Because a top 10 simply wasn’t enough…

So we listened to the analysis, made our picks, but where has that got us? As always fantasy football brings its share of disappointment in share of bragging rights and glory, and there have been a number of underperformers.

I know this more than anyone. I have two teams, one a respectable 3-2 after five games, but one a horrific 0-5, which has inspired this article. 

Here is a look at the 15 biggest fantasy letdowns in the NFL. Not included are players whose chance to perform has been denied by injury, Aaron Hernandez, Fred Jackson, Darius Hayward-Bey, we save the spots for those who are underperforming, plain and simple.

In no particular order, here are the top 15.

1) Antonio Gates

This guy is killing me. In week one I needed him to make eight points for a win, he returned four. In week five the same target, he brought back a measly one point. Sandwiched in between was a late injury pullout, which saw his replacement Dante Rosario rub salt in the wound scoring three touchdowns against the Titans. Gates and Rivers may be the highest scoring QB-TE combination in NFL history with 49, but this season they haven’t combined for a single one. The only factor keeping him in my team is the knowledge he is capable of coming good, and will inevitably do so the second he is traded.

2) Calvin Johnson

Megatron has tried to deny the ‘Madden Curse’ is hitting him, but his performances are way below par from last year. When he’s earning a reported $132 million over seven years, he may be able to live with it, but it won’t help those who selected him as a high first or second round pick. Last year he recorded 16 touchdowns, averaging one per game, this season he has just one in four games, and in his last outing against the Vikings had just 54 yards receiving.

3) Steve Smith

Smith is another Wide Receiver who has been dismal. He has not caught a single TD this season, and while I was reticent to trade him a couple of weeks back, I’m certainly not feeling too bad about it now. It’s not all his fault, the Panthers as a whole have been underwhelming, but as the leader of the offence, more is expected. This is looking more like a 2010 season (2 TDs) than a 2011 (7 TDs) for Smith.

4) Cam Newton

The cause of Smith’s problems? Perhaps, but Newton has a far bigger burden to share than just that, he came into this season as the great hope. The 2011 first round pick had an incredible debut season last year, which included 14 rushing TDs. In Week 2 he struck form against the Saints, but fell apart against the Giants. In Week 5 against the Falcons he posted his lowest figures of the season, failing to throw or rush for a single TD in a defeat to the Seahawks. As a lot of people’s first pick in the draft, there is a lot of pressure to come good, and right now the faith looks to have been misplaced.

5) DeSean Jackson

The Eagles were last year’s biggest letdown, barely registering a .500 record finish 8-8. DeSean Jackson was at the heart of their problems, failing to click with head coach Andy Reid, but there were hopes this would be his and the Eagles year. Despite a 3-2 record, Jackson remains on the fringes of the offence, and has posted just one TD. Typically this was the one week I benched him. I’ve traded him now, and so naturally expect a big upturn in his production.

6) Justin Blackmon

Perhaps this is a little unfair on Blackmon, the top drafted rookie WR in this year’s draft. After all, who would post big numbers with Blaine Gabbert throwing the ball to them? Even so given the scintillating success of top rookies RG3 and Trent Richardson, Blackmon’s slow crawl currently means he is a non-factor in fantasy, a shadow of the Oklahoma State receiver who caught 18 TD’s in college football last year. Our pundit Tom Ellison tipped him to be a late breakout, so keep an eye on him as the season goes on.

7) Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson is one underperforming Running Back I have steered well clear of. His performances have mirrored the Titans terrible showings. After running for more than 2,000 yards in 2009, he dipped to 1,047 last year, and looks like continuing that slide. Even at 27, he is being written off as an elite QB, with it being argued he has peaked. Currently he has no TDs this year compared to 4 in 2011, and his amazing 14 three years ago. Time to stick him on your bench.

8) Aaron Rodgers

Ooh a controversial choice here, especially given his superb figures on Sunday against the Colts, but that has been the exception to the rule. Expectations for Rodgers are above anybody else, simply because he would have figured as the number one pick in most leagues, if not two or three. Through the first four weeks, those ‘fortunate’ enough to land him must have been cursing, as the Packers offence failed to click. Still not all is right, the Packers are 2-3, compared to 5-0 at this stage last season, although the hope is he can make throwing for four TDs like against the Colts routine once again.

9) Kevin Ogletree

Fantasy owners raced to the waiver wire after week one to pick up the Dallas receiver, after his standout showing in the season opener against the Giants, catching eight passes for 114 yards and 2 TDs. Since then he has disappointed, failing to pick up a single TD as the Cowboys offence has broken down spectacularly. Ogletree is currently being dropped as quickly as he was picked up in Week 2.

10) Dez Bryant

Unsurprisingly, another Cowboys WR makes the list, this time Dez Bryant, who caught 9 TDs in 2011, building on his 6 the year before. He has not caught for a single TD this year, and has made 2 fumbles, despite making 21 receptions. He can currently be found on the waiver wire in our league, and even with my dismal record he is not a player that I’m keen on, especially with the Ravens up next.

11) Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson has perhaps been the biggest victim of Aaron Rodgers slow start to the season, for some reason it just isn’t happening for him. The WR had a breakout season last year, catching 15 TDs, but so far has just 1 in five games so far, coming in the Packers win in Week 4 over the Saints. He is too valuable to trade right now, as the potential is there for him to catch fire, but benching might just be an option considering the undefeated Texans are up next for Green Bay.

12) Mathew Stafford

If you want a reason why Calvin Johnson is suffering, like Steve Smith, just turn to his quarterback. Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards last year, but this season the Lions have been dismal, in no large part down to Stafford’s inconsistency. They conspired to almost blow a 4-0 start last year to only scrape into the playoffs, and this year are 1-3 after four games. His biggest worry is that his number of interceptions – four – outnumbers his touchdowns, three, and even though he has an impressive 1,000 plus yards already, this isn’t the season fantasy owners had in mind, considering he would have been a relatively high pick.

13) Fred Davis

Davis was the Redskins offensive player of the year in 2011, but has barely been a factor for the RG3 led team this season. With the field at tight-end relatively weak, Davis may have appeared to be a good option, but from a fantasy perspective this year that hasn’t materialised so far. While making 20 receptions for 260 yards, a TD remains elusive, and he currently sits on the waivers in my league like a discarded crisp packet. Still, the good news is he’s no worse than Antonio Gates.

14) Michael Vick

What is wrong with this guy? Vick appears hell-bent on showing why he just isn’t a reliable starting QB for any fantasy owner. He may have got the win in Week 1, but he threw four picks along the way. When he fumbled the ball in the endzone against the Steelers in Week 5 he encapsulated his current inefficiency, it was a chance he should have converted into a touchdown. Fortunately for most owners, they have the sense to bench him. Which is a shame considering his potential to be an elite QB, but right now that seems a long way off, and pre-season predictions of his return to form are proving to be premature.

15) Tony Romo

Hands up who forecast this would be the year Tony Romo would answer his critics in emphatic fashion, after leading the Cowboys to a stunning opening win over the defending Superbowl champions the Giants in Week 1? Well it hasn’t gone his way since then, throwing just two TDs in three games. His last outing against the Bears was a horror show, making five turnovers. Currently 2-2, the Ravens defence must be relishing getting under his skin in Week 6, any anybody considering him to be a potentially good option at QB should well and truly have parked that thought by now.

Who is killing your team? Who should be on the list who isn’t, and do you disagree with any of the selections?

images:, © North Carolina National Guard