Monday, August 24, 2009

Sleeper Busts

As we continue to get Into The Meta in our fantasy football overwork, here are five guys that will make you seem smart on Draft Day... and sorry later. Let some other too-smart make the mistake.

5) Pierre Garcon, WR, Indianapolis. Why, he's sure to inherit all of the juicy goodness that Anthony Gonzalez, Dwight Clark and Brandon Stokely has provided over the years as Peyton Manning's slot security blanket. Except that (a) Clark's still here, (b) Gonzo was a nightmare of week to week inconsistency last year, and (c) Stokely's big year in the slot was a Drew Bennett-esque fluke.

The plain and ugly fact is that as good as Peyton Manning is, Indy's opponents take the air out of the football too much for the #3 WR to actually be valuable outside of very, very deep leagues. Clark, Gonzo and Reggie Wayne will add up to 3,000 yards, which means just 1,000 for the backs and spare wideouts. Garcon might be a player, but short of a injury cascade, he won't deliver more than 400 yards this year.

4) Danny Ware, RB, NY Giants. Running behind the best O-line in football has its advantages, and after The Plaxico Experience, I get why people don't think much of Jailbird Ahmad Bradshaw's long-term NY employment. Unfortunately, the Giants have a lot of patience for bad guys that are still OK to walk the street, and Bradshaw is just (a lot) better than Ware. There's also the fact that the team's continuing efforts to hide Eli Manning's mediocrity will mean more Brandon Jacobs, not less. Try this again in 2010, or if Jacobs explodes. Until then, pass.

3) Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle. Everyone's candidate for Two Years Ago numbers, despite the fact that bodyguard tackle Walter Jones might be done, the WRs - including TJ Houshmanzadeh - won't beat you deep, he's got a back issue that could make him shut it down on any given play, and the next defense that makes Julius Jones and TJ Duckett their focus will be the first. He might deliver anyway, as the division is terrible and he knows the throws in his sleep, but I'll be rolling the dice elsewhere. For every comeback QB, there's another stay away, and he's looking more like Mark Bulger than Kurt Warner.

2) Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore. Didn't we see this movie -- you know, the one where the promising undersized scatback saves the world from watching Willis McGahee -- last year in preseason? Even if the smurf holds up to the pounding (he won't), they will give the goal-line touches to Man-Beast LeRon McClain, who is going to be extra-effective from the raw coursing hate of having to be the new Lorenzo Neal in the Carrion offense.

Add it up, and you've got a guy with periodic breakouts, none of which will happen in your active lineup, that you are going to pay too much for. As a very late entry, he's got value, but if he's more than your bench guy in a 12-team league, you're going to need some breaks.

1) Felix Jones, RB, Dallas. It doesn't take genius scouting to see the talent here; the man might be the fastest non-star back in the NFC, and his value per touch was off the charts before getting hurt last year. But along with all of that obvious goodness are a few huge problems. The first of which is that he's useless in blitz pick-ups, which means he won't be on the field enough. The second is that he's going to be returning kicks, which usually doesn't help anyone in fantasy. The third is that the other two backs - a healthy Marion Barber and a do-everything Tashard choice - are just going to be on the field more.

And the final point is that all of this is assuming he's actually going to stay healthy. So unless your league is crazy deep, or you see Choice and/or Barber go down, stay away. Five touches a game is not ownable in a starting lineup, no matter how exciting they are.

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