Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Vick, and Other Fantasy Football Players to Avoid in 2013

Each and every year owners draft players whom they believe will help take their team to the promise land.  Yet, time and time again everyone of us (we are all susceptible to this) drafts someone who just stinks up the joint.  Sometimes such a high draft pick is spent on these players that you can’t drop them, and in some cases cannot even take them out of your starting line-up.  To avoid such stress, take a look at the players in which you should avoid in 2013.

Fitzgerald is not the only one upset by his performances, as owners everywhere are too (123tagged.com)

Fitzgerald is not the only one upset by his performances, as owners everywhere are too (123tagged.com)

LARRY FITZGERALD

After making his way to the #2 seed on my Least Valuable Player Of the Year, things are not looking up for Larry.  As I have said before, it is a shame to see such talent go to waste, but with no one to throw him the ball his fantasy value is dismal.  There was some hope for him, as his team was a front-runner to land Andy Reid, yet after he signed with the Chiefs the Cardinals are still left without a head coach for the time being.

With the Cardinals one real need, a quarterback, not a deep position in the upcoming NFL draft it is unlikely that Fitzgerald will get any of the help he so desperately needs.  In addition, one would hope that he could get some help out of his backfield, but the always injured Beanie Wells and their 32nd ranked (75.2 ypg) rushing offense gives me little hope that they can help.

To add insult to injury, this past season Fitzgerald was outscored by Cardinals #2 WR Andre Roberts (albeit it was 100 points to Fitzgerald’s 99 points) as Roberts caught 64 passes for 756 yards and 5 TDs, compared to Larry’s 71 receptions for 798 yards and 4 TDs.

CHRIS JOHNSON:

Stats can sometimes be deceiving.  Johnson finished last year with 1,243 yards rushing and 6 TDs, adding another 232 yards on 36 receptions, good enough for the #13 RB in fantasy.  While those stats would make some players desirable, when you are talking about a former consensus #1 overall pick, the same rules do not apply.

Johnson, who was drafted on average between the 1st and 3rd round, had his NFL and fantasy numbers inflated by a few big games.  In week 4,7,9,10, and 15 Johnson scored 15,31,17,18, and 18 points.  While those are nice outings, those where the only games in which Johnson rushed for over 100 yards (all games he rushed for over 121 yards) and scored more than 11 points for his owners.  In hindsight, 7 times last seasons Johnson failed to score more than 5 points (even scoring 0 in week 5), and rushed for 56 or fewer yards 8 times.

Its also worth noting that Johnson had a career low in receptions, reception yards and a career high in fumbles and fumbles lost.

Amendola doing what else but being injuried (sbnation.com)

Amendola doing what else but being injuried (sbnation.com)

DANNY AMENDOLA

Ok, maybe do not avoid him, but definitely do not waste a high-round pick on him.  Like Fitzgerald, I think Amendola is a fantastic talent with  the potential to be a great fantasy player, but here is my issue; injuries.

Injuries have plagued Amendola throughout his short career, forcing him to miss 22 games in his 4 NFL seasons (to be fair he missed 15 games a season ago).  He also does not catch a lot of TDs (only 7 in 42 career games).  In addition, his career high for receiving yards in a season was in 2010 with 698.

Not to sound contradictory, Amendola does get a load of targets (about 7 a game) and catches the majority of them (just about 5 receptions a game). Nevertheless, he has had an inability to stay healthy and until he can show otherwise I would avoid him.

RASHARD MENDENHALL

Albeit he missed 10 games with an injury and had trouble staying healthy, but the Steelers have made it clear that he is no longer to go-to back in Pittsburgh.

Its not that he was really outplayed by others who got more playing in his absence, in fact that’s not the case at all.  Dwyer and Redman combined for just over 1,000 yards and 4 TDs total.

