By: Rick Findura
We’re coming into week 8 of the NFL season, and of course your fantasy campaign. Players have now had their opportunity to separate themselves from the middle of the pack, and prove that they’re elite options at their position. On the other side of the spectrum however, there are players that have taken the first 7 weeks to, well, really piss off some fantasy owners. If there is one word an owner doesn’t want to hear about any of his players, it’s “Bust.” A bust of course, is that player that you decided to build your team around and hasn’t produced nearly to what you expected. The player you couldn’t wait to draft on draft day. The player who was sold to you as a sure bet, and promptly went on to leave you spinning your wheels and updating your “Trading Block.” That dreaded word has slowly crept into this season as well. Let’s take a look at some of the names that had you dreaming of fantasy glory and have left you cursing at your television. I’ll also tell you if this is a trend, or if you can expect a big bounce back, as we make our way through this fantasy season.
This one hurts me. I’m a Jersey guy, gives me a little pride when one of Rutgers own goes to the NFL and makes a name for himself. And this one hurts too because, well, Rice is a really good player. The only thing worse for a fantasy owner than a running back duo in the NFL, is a running back duo that helps the team win football games. There is no reason for the Ravens to stop giving the ball to Willis McGahee. There was a game 2 weeks ago where McGahee touched the ball zero times against the Pats, but in the last 3 games where he’s gotten a carry, he’s averaged almost 12 carries a game! And he’s scored a TD in all 3. Rice has only 2 TD’s all year. After McGahee stole 12 TD’s last year, I thought for sure Rice would get about half of those back for himself this year. Nope. Worst of all for Rice, he has only 24 catches this season after securing 78 last year.
Advice: Shop around. Unless you’re atop your league and see no reason to change anything, there really isn’t a reason you shouldn’t try to trade Rice for say, a bona fide WR1 and a back who is guaranteed to carry the load for his team. Risky, I know…but maybe somebody you just need to let go…
MJD is quite a different case from Rice. MJD is on an offense that, is kind of really bad. Jones-Drew is getting the ball, he’s just not doing anything with it. Only 1 rushing TD on the season. In the past MJD has been someone you can at least trust to put the ball in the end zone, but it’s just not happening this year. Like Rice, I’m sure he was taken in the top 5 of your draft, and these are just not top 5 numbers. More like round 4 numbers. Only 1 game topping 100 yards? C’mon MoJo, where’s that bowling ball on the loose we’re all waiting for?
Advice: You’ve rode him this far. MJD has a favorable schedule coming up. He’s someone who usually scores TD’s in bunches, and he may have a little run in him left.
I happened to check the rankings on Yahoo! Sports and noticed that Shonn Greene was the 149th best player in fantasy football. Shocking? No. They had him projected as the 9th best player coming into the year…wait…really?? It’s not Greene’s fault that he was hyped up and drafted in the 2nd round, even late 1st in some drafts. LT has had a monster year, which I actually saw coming. (I’m not rubbing it in, just saying.) It’s not that Greene can’t do it. The only game he’s gotten more than 15 carries he rushed 22 times for 117 yards. I know TD’s don’t tell the whole story, but for a guy who was drafted as a RB1 for a lot of people…1 just isn’t gonna cut it.
Advice: LT is old, we know that. Can he break down toward the end of the year? Yes. If you can get by a little longer, Greene might get a chance. If he was drafted as your RB1 and he’s still considered that on your team, well you probably stopped looking at fantasy football then.
Rookie running backs, can’t live with them, can’t stop drafting them. Of all the backs coming into the league this year (Best, Spiller, Tate, Hardesty etc.) it was Mathews who was the sure thing. Norv Turner was talking about all the touches he was going to get. Well, a game and a half into his career he had 2 fumbles and a cart taking him off the field. He only missed one game, but since coming back he’s had more than 9 carries only once. Rookies are tough. You want to be the guy who drafts him and says, “I told you so” at the end of the year. If you drafted Mathews, you’re probably saying things that I can’t repeat in the article.
Advice: If you’re in a keeper league he’d look nice on your bench. If you’re not in a keeper league, well, call Phillip Rivers and tell him to stop throwing the ball so much.
