Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ten Football Players That Have Broken Every Fantasy Owner's Heart

This is my fourth fantasy football season. Before that, like many, I watched with mild curiosity wondering what all the obsession was about. Until I was invited to join a league as a last minute replacement. I was hooked. I'm one of those suckers who develops attachments to various players for idiosyncratic reasons, and consequently has been burned repeatedly by certain players I always believe will either overcome injury, maturity issues, or what just seems like endless bad luck. But the fact is in most cases it's just better to cut bait with these players. Something is holding them back. And after they burn you the second or even the third time it should be irrelevant to you what that something is. Will some of these players come back to burn me by having great years for other people after I have given up on them... that's what this list of players is best at. But this year in order to beat me they'll at least have to be on someone else's team.

1) Kenny Britt. Before anyone goes back and makes sure to remind me I also included Kenny Britt in my top 10 list of great values for this year, let me be the first to admit you got me. Kenny Britt has made me a fantasy fool. Every year of his damn career, including the first one, where I insisted he was THE player to have from that Rutgers team. I'll let you look up who the other player was that you might consider fantasy relevant. Once again this year Kenny Britt hasn't even bothered to wait for the season to start to begin disappointing people. Hopefully what Britt has done is finally do all of us who were waiting for him to grow up the favor of removing himself from our fantasy radar so we can move on to the next lost cause. Who might very well be...

2) Dwayne Bowe. There are going to be a lot of wide receivers on this list. And with good reason... they're nuts. They're flighty. They're prima donnas. Two years ago Dwayne Bowe almost single-handedly took me to a championship. He had some monster weeks that allowed me the luxury of getting insanely over-wrought about my other five fantasy teams. But he did what Dwayne Bowe does... he disappeared in the championship weeks. I think this year I'll let someone else worry about whether or not Dwayne Bowe is concerned with playing football and move on to other problems. Like...

3) Joe Flacco. Yes, that is a picture of Joe Flacco. Like someone in every league in America, I have been waiting for Joe Flacco to "take the next step" every year. Last year I felt especially clever and decided to wait on taking a quarterback in a few leagues so I could pair up the tandem of Joe Flacco and Jay Cutler in later rounds, freeing me to load up on wide receivers and running backs in the earlier rounds. I may have a similarly stupid strategy this year, but none of my strategies will ever involve Joe Flacco again. 

4) Felix Jones seems happy here. Probably because he didn't waste an early round draft pick on himself last year. Players, especially players with talent, have a habit of coming back again and again to bite you in fantasy football. I'm sure Felix Jones is one of those players for many of us. And he may be again even this year, but I'm going to make someone else beat me with him rather than beating myself with him. 

5) Jermichael Finley. There was a feeding frenzy for Jermichael Finley last year. In every league someone was sure he was about to be the next Antonio Gates. People were taking him in the 3rd round. Although this show of faith in his abilities did presage a trend for the move tight end in fantasy football, it did not presage a great year for Finley, who promptly got hurt. Because most fantasy owners considered the season a wash, and could not stop salivating at the prospect of a reciver this big and fast in an offense this prolific, Finley was drafted highly again last year. And he bit. Outside of his two two touchdown games versus the Bears, owning Finley was next to worthless. This year the tight end position is deep, so let Finley disappoint someone else. 

6) I remember when Miles Austin broke out. I remember the game when the announcer gleefully proclaimed "Miles Austin, you are a star." And seemingly overnight he was. I remember all of this because in the league I care most about we acquire free agents not like everyone else in the Universe by reverse order of the owners record, but by predicting the weeks' Illinois lottery numbers. In four years in that league Miles Austin is the only player I've ever been lucky enough to win in this fashion. And I was elated. And he had some monster games. But I now believe Miles Austin will never consistently put up big numbers in the NFL. I'm avoiding him this year. 

7) Shonn Greene is one of those players who I had filed away after his last season in Iowa and intended to remember at my next fantasy draft. I didn't. And he had a good year. And then another good year. Until finally last year I drafted him. And he had a good year. A good year. The problem is when the Jets get anywhere near a goal line Shonn Greene might as well be Lorne Greene. And now with touchdown scoring Jesus Tim tebow on the mean green, there's almost no chance Shonn Greene will get the ball anywhere near the end zone. And since he doesn't break off long runs, what kind of fantasy value can he possibly have. He'll probably have another good year, wrack up 75 yards a game, not fumble, and be completely useless to your fantasy team.

8) Brandon Marshall appears to have firm abs. He catches a lot of footballs every year. I know because I seem to be stuck with him every year. I'm a Bears fan and I've been having a blast taking Marshall as my number one wide receiver in mock drafts, but when the real drafts start I think I'd have a real queasy feeling about investing a third or fourth round pick to get him. He catches footballs. But what he doesn't do is catch touchdowns. And in fantasy football, touchdowns matter. Will he catch touchdowns for the Bears? I haven't a clue. And that's not good enough to make him a number one wide receiver (again). 

9) Beanie Wells is the first player I ever drafted in a fantasy draft. I inherited the worst team in a league my brother was playing in, but because I actually chose the roster I liked better the other new owner got the first pick. I forgot who he picked, but it wasn't a rookie, leaving me free to select Beanie Wells with my first ever fantasy football pick. And like the Arizona Cardinals, I now believe he'll never be the player I envisioned he could be. Unless I'm forced to I won't be taking Beanie Wells this year.

10) Yes, that is Antonio Gates, the player who revolutionized the tight end position. A sure Hall of Famer. But keep in mind I've only been playing fantasy football for three years, and Antonio Gates is one of the players that has caused me as much heartbreak as any of the others listed. Now with reports of good health he's creeping up the draft boards again this year. All I can tell anyone who is hell bent on using a high draft pick to get him is that you do so at your own risk. 

There are ten fantasy football players who have broken my heart. In the main my disappointment is not a moral judgement of their character, merely the result of them repeatedly not producing numbers when needed. I trust none of these players based on past results. Some of them are going to have great years. But I don't know which ones. Do you? And if you don't, hard-earned experience leads me to recommend you let someone else go too high to get these players while you play it more conservatively, or just draft a less sexy but more dependable alternative. 

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