With the 2014 fantasy football season in the books and championship trophies delivered, we’re going to take a look back at some of the early-round draft picks that didn’t quite pay the bills for their owners. In a season where there seemed to be an abundance of disappointing performances, there are 10 players that stand out above the rest due to their early-round price tag and the corresponding lack of production for the season. Here are the top 10 biggest fantasy football busts of 2014. Average draft position (ADP) numbers provided by FantasyPros.
Stafford was such a bust that I considered renaming this list “Top 10 Draft Day Stafford’s”. If you had him on your team, you know what I mean. He absolutely slaughtered you in seven of his sixteen games, and was just barely passable in another three. That means that over 50% of the time, he wasn’t a real net-positive for your team. If you owned Stafford and made it to the playoffs, it was despite him, not because of him. Personally, I’m done with his wacky arm-slot, terrible mechanics, and spotty accuracy – he’s on my never draft again list, and he might be at the top.
I can’t just label Foles a bust due to his injury, although that did play a large part in the thought. When you’re taken in the 6th round as a QB1, and you play only right games, you’re a bust. But we have to look even closer to really get an idea what we’re working with. After his miraculous 2013, Foles was due for some regression, and it hit him hard. His TD / INT ratio in his eight active games was 13:10, and he only threw for 2+ TDs once. What was his 2013 TD / INT, you might ask? 27:2. It was obviously unsustainable, but the level to which he regressed so quickly makes my brain say to me “Average QB in a great system, and eventually the league caught on”. Which is what I think he is, which isn’t terrible, but I won’t be targeting him anywhere for 2015.
Robert Griffin III
When I looked up the average ADP for Griffin, what was more shocking was the name literally right behind him – Tom Brady. Every RG3 investor probably had the chance to draft Brady in the same spot and didn’t, which probably demolished their playoff hopes right from the start. RG3 was brutal this year, along with the rest of my Washington Redskins. While managing to regress further than I thought possible, he got hurt, was benched, and didn’t crack the 20-point barrier until Week 17. I took him on a deeper league squad that also featured Giovani Bernard and Montee Ball. Things did not go well.
Shady went first overall in many drafts, and if not first, he was at least a top-3 selection. He ended up with his worst fantasy season in recent memory, failing to crack the 180-point barrier and plaguing his owners with multiple weeks of unexplained low usage. He eventually lost passing targets to Darren Sproles and key goal line carries to Chris Polk late in the season, torpedoing many fantasy owners in critical situations. He should still be a top-10 RB for 2015, but can’t be taken inside the top three as usual.
I was really all-in on Ball coming into this year. The Broncos were spouting off about how they wanted to go more run heavy, and we had just seen the Peyton effect on Knowshon Moreno. Ball was younger, stronger, faster, and looked great during the 2013 playoffs with limited carries. Alas. Montee never really got off the ground this year. He was constantly dinged up, looked slow and ineffective, and never registered a carry in a game after Week 5. Ball owners who took the plunge in the late first / early second rounds (me) were left with a massive hole in their lineup, and for many (me) it was very tough to recover from.
In exchange for slapping their wallets for Stacy in the third round, investors were repaid with a measly 46.50 total fantasy points. It didn’t help that the Rams lost Sam Bradford yet again to a knee injury, but Stacy’s 2013 stats were predicated on volume, and he lost that quickly. The most yards he ever gained were 71, on 19 carries – during Week 2. You had to hold him forever, just in case he regained prominence, so Zac additionally burned your bench spots. Add it all up, and you have a colossal bust that will be fighting for a roster spot in 2015.
Man oh man, what a year to take Calvin in the first round. He was the first WR off the board, and didn’t even finish in the top 10 at the position. Megatron was outscored by such names as OBJ, Golden Tate, Mike Evans, and Jeremy Maclin, which isn’t a slam on those players at all; Simply a commentary on draft position versus output. To be fair, Johnson was hurt for a good portion of the year, failing to register a catch in four games, and was effectively relegated to decoy status in multiple others. When he was healthy, and his QB wasn’t bungling terribly, he looked dominant as usual, racking up five games over 15 fantasy points and three over 20. He’s probably still the pre-eminent WR talent in the league, but he’s been increasingly banged up over the past couple of years, and when healthy can be plagued by terrible QB play. There are also a plethora of emerging studs that could legitimately lay claim to the #1 overall WR spot (Demaryius, Jordy, Antonio Brown, OBJ, Dez). I can’t see myself being super excited to grab him in the first round in 2015.
Another preseason top-10 WR whose season was derailed by injury, Green was (on average) the fourth WR off the board in round two, and he returned WR24 value. In other words, he was a colossal, mega-bust. Why did things go so badly? Green returned too early from an injury early in the year, and it ended up costing him three more games after an aggravation. He also killed owners during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 15, 16, 17), scoring 11.1 total fantasy points. Some of this I blame on Andy Dalton, mostly because he’s terrible. You literally never knew which Andy would show up from week to week, and the Bengals obviously felt the same way since they leaned more and more on their RB duo as the season progressed. Overall, Green had seven good weeks (10+ fantasy points) versus nine weeks where he either played and killed you (because you had to play your stud WR) or simply didn’t play at all. You had to manage around him all year, and when he played he wasn’t predictable. I won’t be partaking in Green again, unless the 2015 discount is severe – the taste in my mouth from 2014 is just too terrible.
Welker is truly a magician – he managed to make himself completely disappear from fantasy relevance in a single season. He’s sustained a number of concussions and injuries as a result of his fearless over-the-middle style, but it appears that the Broncos have simply decided that their trio of Demaryius, Julius, and Emmanuel is much more explosive. Welker’s reception numbers (beginning 2012) are 118 – 73 – 49, and his yardage looks like this – 1354 – 778 – 464. He’s settled into the fourth WR role in Denver, and regardless of what happens in the fantasy playoffs, he looks like a risky bet to be taken inside the first eight rounds of the 2015 fantasy draft. Side Note: I bet Brent that Welker would outperform Antonio Brown in 2014. Good call, Chris.
I wasn’t a big Marshall supporter going into this year, but even I couldn’t imagine his season would tank so badly. Even if we throw out the weeks he missed after being placed on IR, his season was already an abject disaster. Of the 13 games he did play, Marshall crossed the 10-point barrier only five times, and didn’t score more than eight points in any of the remaining eight games. He crushed your team because he couldn’t be relied on, had very little trade value, and couldn’t be dropped. The Jay Cutler / Bears situation didn’t help, but from the game film I’ve seen, Marshall looked like a WR on the downside of his career. For the 2015 season, I’d rather invest in OBJ, Mike Evans, T.Y. Hilton, and other up-and-coming WRs.