The fantasy football season has wound down to a close for most of you out there. After a grueling thirteen week regular season of setting rosters, adding and dropping free agents, and negotiating trade deals with your friends and family, the playoff teams have been set. If you are not lucky enough to have been included in the fantasy post-season, the time is now to begin blaming your substandard players. After all, it is their fault for not delivering the statistically projected production on a regular basis.
Injuries, offensive game plans, and opposing defensive strengths can all have a negative effect on a player’s fantasy production. In some cases, the decline in production represents a short term regression and the player will return to full production next season once the issue has corrected itself. In others, the lack of production comes as a result of a decline in overall player quality, a much more alarming trend that should lead you to stay away from these players in the future. The time is now to determine which of these apply to your respective players to ensure that you do not make the same mistake next season.
Hopefully if you missed the playoffs, you were lucky enough to avoid the shame and embarrassment of finishing in last place. Some leagues carry a heavy penalty for finishing in last such as surrendering your social media accounts to the league winner, getting a tattoo of the winner’s choice, or other embarrassing penalties that encourage success. However, if you were not lucky enough to avoid such shame, you can still commiserate by placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of your team. Here are the top 15 players for you to take out your frustrations on.
*ADP's are taken from ESPN Fantasy Leagues.
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15 Vernon Davis – TE, San Francisco 49ers
Vernon Davis began the season as the 4th highest drafted tight end, with an average draft positon of 42.2. However, by the end of the fantasy regular season, Davis has declined so spectacularly that he is now owned is less than 40% of ESPN fantasy leagues. Davis’ dismal season has seen him only catch 23 passes for a total of 210 yards over the first thirteen weeks of the 2014 season. He has caught only two touchdown passes, one less than defensive end J.J. Watt. He is currently on pace to have his worst season since his 2006 rookie season where he caught 20 passes for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is less than a quarter of the way to matching his 2013 performance, and his long-term fantasy value should be seriously questioned.
14 Percy Harvin – WR, New York Jets
The New York Jets went out on a limb to trade for Percy Harvin after he became embroiled in scandal during the season with Seattle. His performances on the field have been far lower than fantasy owners expected of him in his first healthy season since 2011. Harvin was the 14th highest drafted wide receiver with an ADP of 43.6. Harvin has failed to reward the fantasy owners that went out on a limb for him, producing only one 100+ receiving yard game, during a week 9 matchup with Kansas City. He has had only 41 receptions for 315 yards and no receiving touchdowns. His only touchdown of the season came on a rushing play, all the way back in Week 2. Harvin should be avoided in future fantasy seasons, especially if the Jets quarterback situation does not change.
13 Doug Martin – RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Two years ago, Doug Martin was a fantasy revelation, racking up over 1,400 yards during his rookie campaign. Last year, his season was cut short by injury, but he was expected to bounce back to full health and production in the third year of his career. He has fallen far short of expectations during the 2014 season, with only 312 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns on the season. Fantasy owners took a big risk on Martin at the beginning of the season, drafting him as the 8th highest running back in the first two rounds of fantasy drafts. Guess who was drafted 9th highest? DeMarco Murray. Martin’s 2014 campaign is looking like one of the all-time biggest fantasy busts.
12 Trent Richardson – RB, Indianapolis Colts
With Andrew Luck at quarterback, a healthy receiving core, and a pretty good offensive line, Trent Richardson has been given all of the tools necessary to succeed. Despite showing promise during his college career and in his rookie season, Richardson has not been able to find success running the football ever since. This season, he continues to produce a lackluster 3.3 yards per carry for a total of 445 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns. He does have 203 receiving yards with 22 receptions, making him slightly more attractive in PPR leagues, but is producing far below his average draft position of a 5-6th round pick.
11 Wes Welker – WR, Denver Broncos
Since Wes Welker suffered a concussion late in the 2013 season, he has not looked like the same player. Many fantasy owners likely thought they were getting Welker as a steal with a 8th or 9th round pick, by picking up Peyton Manning’s favorite underneath target. However, Welker is projected to post the lowest yearly totals for receptions and yardage since his 2005 season with the Miami Dolphins. Welker has only 294 receiving yards over the first 13 weeks and only two touchdown receptions. His yards per reception is at the lowest mark of his career and he is now owned in less than 30% of fantasy leagues.
10 Dwayne Bowe – WR, Kansas City Chiefs
As the 47th highest drafted wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe has produced about as expected, with 46 receptions for a total of 569 yards. However, Bowe has been the ultimate fantasy tease because he does not have a single touchdown receptions despite being targeted by Chiefs quarterbacks over 70 times. This is a player that once caught 15 touchdowns in a single season, so he does have the ability. Bowe cannot be entirely blamed for his lack of touchdown production, but it must be incredibly frustrating for his fantasy owners considering he has also not put up any 100 yard receiving games. In his best performance of the season, he racked up 93 receiving yards, good enough for a whopping 9.3 fantasy points for his owners.
