YOU'VE HEARD of the All-Madden Team, right? Well, this group is just about the opposite of that. It's a collection of players who have fantasy owners ripping their hair out because of their inconsistent play, injury woes or a penchant for defying conventional matchup wisdom. If you own Larry Johnson, Peyton Manning or LaDainian Tomlinson, you just slot them in your lineup every week and rest easy. With the following players, you hold your breath hoping they come through--or that the week you leave them on the bench isn't the week that they have a career day.
REGGIE BUSH, Saints
After Bush ran 15 times for 67 yards and caught seven passes for 52 more in his NFL debut, Yahoo! owners started him at an 84.5% clip even as his rushing average dropped to 25.8 over his next four games. Now they've finally started sitting him, waiting for his production to catch up with his hype.
November 20, 2006
TATUM BELL, Broncos
After breaking the curse of the Mike Shanahan time-share backfield and claiming the lion's share of the carries in Denver, Bell sprained both big toes, allowing backup Mike Bell to run for 136 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts in Week 8. Will the Broncos' backfield return to being a headache-inducing unknown?
BRIAN WESTBROOK, Eagles
He first lost the trust of his owners in Week 4 when he was a late scratch (94.5% of Yahoo! owners started him that week). Then over the next five weeks he turned in bad, good, good, bad, good performances. He's still one of the game's highest-scoring backs, though, and worth the aggravation.
TOM BRADY, Patriots
Normally rock-solid, Brady broke out of a seasonlong snooze with a four-touchdown field day against the Vikings in Week 8, then threw four interceptions against the Colts the following week. Expect the ups and downs to continue: He faces the Packers, Bears and Lions in the next three weeks.
MICHAEL VICK, Falcons
Just when it looked as if his passing ability had finally caught up with his considerable running talent (he threw for a total of seven touchdowns in Weeks 7 and 8), Vick had just 163 passing yards and two interceptions (with only one TD) against the quarterback-friendly Lions.
CHAD JOHNSON, Bengals
A bust for much of the season, Ocho Cinco broke out against the Chargers on Sunday with 260 receiving yards and two TDs. But owners who believe that he's his old self again, beware. Before facing the Falcons in Week 8, Johnson proclaimed, "I'm back," and he caught a touchdown pass to prove it. The following week? He had 31 receiving yards against the Ravens.
LAVERANUES COLES, Jets
With 51 receptions for 635 yards and three TDs, Coles ranks as a top 15 fantasy receiver, but almost all of his numbers have come in three big games. In his other six games he has just 276 yards and no touchdowns. In a tough head-to-head league that sort of inconsistency will drive an owner crazy.
JOEY GALLOWAY, Buccaneers
The undisputed Mr. Maddening has vexed his owners with three great games, four awful ones and one in-betweener. Of his three best efforts, one came in Week 2, after many owners--having been burned the week before--dropped him from their lineups. (His Yahoo! start rate fell from 87.3% to 56.7%.) The same thing happened in reverse in Weeks 4 and 5. With rookie Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback, Galloway is too volatile to bank on.
DESMOND CLARK, Bears
A sprained left foot and Rex Grossman's erratic right arm have made for considerable swings in Clark's production. In Week 8 he looked like the Clark from Weeks 1 and 2, catching six passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns, but he followed that with just 38 yards and no TDs against the Dolphins. He has a couple of tight end--friendly matchups with the Jets and the Lions ahead, but considering Grossman's recent play, starting Clark is rolling the dice.
MATT STOVER, Ravens
A victim of a spotty offense, Stover has one of the strangest stat lines of any kicker. In September he made 9 of 9 field goals, but in four October games he attempted just one field goal. (He made it.) Then in his first November game he hit 4 of 4 against the Bengals. He's a perfect 16 of 16 so far, but with anything but a consistent output.
A three-week stretch in October demonstrates the volatility of this unit. In Week 4 the Jags allowed 36 points and 329 yards against the Redskins. The next week they had their best outing of the year, a three-interception, six-sack shutout of the Jets. In their next game they gave up 27 points and 349 yards to the woeful Texans.
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