In this article, we take a look at the complement to the Late Season Riser article found here. The idea is to identify who dropped off as the fantasy season progressed last year with the hopes that we may be able to find players who will continue to struggle into 2011. Without further ado, a list of names for your consideration:
Peyton Manning, QB, IND. The first caveat here is that Manning dealt with some injuries to his receiving corps. Some people use that as an excuse; I don’t. Other QBs have done much better with much less through half a season. The second caveat here is that Manning has two new tools on his offensive line, and since he’s a statue, that should help him out in theory.
That said, a 17 to 13 TD:INT ratio in a half season is very un-Peyton-like, and there were signs that something was off. He seemed a bit more panicky and flustered than usual in various situations, and I firmly believe he felt compelled to throw passes he wouldn’t have normally thrown because he felt he needed to carry the team more than ever. His stretch of 11 INTs in 3 games was plain awful, and though the volume will likely still be there for him, I don’t know that I’d consider him over the rest of the top echelon of QBs.
Peyton Hillis, RB, CLE. Hillis had a breakout season last year, but showed serious signs of a drop off as the season wore on. This was perhaps in part simply because he wasn’t used to a big workload – his only 2 other NFL seasons saw carry totals of 68 and 13, whereas last year saw 270 carries. Comparing his 1st half of the season to his 2nd half, we saw his yardage slip from 644 to 533, YPC slip from 4.8 to 3.9, and TDs slip from 7 to 4. Hillis also had only 3 negative grades on the year, yet those games all came in his last 5 contests. His last 5 contests also saw a combined yardage of only 272 along with 0 total TDs. Lastly, he’s likely to cede some carries to Montario Hardesty, capping his value unless Hardesty is injured again. I’d still take him as a solid flex or low-end RB2, but you’ll be in big trouble if he ends up as your RB1 next season.
Thomas Jones, RB, KC. Let’s start off with the blatant (and something I’ve been preaching since 2009): Jamaal Charles is light years better than Thomas Jones. Jones’ 2nd half of the season saw only 326 yards with a 3.0 YPC. Even an over-the-hill back like LaDainian Tomlinson had a better YPC than Jones during that span. Worse yet, Jones underperformed at critical junctures during the season. During Week 14, he had a 1 yard game (that’s not a typo), and only had 1 touchdown in the last 6 games of the season. Jones also had negative PFF rush grades in each of last 5 games . The bottom line for next season is this: Jones is no more than a glorified handcuff for Jamaal Charles, because I suspect he’ll be way too inconsistent to use on a weekly basis.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, DEN. Lloyd’s receptions stayed fairly consistent from half to half (42 versus 35), but his yardage dropped significantly. He averaged over 38 yards less per game and almost 5 yards less per catch. His YAC also went from 4.3 to an ugly 1.3 from half to half. That 1.3 YAC mark would have put him last in the NFL for any WR who played more than 25% of his team’s snaps. His touchdowns did increase, but as noted here at PFF, touchdowns are by far the most variable stat for receivers. Don’t be surprised if he never gets a half season with 7 touchdowns again. The one positive for Lloyd’s last season was his stats with Tim Tebow. In the 3 games Tebow started, Lloyd had 14 catches and 2 touchdowns. This is a small sample size and Tebow isn’t a known gunslinger, but his value may increase a bit (shockingly) if Tebow starts over Orton.
Mark Sanchez, QB, NYJ. As it is, Mark Sanchez is arguably one of the most overrated QBs in the entire NFL. He’s certainly done well to reach where he has in the playoffs, but that has by and large been because of the team around him, while he’s simply been asked to not turn the ball over. His game against New England was impressive, but other than that, he’s been a very pedestrian quarterback in his first two seasons. In the last half of the season, his QB:INT mark stood at 7:8, while the year before that it stood at 8:9. Part of that may be adjusting to the weather. Part of that may be adjusting to the longer haul of an NFL season. Whatever the case, he’s just not someone you want starting for your team as the season progresses unless it’s an extreme match-up play. In both seasons, he’s taken more sacks, fumbled more, thrown more INTs, and thrown fewer TDs during the second halves of the respective seasons. Sanchez is also likely to lose talent around him, whether it be Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, or both. I’ll also do the honors of pointing out that Sanchez was the 24th best PFF graded QB, behind the likes of Chad Henne, Jason Campbell, Carson Palmer and Shaun Hill. His stats and play justify his grading, and until he gets consistency going, I can’t recommend he sniff anyone’s starting roster.