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2013 Draft Prep: Early Busts

Senior Fantasy Writer
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This is one of my least favorite columns to write. That's because there's no real way to be right.

We're talking about busts, and if the guys listed in this column pan out as I expect, then they failed. It's disappointing because Fantasy owners are still going to draft them, some as starting options, and we don't want to see players falter.

And if these players succeed, well, then I was wrong. And I'll never hear the end of it.

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Unfortunately, players don't always live up to expectations. It all depends on where they are drafted and how they perform throughout the season. The key is value.

If you land the following players in the right round then you'll be fine. But if you reach for some of these players or overvalue them, your Fantasy team could be in trouble.

Here are 10 players heading into training camp who have the chance to disappoint owners this season. We'll be taking another stab at this prior to the start of the season to give you an updated version following preseason action, and you can check out my sleepers and breakouts here.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers: Kaepernick was set up to be a star this season. He was coming off a Super Bowl run and looked like a potential Fantasy standout based on how he finished last year in just 10 starts, including the playoffs. But losing Michael Crabtree (Achilles) for the majority of the year is a tremendous blow based on how much Kaepernick relied on his No. 1 receiver. During those 10 starts, Crabtree had 61 catches for 880 yards and eight touchdowns. That accounts for 36.6 percent of Kaepernick's yardage and 57.1 percent of Kaepernick's touchdowns. He also targeted Crabtree 94 times. His next most-targeted receivers were Vernon Davis and Randy Moss, who tied at 39. Now, Kaepernick will adjust without Crabtree. The addition of Anquan Boldin is solid, and Davis will play a bigger role than last year. The 49ers also could get a surprise performance from one of their other receivers like A.J. Jenkins or an injured Mario Manningham. And keep in mind that Kaepernick is a skilled runner, which boosts his Fantasy value. But without Crabtree his passing stats won't look as good, and he could struggle. I don't consider Kaepernick a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback coming into the season.
I'd rather draft: Russell Wilson, Tony Romo, Eli Manning

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: There's a lot to like about Jones-Drew when healthy. He's only 28 and has at least 1,600 total yards and seven touchdowns in each of his last three full seasons prior to 2012. He doesn't have much competition for carries with only Justin Forsett and maybe Denard Robinson potentially taking him off the field. And he's motivated based on last year's Lisfranc injury, which cost him 10 games, and earning a new contract. Then why is he on this list? I'm leery of his health since he hasn't been able to work out with the team yet this offseason and was reportedly out of shape. If he can return to 100 percent and looks good during training camp then I'll remove him from here and draft him in Round 2. But heading into training camp he's someone I would avoid until Round 3 at the earliest. I fear a setback with his foot problem, and I need proof that he's back to being an elite rusher before I can count on him this year.
I'd rather draft: Chris Johnson, DeMarco Murray, Reggie Bush

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: Mathews is saying all the right things this offseason, and the new coaching staff in San Diego is also behind him. Coach Mike McCoy told me at the NFL owners meetings in March that Mathews "had some bad luck the past couple of years" with injuries, and "he's going to be a great fit for this system." That's good to hear, but it's clear Mathews will have a limited role. Danny Woodhead was brought in to play on passing downs, and the Chargers still have Ronnie Brown on the roster. That means Mathews is a two-down running back. He's also injury prone along the lines of Darren McFadden, and he suffered two broken clavicles in 2012. There's a lot to like about Mathews in terms of talent, but Fantasy owners are clearly running out of patience. If you can land Mathews in Round 6 or later as your No. 3 running back or even a flex option then that's OK. But if you target him as a weekly starter then your Fantasy team is in trouble. From what we saw last year, Mathews might not have what it takes to be a legitimate contributor.
I'd rather draft: Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball, Shane Vereen

Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: Lacy has a tremendous opportunity in front of him to be the starting running back in Green Bay. But don't overestimate his value even if he wins the job. The Packers are still a passing team, and they have plenty of running backs to share the wealth. Lacy showed up to offseason workouts as much as 13 pounds heavier than what he played at in college. For a running back with an injury history, that's a concern. He also has to prove he's better than fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin, and the Packers will also use DuJuan Harris, James Starks and Alex Green. On top of that, the Packers haven't exactly been run dominant in recent years. You have to go back to 2009 with a healthy Ryan Grant when they last gave a running back more than 200 carries. The last two years their leading rusher had 135 (Green) and 134 (Grant) carries. Lacy is a good flex option and should be a key reserve. But he enters this season at least No. 4 on my list for rookie rushers behind Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball and Giovani Bernard. He could fall further down that list if Franklin beats him out for the starting job, so keep an eye on what happens in training camp.
I'd rather draft: Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Brown, Giovani Bernard

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Every year we keep waiting for Stewart to be healthy and take over this backfield. And every year we continue to be disappointed. This season looked like a great chance for Stewart to shine. DeAngelo Williams was expected to be gone, and Stewart was expected to be healthy heading into training camp. Neither happened since Williams restructured his contract, and Stewart is coming off ankle surgery, which has kept him out of offseason workouts and could limit him in training camp. He's someone I would try to avoid if possible, and I would only settle for him with a late-round pick. He had just two games last year with double digits in Fantasy points of the nine he was healthy enough to play, and he hasn't been a consistent contributor since 2009 when he had 1,200 total yards and 11 touchdowns. That seems like a long time ago, and Stewart's chances of being a solid Fantasy running back continue to dwindle.
I'd rather draft: Chris Ivory, Ahmad Bradshaw, Shane Vereen

Wes Welker, WR, Broncos: Welker is still a No. 2 Fantasy receiver, but his stats are going to take a hit going to Denver. He averaged 112 catches, 1,243 yards and six touchdowns a year in New England over six years, but that's going to dwindle. The Denver Post predicts Welker to catch 75 passes, and Welker also said if he's catching too many passes "that probably means we're in trouble." If you give Welker his yards per catch last season, which was 11.5, he'll have 863 yards with 75 receptions. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker remain vital cogs in the passing game, and even though Peyton Manning loves using his slot receiver, Brandon Stokley only had 58 targets last season for 45 catches, 544 yards and five touchdowns. Welker is clearly an upgrade over Stokley, but Thomas had 141 targets and Decker had 122. You should still draft Welker to be a potential starter, but don't get overexcited with him going to Denver to play with Manning. This move is a downgrade, and his production will decrease.
I'd rather draft: Marques Colston, Hakeem Nicks, Eric Decker

James Jones, WR, Packers: You never want to chase touchdowns when trying to gauge the value of players, and expecting Jones to be a Top 20 Fantasy receiver again this year (he was No. 15 in standard leagues in 2012) is a mistake. The rest of his stats don't match his scoring prowess. Jones led the NFL with 14 receiving touchdowns, but he had just 64 catches for 784 yards. This came despite starting 16 games, playing on 92 percent of the snaps and getting the benefit of Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings battling injuries. He had 98 targets, which was second on the team, but placed him at No. 40 among receivers in the NFL. He only had three games with more than seven targets, and he benefitted from four games with multiple touchdowns. His best asset was converting in the red zone with 11 touchdowns in 19 attempts, but Nelson back at 100 percent and a motivated Jermichael Finley will cut into that production, along with an improved running game and the continued development of Randall Cobb. I would expect Jones to get more catches and yards this season with Jennings gone, but his touchdowns could get cut in half. He's a solid No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but don't value him as a starter or you will be disappointed.
I'd rather draft: Steve Smith, Danny Amendola, Torrey Smith

Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: The Dolphins added a much-needed weapon in Wallace as a big free-agent signee from the Steelers, but it's hard to count on him as a must-start Fantasy option. He's still too boom or bust, and he gets a downgrade in quarterback from Ben Roethlisberger to Ryan Tannehill. Last year, Wallace had a down year with 64 catches for 836 yards and eight touchdowns. He had just one game with a touchdown in his final six outings and two games with 100 receiving yards on the year. The same thing happened to him in 2011 when he had one game with a touchdown in his final seven outings and four games with 100 receiving yards. There's a pattern here, and maybe he changes that with a change of scenery, but you're going to get frustrated with Wallace. Some weeks he'll be awesome and other games he'll disappear. If you consider him a No. 3 Fantasy receiver then you're in good shape, but if you think going from Pittsburgh to Miami will help his value then you're mistaken. He's just not consistent enough to start on a weekly basis.
I'd rather draft: Torrey Smith, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin

Danario Alexander, WR, Chargers: Alexander was reborn in San Diego last season with a stellar nine-game stretch to close the season. He had 37 catches for 658 yards and seven touchdowns over that span and looked like a bona-fide star. But it will be hard to count on Alexander to replicate that production again. He's had trouble staying healthy in his career with five knee surgeries, and he was able to play at a high level in a short run, which likely saved his body from overwork. San Diego also gets reinforcements in the passing game with Vincent Brown healthy and rookie Keenan Allen, and they will take away targets from Alexander. I love his upside, but it's hard to count on him playing at that level for 16 games (he also had two multi-touchdown games in that stretch). If you can get him as your No. 3 or even 4 receiver then that's a solid move, but don't consider Alexander a weekly starter going into the season.
I'd rather draft: Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton, Tavon Austin

Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings: If the Vikings get the Jennings we saw to close the season last year then this posting is a mistake. In his final four games last season, including the playoffs, Jennings had 25 catches for 280 yards and four touchdowns. He looked like the Jennings of old and not the receiver who has battled injuries the past two years. Jennings has missed 11 games the past two seasons with knee and groin problems, and he already dealt with an ankle injury this offseason. He also gets a significant downgrade in quarterback from Aaron Rodgers to Christian Ponder, and the Vikings are run dominant compared to the pass-happy Packers. Jennings is going to be expected to replace the departed Percy Harvin, but they don't have the same skill set. Jennings can still serve as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but if you can get him as your No. 4 option then that's the better move on Draft Day.
I'd rather draft: Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Jeremy Maclin

Off my radar: 10 other guys I will avoid drafting this year
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers He's getting to that point in his career where a breakdown is coming.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals The addition of Bernard is only going to slow down BGE even more.
Isaiah Pead, RB, Rams I'd gamble on Zac Stacy or Daryl Richardson, but I have no faith in Pead.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts He tailed off last year, which could be a sign of things to come at 34.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars Bad quarterback play plus concussion history makes me leery.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills There are finally other receivers to help, but QB play is still an issue.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles Hard to trust him after his performance the past two years.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys Injuries have taken their toll, and the Cowboys are ready to move on.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings He's at least a year away from being a significant contributor.
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers If he can't produce when healthy then it's hard to consider him elite.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg .

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Player News
Report: Falcons OL Gabe Carimi will head to free agency
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(10:24 pm ET) Falcons offensive lineman Gabe Carimi will not be retained before free agency begins on March 10, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. 

Carimi appeared in all 16 regular-season games and made seven starts for the Falcons in 2014. 


Report: Colts, Dolphins going after Ndamukong Suh in free agency
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:21 pm ET) The Colts and Dolphins are expected to try their best to land soon-to-be free agent Ndamukong Suh when the new league year begins on March 10, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports. 

Suh will be the most sought-after free agent once the period begins. The report also states the Dolphins are currently in the lead, with the Lions and Colts close behind at this time. 

Teams can begin negotiating with agents during a legal tampering period that begins Saturday. 

In 2014, Suh recorded 53 total tackles and 8 1/2 sacks. 


Colts sign long snapper Matt Overton to four-year deal
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:05 pm ET) The Colts announced they signed long snapper Matt Overton to a new contract

Overton tweeted on his personal account that he will be with the Colts for another four years. In three seasons with the Colts, Overton has appeared in 48 games and has made 22 special teams tackles. 

He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2013. 


