In order to build a successful fantasy football team and fight for that league championship, a player cannot only focus on the players he/she wants to target but also those to avoid completely. Oh, and of course get a little lucky. Many players don’t come anywhere near their expectations whether it be because of poor play, injuries, personal issues, etc. The 2015 season has been no exception. If any of your top five picks from your draft have fallen in one of these categories it can be devastating to your season.
Where as in 2014 it seemed that a lot of fantasy busts stemmed from suspensions due to off-the-field issues, 2015 has been about trying to survive the injury bug. In just the past few weeks, a number of top players have been placed on IR for severe injuries, forcing fantasy players to drop their top talent and hope to hit a home run on the waiver wire or pull off a blockbuster trade. If you have been fortunate enough to avoid a major injury to this point, you’re lucky, but there’s a chance still that you drafted a player that has been an absolute bust due to poor play.
Top ranked players that are simply under performing can be tougher to deal with than losing players to injuries. You’re not sure if you should bench the player, trade him, or start him in hopes that they finally perform at a level of expectations and then some. A lot of players are simply overrated or just not fantasy relevant at all. A chunk of players that we all fought to get in the first few rounds of preseason drafts have become lost in the fantasy world. Here is a list of the top 15 players that have potentially ruined your fantasy team in 2015:
15. DeSean Jackson
If I thought of DeSean Jackson as an elite receiver he would be in the top-3 of this list without question. He’s dealt with a hamstring injury since Week 1 and didn’t return until Week 9 but nobody noticed. He’s already voiced his frustration, tweeting that he can’t throw the ball to himself. He’s now barely worth a streaming look week to week. Whoever initially drafted him likely gave up on him quickly, giving those desperate for a receiver an opportunity to grab the veteran in hopes for a fantasy revival. Unfortunately, Jackson has been more down than up during his time with the Redskins.
14. Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen was also expected to bounce back from a disappointing 2014 season and be a strong WR2 candidate. He exceeded those expectations. Allen had a similar rank on draft boards as Jackson but he came through in a big way for his draftees. For the first half of the season Allen was playing at an elite level, particularly in PPR formats where he averaged double digits in targets. Fantasy owners started to rely on Allen’s production as their top receiver.
Unfortunately, Allen lacerated his kidney in Week 8 and was placed on injured reserve. It was a huge dagger for fantasy owners and leaving those scrambling for talent at the position. Those in deeper leagues where all the viable receivers have been taken may be forced to stream week to week.
13. Marshawn Lynch
I may be too nice to Lynch ranking him this low as he is more likely a top 10 candidate for this countdown. But, I haven’t given up on him quite yet. However, the poor offensive line has hurt fantasy values across the board in Seattle. Lynch is still a fierce running back but it’s likely too late for him to fight back to his first round relevancy. The Seahawks know that they must rely on their top running back but it seems easier said than done. Owners have to be cautiously optimistic of his production heading into the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
12. Joseph Randle
Joseph Randle was recently released by the Cowboys for personal issues. To add fuel to the fire, the NFL has suspended him for four games for violating conduct policy from an off-the-field incident back in February. Randle was expected to take DeMarco Murray’s role since Murray bolted to Philly but he could never fully grasp the lead back role. The strong offensive line of the Cowboys had Randle ranked as high as 3rd round material in preseason drafts. Those who waited too late to give up on Randle and couldn’t snag Darren McFadden could be suffering the consequences.
11. Carlos Hyde
In Week 1, Carlos Hyde rushed for over 160 yards with two touchdowns resulting in a stellar 30-plus point fantasy performance. Only one week since then has he been able to reach half that mark. Hyde has been battling a stress fracture in his foot for the majority of the season. Mix that in with a bad overall Niners offense and you’ve got a problem. There were high hopes for Hyde with Frank Gore out of the picture but they have been long forgotten.
10. Dez Bryant
I’ll be the first to admit that this is a bit premature, but Dez was a first round pick for a lot of fantasy owners. He injured his foot in Week 1 and did not return until Week 8. That’s a huge loss for any owner to lose that kind of production from their first round pick. On top of that, quarterback Tony Romo is not expected to return until week 11 at the earliest. If you are in the playoff hunt, Bryant’s production going forward will benefit those teams that held on to him quite nicely. If not, he could be a key reason you are on the outside looking in.
9. Alfred Morris
Alfred Morris should be on this list this year and all eligible seasons before this. He is consistently the most overrated fantasy player in the NFL. It seems like every year his preseason fantasy rankings are between 10-50 overall, when in reality he should be drafted in the much later rounds or not at all. Those that know me know that I give out information on my fantasy strategies about as much as Bill Belichick gives out info on game plans. However, the one thing I will make quite clear is that I’m not drafting Alfred Morris. Still, someone always makes the mistake of picking him up early and later regretting it.
