In the past this was a space to vent. I would wipe up the juices from oozing sores with cantankerous anger like biscuits in gravy and extol all of those 110-108 fantasy football losses, all the first round picks who were ineffective, and the disdain from waiver wire claims I never made in the form of words and sentences. This year it’s different. I kind of like fantasy football. I may win a free vacation because of Adam Theilen. I may finally get to wear the BRB sisterhood of the traveling jacket without a shirt underneath and send pictures to the masthead at 3 a.m. All the hatred is muted. Yet, I still feel sympathy for those who are miserable. I used to be that person. I was always that person. And there’s no way I won’t be that person next year.
Anyways, here are the players that murdered fantasy football teams this year. The only rule is injuries don’t factor into it. They always happen. This space is reserved for those guys you start and are always disappointed by, or were never able to actually play.
Aaron Rodgers: ADP 22.1 (1st Quarterback) Points 148.9 (10th)
The problem isn’t Rodgers has been bad this year. He hasn’t. He has still thrown for 2,2283 yards and 13 touchdowns and 1 interception. The problem is he was the first quarterback selected on average, and he’s nowhere near that. Patrick Mahomes is fantasy quarterback number one with 216.9 points, and Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan are behind him with 171 and 170, both players selected on average with picks 80.4 and 116.8.
Rodgers is still doing the same things. Making impossible quick wristed throws, rolling out and picking flowers with a lackadaisical attitude, is impervious to pass rushers, and blue eyed death staring his receivers even when he’s at fault. His one big problem has been his knee. He’s doing all the same things, but just at a slower pace. He’s gimping around. At times he’s almost too carefree forgetting that the defense can leap onto his back and obliterate him—see the Lions game. And the wide receivers aren’t here like they’ve been in the past. DaVante Adams is the only person he really connects with. Jimmy Graham has been boom or bust. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is his best deep threat. Randall Cobb doesn’t exist. But compared to the best offenses in football, this cupboard is Saturday night bare, and also, Rodgers doesn’t have the usage rate than Luck has.
Everyone has a quarterback in fantasy this year. Andy Dalton, Luck, Mitchell Trubisky, Jared Goff, and Phillip Rivers are all late round quarterbacks who have been lighting it up and can keep up with Rodgers week to week. Rodgers hasn’t been a disaster. He just hasn’t been the advantage at quarterback he was selected to be.
Honorable Mention: Russell Wilson: ADP 56.2 (4th Quarterback) Points 123.9 (17th)
Wilson is always expected to be and selected as a top fantasy quarterback. It never happens. Ignore these thoughts until the Seahawks actually invest in the offensive line for him.
David Johnson: ADP 3.3 (2nd Runningback) Points 116.1 (11th)
I picked David Johnson 1.1. It hasn’t been miserable. It’s been ok. He scores about 15 points every game. As long as you stay solipsistic and keep your brain in its vat a constant 15 points is awesome. As long as you don’t peep over the fence and see what MVP Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley are up to its heart breaking and devastating.
After being the best wide receiver and running back in football in 2016, and breaking his wrist in 2017, he’s been alright in 2018. He still looks the same. Johnson is still making galaxy traveling jump cuts, legs always pumping for extra yards, and is still catching every pass that comes his way. The problems are the offensive line is one of the worst in football, and the offense to start the year was super stupid. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was a weak man. Every pass play was short crossing routes, despite his receivers being post, go, and slant route running super demons. Johnson was stuck in the backfield always. He was pulled on the most important plays of the game for backup Chase Edmonds.
Things maybe better now that Byron Leftwich is the offensive coordinator. Johnson caught all of 4 his targets for 41 yards last week, and ran for 59 yards as well. Leftwich has an emotional bond with Josh Rosen. I’ve never seen an offensive coordinator hug his quarterback as much as Leftwich hugged Rosen last week. He’s going to do all that he can to create easy throws and take care of his big brained rookie quarterback. Hopefully it leads to more pass catching opportunities for Johnson. He needs get at least ten a game. All of this probably isn’t true. It’s just a way for me to talk myself into something I want to happen.
Derrick Henry: ADP 50.3 (19th Runningback) Points 44.5 (56th)
If you picked Henry you picked him to be your running back number two. And if you did, I bet you have played him twice only for him to pick up like four points each time. Now he just sits there. Laughing at you. Mocking you. Waiting until the dreaded collection of bye weeks forcing you to play him again. Four more points.
I’m about out on the Henry experiment. He’s an outside runner. The one thing he does well is jump runs out wide to left, stiff arm a linebacker, run through a safety, and pick up 35. The occasional flash doesn’t warrant the ineffective slog the rest is. Henry doesn’t have the speed to run through the first level and past the second level. Even when the blocking is great, he gets caught up by arms and stubs his toe on coffee table corners, and turns eight yards into four. He just isn’t fast enough. Behind the same offensive line Dion Lewis is averaging 3.8 yards a carry, Henry is averaging 3.3. On inside runs Lewis is averaging 3.55 yards a carry. Henry is averaging 2.98. Henry also only has eight pass targets and doesn’t offer much as an open field swing pass threat. In any version of the NFL he’s pretty much useless.