9 Pierre Garcon – WR, Washington Professional Football Team
As the 16th highest drafted receiver, big things were expected of Pierre Garcon with the return of Robert Griffin III and the arrival of DeSean Jackson to open up opposing coverages. However, Garcon has failed to deliver for his fantasy owners this season, boasting only two double digit games for his owners. Aside from those two games, Garcon has been held in single digits in the remaining 10 weeks of the season so far, including being shut out by the Bucs and Colts in two of the last three weeks. He is on track to post career low numbers in receiving yardage and yards per reception (apart from his rookie year).
8 Alex Smith – QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith’s 2014 campaign has been an exercise in fantasy frustration for his owners. Smith was likely drafted as a backup quarterback option despite being an every game starter for the Kansas City Chiefs. If you were a fantasy owner that had to rely on Smith, you are surely aware that he has not thrown a single touchdown pass to his wide receivers this season despite attempting 350 passes. Smith has thrown for 2,364 yards and 15 touchdowns and put the Chiefs in position to sneak into the playoffs, but has declined significantly since his respectable 2013 campaign, especially in terms of rushing the ball (he had 431 years on the ground last year).
7 Chris Johnson – RB, New York Jets
For the first time in his career, Chris Johnson will not rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Injury has not been the reason for Johnson’s lack of production, he has simply been denied the opportunity to carry the load for the New York Jets. He has carried the ball only 109 times during the 2014 season, for a total of 505 yards. He is projected to post career lows in virtually every statistical category because of his dramatically decreased usage rates. Johnson is now available in almost 75% of fantasy leagues after being drafted as the 23rd highest running back.
6 Calvin Johnson – WR, Detroit Lions
Megatron has been battling a nagging ankle injury that has seen his production and participation in the Lions offense severely decline from last season. Calvin Johnson was drafted in the first round of virtually every fantasy league, but has produced the performances of a much later selection. Johnson has only 49 receptions for 724 yards and 5 touchdowns this season, but is finally rounding into form as the fantasy season winds to a close. His best performance of the year came in Week 13, and he finally looks to be approaching full strength. If you manged to get by without him, he could come up huge for you in the fantasy playoffs. Sadly, for many owners, it may have been too late for them.
5 Cam Newton – QB, Carolina Panthers
For much of the 2014 season, Cam Newton has been battling an ankle injury that has limited his scrambling ability and deep ball strength. That is not an excuse that his fantasy owners want to hear when they spent a 4th or 5th round pick on the Panthers quarterback. Newton is currently projected to post career lows in rushing yardage and touchdowns, in addition to declining passing yardage and touchdown numbers. Newton’s problems can be blamed on a lackluster receiving core and that ankle injury, but it will provide little solace to owners who cannot hang on to Newton for next season.
4 Cordarrelle Patterson – WR, Minnesota Vikings
Cordarrelle Patterson was a favorite of fantasy pundit Matthew Berry in the buildup to the 2014 season. Berry routinely praised his big-play ability, which led him to become the 21st highest picked wide receiver, being taken in most fantasy drafts by the 5th or 6th round. Patterson has been a fantasy frustration, unless you’re lucky enough to play in a league that includes kick return yardage. He has not managed 100 yards receiving in a single week and has scored only two touchdowns during the 2014 campaign. The high point of his production came in Week 1, and it has been downhill for Patterson since.
3 Robert Griffin III – QB, Washington Professional Football Team
Fantasy owners that selected RGIII expecting him to return to his rookie level of production were sorely mistaken. Griffin once again had problems staying healthy after he dislocated his ankle in Week 2. Injury is not something his fantasy owners wanted to see after spending a 5th or 6th round pick on him. Griffin is now owned in under 15% of ESPN fantasy football leagues, with his former owners expressing their displeasure in the form of dropping the Heisman winner. Griffin has managed to score only two touchdowns during the 2014 campaign.
2 Ray Rice – RB, Free Agent
Fantasy owners that drafted Ray Rice completely deserve their fate. Rice was at the epicenter of the NFL’s domestic abuse scandal, after he was suspended for two games by the NFL early this season. Despite this, he was still the 22nd highest drafted running back, with an average draft position in the 5th or 6th round. He still has not taken the field after the video of him knocking out his wife emerged and he was suspended indefinitely by the league and eventually released by the Baltimore Ravens. Now a free agent, Rice has been linked with several teams eager to acquire his talents, but he still has not played a single down in the NFL this season.
1 Adrian Peterson – RB, Minnesota Vikings
Widely regarded as the best running back in the league over the last five seasons, Adrian Peterson has not been given an opportunity to shine in 2014. Sidelined because of the ongoing child abuse saga that has tarnished his reputation, Peterson has played in only one game this season after being the top selected running back in most fantasy leagues. Even in that one game he wasn’t up to his usual standard, with only 75 rushing yards on 21 carries. Let this serve as an example of why you do not draft players embroiled in legal trouble and public scandals.
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