Featured Pros: Who Will Underperform in 2011?

Posted by andrew on August, 31st 2011

Michael VickLast week, we asked our Featured Pros to give us their top breakthrough player selections heading into the season. As you might expect, there were certainly a few surprising choices that made the cut.

 

We’ll flip the script this week and ask a new batch of experts who they feel will underperform in 2011. These are the players with lofty expectations that our Featured Pros aren’t buying as high as the public.

 

Before we hear the thoughts of the experts, let’s give each an introduction:

 

Featured Pros

 

Pat Fitzmaurice – ProFootballWeekly

Pat has proven to be one of the most accurate prognosticators in the fantasy industry. In 2009, he was the runner-up in our in-season accuracy competition and this past year he finished 3rd overall in our draft rankings study.

 

Jared Smola – Draft Sharks

As the site’s Senior Editor, Jared serves as a jack of all trades for Draft Sharks. His contributions include weekly rankings & projections, featured articles, scouting reports, and player profiles.

 

Keet Bailey – NFL Soup

Keet doubles as a Fantasy Football & Draft Analyst for NFL Soup. This past season he headed up the site’s draft coverage including player rankings, profiles and combine reports.

 

Chris Eakin – FFToday

Chris has been a staff writer at FFToday since 2008 and he brings a strong analytical approach to his writing. One of his most impressive feature articles has been a production efficiency analysis of each position.

 

Andrew Swanson – Kramerica Sports

Andrew founded Kramerica Sports in 2010 after drawing inspiration from a Seinfeld episode (giddyup!). In addition to his writing, he also developed an innovative CPR rating system that assesses the consistency of NFL players. 

 

Q&A

 

Q1: Below is a list of the top 12 RBs (STD leagues) and their overall ADP.  Factoring in where each player is being drafted, who do you feel will be the biggest disappointment and why?

 

Adrian Peterson – (#1)Maurice Jones-Drew
Arian Foster – (#2)
Ray Rice – (#3)
Jamaal Charles – (#4)
Chris Johnson – (#5)
LeSean McCoy – (#8)
Rashard Mendenhall – (#9)
Maurice Jones-Drew – (#13)
Darren McFadden – (#14)
Michael Turner – (#16)
Frank Gore – (#19)
Steven Jackson – (#21)

 

Pat Fitzmaurice – ProFootballWeekly

Answer: Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC)

McCoy seems like a slight overreach at #8, and the 49ers’ offense is in such a state of disarray that it seems unlikely Gore will provide second-round value, BUT … Maurice Jones-Drew seems destined to be the biggest disappointment relative to his ADP. His recovery from offseason knee surgery was a slow one, and MJD has said that he found out during last year’s training camp that it was bone scraping against bone — meaning he played the season with his knee in that condition. Yikes. Then add to MJD’s knee concerns the fact that backup Rashad Jennings (now dealing with a knee injury himself, though a relatively minor one) is a very good running back. Even if Jones-Drew is completely healthy this season — which I doubt — it makes sense for the Jaguars to save wear and tear on MJD by giving Jennings a significant chunk of the workload. I’m not enthusiastic about MJD.

 

Jared Smola – Draft Sharks

Answer: Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC)

This is an easy one.  It’s Maurice Jones-Drew. I love the dude, but there’s way too much working against him this season. He’s returning from offseason knee surgery to repair a scary “bone-on-bone” condition; has a poor supporting cast around him; and has a talented backup behind him in Rashad Jennings, who will siphon more carries this season. No way I’m touching MJD in the 1st-round.

 

Keet Bailey – NFL Soup

Answer: Jamaal Charles (KC)

The biggest disappointment, and one of the more overrated players being drafted is Jamaal Charles. Charles has gone as high as #2 in many leagues that I’ve drafted in, and no lower than #5 overall. A lot of fantasy owners are confident that he will see more carries, and have an even bigger impact on their teams in 2011. But it’s hard to imagine Charles getting back to a 6.4 YPC average like in 2010. He’s an explosive runner with loads of talent that should get 20-25 touches a game, but I’m not expecting a repeat. 2010 featured a slew of poor run defenses that Charles faced, and his 2011 campaign may not be as smooth, especially during playoff weeks when he faces the Patriots, Steelers, Bears, Jets, and Packers defenses between Weeks 11 and 15.

 

Chris Eakin – FFToday

Answer: Michal Turner (ATL)

I think both Michael Turner and Steven Jackson will fall to the middle, but if I pick just one I’m going Michael Turner if only because he is less diverse than Jackson. In watching his games, he runs a little more east/west than in the past and that is not his strength. The offense is being handed over to Matt Ryan this year. They will pass more, and Turner won’t be on the field when they do.

