More often than not in the movie business, sequels fall far short of the original blockbuster. For every Empire Strikes Back, there are 100 flicks like Caddyshack II. For a super sequel like The Dark Knight, movies fans had to suffer through countless bombs like The Next Karate Kid or Staying Alive. Really, did we need to see John Travolta dancing around to Frank Stallone music in a Tarzan loincloth? Did we? Seriously?
I'd rather watch Sylvester Stallone in his sequel disaster, Rocky V!
In fantasy football, player sequels can sometimes be just as bad as some of the big-screen flops. Remember when Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards put up huge numbers in 2007? Their numbers were like the original Superman. Unfortunately, their sequel performances were more like Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Just terrible. Other players, such as Marc Bulger, Michael Clayton, Matt Forte and Steve Slaton (to name a few) have also imploded the very next season after putting up monster numbers.
The problem with these players is that a decrease in production is almost impossible to predict. Anderson and Edwards were both top-10 options at their respective positions in 2008. The same goes for the duo of Forte and Slaton. Who didn't love those guys last season? So while we're not telling you to avoid the following 10 players in 2010 fantasy drafts altogether (well, at least not all of them), you should be aware that their sequels could fall far short of the blockbuster numbers that made them stars.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Roethlisberger is sort of like the Back to the Future trilogy. He was a blockbuster in 2007 (Future" Part I), terrible in 2008 (Future" Part II) and rebounded to put up good numbers in 2009 (Future" Part III). What can I say, I liked the Wild West component! Roethlisberger is destined for another drop in value, though, as he'll miss at least four games due to suspension and faces one of the league's tougher schedules. Don't draft him as more than a No. 2 fantasy quarterback.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: After two years of being a fantasy sleeper, Schaub finally broke out in 2009 with career numbers across the board. Now considered one of the better quarterbacks in fantasy football, owners need to hope he doesn't experience a Bulger-like drop in production. Remember, Schaub had missed a combined 10 starts from 2007-2008 due to injuries, so the fact that he was able to start all 16 games last season doesn't suddenly make him durable. If you do land Schaub, be sure to back him up with a solid No. 2 quarterback.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals: The fact that Benson is a true featured back in an offense that will lean on the run makes me less concerned about his future level of production. In fact, I think he can improve on the 1,251 rushing yards and six touchdowns he recorded in 2009. If the Texas product does experience a Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise sequel scenario, however, it could be from being overworked. Benson has recorded 25 or more carries eight times in his last 15 starts. Grab Bernard Scott as backfield insurance.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: Rice, a 2009 preseason sleeper on NFL.com, exceeded even our expectations with 78 receptions, 2,041 scrimmage yards and eight total touchdowns as the lead back for coach John Harbaugh. Now a top-five running back on most rank lists, Rice will be looked upon to be a major contributor in the championship hopes of countless owners. The team improved its offense during the offseason with the addition of Anquan Boldin and could throw the ball more often, but Rice will still see enough chances to produce.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys: Austin is the best example of a fantasy blockbuster that could suffer a Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 sequel-like downfall in 2010. He came out of nowhere to post 81 receptions, 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and he recorded most of those numbers after Week 4. While he does have an extremely favorable schedule and plays in a solid offense, can Austin be trusted to duplicate or improve on his 2009 success? While it's hard not to like him, I wouldn't take Austin ahead of the truly elite wideouts.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets: Holmes posted personal bests in receptions (79) and yardage (1,248) last season, but the trade that sent him to the Jets makes him far less valuable in fantasy circles. Not only will he miss four games due to a league-imposed suspension, but Holmes will also have to share targets with Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery upon his return. It also doesn't help that he'll now be part of a run-based offense under coach Rex Ryan. This situation feels a lot like a Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd sequel.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings: A talented wideout from South Carolina, Rice came out of nowhere to produce huge numbers in 2009. The fantasy sleeper turned superstar thrived in the offense of coach Brad Childress, due in large part to the presence of veteran quarterback Brett Favre. With Favre now expected by many to return for another season after undergoing ankle surgery, Rice shouldn't experience a drop in draft-day value. If Favre decides not to come back, though, Rice's fantasy appeal would fall. Be sure to keep tabs on Favre's status.
Steve Smith, WR, Giants: Smith has seen his numbers rise across the board in each of his three NFL seasons, culminating in 107 catches, 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009. A PPR machine, the Southern California product is no longer the "other Steve Smith" in the world of fantasy football. But with the continued development of Hakeem Nicks and the presence of Mario Manningham, can Smith continue to produce at a high level? That's the big question when it comes to the Giants wideouts. Hopefully he won't turn into another sequel bust.
Brent Celek, TE, Eagles: Celek, a 2009 preseason super sleeper on NFL.com, proved to be quite the asset with career bests in receptions (76), yards (971) and touchdowns (8). But will his numbers fall with Kevin Kolb under center? Well, the fact he produced a combined 16 receptions for 208 yards and one score in Kolb's two starts last season is reason for optimism. The Eagles will continue to throw the ball a ton as well, and coach Andy Reid loves using his tight ends in a prominent role, so don't expect Celek to see a major drop-off.
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: Davis came out of nowhere to lead all tight ends in fantasy points last season. Prior to 2009, his previous career bests were a much more modest 52 catches for 509 yards and four touchdowns (2007). So which tight end should owners expect? While I doubt he'll duplicate his yardage and touchdown totals, it's still hard not to rank Davis as one of the better players at his position. If he falters, though, the Maryland product could be the Batman & Robin of the season. (George Clooney as Batman? Come on!)