Ravens' Ricky Wagner the frontrunner at right tackle
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
The Ravens are prepared to enter the season with 2013 fifth-rounder Ricky Wagner as their right tackle, reports ESPN.com. Baltimore let Michael Oher leave in free agency and didn't add a significant offensive tackle.
Wagner played 12 percent of the offensive snaps last year as an extra blocker, and worked with the starters throughout the offseason. He'll have to fend off Ryan Jensen to keep the starting job.
Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden, who injured his ankle during OTAs, is still not healthy and might start training camp on the PUP list, reports 95.7 The Game in San Francisco. Hayden played in eight games as a rookie before a groin injury ended his season.
Browns to name starting QB before third preseason game
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
Browns coach Mike Pettine said he'll name a starting quarterback -- either Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel -- before the third preseason game Aug. 23 against the Rams, reports the Akron Beacon Journal.
"It could be sooner, and that’s something we’re going to discuss," Pettine said. "It’ll be before the third preseason game. I just don’t have a date. I don’t know if I’ll set a date and kind of paint ourselves into a date, but it will be sooner than the third preseason game."
49ers receiver Steve Johnson, who turned 28 on Tuesday, is the frontrunner for the No. 3 job, "but he will have to clearly win the job due to his scheduled $3.925 million pay for this season," reports CSNBayArea.com. Johnson posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons before producing just 597 receiving yards in 12 games last year.
With Josh Gordon likely to be suspended, the Browns are poised to enter the season with Miles Austin and Nate Burleson as their starting outside receivers and Andrew Hawkins in the slot, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The paper calls it "one of the NFL's most pedestrian receiving groups."
Austin has battled hamstring injuries and caught just 24 passes last year. Burleson, 32, has six touchdown catches over the past three years.
Chiefs receiver Kyle Williams, who tore the ACL in his left knee for the second time last year, was a full participant Monday as the team began a three-day camp for rookies and selected veterans, reports ESPN.com. Williams will vie to replace Dexter McCluster at slot receiver.
"The knee feels good," Williams told the website. "It feels stable. It feels like a solid knee. I feel like myself out there. I felt like last year when I came in I could help. I feel the same way this year."
Williams made 47 catches in four seasons with the 49ers.
Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus agreed to enter an NFL substance abuse program in order to have felony drug charges against him dismissed, reports the Syracuse Post-Standard. The charges will be dismissed if the 2011 first-round pick completes the program successfully.
Dareus still is trying to resolve misdemeanor charges stemming from an alleged drag racing incident. His next court date is Sept. 9.
Dareus failed his conditioning test Saturday but is expected to work out on the sideline Tuesday. Coach Doug Marrone said Dareus would be tested again "when our weight coaches feel that he's ready."
Bengals receiver Marvin Jones was placed on the PUP list with an ankle injury Monday, but it's just a tweak and he's expected to practice this week, reports Pro Football Talk. The Bengals open training camp Thursday.
Jones is considered day-to-day. He suffered the injury at a passing camp arranged by quarterback Andy Dalton, the report said.
A sports hernia surgery isn't keeping Texans rookie linebacker Jadeveon Clowney from being available at training camp as the team did not list him on their PUP list on Monday. ESPN says there's no concern about Clowney missing any part of the regular season. He's expected back at practice soon.
We recently published our latest 12-team standard mock draft, and I had the second overall pick. Somehow, I was able to land LeSean McCoy, Julio Jones and A.J. Green with my first three picks, which is like stealing.
Now, that's not likely to happen in most drafts, but don't be surprised when a stud player lands in your lap when you least expect it. Here's how I ended up with Green at No. 26 overall (his Average Draft Position is No. 20 on CBSSports.com).
