Week 1: Player Downgrades
In this article we will detail players that were over-hyped in the pre-season publications and will likely fail to meet their projected average draft position based on injuries and/or poor preseason performance. Some of these players flashed their fantasy potential in previous seasons but have now come back down to earth and been surpassed on the depth chart. A few players mentioned in this article are losing the battle with father time and will see their roles reduced as younger players emerge. If you are the proud owner of some of these players with declining fantasy values, now might be the time to trade them to an unsuspecting owner or jettison them to the waiver wire to clear a spot for a player with upside potential.
The former 2nd round mistake by Brad Childress has fooled another organization into thinking that he has starter ability. In five seasons, Jackson has failed to average more than 160 YPG at any point and has a less than impressive 24:22 TD:INT ratio over his career. Many expected Pete Carroll to target a QB in April's draft but they opted to go the free agent route and we can't say that we expect an improvement from last season when the Seahawk passing offense ranked 19th in the NFL. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Charlie Whitehurst under center within the first month of the season - but neither QB on the Seattle depth chart are worth owning except in the deepest of leagues. Despite the additions of WR Sidney Rice and TE Zach Miller, the Seattle passing game figures to rank among the league's as they boast one of the weaker QB tandems in recent memory.
In his rookie season, the Mississippi St alum failed to impress following the week 11 season ending injury to Frank Gore. Dixon finished with 70 carries for 237 yards (15 YPG) and is no longer the handcuff to own in the 49er backfield. First year back Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma st) has impressed in training camp and would likely garner the bulk of the workload if Frank Gore's balky hip acts up. Hunter's 231 yards on just 35 carries (6.6 YPC) led all running backs this preseason while Dixon produced pedestrian preseason stats finishing with 40 carries for 129 yards (3.2 YPC). Dixon is not a handcuff worth owning.
The 33 year old RB will likely see his workload nearly cut in half as the Chiefs feature fantasy stud Jamaal Charles. Jones could very well produce serviceable stats against the Bills league worst run defense in week 1- if so he makes for the ultimate sell high candidate. In 2010, Charles carried the ball 230 times for 1,467 yards and Jones with 245 carries for 896 yards. With 245 carries, Jones was a viable second back in many leagues and definite bye week filler - that will change in 2011. The addition of bruising fullback Le'Ron McClain further waters down Jones value as McClain could be given a handful of carries inside the red zone. The glory days of 2008/2009 when Jones racked up 27 TDs are long gone as this will be the JC Superstar show for the foreseeable future - that is if Todd Haley expects to keep his job.
Washington's run game finished 30th in the league in 2010 averaging only 91 yards per game. Torain topped 100 yards three times in 2010 (although two were against porous run defenses in Indy and Tampa). The addition of rookie Roy Helu and emergence of Tim Hightower will have Torain fighting for carries as he is likely the 3rd best RB on the roster. Over his brief 3-year career Torain has spent more time on the trainer's table than he has on the field missing all of 2009 and most of 2008. He suited up for 10 games last season and is now battling a hand injury. Despite averaging an impressive 74 YPG last season he has slipped on the depth chart and will be hard pressed to justify a spot on fantasy rosters. He was rumored to be on the roster bubble when final cuts were released - not a good sign for his fantasy prospects in 2011. Tim Hightower has not missed a game in his 3-year career so the odds of Torain backing his way into a starting role via injury are not looking good.
Williams rejuvenated his career in 2009 topping 1,100 yards and finishing with 11 TDs. All this did was make him highly overrated heading into 2010 fantasy drafts and the 33 year old back disappointed those that expected anything close to the 2009 stat line. With a healthy Ronnie Brown (played all 16 games surprising us all), Williams saw his numbers cut in half (673 yards and only 2 TDs). Williams signed a 2-year deal with Baltimore to backup Ray Rice and announced that he'll retire when the deal is up. Williams averaged a respectable 4.2 yards-per-carry for the Dolphins in 2010 and he could be asked to fulfill the role vacated by Willis McGahee (now in Denver). However, with word that Ray Rice will remain the goal line back for the Ravens - Williams role as a part time backup is less than appealing. He'll likely on have fantasy relevance if Ray Rice were to sustain an injury.