Ever look at someone’s face when they found that sleeper that pays off? It’s like the proud father watching his son hit the game-winning grand-slam – I’ve seen it a hundred times. Everyone loves talking about sleepers and who they think are the bees’ knees. But busts? Busts are like a fungus – no one wants to talk about it – especially if you got that guy high in your draft or spent a lot of money to put him in your lineup. It hurts. Everybody hurts and everybody poops, so here is some guys you might want to target for breaking your heart in the 2015 campaign.
DeMarco Murray — RB, Philadelphia Eagles
2014 was the first year of his career that Murray was able to play in all 16 regular season games, and he did not disappoint. He put up 1,845 yards on the ground, went for another 416 yards receiving and touched pay dirt 13 times. The guy was an absolute beast, and even proved he’s tough enough to battle through injury when he played through a broken hand at the end of the season. That’s the best we’re ever going to see from Murray, though. It’s all downhill from there, or is it? DeMarco was running behind the best offensive line in the NFL last season, and despite the grit he displayed, he is still injury prone. Those 392 rushing attempts and 57 receptions from last season, have to catch up to him, that’s what history tells us. The Cowboys knew this, and made the right call to let him walk. Murray’s still going to be featured in Philly, but he’s not as talented or durable as LeSean McCoy. He’s not going to fall off the face of the fantasy earth, but there’s zero chance he gives us anything close to 2014. I’d wager he plays in twelve games, and gets 1,100yds .
Arian Foster — RB, Houston Texans
Got hurt again and at best might miss the first few games, at worst the season. Foster did have a nice season in just 13 games last year (1,573 combine yards/13 total TDs), much more productive than any other top RB was able to accomplish in 16 games, but he is always hurt. His 95.8 rushing YPG were the most since his absurd breakout season in 2010, but he’s still played in just 21 games over the last two seasons. With that said, Foster will turn 29-years old in August, and it appears the miles on his legs are starting to catchup quickly. 30 is the fine line for RBs, but something tells me the downward trend has already started for Foster. Foster hasn’t given us a double digit rushing TD season since back in 2012, failing to do so in back-to-back seasons for the first time in his career (only 9 rushing TDs in the last two seasons combined). Foster is more of a RB2 this season, even if plays. That’s much worse than his current price tag indicates. The defense is on the up in Houston, but Foster is the only thing they currently have going on offense right now. That may sound nice for fantasy purposes, but if Hoyer/Mallet can’t keep the offense on the field, there’s not a lot of value.
Calvin Johnson — WR, Detroit Lions
Megatron truly peaked in 2011 and 2012, (like the movie) when he put forward seasons of 1,681 yards/16 TDs, and then 1,964 yards/5 TDs (flukey). Nonetheless, he was dominant during that stretch. Since then, he’s been on the decline — at least for him. That all came to a head last season when Johnson was only able to accumulate 1,077 yards in 13 games. Calvin’s 71 receptions in 2014 were the fewest since his down year in 2009 — not a good sign. Some of the problem is Matthew Stafford and his inconsistencies. Some is the Lion attempting to commit to running the ball more, and some of the blame goes to Johnson. The main difference between last season and the rest of his career, though, was the emergence of another legit WR — Golden Tate. Tate was a much better fantasy option than Johnson last season, and could be again this year.
Jimmy Graham — TE, Seattle Seahawks
Jimmy Graham got traded to the Seahawks! This obviously helps give the Seahawks more options in the red zone, but … it’s not good for Graham’s fantasy value. Russell Wilson really likes to spread the ball around, but he’s also never had a legitimate No. 1 option to throw to. It will be interesting to see how that works out, but I believe Wilson sticks to his old ways. Don’t get me wrong, Graham could lead Seattle in all major receiving categories, but he won’t be dominant like he was with Drew Brees in New Orleans. Keep in mind that Graham averages just over 60 YPG for his career, and only 55.6 YPG last season. He’s very TD dependent on a team that never produces big time receiving numbers. The goal is still to pound the ball with Marshawn and get Wilson out of the pocket, and how does Jimmy produce if Jimmy is always blocking? Speaking of Beast Mode, he caught the most TD passes on the team last year with four. 900 yards and nine TDs for Graham sounds about right in 2015 … good, but not great.
Peyton Manning — QB, Denver Broncos
Ah, Peyton. I believe your time has finally come. The problem is, I don’t really have any great numbers to prove it, just that his cost will not justify his lowered stats. Manning’s three seasons in Denver have been his best in terms of TD production (aside from his then record breaking 49 TDs back in 2004). Manning’s going to have a good season, but he’ll be a bust in the sense that he won’t be even CLOSE to his season averages as a Bronco of 4,954 yards and 43.6 TDs.
Manning threw 15 INTs last season, not too alarming, but still his most since 2010. The eye test just tells you that he lost a step last season, at some point that has to count. If he loses another step, he’s still going to be a good QB, but he’s not going to be Peyton Manning. He lost his top red zone target to the Jags in Julius Thomas, and it will be his first season under head coach Gary Kubiak — something we still need to see how Manning adjusts to. Combine all those aspects with father time (he always wins) and Peyton might not be the lock most feel he is to remain an elite fantasy QB. Besides, no QB has ever won a Superbowl older than 38, nor played in one.