However, it does seem as if Mendenhall has lost his spot in the Steelers rotation, if he does in fact stay in Pittsburgh.  If he does exit and go elsewhere it will be interesting to see who grabs him, and maybe he will come off of this list, as he has shown in the past that he can put-up noteworthy fantasy numbers, averaging over 1,100 yards and 10 TDs over his last 3 seasons (of course excluding this year).

One of Vick's many turnovers this season (6magazineonline.com)

One of Vick’s many turnovers this season (6magazineonline.com)

MIKE VICK

Maybe it’s personal bias, but I know I will catch some fleck for this proclamation, but in my opinion Vick is highly overrated in fantasy (and the NFL for that matter too).

Yes, I am fully aware that Vick can run and gain crucial points for owners, so before you go throwing the importance of a QB who can run in fantasy in my face just know that I am aware.

I’ll also save you the trouble of looking up stats, Vick has 39 career rushing TDs and over 5,500 career rushing yards.

But how about this, in Vick’s 11 year career (excluding 2009, and 2010 when he took over mid-season) Vick has played all 16 games only once.  ONE TIME!  He simply cannot stay healthy and is constantly getting hurt.

And despite the fact that does not even throw the ball the much (career high 423 attempts in 2011, compare that to a mid-level QB with a strong run-game like Schaub who averages over 500 attempts a season) Vick still manages to turn the ball over, a lot.  In fact, in only 10 games last season Vick threw 10 interceptions and fumbled the ball 11 times, compared to his 13 total TDs (12 pass, 1 run).

So yes, Vick can light it up for 20+ points any given week thanks to his legs, he can not do it for all 16 weeks (not to mention he’s getting older).  In addition, are his potential 5  big games worth having him for just that? Wouldn’t you rather a QB who will get it done consistently week in and week out?

ANTONIO GATES

Speaking of injury issues over a career, Gates has had his own issues with that.  Yet, this season he managed to miss only 1 game, although he did not impress owners with his performances.

Since 2003 (his rookie season) Gates has never been so unproductive in a season.  Catching only 49 passes for 538 yards (although he did manage 7 TDs) Gates set career lows across the board (with the exception of his rookie season).

Only 4 times this past season did Gates score double-digit points for owners, contrarily scoring 5 or less points in 11 games.  He caught 6 passes in a game twice season, catching 4 or less in all other games.  He also had a season high of 81 receiving yards in week 5, failing to g over the 100-yard mark all season.

Gates will be 33 come next season, which will also be his 11th in the NFL and things are not looking up for his fantasy value.

MICHAEL TURNER

Turner's career could be on a downfall (blog.ajc.clom)

Turner’s career could be on a downfall (blog.ajc.clom)

The shelf life for RBs in the NFL is not a long time.  This upcoming season, Turner will be entering his 10th season and will be turning 31, both areas that make him an old-dog in NFL terms and it’s showing in his stats.

This season the Falcons made it clear that there will be a spot for Turner’s back-up Jaquizz Rodgers in their backfield.  It’s not as if Rodgers had a 1,000 yard season, because he is not that kind of RB.  He is a versatile, explosive, and big-play capability kind of guy who can steal touches from Turner, and it will be interesting to see how he is used next season.

Nevertheless, let’s take a look at Turner’s stats from a season ago.  Since becoming a feature back in Atlanta, Turner (while playing a full season) has never rushed for less than 1,340 yards, averaged less than 4.1 ypc,  scored fewer than 11 TDs, and carried the ball under 301 times (178 carries, 871 yards and 10 TDs in only 11 games in 2009).

Yet, this season, while playing all 16 games, Turner had 222 carries (an average of 5 less carries a game than a season ago), for 800 yards (gained 71 more yards in 5 less games in ’09), scoring 10 TDs, all the while averaging an embarrassing 3.6ypc.

Only twice this season did he carry the ball for 20+ times, compared to the 8 times he scored single-digit points for his owners a season ago.  All of these stats landed Turner the #17 RB spot in fantasy behind the likes of Steven Jackson and Shonn Greene.

