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2014 Draft Prep: Busts for Draft Day

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Dave's Breakouts | Dave's Sleepers

No one likes bad news. A leaky roof, a cracked phone, an incorrect pizza order. It could ruin your day, your week, or in the case of a player who turns into a bust, your entire Fantasy Football season.

A bust is a player who falls short of the expectations you drafted him for. If it's someone you took with a late-round pick you just cut him and find someone else for your roster, no big whoop. But if it's one of your first six or seven picks then it's a problem. Those are valuable picks used to build the backbone of your starting lineup. Miss on too many of those and you're probably no better than .500.

Let's unearth the players whose expectations are just a bit too lofty on Draft Day.

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers

The issues Newton will face this season might be too much for any quarterback to overcome. His offensive line is shaping up to be a big question mark, which means the protection when he passes or blocking when he runs will be suspect. His receiving corps is brand new, save for reliable tight end Greg Olsen. Not that he had great receivers to work with in the past, but at least he had chemistry with them thanks to years of continuity. None of his receivers have had much work with Newton and training camp will force them to try and develop rhythm quickly. Not that Cam is known for his lethal arm -- it's what he does with his legs that puts him in the Top 10 among Fantasy quarterbacks year after year. But his rushing touchdown production has declined three straight seasons and his rushing yards dropped in a big way from Year 2 to Year 3. Newton is over ankle surgery that cost him most of his offseason, but you have to wonder if it'll play a role in his mind when he takes off, or in the minds of his coaches when they think about him running for a touchdown. It'll definitely be in the minds of his opponents week after week. Newton's delivered big time for Fantasy owners in the past (even if he's done so on an inconsistent basis) but this offseason was a nightmare for the Panthers and Newton's numbers might pay the price in 2014. There are so many solid, safe quarterback picks this summer that Newton shouldn't even be a Top 12 consideration.
I'd rather draft: Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

There's no denying that Wilson is a winner, just not in Fantasy Football. Not at the level of a Fantasy starter, anyway. He's posted 20-plus Fantasy points 15 times through two seasons (32 games), a nice amount but not enough to be considered overly reliable on a weekly basis. He's also not going to throw as much as other quarterbacks, which in turn caps his potential. Exhibit A is his stats over those last two seasons -- basically the same year over year, save for a handful of more yards and three fewer rushing touchdowns in 2013. It's tough to predict a jump in production when he didn't do it at all in his second season. It's also a little difficult to predict when Wilson will go off for a nice game. He's hit 20-plus points in 9 of 16 career home games, four of nine career games playing at an indoor venue and two of seven times when playing an opponent in an open-air stadium. That more or less means it's better to start Wilson when he plays at home, albeit it's not much better than a 50-50 proposition given his track record. Some weeks he'll shine, some weeks he'll stink. That's typical of quarterbacks on run-focused teams like the Seahawks. So even though Percy Harvin will be healthy to start the year and even though we like Doug Baldwin as a breakout receiver to replace Golden Tate, there just isn't enough evidence to suggest he'll be better than any of the other quarterbacks you can take between Rounds 1 and 11. Draft him as a backup.
I'd rather draft: Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

FredEx is a fan favorite in Buffalo and a lot of Fantasy owners are loyal to him because he's been so darn productive, but think about what happened last year for him to have so much success. The Bills were loyal to a fault with their run game, C.J. Spiller dealt with an injury for pretty much the whole season, the Bills didn't have another back they could lean on when Spiller was damaged. As a result, Jackson came up with a career-high in touchdowns (10 total), a career-high in receptions, a three-year high in carries and played more than 10 games for the first time since 2010. It's no secret that he's old in NFL terms (33) but he's also backlogged nearly 1,700 career carries and just over 250 catches, including his time with the National Indoor Football League. He still has some gas in the tank since he's not in the 2,000-carry danger zone, but it's tough to expect him to be as reliable as he was last season. Tack on the addition of Bryce Brown as quality depth as well as Spiller being back to full health, and chances are Jackson's days of shouldering a heavy workload are done. Draft him as a No. 3 running back? Fine. Draft him as a starter? Big mistake.
I'd rather draft: Maurice Jones-Drew, Pierre Thomas, Trent Richardson

Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons

Here's another favorite in the Fantasy community who unfortunately isn't the same guy he once was. Jackson has over 2,700 career carries, well past the red-flag mark of 2,000. When a number is that high it suggests the wear and tear on a player's body is too much and he starts to break down. That happened to Jackson last year when he missed four games. Worse yet, he averaged 3.5 yards per carry and totaled 100-plus yards once in the 12 games he did play in. Like Falcons running backs before him, his saving grace was his touchdown production -- seven total. That helped him finish strong last season, and even though he had that positive end to 2013 and his O-line is improved for 2014, Jackson still shouldn't be trusted. Even the Falcons have some concern as they took rookie rusher Devonta Freeman in the draft, and he's capable of replacing Jackson in the event the 11-year veteran gets hurt or is ineffective. Don't take Jackson before Round 6, and if you do, you must spend a pick in Round 9 on Freeman to protect your lineup. The better move? Pass on Jackson and just take Freeman.
I'd rather draft: Ben Tate and Terrance West, Lamar Miller, Fred Jackson

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Dolphins

It took Moreno five years to finally have a monster season, but we're betting on it being his only one. Last year was special for him, playing in the Broncos offense and attacking six-man defensive fronts while catching passes along the way. But when the season ended the Broncos didn't do much to push to re-sign him ... in fact, they pretty much pushed him away. The Dolphins were the only team to show even mild interest, signing him to a measly one-year deal. His Fantasy prospects didn't look all that bad since the Dolphins planned on running an offense Moreno is familiar with, but he showed up to camp out of shape and then needed arthroscopic knee surgery in June, all but scrapping the start of training camp (if not all of camp). Meanwhile, Lamar Miller has looked good this offseason and could be the Dolphins back to target. No Manning, no dynamic offense, no great O-line, no offseason work with a new team and one bad knee is a terrible combination.
I'd rather draft: DeAngelo Williams, Terrance West, Khiry Robinson and Lamar Miller

Maurice Jones-Drew/Darren McFadden, RBs, Raiders

Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden and anyone else you can think of in the silver and black shouldn't be counted on for Fantasy. Jones-Drew is assumed to be the top back on the list but we got cold feet after he started talking about retirement this offseason. Jones-Drew is 29 years old with over 1,800 career carries -- not that it matters since he won't get every rep in Oakland like he used to in Jacksonville. Even if he doesn't play like a guy who thought about hanging up the cleats, the Raiders schedule does MJD no favors (four games against the NFC West won't be pretty) and it will be hard for him or anyone else to run well consistently. McFadden might finally stay healthy for a large part of the season now that he's splitting with MJD, but no one's excited about drafting him. Stay away.
I'd rather draft: Frank Gore, Trent Richardson, Rashad Jennings

Eric Decker, WR, Jets

Every year there's a receiver who changes teams, collects a much-wanted pay day and then coasts for a year. It's Decker's turn. He hit double-digits in touchdowns and over 1,000 receiving yards in consecutive seasons but did it with future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning as his quarterback. Now he's going to the cool combo of Geno Smith and Michael Vick. Not exactly an even exchange. Also, Decker wasn't the top banana in Denver like he will be with the Jets. And finally, we came away fairly unimpressed with Decker considering that he didn't use his size and strength as much as we thought he would. It helps his case that the Jets will play from behind a good amount, and maybe that will save him from being a bust in PPR leagues, but if you think he's going to notch another 1,000-yard, 10-score season, you're either a Jets season-ticket holder or a fan of his and his wife's reality show. Or both. Yuck.
I'd rather draft: Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, Terrance Williams

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots

Don't expect another 100-catch season from Edelman. He got there last year because Tom Brady had no one to throw to besides Edelman. Case in point: In the six and three-quarter games he played in with Rob Gronkowski he averaged 4.4 catches for 45.6 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game while in the nine and one-quarter games without him he averaged 8.1 catches for 80.8 yards and 0.4 touchdowns. And Gronk is not just Edelman's only problem -- the Patriots added Brandon LaFell, will have a healthy Shane Vereen stealing targets and should get something out of their second-year receivers too. Edelman had his year in the sun and it resulted in a nice new contract for him, but it's tough to expect him to be a solid weekly contributor for Fantasy owners again. Don't take him unless it's as a No. 3 option in a standard league and a low-end No. 2 choice in a PPR.
I'd rather draft: Emmanuel Sanders, Kendall Wright, Marques Colston

