Sykout lays out the worst 10 draft picks in fantasy football over the past 2 season... take heed.
The Awards You Don’t Want to Win
Time is winding down until your fantasy league holds its annual draft. You’ve been prepping for this draft endlessly, trying to gain any edge you can. You’ve spent countless hours crunching the numbers, checking the injury reports, and making you cheat sheets. Often though, no matter how much time and effort you’ve put into the draft, you end up completely botching a pick. Sometimes it’s 100% your fault: You should have realized that with Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, and a potent passing offense, Saints’ rookie RB Mark Ingram wasn’t worth the 5th round pick that you spent on him. Other times you just get unlucky: Last season Tampa Bay WR Mike Williams equaled his reception total from 2010, but saw his touchdowns drop from 11 to 3. Now that’s just unlucky! Still, a crappy pick is a crappy pick, and below is a countdown of the ten biggest draft busts from the past two fantasy seasons.
10. The “No Matter Which One I Meant to Draft, They Both Sucked!” Award:
Steve Smith (2010)
Both Steve Smiths came off of solid 2009 seasons. Steve Smith (Carolina) failed to reach the 1,000-yard plateau for the first time in 5 seasons, but finished with a respectable 982 yards and 7 touchdowns. The other Steve Smith (Giants) had a career year, catching 107 passes for 1,220 yards and 7 touchdowns. Both had an ADP (Average Draft Position) in the low 40’s in 2010, and similarly, both struggled in 2010. Playing for an offense led by rookie QB Jimmy Clausen, Carolina’s Steve Smith put up his worst season since 2002, gaining only 554 yards and scoring a measly two touchdowns. The New York Giants’ Steve Smith struggled with injuries all season and finished with 529 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The numbers were eerily similar for players with the same name, but that’s where the comparisons ended. Carolina’s Smith proved that all he needed was a good quarterback in 2011 (Cam Newton) to return to form, while the other Smith, playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, continued to battle injuries and put up another disappointing season.
9. The “Fake Out-Breakout Player of the Year” Award:
Knowshon Moreno (2011)
Admittedly, an early 6th rounder should have absolutely no business being on this list, but for some reason I couldn’t resist putting Knowshon Moreno in my top ten. For some reason I’ve never liked the guy. Maybe it’s because he’s too inconsistent for me and has only recording 2 100-yard rushing games in his career. Maybe I hate the fact that despite his enormous talent he has never been able to completely take hold of the Broncos’ #1 Running Back spot. Needless to say, I didn’t buy into the Moreno hype like the many others who expected him to be the breakout back of 2011.
Still, why did Moreno make my list? For me, it wasn’t simply Moreno’s stat-line (280 yards, 1 touchdown) that did it for me, but it was the way in which it all unfolded. Moreno spent the first 5 weeks battling injuries, lost his starting job to an aging Willis McGahee, and eventually tore his ACL in Week 10. Naturally, many of you have cut him some slack. You’ll say that “Injuries killed his season” and then go off drafting him again. Well here’s a heads up for you: Moreno is currently listed #4 on the depth chart in Denver and may not even make the team.
8. The “I Blew My Chance to Become Elite” Award:
DeSean Jackson (2011)
It’s hard to put a player who finished with 961 receiving yards on this list, but that’s how disappointing DeSean Jackson was last season. Despite battling with maturity issues throughout his first 3 seasons, Jackson was coming off of 2 straight 1000-yard seasons while scoring 20 touchdowns (15 receiving, 2 rushing, and 3 punt returning) during that stretch. Add another year with Michael Vick into the mix, and Jackson became a must-have player with an ADP of 29.
As it turns out, Jackson was better suited as a late 9th round pick than a late 2nd round pick and finished with only 4 touchdowns. His subpar performance was only enhanced by his persisting immaturity: On November 13th he was deactivated for the game against the Arizona Cardinals because he missed a Special Teams meeting and on November 27th he was benched for the 4th quarter against the New England Patriots for poor play and a worse attitude.
7. The “One Year Wonder” Award:
Peyton Hillis (2011)
Every year we see players who come out of nowhere to have incredible fantasy seasons. For some, this season is the first of many great ones to come (think Priest Holmes in 2001). For other however, this season is the exception rather than the norm, as was with Peyton Hillis’ 2010 season. Starting out as a fullback in Denver, Hillis didn’t do much in his first two seasons and was eventually traded to the Browns as a throw-in for Brady Quinn. Hillis won the starting job in Cleveland, had a career high 331 touches (rushing and receiving combined) for over 1600 total yards and 13 touchdowns, and became the first white running back since Craig James to rush for 1000 yards in a season.
We should’ve seen it was too good to be true when Hillis was featured on the cover of Madden ’12 (the Madden cover jinx lives on!), but we chose not to listen and drafted Hillis in the 3rd round anyways. What ensued was a season of turmoil and disappointment, fill with injuries (or fake injuries), contract disputes, and underperformance (707 total yards, 3 touchdowns). Unfortunately for Hillis, he now has to share carries with Jamaal Charles, solidifying his status as a true “one year wonder.”
6. The “How Bad Were the 2010 Carolina Panthers!?!” Award:
DeAngelo Williams (2010)
Okay, so the circumstances surrounding DeAngelo Williams’ bad season were radically different than those that Steve Smith endured, but still, to have 2 players in the top ten is a major feat. Williams’ season was cut short by a mid-foot sprain, but in the 6 games he played he scored only 1 touchdown. To put that into perspective, Williams scored 27 touchdowns combined in 2009 and 2010. Consider it a service that Williams, who had an ADP of 19, was eventually put on injured reserve for the season. Otherwise, the 2nd rounder would have tormented the many owners who would’ve continued to start him despite his poor play for a poor team.