There was nothing shocking about the first round outside of maybe Peyton Manning not going in the Top 12 overall picks. Our Top 12 (Jamaal Charles, McCoy, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy, Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham, Montee Ball, Arian Foster, Le'Veon Bell, Giovani Bernard and DeMarco Murray) is comparable to the ADP right now (Charles, McCoy, Peterson, Forte, Manning, Johnson, Lacy, Graham, Ball, Demaryius Thomas, Foster and Drew Brees).
It's Round 2 where things got a little wacky. The players taken ahead of Green who should have gone later based on ADP were Jones, Andre Ellington, Bishop Sankey, Brandon Marshall, Zac Stacy and Doug Martin. I'm fine with Jones and Marshall (I took Jones) because with those upper echelon receivers it's a personal choice, and I like Jones better.
I'm also OK with Martin and Stacy ahead of Green. While I wouldn't do it, there's an obvious need to get potential stud running backs, and Martin and Stacy could easily be Top 12 at their position.
The players who 100 percent shouldn't have been drafted ahead of Green are Ellington and Sankey. Larry Hartstein drafted Ellington at No. 20 overall, and Al Melchior took Sankey at No. 25. Ellington's ADP is No. 26, and Sankey is at No. 30.
Melchior took Marshall, and he could have locked down Charles, Marshall and Green with his first three picks. He couldn't have gotten Sankey in Round 4, but clearly Green is the better choice as we discuss this today.
Hartstein, however, could have gambled that Ellington made it back to him in Round 3 at No. 29 overall. Here's how his team started: Lacy, Ellington, Jordy Nelson. Here's how his team could have looked: Lacy, Green, C.J. Spiller or Ryan Mathews.
I love Ellington this season, as does Hartstein, and he could definitely be a Top 12 running back in all formats. But I would never draft him ahead of Green.
I'm happy how it worked out with Green landing on my roster, but I doubt I'll ever have a trio like this again of McCoy, Jones and Green with my first three picks.
The Titans beat writer for the Tennessean, Jim Wyatt, decided to show off his projections for Fantasy owners for some relevant Tennessee players this season in Kendall Wright, Bishop Sankey, Delanie Walker and Justin Hunter.
Here's how his projections compare to mine and Dave Richard for each guy.
For Wright, Wyatt has him with 88 catches, 1,360 yards and eight touchdowns. I have Wright at 88 catches for 1,085 yards and five touchdowns. Dave has Wright with 89 catches for 1,008 yards and five touchdowns.
Comment: Wright is a breakout candidate for me in his third year. I hope Wyatt's numbers come to fruition because Fantasy owners drafting him with a mid-round pick will be rewarded in a big way.
For Sankey, Wyatt has him with 980 rushing yards and five touchdowns and 24 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns. I have Sankey at 1,221 rushing yards and six touchdowns and 38 catches for 292 yards and one touchdown. Dave has Sankey at 1,157 rushing yards and five touchdowns and 31 catches for 260 yards and one touchdown.
Comment: Dave and I clearly like Sankey a little better than Wyatt does, but his projections still suggest a solid rookie season as a No. 2 Fantasy running back. I'd target Sankey in Round 3 with the hope of getting him in Round 4.
For Walker, Wyatt has him with 62 catches for 646 yards and five touchdowns. I have Walker for 57 catches, 587 yards and six touchdowns. Dave has Walker for 59 catches, 624 yards and six touchdowns.
Comment: Wyatt's projections are similar to ours, and we both consider Walker a No. 2 Fantasy tight end this season. He's not worth drafting in the majority of leagues but can be a solid bye-week replacement.
And for Hunter, Wyatt has him with 44 catches for 690 yards and seven touchdowns. I have Hunter at 42 catches for 715 yards and five touchdowns. Dave has Hunter at 42 catches for 690 yards and five touchdowns.
Comment: I like Hunter as a sleeper in his second year. He should keep Nate Washington on the bench, and he's a great late-round flier in all formats.
This week's mock draft with users Thursday was a 12-team standard league, and I had the No. 1 overall pick. I'm planning to do a 12-team mock draft to pick from every spot from now until the middle of August, so hopefully many of you will get a chance to draft with me.
