owner’s confidence in a repeat performance. I am very concerned about his dramatic increased workload; he had 270 carries last year compared to 81 carries in the previous 2 seasons combined, and the Brown’s offensive focus. A dramatic increase like that is always a red flag the following year, as it is unknown how his body will recover from the pounding he took last year. He’s a physical runner, and thus his body takes a beating over the 16 game schedule. Hillis benefited greatly from being the unknown back that caught teams off guard. As the season wore on last year, teams began to stack the box, and held Hillis out of the end zone for the final 5 weeks of the season. Touchdowns win fantasy leagues, and I can’t imagine Hillis approaching double digit scores this year. He scored half of the Browns touchdowns last season, a ratio that is simply too high to repeat. Also, Montario Hardesty, a name that scared fantasy owners off of Hillis in early drafts last year, is now healthy and ready give Hillis a blow when needed. Hardesty is another hardnosed back, and seems like a safe bet for a handful of scores, scores that would have been Hillis’ last year. The offense will expand a bit as Colt McCoy continues to progress and mature. Best case scenario, you are looking at 1,100 yards and 7 touchdowns, not worth your second round pick. Proven studs like Frank Gore and Steven Jackson are going behind Hillis, which feels like a “what have you done for me lately” approach. Value wise; sign me up for DeAngelo Williams, who is going on average 30 picks later.
Bears running back Matt Forte (ADP 20.39) is another player being drafted early that is sure to disappoint. He is a dual threat option, who has averaged 57 catches and nearly 1,100 yards a season, so why does he make this list? Over the past 2 seasons, Forte has seen a drop in rush attempts and catches. Mike Martz runs the show in Chicago, and is a big believer in the forward pass. Not that Forte can’t be on the receiving end of 50 balls again, but we have been hurt before by running backs that fall in love with being a receiver (yea, I’m looking at you Reggie Bush). Martz’s addition of Roy Williams, a receiver whom has experienced past success with Martz, gives him a big athletic playmaker to throw too, something that has lacked in recent years. The schedule is brutal for Forte, as it is for all NFC North running backs. This division is loaded with run stoppers, starting with Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh in Detroit. That tandem is going to clog holes all year long, and Forte gets the pleasure of facing them twice. The Vikings, although I think they will struggle as a whole this year, are paced by linebacker Chad Greenway and were top 10 in the league last year in stopping the run. And finally, the super bowl champion Green Bay Packers boast a group of young aggressive linebackers that attack the offensive line as much as anyone. They are also comfortable leaving their talented corners one on one, allowing them to stack the box on running downs. When all is said and done, I see Forte reverting back to his 2009 stats (900 rush yards, 400 receiving yards, 5 scores), not near worthy of a late second or early third round pick.

Wide Receivers
Greg Jennings (ADP 21.63) is the best receiver on the best passing offense in the league that much we know. What remains to be seen is the impact of an already explosive offense getting healthier will have on Jennings’ production. In 2010, the Packer wide out saw his touchdown total leap from 4 to 12, a increase that will be hard to maintain this year. Jermichael Finley, all 6 foot 5 250 pounds of him, is back on the practice field and figures to become a favorite of Aaron Rodgers sooner rather than later. Even if all the hype around Finley is overdone, he is sure to be a target in the red zone, as his athleticism and size will prove to be a mismatch for a linebackers and corners alike. Not only will Jennings have Finley to contend with for targets, the Packers offensive unit should be a bit more balanced this year, with a healthy Ryan Grant back at tailback. James Starks impressed during their playoff run, and figures to be more involved than he was last year. The Super Bowl run also shined light on receivers like Jordy Nelson and James Jones, and their abilities to find seams in the defense. Being the top option on a top offense is a nice title, but we care about numbers, and Jennings will regress from last year’s impressive campaign. At their current draft positions, I’ll take my chances on Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, or even Vincent Jackson instead. Jennings is a mirror image to Marques Colston, a receiver being taken 2 rounds later.
I would, however, prefer Jennings to Dwayne Bowe (ADP 28.72). The streaky KC wide receiver set career highs in yards (1,162), touchdowns (15), and 100 yard games (5). Counting on him to reach all of those numbers is over the top, and the drop off will be felt hard by fantasy owners who draft Bowe this early. Quarterback Matt Cassel and the receiving corps lack experience, and defense began to make the relatively unknown options beat them, not Bowe. Never was this more evident as the Ravens held Bowe without a target in their playoff victory of the Chiefs. That simply doesn’t happen to an “elite” fantasy receiver. Either does this: Bowe recorded 33 or less receiving yards in 5 contests last year. His game relies heavily on scoring, and 15 touchdown seasons are few and far between. He may win you a week here and there, but he is not the type of player you want in the third round, or as your top wide out.

Tight End
Tight end is a tough position to draft, and is much like drafting a catcher in fantasy baseball. You either draft an elite one early, or you wait as long as possible before drafting a player who you hope can score on a biweekly basis and not hurt your team to much. Vernon Davis (ADP 56.79) is being drafted as part of that elite tier, a tall order for a QB deficient team. The TE’s drafted in the same rounds as Davis (Gates, Witten, Clark, Finley) all have top notch quarterbacks and offenses that are pass heavy. I am not arguing that Davis may finish as the 5th ranked tight end, but I would place him toward the top of the second tier, as opposed to the bottom of the first. Drafting a tight end in the 6th round is a bold move, and Davis is in less than an ideal situation. The risk simply outweighs the reward this year for this talented 49er.

 

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