Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that our next Presidential election will be held today. In the spirit of this event, DLF concludes our Dynasty Decisions 2012. In this five-part series, several of our writers analyzed pertinent fantasy questions, and “campaigned” for their various answers.
In the final installment of this series, we want to know “Who do you think has been the biggest fantasy disappointment thus far?” Read on to see which players have been “nominated!” If you’re swayed by a particular argument, vote in the corresponding poll on the home page. If you’d like to nominate your own choice, tell us who and why in the comments section.
Let’s see what our you and our writers have to say!
Chris Johnson, RB TEN
Ah, the Biggest Disappointment award—not exactly the most coveted award, but an award nonetheless, I suppose. This distinction by no means indicates the worst player in the league. In reality, the player considered to be the biggest disappointment very well may still be good enough to be a weekly starter in your fantasy lineup. The player considered to be the biggest disappointment is a player who cost owners a lot to get, whether that be via draft pick or trade, one that is expected to put up big numbers on a weekly basis, one that is expected to win not just games for a fantasy team, but championships. The player I consider to be the biggest disappointment is Chris Johnson.
After Week eight, Johnson’s stats don’t necessarily look like those that belong to fantasy football’s biggest disappoint; however, that was one massive week seven Johnson had. If you break Johnson’s rushing yards down on a game-by-game basis, you will see that in four of his games, Johnson has tallied 4, 17, 24 and 24 yards and, in three of his games, Johnson has rushed for 91, 141 and 195 yards. Talk about your ultimate hit-or-miss back. As great has those massive games are, you can’t afford to have a player who is supposed to be one of the elite running backs in the game earning your team 0, 1 or 2 fantasy points on the ground in over half of the games he plays.
The monstrous potential that Johnson has forces you to put him in the game, but tendency over the past couple seasons to sink more often than swim makes him the biggest disappointment in fantasy football.
Matt Stafford, QB DET
Aside from Greg Jennings’ absence due to injury, perhaps no receivers have been as disappointing to fantasy owners as Calvin Johnson (taken first among receivers in drafts) or Titus Young (everybody’s sleeper at the position). Arguably, Brandon Pettigrew is also disappointing, but hopefully most of us have learned our lesson and aren’t relying on him as a TE1.
What’s the common link between all these underachieving pass-catchers?
A second round pick in most leagues, Matthew Stafford has put up low-QB2 statistics. While consistent 17 point-per-game production isn’t terrible, owners paid a high price to acquire their signal-caller. Secondary options like Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Freeman all have higher PPG averages than Stafford, who was supposed to build on the huge step forward he took in 2011. Victor Cruz, AJ Green, and Roddy White are among the players Stafford owners likely considered in his draft spot and are outperforming him.
In Stafford’s defense, the first half of the season has included a brutal schedule for quarterbacks. The 49ers, Eagles, Rams, Bears, and Seahawks are all among the top ten defenses in limiting fantasy points for opposing quarterbacks. The second half includes the Jaguars, Colts, and Packers (twice), but also the Texans and Cardinals, so we are likely to continue to see inconsistent play from Stafford and his receivers.
Cam Newton, QB CAR
The thing about Cam Newton is that it’s not even his disappointing statistics that make him a disappointment. In dynasty start-ups, he was being drafted as a top 5-10 player, so it should be fairly obvious that he hasn’t produced anywhere near that level so far this year. Really, it’s the overall regression that he seems to have taken as a franchise quarterback in general that should have his fantasy owners taking notice.
Here are Newton’s statistics from the first seven games of this season compared to his last seven from 2011:
As you can see, those cumulative statistics are pretty similar with the exception of total touchdowns where he accounted for nine more over that stretch during his rookie season. That discrepancy explains the differential in fantasy production as well as the team’s win-loss record over those timeframes which are 4-3 and 1-6, respectively. However, it’s the events which have transpired this season such as the public questioning of his locker room leadership, the sideline confrontation with veteran wide receiver Steve Smith and his deflated presentation during postgame press conferences that have become major warning signs of things yet to come. If you own Newton, you simply can’t ignore them.
