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Fantasy Football: Don't change strategy with playoffs starting
0:45 | Fantasy
Fantasy Football: Don't change strategy with playoffs starting
Tuesday December 8th, 2015

The majority of standard fantasy leagues wrapped up their regular seasons in Week 13. With that, it’s time to take a look at the worst fantasy busts of 2015, the players who relegated countless owners to the consolation ladder instead of the playoff bracket.

To reveal the year’s most disappointing fantasy players, I’m going to construct a standard lineup for the 2015 All-Bust team, the guys who underperformed their Yahoo projections the most through Week 13. PointAfter visualizations illustrate the players with the largest gaps between projected Yahoo! point totals and their actual output each week.

If you were unlucky enough to draft several of these players, you’re almost surely done with fantasy football until 2016. You might have even clinched last place. Don’t worry—there’s always next year.

QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos

Projected weekly average score: 18.3

Actual weekly average (position rank): 11.7 (39th)

It’s always sad to witness a legend reach the end of his career. It’s even more heart-wrenching if he’s on your fantasy team.

Though I usually abstain from including injured players on my weekly All-Bust recaps, there’s really no other choice for the quarterback slot on this team. Manning had clinched that designation long before it was revealed plantar fasciitis would likely end his season after 10 weeks of excruciating play.

Despite starting just nine games, Manning threw more interceptions (17) than he did in all but three full regular seasons. And while his interception rate skyrocketed to a career-high 5.3%, his touchdown rate plummeted to a career-worst 2.8%.

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RB1: Eddie Lacy, Packers

Projected weekly average: 13.0

Actual weekly average: 7.2 (43rd)

It seems like ages ago, but Eddie Lacy was once a consensus top-five fantasy back going into this season. The expectation was for Green Bay to lean a bit more on Lacy after Jordy Nelson tore his ACL during the preseason.

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Instead, Aaron Rodgers is on pace to set a career high in passing attempts, and Lacy is making a case to be the next Trent Richardson. There seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel after Lacy posted back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11 and 12, but all the goodwill vanished when he missed curfew last week and was limited to four yards on five carries against Detroit.

Even before that mishap, Lacy had been seeing less and less work out of the backfield and was forced into a virtual timeshare with James Starks. Lacy has 127 carries to Starks’s 117, and his status as the lead back in Green Bay going forward is very much in doubt.

RB2: Justin Forsett, Ravens

Projected weekly average: 13.3

Actual weekly average: 9.1 (34th)

Forsett’s season ended a couple weeks ago due to a broken arm, and injuries normally excuse a player from the All-Bust team. But Forsett lasted 11 weeks into the 2015 campaign and underperformed his weekly projections by an average of 4.2 points per week.

Forsett was expected to be a borderline RB1/RB2 in standard leagues but performed like an unreliable flex option. That drop was mostly caused by Baltimore’s inability to punch the ball into the end zone amidst another frustrating season from Joe Flacco. Forsett averaged a decent 4.1 yards per carry but only totaled two touchdowns in 10 games and tallied 20 carries just twice, as the Ravens were often playing from behind.

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WR1: Randall Cobb, Packers

Projected weekly average: 11.4

Actual weekly average: 9.1 (31st)

It’s pretty amazing Green Bay is 8–4 and on top of the NFC North despite enduring wildly underachieving campaigns from both Lacy and Randall Cobb thus far. Many predicted Cobb would justify his new four-year, $40 million deal by stepping into Nelson’s No. 1 WR role this season, and Yahoo! projected him as the No. 8 wideout on its big board.

The 5'10" Cobb hasn’t adjusted well to the extra attention now paid to him by defenses, however. He has caught a career-worst 61.9% of his targets (his previous worst was 67.4%) and is averaging a career-low 11.5 yards per catch.

It looks like the Packers won’t have a 1,000-yard receiver for the first time since 2012 and only the second time since 2003. Aaron Rodgers is clearly missing his favorite target.

WR2: Demaryius Thomas, Broncos

Projected weekly average: 11.7

Actual weekly average: 9.4 (27th)

The fall of Manning has undoubtedly affected Thomas, who was projected by Yahoo! as the league’s No. 4 WR before the season.

After hauling in double-digit touchdowns over each of the last three seasons, Thomas has just three scores so far and is averaging a career-low 12.5 yards per reception.

The 27-year-old probably peaked during the heyday of Manning’s Denver tenure and may never again approach the gaudy 111 catches for 1,619 yards and 11 touchdowns he posted last year, barring a change of scenery.

TE: Jordan Cameron, Dolphins

Projected weekly average: 6.0

Actual weekly average: 3.6 (38th)

For years, Jordan Cameron languished in Cleveland. held back by the Browns’ subpar quarterback play. His 2013 campaign (80 catches, 917 yards, seven touchdowns) and whopping 17.7 yards per catch average last season hinted there was a ton of fantasy goodness waiting to be unleashed once Cameron escaped the downtrodden Browns franchise.

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Matching up Cameron with breakout candidate Ryan Tannehill seemed like a match made in heaven, and Yahoo! ranked Cameron as the No. 7 tight end in the preseason.

Fast forward 13 weeks, and Cameron has yet to post a double-digit fantasy performance. He’s struggled to stand out in a Dolphins offense that features plenty of decent targets but no obvious No. 2 option to complement Jarvis Landry.

Flex: Melvin Gordon, Chargers

Projected weekly average: 7.9

Actual weekly average: 5.4 (61st)

Gordon’s rookie campaign has been nothing short of disastrous. The Chargers have stuck with the first-round pick and seem desperate to get him going, handing him a healthy 12.9 carries per game. Gordon has yet to score a touchdown or record a 100-yard game, however, and has long been overtaken by Danny Woodhead as San Diego’s most reliable tailback from a fantasy standpoint.

Gordon has averaged fewer fantasy points per game than Dexter McCluster, Bilal Powell and Javorious Allen, who’s been a starter for all of two weeks. 

D/ST: Buffalo Bills

Projected weekly average: 7.4

Actual weekly average: 6.4 (23rd)

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The Bills have technically scored closer to their projections than the Chargers and 49ers, but both of those teams were expected to field bottom-10 defenses. Buffalo was projected by Yahoo! as the No. 2 D/ST during the preseason, as Rex Ryan’s high-pressure scheme was supposed to generate a ton of turnovers.

That rosy outlook hasn’t exactly panned out. The Bills have only forced 18 turnovers through 12 games, have yet to record three sacks in a game and are averaging just 1.5 takedowns per contest.

Kicker: Andrew Franks, Dolphins

Projected weekly average: 8.1

Actual weekly average: 4.7 (38th)

Andrew Franks didn’t come into 2015 with much fanfare as an undrafted rookie out of Division-III Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, so it’s a bit unfair to cast him as a bust.

But it’s impossible to ignore just how unproductive Franks has been this year (8 of 10 on field goals, 26 of 29 on extra points) when the rest of the kicking landscape has mostly played out as expected—nine of Yahoo!’s top 10 projected kickers from the preseason still rank in the top 10, and the lone exception is the injured Nick Folk.

More from Will Laws:

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Re-picking the 2005 NBA Draft

The Most Overpaid NFL Players at Each Position

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