OpinionMarch 25, 2008

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Fading and Falling Stars

By Roberto Baltazar

We saw their names etched in the sky by their fans (including fantasy owners) when they broke records, earned distinctions, and carried their team to a hard-fought win, the playoffs, and to the Super Bowl. But as the saying goes, “nothing good lasts forever”, and this is true for some of those players as well. Considering their 2007 performances, is there hope that they will bounce back strongly in 2008 or should we start looking at them as either fading or falling stars?

“Fading” Stars are those players who might have some glitter left but whose value is slowly falling, mainly because age is finally catching up with them and therefore it is only natural that their once strong bodies begin to fail.

“Falling” Stars are players whose value has taken a nosedive and who we will likely no longer see included at or near the Top 10 at their positions.

Here’s a list of players, It is left to the reader to determine whether they should be considered a “fading” star, “falling” star, or neither.

1. Shaun Alexander – Alexander set the (since broken) single season TD record and was MVP in 2005. With that came the cover for Madden NFL 07 and unfortunately, “the Madden Curse” and a broken foot. Last season, he managed only 716 rushing yards (3.5 yards per carry) and 4 touchdowns. The general consensus is that he has reached the point of no return. With the signings of Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett, I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel for him, especially if he is relegated to a role of a backup. Perhaps going to another team could spark a change and improve his fantasy outlook, but at this point it appears bleak.

2. Marvin Harrison – In 2006, he was the #2 Wide Receiver statistically and has been selected in eight Pro Bowls in 11 seasons. However, the star veteran was sidelined in 2007 with a lingering knee injury and was only able to play 5 games. Harrison will be 36 years old this season, and if he cannot return fully healthy then count me as a fantasy owner who would face some difficulty in trading for him, as 2008 may well be his last season.

3. Rudi Johnson - Johnson was there but not really there. “Mr. Consistency” no longer, Johnsion turned in a dismal performance in ‘07 of 497 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and just 3 TDs, so perhaps we could start calling him “Mr. Spurts”. In fact, his so-called backup, Kenny Watson, outperformed him with 7 touchdowns and 763 rushing yards (4.3 yards per carry). Some may blame his persistent hamstring injury, but considering his age I will draft him with caution, if at all.

4. Willie Parker - For a guy dubbed “Fast Willie”, it might come as a surprise to see Parker scored only 2 TDs last season, a sharp dropoff from the 16 total touchdowns he scored in 2006. Do we blame that measly production on the O-line, or was it because the Steelers new coach opted more for a passing-oriented offense? Regardless, he was able to garner 1,316 rushing yards and may well have won the NFL rushing title were it not for the broken leg he sustained against the Rams.

5. Cedric Benson - He entered the NFL as a first-round selection (4th overall) by the Chicago Bears in the 2005 draft and was the team’s second leading rusher with 647 rushing yards on 157 carries (4.1 yards per carry) in his sophomore season. Many people thought he would be a star after Thomas Jones went to New York. Instead, what we saw was a mediocre RB whose performance was just short of disastrous. I wonder how many owners could still “Bear” to have this overrated player on their roster.

6. Jerious Norwood – Norwood is a guy who I thought would show me more flashes of his talent and would come out of the shadow of Warrick Dunn to be the Falcons’ main Running Back. As a rookie, Norwood toted the pigskin 99 times and racked up an impressive 633 yards (6.4 yards per carry). However, expectations that he would perhaps be the feature back did not materialize as he continued to perform a backup role to Warrick Dunn. For the 2008 season, Norwood will continue to be a backup to the newly acquired Michael Turner. Unless he is given sufficient playing time, i am worried that his “star” will soon fade into fantasy oblivion.

Still Glittering:

Ladainian Tomlinson’s star is definitely still up there, shining and glittering, so I did not include him on the list. I have always been awed by his performances in the red zone. His terrific stats (which include a record-breaking performance of 31 TDs in 2006) are nothing short of epic. Heading into 2008 his popularity and consensus #1 Overall Fantasy Ranking has been challenged by the emergence of Adrian Peterson. He is not getting any younger, but I am hopeful that the Chargers will continue to look to him as their “main man”, and feel that he will still remain the #1 overall pick in most fantasy drafts.

I’ve limited the list to the players who I drafted in some leagues last year and who I consider as my draft “busts” since they did not perform well for my fantasy teams… Feedback is welcome!

Robert is a football enthusiast from Asia and is one of the Cafe's resident fantasy football experts. He also specializes in designing sigs for Cafe members. Catch up with Robert in the Cafe forums where he posts as Madaslives911.
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