Okay, now it’s time to have some fun. Let’s talk a little bit about Andre Johnson, who I love by the way. It’s nothing personal here. He’s a different kind of bust. In 99.9% of all leagues he was the first receiver taken, and who could blame anyone? He had a tremendous season last year, everyone knows his size and speed combo is unmatched at the receiver position. But when you’re talking fantasy football, and you’re throwing all your eggs into the Andre Johnson basket, and you look up to see…32 catches, 488 yards, and 2 TD’s. You’re not satisfied with that. Now, he’s had 2 monster games in which he totaled 20 catches for 296 yards and both his scores. That leaves you with 4 games where you were wishing you went in another direction. One of those games was missed to injury, and that’s another thing that worries you about Johnson. I’m not saying you should drop him, I’m not saying you should sit him. I mean, you can name your first-born child after him, he’s that good. But temper your expectations a little bit. He’ll still have beast games, just not as consistently as you’d like them.
Advice: Stick him in your lineup and take the ups with the downs.
Now I don’t want to kick a man while he’s down, but sorry Fitz. Everybody knew it wasn’t going to be the same without Kurt Warner. Whether it was Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson, Max Hall…Fitz’s numbers were going to go down. The question was how far. The answer is, more than I thought. I didn’t think he’d be a top 5 receiver…I didn’t think he’d be a top 10 receiver…I kinda thought top 15 was more attainable. Right now, Larry Fitzgerald is the 41st best receiver in fantasy football. 41st! I’m an accounting major, so I can multiply. (Bear with me). If you’re in a 12 team league, and you start 3 receivers. That’s 36 receivers. Larry Fitzgerald is the 41st best. With that reasoning, he should be sitting on someone’s bench. I’m not going to sit here and tell you to bench Fitz ,unless you have 3 top flight guys who you start. Don’t expect a turnaround though. This may just be the hand that was dealt to Larry this year. Hang in there kid.
Advice: Names can carry more weight then production in fantasy sometimes. Find that guy who’s not sure what he’s doing and give him Fitz. “Hey, he’s been the best fantasy receiver over the past 3 years!” That’ll really rope him in!
Steve Smith (Car)
This one won’t take long. Matt Moore + Jimmy Claussen + a football = not in Steve Smith’s hands often. There’s that math coming in handy again. Everyone knows Steve Smith is one of the toughest, most entertaining guys in the league. He’s also the 60th best receiver in fantasy football.
Advice: Stop hoping. It’s not going to happen.
I drafted Matt Schaub in the 4th round. I’m in a league where we just implemented milestones and I was dizzy. I thought he’d be an easy pick, he led the entire league in passing yards last season. He also has the best receiver in the game…(see above). He disappointed me week 1, and then made me fall in love with him in week 2 when he tossed for 497 yards, milestones! Yay! It was short-lived. In the 3 weeks after he tossed for under 300 yards in all 3, and under 200 in 2 of them. He bounced back with a nice game against Kansas City heading into the bye, but still ranks a very mediocre 13th in the league in passing yards. Only throwing 9 TD’s doesn’t help.
Advice: This coming week is a big one for Matt Schaub owners. Monday Night in Indianapolis. It figures to be a shootout. Arian Foster embarrassed the Colts in week 1, and they will try their best to not let him do it again. That should open things up for Schaub. If he can get rolling, his season may not be lost quite yet.
I know it’s tough to judge him after being injured in week 1. This one however, is a bit of an “I told you so” to a buddy of mine who believed the hype on Kolb. I read a magazine that had him ranked 9th best QB. In what world? He played 2 games last year, it took less than a half in week 1 to see this was a disaster. Then Michael Vick comes out and plays like, well Michael Vick, but one who can throw the ball too, and Kolb is kicked to the curb. Vick gets hurt, Kolb starts, Vick comes back, blah blah blah, this is just one headache that I’m glad I didn’t get caught in.
Advice: Nice pick Jimmy.
So there you have it. If you were one of those owners who took the opportunity to draft one of these players, I know it’s been tough. But take it from a man who once drafted Trung Canidate as a starting running back…( I swear, he was supposed to start for the Redskins!) It’ll all be better…and there’s always next year.