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts

Back in the day, Wayne was the top target in Indianapolis and no one else could come close to knocking him off of his perch. But he'll turn 36 in November, is coming off of ACL surgery and will play in a Colts offense that added a new receiver in Hakeem Nicks and will get back another receiving threat in tight end Dwayne Allen. We're not saying Wayne's going to play poorly, just that his opportunities will be scaled back as the Colts continue to run a diverse, efficient version of the West Coast offense. His touchdowns have already been mediocre over the last four seasons (17 total in 55 games) and his receiving average hasn't been strong in five straight years. So if he's not a candidate for 100 catches anymore then why are we chasing him in Fantasy? Answer: We shouldn't be. He's a good reserve receiver as he heads into the twilight of his career.
I'd rather draft: T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks, Sammy Watkins

Wes Welker, WR, Broncos

A year ago Welker was a player on many draft wish lists, but it's buyer beware time after suffering multiple concussions and after struggling over the second half of last season. He started out great in his new digs, scoring in seven of his first eight games. Then he scored twice more the rest of the way, including once in the playoffs. He also didn't have a 100-yard game all year, the first time since he was a Dolphin in 2006 he didn't have at least one. Is he slowing down? How will the concussions impact how he plays going forward? I don't have a problem with Welker as even a good enough No. 2 Fantasy receiver, but I can't put him in the Top 15 at his position.
I'd rather draft: Michael Floyd, Cordarrelle Patterson, Emmanuel Sanders

Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears

We can get behind Bennett if the plan is to draft him, use him for the first few weeks of the season and then look elsewhere for a tight end. He's finally been given a chance to play regularly over the last two seasons and he's begun each of them playing out of his mind. In his last two Septembers he's averaged 4.5 receptions for 51.5 yards and six total touchdowns over eight games. In his last two Octobers, Novembers and Decembers he's averaged 3.5 catches for 40.5 yards and four total scores over 24 games. Bennett has shown that he can be a good tight end, but why spend a late-round pick on him knowing that the likelihood of him helping your team long-term is slim? If we're talking about tight ends late in a Fantasy draft, then it's probably a better move to go with a player with more potential for a big year.
I'd rather draft: Eric Ebron, Ladarius Green, Heath Miller

Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins

A handful of people out there think Reed's headed toward a 1,000-yard season. Maybe if something happens to Pierre Garcon and/or DeSean Jackson he will be. Otherwise, I'm not sure the targets will be there for him to have a full-fledged breakout campaign. Reed is a great athlete and still is considered a Top 10 Fantasy tight end, but one I wouldn't really love drafting. The concussion issue that forced him off the field last year is especially worrisome -- what's going to happen the first time he takes a hit to the head? And while Jay Gruden's offense has relied on tight ends a bunch, it's not like he's produced a very good player at the position. Jermaine Gresham's 2012 with 64 catches for 737 yards and five touchdowns is the best he did in three years with the Bengals (though Gresham and Tyler Eifert combined for 903 yards and six scores last season). Reed is a safe tight end pick but I don't see the upside like I do in Kyle Rudolph and Zach Ertz. To be fair, I don't see as much downside with him as I do with Rudolph and Ertz, either.
I'd rather draft: Jason Witten, Greg Olsen, Dennis Pitta

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Player News
WR Andre Johnson: I didn't join Colts for revenge against Texans
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Perennial Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson insists that he did not sign as a free agent with the Colts with two matchups against his old Texans team in mind. He claims the move was because Indianapolis, led by quarterback Andrew Luck, gives him the best chance to win.

Johnson was surprisingly released by Houston, but revenge was not part of his game plan.

"(Leaving the Texans) hasn't even really set in," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I was just talking about that with someone (Thursday). Everybody thinks that I went to the Colts to try and get back at the Texans and stuff like that. That had nothing to do with it. I just went to the ... place where I felt was the best fit for me and where I can have a chance to win a championship.

"It wasn't about circling (game) dates or nothing against the Texans. I had 12 great years here. Been around some great people, built some great relationships, a lot of great friends. Houston's always going to be my home."

Johnson remained productive in 2014, but his yards-per-catch average declined to 11.0, its lowest since 2005.