Rashaad Penny ADP 115.6 (39th Runningback) Points 25.7 (66th)
Penny has done absolutely nothing after being selected with the 27th pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. If you can’t get production right away there’s no point of drafting a runningback with a first round pick. It’s always a decent strategy to use later round picks to take on rookie running backs. They usually, and should, contribute right away, no one knows anything about them, and they’re young with damp legs and still haven’t been turned purple by NFL linebackers. This season it’s been Barkley, a top five pick, Kerryon Johnson, and that’s about it. The rest of the rookie runningbacks haven’t added much.
Penny is no different. Chris Carson has instead been the team’s best running back. The Seahawks would have been better off selecting any other player with this pick instead. At least Penny doesn’t drive ATVs I guess.
Honorable Mention: Le’Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook
All three are the biggest runningback murders out there. They just haven’t played. Yet, there were warning signs for all three. Bell was and still is holding out. Fournette’s ankle and hamstring were nagging him in the preseason. Cook was coming back from an ACL tear. In this reality neither of these three worked out. Additionally, each of their backups, James Conner, T.J. Yeldon, and Latavius Murray have morphed into RB2s this year. Hopefully you picked one of them up after some week one realization.
Keenan Allen: ADP 17.1 (5th Wide Receiver) Points 100.2 (27th)
I thought Allen would lead the league in receiving yards this season if he played every game. He’s 25th with 506. The Chargers are better for it too. No longer are they force feeding. Everyone is involved. The Chargers are second in pass offense DVOA and have six players with twenty or more targets. Phillip Rivers is a redfaced cartoon who ate a ghost peppers whizzing sideways spinning softballs all across the field.
The biggest problem for Allen fantasy wise is he has one touchdown. Scoring touchdowns is fun. You get to dance and celebrate on your own terms. Everyone congratulates you. I’ve never done it, but I would think it feels good. Allen’s frustrations by his lack of scoring culminated in London when he super kicked a pylon after Rivers went to the opposite sideline. Melvin Gordon has nine touchdowns. Tyrell and Mike Williams have four touchdowns each mainly on deep passes. Austin Ekeler has caught three more. There just hasn’t been much left for Allen.
Larry Fitzgerald: ADP 32.4 (11th Wide Receiver) Points 83.7 (43rd)
Fitzgerald is having a sad 2018 season. The main reason why is that he’s no longer able to play from the slot and get advantageous matchups. Before, on previous Cardinals’ teams, they’d have actual options on the outside. John Brown, J.J. Nelson, Michael Floyd, and David Johnson would line up on the outside and he’d be in the slot. He’d run slant routes, catch the ball, then run forever. Play that were diabolical after play action. This year he has Christian Kirk and that’s it. No matter where he lines up he’s getting the best the defense has to offer.
He did just catch a game winning touchdown pass. Mike McCoy is gone. After a bye week things maybe nicer for Josh Rosen. Johnson playing more wide receiver will help. Things should get better, but sometimes they just don’t.
Amari Cooper: ADP 43.8 (16th Wide Receiver) Points 56.9 (68th)
I don’t understand how you can have the physical talent and past performance Cooper has and end up with stat lines like 1 catch on 3 targets for 9 yards, and 2 catches on 5 targets for 17 yards. It’s absurd. Dallas just gave up a first round pick for him. I could totally see him becoming the next Roy Williams.
Honorable Mention: Julio Jones, Allen Robinson
Lots of yards and no touchdowns. An outside receiver with a quarterback who can’t make structured sideline throws.
Rob Gronkowski: ADP 18.8 (1st Tight End) Points 77.8 (9th)
In previous years the hipsters would take Gronk with their first pick. Every week they would double up their opponent’s tight end production and have an astronomical advantage at this position. 20 points was a guarantee. Now, after all the hits and injuries, Gronk goes quite. If he isn’t catching touchdown passes his end totals are duds. He moves like he has a refrigerator attached to his back. The speed isn’t there. It’s all out muscling.
It also seems like New England is just keeping him alive during the regular season. Just giving him enough snaps and catches to stay focused and in football shape. Dwayne Allen is their primary blocking tight end. They have a bunch of pretty o.k. receivers. It just seems like the regular season is conditioning for Gronk, but then when the playoffs roll around he’ll rip off his exoskeleton and finally start sprinting, unleashing those patented 7 catches for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns type of games.
Jimmy Graham: ADP 59 (4th Tight End) Points 71 (12th)
In 2013 and 2014 Graham caught 16 and 10 touchdowns. Last year he caught ten in Seattle. This year he has one. The man who’s supposed to be a redzone threat is once again nonexistent. Half of Rodgers’s touchdown passes have gone to DaVante Adams instead. The only times I remember seeing Graham catch passes for Green Bay is when a play breaks down and Graham is wide open along the sideline, who then scurries from there.
At this point of the season I’d bet to see a jump in touchdowns from him. At the halfway point, and at 3-3-1, this is the time for Rodgers to break out. Green Bay needs to go 6-2-0 the rest of the way to have a chance at the postseason, and for this to happen he needs to throw more than 11 touchdowns. Graham posting up defensive backs in the endzone would be a great way for this to happen.