2016 has been tough. No, I’m not going to veer into the political cesspool – I’m solely referring to the tenor of fantasy in the current year. We’ve had a rookie running back (a running back!) lead many teams deep into the playoffs, and will likely crown quite a few folks as well. We’ve seen the Green Bay offense go to the dogs for six weeks, only to be resurrected at just the right time. And we’ve watched quite a few highly touted players fall flat on their fantasy faces. With the end of 2016 nigh, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some of those fantasy failures.
I’ll preface this by running down some of the rules and such that I used to create this list. I took a look at positional August ADP data as furnished by our own Ryan McDowell. I then compared that data to current positional rankings both in terms of total points and points per game. I elected to throw out any player that flopped mostly due to injury and/or missed playing time. This is about players who actually got on the field and failed, not those who sat hopelessly on the sidelines. So players like Rob Gronkowski, Dez Bryant and Keenan Allen escaped the flop moniker. So grab a drink if you think you’ll need one (I know based on my fantasy season I could use it) and let’s get to it.
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Russell Wilson, QB SEA
August ADP: QB3
Position Rank: QB17
PPG Pos. Rank: QB20
For the most part, dynasty owners tend to steer clear of drafting quarterbacks too early, at least in single QB formats. But Wilson has been one exception to that, and many consider him one of the safest QBs out there due to the extra points he gathers with his feet. Now he hasn’t been awful, as you can see his ranks aren’t horribly low. The issue is that if you spent the capital needed to acquire Wilson, you were likely very disappointed to get the 2016 version.
Cam Newton, QB CAR
August ADP: QB1
Position Rank: QB15
PPG Pos. Rank: QB10
Now, Newton didn’t perform as poorly on average as Wilson. You can see he had a respectable ranking in terms of points per game at least. But the cost to acquire Newton (after his massive 2015) was at least a full round higher than Wilson. All to get the QB20 in total points – Cam is scoring roughly seven points less per game this season compared to last year. That’s rough sledding if you‘re trying to win games.
Todd Gurley, RB LAR
August ADP: RB1
Position Rank: RB19
PPG Pos. Rank: RB25
The quarterbacks I mentioned were disappointing, but the disappointment of Gurley is at a whole different level. For a first round startup pick, you got a running back two at best. Gurley came out highly touted, and blew up mid-season last year – he looked like the real deal. I thought he had the talent to produce even on a bad team, but apparently I was wrong. Still, this is dynasty, so we won’t over-react…will we?
Lamar Miller, RB HOU
August ADP: RB5
Position Rank: RB13
PPG Pos. Rank: RB18
You may not remember this, but Miller was actually the RB6 last year. And people thought he was being under-utilized in Miami, and could really blossom in Houston. Well, Houston apparently had a problem (and that problem may rhyme with Icewater) and Miller blossomed right into the RB13 thus far. That’s not exactly the direction you want your second round startup pick to go, is it?
DeAndre Hopkins, WR HOU
August ADP: WR3
Position Rank: WR30
PPG Pos. Rank: WR37
Ouch babe, very ouch. This one hurts. Take Nuk’s ADP and multiply it by ten to get his current ranking. I rode Nuk and a few other young wideouts to a championship last year in my deep keeper, and this year I rode them right out of contention by week nine. I cry myself to sleep most nights thinking about it. Can Tom Savage turn that boat around? I don’t know, but anything will be better than that other guy, the tall one, who apparently doesn’t realize he has a superstar wide receiver on his team (who was the WR4 last year!)
Allen Robinson, WR JAX
August ADP: WR5
Position Rank: WR32
PPG Pos. Rank: WR42
Drafted slightly lower than Nuk, Arob has had a slightly worse season to boot. He was also ranked nearly as highly last year, when he ended the season as the WR6. Things haven’t gone nearly as well this season, as Arob has floundered along with the entire Jacksonville offense. Remember when a few people thought they might challenge for a playoff spot? Hah. Arob has had seven weeks where he scored less than ten points, and four of those weeks he couldn’t even put up a five spot. Excuse me while I go rinse the taste of puke out of my mouth.
Randall Cobb, WR GBP
August ADP: WR18
Position Rank: WR43
PPG Pos. Rank: WR44
This is bad, but at least it didn’t wreck your season, hopefully. I’ve never been a big Cobb guy, but I can see the appeal. He’s in a great situation, and can do a lot of different things on the field. But he’s one of those guys that can’t seem to meet his potential. He’s had one or two good games this year, but for the most part he’s been middling at best. He was at least drafted as more a WR2 this year, but his performance just happened to drop off even more.
Tyler Lockett, WR SEA
August ADP: WR27
Position Rank: WR59
PPG Pos. Rank: WR75
Here’s another one that hurts me personally. Lockett was well-regarded in the off-season, and quite a few folks believed he was primed for a breakout in 2016. Sadly, he was apparently primed for a flop instead. I didn’t buy heavily into Lockett, but I had a few shares for sure. I also likely relied on that breakout a little too much in one startup. Still, though 2016 has been disappointing, he has come on of late and shown the production we were hoping for all year. Maybe next year is his year.
Coby Fleener, TE NOS
August ADP: TE6
Position Rank: TE13
PPG Pos. Rank: TE21
There’s no way around it. It was a really tough year at the tight end position. It’s always a difficult position to deal with, but this year in particular, it’s been beset with injuries to key names like Tyler Eifert, Jordan Reed and, of course, Gronk. And this year wasn’t kind to the boutique pick at the position, Fleener. It looked like he could have been the right guy in a great situation. After all, the Saints classically utilize their tight ends as well as anyone. But Fleener only really had two good weeks, and also put up less than five points a full six times thus far. Still, those are okay ranks for a tight end, just not worth the TE6 price.
There you have it, the biggest flops (as I see it) from this season. But hey, this is dynasty. We deal with stuff like this. Sometimes a flop is just the predecessor to a breakout season. But there are times where it’s an indicator to get out. But therein lies the rub, as to sell any of these guys at this point, there is virtually no way you get back the value you put into them. And I do believe that most of the names on this list could very well have bright futures.
Which was the outlier for Nuk and Arob, 2016 or 2015? Did Fleener need more time in the offense? Was Lockett hampered by minor, nagging injuries? Will the Rams find an offense that helps Gurley rather than hurts him? It’s important that we don’t over-react, but at the same time keep these performances in mind as you go into the off-season. It can be just as damaging to under-react in some cases. It wouldn’t be ideal to sell most of these guys, but sometimes we have to make hard choices, and it isn’t always about the total value – sometimes it’s about making the right move at the right time.
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