For a deeper review of players that are either new to the scene or playing differently than expected, Double Coverage will give the respective views of John Tuvey (Start Bench List) and David Dorey (Game Predictions and Player Projections). We'll bring 47 years of combined fantasy football experience to bear and hopefully a few things to think about as you manage your fantasy team.
This week we're taking a look at the top five players what we have given up on, stuck them in the never-again box and shall refuse to utter their names again in any draft unless in laughter at someone else's pick.
1. Ryan Mathews - I'd imagine that he's topping most everyone's list because he was pimped by Norv Turner himself about being a workhorse back and last year he gained 1546 total yards and six scores including six games over 100 yards. But man - start the year with a broken collarbone, get misused and under-utilized all year and then ending with a broken collarbone to his other shoulder. He is only going to be 26 and there will be all new coaches in San Diego. But no way I am going to bite or recommend anyone else does.
2. Antonio Gates - He was already on my No-Fly list this year and at the age of 32 he is done. Just done. I would have to expect he returns next year but this year was only one decent game (6-81, 2 TDs) and otherwise he never had more than 59 yards and scored just three other times. He'll fall in drafts to be sure but never far enough.
3. Darren McFadden - Just wow. The Raiders as a team were plenty bad enough but McFadden did not think it was enough to miss four full games, he sucked in most. He only scored three times this year. He had three games over 100 yards but two of those were the Chiefs. Sorry - he looked like he lost something. He too is only going to be 26 but he's in the same backseat with Mathews.
4. LeSean McCoy - This may seem like an odd one but hear me out. Yes, he will only be 25 next year. And he had two elite-level seasons before. He missed at least four games this year and was far less effective with just two rushing scores instead of the 17 he had in 2011. But he was a perfect match in Andy Reid's system and was used as a heavy-duty back for 321 touches two seasons ago. Whatever new coach shows up is less likely to so heavily use McCoy who hasn't been able to hold up to the workload anyway. He has missed at least one game in each season. Just not going to be the guy who thinks "he just had an off year in 2012" and snaps him up first.
5. Michael Vick - Give him credit for knowing when to turn it on to get a monster paycheck. But he will be back next year at some other team - the Jets recently expressed interest. No matter where he goes, he will never be on one of my teams even as a backup. He's going to be 33 years old and his rushing declines each year. But the passing does not improve. Someone will like him next year because he'll get some hype where ever he ends up. But man - not on any of my teams.
Honorable Mentions: Fred Jackson; Michael Turner; Beanie Wells; DeAngelo Williams; Joe Flacco
1. Ryan Mathews -
No question, I was all over Mathews this preseason. Mike Tolbert was gone, Norv Turner was going to load him up with carries and catches, and he was going to set the fantasy world on fire. Um, yeah… sorry ‘bout that. Now usually I’m a forgiving person, happy to capitalize on other people’s write-offs. I made a living drafting Fred Taylor in later rounds after everyone wrote him off as Fragile Fred, but with Mathews I’m no longer willing to go there. Maybe he’s just too brittle to hold up—a season with more broken clavicles than touchdowns is a big hint—and he clearly doesn’t have Norv in his corner. Best case he starts over with a new administration next year; he’ll do so on somebody else’s team.
2. Stevan Ridley - Cooler heads may prevail here, and a bit of time may shift things around enough to get Ridley off my no-fly list. But after a season of equating having Ridley in your fantasy lineup to the process of making sausage—you don’t want to watch it happen, just enjoy the end results—I was forced to endure Ridley’s prime-time display last week; you know, where he put more balls on the ground than a clumsy sheep castrator. Yes, he got some carries later in the game but Bill Belichick doesn’t forget. Shane Vereen can’t hold onto the football either, but the upside of enduring endless stretches of Danny Woodhead stealing touches has me on the other side of the Ridley fence. For now, at least.
3. James Jones - While as a Vikings fan my fantasy teams do tend to be light on Packers, this has nothing to do with my home-town bias. As an analyst I know there will be hits and there will be misses, but nowhere did I miss more consistently all year long than in trying to identify where Green Bay’s touchdown passes were going. Jordy Nelson couldn’t score at home, Greg Jennings broke down under the weight of too many endorsements, and just about the time I started buying Randall Cobb as an every-week producer he went in the tank; meanwhile, Jones leads the NFL in touchdown receptions. Digest that for a moment; on one of the league’s better offenses, with a bevy of talented targets, the guy with the second-worst hands on the team—a guy whose contract extension was derided and who has been bandied about as a trade candidate for at least a year—has more scores than Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson combined. It’s a fluke, and I’m not paying for it in the future. Plus, he made me look bad.
4. Danario Alexander -Alexander was already on my no-fly list because I had zero faith in him staying healthy. But as a short-time plug-in, I violated my own rule and stuck him on my SOFA roster. Then he drops a bagel on my Week 15 score sheet and single-handedly knocks me out of the title game, contributing nothing but anguish to my 0.12-point semi-final loss. As Maggie tells Danny in Caddyshack, “Tanks fer nuttin’!” Alexander is back on the list, and no matter where he ends up next year he’s ticketed for someone else’s squad—no exceptions.
5. Miles Austin -
There’s no real anger involved here, just acceptance that Austin had his moment in the sun—just like Kevin Ogletree, only stretched out over most of a season—and now he’s a bit part in the Dez Bryant Show with guest appearances by Jason Witten. Even at the low price point he’ll eventually fall to Austin won’t appeal to me. And make sure you remind me I said this after that inevitable Ogletree-like game he’ll have at some point next season.
Honorable Mention: Beanie Wells (lifetime achievement award); Antonio Gates; Jay Cutler; Jermichael Finley