Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Change is simply a reality of life. No matter how much we wish things would stay the same, they will not. It's the same in the fantasy world.
Comparing the top-50 NFL fantasy rankings of 2011 and 2012, there is great variation in player values. In fact, 36 of last year's top-50 will begin this preseason with a lower ADP (Average Draft Position).
The reasons vary from player to player, but there seem to be three primary reasons for a drop in value: 1) poor performance; 2) injury; 3) fewer opportunities/competition for playing time.
The category title speaks for itself. These are athletes who have played their way out of the good graces of fantasy owners.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee (2011 ADP 4 to 2012 ADP 7) - Johnson was a victim of his own success. After an unbelievable season in 2009, he couldn't possible live up to expectations in 2010. He posted 1,364 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns, added 44 receptions for 245 yards and still he wasn't close to satisfying owners. Yet last season fantasy owners still had visions of 2009 in their head and ignoring his holdout selected him at No. 4. All the factors were set for failure and that's exactly what happened. He's worked out all off- season with the team and things are looking good for 2012, but gun shy fantasy owners aren't ready to pick him in the top-five.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (15 to 17) - Sometimes its not the player's fault, but the team around him. In this case it was his quarterback. Neither Kevin Kolb nor John Skelton showed the ability to get Fitzgerald the ball. Fantasy owners still love Fitzgerald, but don't see improvement under center.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis (21 - 23) - Jackson's yards from scrimmage dropped again and the injury-prone running back simply doesn't look the same at age 28 as he did at age 23 when he posted 2,334 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia (6 to 42) - Fantasy owners who were blinded by his spectacular 2010 season and selected him in the first round have seen the light. The drop to the beginning of the fifth round, however, may be a bit of overcompensation if receiver DeSean Jackson plays to his pre-contract dispute level.
Shone Greene, New York Jets (33 to 60) - Owners have finally stopped listening to the hype that the Jets will run the ball led by former playoff hero Greene. After three years of mediocre-to-poor results, they have chopped expectations for Greene to a much more reachable level.
Others: Frank Gore, San Francisco (18 to 36), Dez Bryant, Dallas (38 to 45), DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia (28 to 55), Tony Romo, Dallas (41 to 69), Jermichael Finley, Green Bay (42 to 70), Philip Rivers, San Diego (25 to 72), Mike Williams, Tampa Bay (36 to 111), Knowshon Moreno, Denver (45 to 158).
As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. Fantasy owners quickly forget how good a player was in the past. Many don't look at anything but last year's statistics and don't remember that a player missed half the season. They only see a small rushing or receiving total and bypass the player for someone with bigger numbers.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (1 to 13) - Considering most experts don't expect him to be ready to go in Week 1 this is actually showing respect for Peterson's ability.
Andre Johnson, Houston (7 to 18) - Fantasy owners obviously are looking at the numbers (33-492-2) and can't pull the trigger in the first round. Two things to remember when selecting or not selecting Johnson: he averaged 1,453 yards in the preceding three seasons and starting quarterback Matt Schaub was injured and missed six games and the playoffs.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City (5 to 19) - Charles' season lasted 12 carries for 83 yards. Even if you think he's healthy in 2012, the team brought in competition in the form of Peyton Hillis, so the drop in ADP for Charles is understandable and warranted.
Others: Miles Austin, Dallas (31 to 47), Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City (34 to 51), Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay (17 to 53), Antonio Gates, San Diego (37 to 56), Jahvid Best, Detroit (39 to 71), Jason Witten, (Dallas 49 to 73).
Fewer Opportunities/More Competition
A trade to a different team, bringing in a high-priced veteran or using a top draft choice for younger talent are all reasons for a fantasy player's drop in expectations.
Michael Turner, Atlanta (14 to 25) - Check the numbers, the Falcons have become a pass-first team. Over the past three seasons, Matt Ryan's passing yardage has improved from 2,916 to 3,705 to 4,177 and this trend should continue. The team has Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez to catch the ball and a favorable passing "strength of schedule." All told, the Falcons play just two teams that ranked in the top 10 for fewest passing yards (Denver, Philadelphia) and play 10 teams who were ranked 21st or worse (out of 32 teams). Turner's opportunities figure to drop in 2012.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay (22 to 29) - With defensive coordinators double- teaming Jennings, quarterback Aaron Rodgers found other receivers who could get the job done, in particular Jordy Nelson. The drop in Jennings' ADP is simply the acknowledgment that Nelson has become a star too.
Brandon Lloyd, New England (48 to 61) - Lloyd may be just as good as he was in Denver or St. Louis, but the fact is that he'll be no better than the No. 4 option in New England behind Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis (32 to 75) - During preseason last year, fantasy owners still expected Wayne to be catching passes from Peyton Manning at some time during the season. This year he'll be catching passes from a rookie - Andrew Luck.
LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay (29 to 100) - Blount is no longer expected to be the Bucs starting tailback. Most fantasy owners expect rookie Doug Martin to win the job. Considering Blount is useless as a third-down pass receiver/blocker the 71-position drop is simply an acknowledgement of his backup status and certainly warranted.
Others: Roddy White, Atlanta (12 to 26), Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (20 to 28), Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh (24 to 37), Peyton Hillis, Kansas City (26 to 79), Mark Ingram, New Orleans (47 to 98), Felix Jones, Dallas (32 to 125).