Fantasy Underachievers

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Yesterday's piece evaluated the best bargains of 2011 through the first quarter of the season. Today we will head in the opposite direction, looking at those fantasy players off to a slower- than-expected start.

We will try to ignore most injury-related slow starts as that's beyond our control. Therefore we will look past the fact that you paid a high price for Jamaal Charles, Miles Austin, Antonio Gates and Peyton Manning and search only for healthy non-performers.


Michael Vick, Philadelphia (preseason rank 12) - There were a few preseason fantasy lists that had Vick as the No.1 overall pick. Most, however, had Vick going a little later in the first round because of injury concerns. And the majority were right in this case as Vick has failed to finish two of the first four games this year. Still, he's ranked ninth among quarterbacks having earned 71 fantasy points and is coming off a personal-best 416-yard passing day against San Francisco. This is not the time to panic. The Eagles still have all their offensive weapons and will apparently need to use them often as the Philadelphia defense, particularly the run-stoppers, have been awful this season.

Sam Bradford, St. Louis (preseason rank 88) - Bradford had a solid rookie season (3,512 yards, 18 TDs, 15 INTs) and was expected to grow into a low-end, full-time fantasy starter in 2011. That hasn't happened and it's primarily due to an offensive line that has him running for his life. The rams are on pace for 72 sacks. It also hasn't helped that most of his receiving corps has a case of the "drops." Unless you are in a keeper league and can afford to wait until next year, my advice is Sell! Sell! Sell!

Running Backs

Chris Johnson, Tennessee (preseason rank 5) - You can't say that you weren't warned many times before you selected the training camp holdout. On numerous occasions I referred to Larry Johnson's holdout in the summer of 2007 and his subsequent slow start. If you have survived his three-week sub-par effort (87 yards on 46 carries through Week 3) then his performance last week should have you feeling great. It was the first time that he's looked like the Chris Johnson of the last three years. Resist all low-ball offers as Johnson is ready to resume stardom.

Shonn Greene, New York Jets (preseason rank 31) - Oh, the humanity. Greene has been living off two great 2009 playoff game performance, meanwhile disappointing fantasy owner for a second consecutive year. In 32 regular season games he's cracked the 100-yard mark just two times and scored more than one touchdown in a game once. It's a mystery why he gets selected so high. The Jets can't run the ball and bring in LaDainian Tomlinson in passing situations. That makes Green useless as far as fantasy owners are concerned.

DeAngelo Williams, Carolina (preseason rank 37) - The Panthers gave him how much money? The big contract obvious fooled fantasy owners into thinking that he could return to the form that made him the TSN fantasy Player of the Year in 2008. Check the numbers and you will see that nothing could be further from the truth. His yards-per-carry has dropped in each of the last four seasons from 5.5 in 2008 to 3.9 this season. His carries-per-game (9.3) has also hit a four-year low. You don't want Williams or Jonathan Stewart in your lineup with Cam Newton running and passing the way he has this season.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver (preseason rank 40) - The injury-prone Moreno has lost his starting spot to eight-year veteran Willis McGahee. Finally healthy last week, he got just three touches (two rushes, one catch). Maybe you could trade him for a kicker or a couple of footballs.

Wide Receivers

Mike Williams, Tampa Bay (preseason rank 35) - Williams produced very good numbers in his rookie season last year and quickly became quarterback Josh Freeman's favorite target (65-964-11). Unfortunately, the Bucs offense has been mediocre this year and Freeman has spread the ball more evenly between Williams (30), Earnest Graham (28) Kellen Winslow (27), Preston Parker (21) and Arrelious Benn (14).

Mike Williams, Seattle (preseason rank 129) - This Mike Williams is suffering from the combination of a below average quarterback and better competition at the receiving position. Seahawks starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson will never be confused for Brett Favre or Donovan McNabb. And wideout Sidney Rice has complete out-performed Williams. In four games Williams has 14 targets, catching just eight balls for 79 yards. The future does not look bright for Williams and he shouldn't be in your starting lineup.

Mario Manningham, New York Giants (preseason rank 61) - When Steve Smith jumped ship, signing with rival Philadelphia, it appeared to be a great opportunity for Manningham. After all, Manningham had performed well in 2010 when both Hakeem Nicks and Smith were sidelined with injuries. It hasn't worked out that way, however, and Manningham has actually lost his starting spot to Victor Cruz. I'm not ready to give up on Manningham, just yet, so sit him on your bench for later in the season.

Tight Ends

Zach Miller, Seattle (preseason rank 128) - Miller was frequently underrated in his years in Oakland posting 56 or-more receptions in each of his last three seasons. Unfortunately, he headed north in the offseason, to Seattle, and finds himself struggling in a new offense. He's got just 15 targets in four games, and has totaled 62 yards without a touchdown. He shouldn't be on a fantasy roster at this point...there are too many good tight ends around the league.

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville (preseason rank 110) - Lewis exploded onto the fantasy radar screen last year with 58 receptions for 700 yards and a career- high 10 touchdowns. But that was with David Garrard at quarterback. With Luke McCown and rookie Blaine Gabbert, Lewis has managed just seven catches for 81 yards and no scores. Find another tight end to start.

Brent Celek, Philadelphia (preseason rank 180) - In the offseason both Eagles management and Vick promised to get Celek more involved in the offense. Liar, liar, pants of fire. Celek has been targeted 16 times in four games and caught eight balls for 67 yards. The tight end position is too strong to accept this type of production.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at

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