- Fantasy Editor
- Published: Sept. 2, 2011 at 07:13 p.m.
- Updated: Sept. 2, 2011 at 08:20 p.m.
"Bust" is the ugliest four-letter word in fantasy football, but the biggest busts are the ones that cost owners a pick in the earlier rounds. Think Randy Moss in 2010. A second-rounder in most drafts, he went on to post dreadful numbers between three teams and landed on the scrap heap in most leagues. While the following 10 players shouldn't suffer that same fate, each of them has some level of risk based on age, previous performance levels and changes to their personnel that you should keep in mind in drafts.
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles
Vick a bust candidate? Come on! Well, consider that he has no chance to average 28 fantasy points again, like he did in 2010. Call it the law of averages. Also consider that his style of play makes Vick more vulnerable to injuries -- remember, he missed four games last season. Finally, consider that opposing defensive coordinators have had plenty of time to watch film on Vick and prepare more comprehensive game plans.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans
The top-scoring player in fantasy football last season, Foster will be hard pressed to duplicate his 66 receptions, 2,220 scrimmage yards and 18 total touchdowns. In fact, he could see an 80-point drop in fantasy production and still have a strong season. Of course, the hamstring ailment that has him listed as day to day, according to coach Gary Kubiak, is already a cause for at least some concern. Temper expectations.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns
If the Madden curse isn't enough to keep you from expecting Hillis to finish in the top five in fantasy points among running backs again, consider these little nuggets: First, Montario Hardesty is back in the mix after missing his rookie year with a bum knee. Second, while the possible loss of Brandon Jackson could mean more touches, it also means Hillis is at greater risk to break down like he did at the end of 2010.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
Turner, who enters this season at the age of 29, has carried the football 330-plus times in each of his last two full seasons. He also slowed down in 2010, though that was due in large part to a groin ailment that required post-season surgery. Another reason to think Turner's numbers could fall is the fact that the Falcons plan to throw the ball much more with Matt Ryan and an improved attack that should be gang busters.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
Whether or not Jones-Drew is worth a first-round selection aside, keep in mind that he is coming off a surgical procedure on his knee and saw very minimal work in the preseason. The Jaguars' pass attack doesn't figure to give him much support, either, so opposing defenses will no doubt focus on stopping Jones-Drew and the run. There's also a chance that Rashad Jennings will see more work to keep Jones-Drew fresh.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs
Bowe scored the second-most fantasy points among wideouts in 2010, based mostly on the strength of his league-leading 15 touchdowns catches. Can he put up that number again in 2011? Probably not. And even if he posts eight touchdowns (his career seasonal average) and the same yardage totals, he'll still fail to meet heightened expectations. Also keep in mind that the loss of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis could be a major negative.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers
It's going to be hard to pass on Jennings as a No. 1 fantasy wideout in an offense that's going to throw the football a ton. However, the return of Jermichael Finley could mean fewer targets for the veteran receiver. In the five games that Jennings and Finley started together in 2010, Jennings averaged just 2.8 receptions. In the 11 contests that Jennings played after Finley went down, he averaged close to six.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos
Remember Muhsin Muhammad, who came out of nowhere to lead all wideouts in fantasy points in 2004? I think Lloyd could turn into the latest version of Muhammad. He posted a monster season in 2011, finishing first in points among wideouts -- much like Muhammad. However, that was in a pass-laden offense with Josh McDaniels at the helm. John Fox's offense will be based on the run, likely leaving Lloyd with fewer opportunities.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
At some point in the career of most players, a significant drop in production happens seemingly out of nowhere. Could Wayne suffer that fate in 2011? He could have a slow start if Peyton Manning's neck keeps him out of a game or two. Furthermore, the Colts have their full complement of receivers back -- Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Dallas Clark are all back in the mix. Wayne will also be 33 in November, so he's getting up there.
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
Witten was the top-scoring tight end in fantasy football last season, but he has little chance to accomplish that feat again. Why, you might ask? Well, consider that in the five games that Tony Romo played the majority of the Cowboys' snaps, Witten averaged 4.6 receptions with one touchdown. Without Romo, he averaged 6.3 catches and scored eight times. One thing is for sure -- Witten's touchdowns could drop by about half in 2011.