Patrick Daugherty

Football Daily Dose

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Thanksgiving Turkeys

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The game may be called “fantasy,” but the pain can be embarrassingly real.

No, we have no control over what happens on the field, but as anyone hardcore enough to be reading about fantasy football on Thanksgiving morning knows, it’s an intensely personal experience.

Every year we get “screwed,” “saved” or (your expletive of choice here) by any number of “our” players.

We remember those who hurt us the most, however. If you drafted Dwayne Bowe in 2009, there was literally no way you were going to take him in 2010. That, of course, means you missed out on 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns, but good riddance anyway.

As usual, there is no shortage of players killing fantasy hopes and dreams this season. So to celebrate the holiday and engage in some group therapy, let’s count down fantasy football’s “Turkeys of the Year."   

(Writer’s note: I’m aware this is an amazingly uncreative idea, and that nearly every website on the planet will be running some sort of similar feature today.)

10. Beanie Wells  
ADP: 68.2
Drafted between: Chad Ochocinco and Ryan Grant
Average points this season: 11.8 (18th among RBs)
What’s made him a turkey: Injuries. After averaging 5.4 yards on his first 59 carries and 107 yards per game through Week 4, Beanie has seen both his burst and power sapped by hamstring and knee ailments. Considered a high-end RB2 at the season’s quarter pole, he’s been a high-end pain ever since.   
Rest of season forecast: Better than most on this list. Respected Cardinals beat writer Kent Somers recently opined that Wells appeared to be regaining some of his explosiveness, and could be poised for a breakout game. Wells has an excellent matchup in the Rams this week ahead of two very tough games against Dallas and San Francisco.
Verdict: Hold fast, but don’t expect a return to his Weeks 1-4 numbers.    

9. Santonio Holmes  
ADP: 57.6
Drafted between: Stevie Johnson and Vernon Davis
Average points this season: 7.1 (37th among WRs)
What’s made him a turkey: Holmes’ struggles are perhaps the easiest to explain on this list: Mark Sanchez. As New York’s “Sanchize” quarterback has regressed, Holmes has seen one of his peak years go to waste. He’s still one of the most physically gifted receivers in the game, but can’t put his skills on display since his quarterback can’t get him the ball.   
Rest of season forecast: Considering Sanchez is coming off perhaps his two worst starts of the season, not good.
Verdict: Continue to dutifully plug Holmes in as your WR3, but stop expecting WR2 numbers.

8. Michael Vick
ADP: 12.4
Drafted between: Andre Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew
Average points this season: 23.0 (sixth among QBs)
What’s made him a turkey: Vick’s 2011 averages — 243.7 passing yards and 59.4 rushing yards — are almost identical to his 2010 numbers. The problem is, his turnovers per game have skyrocketed (1.5 compared to 0.75) while his touchdowns have plummeted (1.2 to 2.5).  
Rest of season forecast: Uncertain. Vick is poised to miss his second consecutive game, while one more loss will douse the Eagles’ faint playoff hopes. When that happens, there will no longer be any need to rush Vick back.  
Verdict: Stand pat, but be ready to believe in Vince Young.   

7. Peyton Manning
ADP: 33.9
Drafted between: Dwayne Bowe and Miles Austin
Average points this season: 0.00
What’s made him a turkey: In fairness, this one is more on those who drafted Manning, but there’s still a special sort of cruelty to being a third-round pick and then never even playing a snap.
Rest of season forecast: Manning could see some late-season action in “controlled situations,” but is more likely to be named the next head coach at Ole Miss than make a fantasy impact.
Verdict: Wait ‘til 2012.  

6. Chad Ochocinco
ADP: 65.9
Drafted between: BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Beanie Wells
Average points this season: 2.0 (117th among WRs)
What’s made him a turkey: Ocho’s one of the more curious cases on this list. Yes, he’s 33 years old, but he’s also coming off a typically solid 67-catch, 831-yard season. There’s no way his physical skills have declined as much as the numbers (11 catches, 201 yards, zero touchdowns) would suggest. More than anything, the Pats seem unwilling to let Ocho be Ocho, and it’s obviously affected his game.
Rest of season forecast: More of the same. Despite recent glowing practice reviews, Ocho’s numbers have barely improved. As the weather continues to cool and Rob Gronkowski continues to heat up, there shouldn’t be a thaw to Ocho’s struggles.
Verdict: Quarantine to the waiver wire.

