Fantasy Football 2013: Montee Ball and other busts to avoid this year

Jul 27, 2013; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball (38) during training camp at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I am always nervous when I go to a restaurant for the first time, because I never know if I am going to get what I expect. I am a pizza snob, having worked at a local pizza place as a college student and enjoying really nice pizza for really cheap.

So when I go to a new pizza joint, I check Google and Yelp and Urbanspoon to see what people think, and usually wind up disappointed based on the expectations these ratings set.

Some fantasy football players are the same way. You enter a draft not sure how you feel about a particular player, and so you check various websites to see how they rate. You look at projections and rankings and settle on a personal feeling on a player, only to have him rip your heart out and disappoint you all season long.

Here are three players who I believe will be disappointing fantasy producers this year.

Montee Ball, Running Back for the Denver Broncos, 19th ranked running back on ESPN.com

ESPN bases their projections for Ball on a total of 247 carries, and those carries turning into 8 touchdowns. Part of this is due to Matthew Berry’s insistence that Ball will score double digit touchdowns, something he repeats over and over on The Fantasy Focus Football Podcast for ESPN.

But as a team in 2012, the Broncos ran for only 12 scores, and second-year back Ronnie Hillman and veteran Knowshon Moreno are both still around to steal from Ball. Even if Ball gets the majority of the rushing touchdowns for Denver, he might still only finish with five or six.

And Denver often runs a Peyton Manning-led “no huddle” offense with fewer substitutions, so if Hillman or Moreno are on the field to begin a successful drive, they will likely still be there for the goal line situation, reducing Ball’s appeal as a goal line specialist.

Plus, it’s a bad idea to take a goal line back as your RB2 in a fantasy football league. David Wilson, Darren Sproles, and Reggie Bush all provide a much better option in the same range.

Aug 8, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) runs out on the field before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Jackson, Running back for the Atlanta Falcons, 11th ranked running back on ESPN.com

Just like the 2012 Broncos, the 2012 Atlanta Falcons rushed for 12 touchdowns as a team. But unlike the Broncos, the Falcons had one back healthy over the course of the season, and he received a majority of the touchdowns. But don’t like Michael Turner’s “success” fool you, there’s not a great opportunity for a running back in Atlanta.

According to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required), the Falcon’s offensive line has been in a sharp decline over the last four years when it comes to run blocking. The once dominant front five which paved the way for some of Turner’s best years is now one of the worst in the league.

There have been no major additions on the offensive line in Atlanta, and they still have one of the most potent passing attacks with some of the best receiving options in the NFL. So Jackson might manage 6-8 touchdowns, but he’ll have an overall line that more closely resembles the one projected for Montee Ball, which would put him at least a round later in most drafts.

The Falcons are going to be fine on offense, but Jackson is not going to see the kind of success you’re seeing on most fantasy sites. Take Matt Forte or Maurice Jones-Drew instead.

Mike Wallace, Wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, 16th ranked receiver on ESPN.com

Just like Steven Jackson, Mike Wallace isn’t entering the best situation to do what he does best, and that will hamper his fantasy value.

Last season, the Dolphins two leading receivers were possession receivers who ran shorter routes, and that translated to reliable PPR production, but nothing more.

The only player on the team who scored more than two receiving touchdowns was tight end Anthony Fasano. So why would anyone expect Mike Wallace to step in and haul in 7-10 scores? Because that’s what he’s going to need to provide to make it worth it to draft him among the top 20 wide receivers.

Wallace dropped 6 of his 70 catchable targets in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s moving to an offense where the quarterback completed 5% fewer passes compared to the offense he’s leaving.

So expecting Mike to rebound and have more catches for more yards and more touchdowns seems downright foolish. You should pick Victor Cruz or Reggie Wayne instead of Wallace, and depending on whether you prefer a younger player with upside, or an old, trustworthy veteran.

Topics: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Fantasy Football, Miami Dolphins, Mike Wallace, Montee Ball, Steven Jackson

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