"Bust" is the ugliest four-letter word in fantasy football, but whether a player is labeled a bust is relative to his draft position. Matt Forte and Calvin Johnson were both taken in the earlier rounds, so the description fits. But if you took a chance on Matt Cassel in the middle to late rounds, it wasn't as detrimental a move. The 10 players listed below are most likely to produce decreased numbers based on depth chart movement, age or increased statistical expectations due to impressive 2009 performance, so avoid them in prominent draft positions.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Manning is coming off his best fantasys season, and the talent he has at wide receiver has never been better. So why avoid him? Well, the Giants want to run the football more than last season, when their defense was giving up a ton of points and Manning was forced to throw the often. While he won't be a complete bust, don't be shocked if Manning fails to duplicate his 2009 totals. He's someone to target as a No. 2 fantasy option.
Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs: Jones has finished in the top five in fantasy points among running backs on NFL.com in each of the last two seasons, but that was as a starter for the Jets. Now in Kansas City, he'll open the season second on the depth chart behind Jamaal Charles and is destined to see far fewer carries. In fact, he should now be seen as more of a low-end flex option or a handcuff for owners who take Charles. He's certainly not a player to lean on any longer.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns: A fantasy star at the end of last season, Harrison's value appeared to be rising after the release of Jamal Lewis. But the team's decision to take Montario Hardesty in the NFL Draft put a major dent in his overall appeal. Harrison will now have to battle for the top spot on the depth chart and could be in a backfield committee that will hurt his level of production. He shouldn't be drafted as more than a flex starter.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: Jackson was one of the most underrated running backs in the league last season, posting 46 catches and better than 1,400 scrimmage yards for the Bills. Unfortunuately, the team has retained Marshawn Lynch and drafted C.J. Spiller to what looks like a confusing three-headed backfield monster. With the chance for inconsistent touches from one week to the next, not to mention a preseason ankle injury, Jackson will be hard to trust.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: A preseason bust on NFL.com last season, Portis missed eight games and finished with the worst single-season totals of his entire career. He's become far more brittle in recent seasons, and the addition of Larry Johnson and Willie Parker seems to indicate a committee situation is on the horizon. With the wear and tear of eight years on his body and no guarantee for consistent carries, Portis is someone to avoid.
Donald Driver, WR, Packers: Driver recorded his fifth straight 1,000-yard season in 2009, but the developement of younger receivers like James Jones, Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley will put a dent into his targets. Driver will also open the 2010 campaign at the ripe old age of 35 and is no lock to duplicate his recent statistical success. He's best served as a No. 4 fantasy wideout and shouldn't be seen as a weekly starter.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets: Edwards has more name value than actual value from a fantasy perspective. Outside of his one huge season with the Browns, Edwards has been no better than a mediocre wideout at the NFL level. This season, he'll have to contend with Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller (among others) for targets in what will remain a run-based offense. As a result, Edwards should be drafted as more than a No. 4 option.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens: Mason has been one of the more underrated wideouts in fantasy football over the last few years, putting up 70-plus catches and 1,000-plus yards in all but one season with the Ravens. But this is the time when his numbers will start to decline. Aside from the fact that he's 36, Mason will also see a drop in targets with Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth in the mix. He's now no more than a No. 4 fantasy option.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals: The Bengals added Antonio Bryant, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham to their pass attack, and that was before the signing of Terrell Owens. That's a lot of mouths to feed and only one football. Ochocinco remains the best fantasy receiver on the team, but his targets are almost certainly going to drop in 2010. That would mean less consistent production from a player who hasn't been very consistent over the last two seasons.
Greg Olsen, TE, Bears: While it's true that Olsen recorded career bests across the board last season, he was also terribly inconsistent and not at all reliable for fantasy leaguers. Now in the offense of Mike Martz, the Miami product could find himself blocking more and running fewer passing routes in 2010. The fact that no tight end has ever caught 40 passes on a Martz-led team is reason enough to pass on Olsen, even as a fantasy reserve.