Potential Fantasy Football Busts for 2003

Every year there is a player that you spend a high draft pick with high hopes and instead he completely falls apart and costs you the season. Last year it was Kurt Warner and Anthony Thomas. This week, I will identify potential disappointments and why you might want to avoid them in favor of someone else. Avoiding fantasy busts can help you avert disaster while the other guy is wondering what happened to their team. E-mail me your questions for the Freebie Q&A at bills_report@yahoo.com.

Buffalo BillsJosh Reed, WR – This second year WR has a lot of pressure in replacing Peerless Price. Fortunately, he's not the #1 WR. He will be the #2 WR so the cornerbacks that he will be facing will be of a higher quality than before. He's still a young guy and hasn't done anything on the field yet as the #2. While he may not be a complete bust, he's getting chosen over some WR's that are more established than he is and could disappoint owners if they take too big of a risk on him.
Miami DolphinsChris Chambers, WR – Going into his 3rd year, the guy makes me nervous. He doesn't play in an offense that exactly promotes the WR's and drops a lot of balls for the #1 guy. He's still getting drafted pretty late in fantasy drafts which is good, but don't depend on him as your #3 WR. He might not be the best WR in Miami by the end of the year and it's still the Ricky show down there.
New England PatriotsTom Brady, QB – Yes, he did lead the league last year in TD passes, but 13 of them came in the first 5 games throwing 15 more in the remaining 11 games. That's a big drop-off throughout the season. The RB situation is still unsettled there and the O-line hasn't gotten any better which means teams will expect the pass. He should be a serviceable #2 QB, but don't depend on him as your starter.
New York JetsCurtis Conway, WR – Last year, Conway was off to a career year for San Diego before he got injured. That seems to be the story with Conway every year though. This year, he'll be expected to be the main guy for the Jets, replacing Laverneous Coles. He won't have, however, a gamebreaker like Ladanian Tomlinson to keep defenses honest either. Curtis Martin is a good RB, but injuries seem to creep up on him every year. There are just too many questions about the Jets to warrant Conway being selected as a #2 WR.
Baltimore Ravens Travis Taylor, WR – This is his make or break year in Baltimore possibly. A former first round pick, he hasn't lived up to expectations. The Ravens have brought in Frank Sanders and Marcus Robinson into the fold and Taylor may find himself as the odd man out sooner rather than later.
Cincinnati BengalsPeter Warrick, WR – With the emergence of Chad Johnson and the drafting of Kelley Washington, Warrick won't be the best option for Cincy. The team is still pretty weak and Jon Kitna is just too undependable to expect good things from both Johnson and Warrick.
Cleveland BrownsKevin Johnson, WR – Johnson is getting paid as the #1 WR, but it remains to be seen if he's still the man there anymore. The WR corps is very deep and talented with Quincy Morgan, Andre Davis, and Dennis Northcutt in addition to Johnson to really depend on Johnson as a legitimate fantasy option. That coupled with the QB battle between Couch and Holcombe, Johnson may find himself sliding down the depth chart there.
Pittsburgh SteelersHines Ward, WR – Ward had a great year last year with 112 catches, 1329 yards and 12 TD's. The thing that I find rather disturbing is that only once did Ward have over 100 yards receiving last year when Tommy Maddox was the QB for the whole game. In fact, half his TD's came when Kordell Stewart was the QB. It's fairly obvious that Plaxico Burress is the favorite target of Maddox. Last year might just have been a sign of things to come. Ward will have a good year again, but don't expect the same numbers this year.
Houston TexansStacey Mack, RB – The Texans signed him for Jacksonville to be the #1 guy and hopefully take some pressure off of David Carr. This is still the same offensive line though, and with the retirement of Tony Boselli, Mack may have a hard time finding holes to run though. Mack was always a good goal line option for the Jaguars and was an adequate replacement for Fred Taylor when he was injured, but its unknown whether or not Mack can stand up to being the main man in Houston.