 

Andrew Swanson – Kramerica Sports

Answer: Darren McFadden (OAK)

McFadden has the skill set to be a top five fantasy player, as his combination of speed and size is all but unmatched in the NFL. Unfortunately, he also has proven to be injury prone over the first few years of his career and cannot be counted on as a true #1 RB. In addition, Michael Bush has proven that he is a more than capable backup and will continue to be active in the offense when McFadden returns. Fantasy owners have been drafting him as a low end number one running back, yet we feel he should be viewed as more of an excellent number two.

 

 

Q2: Below is a list of the top 12 WRs (STD leagues) and their overall ADP. Factoring in where each player is being drafted, who do you feel will be the biggest disappointment and why?

 

Andre Johnson – (#7)DeSean Jackson
Calvin Johnson – (#11)
Roddy White – (#12)
Larry Fitzgerald – (#15)
Vincent Jackson – (#17)
Hakeem Nicks – (#18)
Greg Jennings – (#22)
DeSean Jackson – (#24)
Mike Wallace – (#25)
Miles Austin – (#29)
Reggie Wayne – (#31)
Dwayne Bowe – (#35)

 

Pat Fitzmaurice – ProFootballWeekly

Answer: DeSean Jackson (PHI)

All of those are pretty reasonable values. The only ones that raise my eyebrows a little are DeSean Jackson and Miles Austin. But I do like Austin, and my only concern with him is that Dez Bryant might keep his head screwed on properly and start cutting into Austin’s numbers. But the correct answer here is probably DeSean Jackson. Yes, he’s a big-play guy who might win you a game or two by himself, but he’s not especially consistent, and he’s not going to be an 80-catch guy (his career best is 62 catches). When you factor in his four punt-return TDs and three rushing TDs, he’s scored 24 TDs in three seasons. That’s 8 per year, which is good but not great, and if you set the over-under on Jackson TDs at 8 for this year, I’d play the under.

 

Jared Smola – Draft Sharks

Answer: DeSean Jackson (PHI)

DeSean Jackson is being over-valued as the 8th WR off the board. Even if he ends the season as a top-10 guy, his volatility from game-to-game makes him less valuable than his final numbers would indicate. Plus, durability is a problem. D-Jax has missed 3 games in his first 3 seasons — plus parts of a bunch more. At just 5’10 and 175 pounds, you can’t count on 16 games from him.

 

Keet Bailey – NFL Soup

Answer: Mike Wallace (PIT)

To me, the biggest disappointment among some of the top wide receivers drafted is Mike Wallace. Wallace seemed a bit more lucky than anything in 2010, especially considering a few of his touchdowns early in the season came off of tipped passes in the end zone. I fully expect one, if not both, of Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown to have a small coming out party. With teams adding help over the top for Mike Wallace, Sanders and/or Brown should be able to snake a few receptions from the speedster. It’s not unrealistic to expect a very high yards per catch average again, but I don’t see double digit touchdowns, and I’m not comfortable with Wallace as a WR1.

 

Chris Eakin – FFToday

Answer: Dwayne Bowe (KC)

Dwayne Bowe devoured some weak defenses last year in an incredible 6 week run which netted 13 TDs. TDs are more random than yards and receptions. The Chiefs will have a tougher schedule, they lost some offensive creativity with Charlie Weis bolting, and he will have more weapons to contend with in improving TE Tony Moeaki and newly acquired Steve Breaston, who is an improvement over Chris Chambers.

 

Andrew Swanson – Kramerica Sports

Answer: Dwayne Bowe (KC)

Bowe was a fantasy darling down the stretch as he delivered 5 multi-TD games on his way to 15 touchdowns in 2010. The fifth year wide receiver from LSU carried more than one fantasy team to glory last season, and he is certainly an excellent option for owners this season.

 

Fantasy players who draft Bowe should not expect another 15 TD season due to the fact that other teams will now have a greater understanding of the Chiefs offense under Todd Haley, and the Chiefs do not have the same favorable schedule they enjoyed last season. In addition, Matt Cassel has looked poor this pre-season and appears to be primed for another slow start. We recommend avoiding Bowe at his current ADP while using that pick on a second RB or top tier wide receiver, then try to acquire Bowe via trade after a second consecutive slow start.

 

 

Q3: Below is a list of the top 8 QBs (STD leagues) and their overall ADP. Factoring in where each player is being drafted, who do you feel will be the biggest disappointment and why?

