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2014 Draft Prep: Busts, 2.0

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Breakouts, 2.0 | Sleepers, 2.0

When I look at a player who could be a bust, it's not always about their talent -- or lack thereof. A lot of it relates to their potential Average Draft Position.

For example, the first version of this busts column was published in April, prior to the NFL Draft, so gauging where a player would be taken by Fantasy owners was difficult. An owner might have targeted -- and still might -- Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew as starting options, which is a mistake.

Now, we have a better understanding of ADP, so we can see the players who could struggle based on where they are being drafted. But first, let's take a look back at the original list.

To recap, here are the Busts 1.0 ...

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Nick Foles, QB, Eagles
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks
Chris Johnson, RB, Jets
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Dolphins
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Raiders
DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins
Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles
Eric Decker, WR, Jets
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

Based on the response, we felt it was worth discussing a few of these players again with Newton, Foles, Lynch and Jackson. Many Fantasy owners are counting on these guys as starting options, but I have no interest in them based on where I'll have to take them.

It's the crux of how I feel about all of the players listed here. I would gladly draft Lynch in Round 3 or Foles in Round 11, but they won't be there.

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles

The Eagles did a nice job in adding talent around Foles this offseason, even with getting rid of Jackson. They brought back Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, traded for Darren Sproles and drafted Jordan Matthews. Zach Ertz will see a bigger role, and LeSean McCoy is still a stud catching passes out of the backfield. But losing Jackson will hurt since Foles targeted him more than any other receiver (70 times), and he completed 71.4 percent of those passes to Jackson. I'm also expecting Foles to regress statistically since he had just two interceptions on the season, and 10 of his 27 touchdowns (37 percent of his production) and 834 of his 2,891 passing yards (29 percent) came against two of the three worst pass defenses in 2013 with Oakland and Minnesota. He does benefit with two games against Dallas' defense this year, but that first meeting with the Cowboys isn't until Week 13. Before then he gets four games against elite defenses in San Francisco, St. Louis, Arizona and Carolina and then Seattle in Week 14. It won't be easy for Foles, and opposing defenses should have a better understanding of Chip Kelly's offense. I'll take Foles as a low-end starter, but I'm not drafting him prior to Round 8.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 60-65 overall
I'd rather have: Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers

It's hard to argue against Newton because he's been so good since starting for the Panthers as a rookie in 2011. He's never been outside the Top 7 for Fantasy quarterbacks, but that will change this year. His passing yards have declined each of the past three years. His rushing touchdowns as well. And now he has a revamped receiving corps -- Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn are gone with Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant in their place -- and changes on the offensive line. Newton should be fine coming off ankle surgery in March, but he's lost valuable time with his new receivers to develop a rapport. Newton also struggled to close last season with just one 20-point Fantasy outing in his final four games, but Carolina still went 3-1 over that stretch, which shows they can win with their running game and defense. Based on the changes at receiver, coach Ron Rivera has said the Panthers will remain run-heavy this year, which makes sense (they were No. 11 in rushing attempts in 2013). Look for Newton to be more of a caretaker than playmaker, and he's outside my Top 12 this season. I won't draft him before Round 10.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 85-90 overall
I'd rather have: Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks

I've been making the case against Lynch since prior to Super Bowl when it was apparent his touches would go over the 400 mark, which happened in the win against the Broncos. He's now at serious risk for a breakdown this season. Over the past 10 years there have been 27 times where a running back has had 400 or more touches. Only five times -- Edgerrin James (2004), LaDainian Tomlinson (2005), James again (2005), Adrian Peterson (2009) and Ray Rice (2011) -- has a running back produced an increase in Fantasy points the following season. Most succumb to injury or just general wear and tear, and Lynch is a physical runner to begin with. He's also upset about his contract, and the Seahawks have a potential stud waiting in the wings with Christine Michael, who is a top sleeper. I would draft Lynch in Round 2, but he likely won't fall that far since most Fantasy owners still view him as a Top 5 overall pick. That's too risky for me, and I can see Lynch having similar troubles to Arian Foster and Rice, who were coming off 400-touch seasons in 2013 and struggled. If you do draft Lynch in the first 24 picks make sure you handcuff him with Michael.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 10-15 overall
I'd rather have: Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, Le'Veon Bell

