Fantasy football season is now over but in a year with so many sleepers, there were a fair share of busts. By busts I am referring to players who entered the season with high expectations but for various reasons were not able to live up to them. One thing that really happened nationally as a result of this was fantasy players sending hateful messages towards players on social media outlets such as Twitter. This idea just seems dumb to me for various reasons. First off, fantasy football is a game that while it does take some skill, is mainly luck based. Second, if you as a fantasy owner were disappointed in a player’s performance, chances are the player is as well and I’m sure they are much more frustrated about their results than you are.
I will be selecting a bust for each position while also including an honorable mention option.
QB: Robert Griffin III, Redskins: To say the least, 2013 was a rough one for RGIII. Coming off a torn ACL, it was going to be a tough road back for a quarterback whose fantasy value was tied so much to his running ability. Despite this, most pundits viewed him as a top ten fantasy quarterback and he failed to meet those expectations. Griffin III is currently the 17th ranked quarterback in terms of scoring and had already lost the starting job by the time owners would have needed him for the playoffs. With a full offseason not dedicated to rehabbing an injury, hopefully Griffin III will be able to recapture his rookie year form in 2014.
Honorable mention: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: Kaepernick was another young quarterback who had a lot of hype despite starting less than ten games last year. Like Griffin III, his value was boosted by his running ability. After his 430 yard three touchdown performance in week one, it seemed like the sky was the limit for Kaepernick this year. He went on to follow that up with two clunkers where he threw for no more than 150 yards in each game and didn’t have a touchdown.
Other than those two and another performance or so, it wasn’t all bad just not worthy of a top ten quarterback. If Kaepernick has a full season of Michael Crabtree to go with Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin, there is no reason to think he couldn’t meet those high standards next year.
RB: Trent Richardson, Browns/Colts: Running back is the most valuable position in fantasy football and if you miss on one of your first picks, your team is in trouble. For that reason, this title was a neck and neck race between Richardson and two other backs. In the end, Richardson gets the nod due to scoring less than 100 fantasy points for the year. He is averaging three yards a carry for the season and while he has the pedigree and has shown talent, Richardson hasn’t shown a whole lot to really get people excited for his prospects in 2014.
Honorable mention: Ray Rice, Ravens: Rice was projected as a top five back this year due to the volume and year-to-year consistency. Due to poor offensive line play and nagging injuries, that wasn’t the case this season. Rice for the year has only 645 yards and four touchdowns which aren’t bad numbers for a backup back but he was a top ten pick in the majority of fantasy leagues. Before this year Rice was one of the most exciting players to watch in the league. Hopefully he is able to get fully healthy and bounce back next year.
WR: Roddy White, Falcons: White had his best fantasy game of the year when his owners would need him. Unfortunately, his owners who selected him probably weren’t playing for fantasy championships. White started the year playing with an ankle sprain that was more severe than the Falcons let on. For that reason, he was essentially a decoy during that period. White has picked it up lately as he has had both of his 100 yard games in the last four weeks. With Julio Jones returning from injury and White coming back healthy, he has the makings of a very nice bounce back candidate.
Honorable mention: Steve Smith, Panthers: By his standards, Smith had an off year recording 745 yards and four touchdowns. Those aren’t bad numbers, but they weren’t what owners were expecting when drafting him as their second receiver. Another thing that makes Smith look worse by comparison is the caliber of players that were ranked behind him. ESPN’s preseason rankings had such receivers as Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson all behind Smith.
Those players were all younger and in passing oriented offenses, savvy fantasy owners would probably have picked them ahead of Smith. Pound for pound, Smith has been one of the most effective receivers in the league for the past decade so hopefully he can regain his form in 2014.
TE: Jared Cook, Rams: Tight end was a tough position for fantasy owners as after a few select options, the position was a complete crapshoot. I don’t really want to incorporate players who missed the majority of their season due to injuries, so Cook gets the nod due to others ahead of him disappointing. It seemed after a week one line of 141 yards and two touchdowns that Cook was finally starting to show his potential.
That wasn’t the case as aside from that game Cook has had only 500 yards and two touchdowns on the season. As arguably one of the most athletic tight ends in a time where they’re now lining up like receivers, Cook seems like he should be much more productive than this. Just make sure to not be that owner who ends up being drawn in by his measurable next year.
Honorable mention: Fred Davis, Redskins: Davis was a top 15 tight end in most preseason rankings. While he was mostly drafted as a backup, he still qualifies as he was a healthy scratch for most games. He has talent, but 70 yards and a touchdown for the season won’t leave people begging for more.
K: Blair Walsh, Vikings: Selecting a kicker is pretty much a shot in the dark as it’s all about opportunity. After a fantastic rookie year in 2012, Walsh was projected to be a top three option in 2013. Due to the Vikings offensive struggles, that wasn’t the case. Owners can only hope the Vikings give him more opportunities next year.
Honorable mention: Matt Bryant, Falcons: Bryant like Walsh was projected as a top five option. Due to kicking for a team who lost a ton of skill position talent didn’t help his cause. Assuming the Falcons can’t have worse luck next year, Bryant should be a pretty solid option.
DEF: Houston Texans: Like most things Houston Texans related in 2013, their defense for fantasy purposes was very disappointing. They were considered a top three option in preseason but based off ESPN standard scoring ranked 29th out of 32 teams in points scored. While the individual talent on this team is strong, that is an awful showing for a defense that made owners spend a draft pick that wasn’t one of their last two.
Honorable mention: Chicago Bears: Over the years, the Bears have been a top notch fantasy defense. Whether it is their consistently strong play or the large sum of touchdowns (interception, fumble recovery or return) they were always a favorite of fantasy owners. This year they had top five expectations again but failed to live up to them.
The unit had a ton of injuries and was also awful against the run allowing 2,423 yards in 15 games. In other words, they would have a tough time stopping a nose bleed. Despite all of this, the Bears in “reality” control their own destiny in making the playoffs which goes to show just how different fantasy football could be from the real thing.