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Fantasy Football 2015: Bust A Move

Adam Pfeifer looks at six players who will be fantasy football busts in 2015.

fantasy football, Philip Rivers

Not everything always pans out.

If it worked that way, I’d be 6-foot-4, would actually look my age and the Buffalo Bills would have, oh, I don’t know, actually won just one of those four consecutive Super Bowl trips. I mean, seriously.

But I digress.

Obviously, things always go wrong in fantasy football, too. Just ask anyone who selected Adrian Peterson with the number-one overall pick last year…

More things not going my way.

Anyway, while everyone is always looking for that breakout player to help bolster their fantasy football rosters, there are always a handful of players who sink the battleship.

We’re talking busts.

Quarterback

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

Look. Philip Rivers is a very good NFL quarterback. And for a large portion of the season, he’s a pretty darn good fantasy quarterback, too. However, he seems to always tail off during the second half of the season, providing you with nothing more than streamer production. Take a look at last year’s splits:

Rivers

Last year, he opened the first eight games on a roll, tossing 20 touchdown passes to just five interceptions, serving as a top-five fantasy signal caller. However, during the second half of the year, he only threw 11 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. He’s had a knack for producing more pedestrian numbers down the stretch of seasons, as ESPN points out that his yardage totals have decreased every season of his career during the second half. Meanwhile. the Chargers continue to rank towards the middle of the pack in passing attempts per game, so Rivers doesn’t normally see the volume to help combat his slow second halves. The quarterback position is so deep that Rivers, a proven passer in this league, sits at just 17th in my quarterback rankings for 2015.

I’m not crazy about him.

Running Back

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

Usually every season, I try to offer at least one “Whoa, crazy, crazy” bust candidate. Last season it was Marshawn Lynch, who went on to only rush for 1,300 yards, 13 TD and finish as fantasy’s number-three running back. Having said all that, feel free to call me an idiot after trying to convince you that Matt Forte won’t return first round value this year.

That’s the key. Just because a player is labeled as a “bust” doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be terribly bad. To me, it means that a certain player will not match their average draft position. Forte is that guy for me for a few reasons. For starters, people love talking about how guys like Adrian Peterson, Lynch and Arian Foster are aging and have had a scary big workload. However, over the past three seasons, no running back in the NFL has played more offensive snaps than Forte, who turns 30-years old in December. And during that span, he’s accumulated over 800 carries and 220 receptions for the Bears. With Marc Trestman out of town, Forte definitely isn’t hauling in 100 balls again, and while no one really talks about it, Forte wasn’t a very efficient rusher last year, averaging just 3.9 yards per clip. Now John Fox is in town, a guy who typically prefers using multiple backs in his offenses. And while Forte won’t take a backseat to anyone, it is worth noting that only one rusher has eclipsed the 250-carry plateau during Fox’s tenure.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers

I’m not an idiot.

I know how amazing J-Stew was to close the 2014 campaign. From Week 14 on, including the playoffs, he averaged an awesome 5.1 yards per carry and saw at least 20 carries four different times for the Panthers. And from Weeks 12-17, Stewart averaged a strong 14 fantasy points per game. He was super, super good, but I just cannot get on board with selecting him in the third or fourth round of drafts. This is still a guy who has missed 20 percent of his career games due to injury, and still missed three contests last season. I also still fear his touchdown upside in this Carolina offense, as Panthers’ running backs have only scored 38 touchdowns since the 2011 season. Cam Newton is going to run, and has accumulated 100 carries every season he’s been in the league. I’m just afraid to invest on Stewart because of injury, and head coach Ron Rivera has already stated he’d prefer to keep Stewart around the 15-carry range.

Golden Tate, Detroit Lions

After showing promise in Seattle’s run-heavy offense, Tate’s fantasy performance matched his first name during his inaugural season with the Lions– Twas Golden. 99 catches, 1,331 yards and four touchdowns later, Tate was a top-12 receiver in all of fantasy land, giving Lions fans exactly what they needed opposite Calvin Johnson. So, why do I hate Tate this year?

Well, for starters, I think Megatron is actually going to play more often this season, which will hurt Tate’s value. According to ESPN, in the four games where Johnson played fewer than half the snaps, Tate had under 500 yards, three touchdowns and was a top-three wideout. However, during the other 12 games, he served as a WR3 in fantasy. And during the two games Johnson completely sat out, Tate exploded to the tune of 17 catches for 305 yards and two touchdowns. And consider this– Calvin finished as WR15, despite being limited and missing a few games, so if both are healthy, it’s clear who Matthew Stafford is looking for first and foremost. Johnson averaged nearly 10 targets per game last season, after all.

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

In a PPR league, I have no problem with Landry. He ranked 14th in all of football in receptions (84) during his rookie campaign, hauling in 75 percent of his targets. However, there are a handful of guys going after him that I’d prefer on my roster, and in a standard league, he still has work to do. According to Pro Football Focus, Landry ranked dead last in average depth of target, while accumulating only two end zone targets, which tells me that the touchdowns may not be there, especially with Miami suddenly having a handful of targets that Ryan Tannehill can choose from. Landry probably won’t score more than five touchdowns, and unless he starts making more plays down the field, I have him falling short of 1,000 receiving yards. So, again, fine in a PPR league, but in a standard format, he’s someone I wouldn’t really be targeting at all this year.

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

If you strictly watched the tape last year, Witten was as good as ever. He runs good routes, has great hands, you name it. But because Dallas ran the ball so much, Witten, who is probably the best blocking tight end in football, was asked to do just that– a lot. Because of that, he posted his lowest reception (64) and yardage totals (703) since his rookie season, which shows just how good he’s been over the years. Even without DeMarco Murray, I still envision the Cowboys running the ball as much as anyone in the NFL, and if you received fantasy points for blocks, Witten might be a first-rounder. Sadly, there are at least 10 tight ends with much higher upside that I’d prefer this year.

Featured Image Credit: By Greg Buch FFSwami.com (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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