Police: Panthers' Cam Newton not person of interest in shooting
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(8:46 pm ET) Police stated Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is not a person of interest in a shooting at a Charlotte, N.C. nightclub, according to the Associated Press. 

Newton was photographed at Label nightclub on stage with rapper Young Jeezy last weekend before gunshots were fired into a crowd. Two people sustained non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the gunfire. 

In a video obtained by Charlotte's WSOC TV, Newton is spotted partying at the venue before he, along with the rest of the party's attendants, ducked when shots were fired


Adrian Peterson pleased with Vikings meeting, still has concerns
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(8:03 pm ET) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was appreciative of the Vikings front office's visit on Wednesday, he said in a statement to ESPN's Josina Anderson

However, Peterson also alluded to some issues that needed to be hashed out between both parties. 

"I appreciate [general manager] Rick [Spielman] and Coach [Mike] Zimmer coming down to see me today," Peterson said. "We had a great dialogue and they were able to understand where I was coming from and concerns my family and I still have. We respect each other and hopefully the situation can pan out so that everyone involved is content."

Peterson was moved back to the Commissioner's Exempt list after U.S. District Judge David Doty ruled an NFL arbitrator should not have upheld a suspension that would last until April 15. The NFL has appealed this ruling.

With Peterson on the Commissioner's Exempt list, the Vikings are able to have communication with him. 

The Vikings have publicly expressed a desire to have Peterson back in 2015. Peterson has had reservations about wanting to return to Minnesota. 

Peterson only played in one game during the 2014 season. Following a child abuse allegation, Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault on his son. 


Report: 49ers shopping linebacker Michael Wilhoite
(7:57 pm ET) The 49ers are looking to trade linebacker Michael Wilhoite, according to The Sacramento Bee. The team is looking to obtain a sixth- or seventh-round pick in exchange for the former undrafted free agent, per a league source.

Wilhoite, 28, filled in when starters Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were sidelined with injuries last season. He started all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2014. He tallied career-highs with 87 total tackles, six passes defensed and two interceptions.


Report: Bills' Rex Ryan wanted to trade Kiko Alonso upon arrival
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:28 pm ET) From his first day as the Bills head coach, Rex Ryan was looking to trade linebacker Kiko Alonso, according to a report from NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. 

One of the first things Ryan wanted to do with the Bills, the report states, was trade Alonso. On Tuesday, CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora confirmed the Eagles and Bills had a plan in place to swap Alonso for running back LeSean McCoy. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the story. 

It's a strange revelation considering Alonso's stellar 2013 season as a rookie, when he totaled 159 tackles and four interceptions. However, he's coming off of an ACL tear that was sustained last offseason. 

Without Alonso in 2014, the Bills were still able to finish fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per game at 312.2 per game. 


Report: Giants LB Jacquian Williams to become free agent
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:12 pm ET) Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams will become a free agent on March 10, according to a report from the New York Daily News

A concussion limited Williams to just nine games in 2014. In those games, he recorded 78 tackles and three pass deflections. 


Report: Cowboys sign LB Keith Rivers
(7:09 pm ET) The Cowboys signed linebacker Keith Rivers to a one-year deal for the veteran minimum Wednesday, DallasCowboys.com reports.

Rivers, 28, played three seasons with the Bengals after being selected ninth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft before missing the 2011 season with an injury. He went on to play for the Giants and the Bills, but spent just one year in Buffalo, making the Cowboys his third team in three seasons. He started a career-low three games during his one season with the Bills in 2014.


Report: Giants talks with Antrel Rolle not productive
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:09 pm ET) It doesn't look like safety Antrel Rolle will be with the Giants next season. 

According to the New York Daily News, contract negotiations between the two parties haven't gone well. Rolle doesn't want to come back for much less than the $7 million he earned for each of the 2013 and 2014 seasons. 

It's also possible that Rolle winds up with the Dolphins, the report states. 

Rolle recorded 87 tackles and three interceptions in 2014. 


 
 
 
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