Ask yourself this – if you were drafting a team in a 12 team start-up dynasty league today, how soon would you take Newton? Before fantasy studs like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees? Definitely not. Before budding all-stars like Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III, or Andrew Luck? Hardly. He’s probably in the same tier as aging superstar Tom Brady and fellow yellow-flag guy Matthew Stafford. To me, the fact that he has moved from being squarely in that second group with Ryan, RGIII, and Luck into the group with Brady and Stafford is disappointment enough.
Newton has excelled at every level of football he has ever played, winning national championships in JUCO at Blinn College and Auburn University. His physical superiority alone was enough to win games at those levels. As he’s beginning to realize, that just simply isn’t the case in the NFL. A wise man once said that “one must learn how to lose before they can learn how to win.” I think that adage applies here perfectly.
Kenny Britt, WR TEN
Few players have given owners as many headaches as Britt. There is no other player with as much talent that consistently leaves owners high and dry and this year is no different. Following last year’s breakout with 271 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games, the sky was the limit. Unfortunately, a torn ACL ended his season far too early and Britt has carried his health and legal issues into the 2012 campaign.
Britt has been active for five of the seven games of the season up to this point. He started his season in week two following a suspension for yet another arrest, however his play has still been limited due to last year’s ACL tear. Owners are given the positive spin of his injury status and enough confidence to insert him into their starting lineup, but the reality of the situation has been that he has only played a majority of offensive snaps in two games this season. There is truly only one Adrian Peterson and given Britt’s history of lingering health problems, it is possible that his struggles will continue for the majority of the season. Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said Kenny Britt is not the same player they had in the first three weeks of the 2011 season. “It’s going to take a year,” Palmer said.
Due to his value, he probably holds an important spot in your dynasty roster. There aren’t many people who consistently have better options week-to-week that could make him an easy sit from your lineup. Britt is difficult to sit because of his pure talent, potential and the positive spin you hear about his improving condition every week. But he is a hard start because of his limited reps and the fact that he is clearly still not 100% from lingering injuries. This makes for an every week darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don’t decision. In standard leagues, he has eclipsed ten fantasy points just a single time, when he totaled just 62 yards and a touchdown.
There were a lot of people I considered for the title of biggest disappointment. The other players I thought about may not be meeting lofty expectations, but at the end of the day they are still producing for owners who may have been a bit spoiled last year. Britt, however, is another story completely. He teases owners just enough with his huge potential, and then gives a near goose egg. He is just healthy enough to insert into your starting lineup, but not healthy enough to get enough in-game looks to make an impact. There is no other player in fantasy football right now that is tearing out the hearts of fantasy owners everywhere on a weekly basis.
Titus Young, WR DET
A concept we are all unfortunately far too familiar with is that campaign promises can be broken. You vote for candidates on the basic premise that they’ll keep their word and frustratingly it sometimes just doesn’t happen. It’s the classic bait and switch.
Simply substituting “draft” or “trade” for “vote,” and “players” for “candidates” allows you to see that fantasy football owners can feel the same type of dissatisfaction. One player in particular who has thus far failed to deliver on his promise is Detroit wide receiver Titus Young. Billed as “amazing” and “almost impossible to stop” during offseason practices, Young has looked pedestrian at best during the regular season games.
In fact, at the conclusion of the Lions second game, Young had as many penalty yards (25) as he had receiving yards! It didn’t get much better through the Lions’ fifth game, either. At that point, Young had only accounted for 123 receiving yards, 46 of which (37% of the total) came on a fluky Hail Mary pass. This surprisingly represented a 59% decrease in receiving yards relative to the first five games of his rookie season.
In the Lions’ sixth game, however, starting receiver Nate Burleson suffered a broken leg, affording more playing time to Young. He responded with six receptions for 81 yards, but lost a touchdown to and was arguably outplayed by Ryan Broyles, a rookie coming off of ACL surgery. Nevertheless, Young now has a legitimate chance to play himself into fantasy consideration. Will he respond in a positive manner, or continue to leave his promise unfulfilled as 2012’s Biggest Disappointment?
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