 

Michael Vick – (#6)Michael Vick
Aaron Rodgers – (#10)
Tom Brady – (#20)
Philip Rivers – (#27)
Drew Brees – (#30)
Peyton Manning – (#42)
Tony Romo – (#46)
Matt Schaub – (#59)

 

Pat Fitzmaurice – ProFootballWeekly

Answer: Michael Vick (PHI)

Oh lord, it’s Vick by a mile. I think it’s lunacy to take him in the first round. He doesn’t even begin to compare with the other top quarterbacks — Rodgers, Rivers, Brady, Brees, P. Manning, Romo — in terms of passing accuracy and decision-making on his throws. Vick needs to do a lot of running to prop up his fantasy value, and the more he runs, the greater the risk of injury. With quarterbacks who are known for their running ability, their season-to-season rushing TDs tend to fluctuate wildly. Vick had 9 rushing TDs last year, but in his 16 starts with the Falcons in 2006, he had 2. In 15 starts in 2004, he had 3. And then, of course, there’s the personal stuff. He’s paid his debt to society, fine. He might even be truly reformed as a human being. But if he’s not and he slips up, Roger Goodell will come down on him hard, possibly with an indefinite suspension. Oh, and let’s also remember that Vick admitted he didn’t go all out when he was playing for the Falcons. Again, maybe Vick is completely reformed. Or maybe not. Think there’s any question that Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers or Tom Brady will go all out this season? Vick can be a one-of-a-kind weapon in fantasy football, but there’s some enormous downside here. The possibility that he turns into another Kordell Stewart shouldn’t be disregarded.

 

Jared Smola – Draft Sharks

Answer: Michael Vick (PHI)

No QB is worth the 6th-overall pick. I don’t care if it’s a Frankenstein creation with Dan Marino’s arm strength, Steve Young’s accuracy, and, well, Michael Vick’s mobility. In a standard league (start 1 QB, 4 points per passing TD), there’s just no value at QB in the 1st-round. Even if Vick repeated last year’s production — and I’d bet heavily against that — he wouldn’t be worth the 6th-overall pick.

 

Keet Bailey – NFL Soup

Answer: Michael Vick (PHI)

All of the top eight quarterbacks being drafted are loaded with talent and will be huge for their respective fantasy teams. However, I struggle to justify drafting Michael Vick in the middle (and sometimes higher) of the first round. I’m more than comfortable sacrificing 20-30 overall fantasy points per season in order to draft a quarterback a round or two later, if it means getting a top notch running back like Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, or perhaps even Ray Rice if they fall. Vick is talented, but teams will be coming for him, and it’s not going to be easy to repeat his shocking 2010 season when every team on the Eagles’ schedule is going to be head hunting him.

 

Chris Eakin – FFToday

Answer: Matt Schaub (HOU)

It’s Matt Schaub, but not because of his play. The improved defense will mean the Texans are not in as many shoot-outs or playing from behind as often where fantasy points get racked up. With the emergence of Foster and Tate at RB, this is a team that will turn the corner, play with the lead, and run the ball to hang on to it.

 

Andrew Swanson – Kramerica Sports

Answer: Michael Vick (PHI)

Vick stormed back onto the fantasy landscape in 2010 after spending two years away from football in a federal penitentiary. It has been well documented that his comeback season was one for the ages, but a closer look with our Kramerica Sports Fantasy CPR ranking shows that he was near fantasy gold last season. Vick scored an Elite CPR rating of 50% in 2010, meaning that he was a top 5 fantasy quarterback in half of the games he started. He was also a model of consistency when not on top of his game, ranking in the top 10 of fantasy quarterbacks an astounding 80% of the time.

 

Now that I have sufficiently promoted Vick to the point of demigod status, I want to explain why I think he is going to be a bust this season as the first quarterback taken overall. First off, he has never finished a full 16 game season, and his reckless abandon on the gridiron and his relative small stature make us believe he will not make it through a whole season. Second, opposing defenses have 10 full games of film from last season to use when game-planning the Eagles. Vick and Andy Reid will still be a force this season, however I don’t believe they will post numbers like last season.


 

I’d like to thank this week’s Featured Pros for stopping by to share their thoughts. Outside of the general consensus that Michael Vick is overvalued, there was a great variety in the responses this week. We’ll be keeping track of each pick to see who nailed their predictions.

 

In the meantime, be sure to follow each expert on Twitter and visit their sites to stay current with their latest updates and articles.

 

Pat Fitzmaurice – @ProFootballWkly

Jared Smola – @DraftSharks

Keet Bailey – @NFLSoupKeet

Chris Eakin – @FF_Today

Andrew Swanson – @KramericaSports

 

 

Photo Credits: #1, #2, #3