The 2009 All-Bust team

With the conclusion of every NFL season, a plethora of hardware is handed out to several players and teams for outstanding achievements.

But I find that a little unfair. Why only recognize the guys who stepped up? Why not bring attention and reward those who tanked our teams from the start of the season, taking what once looked to be a solid fantasy squad and turning it into a bumbling mess with each passing week?

Introducing the NFP’s 2009 Bust Awards in recognition of outstanding non-achievement in the field of fantasy football.

As always, feel free to let me know where I screwed up.

Note: We try to stay away from players who missed significant time due to injury (i.e. Brian Westbrook). However, getting suspended is fair game (i.e. Dwayne Bowe).

BUST OF THE YEAR

Derrick Ward Running Back Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Where do I begin with this guy? Ward was the epitome of the word “bust” as the free agent running back left the Big Apple to sign a four-year deal worth $17 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, only to be beaten out for the starting job by Cadillac “Two Bum Knees” Williams, the same guy who has had something like 50 ACL surgeries. After 17 miserable weeks, Ward closed out this season ranked 50th among fantasy running backs. Hard to believe he ranked that low after rushing for a whopping 409 yards and one touchdown. Thanks for the memories.

Derrick Ward’s Lowlight Reel

Week 2 at Buffalo (worst run defense in the NFL): nine carries, 32 yards (3.6 YPC), zero touchdowns

Week 7 vs. New England: 12 carries, 43 yards (3.6 YPC), zero touchdowns

Week 10 at Miami: 10 carries, 34 yards (3.4 YPC), zero touchdowns

WORST VALUE PICK

Matt Forte Running Back Chicago Bears

Forte didn’t make the All-Bust team at running back because his production for the season was sufficient enough to make him close to an every week starter (he finished the year ranked 17th in scoring among fantasy running backs). However, that same amount of production came in way below what was expected from the second-year standout.

According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com, Forte’s average draft position for a 10-team league was 1.4, meaning he was usually selected as the fourth overall pick in the first round. I don’t care what type of league you play in, every owner needs solid production from their first-round selection.

After setting the fantasy world on fire during his rookie season, Forte’s numbers fell off in the following categories: attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, yards per carry, receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns.

That’s a big drop, isn’t it?

Forte averaged 3.6 yards per carry and only found the end zone four times this season, compared with 12 TDs in 2008. In addition, he failed to top 1,000 rushing yards (929) despite starting all 16 games for the Bears.

To make matters worse, the Tulane product failed to top six fantasy points (standard scoring format) in seven games this season. That stat right there sums it up.

WORST ROAD PERFORMER

David Garrard Quarterback Jacksonville Jaguars

Garrard turned some heads last year when he quietly put together a respectable statistical season that ranked ninth in scoring among fantasy quarterbacks. While most owners entered their 2009 campaigns viewing Garrard as a backup, he was still widely considered one of the more reliable late-round options on the market at quarterback.

Despite all that, you’d be hard pressed to find another player who performed worse on the road this season than the Jaguars signal-caller.

In eight games away from Jacksonville, Garrard was abysmal, throwing just three touchdown passes and averaging a meager 197.2 passing yards per game while his Jaguars went 2-6. In those eight road games, Garrard was sacked 21 times, threw five interceptions and turned in a QB Rating of 75.1.

By the way, those numbers are slightly inflated from a fantasy perspective since two of Garrard’s three road touchdown passes came in Week 17 at Cleveland, when just about every fantasy league on the planet has wrapped up its season.

PLAYOFF BUST OF THE YEAR (WEEKS 14-16)

Donald Driver Wide Receiver Green Bay Packers

Driver finished the 2009 regular season ranked 18th in scoring among fantasy wide receivers as he averaged 8.0 points per week in standard-scoring formats. In addition, the savvy route runner posted his best yardage (1,061) and touchdown (6) totals since playing with quarterback Brett Favre in 2006. Driver was a bit of a sleeper this year as he not only outscored teammate Greg Jennings, he also posted some big-time performances, topping 10 fantasy points in six of his first 12 games.

Then, it all came to a screeching halt.

By Week 14, fantasy owners had grown comfortable with Driver in their starting lineups as the wide receiver found a way to deliver on a consistent basis. But over the final three games of the fantasy season (Weeks 14-16), the Green Bay pass-catcher hauled in a total of just eight passes for 120 yards, with zero touchdowns. Driver scored only 11 fantasy points when you needed him most, averaging a bust-worthy 3.6 points per game during the most important three-game stretch of the season.

