NFL: Biggest Fantasy Disappointments

Doug Baldwin has been anything but impressive this season for Fantasy owners.

Every fantasy football league has some players that were expected to be stars. Some players fail to rise to the occasion and leave fantasy owners with a sour taste in their mouth.

For a player to be considered a true fantasy disappointment, they must have been drafted relatively high in drafts.  While players drafted in the mid to late rounds may also disappoint, this risk of failure is baked into their draft stock. Assuming a standard size league and draft (12 teams, 16 rounds), a player must be drafted within the first 4 rounds to be considered for this article (top 48).

Here are five players that come to mind based off that criteria:

FantasyPros overall ADP (average draft position) and PPR scoring will be used in this article. 

5. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

Drafted at an ADP of 38 overall and WR15, Doug Baldwin was expected to deliver his owners a sure-fire WR2 for the 2018 season. Baldwin was as steady as they come, topping at least 75 catches, 991 yards, and 7 TDs for the past 3 seasons. Not to mention he has been an ironman, missing only 2 games in 7 seasons. 

While he has missed a few games battling a knee injury, even when he is on the field, his play has been sub-par. His yards per game average (42.3) is the lowest its been since 2012, and he’s looking to finish the year with a career low of yards per catch (11.3).

Baldwin has been tough to trust, and his WR1 status has been superseded by Tyler Lockett. Baldwin finally had the sort of stat line this past week that owners drafted him for (4-77-2). However, believing owners can trust Baldwin to start him in the playoffs i another question. Baldwin currently sits at WR60 on the season. 

4. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears

There was a considerate amount of hype surrounding Jordan Howard going into this fantasy season and it was well deserved. Going into his 3rd year, Howard had totaled 2,435 yards and in 15 touchdowns the 2 years prior. Because of his prior success and unquestioned bellcow role, he was drafted at an ADP of 20 overall, RB13. 

In addition to being the lead back, the speculation going into the year was he was going to take a larger role in the passing game. Offensive wizard and Andy Reid disciple, Matt Nagy was taking over in Chicago, and the team was getting a complete offensive overhaul. Hopeful drafters took a shot on Howard as early as the 2nd round to get the lead back in this offense. 

Howard started the year with promise, catching 10 balls in 3 games, he would then go on to catch 11 balls in the next 11. The Chicago pass game turned to Tarik Cohen out of the backfield while Howard’s carries became inconsistent. After Chicago began to settle in, it became clear that Tarik was at the center of their offensive game plan. Howard is currently sitting at RB29 while his counterpart Cohen is RB12. 

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers came into this season as the unquestioned QB1 across all sites. His on the field play and career statistics gave little reason to think otherwise. Rodgers is a wizard, throughout his career he routinely made plays no other quarterback could make. 

The 2018 NFL season will likely go down as low-point in Aaron Rodgers career. Let his 2018 stats speak for themselves, ranked by 11 seasons as a starter (per @IHartitz):

  • Completion rate: 61.8% (10/11)
  • TD percentage: 4.3% (11/11)
  • Y/A: 7.4 (8/11)
  • QBR: 54.8 (11/11)
  • Sacks: 44 (8/11)

There are many reasons to point to Rodgers poor play: an early knee injury, bad play calling from the coach and an inexperienced WR core. Whatever the reason, it all amount to one thing: Aaron Rodgers was a 2018 fantasy disappointment. He was drafted to with an overall ADP of 24, expected to give owners positional advantage; he did anything but that. 

2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots 

Make no mistake about it, drafting Rob Gronkowski is a risky pick. He hasn’t played a full season since 2011 and has missed over 20 games in his career. While there are a lot of questions about Gronk’s career, one thing is for certain, when he’s on the field he is going to produce a plethora of fantasy points. Gronk was drafted at an ADP of 21, the TE1. 

Gronk has topped at least 1084 yards and 8 touchdowns in 3 of his last 4 years. Getting this kind of production out of the TE position can be a league winner, he just has to stay healthy.  Even though he has missed a few games, Gronk has been relatively healthy and extremely mediocre, averaging 4 catches and 59 yards a game.

While in most cases, you take this sort of production of the TE position, it’s a real disappointment coming from a player drafted at the end of the 2nd round. Not to mention, teammate Julian Edleman was suspended for the first 4 games of the season, the target share and production for Gronk were supposed to be higher than ever.  

You can chalk it up to Brady’s age or Gronk looking like a legit dad runner; one thing is for certain, Gronk owners are disappointed. 

1. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

The saga of Le’Veon Bell will be remembered for eternity. Not only in the fantasy football community, the NFL community as well. Let’s take a “brief” look at the timeline:

  • End of 2017 NFL season – Bell threatens retirement is franchise tagged again
  • 3/6/1818 – Steelers announce they intend to franchise tag Bell
  • 7/16/18 – Steelers miss deadline to work out a long-term deal, Bell if officially franchised tagged
  • 7/25/18 – Bell does not report to training camp

Besides the retirement consideration, this timeline was identical to the year prior. Bell still reported to the team on Labor Day and went on to play the entire 2017 season.  

  • 9/3/18 – Labor day passes and Bell is no-show
  • 9/5/18 – Bell’s agent hints at a hold out

Bell owners who drafted him 1 or 2 overall, start to sweat as it was clear he may miss some time. 

  • 9/8/18 – Bell misses game 1
  • 9/25/18 – Bell still has not reported to the team, and Steelers place Bell on the trade block

At this point in time, owners are instilled with hope that Bell may be traded.

  • 10/1/18 – It is reported that Bell intends to report to the team during the week 7 bye

Bell owners breath a sigh of relief.

  • 10/17/18 – The week 7 bye passes, no sign Bell
  • 10/30/18 – The trade deadline passes, Bell is not dealt. He must play the 2018 as a Steeler or not play at all
  • 11/7/18 – Bell is spotted at an LA Fitness in Pittsburgh, speculation that he will return to the team

The last hope that Bell will return some fantasy value this season. He is back from Miami, in the Pittsburgh area. Days before the deadline to report. 

  • 11/13/18 – Bell does not report to the team the deadline and cannot play in the 2018 season. It’s over.

Wow. And this is the abridged version. Bell is a known fantasy commodity capable of finishing as the #1 fantasy player overall. Owners were continually let down and brought back up throughout the season, but it only amounted to one thing, sheer disappointment. 

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