5. The “Asterisk* MVP” Award:
Ryan Grant (2010)
This is one of my favorites. The asterisk is often used in sports to delegitimize any fact or statement. For example, Barry Bonds is the All-Time Home Runs Leader* (he was on steroids so it doesn’t really count), or the Houston Rockets were NBA champions in 1994 and 1995* (but if Michael Jordan didn’t leave for baseball the Chicago Bulls would have one 8 in a row). Every year in football there is an elite player who gets injured in the first week of the season. Think of Tom Brady in 2008, when his torn ACL and MCL effectively killed the Patriots Super Bowl hopes. The Pittsburgh Steelers ended up winning the Super Bowl that season, but who cares, Patriots fans decided to asterisk it.
Fantasy football is no different. Whenever a key player gets injured early in the season, fantasy owners can simply asterisk their season and claim to have a legitimate excuse for not making the playoffs. In 2009, Ryan Grant was that guy. Coming off a career year in which he compiled over 1450 total yards and 12 touchdowns, Grant’s ADP of 25 was definitely warranted. However, tragedy struck in Week 1 of the 2010 season when Grant went down with an ankle injury and was put on injured reserve. Grant crushed the hopes of many aspiring fantasy champions, but because it occurred so early in the season, fantasy owners were able to claim that “had Ryan Grant played the entire season, things would have been different,” and unfortunately, we couldn’t prove otherwise. So for all of you 2010 Ryan Grant owners out there, it’s okay, your season is officially asterisked.
4. The “Lemony Snicket” Award:
Andre Johnson (2011)
Andre Johnson was the model of consistency leading up to 2011 with three straight seasons of at least 1,200 yards and 8 touchdowns. Johnson was the #1 receiver on most draft boards and was ranked even higher than Calvin “Megatron” Johnson (this seems almost blasphemous after last season). Johnson’s season couldn’t have started better than (316 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first 3 weeks), but in Week 4 he went down untouched with a hamstring injury. 6 weeks later, Johnson returned against the Jaguars and was back to his normal self, but the next week went down untouched yet again and missed the next 3 weeks. Johnson finished the season with 492 yards and 2 touchdowns, dreadful numbers for the 10th overall fantasy pick. Fortunately, I can’t really blame Andre for his performance or myself for drafting him: he just went through a “Series of Unfortunate Events.”
3. The “Disappearing Act” Award:
Randy Moss (2010)
This was just unexpected. Randy Moss was coming off a season in which he had 83 catches for 1264 yards and 13 touchdowns and seemed to show no signs of slowing down. The early 2nd round fantasy pick started the season strong and had that ridiculous catch against the New York Jets in Week 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8ebtF6sZHI), but after Week 4 he was shockingly traded to the Minnesota Vikings. As if that wasn’t enough, Moss was waived 4 weeks later and picked up by the Tennessee Titans.
Moss finished with 5 touchdowns and a career low 393 yard, but his abysmal fantasy performance goes beyond the numbers. When he was traded from the Patriots to the Vikings, we were confused but assumed that Randy Moss was still Randy Moss. When he was picked up by Tennessee we figured that Moss was poised to turn his season around. We never gave up on Moss and kept on starting, but ultimately he let us down and became the “Disappearing Act of 2010.”
2. The “Ryan Grant 2.0, But Worse” Award:
Jamaal Charles (2011)
Nobody was a bigger fantasy disappointment in 2011 than Jamaal Charles, who entered 2011 with extremely high expectations after compiling over 1,900 total yards and 8 touchdowns in 2010. Charles was going 5th overall in most drafts and was expected to improve on his incredible 2010 numbers. Charles was not battling injuries prior to the season (like Foster) or holding out (Chris Johnson), so aside from Peterson, many saw Charles as first round pick. As the fantasy gods would have it however, Charles tore his ACL in Week 2 (after a solid Week 1 performance) and was sidelined for the rest of the year. I guess we’ll have to asterisk the one too.
And The Winner for the Biggest Draft Bust in the Past Two Seasons is……
Peyton Manning (2011)!!!!
I have a general rule when it comes to drafting players for my fantasy team: Don’t draft players who are coming into the season a) injured or b) holding out for a new contract. For this reason alone, I picked Aaron Rodgers over Arian Foster and Chris Johnson last season. Arian Foster may have had a great season, but Chris Johnson certainly didn’t, and more times than not I’ve found this theory to be reliable. This year I’ll be staying away from Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Wallace, and until I hear more I will be hesitant to draft Adrian Peterson.
There is no excuse to draft a player that doesn’t play one snap the entire season. Sure, Peyton Manning was hopeful that he would play and expressed as much, but as fantasy owners we have to read between the lines and make educated decisions. Manning had neck surgery in May; that should have raised a red flag. I wouldn’t touch a guy like that with a 10-foot pole, but that didn’t stop everyone from drafting him 35th overall. Unlike Jamaal Charles, Manning probably didn’t lose your season for you, but that’s not the point. Charles injury was unpredictable, Randy Moss’ 2010 season was unpredictable, but everyone who drafted Manning knew there was a good chance he might not play and drafted him anyways, and for me that’s inexcusable.
For all of you Manning fans out there, I have good news for you: Manning will bounce back and have a great year. He’s looking healthy and he’s as determined as ever, which is saying a lot for the guy who was already the hardest working player in the NFL. He may even turn out to be one of the top value picks in the upcoming fantasy season. Not a bad turnaround for the Biggest Bust MVP...