5. Marcedes Lewis
ADP: 88.9
Drafted between: Reggie Bush and Sam Bradford
Average points this season: 2.6 (38th among TEs)
What’s made him a turkey: Coming off an absurd 10-touchdown campaign, the expectations for Lewis’ 2011 were unreasonably high. While a touchdown regression should have been expected, however, there was little reason to believe Lewis would fall completely off the map in every other category. But that’s what he’s done thanks in large part to one of the worst quarterback seasons in modern history from rookie Blaine Gabbert.  
Rest of season forecast: Dour. Gabbert has made startlingly little progress as the year has worn on, and done nothing to suggest he’s in line for a strong finish.
Verdict: Unlike a deep-friend Turkey, Lewis won't explode down the stretch.  

4. Felix Jones
ADP: 40.7
Drafted between: Ryan Mathews and Knowshon Moreno
Average points this season: 7.4 (38th among RBs)
What’s made him a turkey: Felix being Felix. Injuries and an inability to grind out tough yards have made Jones one of this season’s biggest busts, but that was also the case in 2010. Instead of seizing control of the Cowboys backfield in the absence of Marion Barber, Jones has instead followed his M.O. while being soundly out-played by rookie DeMarco Murray.
Rest of season forecast: Can you say PPR specialist? What limited contributions Jones does make should come on third down. That translates to catches, not yards and touchdowns.
Verdict: Silently sob as you decide between flexing Jones and Jackie Battle.

3. Peyton Hillis
ADP: 24.6
Drafted between: Philip Rivers and LeGarrette Blount
Average points this season: 10.6 (26th among RBs)
What’s made him a turkey: Pride comes before the fall. Apparently of the mind he deserved to be paid like an elite player after inexplicably landing on the cover of Madden, Hillis sulked around before letting a case of strep throat hold him out in Week 3. The rest is history — or karma — as he’s rushed for just 60 yards on 16 carries while being sidelined with a mysterious hamstring injury.
Rest of season forecast: Poor to poorer. Hillis is supposedly still on track to return this year, but when he does, he’ll have to contend with Chris Ogbonnaya and Montario Hardesty for carries. He’s unlikely to be an asset during the fantasy playoffs.
Verdict: Quit on Hillis like he did on his team.

2. Mike Shanahan
What’s made him a turkey: See John Beck, Rex Grossman, Ryan Torain and Tashard Choice for starters.
Rest of season forecast: Shanahan is more likely to start himself at running back before making the right call in his backfield.
Verdict: Shanahan is fired on January 2, giving him more time to work on his tan this offseason.

1. Chris Johnson
ADP: 6.7
Drafted between: Ray Rice and Aaron Rodgers
Average points this season: 9.1 (31st among RBs)
What’s made him a turkey: One of the biggest worries any time a player signs a long-term contract is that he’ll lose his motivation. Rarely, if ever, does this actually happen. That is, not until the Titans caved and gave Johnson $30 million guaranteed in September. What’s followed is some of the lamest, most gutless football the NFL has ever seen. You can never know for sure what’s in another man’s heart, but with CJ2K it appears to be cowardice. He refuses to hit holes in favor of dancing around, and goes down on first contract more than any other player in the league.   
Rest of season forecast: Johnson ended any reasonable hope for a late-season surge with his pathetic 12-carry, 13-yard performance against the Falcons on Sunday. He’s finally in real danger of losing serious playing time to Javon Ringer.
Verdict: Cut him on principle (not really, but still).

James Starks (knee) will be a game-time decision this afternoon. Even if he plays, you should be able to do better for Week 12. … With Fred Jackson’s stunning placement on injured reserve yesterday, C.J. Spiller is now the feature back in Buffalo. Johnny White is a better bet than Tashard Choice to emerge as the Bills’ new short-yardage specialist. … Add “knee” to the list of things to bother Ryan Mathews this season. His Week 12 arrow is pointing downward. … Michael Vick (ribs) missed practice Wednesday, and is facing long odds to be under center against the Patriots. Teammate DeSean Jackson (foot) is expected to give it a go. … Julio Jones (hamstring) missed Falcons practice, but is expected to return this afternoon. What he’s able to do should go a long way toward determining his Week 12 status. … Santana Moss (hand) practiced in full and declared himself ready for Sunday. Barring a setback, he will be. … Denarius Moore (foot) was spotted in a protective boot at Raiders practice, and will be very questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bears if he sits out again this afternoon. … Matt Hasselbeck (elbow, arm) practiced, and is in no danger of sitting out against the Bucs.  

Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
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