I have undertaken a daunting task during the off season. Michael (aka Drummaster) got me thinking about the “overrated” fantasy football player. Managing a league since 1983 I have experienced a considerable amount of fantasy football, but I will never claim to be an “expert” taking a line from Russ Bliss, but I will call myself an analyst.
I originally started to compile a list beginning from 1983 to 2010. Unfortunately that time period was far too vast and carried little relevance when I started to look at players in detail to come up with a baseline on which to derive my overrated player list. It was more challenging then I originally thought. DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, says that “players have an average career length of 3.5 years.” This number can be broken down even further with an NFL quarterback averaging 4.44 years, while wide receivers are 2.94 years and a running back at only 2.81 years.
These numbers seem to correlate with fantasy football very well with my 6 year period for judging players. As for my baseline I broke down my evaluation to a time frame from 2005-2010. Since owners would rather read about recent players I decided to start with this 5 year period and work backwards. I also made the decision to start with the QB position, since it had the fewest players to evaluate. An important stat to look at was the number of games versus games started.
After reviewing and studying draft “cheat sheets” their respective draft position and corresponding scoring I have compiled a list of 6 players at QB, RB and WR who I feel have been “overrated” from 2005-2010 in fantasy football. The reasons for being on this list vary; injury prone, under-performing, over hyped. I am sure there are other players who could be consider on this undistinguished list.
I did not provide an overall point total for each player since fantasy football scoring systems are diverse. What I consider standard might not be the case for another league. Season totals can give you a partial story but these must be compared against where a player was drafted during a given year. For example, if you have a player who is a top tier player prior to a fantasy draft and he doesn’t break the top 5, let alone top 10, he should be considered to have had a bad year. Conversely a player who is a Tier 3 or Tier 4 player who breaks the top 10 during a given season should be rewarded as having a good year. Unfortunately the only numbers I had to go on where based solely on my league and the given online resources I have used in previous seasons. This could easily open up a debate for other players who should be on the list that aren’t.
Delhomme, Jake (CAR)
Career Synopsis: Signed as a free agent with New Orleans after the 1997 draft, Delhomme would only start 6 games for the Saints over the next 2 season acting primarily as a backup to Aaron Brooks. In 2003 he signed with Carolina and quickly took the job from Rodney Peete in the home opener guiding the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII.
In 2004 he posted career high statistics in pass attempts, completions, yardage and touchdowns, but the team limped to a 7-9 record due to key injuries during the season. He would finish as a top 5 quarterback that year behind big names like Favre, Culpepper and Manning.
The 2005 draft would list him as a Tier 3 QB coming off career numbers in 2004, but would fall short of expectations. He would led the Panthers to an 11-5 record and make his only Pro Bowl appearance behind 3421 yards and 24 TD passes.
Over the course of the next 4 years his starts would continue to decline. In 2007 he would find his way to the IR after Week 3. The following year he showed promise throwing for 3288 yards, but only 15 TDs. 2009 would be his final year with Carolina starting only 11 games, making the move to Cleveland in 2010 where he split time as a starter.
Comments: Delhomme might get an unfair shake when it comes to fantasy, but after 2 solid years (2004-2005) he has not been much of a factor in fantasy football. After his Pro Bowl season in 2005 he continued to underachieve. His numbers prove he might not be the sort of big time QB he was made out to be when he went to the Pro Bowl. His numbers continued to decline since 2008 and by my estimation does not hold much value any longer. Maybe Cleveland wasn’t the answer for him and another change of scenery is needed. I don’t believe he can reclaim the sort of numbers we saw in 2004-2005. Even as a Tier 2 QB in 2006 and 2208 he did not crack the top 10 in total yardage or TDs
Hasselbeck, Matt (GB/SEA)
Career Synopsis: Hasselbeck was drafted in Round 6 of the NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers and made his debut a year later, but was mainly a back up to Brett Favre. In 2001 he was traded to Seattle for a 1st and a 3rd round draft pick. Initially he competed with Trent Dilfer for the starting job, but started 13 games in his first season with the Seahawks.
In 2002 He started 10 games and threw for 3075 and 15 TDs, finishing the season on a high note and the uncontested starter in 2003. He would put up career numbers in 2003 with 3841 yards and 26 TDs, followed it up with 3382, 22 TDs in 2004. His career was really taking off as the Seahawks would win the NFC West that year with a 9-7 record.
In the 2005 fantasy draft Hasselbeck was a high Tier 2 draft pick behind notable QBs such as Manning, Culpepper, McNabb, Bulger, Favre and Green. He would respond with another very good year going 13-3, starting all 16 games and throwing for 3459 yards, 24 TDs, making the Pro Bowl for his second time.
His 2006 season was cut short due to an ankle injury after leading the team to a 4-1 start. He would miss the next 4 games. Upon his return be broke fingers on his non-throwing hand but played through the injury leading Seattle to a division title at 9-7. After 3 years of 3000+ yards and 20+ TDs he had his worst season since 2002.
A knock against Hasselbeck has been his agility to remain healthy for an entire season. When he was healthy he put up very good number (2003, 2005 and 2007, Pro Bowl selections). After the disappointing 2006 he returned in 2007, but had dropped in pre-season ranking to a Tier 3 QB.
