- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 20, 2011

Through six weeks, we’ve all made our share of roster moves. But whether we’re winning, losing or treading water at .500, it’s likely we’ve all got some relatively dead weight we’re not sure what to do with.

I’m not talking about the obvious busts we’ve already jettisoned, or the late-round fliers that didn’t work out. I’m talking about those high draft picks that haven’t lived up to the hype.

We expect production out of the top third of our drafts. When those players (generally drafted in the first five rounds) don’t live up to our expectations, we have a tendency to hang on too long, inserting them into our lineups week after week, ignoring post-draft reality while complaining to our fellow fantasy owners who we hope will understand our pain. It’s tough to come to grips with the fact that players we hoped would bring us a fantasy title are making us look foolish. There’s always that nagging feeling that the week we decide to move on and cut our losses, Player X will finally have that huge game, and THEN we’ll REALLY look stupid.

So, what to do? Well, it depends on the player. The following is a list — in reverse order of importance based on what I expected of them initially — of this season’s biggest disappointments, and advice on what to do with them moving forward.

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: When it was announced that Peyton Manning was sidelined for most, if not all, of the season, I made sure to avoid his top target. However, I did not expect him to disappear. Wayne hasn’t scored since Week 1 and he has no rapport with new quarterback Curtis Painter. I wouldn’t waive him yet, but he’s no longer worth a start on a regular week.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys/Shonn Greene, RB, Jets/Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: I’m combining this trio because they were viewed as the running backs most likely to turn potential into production at the position many consider the most important in fantasy football. None, however, has delivered anywhere near the value that was hoped for. Jones can’t stay healthy and is no longer worth a roster spot. Greene has benefited from the team’s return to a “ground and pound” philosophy the past two weeks, rushing for a respectable 157 yards and 1 TD. But he’s averaging less than 4 yards per carry. He’s a solid flex option as long as he’s getting the bulk of the carries. Moreno is the most intriguing case. He lost his starting job to Willis McGahee after injuring his hamstring in the opener. He had been a nonfactor until last week, when he scored on a screen pass from Tim Tebow. With Tebow taking over for Kyle Orton, expect coach John Fox to lean heavily on his running backs, as he did successfully in Carolina with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. At the very least, Moreno will likely vulture some of McGahee’s TDs, so he’s worth keeping around as a backup and occasional spot starter.

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: I thought his 2010 season was a fluke, figuring defenses would adjust and his style of play would too often lead to injuries. I was right. However, while I’ve enjoyed his fall from fantasy grace, I didn’t expect it to be so thorough. Until Rex Grossman (the most inexplicably confident QB in the NFL) went on an interception spree last week, Vick was tied for the league lead with seven picks. It seems silly at this point that he was considered by some experts to be the No. 1 overall pick heading into the season. Because of the lack of dependable fantasy quarterbacks and his big-play potential, Vick is still a viable starter. But just barely. Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Rivers, Romo, Stafford and Newton are all better plays each week.

Arian Foster, RB, Texans: Another top 5 pick in most drafts I shied away from. Foster is still an every-week starter, assuming his hamstring holds up, but with WR Andre Johnson banged up and QB Matt Schaub having a down year, Foster won’t come close to repeating last year’s 18-TD performance (he has 1 TD in four games so far).

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: Maybe he’s still rounding into shape after a protracted holdout. Whatever the reason, he’s killing fantasy teams across the country. Despite starting all five games, he has just 250 yards (on an embarrassing 3 yards per carry) and 1 TD. Johnson can’t perform that badly the rest of the way, but, like Foster, you can’t count on him to carry you as he’s done in the past.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons: I saved this spot for the one player I coveted this year. I targeted him in all three of my drafts and was lucky enough (I thought) to select him in the second round in two of them. In my preseason column I wrote this: “Roddy White will end up being That Guy this year. The one fantasy owners will be kicking themselves for bypassing.” So far, I’ve been as wrong about him as I’ve been right about Vick. QB Matt Ryan has regressed and the offense has sputtered, limiting the NFL’s leading receiver from a year ago to 34 catches and 2 TDs in six games. Nagging leg injuries (thigh, knee) and dropped passes have compounded White’s disappointing performance. But with rookie WR Julio Jones unable to stay healthy and TE Tony Gonzalez approaching AARP membership, White will remain the primary target. Even with the sad line of 2 catches for 21 yards last week, it’s too early to give up on him. Give White and the Falcons (a disappointing 3-3 themselves) a couple more games to turn it around before making a decision.

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