Top Fantasy Football Surprises and Let-Downs

It may be only 4 weeks into the NFL and fantasy football season, but it’s never too early to discuss surprises and let-downs.  Therefore, I decided to take a look at the top-5 players who have pleasantly surprised owners, and the 5 who have let their owners down the most.

I will do this quarterly, so every 4 weeks (8, 12, and 16) to take a look at what has changed.  In order to determine surprises vs. let-downs, I will look at players, where they were drafted in most leagues, what were their expectations, and compare all that to their actual performances.

***It’s worth noting that before is start this, through 4 weeks, in the top-15 players(standard scoring leagues) , there is only 1 RB (Arian Foster), 0 WR, 13 QBs, and 1 defense( Bears).

Let’s start with the positives and look at surprises (in standard scoring leagues).

RGIII sure has a lot to smile about (lugaluda.com)

Top surprises:

1. Robert Griffin III– Any real surprise here?  He is an obvious choice, and here is why:

  • He leads fantasy in scoring with 100 points
  • Thrown for 1,070 yards and ran for 252
  • 4 TD passes, 1 int, 4 rushing TDs
  • “Worst” performance was last week vs. Tampa Bay where he scored  22 points
  • Currently tied for 1st in the NFL with 4 rushing TDs
  •  3rd in competition percentage , 69.4%,
  • 4th in QB rating with 103.4

2. Alfred Morris– He has made me go against one of my few rules in fantasy, and that is to never trust a Shanahan running back, however he’s:

  • 5th RB overall
  •  Averaging just under 15 ppg.
  •  5th in the NFL with 376 rushing yards.
  • Tied for 1st with rg3 and Arian Foster with 4 rushing TDs.
  • Average draft selection= 101.3 overall (11th -12th round).
  •  Referred to as “that other Redskin rookie.”

3. CJ Spiller- Despite his injury, he’s:

  • Led all RB in scoring through three weeks even with coming out of week 3 early
  • Currently in a 3-way tie for 2nd for fantasy RBs with Rice and Charles (62 points)
  • 1st in NFL in yards per carry with 8.3 (2.1 ypc more than rg3 who is second)
  • 8th in overall rushing with 341 yards
  • 2nd in NFL with 3 rushing TDs
  • Also has 9 receptions for 119 yards and a TD.
  • That’s with really only playing 2 real game since he took over in week one after Jackson went down
  • 4. It’s a tie- Matt Ryan–  We all knew he was good, but this good?
  • 2nd in fantasy with 92 points
  • Lowest scoring game was 17
  • 2nd in NFL with 11 TD passes,
  • 1st  in NFL passer rating (112.1)
  • Tied for 6th in passing yards with Peyton Manning (1,1,62)

Heath Miller– People forget how much of an offensive weapon he used to be, but this season:

  • Before his week 4 bye, Miller was tied for 3rd in fantasy for TE, ahead of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski.
  • Tied for 1st in NFL with 4 receiving TDs
  • In 3 games, 15 receptions and 129 yards.
  • Currently 6th over for TEs even with Bye week (8 points behind leader Tony Gonzales)
  • His last two seasons combined, 93 receptions- 1,143 yards and 4 TDs.
  • Most TDs in single-season is 7 in 2007.

5. Ben Roethlisberger- never thought of as an elite fantasy scorer, but this season:

  • Before his week 4 bye, he was third in all of fantasy with 65 points, 4 behind Matt Ryan.
  • Despite bye, 4th in NFL with 8 TD passes.
  • Only 21 TDs all last year,
  • 5th in yards per game with 301 (ahead of Stafford, Ryan, Peyton and Rodgers)
  • Still 14th overall in fantasy with bye.

