"Bust" is the ugliest four-letter word in fantasy football. If you were one of the poor souls who drafted Brett Favre, Ryan Mathews or Brandon Marshall last season, of course, you might have used some other four-letters words as their production and value sank like the Titanic. But whether a player is labeled a bust is relative to his draft position. Mathews and Marshall were taken in earlier rounds, so the description fits. But if you took Joseph Addai or Chad Ochocinco in the middle rounds, well, it wasn't as detrimental a move. Looking ahead to 2011, here are 10 players likely to fail to produce big numbers based on offseason depth-chart movement, age or increased statistical expectations because of impressive 2010 totals.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: Cassel is coming off the best statistical season of his pro career, throwing for 3,116 yards and the eighth-most touchdown passes (27) in the league. But a tough schedule that includes games against the Chargers (twice), Bears, Packers and Steelers will make it difficult to duplicate his TD totals. What's more, the loss of coordinator Charlie Weis could be problematic. So, despite his 2010 numbers, Cassel still shouldn't be drafted as more than a mid-level No. 2 fantasy option.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns: One of the top-scoring fantasy running backs of last season, Hillis has a tough act to follow. Although he will continue to start for new coach Pat Shurmur, Hillis won't see the same number of touches with the return Montario Hardesty from a knee injury. Hillis also is on the cover the new Madden video game, which has been a statistical death sentence for a number of players in the past. Hillis won't be a total bust, but owners need to temper expectations.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: Green-Ellis is coming off a strong season for fantasy owners, rushing for 1,008 yards and scoring an impressive 13 touchdowns as lead back for coach Bill Belichick. Unfortunately, he has virtually no chance to repeat those totals in 2011. Not only will he have to contend with Danny Woodhead for carries, but the Patriots also added Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley to the backfield in the NFL draft. With a committee situation imminent, Green-Ellis loses a lot of luster.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: Featured running backs are valuable assets in fantasy football, but Lynch still can't be trusted in a prominent role. He was terribly unreliable in his 12 games with the Seahawks, averaging a mediocre 8.4 fantasy points while scoring 27 percent of his total in just one game. Lynch also faces the toughest schedule in the league among running backs, with games against the 49ers (twice), Giants, Cowboys, Steelers, Ravens, Falcons and Bears. Clearly, Lynch is someone to avoid in drafts.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Stewart, a potential breakout candidate before the Panthers re-signed DeAngelo Williams, is now someone to avoid in a prominent role. He's second on the depth chart behind his veteran teammate, and while he'll see carries -- including goal-line work -- Stewart is not in a position to be consistent. In six games where both backs played last year, the Oregon product didn't even average nine carries. Unelss Williams goes down with an injury, Stewart will be no more than a No. 3 or 4 fantasy back.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints: Colston will forever be known as one of fantasy biggest sleepers -- as seventh-round pick out of Hofstra, he had become a popular and productive player in fantasy land. But after enduring multiple knee procedures in the last year, including one that was of the microfracture variety, and it could be time to move him down on rank lists. Colston, who finished 18th in fantasy points among wideouts in 2010, should be considered a low-end No. 2 option at best.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos: Lloyd came out of nowhere (and we mean nowhere) to lead wide receivers in fantasy points last season, posting 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns. Things have changed for the Broncos, however, as former coach Josh McDaniels and his pass-laden offense have been replaced by John Fox and what promises to be a more balanced offense. That will mean fewer targets for Lloyd and fewer chances to produce in the stat sheets. If you do draft him, consider Lloyd more of a No. 2 option.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins: Moss is coming off a nice season, posting a career-high 93 receptions. However, that came with Donovan McNabb throwing him the football for 13 of 16 games. Now it appears that the Miami (FL) will be catching passes from John Beck -- that is a huge downgrade at quarterback. That alone is enough to make Moss far less attractive from a fantasy perspective. In fact, his numbers could drop back to the 2009 level so be cautious.
Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks: Rice missed most of the 2010 campaign while recovering from hip surgery. Although he expects to be back at 100 percent this season and possesses a ton of upside, Rice has only had one truly productive season at the NFL level -- that came in 2009 with Brett Favre under center. In 20 career games in which Favre wasn't with the Vikings or didn't play the majority of the team's snaps, Rice has averaged 2.9 receptions for 37 yards. Now with the Seahawks, he could be a serious disappointment.
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers: Is Williams destined to be the next Michael Clayton? Probably not, but there always is the threat of a sophomore slump affecting the production and value of a player who produced big totals in his rookie season. Although Williams is in an up-and-coming offense with a talented quarterback in Josh Freeman, he's still more than likely to see a decrease in the 11 touchdowns he scored in 2010. Keep that in mind before drafting him as more than a low-end No. 2 option.