As always, you can find the information on Twitter @jameyeisenberg. And feel free to comment on the draft and my selections below.
This was a 14-round mock draft with a lineup of QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K, DST and FLEX (RB/WR/TE) with five bench spots.
Round 1: Jamaal Charles (me), LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Eddie Lacy, Peyton Manning, Montee Ball, Jimmy Graham, DeMarco Murray, Arian FosterLe'Veon Bell
My pick: Charles is the No. 1 overall pick for me because of his talent and Andy Reid's offense. His offensive line won't be the same, but I'm not expecting much of a drop-off. I will take him No. 1 overall in all leagues.
My pick: My eyes were getting big when Green started falling, but he went just before my pick. I like Stacy in this spot because I still consider him a workhorse rusher. He's a solid No. 2 running back to pair with Charles.
Round 3: Antonio Brown (me), Randall Cobb, Andre Ellington, C.J. Spiller, Bishop Sankey, Rob Gronkowski, Vincent Jackson, Drew Brees, Michael Crabtree, Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Julius Thomas
My pick: I thought about Gronkowski here and actually entertained one of the quarterbacks in Rodgers and Brees. But Brown is the last elite receiver on the board, and I love his upside in that Steelers offense.
Round 4: Pierre Garcon, Ryan Mathews, Toby Gerhart, Shane Vereen, Reggie Bush, Frank Gore, Keenan Allen, Andre Johnson, Victor Cruz, Matthew Stafford, Stevan Ridley, Cordarrelle Patterson (me)
My pick: I was thrilled to get Patterson here, and I would have gone with Michael Floyd if he went. Patterson has Top 10 potential this season if he builds off last year's finish as expected. I plan to target him in all leagues.
Round 5: Joique Bell (me), Michael Floyd, Roddy White, Jordan Cameron, Ben Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Johnson, Vernon Davis, Golden Tate, Percy Harvin, Wes Welker, Trent Richardson
My pick: I was looking at either Bell or going back-to-back receivers with Floyd, but I like Bell's upside at his position just a little bit better. He should build off last year's solid performance and is a breakout candidate in all leagues.
Round 6: Matt Ryan, Colin Kaepernick, Torrey Smith, Rashad Jennings, DeSean Jackson, Ray Rice, Steven Jackson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Dennis Pitta, Pierre Thomas, Julian Edelman (me)
My pick: I was looking at Luck and Pitta as the round unfolded, but both went before my pick. I settled for the best player available, which is Edelman. He should again be a candidate for 100-plus catches, 1,200-plus yards and six touchdowns and is an excellent No. 3 receiver.
Round 7: Tony Romo (me), Terrance Williams, Maurice Jones-Drew, Mike Wallace, T.Y. Hilton, Tom Brady, Jeremy Maclin, Seahawks, Jay Cutler, Jordan Reed, Jason Witten, Kendall Wright
My pick: I debated Witten or another receiver like Williams or Wright at this spot, but I took my quarterback in Romo. I'm glad I did with Brady and Cutler being selected in this round. Romo is in line for a big year this season with that bad defense and the addition of Scott Linehan calling plays.
Round 8: Marques Colston, Mike Evans, Fred Jackson, Terrance West, Eric Decker, Greg Olsen, Devonta Freeman, Knowshon Moreno, Rueben Randle, Nick Foles, Jeremy Hill, Khiry Robinson (me)
My pick: Robinson was the player I hoped for this round, especially when West was drafted four picks in. Robinson won't be an every-week starter for Fantasy owners, but he's a good No. 3 running back with upside.
My pick: Rudolph was the last of the starting-caliber tight ends I feel comfortable with this season. I love the idea of any tight end in a Norv Turner offense, and Rudolph has the chance to be this year's Cameron with a breakout season.