Driver’s playoff “run”

Week 14 at Chicago: Two receptions, 11 yards, zero touchdowns

Week 15 at Pittsburgh: Three receptions, 76 yards, zero touchdowns

Week 16 vs. Seattle: Three receptions, 33 yards, zero touchdowns

It’s not like those were the toughest pass defenses in the NFL, either.

ROOKIE BUST OF THE YEAR

Darrius Heyward-Bey Wide Receiver Oakland Raiders

You have to feel bad for this kid because playing with quarterback JaMarcus Russell is a fantasy killer.

However, DHB was selected seventh overall in last April’s NFL Draft, prompting many fantasy owners to take a late-round shot on the speedster from Maryland.

In 11 starts, Heyward-Bey caught nine passes for 124 yards and one touchdown.

That says it all.

INJURY BUST OF THE YEAR

For those of you who want justice, this award goes out to a player who missed a significant time of action due to injuries but failed to produce even when he did play.

Clinton Portis Running Back Washington Redskins

According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com, Portis’ average draft position entering the 2009 season was 3.03, meaning he was usually selected at the beginning of the third round (10-team league).

The aging Redskins running back started the first eight games of the year before shutting down his season because of problems stemming from a concussion he suffered in Week 9 at Atlanta. However, if you made the mistake of drafting Portis in August, those eight games he played didn’t bring much.

Portis totaled just 551 yards (68.5 yards/game) with only two touchdowns in eight starts this season. He topped 100 yards rushing one time, but failed to eclipse 60 rushing yards on four of eight occasions.

I’m sure many of you will be calling for the Texans’ Steve Slaton to win this award, but the second-year running back still scored eight touchdowns in 11 games. That’s why we went with Portis.

NATIONAL FOOTBALL POST ALL-BUST FIRST TEAM

QUARTERBACK

Matt Cassel Kansas City Chiefs: Coming off a surprising 2008 top-10 fantasy finish in place of the injured T om Brady, Cassel entered the 2009 season with a fat new contract and full control over head coach Todd Haley’s offense. With a solid No. 1 deep threat in Dwayne Bowe (we’ll get to him later) and 17 weeks of garbage time stats on the horizon, many felt that Cassel was a sleeper poised to put his stamp on the fantasy world. If “stamp” means finishing 20th in scoring among fantasy quarterbacks while ranking 20th in passing yards (2,924), 21st in touchdowns (16) and seventh in interceptions (16), then mission accomplished.

Second Team: Jake Delhomme (Carolina Panthers). Awful, just awful. He may have only thrown eight touchdown passes this year, but don’t worry, he was able to connect on 18 interceptions.

RUNNING BACK

Brandon Jacobs New York Giants: A first-round draft pick in deeper leagues, Jacobs killed fantasy owners on a consistent basis as the Big Blue bruiser found the end zone just six times in 15 games. Jacobs finished the year ranked 30th in scoring among fantasy running backs and 25th in rushing, with just 835 yards. To make matters worse, late-round draft pick and Giants backup running back Ahmad Bradshaw actually finished the season with more fantasy points than Jacobs, all while coming at a much better value.

Derrick Ward Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ward took his shots above in the “Bust of the Year” category, so there’s no need to pile on. You get the idea.

LenDale White Tennessee Titans: We all knew coming into the season that White’s role was going to be reduced due to the emergence of speedster Chris Johnson. Add in the fact that LenWhale dropped some much needed weight by cutting Tequila out of his diet (bad move in my opinion; that stuff got me through undergrad), and the former USC standout looked like a somewhat reliable late-round back who could add depth to your roster. Seventeen weeks later, the free-agent-to-be didn’t do himself any favors by averaging just 3.5 yards per carry on only 64 rushes. White’s best game of the season came in Week 5 when he picked up 51 yards on 10 carries against the Indianapolis Colts. With numbers like those, I can see several teams beating down his door this offseason. The problem is they all play in Canada.

Second Team: Larry Johnson (Kansas City Chiefs/Cincinnati Bengals), Marshawn Lynch (Buffalo Bills) and Jamal Lewis (Cleveland Browns). Johnson headlines this group of underperforming troublemakers. He actually had more suspensions this season (one), than he did rushing touchdowns (zero). Good stuff.

