Fantasy Football 2013: Which Struggling Stars Should You Worry About?

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One of the worst feelings in the world is when you get really, really excited for something, only for it to not turn out to be what you had hoped. New games, movies, food, anything. It’s just very disheartening.

Fantasy football owners feel that pain seemingly every year when their first round draft pick fails to live up to expectations.

There have been a lot of them, too. The first pick of your fantasy draft is supposed to be an upside and safe pick, but a ton of first rounders haven’t been either one. It’s been frustrating, and it’s already Week 10, folks. How worried should you be?

Ray Rice

One of the biggest mysteries in sports right now has to be the infamous Joe Flacco contract. I get it, he won a Super Bowl, but is he really that good? He hasn’t this year, which may have been negatively impacting his star running back. Every season, Rice is highly regarded as one of the safest picks you can possibly make in your fantasy draft. A guy who will rush for 1,300 yards and total at least 10 touchdowns, Rice has been a home rub ever since he became the starting tailback in Baltimore. However, fast forward to 2013, and it’s been brutal. Rice has carried the ball 97 times for a miserable 259 yards and three scores. His 2.7 yards per carry is rather ugly, and while Rice has struggled, I’m not sold it’s solely on him. The Ravens offensive line has been god awful. Pro Football Focus currently has center Gino Gradkowski as their second-worst center, and tackles Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie towards the bottom half. Rice hasn’t had much room to run right off the snap, and it shows. Meanwhile, the Ravens find it necessary for Flacco to throw the ball 40 times per game. As a result, Baltimore is 20th in rushing attempts (25.8). Rice has only posted two double-digit fantasy outings. The offense concerns me, folks.

Worry level: 7

Trent Richardson

Many assumed (and rightfully so) that Richardson would be even better in Indianapolis than he was in Cleveland. Better offense, better quarterback, etc. However, Richardson has been one of the worst players to watch run the football this season. Mr. 3.1 yards per carry, T-Rich has only averaged four yards per tote in one game all season long. He’s been incredibly ineffective. Rather than running with power and force, Richardson is dancing quite a bit in the backfield. As a result of his struggles, backup Donald Brown has seen an uptick in workload. I don’t think Brown is a threat to steal the starting job yet, but he is seeing a healthy 28 snaps per contest, and has carried the ball 17 times over his last two games. I could honestly see a minor timeshare going forward, which is one of the worst things in all of fantasy land, especially if Richardson continues to struggle in pass protection. He is no longer an RB1 candidate.

Worry level: 9

Dwayne Bowe

Bowe certainly wasn’t a first round draft pick, but he’s been bad, especially after the hype surrounding the new style of offense that was expected to arrive under Andy Reid. A pass-happy head coach and a serviceable signal caller, many (including myself) had Bowe pegged for a stellar 2013 campaign. However, that just hasn’t been the case. When Sunday’s seven-catch, 67-yard performance was perhaps his best of the season, you know it’s been rough. He did finally see a ton of targets (12) in this game, but still, the passing game has been too inconsistent for my liking. He simply can’t make the big plays with Alex Smith under center. According to PFF, Smith is dead last in aDOT (average depth of target) with 6.3 yards per attempt. The down field passes haven’t been there for Bowe, and towards the beginning of the year, I highlighted the fact that Bowe was running too many routes under five yards. He’s run over 70 such routes this season, and considering Smith is king of the checkdown, Bowe can’t get many looks. Running back Jamaal Charles has already caught 47 passes this season, which is 14 more than Bowe. Charles is seeing 7.9 targets per game, compared to Bowe’s 6.4. Honestly, I wouldn’t be opposed to dropping Bowe from your team.

Worry level: 10

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.


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