Let Downs:

Rodgers may not be smiling for long (packermedia.com)

1. Aaron Rodgers-I never thought I would say this and I will likely catch a lot of flak for this, but based on stats thus far, Rodgers has been a let-down.  He was selected  1st overall in many leagues, average drat was 3rd overall, and has led fantasy in scoring last 2 seasons and now, 4 weeks in his numbers are terrifying pedestrian:

  • Before his 27-points vs. Saints, Rodgers was tied for 19th in QBs (Now he is the 1th ranked QB)
  • He is 1st in league in completion percentage (69.9) and 7th in TDs, but he’s 13th in passing yards.
  • He is 24th in the NFL in yards per attempt
  • 1st in the NFL with 16 sacks.
  •  I don’t think he is a bust, or will become seasons end, but when you are talking about Aaron Rodgers, you think greatness, so far he hasn’t been.
  •  I expect 20+ point performances week In and week out,
  • Yet weeks 2 and 3 combined he got 19 against Seattle and Chicago, showing he can be stopped and he can be sacked.
  • I’m being a stickler but he has 3 INTs this season, and only 6 last year.
  • 2. CJK– O-line or not, I’ve lost faith in him as a must-start each week.
  • I previously defended him and after his performance last week vs.  Houston where he rushed for 141 yards, that was just short of 3 times what he rushed for in first 3 games combined.
  •  He was drafted 9th overall on average, and if he wants to be taken seriously again as a legit fantasy player he needs to duplicate this performance often, almost every week.
  • He currently is the 32nd ranked fantasy RB, tied with Donald Brown who had a bye last week and one point ahead of Leshoure who missed the first 2 games.
  • 25th in rushing overall with 186 yards
  • Tied for 39th in yards per carry with 3.2
  • 20th with 58 attempts.

3. Tony Romo– the numbers speak for themselves:

  • He was drafted on average in the 4th-5thround
  • Currently ranks 23rd overall QB, 1 point ahead of Blaine Gabbert
  • 5 TDs and 8 INTs
  • Even without his 5 INT performance against the Bears, he had 4 TDs to 3 INTs with 2 fumbles lost.
  • He’s got the weapons and they’re healthy, he just needs to throw better.
  • He is 10th in comp % and 8th in yards in the NFL
  • But he has 10 turnovers already

4. LeSean McCoy– 3rd ranked player in preseason rankings, however:

  • Currently ranked 15th among RBs and not even top-50 overall.
  • Highest scoring game was 13 points.
  • Although he ranks 3rd in rushing, he has only scored 1 TD.
  • His reception numbers are hurting, averaging 4.2 yards per catch, but he averages 4.7 yards per rush
  • The TDs just aren’t there after he scored 20 a season ago.

5. Larry Fitz– It’s not fair to him since he is a great receiver with no consistency at QB, but this is fantasy.  After being ranked #2 WR in preseason, through four weeks:

  • 22nd ranked WR.  He’s behind guys like James Jones, Brandon Hartline and even his own teammate Andre Roberts.
  • His average draft was 14th overall, which means 1st -2nd round.
  • NFL rankings:  35th in yards (225)
  • Not even top-50 in yards per catch (11.5)
  • Tied for 18th in reception with 22
  • Tied for 25th with catches over 20 yards with (4).

Chris Johnson, Is He A Wash?

(bossip.com)

After his week 1 performance against the Patriots, where Johnson rushed the ball 11 times for 4 yards and caught 6 passes for 47 yards through the air, many owners where quite frustrated to say the least.  Since this was supposed to be Johnson’s bounce-back campaign, should we already be putting it to an end?

Simply put, no.  Although his performance Sunday was abysmal, I am not placing 100% of the blame on him (I’ll give him about 50-60% of the blame), and I’ll tell you why.

1. I foresaw this lackluster performance coming this week.  I predicted that the Titans where likely to go down early, causing them to negate the run and focus more on passing.  That’s pretty much what happened, as the Titans threw the ball 43 times, compared to the 16 rushing attempts.  Next week when the Titans face Chargers (although they too have a decently high-powered offense) they aren’t as likely to be facing such a deficit so early.

2. He did lead his team in receptions with 6.  That’s a huge positive since he clearly wasn’t getting it done on the ground, the Titans still found a way to incorporate him into the offense.