Indianapolis ColtsMarcus Pollard, TE – After Shockey, Gonzalez, and Heap, Pollard is in the next cream of TE's with Bubba Franks. The Colts drafted Dallas Clark this year, however, for the 2 TE sets and he may take plenty of looks away from Pollard. If Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley can be legitimate WR threats opposite Harrison and if Edgerrin James stays healthy, Pollard will find himself with fewer and fewer looks as the season goes on. He still might be a decent #1 TE for you, but not the way he once was.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Fred Taylor, RB – He finally had a healthy year last year and played pretty well. The guy is always an injury risk though and has already sat out a preseason game to nurse an injury. Beware his injury bug. Two years ago, he suffered an injury that at first put him on the shelf for 3 weeks. That injury ended up lasting the entire season. Draft guys that are less of an injury risk than he is, and if you do draft Taylor make sure to get a capable #3 RB and LaBrandon Toefield to boot.
Tennesee TitansDerrick Mason, WR – Another injury risk, this player always seems to be hurt. He's a good WR, but not stellar so don't expect him to be your #1 or #2. If Drew Bennett doesn't establish himself as a consistent #2 threat, then Mason could be seeing a lot more double teams.
Denver BroncosRod Smith, WR – A year ago, he was a great option for a #1 WR and would be picked up soon after the top WR's were gone. There are a lot of things working against him though. He's 33, it's a mystery whether Jake Plummer can stay consistent, and Ashley Lelie could start to steel a lot of his looks. Last year, he didn't have one 100-yard game.He still had 89 catches, but only 5 were touchdowns, a big drop-off from 2001 when he caught 11 He might be a good option for a #2, but don't expect him to be the player he once was in 2000 and 2001.
Kansas City ChiefsEddie Kennison, WR – While he's not getting picked very high, he may not turn out to be a good option for even a 4th WR. In Kansas City, the best WR's are the tight end and halfback. Last year, Johnnie Morton was supposed to be the man, but was a huge disappointment. I don't know if I expect that again from Morton this year. If you are going to draft a WR from KC, then go with Morton again as a 4th option or possibly Mark Boerigter, which all he does is catch touchdowns. Otherwise, you probably shouldn't bother.
Oakland Raiders Jerry Porter, WR – Porter is coming off a great year where he had 9 TD's and close to 700 yards as the 3rd option for the Raiders. He's not a mystery anymore though and could be in for a rude awakening when he start's to lineup against opposing team's best cornerback. Draft him as a 3rd WR who might come into his own this year, but you are taking a big chance if you grab him as your #2 WR.
San Diego Chargers – David Boston, WR – He's coming off an injury and I'm not convinced a WR should be that big. Have you seen his arms? I'm starting to wonder if he plans to switch over to DE sometime in his career. All joking aside, he is now on a team that loves ball control offense. He's not going to have the 98 catches and 1600 yards that he had in 2001. Say what you want about Plummer's consistency, but he could throw the ball while Brees isn't prone to challenge the secondary and is the QB more to not make any mistakes than to win the football game with his arm. He's back to being the 4th -6th WR taken, and I think he's going to fall far short of expectations.
Dallas CowboysJoey Galloway, WR – He was the Cowboy's best WR last year, but Dallas just has too many problems to really consider this guy. To say that the QB situation is unproven would be an understatement, the O-line is hurting, and their starting RB is unproven. The Cowboys when they do throw the ball also have Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant, but when have you known a WR to excel in Bill Parcell's offense without a good QB? Take him as a 4th WR, after that you're risking a lot.
New York Giants Tiki Barber, RB – Barber emerged as a threat to run and catch the ball amassing over 1900 total yards and 11 TD's. With Ike Hilliard back healthy to combine with Amani Toomer and Jeremy Shockey as well as Ron Dayne getting more flexibility with his plays and Dorsey Levens brought in as a goal line threat, it might be asking a bit much for a similar performance from Barber.
Philadelphia EaglesJames Thrash, WR – For the #1 WR in Philly, you'd expect more from Thrash, but he never gives it to you. If Freddie Mitchell's light bulb comes on and he continues to play the way he did in the first preseason game, Thrash might end up only the #2 option for Donovan McNabb.
Washington Redskins – Trung Candidate, RB – The Rams couldn't wait to get rid of this guy. He ends up in Washington where he should be the perfect fit for Spurrier's offense, but that remains to be seen. He probably won't break 1000 yards rushing and will have to have plenty of receiving yards to make up the difference and be a good fantasy option. He should be your 3rd RB option at best.