In 2007 Hasselbeck would post new career highs with 3966 yards passing and 28 TDs as Seattle would win the NFC West again (4th consecutive year). Unfortunately, he would follow up this performance with another off year, due to a lower back injury. He would go 1-6, playing only 7 games. Pre-season QB rankings had him as a Tier 2 QB, but he would not live up to that billing.
Recently he has been listed as a low(er) Tier 3 QB. While his yardage has continued to be over 3000 yards, he has yet to play (and start) all 16 games the past 3 years with 34 TDs during that period.
Comments: One word comes to mind when I think of Hasselbeck, “frustrtation.” He has the tools to be a very good QB in the NFL as witnessed by his play in 2003, 2005 and 2007 (must be something with the odd years?). Unfortunately he is injury prone and rarely makes it through a full NFL season, missing 17 games dating back to 2005. Since 2007 he continues in decline, even with Seattle winning the NFC West with a 7-9 record. With Pete Carroll in town, along with a rejuvenated rushing attack led by Marshawn Lynch and Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu at WR Hasselbeck will be able to put up better numbers the next few years. I know he has the potential to throw for 4000 yards and 30+ TD. Perennially listed as a low Tier 2, high Tier 3 he cracked the top 10 in yardage and TDs twice (2005, 2007).
Manning, Eli (NYG)
Career Synopsis: Drafted by San Diego in 2004, he refused to play and was traded to the New York Giants (for Philip Rivers). Since then he has been the Giants starter and to his credit, Eli has started every game since 2005, but continues to play in the shadow of his brother, Peyton.
He was very successful in his first season as a starter (Tier 4 QB), posting a 11-5 record and throwing for 3762 yards, 24 TDs. Both those numbers were good enough to put in him in top 5 among NFL QBs.
Unfortunately his numbers would decline the next 3 years, as he would toss 18 and 20 INTs in 2006 and 2007, while his TDs would remain consistent (23 & 24). His passing yardage would dip as well. Years of 3244, 3336 and 3238 would be well off his 2005 total. After his 2005 season he would be a top Tier 2 QB, but numbers he would struggle during the second part of the season in 2006 and 2007. He would lead the Giants to a 12-4 record and an appearance in Super Bowl XLII against the Patriots, followed by an upset victory over New England, 14-12. He would be named the Super Bowl MVP.
In 2008 he would still be a Tier 3 QB, coming off his Super Bowl MVP season and his numbers would continue to be unimpressive. Of note, he did cut down on his INTs (10), which was a career low. He did enough to lead the Giants to the NFC East crown. Manning would make his first and only Pro Bowl appearance to date, but would lose against the Eagles in the divisional game.
The last 2 years, Manning has been a high Tier 3 QB (possibly low Tier 2), but his numbers have improved. He posted 4000+ yards, 27 and 31 TDs respectively. Unfortunately 2010 also represented a new career high in INTs with 25!
Comments: Consider Emily…err…Eli selection to this list a bit personal, since he snubbed the Chargers on draft day (we still made out with Rivers!). He might even be “questionable” based on his pre-season rankings and how he has finished since 2005. Some call into question his heart or ability to “win the big game.” Sure he has a Super Bowl and an MVP to go with it, but is he really a big time QB like his brother? Oh yeah, he continues to play in the shadow of Peyton, which is a very tough act to follow. His numbers are fairly consistent and he continues to improve as he matures. He could possibly play his way off this infamous list.
McNabb, Donovan (PHL/WAS)
Career Synopsis: Drafted #2 overall by the Eagles in 1999 draft, he would go on to produce some of his best years starting 2000-2004, where he made the Pro Bowl in each year. What made him “dangerous” was his running ability that took the QB position in a new direction (shades of Randall Cunningham, years earlier) and took the Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004, losing to New England, 24-21.
2004 was his best year to date as he was arguably a top 3 QB headed into the 2005 draft. Unfortunately team distractions, controversy and eventually an injury put McNabb on the IR after passing for 2507 and 16 TDs.
Over the next 3 years (2006-2008) he would start to return to the sort of QB we saw back in 2003 and 2004. He would see increases in passing yards (2647, 3324 and 3916 yards) as well as TDs (18, 19 and 23). His 3916 yards in 2008 would be a career best (on 571 attempts).
Donovan would be listed a solid Tier 2 QB from 2006-2010, as his passing stats would improve but 2009 (3553 yards, 22 TDs), his final year with Philadelphia would see him slide off his 2008 (3926 yards, 23 TDs) numbers but he would end up being a Pro Bowl selection. In 2010 he would be traded to Washington where he would start 12 games, being benched during the season in favor of Rex Grossman. His 2010 numbers were some of his lowest in his career.
Early in his career (2000-2003), he was a fairly prolific running QB, but as he matured his attempts, yards and rushing TDs decreased. He rushed for 17 TDs during that 4 year span, while only rushing for 8 TDs during 2005-2010. This ability early in his career made him quite versatile.