Round 10: Dwayne Bowe, Darren Sproles, Marvin Jones, Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron, Kenny Stills, Hakeem Nicks, Coby Fleener, Bernard Pierce, Martellus Bennett, Cecil Shorts, Stepfan Taylor (me)
My pick: I like taking Taylor anywhere after Round 8 because I'm expecting him to work well as the No. 2 running back behind Andre Ellington in Arizona. He should lead the Cardinals in rushing touchdowns and is a solid stash candidate in all leagues.
Round 11: Tre Mason (me), Jonathan Stewart, Heath Miller, Jordan Matthews, Darren McFadden, LeGarrette Blount, Kelvin Benjamin, Ladarius Green, Chris Ivory, David Wilson, Philip Rivers, Andre Williams
My pick: I went with Mason here as the handcuff option for Stacy. We'll see how the split works in St. Louis, but if Stacy gets hurt then I should be covered. I like Mason better than Knile Davis, who is the handcuff for Charles, since Mason should get more work for the Rams even without an injury.
Round 12: Tavon Austin, Carson Palmer, Justin Hunter, Antonio Gates, Ben Roethlisberger, Knile Davis, Anquan Boldin, Rams, Russell Wilson, Cardinals, Charles Clay, Jarrett Boykin (me)
My pick: I was looking at a few receivers when the round started in Boykin, Hunter and Rod Streater. I like Boykin the best, and I'm expecting him to do well as the No. 3 receiver for the Packers this year.
Round 13: Panthers (me), Chiefs, Brian Hartline, Stephen Gostkowski, Andy Dalton, James White, Broncos, Delanie Walker, Patriots, Buccaneers, Bears, Steelers
Round 14: Phil Dawson, Steven Hauschka, Matt Prater, Justin Tucker, Matt Bryant, Mason Crosby, Shayne Graham, Adam Vinatieri, Bills, Alex Henery, Robbie Gould, Dan Bailey
This is going to be a Draft Prep column coming soon, but here's a tip on drafting quarterbacks this season.
My advice to Fantasy owners drafting a quarterback has always been that it’s the most personal decision you'll make. If you who love an elite quarterback you'll take Peyton Manning in Round 1 or Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees in Round 2 no matter who is still on the board. There's nothing wrong with that because they’re the best of the best for a reason.
But if you're like me and prefer to stockpile your team with talent at running back and receiver early on Draft Day then wait. You can still get a Top 10 or even Top 5 quarterback several rounds later and win your league.
The quarterbacks I plan to target this season in their expected rounds are Matthew Stafford (Round 4), Andrew Luck (Round 6), Matt Ryan (Round 7), Colin Kaepernick (Round 8), Robert Griffin III (Round 8) and Tony Romo (Round 9). My fallback option is Jay Cutler (Round 10). If things go right – my goal is Kaepernick, Ryan, Griffin or Romo - I'll have a plethora of standout running backs and receivers with a potential stud quarterback as well.
The position is deep, and you don't have to reach – if you don't want to.
Patriots running back Shane Vereen played in eight games last year, but that's misleading. He played a full complement of snaps in six games. In the last two games he was used sparingly while nursing a groin injury.
All told, the broken wrist he suffered Week 1 and the late-season groin problem limited Vereen to 297 snaps. He played 41 percent of a full season.
To accurately project his numbers, we need to give him 45 snaps per game -- the number he averaged in the six full games he played. That translates to 720 snaps and RB1 production: 507 rushing yards, 115 catches, 1,042 receiving yards, nine total touchdowns.
Those numbers look insane, and there's obviously a health risk. But it helps to know Vereen's ceiling.
Vereen ranked fourth among running backs last year with 0.43 Fantasy Points Per Snap in PPR leagues, per Pro Football Focus. He ranked third with 0.55 Fantasy Points Per Opportunity, which combines carries and pass routes run.
