Every year there are players of whom fantasy owners expect great things, and every year some don’t meet those lofty expectations and are deemed “busts.” Often, these players have considerable talent and their disappointing performance just turns out to be a down year in a solid career. A few months later, these players can provide excellent value in the mid-to-late rounds of fantasy drafts and can wind up returning to the level of play originally expected of them. The following list looks at some of the prime bounceback candidates for the 2004 season.
Donovan McNabb – Phi
Going into last year, McNabb was rated as either the #1 or #2 quarterback in almost everyone’s eyes. Unfortunately, Philadelphia’s signal-caller started very slowly, and his struggles hurt many fantasy teams at the beginning of the season. McNabb was hampered by a thumb injury from which he has since recovered, and showed a lot of promise at the end of the year. This season, with Terrell Owens catching passes and Shawn Andrews shoring up the offensive line, McNabb should return to being a dominant fantasy force and wind up among the top four QBs.
Rich Gannon – Oak
The 2002 MVP was just about as bad as you can get last year. He had numerous terrible games before going down with an injury. The Raiders as a whole were pretty horrendous in 2003, but with Jerry Porter now recovered from various nicks and bruises and the addition of two very good offensive linemen through the draft (tackle Robert Gallery and center Jake Grove), Gannon will have more time to throw and should provide good value as a late-round backup.
Ricky Williams – Mia
Considered by many to be worthy of the #1 pick a year ago, Ricky did not live up to expectations. He was roughly 400 yards and eight TDs short of his 2002 production, and was good for just three yards and a cloud of dust per carry. With a retooled offensive line and the addition of David Boston to spread the field, look for Williams to return to the ranks of the top five RBs this year … at least once he returns from his looming suspension.
Michael Bennett – Min
Following a 2002 campaign in which he reached the Pro Bowl, Bennett was deemed a good second fantasy back last year. He was hurt for most of the season, however, and when he returned he split carries with Onterrio Smith. I think Smith will be relegated to the bench, and although Moe Williams will once again vulture TDs, Bennett could be a very nice back this year.
Charlie Garner – TB
Garner was a receiving and rushing threat in Oakland, but also spent part of the season battling injuries. When he did play, he was nothing to write home about. Garner now finds himself in Tampa Bay, and while he could lose some carries to Jamel White and Mike Pittman, he is expected to be the Buccaneers’ main back. Garner will be a player you can get late, and should make a solid #3 fantasy back.
Eric Moulds – Buf
Just a year ago, Moulds was considered the fourth-best WR, but after a disappointing season he’ll be available much later than that this time around. He too was hampered by injuries, and the loss of Peerless Price which affected Buffalo’s entire passing game. With rookie Lee Evans keeping defenses honest and Moulds’ penchant for performing well in even-numbered years, Moulds could put up #1 WR numbers. Luckily he can probably be had for the price of a #2 or even #3 wideout, and that could be a very good thing.
Plaxico Burress – Pit
After a breakout year in 2002, Burress was one of the hottest names on 2003 cheat sheets. Unfortunately he was affected by nagging injuries and never really found his stride after Week 2, although he did show flashes at the end of the season with a two TD performance against San Diego. Tommy Maddox should also rebound from a poor 2003 season, and if he doesn’t, Ben Roethlisberger can step in and get it done. Burress has all the talent in the world and is in a contract year, so he could put up huge numbers as a fifth- or sixth-round pick.
Koren Robinson – Sea
Robinson also had a breakout year in 2002 and was expected to post monster numbers in 2003, yet turned out to be a non-entity for most of the season and was eventually supplanted as the #1 receiver in Seattle by Darrell Jackson. With a good passing game and a nice complement opposite him, Robinson could make a very nice pick this year. He could easily put up 1250 yards and eight TDs, excellent stats for a player that many people have given up on.
Jeremy Shockey – NYG
Shockey was hyped as the Next Big Thing, but never really lived up to expectations. He was injured in Week 9, and at that point had 535 yards and two scores. He should come back and play the whole season this year and hopefully will top his career-high of two TDs. He is not quite the bounceback bargain some of these players are because he will still be taken fairly early, but he should improve on his numbers this year. Then again, you guys didn’t really need me to tell you that.
Martin Gramatica – TB
“Automatica” had a terrible season last year, hitting only 16 of 26 field goals and only one from 50+ yards. He is usually one of the better kickers available and should return to form in 2004.
|Which players do you expect to return to form after disappointing 2003 seasons? Share your bounceback candidates with the Cafe!|