Comments: This is a tale of two players as the pre-2005 McNabb was a much more mobile playmaker for the Eagles as witnessed by his 5 Pro Bowl sections in consecutive years. Unfortunately even some of those years he really did not put up the sort of numbers one would expect. His running ability made up for what he lacked through the air. As he has matured, he has become a much smarter QB, but only cracked the top 10 in total yards and TDs in 2008. He has been a big name player who was usually a Tier 2 guy who underachieved. The trade to Washington did him no favors either with a struggling offense.
Orton, Kyle (CHI/DEN)
Career Synopsis: It might be a bit unfair to include Orton on this list, but over the last 5 years he has started a majority of the games with Chicago and Denver. Unfortunately in 2006 he was demoted to third string and did not play with Brain Griese as the starter. In 2007 the Bears draft Chris Leak, who struggled, while Griese retained the starting job, Orton got his shot starting the final three games of the season.
In 2008 Orton took over the starting duties and posted a 9-6 record (missing the playoffs) but throwing for 2972 yards, 18 TDs. He was listed as a Tier 4 QB who was battling Rex Grossman for the starting job through preseason.
Coming off his success in 2008, just missing the playoffs, Chicago traded Orton to Denver for Jay Cutler and was immediately tabbed as the starter in the mile high city. He set career numbers his first year there with 3802 yards and 21 TDs, while missing 1 game and leading the Broncos to an 8-7 record.
It looked as if Orton has been reborn in Denver at the start of the 2010 season, as he had signed a 1-year extension (through 2011) and he started off as one of the hottest QBs in the NFL on a record pace of Dan Marino for yards passing (season). Unfortunately late in the season his performances started to slide well off his record breaking pace we saw in the first half of the season. HC, Josh McDaniels was fired and replaced by the RB Coach, Eric Studesville who took a different direction and started Tim Tebow the final three games of the season.
Entering the 2010 fantasy draft, Orton was a Tier 3 QB who was putting up Tier 1 numbers, but with a sieve defense and a running game that was lacking due to injuries; he was not able to keep up the pace of production after Week 5 (but did have 2 good games in Weeks 10 & 12). Kyle would finish the season with 3653 yards, 20 TDs most coming before the bye week.
Comments: In the same vein as Delhomme, this might be an unfair selection because of his playing status in 2006 and 2007 (3 games in 2 years), but since 2008 has started a majority of the game for Chicago and Denver. His time in Chicago did him no favors, but things changed in 2009 when he took over as the starter for Denver. Traditionally a Tier 4 QB, he played down to that level with the Bears, but surprised many in with his 2009 performance. In 2010 he started off as one of the top QBs, but failed to make it through the entire season. Now there is some question if he will start, let alone be with the Broncos in 2011.
Palmer, Carson (CIN)
Career Synopsis: Drafted in 2003 as the #1 overall pick, he played back to up veteran, Jon Kitna and did not take a snap. The following year he took over starting duties with 13 games, showing very good potential with 2897 yards and 18 TDs.\
Coming off a 6-7 season with good totals for a young QB he was listed as a Tier 2 QB with guys like Favre, Brady, Hasselbeck, Bulger and Mike Vick. He would not disappoint in 2005 posting his best season to date and an 11-5 record for the Bengals. He would lead the NFL in TDs with 32 and 3836 yards. He would make the Pro Bowl for the first time as well. He would have surgery during the offseason to repair his MCL and ACL suffered during the year.
He would open the 2006 season under center, after being listed as a Tier 1 QB. While his TD pass number would be down (28 TDs) from 2005 he would break the 4000 yard plateau with 4035, go 8-8 and make his second Pro Bowl (shades of Boomer Esiason). He didn’t look like the QB he was before the injury but his numbers proved otherwise.
The following year I have him listed as a Tier 1 QB for the second straight year and while his TD production continued to decline (26 TDs) he threw for 4131 yards, but led the Bengals to a unimpressive 7-9 record. His 20 INTs also set a career high.
2008 would be a difficult year starting off the season with poor performances against Baltimore, Tennessee and the Giants, the Bengals went 0-3. He missed week 4 with a sore elbow, which was later diagnosed as a partially torn ligament and tendon and elected to rest the elbow and not undergo surgery to correct the problem. This ended his season.
With a reconstructed knee and rested elbow he started the 2009 season, but looked like a much different QB for the Bengals. He was listed as a Tier 2 QB. While he said he was “100 percent” his numbers were off the totals of 2005, 2006 and 2007. After a 10-6 season, he only threw for 3094 yards and 21 TDs. 2010 saw Palmer just miss the 4000 yard mark (3970 yards) and his TD total got a bump to 26, but a 4-12 had him questioning management and wanting to be traded. Needless to say his request was turned down.
Comments: While Palmer does carry some accolades with him, he continues in decline since 2007. Listed as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 QB he had numbers to back up those claims from 2005-2007, but since then is just another QB in a large group who fall under the “average” label. To his credit he did have a good 2010 even with some of this numbers trending the wrong way. He is tough to pass by in a draft, but with big names gone in Cincy and a team rebuilding I think Carson has seen his best days. Maybe retirement is the better option at this point.