ESPN's Patriots beat reporter expects Vereen to lead the team's running backs in playing time, ahead of Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden (if he makes the team) and rookie James White. LeGarrette Blount's departure helps Vereen as well as Ridley.
Vereen is currently getting drafted 18th among running backs in PPR leagues. Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg rank him 16th in that format. In PPR drafts, start targeting Vereen in the third round. Wait until the late fourth round in standard leagues.
If he stays healthy, Vereen is the kind of player who will win you championships.
I had another 10-standard mock draft Friday with random users, and it was again a fun experience. As I've been saying, I'll continue to do this at least once a week from now until the start of the season, so jump in when I post it on Twitter @JameyEisenberg, and we'll have some fun.
Feel free to comment on my draft selections below.
I had the No. 4 overall pick, and the lineup was QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, FLEX (RB/WR/TE), DST and K with five bench spots.
Round 1:Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Jimmy Graham, Calvin Johnson, Eddie Lacy, Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant
My pick: Forte was the easy choice at No. 4. I was actually expecting Peterson in this spot, but he was a surprise at No. 1 overall.
Round 2:A.J. Green, Montee Ball, Arian Foster, Julio Jones, DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell, Giovani Bernard, Brandon Marshall, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris
My pick: You’re always going to find talented players slip in a 10-team league, but seeing Bernard at No. 17 overall is a steal.
Round 3:Jordy Nelson, Zac Stacy, Andre Ellington, Doug Martin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Rodgers, Bishop Sankey, Drew Brees, Alshon Jeffery
My pick: I was planning on Nelson here, but when he went I changed course and took the best player available, which for me was Martin. He's polarizing right now because of the chance he could be in a committee with Charles Sims , Mike James and Bobby Rainey, but I don't see that happening. I expect Martin to rebound as a Top 12 running back.
Round 4:Ryan Mathews, Randall Cobb , Toby Gerhart, Julius Thomas, Shane Vereen, C.J. Spiller, Pierre Garcon, Larry Fitzgerald, Matthew Stafford, Michael Crabtree
My pick: Garcon led the NFL in targets last year, and he gets a healthy Robert Griffin III for a full season. He's not the ideal No. 1 receiver, but I'll take him after starting my team with Forte, Bernard and Martin.
Round 5:Vincent Jackson, Keenan Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson, Andre Johnson, Reggie Bush, Colin Kaepernick, Joique Bell, Vernon Davis, Ray Rice, Trent Richardson
My pick: I’m chasing receiver now, and I was hoping Patterson fell one more spot. I'll settle for Johnson and hope he's either A) traded or B) shows up to training camp on time and happy. A holdout would lower his already sinking value.
Round 6:Chris Johnson, Stevan Ridley, Wes Welker, Michael Floyd, Roddy White, Victor Cruz, Emmanuel Sanders, Julian Edelman, Percy Harvin, Jason Witten
My pick: Sanders gives me a high upside receiver with starter potential with his move from the Steelers to the Broncos. I have now solidified my receiving corps to go with my three standout running backs.
Round 7:Golden Tate, Rashad Jennings, Dennis Pitta, Matt Ryan, Ben Tate, Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jordan Cameron, Pierre Thomas
My pick: I like waiting for quarterbacks, but at some point you have to jump for a player you like. I could have held out longer for Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Tony Romo or Griffin, but I was comfortable taking Ryan here since he's a tremendous bounce-back option with a healthy Julio Jones.
Round 8: Tom Brady, Torrey Smith, DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams, Andrew Luck, Greg Olsen, Robert Griffin III
My pick: Williams has amazing upside this year as the starter for the Cowboys opposite Bryant. Dallas is going to have an awful defense, and this team could be throwing all day. Williams is in line for a big year.
Round 9:Fred Jackson, Lamar Miller, Danny Woodhead, Jordan Reed, Nick Foles, Terrance West, T.Y. Hilton, Marques Colston, Knowshon Moreno, Tony Romo
My pick: Since I missed on Pitta in Round 7, I was hoping Reed would fall one more round. Lucky for me he did, and I’m excited for his outlook this season. If he stays healthy he'll be a Top 10 tight end.