WIDE RECEIVER

Roy Williams Dallas Cowboys: This was supposed to be the year that Williams stepped up and asserted himself as one of the NFL’s top wide receivers. With an accurate, gun-slinging quarterback in Tony Romo and a solid running game to help keep defenses honest, the table was set for Williams to make an impact. Instead, the guy that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones traded three draft picks for returned the favor by catching 38 passes for 596 yards. While Williams did add seven touchdowns, four came after Week 11, when you had probably given up starting Williams on a weekly basis. Williams actually posted eight games with two or fewer receptions and topped five catches in a game just one time, when he hauled in six against the Giants in Week 12. That says bust in my book.

Ted Ginn, Jr. Miami Dolphins: Nobody drafted Ginn expecting him to single-handedly win fantasy games on a weekly basis. But several owners took a shot on the former Ohio State Buckeye because he was supposed to be the No. 1 target in Miami this season. After 17 weeks of getting called out by his coaches, teammates, fans and everyone else this side of Istanbul, Ginn heads to the offseason with the unimpressive stat line of 38-454-1. He ranked a lackluster 79th in scoring among fantasy wide receivers. That says a lot of things, the first of which is, “Don’t draft Ted Ginn in 2010.”

Kevin Walter Houston Texans: Walter helped your fantasy team about as much as Tiger Woods’ public relations people helped keep the golf star’s image squeaky clean after his recent “transgressions.” The veteran wideout from Eastern Michigan did catch 53 passes this season, but he found the end zone only two times in 14 games. Walter didn’t top 100 yards receiving in a single game this year and failed to eclipse 40 yards receiving in seven of 14 contests. Keep in mind, this guy has the pass-happy Matt Schaub at quarterback and all-world stud Andre Johnson forcing defenses to roll coverage in his direction. In addition, tight end Owen Daniels was lost for the season, which freed up more targets for Walter to NOT take advantage of. That’s what you call underperforming.

Second Team: Terrell Owens (Buffalo Bills), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Seattle Seahawks) and Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City Chiefs). These three wasted draft picks combined for one fewer touchdown (12) than Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss (13). Owens and Housh reminded us every week that they’re way past their prime, while Bowe got himself suspended for performance-enhancing drugs. However, he did bounce back from his suspension to drop passes and run the wrong routes, prompting several coaches to call him “lazy.”

TIGHT END

Jeremy Shockey New Orleans Saints: I used to party at a house 50 yards from where Shockey lived when he played for the Giants, so I’m going to watch my mouth here for fear of angering this guy --because he really is that scary looking in person. Bottom line: The guy caught only 48 passes and ranked 18th in scoring among fantasy tight ends, despite playing on an offense that ranked first in total yards, first in points per game and features a quarterback that just set the NFL record for completion percentage in a season (70.6 percent). After two years in New Orleans in which he caught a grand total of four more passes (98) than Jason Witten caught this season (94), it’s safe to say we should all stay away next year.

Second Team: Dustin Keller (New York Jets). You can probably pin this one on rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, but Keller caught three fewer passes (45) and scored one fewer touchdown (2) in 12 starts this season than he did in six starts last year.

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

New York Giants: If something smells funky in your neighborhood today, chances are the source is northern New Jersey, home of the New York Football Giants. Big Blue closed out the season dropping four of its final six games en route to a mediocre 8-8 season. In those four losses, the Giants gave up a staggering 156 points (39.0 pts./game) as their secondary was absolutely thrashed time and time again. New York was a preseason top five fantasy D/ST but finished 2009 ranked 18th in the league. I could go on and on about how badly this unit performed, but when first-year defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was fired this week, that will sum up this season perfectly.

Second Team: Washington Redskins. The ‘Skins spent $100 million on defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth last offseason and finished the year ranked 16th against the run and 27th in scoring among fantasy D/STs.

KICKER

Jason Elam Atlanta Falcons: Elam used to be one of the best kickers in the game and had the luxury of playing his home games in a dome, while traveling to play division rivals who either had favorable weather (Carolina, Tampa Bay) or also played in a dome (New Orleans). The result? A 30th-place fantasy finish among kickers and the boot from a Falcons organization that had seen enough after Week 12. Elam knocked home only 12 of 19 field goals for a 63.2-percent conversion rat e, the lowest of his 17-year career.

Second Team: Nick Folk (Dallas Cowboys). You know life is bad when you get the chop for another kicker (Shaun Suisham) who had just been cut by his own team a few weeks earlier.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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