Fantasy Football

Harmon's "airing of grievances"

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Michael Harmon

Mike is a fantasy contributor for>>

All of our plotting, dissecting, film review, spreadsheet-maneuvering and sweet-talking on the league message board has brought us to this moment. For many leagues, it’s the moment of truth. Week 14 signals the end of the fantasy regular season. Many others will begin the first round of the playoffs this week.

Scouring the waiver wire takes precedence over any shopping or decorating plans that may appear on a “To-Do” list. Those owners who have yet to accept their failed 2012 campaign will turn back the clock and examine what alternatives may have changed their fate.

In this piece, I’ll summarize the efforts of some of those players whose performances in 2012 left you wanting. For the purpose of this piece, I’ll exclude those players who missed significant time because of an injury. Therefore, you’ll be left to grumble about Maurice Jones-Drew, DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden and Percy Harvin (among countless others) on your own.

If you have a candidate for the list, shoot me a line on Twitter @swollendome. I’ll make sure that we get an exhaustive “end of award show” screen roll. In honor of the recently-completed campaign season, I present “Derision 2012.” Let’s get started at the quarterback position.


3. Tony Romo, DAL:

Romo’s production has picked up during the past month, but he’s been disappointing overall. He generated just three multi-touchdown performances in his first eight starts before beginning his normal November tear. Romo has thrown nine of his 19 touchdowns in the past four weeks. He is tied for 11th in passing touchdowns and ranks third in passing yardage. However, Romo has also committed 18 turnovers with 28 sacks.

2. Philip Rivers, SD:

I could have put Michael Vick in this spot because of his lofty preseason ranking (sixth among quarterbacks), but his injury eliminates him from consideration. Instead, I turn the wagging finger and fantasy vitriol on Philip Rivers. I understand that Rivers has produced seven multi-touchdown games this season. He’s also committed multiple turnovers in six games. Five of those games featured multiple end zone celebrations and angry chinstrap-unbuckling. Rivers has also been sacked 36 times. As a result, Rivers enters Week 14 as the 20th-highest scoring quarterback. He was the 10th quarterback drafted, on average, in 2012.

1. Eli Manning, NYG:

Manning has been the model of consistency in the fantasy realm during the past three seasons, generating a total of 87 touchdown passes during the period while surpassing 4,000 passing yards in each campaign. Manning will likely surpass the yardage count again, but he enters Week 14 tied for 17th in touchdown passes (alongside Matthew Stafford, another candidate for a slot here). He has scored the 18th-most fantasy points.

Running Back

3. LeSean McCoy, PHI:

We anticipated that McCoy’s production would dip following a tremendous 2011 season. He still ranks 12th in rushing yardage per game (1.2 yards per game more than BenJarvus Green-Ellis). However, we can turn to McCoy’s use in the early part of the season and wonder aloud why his carry count dipped. He carried the ball at least 20 times in three of the Eagles’ first four games. McCoy carried the ball more than 16 times only once in his final six appearances.

2. Matt Forte, CHI:

Fantasy owners expected Michael Bush to vulture the bulk of the goal-line work (Forte has logged only 15 red zone carries). They didn’t anticipate that Forte would be bottled up as he’s been all season. Three runs account for 15.6% of his rushing yardage total this season. Forte has scored the 18th-most fantasy points among running backs, producing four total touchdowns (three rushing). Blame the offensive line. Blame the play-calling of Mike Tice. Forte’s production has dropped markedly, and many Chicago pundits are uncomfortable with the contract signed by the fifth-year running back before the season.

1. Ryan Mathews, SD:

Mathews missed the first two games of the season. He’s yet to generate a single 100-yard game this season (95 against the Browns) and has posted just one run of at least 20 yards (31 yards against the Chiefs). Mathews has averaged 86.4 total yards per game and has scored just once all year. To put things in perspective, rookie Bryce Brown of the Eagles has rushed for 132 fewer yards with four touchdowns.

Wide Receiver

3. Steve Smith, CAR:

Smith has produced four 100-yard games this season, including his 120-yard, one-touchdown performance in Week 13 against the Chiefs. Those games account for 50.3% of his receiving production. He ranks 26th among wide receivers in terms of fantasy points, having producing six games with 61 receiving yards or fewer (he did score in one of those games).

2. Dwayne Bowe, KC:

It’s been a difficult season for the Chiefs from the outset. I shan’t use this space to comment on the recent atrocity. I’ll merely point to the losses that piled up for Romeo Crennel. For Dwayne Bowe, the season started with great promise. In his first four games, Bowe amassed 25 receptions for 342 yards with three touchdowns. Bowe hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 4 against the Chargers. He’s finished only three of his past eight starts with more than 60 receiving yards.

1a. Mike Wallace, PIT:

Wallace scored in four of the Steelers’ first five games, prompting great hope that a monster season was in the offing. Unfortunately, his production dipped markedly, and the recent injury to Ben Roethlisberger rendered him invisible for the better part of the past four weeks. He’s produced 10 receptions for 77 yards in the past three games. Wallace has generated the 32nd-most fantasy points among wide receivers. He’s generated two games with more than 74 receiving yards all season.

1. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI:

Everybody pulls for Larry Fitzgerald. Coming into draft season, he rose to the consensus No. 2 slot at the position because of his history of producing monster numbers regardless of the quarterback under center. Unfortunately, the convergence of a number of factors (quarterback, O-Line, consistent run support) has conspired to crush Fitzgerald’s production. He has been targeted 123 times, sixth among all receivers. Fitzgerald has registered 56 receptions for 650 yards with four touchdowns. He’s scored the 38th-most fantasy points among wide receivers, producing a single 100-yard game this year. Fitzgerald needs to average 87.5 receiving yards over the final four weeks to reach 1,000 yards for the seventh time in his career. The longtime fantasy hero has eclipsed that number only three times this season (six games with more than 60 receiving yards). Can a concerted effort to get him the ball and the reinsertion of John Skelton get him to the milestone number?

Tight End

3. Vernon Davis, SF:

Davis began the season with a huge push, and fantasy owners were positively giddy that the seventh-year tight end might be looking to repeat his 2009 season (13 touchdowns). Alas, Davis has found the end zone once since the 49ers’ Week 3 loss to Minnesota. He’s produced more than 53 receiving yards three times this season and has finished five games with 30 receiving yards or fewer. Davis ranks 11th in terms of total fantasy points for the position, but the bulk of the damage was done in three weeks.

2. Jermichael Finley, GB:

Finley finally peaked as the fantasy regular season came to a close. Unfortunately, fantasy owners had long stopped trusting the fifth-year tight end. A full 39.5% of his yardage total has come in the past three weeks. Finley has amassed just 41 receptions (61 targets) and 448 receiving yards with two touchdowns. Prior to the Packers’ Week 10 Bye, Finley had generated just three games with more than 40 receiving yards.

1. Antonio Gates, SD:

Graham and Gronkowski were the consensus top picks at the position. Gates ranked third on many boards following positive reports out of training camp about his health. I watched him go through drills and work the seam more fluidly than in recent memory during a trip to San Diego. Alas, that didn’t translate to strong regular season production. Gates has been limited to 38 receptions on 61 targets this season for 417 yards with four touchdowns. He ranks 17th in fantasy points among tight ends (tied for 19th in yardage) and has finished only three games with more than 50 receiving yards.

Tagged: Bears, Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs, Giants, Eagles, 49ers, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Michael Vick, Antonio Gates, Tony Romo, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Vernon Davis, Michael Bush, Dwayne Bowe, Matt Forte, Jermichael Finley, Mike Wallace, LeSean McCoy, Ryan Mathews

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