Too often perspective is lost in the NFL. This is particularly true when it comes to fantasy football, a pastime that steers us through a series of perceived emotional attachments, followed by subsequent heartless detachments on a weekly basis. (In other words, fantasy football is just a geeky version of being an alcoholic man-whore.)
Some of you elated to still be alive in your playoff types may be wondering why I am choosing now to single out the season’s biggest disappointments. It’s because most people are not you and have already been eliminated. They may be bitter and lonesome and want to know that someone else feels their pain. (And believe me, they also have zero interest in hearing about your fantasy success.)
But don’t worry, fantasy gurus, this list will be rightfully followed by all those top fantasy surprises that you so wisely snagged. I will update both lists after Week 16 when most Super Bowl trophies have been awarded.
The ten standouts that follow have disappointed us solely by their performances on the field — or in most of these cases, lack thereof. Early season expectations played a critical role in these rankings. Injury disappointments are exempt from this list.
All stats are through Week 14. And all ADPs (average draft positions) have been taken from Fantasy Football Calculator.
10) Vernon Davis, 49ers TE (38 receptions, 506 yards, 5 TDs) – Davis was drafted as a Top 5 TE in almost every league. Because of that, he became the ultimate tease. After scoring four touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season, owners had to stick with him week after week, only to find Davis oddly cut out of the 49ers playbook. He has only added one touchdown in nine weeks. On a positive note, Michael Crabtree is having a solid year, rendering the fantasy name “V.D. and Crabs” not entirely useless.
9) DeMarco Murray, Cowboys RB (466 rushing yards, 3 TDs, 25 receptions, 159 receiving yards) – This is not an exception to our no-injury rule. Yes, Murray missed six weeks with a foot injury, but we are referencing the seven games in which he has largely frustrated owners who selected him with an ADP of RB7. After a nice Week 1 with 131 yards rushing, Murray has only produced one other double-digit fantasy day.
8) San Francisco Defense – The 49ers were selected as the top defense, two full rounds ahead of the any others. While they remain elite in terms of points allowed, sacks and overall dominance, they are also tied for 19th in interceptions and are middle of the pack when it comes to fumble recoveries. The 49ers are not even a Top 5 fantasy defense in most leagues.
7) Jordy Nelson, Packers WR (46 receptions, 658 yards, 6 TDs) Following a 2011 breakout season in which Nelson went over 1,200 yards and scored 15 times, expectations were sky high. But the Packers’ passing game went down a rung and so have Nelson’s numbers.
6) Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals WR (57 receptions, 652 yards, 4 TDs) –Fitz’s season is just plain sad, especially since it’s not his fault. With a little Kolb, but mostly Skelton and Lindley unable to get him the ball, this is Fitz’s worst statistical season since his rookie year. And worst nightmare for all those owners drafting him at WR2 behind only Calvin Johnson.
Just demand a trade already!
5) Peyton Hillis, Chiefs RB (204 yards, 1 TD) – With uncertainly about how Jamaal Charles would return from his ACL injury, owners had high hopes for Hillis. He was selected with an ADP of RB24, at the end of the 5th round. Charles established his amazing comeback form early on, and the Chiefs established that they wouldn’t score early on. All adds up to a terrible year for this former Madden cover boy. How’s that factoid for a dose of reality?
4) Hakeem Nicks, Giants WR (50 receptions, 652 yards, 3 TDs) – “The Giants need to Nicks involved in the offense.” We’ve been hearing that all year because Nicks has been largely nonexistent. Oh, and also because it’s true. Most owners I know thought they were getting a steal when they drafted Nicks in the 6th round.
3) Matt Forte, Bears RB (834 rushing yards, 3 TDs, 26 receptions, 248 receiving yards) – Forte, who had an APD of RB6 and no.10 overall., has flat out not played well this year. Sure, the Bears have big issues within their offensive line, but that unit cannot be blamed for Forte’s lack of explosive. As PPRers can attest to, Forte has also been a massive disappointment as a receiver.
2) Aaron Rodgers , Packers QB (3,297 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, 8 INTS) – A lot of owners, myself included, salivated at the chance to select Rodgers with the no.1 overall pick in the draft. 2011’s banner 45 touchdowns and 4,643 passing yards would be hard to top, but there was nothing to indicate what was forthcoming – a significant drop in production. The Packers offensive line is one of the league’s weakest and Greg Jennings missed a few weeks, but Rodgers just isn’t throwing with the same precision we marveled at last season.
1) Ryan Mathews, Chargers RB (685 rushing yards, 1 TD, 36 receptions, 244 receiving yards) – With an ADP of RB12 and being selected in the second round, I don’t really need to go into detail as to why Mathews tops this list. If there is any lesson to be learned from 2012: don’t select any Chargers if you can avoid it.
Tomorrow we’ll celebrate the biggest surprises. Feel free to add your nominations.