Not everyone can pan out.
Where would the fun be in that?
Last season was the year of the busts, especially at the running back position. Four rushers going in the first round fell flat, and there were a handful of others outside of the top tier. And after drafting a player who falls flat, many fantasy players put them on their “never again” list. I don’t believe in that philosophy. Everyone has a price, no matter your opinion on them. And while the following players certainly aren’t on that list, I expect them to bust for fantasy owners in 2014.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers– Rivers had a terrific start to the 2013 campaign, and his final numbers were good. Almost 4,500 yards and 32 touchdowns, en route to a number six fantasy finish among quarterbacks. However, I see some regression in his future. During the second half of the season, the Chargers became run-oriented, and Rivers’ numbers took a hit. During that span, he averaged just 16.35 fantasy points and 31 pass attempts per game (19.5 and 37 during first half). Meanwhile, the Chargers ranked 6th in rushing attempts per game (30.2) and ran the football 46.6 percent of the time, good for 7th-highest in football. Rivers should still be a serviceable fantasy option, but I don’t see him as a top-10 guy, let alone top-seven.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers– I’ll be honest. Doug Martin scares the heck out of me this year. When on the field last year, he wasn’t very good, averaging just 3.6 yards per clip, and wasn’t really a focal point in the passing game. Now, new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford is calling the shots, who already stated that he doesn’t envision one back being able to handle the load, and he has a history of alternating backs. In fact, in eight of his 15 seasons as a coach/OC at Oregon and California, the lead back received fewer than 60 percent of the carries. That’s over 50 percent of the time, folks. Not good signs for Martin. Tedford had guys like Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett split carries, as well as Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen. Meanwhile, the Bucs drafted versatile back, Charles Sims, and still have Bobby Rainey and Mike James in the picture. And I wouldn’t expect Martin to make a major impact catching the football, as backs historically haven’t done much in the passing game under Tedford.
Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns– Well, if I like rookie Terrance West to breakout, I must obviously not be too high on Tate. After serving as the understudy to Arian Foster in Houston, Tate has an opportunity to be a lead back, but it scares me. The guy wasn’t able to stay healthy as a backup in Houston, missing 24 of a possible 64 regular season games (38 percent), and has constantly dealt with head, rib, toe, ankle and rib injuries, to name a few. Also, there have only been 13 times in his career where he hasn’t landed on the Texans injury report. West has already been impressing, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this were a timeshare sooner or later.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks– I had Lynch pegged as bust before the announcing of his holdout, so now I’m all in. Or.. all out. Anyway, Lynch is coming off a 400-touch season, and according to Jamey Eisenberg of CBS Sports, when he looked at the 27 backs to post 400 touches over the last 10 years, 22 of them saw a major decrease in fantasy points the following year. Over the last three years, Lynch has ranked 2nd, 5th and 4th in rushing attempts, and has already carried the football 1,753 times during his eight seasons in the league. Holdouts don’t tend to pan out well for running backs (Larry Johnson, CJ2K, etc), so now I’m even more worried about Marshawn.
Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks– No way am I taking Harvin as the number 19 wide receiver in fantasy football. I’m aware of his upside, I’m aware of his elite ability in open space, but I’m more aware of the fact that he scored just one fantasy point in the regular season last year, as he again found himself on the sidelines. The guy has missed 45 percent of his career contests and has never played 600 offensive snaps in any season thus far. Wide receiver is plenty deep that I don’t need to take the risk of him sitting 13 games or so. I’d rather have guys like Roddy White, Michael Crabtree and Michael Floyd, all going after him.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints– It pains me to do this because Colston has been one of the more underrated, productive wideouts over the last several seasons, but I just don’t see much to like with him for fantasy purposes. First of all, he offers little to no upside, as he only has posted one touchdown of 20 yards or more over the last two campaigns. Each of the last two seasons, the Saints have brought in young receiver talent, and we all know Drew Brees loves to spread the ball around, as no team in football has targeted the running backs more than the Saints, and last year, 63 percent of his targets went to tight ends and running backs.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills– This one hurts even more, as I’m a Bills fan and I think Watkins is going to be a star in this league– but not right away. Buffalo still runs the ball as much as anyone, EJ Manuel still has some work to do, and, most importantly, rookie wideouts rarely ever pan out. Last year, Keenan Allen became just the second rookie since 2005 to post 1,000 yards in a season, and Buffalo’s offense isn’t the ideal fit for Watkins. Last year, 57 percent of his receptions came off the screen pass, but in Buffalo last year, they attempted a screen pass to a wideout less than one percent of the time (via PFF). Watkins will be great, but not during his rookie year. Don’t fall in love with the name just yet.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers– Davis was stellar last season, finishing as a top-three fantasy tight end, hauling in a whopping 13 touchdowns. However, I think the presence of Michael Crabtree, as well as addition of Stevie Johnson hurts him a bit. For his career, Davis is averaging just over eight fantasy points per game with Crabtree in the lineup, compared to 12.55 without him. His touchdown numbers drop significantly, also. If I don’t get one of the top-three tight ends, I’m waiting, anyway, and if I take a guy like Kyle Rudolph or Dennis Pitta over Davis in the 5th round, is the production going to be that much different? I’m not so sure.