Fantasy football bust.
Nothing strikes fear in the heart of fantasy owners quite like those three little words. Every year, leagues are littered with players who were highly touted and highly drafted during the summer. Think Randy Moss, DeAngelo Williams and Ryan Mathews of 2010.
Those same players are out there this year. Through three weeks of the 2011 season, there are several high-profile candidates too. Some of these guys will turn it around and salvage fantasy seasons for their owners. Others will send their fantasy owners to the cellar.
Find out if you should hold or panic on the following 10 players after three weeks:
1. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: Johnson is averaging 2.1 yards per carry through three games and has crossed the endzone zero times. Clearly, something is not right here. Perhaps it is the new coaching scheme, or the revitalized passing game. Or maybe it is the fact that Johnson held out all of the preseason and needs more time to warm up. Whatever it is, Johnson owners should be very concerned right now.
2. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Another running back who sought a new contract during the offseason, Gore is off to a prodding start this year (much like his running style). To make matters worse, rookie running back Kendall Hunter is pushing for playing time behind Gore and looks like the more explosive runner right now. Couple that with Gore’s injury history (already has a sprained ankle) and you have a recipe for disaster in fantasy leagues.
3. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers: Fantasy owners knew what they were getting into with Gates. He pretty much is questionable every week. Most of the time, he goes out there and plays well. Perhaps, though, the injuries finally have caught up to Gates, one of the toughest players in the league. His run as the best fantasy football tight end in the game looks to be over.
4. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers: There are a few problems with Mendenhall. First, his running style. For whatever reason, Mendenhall appears to be doing more dancing behind the line than ever before and less hitting the hole with power. Second, the Steelers’ offensive line is a mess. I was a big fan of Mendenhall this offseason; Thankfully, I only drafted him in one league.
5. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: Nothing looks different for Jackson. He has the same quarterback, looks explosive on the field and has been healthy. But he just is not getting the looks. And to be honest, Michael Vick has not been that great this season (read: completion percentage). Vick coming back to average in terms of accuracy is a bad thing for Jackson, who benefited strongly from Vick’s great 2010 campaign.
6. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: Speaking of Vick. Last year he completed nearly 63 percent of his passes. His career average is 55 percent. This year? 59 percent. So while he is doing better than average, it is a step down. Add in all the injury concerns (concussion, bruised hand already through three weeks) and there is enough here to worry about Vick’s fantasy outlook the rest of the season.
Verdict: Slight panic.
7. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: Someone explain to me why the Panthers paid Williams all that money this summer to not use him? The coaching staff said they need to get him more involved, but right now I would rather own Jonathan Stewart in this backfield.
8. Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Foster was able to practice Wednesday and head coach Gary Kubiak said he should be good to go for the rest of the season. With hamstring injuries, though, there are lingering concerns. Hopefully Foster got the requisite amount of rest and rehab and is ready to give his owners the finish to the season they hoped to get from the start.
9. Shonn Greene, RB, Jets: Talk about a prodding running back. Not only have his numbers been pedestrian, but the offensive philosophy has changed. Mark Sanchez is throwing for more yards and even vultured a short-yardage touchdown from Greene in Week 3. LaDainian Tomlinson still is a factor, as well.
10. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: The last of the prodding running backs on this list, Turner could be great one week and terrible the next. He got stuffed by the Buccaneers last weekend and is going to cost his owners games seemingly every other week.
Michael Vick might show up on the weekly injury report for the rest of the season. After it initially was feared he fractured his hand, it turned out to be just a bruise. He should be able to play this weekend … Antonio Gates could miss up to five weeks with a bum foot, so Gates‘ owners will need to look to the wavier wire for help … Keep an eye on Lions’ wide receiver Titus Young, who has nine catches in the last two games … Former LSU running back Stevan Ridley made his move for more playing time in New England after a seven-carry, 44 yard performance in Week 3 … According to the Texans, Arian Foster will return in Week 4 against Pittsburgh.