Fantasy Football Life is presenting our columnists’ Bust selections for the 2012 season. Each columnist is listed after each player, giving fantasy players different points of view. Before you jump off the deep end, check out the “why” behind the “who” in each case. If you agree with the reasoning, take heed in your draft. If not, we’d like to hear from you. Without further adieu, your 2012 fantasy football bust selections:
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans – Houston made it to the playoffs and made a decent run with TJ Yates as their quarterback last year. TJ Yates ladies and gentlemen. Gone are the days of needing to throw for 300 to 400 yards a game to keep pace with the likes of Indianapolis to win their division and compete in the AFC. Wade Phillips has transformed that defense and did much of their damage even without Mario Williams last year. The Texans will lean on Arian Foster and Ben Tate to wear down their opposition, and use Matt Schaub to keep defenses honest. He has the benefit of utilizing the monster that is Andre Johnson; unfortunately for potential Schaub owners that will not equate good enough stats in this passing era. There could could be a gaggle of lesser names that put up similar to better stats than Matty “usually needs ice” Schaub. – Kevin Nelson
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – I just don’t see Rivers being a top 10 quarterback this season. Without Vincent Jackson, there is no proven number one receiver and still a body that could break down any minute in Antonio Gates. Rivers will still somehow find a way to throw for a bunch of yards, but I seem them as empty yards. I see his touchdown total decreasing and while I don’t expect another 20 interception season, he will still be amongst the league leaders due to his gun-slinger mentality. – Anthony Fusilli
matt-schaub1Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton? Bust? Yep. Newton had a great rookie season, but what you saw it in the last few weeks of the season was the NFL was starting to figure him out. In fact, Newton failed to throw over 300 yards in any game after the Panthers bye week last year. He passed for 215 yards only twice in the last eight games of the season. Cam got you your fantasy points on the ground with his feet. Well, say goodbye to that as well as the Panthers have brought in ex-Charger, Mike Tolbert. He’s only here to pound the ball in the end zone, and protect Cam from having to do it himself. With all of those factors I just don’t see the same numbers as I did last year from Cam. His current ADP is 2.09, and that’s just too early for me to gamble on Cam Newton. He will put up fantasy points, but not enough to warrant a 2nd round pick from me. – Michael J. Igyarto
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills – A lot of people really like Fitzpatrick as a sleeper but the appeal is as confusing as The Matrix Trilogy. His passing numbers were both good (3800 yards and 24 touchdowns) and bad (23 INTS). Steve Johnson already reminds me of the Chad Ochocinco towards the end of his Cincinnati career, when he talked a lot more than he walked. In 2012 Buffalo may have the best defensive line in football and will make a great effort to win the game at the line of scrimmage. That should mean heavy doses of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. In addition, a lot of Fitzpatrick’s “good” passing stats came early last season before the weather turned (14 passing TDs to 7 INTs before November and 10 passing TDs to 16 INTs from November on). The early comparisons to Detroit, New England, and Green Bay were a bit premature to say the least. Like with Schaub, there are just far too many options at quarterback to see Ryan Fitzpatrick as one of the other high upside guys. – Kevin Nelson
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – I swear sometimes I repeat myself. It is just part of the business I guess, but Joe Flacco always seems to end up at the bottom of guys I want to draft. I know there are some Baltimore folks out there that feel Flacco is a winner, but I’m not buying it. Average Joe is nothing more than a decent back-up QB on your fantasy team. He will have a few decent games because Torrey Smith will haul in a 30 yard floater and smoke the secondary, but not much else. The Ravens have Ray Rice and the feisty defense that keeps the game low scoring and manageable for Flacco to win. That’s all he is and always will be, a game manager. He will put up mediocre numbers on a weekly basis, with the occasional nice stat line from time to time. Please do not draft Flacco as your starter, and tread lightly on drafting him too early as your backup. You might just be doing your buddies a favor, and nobody wants to be that guy. Unless, of course, you are the “Wacko for Flacco” type. – Michael J. Igyarto
*Note: Most of our columnists have Matt Forte selected. We will list the reasons
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears – I’ll preach it to whoever wants to listen. This isn’t just about injury, although there is a great concern in that regard, there are countless factors which lead to thinking Matt Forte will bust this season. Forte led the team in receptions last season while healthy. Not gonna happen with Brandon Marshall in town. Last year Matt Forte was the first attempt on the goal line and the work horse on all 3 downs. Not gonna happen with Michael Bush in town. This is without mentioning the holdout that could linger all the way into the preseason. A few years ago Steven Jackson and as recently as last year Chris Johnson, both had the worst statistical seasons of their career following offseason holdouts. The Bears are in love with Michael Bush. The offseason reports could not be anymore glowing and they will not bend over backwards to appease Forte. Even if they do, the statistical opportunities will not be as abundant making Forte certainly unworthy of a first or second round pick. – Kevin Nelson
*Kevin’s Note – Speaking of hold outs: Any RB that holds out into minicamp and especially the preseason: This is includes anyone from Matt Forte, MJD, Ray Rice, or any others that miss team activities and real practice time. The results just don’t turn out well for fantasy purposes. Ray Rice and MJD are both ranked high still because there is less worry about their hold outs going forward but I wanted to stress the importance of the hold out angle and therefore included the idea as a bust more so than an actual player. This is the epitome of a causal effect for a bust season so be aware. Be very aware!
