Just as it is important to find good fantasy sleepers (RB & WR), it’s also key to keep your eyes out for potential fantasy bust candidates. Whether it’s an injury, an unexpected performance in preseason games or a coaching change, some players may initially be at the top of your drafts but in the end, they will fail to meet expectations.
Here’s a potential list for this year.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers: Kaepernick will enter his first full season as a starter and expectations are high. Does he have what it takes to play well each week? Last season over his first seven starts, he averaged only 17 for 27 with 1.43 touchdowns. Kaepernick will be challenged without wide receiver Michael Crabtree and not helping matters is the thin depth to choose from aside from Anquan Boldin.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots: Always at the top of the league, this quarterback has a lot of new weapons this year after losing his best little buddy Wes Welker and his tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronskowski. You can’t help but wonder how the chemistry is between Brady and his new weapons as well as the players getting used to the Patriots Way. It may take a while for this offense to fire on all cylinders and at the time of this writing, Brady went down in practice with a knee injury, reported ESPN.
Montee Ball, Denver Broncos: The rookie enters the season with high expectations and has performed well in training camp but there are some concerns about his blocking ability. This may not bode well for quarterback Peyton Manning, placing trust in an inexperienced player with this weakness. Ball will have to compete against Ronnie Hillman and possibly Knowshon Moreno for playing time and not helping matters is his coach, John Fox–not a fan of rookies.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: Change has come for the Raiders with Matt Flynn as its quarterback but McFadden may not be your fantasy answer. He’s always good for an injury and playing a full season hasn’t come his way yet during his NFL career. McFadden doesn’t have a lot competition from his running back teammates but his best year may have come in 2010. When he did play in 2012, he wasn’t impressive: 216 carries for 707 yards and two touchdowns.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills: New Bills coach Doug Marrone talks as Spiller will be the team’s lead running back (see the comment about carrying the ball until Spiller vomits). But in the past he’s been a “role player.” Last season, he had 207 carries for 1,244 yards (a 6.0 yard average). Fred Jackson saw his role diminish thanks to a knee injury but he is nipping on Spiller’s heels for playing time. Look for a potential change in Jackson’s carries as the season goes on.
Danny Amendola, New England Patriots: Amendola has big shoes to fill in Welker’s slot. He’s still learning the system and building chemistry with Brady. He’ll get his share of passes from the quarterback thanks to his role and the team’s depleted share of weapons but he comes to New England with only seven touchdowns in his four-year NFL career. He also tends to get the injury bug, missing 20 games in the last two seasons.
Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins: Wallace got a nice big payday from his new team and a sophomore quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, that can throw a deep ball but the two are still building a relationship. It showed in last week’s preseason game as Tannehill avoided looking in Wallace’s direction. The wide receiver didn’t produce a lot of fantasy points in 2012 and his yardage has been on the decline the last few years under an experienced Ben Roethlisberger.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears – Amid his rookie season injuries, Jeffery had 24 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns. With his new offensive-minded coach, Marc Trestman, there should more opportunities in his second year. Jeffrery will firmly sit behind the team’s leading receiver, Brandon Marshall, but Trestman likes to spread the ball around. And he has his eye on giving more of it to running back Matt Forte, possibly even catching some receptions. Jeffery should improve this year but enough to roll the dice for a solid fantasy pick.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears: Also sharing in the Trestman wealth, possibly taking receptions from Jeffery, will be Bennett. He was a solid player on the New York Giants last year (55 receptions for 626 yards and five touchdowns) but among league tight ends, he didn’t rack up a lot of fantasy points. And if his new offensive line doesn’t improve, it could be a long season for this experienced player.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: As noted by ESPN, Witten’s touchdowns have been declining since 2010 while wide receiver Dez Bryant’s has been rising. Could this continue in 2013 with the increased pressure on his quarterback, Tony Romo? There’s also a new playcaller in town with offensive coordinator Bill Callahan at the helm. The offense could look different and Witten could have less fantasy-point opportunities.