Every year there are a handful of players that fall completely off the edge of the cliff and are never to be trusted again in fantasy football. Whether it’s due to old age, diminishing skills, or both, it’s going to happen. Last season, we saw it with Michael Turner. Now, he’s on the street and hasn’t generated as much as a sniff from the other 31 clubs. Attentive and knowledgeable fantasy owners keep player age in mind when prepping for drafts. Here are 11 players whose brightest days are in the past.
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Chargers QB Philip Rivers: Entering his age-32 season, Rivers’ numbers have plummeted the past two seasons. His arm strength isn’t what it used to be – not that he ever had a “plus” arm – and he can’t move at all. He’s a sitting duck behind San Diego’s porous offensive line. Rivers’ YPA average has dropped a full two yards since 2010. We wouldn’t expect it to climb back up in the Chargers’ new quick-hitting passing attack, especially after losing his top playmaker on the outside in Danario Alexander (torn ACL). Rivers isn’t worth owning in standard 12-team leagues as a middling QB2 with a low ceiling. 2013 Preseason Stats: 20-of-33 (60.6 percent) for 166 yards (5.0 YPA) and two interceptions
Texans QB Matt Schaub: Like Rivers, Schaub is also entering his age-32 season. The former Virginia Cavalier has been showing obvious signs of decline in recent years. His 7.4 YPA average last season was the lowest it’s ever been since joining the Texans in 2007, and Schaub threw just four touchdowns over his final six games in 2012. Schaub finally has a legitimate No. 2 receiver opposite Andre Johnson to throw the ball to in DeAndre Hopkins, but the Texans are a run-first team. It’s hard to make a case for Schaub as a top-15 fantasy quarterback. There are better options in the late rounds of drafts. 2013 Preseason Stats: 28-of-42 (66.7 percent) for 339 yards (8.07 YPA) and one touchdown
Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams: Williams had a lackluster 2012 season up until the Week 17 finale versus a historically-bad Saints defense, and his 2013 preseason has been nothing short of dismal. He’s already 30 years old, and that’s when running backs start hitting the skids. He’s clearly lost multiple steps, and the Panthers have one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Though Williams is set up to carry the majority of the load in the Carolina backfield because of Jonathan Stewart’s ongoing battle with his ankles, it’s hard to make a case for Williams as anything more than a weekly flex play. 2013 Preseason Stats: 21 carries for 51 yards (2.4 YPC) – one catch for three yards
Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: The “Law Firm” set career-highs in carries (278) and rushing yards (1,094) last season, but his 3.9 YPC average is nothing to write home about. He’s a plodding, downhill runner with no bounce in his step. On top of that, Green-Ellis isn’t a threat in the passing game. BJGE is entering his age-28 campaign, and the Bengals realized after one season that he’s not suited to be a bell-cow back. Second-round running back Giovani Bernard will split the load with Green-Ellis initially, but it’s not far-fetched to think the rookie could run away with the majority of the work by midseason. Green-Ellis will likely still see his fair share of short-yardage and goal-line work, but he’s not a start-able player. 2013 Preseason Stats: eight carries for 19 yards (2.38 YPC) – zero catches
Bills RB Fred Jackson: Jackson’s 5.5 YPC average in 2011 seems like the most distant of memories. The 32-year-old is coming off a career-worst season in which he battled two separate knee sprains. Jackson hasn’t looked spry in any sense of the word this preseason, and he’s now strictly a backup in new coach Doug Marrone’s offense. C.J. Spiller has been handling goal-line looks, unlike his usage under old boss Chan Gailey, so Jackson has minimal upside as a stash. He’s not worth owning in standard 12-team leagues unless Spiller suffers an injury. 2013 Preseason Stats: 16 carries for 49 yards (3.1 YPC) – three catches for 12 yards
Colts WR Reggie Wayne: Wayne has been called “over the hill” before, and he shoved it back in our faces last year by catching the fifth-most passes (106) among NFL receivers. He’s now entering his age-34 season. Wayne is trying to learn a new offense, and second-year quarterback Andrew Luck has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. OC Pep Hamilton likes to get his backs and tight ends involved in the passing game, unlike 2012 play caller Bruce Arians. There’s just no way Wayne sees the 195 targets he saw last season again this season. We wouldn’t expect him to reel in much more than 85 balls in the new West Coast offense. Wayne is a low-upside WR2, which is fine. 2013 Preseason Stats: 11 catches for 121 yards (11.0 YPC) and one touchdown
Vikings WR Greg Jennings: Jennings will turn 30 next month, and he’s joining one of the worst passing offenses in the league after playing in arguably the top aerial attack in Green Bay. He’s going to play Percy Harvin’s old flanker spot, working as the No. 1 receiver, but will move inside to the slot on obvious passing downs. Jennings is going to see his fair share of targets from noodle-armed Christian Ponder, but there are younger players in his positional tier with significantly more upside. Jennings isn’t going to approach 1,000 yards or much more than a handful of touchdowns. He’s a back-end WR3. 2013 Preseason Stats: three catches for 29 yards (9.7 YPR)
Chargers WR Malcom Floyd: Following Danario Alexander’s season-ending ACL tear, Floyd has an every-down receiver role locked up. However, he suffered a knee scare of his own earlier this month and quite possibly might be starting to break down at the age of 32. Floyd’s trying to learn a new offense that asks him to run more than just deep routes. Our money is on young, but polished route runner Vincent Brown leading the Chargers in targets. Treat Floyd as a borderline WR4/5. He’s lost a step. 2013 Preseason Stats: one catch for one yard
Chiefs WR Donnie Avery: Avery is locked into the No. 2 receiver spot opposite Dwayne Bowe following the trade of Jon Baldwin, but his biggest asset (deep speed) will likely go to waste playing in an offense quarterbacked by Alex Smith. He’s no higher than the third option in the passing game. Signed to a three-year deal in the offseason, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he flames out after just one season. Avery has injury red flags and is also prone to dropped passes. He resurrected his career with Andrew Luck in 2012, but that will likely be the best season he ever puts together. Avery turned 29 in June, and receivers that rely solely on speed don’t last into their thirties. He’s a low-upside WR5. 2013 Preseason Stats: seven catches for 60 yards (8.6 YPR)
Lions WR Nate Burleson: Burleson, 32, is the Lions’ best option to start opposite Calvin Johnson. They simply don’t have anyone else. Burleson has been struggling to separate this summer coming off last year’s broken leg, and he’s had a disappointing preseason. He plays in maybe the pass-happiest attack in the league, but is a poor bet to top 50 catches. Burleson is off the fantasy radar. 2013 Preseason Stats: one catch for six yards
Texans TE Owen Daniels: Daniels has been the No. 2 option behind Andre Johnson in the Texans’ passing attack for the past few years, but there’s been a changing of the guard. First-round rookie DeAndre Hopkins is ready to take over that role. Daniels looked slow last season, and he’s merely a chain-mover as he closes in on his 31st birthday. He’s no longer on the TE1 radar. The Texans like backup tight ends Garrett Graham and Ryan Griffin an awful lot. 2013 Preseason Stats: six catches for 73 yards (12.2 YPR) and one touchdown