Reggie Bush, RB, Lions

Bush is still going to have a good season and be a Top 20 Fantasy running back. But he's going to regress this year and shouldn't be considered a stud. He's had at least 200 carries each of the past three years, but the Lions will likely give more work to Joique Bell this season, who will also work at the goal line. Bush is still a candidate for 50-plus catches, which he did last season for the first time since 2008, and he can still attain 1,200 total yards and six touchdowns. But don't rely on him the same way you have the past three years when he was the featured option for the Dolphins (2011-12) and Lions (2012). Bell's role will expand significantly, and the Lions have talked about using Bush like he was with the Saints based on the connection with new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. I've seen Bush being drafted as early as Round 3, which is too soon, and I'd rather have Andre Ellington, Bishop Sankey, C.J. Spiller and Toby Gerhart. All four of those running backs are flawed to some degree, but their ceiling is higher this season if Bell is 100 percent, since he'll cut into Bush's role this year.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 30-35 overall
I'd rather have: Bishop Sankey, C.J. Spiller, Toby Gerhart

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers

The Chargers are saying all the right things about Mathews this season. New offensive coordinator Frank Reich said Mathews is "our guy," and general manager Tom Telesco called Mathews "our bell cow." That all makes sense and should be accurate, but the addition of Donald Brown will cut into Mathews' workload. And having Danny Woodhead on board is also a detriment. One statement from the team directly to me came from coach Mike McCoy at the owners meetings when he said the Chargers could use a running back by committee approach. McCoy learned under John Fox when the two were in Carolina, and he's used to having multiple backs handle the load. "You get in there, you get on a little bit of a roll and you're going to stay in there," McCoy said in March. I still like Mathews as a No. 2 running back, but he's outside my Top 20. The earliest I would draft him is Round 5.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 30-35 overall
I'd rather have: C.J. Spiller, Toby Gerhart, Shane Vereen

Ben Tate, RB, Browns

I had high hopes for Tate last season with the Texans. Foster was coming off a heavy workload in 2012, and Tate was entering a contract year. The thought was Foster, if he missed time, would give Tate an opportunity to shine. Well, Tate got that opportunity after Foster suffered a season-ending back injury, but he struggled. He had seven games in 2013 with at least 15 carries and finished with double digits in Fantasy points just twice. The Browns are going to give him plenty of chances to carry the ball, but this is a team that failed to have a running back rush for more than 75 yards in a game with only four rushing touchdowns. And Tate is expected to share touches with talented rookie Terrance West, which has prompted coach Mike Pettine to say the Browns will be running back by committee. I don't mind Tate as a flex option this year because there will be moments of solid production. But if you draft Tate as a starter he will almost certainly let you down. The better move is to pass on Tate in Round 5 and wait for West in Round 8.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 50-55 overall
I'd rather have: Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley, Joique Bell

Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants

Jennings has a great opportunity in front of him. He's expected to start for the Giants, and he could be a three-down back based on their offense. But I'm skeptical of drafting him as a starting Fantasy option, and he should only be considered a flex. The Giants drafted Andre Williams, who could work at the goal line, and David Wilson (neck) appears on track to return. Jennings should be the best Giants running back this year, but it looks like a crowded backfield. Jennings is also 29 and stepping into a starting role for the first time in his career. He's had trouble staying healthy, and last year was the first time he had sustained success when he took over for the injured Darren McFadden in Oakland. Jennings performed well with at least nine Fantasy points in six of his final eight games, including double digits in five of those outings. But I'd be shocked if he can replicate that performance, especially in competition for touches with Wilson and Williams. If Wilson isn't able to return I'll change my opinion on Jennings, but I wouldn't draft him before Round 6 in the majority of leagues.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 50-55 overall
I'd rather have: Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans

Most casual NFL fans don't like when players talk about holdouts or seem to be upset about their job status. The public perception is these players are getting paid a lot of money to play a game. But you have to feel a little sorry for Johnson. He's been the best player for the Texans for the majority of his career, and he might have been the best receiver of his era with a better quarterback situation. But he's struggled through the Matt Schaub tenure, and instead of upgrading the position this offseason the team gave him an unheralded rookie in Tom Savage and a career backup in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Johnson might not show up for training camp, and it's unlikely he gets traded. Johnson has never scored more than nine touchdowns in a season, with 11 combined the past three years, and his ability to catch 100-plus passes and 1,400-plus yards -- which he's done four of the past six years -- is in jeopardy with the new quarterback. Johnson is still worth drafting as a No. 2 receiver, but he shouldn't come off the board before Round 5 in most formats.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 40-45 overall
I'd rather have: Michael Crabtree, Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon

DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins

Kelly didn't make Jackson into a great receiver. He was pretty good under Andy Reid as well. So Jackson can still perform at a high level under new coach Jay Gruden, but anyone expecting Jackson to be a No. 1 receiver like he was in 2013 is mistaken. And he might not be a Top 24 Fantasy receiver either. Things worked out perfect for Jackson last season when he had a career year in catches (82) and yards (1,332), and he tied his career high in touchdowns (nine). Jeremy Maclin (ACL) was out, and Jackson has shown he's less-than-stellar when he's not the No. 1 option, since he struggled the previous three seasons when Maclin was healthy. Pierre Garcon is the top target for the Redskins -- he led the NFL in targets in 2013 -- and Jackson might not top 65 catches or 1,000 yards. He'll definitely have his moments, and you'll want to start him the two games he faces the Eagles. But I only want Jackson as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in Round 7, and I don't consider him a starting option coming into the year.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 60-65 overall
I'd rather have: Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, Julian Edelman

Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills

Watkins has the chance to be great. It's just a matter of when. But it's unlikely to happen this season. For Watkins to be a consistent Fantasy caliber receiver, he has to get significant improvement from quarterback EJ Manuel, who struggled as a rookie and dealt with knee problems. Buffalo's best receiver -- in part due to Manuel's inconsistent campaign -- was Robert Woods, who was No. 55 in Fantasy points in 2013. The Bills also have to become more balanced after being No. 2 in rush attempts as a team last year and still expecting big things from C.J. Spiller while also having Fred Jackson and now Bryce Brown on the roster. And rookie receivers have also had a hard time shining right away, as Tavon Austin and DeAndre Hopkins showed last year despite marginal hype. You can gamble on Watkins as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but I'd rather draft him as a No. 4 option if possible. The later you can get him the better off you'll be based on the minimal risk.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 90-95 overall
I'd rather have: Terrance Williams, Jeremy Maclin, Kendall Wright

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers

Davis was awesome last season with 52 catches for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns. He finished as the No. 2 tight end in standard leagues, and now he wants to be paid like one of the best tight ends in the game. But for Fantasy, he has to prove that he's more than just a touchdown-reliant producer. You can't ignore his ability to find the end zone, but in the three years prior to 2013 he averaged six touchdowns a year. If that happens again with his similar production from last season, he would finish as the No. 7 tight end in standard leagues, which is why he's ranked No. 6 behind the expected Top 3 of Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas, as well as Dennis Pitta and Jason Witten. I like Davis, and I still expect a Top 10 finish, depending on his contract status. But I wouldn't draft him in Round 4 or 5 and I'd rather wait on Pitta, who is a tremendous breakout candidate.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 45-50 overall
I'd rather have: Dennis Pitta, Jason Witten

Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns

I liked Cameron last season coming into the year, and he played well with 80 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns to finish tied for No. 6 in Fantasy points in a standard league. The overall numbers look good, but Cameron wasn't very consistent with just seven or more Fantasy points seven times. He had just three games with more than six Fantasy points in his final 11 outings. Granted, poor quarterback play was a factor, and we hope a full year of Brian Hoyer and/or Johnny Manziel helps Cameron shine. The thought is without Josh Gordon (suspension), Cameron will thrive with additional targets. But he was already third in targets for tight ends last year with 117, and opposing defenses will key in on stopping him. My biggest fear with Cameron is the loss of Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner -- who have done wonders with tight ends in their respective careers (keep an eye on Kyle Rudolph in Minnesota) -- will hurt Cameron in a negative way. I still consider Cameron a Top 10 Fantasy tight end, but I'm not touching him before Round 7. I'd rather have Pitta, Witten, Jordan Reed or Rudolph, so someone else can take Cameron in Round 5.
Will likely be drafted ... Pick No. 65-70 overall
I'd rather have: Jordan Reed, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph

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Player News
Gavin Escobar a threat to Jason Witten?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:13 am ET) Cowboys rookie tight end Gavin Escobar, who entered the day with just four catches all season, wasn't highly targeted Week 7 against the Giants, but he made the three targets he did get count, scoring two touchdowns, including one on an impressive 26-yard grab between two defenders in the third quarter.

In all, he had three catches for 65 yards -- numbers that would be easier to overlook if not for the two touchdowns and the fact that fellow tight end Jason Witten, to this point a mainstay in Fantasy, had only two catches for 27 yards. And it's not like he and quarterback Tony Romo were just failing to connect. Witten was targeted only twice the whole game.

Witten's production hasn't been up to his usual standards this season -- in seven games, he's averaging 3.3 catches for 38.0 yards -- but just based on their history together, you figured Romo would have a need for him sooner or later. Now with the emergence of Escobar, it's no longer so clear.

Escobar himself isn't worth adding except in deep leagues of 16 teams or more that don't have enough tight ends to go around. In those formats, he's the new Timothy Wright. But in leagues of 12 teams or fewer, Witten may be on the outs. He deserves a couple more weeks given his history, but keep an eye out for the next big thing at the position.


Larry Donnell here to stay?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:55 am ET) After catching just one pass in his previous two games combined, Giants tight end Larry Donnell got back on track Week 7 at Dallas, catching seven passes for a season-high 90 yards.

Considering it was the Giants' first game without star wide receiver Victor Cruz, Donnell was expected to play a bigger role in the passing game, but a resurgence of this magnitude should remind us all how he came to be owned in 83 percent of Fantasy leagues in the first place. Over the first four weeks, he averaged 6.3 catches for 59 yards, scoring four touchdowns.

One potential pitfall for Donnell is that he lost two fumbles in Week 7, giving him three fumbles lost for the season, but with so few tight ends capable of his kind of production in a given week, the Giants would have to suggest his playing time is in jeopardy for me to pass on Donnell in Fantasy.

His production fell when rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham entered the mix in Week 4. Now that Cruz is out of the mix, Donnell's production figures to rise again.


Odell Beckham shows he's worth adding
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:42 am ET) Only three games into his career, Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham has emerged as one of quarterback Eli Manning's favorite red-zone targets, which is especially good news with another one of his favorite red-zone targets, Victor Cruz, lost for the season with a knee injury.

Beckham didn't have a lot of chances Week 7 at Dallas, but he made the most of the ones he got, scoring on catches of 9 and 5 yards. In all, he had four catches for 34 yards. His six targets were third-most on the team, behind wide receiver Rueben Randle's nine and tight end Larry Donnell's seven.

The six targets were a season high for Beckham. He has yet to catch more than four passes for more than 44 yards, but because he keeps getting looks in the end zone, he's worth adding in Fantasy even if it's just to stash him on your bench until you're ready to put your trust in him.


An encouraging performance for Eli Manning
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:34 am ET) Playing his first game without star wide receiver Victor Cruz, who's out for the season with a torn patella tendon, Giants quarterback Eli Manning still managed to bounce back from arguably his worst game of the season with one of his best Week 7 at Dallas, completing 21 of 33 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns.