Report: Jaguars restructure contract of Marcedes Lewis
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Jaguars restructured the contract of tight end Marcedes Lewis, according to a report by Jacksonville.com.

Lewis did not receive an extension. This year will be the last year of his contract. The restructuring should reduce his cap number, which is currently $8.2 million. 


Jaguars sign Stefen Wisniewski
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Jaguars announced the signing of free agent center Stefen Wisniewski on Saturday. 

Wisniewski reportedly signed a one-year contract for $2.5 million, per Jacksonville.com.

"We had the opportunity to spend time with Stefen earlier this month and remained in contact with him with the hopes of getting a deal done," GM David Caldwell said. "We are excited to get him on board before we officially start our offseason conditioning program next week. He gives us great position flexibility along our offensive line as he has started at both center and guard during his career. He has a familiarity with our offensive system and brings a lot of experience to our offensive line room."


49ers looking to extend Michael Wilhoite
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) After the unexpected retirements of two linebackers, the 49ers are looking to lock up Michael Wilhoite to a contract extension. 

Wilhoite is an exclusive rights free agent, but GM Trent Baalke told the media he hopes to negotiate a long-term deal. 

"We’re working on something with him as we speak … He’s kind of in a unique situation. He was kind of caught in a numbers deal," Baalke said, per SFGate.com.


DeMeco Ryans likes improved Eagles' defense
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans likes the changes that the team has made to its defense in the offseason.

"We got better on the outside, which we struggled at last year,” Ryans said, per ESPN. “We had a lot of struggles there on the outside at the corner position, so I feel we've upgraded there with (Byron) Maxwell , a guy that you've seen make a lot of plays for the Seahawks. A guy like Kiko (Alonso), who his rookie year was a really outstanding player, up for defensive rookie of the year, a playmaker all over the field, and another guy in (Walter) Thurmond , who is expected to definitely push guys to be the starting corner on the other side. So I feel like we upgraded at a lot of positions, and I feel like it's really going to improve our defense."


Kubiak: Time for Broncos' backup Brock Osweiler to step up
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler hasn't had much playing time, as Peyton Manning's backup, but coach Gary Kubiak wants to see progress from him.

"I think it's time for Brock to take a big step as a player," Kubiak said, per NFL.com. "A lot of times in this league, the young quarterbacks don't get the opportunity to be behind a player of Peyton's status and learn before they get the opportunity in this league ... I think Brock needs to take advantage of this. But he's going to be very competitive. I'm very impressed with his skills. I'm very impressed with how hard he works in the classroom. I know he's got all of the ability."


Kubiak: Broncos will run no-huddle with Peyton Manning
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Gary Kubiak said he plans to take advantage of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning when designing the Broncos' offense for next season. 

We'll definitely be running the hurry-up offense," Kubiak said per NFL.com. "Peyton's been the best at the business at it for many years, so that's a strength that we'll stay with."

That doesn't mean everything will be the same for Manning. Kubiak said he planned on having Manning under center more than in recent seasons. 


Steelers claim LS Brandon Hartson off waivers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) The Steelers announced on Friday that they claimed long snapper Brandon Hartson off of waivers. 

Hartson was waived by the Chiefs on Thursday. 


S Chris Banjo signs EFA tender with Packers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Packers safety Chris Banjo signed his exclusive-rights tender on Friday, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The tender is good for one year and is worth $585,000 for the 2015 season. 


Trent Baalke praises 49ers LB Aldon Smith's offseason work ethic
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has had plenty of off-field issues since entering the NFL.

After serving a nine-game suspension a year ago for violating the NFL's personal-conduct and substance-abuse policy, Smith returned and only tallied two sacks. 

The time off followed by sub-par performances has ignited Smith on the practice field thus far, according to general manager Trent Baalke. 

"He’s probably in as good a shape as he’s been in a long time," Baalke said, via the San Jose Mercury News. "He’s starting to develop into a leader out there, which is good to see and been a pleasure to watch."

Baalke knows that Smith has an uphill climb in repairing his image. But while Smith attempts to do so, Baalke wanted the San Francisco media to know that Smith is doing what he can to improve ont he playing field. 

“He’s got a great look in his eye,” Baalke said. “He’s doing well. I look forward to having you guys visit with him.”


 
 
 
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