With most fantasy leagues finishing up last week, I figured this was a good time to recap some of the bigger busts for fantasy purposes. This will be showcasing players who entered the year with great expectations but for whatever reason just couldn’t put it together. Just remember, if you were frustrated by a players performance, the player in question is even more upset about it. For a player, this is their livelihood and with football being the game it is, they only have a limited amount of time to do it. Even if you play fantasy sports for a living, you will still have the ability to play long after these guys retire. The rankings for the players I’m going off of were ESPN’s projections going into the season.
QB: Matthew Stafford, Lions: From an actual football standpoint, this has been the best year of Stafford’s career. The Lions have 11 wins, guaranteed a playoff berth and are playing for the divisional title this week. However, from a fantasy standpoint Stafford underperformed. Projected as a top five quarterback in an offense that was expected to rank among the league’s best, Stafford is currently 16th in total quarterback points. The big killer has been the lack of touchdowns as entering week 17, Stafford has 19 on the year. Despite missing Calvin Johnson for a few weeks, owners were expecting that number to be in the lower 30’s at least.
Inconsistency week to week was also a killer. Just last week in an extremely favorable matchup against the Bears, Stafford only put up five fantasy points. Granted, the Lions got that win and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day. Stafford still has all the weapons to be an elite fantasy option, but expectations should be lowered entering 2015.
RB: Doug Martin, Buccaneers: Martin was supposed to be the centerpiece of a Buccaneers offense slated to make a big leap in 2014. Account that with his huge rookie year in 2012 and he was the 8th rated back going into the year. The backs right behind Martin in the rankings? DeMarco Murray and Le’Veon Bell, otherwise known as the two best fantasy backs this season.
After a year full of injuries and the Buccaneers never having their original offensive coordinator, Martin didn’t have much of a chance. Entering week 17, Martin has 386 yards and two touchdowns. With those numbers he’s currently 55th amongst backs in total scoring. You never know what could happen in the future, but it looks like Martin’s 2012 season is becoming more of a statistical outlier with each passing year.
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings: After an incredible finish to 2013, fantasy owners were expecting Patterson to break out in a huge way this season. However, the raw talent that made him so enticing to fantasy owners is what hurt him in his second year. It may be hard to believe, but a receiver who struggles with his route running isn’t going to see the field a whole lot.
That’s what happened to Patterson as he’s currently 81st amongst receivers with 51 fantasy points. Take away his week one where he was worth 18 points (with 16 of those coming through the running game) and the year was even worse. Not many players have the sheer playmaking ability Patterson can offer, but he should be more of a late round flier 2015 fantasy drafts.
TE: Vernon Davis, 49ers: For the past four or five years, Davis was one of the most consistent tight ends for fantasy purposes. If you couldn’t get one of the top three options (Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas) you could rest assured that Davis would give you reliable production. Then 2014 happened.
For the year, Davis has only recorded 25 catches for 236 yards and two touchdowns. That’s good for 30 fantasy points ranking 38th among tight ends. The crazy part is that Davis’ production peaked in week one where his 44 yards and two touchdowns was good for 16 points. That means Davis was worth 14 points the rest of the year! Even crazier, he’s only had one week with more than two fantasy points since week two. The 49ers offense was a huge mess this season, so it is still possible that Davis can bounce back. He could be a nice sleeper as a forgotten man late in 2015 drafts.
K: Blair Walsh, Vikings: Let’s start off with this: picking a fantasy kicker is a crapshoot. You can predict which offenses will do well, but it’s tough projecting what kicker will get opportunities. A projected top ten fantasy option entering the year, Walsh is barely in the top 20 for fantasy points. While his offense was expected to struggle at times, Walsh was supposed to make up for it with his ability to hit long field goals. However, he has missed six field goals which hasn’t helped his cause. Due to his overall ability, Walsh is still worth a look next year due to his talent alone.
DEF: New Orleans Saints: After a very good 2013, the Saints defense was expected to carry it over after adding even more talent to that side of the ball. Oh, how wrong we were. A projected top ten option, the Saints defense has been worth only 30 points on the year. Yes, you read that correctly. That number is good for last amongst all defenses. When you factor that the Saints have had seven games where they’ve been worth negative points, this total isn’t all that surprising.
Even with a 16 point game against the Bears, this group has been worth a single point over the past five weeks. Unless you get a group like the Seahawks, picking fantasy defenses is like taking a kicker. It all comes down to luck of the draw.