Round 10:Zach Ertz, Seahawks DST, Rueben Randle, Khiry Robinson, Brandin Cooks, Mike Evans, Devonta Freeman, Christine Michael , Bernard Pierce, Kyle Rudolph
My pick: Freeman is a sleeper this season as the No. 2 running back behind Steven Jackson in Atlanta. He could easily emerge as a Top 24 running back if Jackson misses time like he did in 2013.
Round 11:DeAngelo Williams, Dwayne Bowe, Sammy Watkins, Eric Decker, Jeremy Hill, Stepfan Taylor, Eric Ebron, Reggie Wayne, Riley Cooper, Ladarius Green
My pick: At some point it doesn't hurt to pull the trigger on a player who you consider a bust, and I feel that way about Decker. But in Round 11, why not? He's my No. 5 receiver and a great stash candidate.
Round 12:Heath Miller, Martellus Bennett, Darren McFadden, Jay Cutler, Doug Baldwin, Cam Newton, Charles Sims, Chris Ivory, Justin Hunter, Stephen Gostkowski
My pick: Sims makes for a great handcuff option for Martin. I was also considering Tre Mason here, but Sims made more sense for my roster.
Apologies to those of you already clued in to Terrance West. The Browns rookie is a steal at his current 10th-round ADP -- going 38th among running backs. While that number will rise throughout the summer, West still will provide value. How much depends on how savvy your fellow owners are.
West has two big things going for him: talent and opportunity. The 5-9, 230-pounder exploded for 2,519 yards (6.1 ypc) and 41 touchdowns last year at Towson State, excelling in the one-cut system coordinator Kyle Shanahan is installing in Cleveland. He ran for a ridiculous 84 touchdowns in three college seasons. Coach Mike Pettine already has been won over; he gave West first-team reps during minicamp.
"He's already flashed some of the things that made him special," Pettine told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "For a big man to move the way that he moves, just some of the cuts that he's made. He's got dancer-type feet, but it's in a 230-pound man."
The Browns signed Ben Tate to be their lead back, but he missed eight games in three years with Houston and suffered four cracked ribs last season. Tate did not participate in team drills during minicamp, possibly for maintenance.
"I think in the AFC North, you have to be running back by committee," Pettine said. "You'd like to have a guy that can carry most of the load, but also be able to alternate guys ... you've got to be able to get fresh legs out there."
The depth chart behind Tate and West -- Edwin Baker, Chris Ogbonnoya and Isaiah Crowell -- is not threatening. West is a better receiver than Tate. Expect West to play immediately on third downs and get 8-10 carries even when Tate starts. If Tate is sidelined, look out.
Tate is currently going in Round 5, drafted as the 22nd RB. Tate is going too high, West too low.
While Johnson turns 33 on Friday, he's still a high-end WR2 -- at worst. Look at his last five Fantasy finishes, excluding 2011 when he played seven games:
2008: No. 2 Fantasy WR
2009: No. 1 Fantasy WR
2010: No. 8 Fantasy WR despite missing three games
2012: No. 8 Fantasy WR
2013: No. 12 Fantasy WR playing with Matt Schaub, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates
If the Texans relent and agree to trade Johnson, it won't be easy to make a deal. He's set to make $21.5 million the next two years, and Houston would demand a high draft pick or two. But assuming it's possible, here are the spots where Johnson would make the biggest splash:
1. Cleveland -- Johnson would step in for Josh Gordon, who's about to be suspended, and dominate targets the way Gordon did last year (11.4 targets per game). Johnson knows the offense because he worked with coordinator Kyle Shanahan in Houston. Brian Hoyer would be a quarterback upgrade. One hundred receptions, 1,450 yards and 6-7 touchdowns sound about right.