3. Forget what you may have thought about the Patriots defense, they are for REAL.  That front 7 could end up being atop the league come season’s end.  They are young, talented, skilled, fast, and flat out ferocious.  They swarmed the backfield giving none of the rushers any room to breathe.  It’s also apparent the talent of Hightower and Jones as the two made an immediate impact.

4. Locker and Washington both went down with injuries.  Now the severity of each is not known yet, but if they miss any time at all, that leaves the Titans with limited weapons.  With lack of weapons, that means more carries or touches for Johnson.

5. Those who watched the game clearly saw the frustration on Johnson’s face in regards to his performance.  That’s a good sign as he seems to care and has matured, rather than not caring and becoming content with mediocrity.  Frustration and passion can do a lot for a player and their performance, as I expected Johnson to come out firing next week.

Fantasy Football Mock Draft 1

Although training camp hasn’t begun quiet yet, it is never too early to start coming out with fantasy football Mock Drafts.  So I figured, why not do my first Mock Draft?  In this article I will discuss the top-10 players that should be off the board first, and why.  I will also discuss players who are just outside the top-10 and why they shouldn’t be drafted higher.

First off, I am always for drafting the value of the player if the drop-off at the position is steep compared to the guy on the board.  (For example if it were between Michael Turner or Gronkowski, I would take Gronk since he is that much better than any other TE, whereas Turner is good but you can get him or an equal RB later).  The drop-off approach is vital when drafting in fantasy league, no matter what the sport.

As far as football goes, your main point getters (in standard scoring leagues) are your QBs and RBs (in the top-10 last season there were 8 QBs and 2 RBs).  With that in mind, what will set your team apart from all the others is getting that playmaker at one of the other positions.   For example, if you’re drafting in the first round, and Matt Ryan (7th overall QB last year with 265 points) and Calvin Johnson (#1 overall WR with 254 points) are on the board, the obvious choice is Megatron.  The reason that choice is so obvious is because Johnson finished over 40 points better than the 2nd place WR (Jordy Nelson) and over 50 points better than the 3rd(Victor Cruz), whereas there are four QBs (Vick, Fitzpatrick, Rivers, and Sanchez) who finished last season within 50 points of Ryan.

Foster could run his way to the top of the draft (photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.com)

Therefore, you take Johnson and get one of the QBs next, because the drop-off is more significant for the WRs.  However, if there are higher-level guys still on the board, like Brady, Rodgers or McCoy, you would surely take them first.  Nevertheless, let’s get into the top-10 in order.

Pick:

1. Arian Foster– I am still somewhat traditional when it comes to drafting so I always like to select a RB first.  Also, sticking with my drop-off mentality, there are only so few RBs worth taking early, therefore if you can get one you are set.  As far as last season, Foster was the 4th overall RB, only 50 points behind leader Ray Rice.  That is pretty impressive considering he missed three and a half games and had to share the load with Ben Tate.  If he can stay healthy in the offseason, he is a shoe-in for the #1 pick.

2. LeSean McCoy– A major dual-threat with a breakout season last year, scoring 20 total touchdowns and piling up over 1,600 yards from scrimmage.  He is a part of a high-powered offense where he plays a major role.  Expect another huge season.

3. Ray Rice– After a somewhat pedestrian season in 2010, Rice came roaring back in 2011.  He piled up over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns.  My only concern with him is that he IS the ENTIRE offense, and defenses will key-in on him.  However, he is still that good, and should put up nice numbers.

Rodgers has plenty to be happy about (photo courtesy of sportsandrec.wordpress.com)

4. Aaron Rodgers I mean numbers speak for themselves.  Two straight years he has lead standard-scoring fantasy leagues in points, and he did so last year despite sitting out week 17.  He can throw, he can run, and he should be on your team.  He is a fantasy stud.