Chicago BearsAnthony Thomas, RB – One of last year's busts, he might carry his disappointments over to this year as well. The Bears O-line is banged up and Kordell Stewart likes to run. The A-train might not be the #1 RB by the year's end as Adrian Peterson is challenging him for the job. To be honest, I'm not infatuated with either option. Thomas is a poor option for a #2 RB and shaky as a #3.
Detroit LionsCharles Rogers, WR – He hasn't done anything to show he could be a bust, and will probably be great in a couple of years, but taking a rookie WR as early as I've seen him go in hopes he's a sleeper is going to cause of a lot of pains for that owner. In some cases, I've seen teams draft him as their #2. That's a lot of expectations for a rookie on a rebuilding team with a mediocre RB and a 2nd year QB.
Green Bay Packers – Bubba Franks, TE – Bubba Franks catches touchdowns and that's about it. The Packers have signed Wesley Walls though and that may hurt Frank's stats as well as the emergence of Donald Driver. If Javon Walker or Robert Ferguson or both develop as threats, Bubba Franks might not be catching that many TD's this year. A good TE, but no longer an automatic 4th or 5th TE pick in the draft.
Minnesota VikingsOnterrio Smith, RB – He's only an option because Michael Bennett is out for the season. Another rookie who might have a good career, he might not start the season as the #1 RB though. He's a good sleeper as your 3rd or 4th RB, but don't depend on him as your #2.
Atlanta FalconsWarrick Dunn, RB – Warrick Dunn puts up good numbers by the end of the season but with Vick and T.J. Duckett also options for running the ball, and Peerless now there to take away some catches, Dunn is too inconsistent week to week to depend on as your #2 RB.
Carolina Panthers – Jake Delhommer, QB – With the exception of maybe Stephen Davis, there aren't any players on the Panthers that owners are expecting a lot from. Some owners, however, are drafting Jake Delhomme. Delhomme could turn out to be pretty good, but he's hasn't really proven himself, still hasn't won the job, and plays in an offense that plans to pound the ball and rely on the defense to keep the games low scoring. If you are reaching for another QB, you are better off with either David Carr or Jon Kitna who are at least guaranteed starting QB's.
New Orleans SaintsErnie Conwell, TE – He came over from St. Louis who had too many weapons to make him a consistent fantasy threat and having Aaron Brooks, Deuce McAllister, Joe Horn, and Dante Stallworth won't change any of that.
Tampa Bay Bucs – Martin Grammatica, PK – The fact that Job Gruden shut down Grammatica for the short term for an injury is a bad sign. Until you hear otherwise, stay away from Grammatica until you know he's going to be okay.
Arizona CardinalsFreddie Jones, TE – It's hard to choose a potential fantasy bust, when you don't expect anything good from any of a team's players, but I still see Freddie Jones getting drafted, sometimes as a #1 TE for teams. He didn't do anything last year. Expect even less this year.
Saint Louis RamsJeff Wilkins, PK – There's not much to go by from here except that he missed an extra point and a short field goal in a preseason game. Even in preseason, you don't want your kicker to be missing those things. Pass him by until you start seeing more consistency from him. Another thing is Kurt Warner. Everything about him yells bust again this year and teams are still taking him as their #1 QB early in the draft. You're taking a big risk if you do which could pay off but could ruin your season if he doesn't. He's a good option at #2 QB if he can regain his form.
San Francisco 49ersJeff Garcia, QB – His injury is the main reason why I am listing him as a potential bust this year. He's getting drafted as a #1 QB in most drafts despite the bulging disk. He's supposed to be ready for the season opener, but pass him by for a player who's less of an injury risk.
Seattle Seahawks – Jerramy Stevens, TE – He's a potential bust because you don't know which uniform he's going to have on during the season. Seattle's or County Jail's. He's talented but the offseason DWI makes him a problem. You are taking a big risk if you draft him as your #1 TE and expect him to stay out of trouble.

Fantasy Busts can spell disaster for your team quicker than you can say Blair Thomas. Recognizing potential risks can be tricky, but avoiding them saves a lot of problems. Send me your fantasy football questions to bills_report@yahoo.com and I'll answer them in my freebie column. Next week I'll run down what some of these injuries mean to fantasy players and how certain training camp battles will mean to your team.

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