2. Carolina -- The Panthers need a No. 1 receiver, and Johnson could mentor rookie Kelvin Benjamin. He wouldn't see the volume he'd get in Cleveland. But playing for a contender and working with Cam Newton would rejuvenate Johnson.
3.Baltimore -- Johnson's longtime coach, Gary Kubiak, runs the Ravens' offense. He knows better than anyone how to use Johnson. With Torrey Smith going deep, Johnson could own the middle of the field.
4. New England -- Although the Patriots would give Johnson the best chance of winning a Super Bowl, he'd be splitting targets with Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson. No way Johnson would approach the 173 targets he's averaged the past two years. Johnson would need to score at least eight touchdowns, something he hasn't done since 2010, to reach WR1 status.
Currently, Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg rank Johnson 13th and 15th respectively among wideouts. Houston's No. 2 wideout, DeAndre Hopkins, who's ranked in the 50s, would become Fantasy-relevant if Johnson gets dealt.
Seven of those teams ranked in the top 14 in total yards allowed: Vikings (2nd) Eagles (4th), Jaguars (5th), Patriots (7th), Packers (8th), Colts (13th) and Broncos (14th).
Only two of those, New England and Denver, are ranked among the top 10 DSTs by Dave Richard and Jamey Eisenberg. As more teams speed up the pace and expand the use of no-huddle offenses, this is a correlation that bears watching.
The process of posting my list of bust players begins with a review of who I hit on and who I missed on from the previous year's list. So why not review them to get a better feel for what to look for (and what to not look for) when considering a bust?
(Plus it's always fun to look over my lists and laugh at the stupid picks I made. Fun for you, not me.)
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears What I said: Cutler would struggle to catch on to Marc Trestman's offense. What happened: Cutler didn't struggle at all -- a rickety preseason was forgotten after he had 20-plus Fantasy points in five of his first six games. If not for injuries he would have finished easily as a Top 10 quarterback. Bust or no bust? As much as I'd love to take credit for this one because Cutler finished as the 21st QB in Fantasy last season, I'm not. My reasoning was off and I was saved only because he got hurt. Josh McCown was grabbed by many of Cutler's owners and they thrived. Maybe you'll disagree but I can't call Cutler a straight-up bust.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers What I said: The Steelers would be more run-oriented and Roethlisberger's inexperienced receiving corps would hurt him. What happened: Roethlisberger was horrible for his first seven games, then came alive when the Steelers ran the no-huddle with incredible success. Antonio Brown broke out in a big way, Emmanuel Sanders posted big numbers on his way to free agency and the supplemental numbers from Le'Veon Bell and Jerricho Cotchery helped push Roethlisberger into the Top 10 by the end of the season. Bust or no bust? It looked good early but Big Ben made me look bad late. Not even close to a bust.
Andre Brown, RB, Giants What I said: Brown looked like the better draft bargain than David Wilson but durability issues combined with a lack of promised playing time made him unappealing. What happened: Brown got hurt before the season even started! When he did play he did have three big games in his first four but then cooled off big time down the stretch. On the plus side, he ended the season healthy and was the Giants' best rusher last season. That was good enough for him to finish as the 49th best back in Fantasy. Bust or no bust? Busto.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers What I said: Gore's declining workload would catch up with him, making him a good Flex pick in Round 4 but not a No. 2 running back. He went over 2,000 carries in 2012 and would begin breaking down in 2013. What happened: Gore vented about his lack of work and the Niners responded by giving him the ball. He had nearly 20 more carries and 10 more catches in '13 than he had in '12, totaling 10 touchdowns and over 1,300 yards in the process. Bust or no bust? See what I get for picking a fellow 'Cane as a bust?! Maybe I shouldn't have Reggie Wayne on my list this year. Not a bust.