Morris says he is mystified as to why the rushing attack is not working. I think it’s pretty clear that it’s because they’re not very good but he can’t come outright and say that.
8. Andre Johnson
I honestly had to go back into this list and add Andre Johnson. That’s how much I forgot about him. Expectations were high this summer for Johnson in the high-powered Colts offense, but it has been his most disappointing season by far. Johnson went off league boards in rounds 3-5 but has been held without a catch on three occasions this season. That number could rise as the Colts have relied more on Johnson’s blocking ability and feel they have other weapons to catch the ball. He by now is a free agent in most leagues and holds little to no fantasy value.
7. Arian Foster
Arian Foster was drafted in later rounds than usual. That’s because he suffered a groin injury in training camp that kept him off the field for the first few weeks. Those that drafted him did so to stash him until he was ready and to be the lead back he has shown to be in Houston. Of course injuries have plagued Foster his entire career and in a blowout loss to the Dolphins, Foster tore his Achilles in a non-contact drill and is now out for the year.
Some questioned why he was still in there in the first place seeing how lopsided the game was. Hopefully, you had a backup plan in place but it’s hard to find another running back with a high volume and production like Foster.
6. C.J. Anderson
The lack of production from C.J. Anderson has come to a surprise to me. I thought that with the arrival of Gary Kubiak, Anderson would have been one of the top 5 running backs this year. The offense has not clicked in Denver like we are used to seeing and Anderson has now been passed on the depth chart. Anderson and fellow starter, Ronnie Hillman, will still see equal carries in a committee approach but committee is an ugly word in the fantasy world.
5. Peyton Manning
We all wondered when it was going to happen. When was Peyton Manning going to start showing the signs of old age? Well that time has come, big time. He’s been dreadful in fantasy this year, throwing more picks than touchdowns the first half of the season. It was expected for Manning to have a slight dip from his usual standards, but not like this. After Week 6, the only eligible quarterback rated below Peyton was Ryan Mallett. He’s looked better the past couple games but far from what fantasy owners were looking for with one of their top 5 picks.
4. Jeremy Hill
If you listen closely you can probably hear another podcast expert talking about how Jeremy Hill is going to have a bounce back week. Start Jeremy Hill they said. He’ll be phenomenal they said. Blah, Blah, Blah.
Hill has been the only disappointment of the Bengals and it’s because of their success that I don’t see Hill coming on at all this season. He’s admitted that he needs to break more tackles and create special plays but he likely won’t get a lot of opportunities. Fantasy production for Hill means that the Bengals would be leaning on him and that’s not what has gotten them this far. Andy Dalton has shined in the passing game, surprisingly, and Giovani Bernard has produced more with his touches. Hill is still capable to break one but doesn’t get enough volume to trust.
3. Jamaal Charles
The top overall pick on many draft boards, most of those in PPR formats, Jamaal Charles produced like a RB1 should. Even when it didn’t look like it. He’s that good. Charles has had his fair share of injuries though and that trend continued when he tore his Achilles in late October. Still, owners that were aware of his injuries likely handcuffed Knile Davis after he stepped in well for Charles in previous seasons. It was all for not, as unknown Charcandrick West would take the reigns as the lead back. Jamaal Charles is irreplaceable in fantasy even though West has filled in nicely. Still, your chances of a fantasy championship looks bleak losing a player of Charles’ caliber.
2. Le’Veon Bell
Bell was an absolute beast in 2014. So much so that fantasy owners still took their first round pick on him with a two-game suspension coming to begin the season. The Steelers’ offense feeds off Bell so well because like Charles, he does it all. He’s the kind of back that will carry you to a league championship so a two-game suspension was well worth the risk. In a dramatic injury, Bell tore his MCL in Week 8 and is now out for the season.
Most were not able to pick up DeAngelo Williams as he quickly became the biggest waiver wire pickup of the season. Those that did are fine because DeAngelo will likely pick up right where Bell left off, proven by his performance the first two games with Bell’s absence. For those that couldn’t get Williams, the struggle is most definitely real.
1. Eddie Lacy
Eddie “Chubbs” Lacy gets the number one spot of fantasy busts. Fitting, since Lacy was arguably the number one overall rated player coming into the season. He’s now not even the number one back on his team. It was announced this week that James Starks will start in place of Lacy. Lacy is still expected to get his touches in a committee approach. There’s that word again.
Lacy has been sloppy all season and the apparent weight gain points to the primary factor. It’s pretty evident Eddie has put on a couple pounds despite his denial. It looks like he’s gone from Roll Tide to Jelly Rolls. But seriously, he just doesn’t have the intensity that he’s had in previous seasons and looks tired. Fantasy owners are furious with Lacy and should be. He was supposed to lead all players in fantasy production. Now, he’s not even trusted enough to start for his own team.
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