There are first-round flops (like Ray Rice) and high-priced mistakes made in every fantasy draft, every season. Here’s a look at those players (in alphabetical order) who failed to live up to expectations in 2013, and a preview of what to expect from those “busts” in 2014.
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots
2013 stats: 12 games, 54 receptions for 633 yards, two TDs
What went wrong in 2013: As the supposed “replacement” for Wes Welker, Amendola was set up to fail, Dan Quayle debate-style. “I knew Wes Welker, and Danny Amendola is no Wes Welker.” A strong Week 1 performance (10 catches, 104 yards) only reinforced false hope.
What to expect in 2014: Amendola is a scrappy undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech who plays slot receiver for Tom Brady. But he’s not Welker. Don’t expect him to be.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs
2013 stats: 15 games, 57 receptions for 673 yards, five TDs
What went wrong in 2013: The arrival of Andy Reid’s West Coast offense and “Captain Checkdown” Alex Smith at quarterback didn’t exactly bode well for Bowe, whose yards-per-catch average fell to a career-low 11.8 — two yards less than his average prior to the new coach-QB duo (13.8 ypc from 2007-12).
What to expect in 2014: Bowe broke out in the playoffs with eight catches for 150 yards (18.8 ypc) and one TD in the wild card loss at Indy. Expect a bounce-back season as jump-ball Bowe slowly earns the trust of the often overly cautious Smith.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2013 stats: 16 games, 4,343 pass yards, 25 TDs, 11 INTs; three lost fumbles
What went wrong in 2013: Tom Terrific was not even Tom Tolerable — failing to throw a TD in two games, tossing only one TD in six games, two scoring strikes in another six contests and three or more TD passes just twice. Brady’s 25 TD passes were exactly half of his then-record 50 scoring strikes of 2007.
What to expect in 2014: Brady said it himself: “You don’t have to suck when you get older.” He turns 37 on Aug. 3; expect a bounce-back year from Brady, whose track record prior to last season speaks for itself.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins
2013 stats: 13 games, 3,203 pass yards, 16 TDs, 12 INTs; 489 rush yards, four lost fumbles
What went wrong in 2013: RG3 came back too soon from injury, regardless of what Mike Shanahan or Dr. James Andrews said at the time. As a result, Griffin suffered a sophomore slump with 11 fewer total TDs (27 to 16) and nine more turnovers (16 to seven) than his rookie year.
What to expect in 2014: New coach Jay Gruden and new wideout DeSean Jackson should make life easier for RG3, who will be 18 months removed from his January 2013 knee injury when this season kicks off.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
2013 stats: seven games, 39 receptions for 592 yards, four TDs
What went wrong in 2013: Dude, let’s not talk about 2013. Okay, bro? Party animal Gronkowski’s end-zone dancing was limited due to back, arm and knee injuries.
What to expect in 2014: After an offseason spent visiting the “super sick” set of HBO’s new “Entourage” movie and partying with Johnny Football in Las Vegas, the Gronk should be ready to rock when the regular season starts. The 6'6", 265-pound 25-year-old plays hard off and on the field — 43 total TDs in 50 career games is hard to hate on.
Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons
2013 stats: 12 games, 543 rush yards, six TDs; 33 receptions for 191 yards, one TD
What went wrong in 2013: Jackson hit the wrong side of the 30-year-old running back wall, ending a streak of eight straight 1,000-yard seasons in his first year with the Falcons.
What to expect in 2014: As a 31-year-old with nagging injuries and mounting carries, Jackson isn’t likely to start a new 1,000-yard streak. He left his best in the Gateway to the West.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants
2013 stats: 16 games, 3,818 pass yards, 18 TDs, 27 INTs; two lost fumbles
What went wrong in 2013: A 32-year-old Eli challenged the family single-season INT record set by a 22-year-old Peyton (28 in 1998).
What to expect in 2014: Eli’s never been an elite fantasy QB, but he should return to his status as a serviceable backup to one of Peyton’s equally durable peers.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
2013 stats: 15 games, 660 rush yards, four TDs; 58 receptions for 321 yards, two lost fumbles
What went wrong in 2013: After a 2012 season that included a miraculous fourth-and-29 first-down conversion and Super Bowl XLVII title, Rice experienced one of the worst Super Sunday hangovers on record, hitting rock-bottom (one would hope) with a domestic dispute in Atlantic City that mutated into one of the worst “apology” press conferences of all time and netted him a much-criticized two-game suspension.
What to expect in 2014: In the immortal words of Rice himself: “Failure is not getting knocked down; it’s not getting up.” Rice has been knocked down a lot (1,430 carries in the NFL; 910 carries at Rutgers) and the 27-year-old is unlikely to ever get back up to his top-tier fantasy status.
Trent Richardson, RB, Colts
2013 stats: 16 games, 563 rush yards, three TDs; 35 receptions for 316 yards, one TD, one lost fumble
What went wrong in 2013: The back whom Jim Brown once described as “ordinary” was traded from Cleveland to Indianapolis less than two years after being the No. 3 overall pick — an in-season move Brown thought was “brilliant.” T-Rich has averaged fewer yards per carry in Indy (2.9 in 14 games) than he did during his time in Cleveland (3.5 in 17 games).
What to expect in 2014: The last time Richardson was on the field, he posted one yard and one lost fumble on four carries over two playoff games. Much like his former Bama backfield mate, Mark Ingram, T-Rich has struggled to find his footing at the next level.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons
2013 stats: 13 games, 63 receptions for 711 yards, three TDs; one lost fumble
What went wrong in 2013: White’s career began with 133 straight games played. He had never missed a game until 2013, when he may have played through injury for the good of his streak rather than the good of his (and your) team.
What to expect in 2014: Rowdy Roddy was one of the most reliable fantasy options in the game from 2007-12, averaging 94 catches for 1,296 yards and eight TDs per year over that six-season stretch. Expect a return to normalcy for the sure-handed target lining up opposite freak show Julio Jones.
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