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears – I have a rule in fantasy football, and I will oblige by it no matter who that player is. That rule is AVOID all players that are in contract disputes or coming into a season after just being rewarded a big contract. Matt Forte falls into both of these categories. Either he’s going to very unhappy with lighter pockets, or his pockets will be stuffed and he will take a break like he’s a Windy City Union Laborer once he finally gets on the field. We have seen it before as last year Chris Johnson was a perfect example of this. Matt Forte’s numbers will regress this season. The acquisition of Michael Bush, coupled with the fact that Forte won’t be used as much as a wide receiver this season is enough for me to stay far away from this man. I owned him last season, and he gave me great production until he went down with an injury. However he can’t score from within the 10-yard line, hence the reason the Bears got Michael Bush. Mike Martz is gone, so not every play will turn into a screen play to Forte and the Bears have a nice 3-man rotation with Forte, Bush and the young Kahlil Bell. Life in the Windy City will go on regardless if Matt signs the big money contract that he wants. Either way, I want nothing to do with Forte on my fantasy roster. – Michael J. Igyarto
aphurtMatt Forte, Chicago Bears – This will surprise you, not that I’m knocking Forte, but rather my reasoning for taking Forte as it has nothing to do with his holdout. I really like Forte, I think he’s an awesome player and I’d have him on my team if I was building a real football team. Fantasy in 2012, not so much. Despite his holdout he is still being taken quite highly in the drafts that I have participated in over the off-season (roughly 30 drafts). This makes no sense to me because Mike Tice is likely to use Michael Bush an awful lot next year. Bush didn’t come off the field very often for the Raiders but still ran hard. That hard running will be used by Tice to hide his offensive line’s limitations. At best, Forte splits carries with Bush. But that’s okay because Forte is a great receiving back, no? He is, but you have to understand why Forte got so many receptions last year. Jay Cutler is the type of quarterback that loves throwing to his primary weapon. He’s not Drew Brees or Tom Brady in that he throws to whoever is open. Cutler likes to force the ball certain directions depending on who is on the field. Forte was his best receiver in recent years, but now that mantle goes to Brandon Marshall. Marshall had a career-high 104 receptions the last time he shared the field with Cutler. – Cian Fahey
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, RB
Prior to being injured last year, Peterson was averaging 4.7 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns. What those statistics don’t tell you however is that Peterson had to work harder for those touchdowns than any other back and earned every inch of his 970 yards. Even if Peterson returns this year, he won’t be 100 percent. A torn ACL takes nine months to recover from, but even then true comfort and effectiveness often doesn’t return for another six months or so. For a receiver like Wes Welker it was easier to come back so quickly, but a heavier set player like Peterson will struggle. It doesn’t help being a running back either. Some backs can get away with not being 100 percent and still be effective. In Minnesota, Peterson has to be an amazing runner to get any kind of production. – Cian Fahey
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs, RB – Coming off a painful torn ACL injury, Charles has claimed that defenses will be the ones feeling his pain this upcoming season. Charles has publicly said he is ahead of schedule and will be on the field come Week 1. That’s great to hear from a guy who I’ve owned in the past, and was a top 5 back when he was at his best. Unfortunately, I don’t see him coming back as strong, not right away at least. Also Kansas City has brought in bruising running back Peyton Hillis from the Cleveland Browns. I can’t help but think Peyton will steal a good chunk of rushing attempts from Jamaal, as well as most of the goal-line duties. This means fewer carries (and fewer touchdowns!) for a guy coming off a major ACL injury. I’m not saying Peyton Hillis is the guy you should be targeting, but I don’t think Charles can be trusted as a top pick at the RB position. Just too high of a risk, and too little of a reward when you know Peyton will be there to take away some of those carries and touchdowns. Too be honest, I’m shying away from all KC backs this season. – Michael J. Igyarto