Chris Ivory, RB, Jets What I said: Ivory's injury risk overshadows his potential in the Jets' run-first offense. Only once in the last seven years has Ivory played more than five consecutive games and has totaled 15 or more carries in consecutive games just once over three years. What happened: Ivory played 15 games, including 12 consecutively, but finished with 843 total yards and three touchdowns. So he was healthy enough to play but wasn't a consistent factor for the Jets. At all. One week 34 carries, six the next. He did have 15-plus carries in back-to-back games, though. Bust or no bust? When you play 15 games and Trent Richardson still scores more Fantasy points than you, you're a bust. The Jets were so happy with Ivory's work that they signed Chris Johnson this offseason.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders What I said: Something something injuries, something something terrible offense, something something lack of opportunities. What happened: McFadden played 10 games, totaled less than 500 yards and scored five touchdowns ... and still got a contract from the Raiders this offseason! So did Maurice Jones-Drew, though. Bust or no bust? Obvious bust is obvious.
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots What I said: Just because he signed with the Patriots didn't mean Amendola would become a Fantasy dynamo. He was still considered very injury prone. I predicted 12 games or less for him. What happened: Amendola was plagued by injury and played in 12 games and put up worse numbers than he did with the Rams in 2012. This is in spite of the Patriots offense relying on several rookie receivers. His breakout 2010 season looks more and more like an anomaly. Bust or no bust? With only three games with 10-plus Fantasy points (Dwayne Bowe had more), Amendola was a bust.
Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings What I said: Jennings took the cash grab with the Vikings and would struggle mightily with Christian Ponder as his quarterback. Added that by the end of the year teams would worry more about Cordarrelle Patterson. What happened: Jennings was awful with Ponder but better with Cassel, suggesting that he can do well with a capable quarterback. He finished just inside the Top 40 receivers in Fantasy but, like Amendola, had just three games all season with 10-plus Fantasy points. Bust or no bust? Bust. And FYI, Patterson had four 10-plus Fantasy games -- all in the last four weeks of the season.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants What I said: Nicks loafed it during training camp, making Tom Coughlin turn red-in-the-face angry. I surmised that Nicks was worried about getting hurt during his contract year like DeSean Jackson did a few years back. What happened: Nicks went touchdown-less and racked up just 56 catches in 15 games. He did record a remarkable 16.0 yards per catch but the Giants offense failed everyone who played in it. So while Nicks' numbers made him awful to own in Fantasy, his receiving average suggested he's not gassed as a pro. And playing 15 games was a pleasant surprise for the G-men. Bust or no bust? He didn't score a touchdown. Bust. But remember the positives here when you re-evaluate him for 2014.
Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins What I said: Wallace looked like the standard receiver who would change teams, get paid and underwhelm statistically. He and Ryan Tannehill struggled to get on the same page in training camp and Wallace would serve as the top wideout, a role he might not be suited for. What happened: Wallace didn't deliver big numbers -- 963 total yards and five touchdowns with five games with 10-plus Fantasy points. He often struggled as the top receiver for the Dolphins and the playcalling couldn't figure out how to better use him. Not that it would have helped as Miami's O-line was a mess, making it hard on Tannehill to throw. The worst part? Wallace averaged a career-worst 12.7 receiving average. Bust or no bust? This is one for the bust column.
Grand total: 0-2 on QBs, 3-1 on RBs, 4-0 on WRs. 7-3 overall.
So not bad, but what did we learn? Picking injury-prone players as busts doesn't reek of originality, and when we use it as a reason not to draft someone it doesn't mean it's going to work out that way, but it obviously is a significant factor. And picking busts on teams likely to struggle offensively isn't exactly rocket science, but it works.
The last factor is whether or not the expectations put upon a player are likely to come through. That's where we went wrong with Gore -- we thought his workload would continue to be lightened and instead it went the other way and his numbers were super. There are busts on my current 2014 list where I don't believe expectations will materialize. Might have to double-check those guys before pushing the publish button.