Friday, October 5, 2012

Fantasy Meets Reality

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson had fantasy owners miffed before his breakout game in Week 4
With 4 weeks of the NFL season in the books, fantasy football players have experienced a mixed bag of surprises, disappointments and unpredictable replacement refs. Some players like RB Arian Foster and WR Roddy White have performed as expected. While others like those listed below have turned high fantasy expectations into just plain fantasy.

Chris Johnson
The Tennessee Titans running back finally looked like CJ2K in Week 4 with 141 rushing yards and 16 receiving. Prior to that though, Johnson's performance was woefully inept. Through the first 3 weeks, he had 33 carries for 45 yards and no touchdowns. Though his Week 4 performance gives his fantasy owners hope, many are still wondering which performance is the real CJ.

Marques Colston
The New Orleans Saints wide receiver was another fantasy bust until Week 4, when he posted 153 yards and 1 TD. But it's no wonder that some fantasy owners may have benched him after less than stellar performances in Weeks 1, 2 and 3 -- 71, 49, and 40 yards respectively.

Antonio Gates
The San Diego Chargers tight end missed Week 2 due to injury, but his low fantasy production has his owners hurting too. Weeks 1, 3 and 4 -- 43, 22, and  59 yards respectively. Gates also hasn't posted a touchdown and fantasy owners are anxiously awaiting developments.

Dez Bryant
Another fantasy letdown prior to Week 4, the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver posted 85, 17, and 62 yards in Weeks 1, 2 and 3, respectively. His Week 4 performance of 105 yards and a 2 pt conversion netted some relief for any owner who had enough faith to still have him in their starting lineup.

Greg Jennings
Perhaps it's not surprising that this Green Bay Packers wide receiver has posted low fantasy numbers since quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a multitude of weapons at wideout. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Donald Driver are all on the reception-by-committee roll, not to mention their new focus on running the ball more with back Cedric Benson. Throw tight end Jermichael Finley in the mix and we may see these types of numbers continue for Jennings. Weeks 1, 3, and 4 -- 34, 35, 9 yds/1 TD, respectively (Jennings was out Week 2 due to injury).

Michael Crabtree
As the #1 depth chart wide receiver for one of the best teams in football, fantasy owners were hoping for more production out of the San Francisco 49ers wideout. Yet through 4 games, his numbers are dismal and he has yet to score a touchdown Weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 -- 76, 67, 40, and 15 yards, respectively.

Greg Little
Some fantasy gurus touted 2012 to be a breakout season for this Cleveland Browns wide receiver, but through 4 games with just one touchdown and minimum yardage, he has not lived up to that potential. Weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 -- 0, 57 , 17 and 77 yards, respectively. He's also been battling a case of the "drops" throughout the first 4 games.

Mark Ingram
Another player many thought would have a breakout season, this New Orleans Saints running back has posted one fantasy point in 3 of 4 games. Yes, 1 fantasy point, and with the exception of Week 2 (11 pts), that is the dismal number staring back at you on your fantasy roster if you rolled the dice and started Ingram.*

Steelers Defense
Actually the Steelers rank 5th in overall defense, but in most of the categories that concern fantasy owners, they rank near the bottom. In takeaways like interceptions (1), forced fumbles (1), fumbles recovered (2), and points allowed (25.7), the Steelers have not been the vaunted defense we're accustomed to. Through 3 weeks of action, they have allowed 334, 219, and 321 yards to opposing teams, netting their defense 4, 8 and 2 fantasy points.* (Stats for Games 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Week 4 was a bye week).  Fantasy owners hope the return of James Harrison and Troy Polamalu this week will give the Steelers defense a boost.

A few other fantasy studs from 2011 who had fantasy owners nervous until breakout games in Weeks 3 and/or 4 were Cowboys TE Jason Witten, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Bears WR Brandon Marshall, and the Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles. It's still too early in the season to write off any of the above players, but the next quarter of play should give a clear indication whether they will be a boon or bust for your fantasy rosters.

*fantasy stats based on default scoring in a standard league on
Photo credit: Antonio Dixon

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