It was his fifth game in six with multiple touchdown passes and his second with at least three. And he did it against a defense that had generally kept quarterbacks out of the end zone, recording nearly as many interceptions (seven) as it had allowed touchdown passes (eight) prior to Week 7.

Though two of his touchdown passes went to rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, who wasn't even available to him the first four weeks, Manning did a nice job of spreading the ball around. None of the touchdowns went to his two leading receivers, Larry Donnell and Rueben Randle.

Judging by this performance, Manning knows how to make use of the weapons the Giants have and doesn't need Cruz to remain successful in Fantasy. His bad games can be really bad, but his good games have been frequent enough for you to give him another shot when he returns from a bye Week 9 against Indianapolis.


Andre Holmes comes back down to earth
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:26 am ET) Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes, who blew up for 121 yards and two touchdowns Week 6 against San Diego, took a long time to get going Week 7 against Arizona, catching his first pass about midway through the fourth quarter. Not surprisingly, he finished with just three catches for 34 yards. 

It's not like he was invisible before then. He nearly had a great catch on a long pass along the sidelines in the second quarter, but it was ruled incomplete. He did have only two targets apart from his three receptions, though.

Clearly, it was a disappointing showing, but it's not like quarterback Derek Carr forgot about him. Only James Jones and Darren McFadden had more targets, tying for the team lead with eight. Holmes spent much of the game covered by Patrick Peterson, who remains one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. Holmes still has incredible play-making ability and will have better days.

But this performance shows why you can't trust him on an every-week basis yet. His matchup Week 8 against Cleveland is another tricky one because of cornerback Joe Haden, who has struggled at times this season but limited the Jaguars' Cecil Shorts to three catches for 12 yards in Week 7. You might want to leave Holmes on your bench for this one.


49ers' Phil Dawson makes 1-of-2 field-goal attempts in Week 7
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:22 am ET) 49ers knicker Phil Dawson made only one of his two field-goal attempts in Week 7, adding two extra points in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos.

Dawson couldn't deliver from 51 yards out in the first quarter, pushing the attempt wide left, but was true from 22 yards out in the second quarter. He's 13 of 16 on field-goal attempts this season but had been 10-for-10 in his previous three games coming into Week 7. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


49ers TE Vernon Davis catches two passes in Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) 49ers tight end Vernon Davis caught just two of his five targets for 21 yards in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

Davis was coming off an ugly Week 6 performance in which he dropped two passes, and he didn't fare much better in the team's blowout loss against the Broncos. He has 14 receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns heading into the team's Week 8 bye. The 49ers will face the Rams after the week off.


49ers WR Michael Crabtree held to 27 yards in Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught four of his seven targets for just 27 yards in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

While the 49ers averaged 11.1 yards per reception as a team Sunday, top options Crabtree (6.8 YPC) and Anquan Boldin (7.1 YPC) could find no room to work, leading to disappointing performances despite the offense dialing up 46 passes in the loss. Crabtree hasn't topped 50 yards in any of his last four games, and he owns 32 receptions, 322 yards and three touchdowns in seven games this year. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


Anquan Boldin catches seven passes in 49ers' Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:13 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught seven of his 10 targets for 50 yards in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

Boldin had at least one bad drop in the game and was unable to find much room to work downfield. He came into the week average 12.4 yards per reception but managed just 7.1 YPC against the Broncos. Boldin has collected 39 receptions for 447 yards and one touchdown in seven games. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


49ers WR Steve Johnson scores touchdown in Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:10 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Steve Johnson caught five passes for a team-high 79 yards and one touchdown in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

Johnson hauled in a four-yard score in the back of the end zone with only 11 seconds left in the first half to send the 49ers into halftime with a 21-10 deficit. The Broncos took over from there, scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter. Johnson has reached the end zone in three of his last four games, and he's up to 25 receptions, 315 yards and three scores on the season. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


 
 
 
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