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants – I get that this may seem weird with Brandon Jacobs moving on but what is even more odd is the thinking that Brandon Jacobs was good enough to have that kind of impact on the remaining backfield with him gone. In theory it makes sense, but Jacobs only had 152 carries last year and exploited those carries to a 3.8 YPC clip. That’s only 3 more carries than Jackie Battle got by the way. But in addition to those nuggets, the bigger problem is Bradshaw and his own production. Last season Bradshaw had one 100-yard game, an 86-yard game and want to take a stab at his 3rd highest total? 59 yards! That was with only missing 4 games. Ranked among most experts top 15, that seems like a huge reach. David Wilson was drafted to help the rushing load and any reliability in Bradshaw himself seems fleeting. The Giants are becoming Eli’s team, through the air. Peyton led a pretty potent offense in Indy through the years and did not require a top 15 fantasy back to make it happen. Something similar is going on in New York. You would be far better of taking a shot at David Wilson’s potential late, than Bradshaw early. – Kevin Nelson
Victor Cruz, New York Giants, WR – Reality will hit Victor Cruz this year. Last year Cruz may have been a leading receiver for the Giants in terms of statistics, but he relied on Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, when healthy, to draw coverage away from him. When teams game-planned for him, e.g. New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, he did nothing. With Nicks battling injury entering the year, Reuben Randle being a rookie and Ramses Barden or Jerrel Jernigan looking to establish themselves, Cruz will see a lot of coverage next year. Unlike a Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson, Cruz is not a coverage breaker. If you want to take him out of the game, you will. The Giants offense could really struggle in 2012 as Eli Manning can’t continue his super human performances from last season’s playoffs for a full season. – Cian Fahey
nelsonJordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers – Like Victor Cruz, it’s always difficult to assess the following year value off of seemingly unrepeatable career years. You can’t pay career year prices because it will leave you with something similar to a Keystone Bitter Beer face (look it up). In regards to Jordy, his situation is fantastic and his talent looks good as well. This may be more of a buyer beware but there are some concerning statistics from last season if you dig a little deeper. 277 of his 1263 yards and 5 of 15 TDs came in the final 2 games without Greg Jennings active and one without Aaron Rodgers. Nelson had 5 games with 52 yards or less and 6 games with 3 catches or less. The advantage to playing in the Green Bay offense is he has a great chance to get 80+ yards TDs like last year, but downside to relying on that is he could be a real boom or bust type player. Stats tend to even themselves out, so it would seem Nelson’s regression would come down closer to maybe 1100 yards and 8-10 touchdowns. Still very good, but maybe not the top 10 some are predicting or expecting.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans – I. just. Can’t. Trust. Him. He started to wear down from all of the hits finally. Johnson is the unquestioned main target in Houston, so he’ll get his looks. It’s just hard to draft a guy as a top three Wide Receiver when he’s coming off a May knee surgery. I may be wrong, but it’s not a chance I’d like to take. Adding to my issues with AJ, he’s another player I had on the same team as Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis that ruined my fantasy season last year. No grudges though…honest. – Anthony Fusilli
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins – Moving away from Indy we find out if it was Manning or Garcon. Last year you say? There might not be a season in history in which a player scored more long touchdowns due to DBs falling down than Pierre Garcon had last year. 44% of his yards and 100% of his touchdowns came in 3 of the 16 games he played last season. That is far more of a fluke than anything otherwise. His QB situation was porous but he had 784 yards and 6 touchdowns the previous year with Peyton. Garcon is being touted by many as a sleeper this season in Washington; more likely he stays sleeping in the tower waiting for prince(ss) charming.