5. Maurice Jones-Drew- He has done it all for Jacksonville, and finally he has received some help.  After the Jags went out and got Blackmon and Robinson, Gabbert will finally have some people to throw to.  What does that mean for MJD? It means an enormous amount of pressure will be taken off of him, but don’t confuse with him seeing the ball less.  He can run and catch, and with defenses worrying about the two new receivers, MJD could put up huge numbers once more.

6. Tom Brady 2nd most passing yards in a season with 5,235 last year, and that was done pretty much without a deep-threat.  So the Patriots went out and got a deep-threat in Brandon Lloyd, and bulked up that putrid defense, thus making life a little easier for Tommy Terrific. Side note, not since 2001, when he took over at the beginning of the season, has Brady thrown for less than 24 TDs or 3,500 yards (of course not counting 2008 when he missed the season with an ACL tear).  Expect nothing less than amazing from Brady this year.

7. Calvin Johnson- Like I said before, he was the #1 WR by over 40 points.  His team’s running game will be better with Best getting healthy and Smith back there to help.  Also, Stafford is healthy and throwing him the ball still.

Johnson will likely be making catches like this again this season (photo courtesy of nflpassers.com)

All that adds up to another spectacular season for Johnson.

8. Mathew Stafford–  I don’t know it is about him, I just love him, especially as a fantasy player.  I have written in past articles, when he was healthy before he displayed glimpses of brilliance, and what did he do last year in his first year he was able to play more than 10 games? Oh just threw for the 4th most yards in a single season (5,030) and for 41 touchdowns.  If he can remain healthy he can do some special things.

9. Marshawn Lynch Call me crazy, but I think he has turned the corner in his career.  Despite missing a game last year, he still managed career highs in both yards (1,204) and rushing touchdowns (12).  With Matt Flynn likely behind center, the passing game should improve from their 22nd overall pass offense from a year ago.  I expect another breakout year from Lynch, so do not sleep on him.

10. Andre Johnson- Aside from Calvin, he is the only other sure-thing at the WR position.  In fact, he and Calvin are the only two worth going after so early.  His numbers speak for themselves, and if he stays healthy this year he will continue his fantastic career.

Players who just missed the cut

  1. Drew BreesNo contract yet, lots of changes on and off the field just seem to be too much.  Yet, he is arguably the best or one of the best QBs in the league and if anyone can overcome this, it’s him.
  2.  Matt Forte-Talk about doing it all.  Forte accounted for most of the Bear’s offense last season.  With Cutler healthy and the arrival of Marshal, it seems Forte will get some help.  However, he now has Michael Bush back there with him and it could cause him to lose some carries.

    Newton will do everything to keep his smile and avoid a sophomore slump (thegrio.com)

  3. Cam Newton He displayed a season for the ages last year, and was a fantasy sleeper-gold mine. Yet, do not expect him to get another 14 rushing touchdowns again this year.  I am also a bit superstitious and somewhat fear the sophomore slump.  Yet, he is that good of an athlete (and QB) that he will continue to put up great numbers.
  4. Chris Johnson He use to be a sure-thing #1 overall pick, put after the terrible start he got off to last year, many owners think he is done for.  While I don’t think he is washed up, I do not foresee another 2,000 yards season.  Yet, he is still CJ2K and he will surely have a better season than last year.
  5. Darren McFadden and Rob Gronkowski Starting with McFadden, through 6 weeks last season, he was the #1 RB.  However, injury kept him sidelined for the rest of the year, and that has seemed to be a trend with him.  I am iffy on his ability to stay healthy, but if he can (with Bush now gone) his numbers will be great.  Then there is Gronk.  He is a defenses worse nightmare, with his size, strength and agility making him almost impossible to cover.  He shattered TE records last year and already has 27 receiving TDs in his first two seasons.  Two reasons I am not putting him in the top-10, 1. He is a TE and it’s tough to fathom putting him that high and 2.  He still has to share time with Hernandez, and now Lloyd is there.  Yet, do not expect a any drop-off as Gronk will be the first TE off the board.

Hope this helps, Mock Draft 2 will be coming out soon.