Every year around this time, millions of Americans kick off fantasy football season. After months of scouting, drafting, adding, and dropping, all the blood, sweat, tears, and hand cramps that go along with preparing for a new year of fake football become absolutely worthwhile.
Amidst all the pomp and circumstance of the moment is a group of real-life football players that are seemingly brought to this earth to torment the fictional locker rooms of our made-up ballclubs. They may be superstars who absolutely murder the opposition, big-name Pro Bowl-types who can’t get it done on paper, or the projected fantasy studs that can’t step their game up.
No matter who they are, we all can agree that they are deserving of our hatred. Which is why we’ve narrowed the group down and present for your enjoyment a list of the Top 11 Fantasy Football Players We Love To Hate.
*Editor’s Note: This list only includes active NFL players. So sorry, Shaun Alexander, but you don’t qualify.
11. Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis Colts
With one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game throwing him passes, you wouldn’t think that Anthony Gonzalez would have such a hard time succeeding in the NFL.
When he isn’t falling down at the line of scrimmage and sidelining himself for two-to-six weeks, Gonzalez is a fringe fantasy player, at best, who has yet to capitalize on his considerable talent.
In each of his three pro seasons, Gonzalez has been a highly touted sleeper who has yet to live up to his preseason billing.
Out of action for at least a portion of 2009 after his Week One flop (literally), Gonzalez is in the midst of letting fantasy owners down once again this season.
10. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben is arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Two Superbowl rings and a penchant for winning big games will help you attain such a lofty label.
Unfortunately, real-world success doesn’t always translate into fantasy success, and there may be no greater example of this than Roethlisberger.
For example, the typical Ben Roethlisberger game usually amounts to 200 yards passing, a touchdown or two, and the occasional interception. A performance like that might net you a win in real life, but in fantasy you might as well be Bubby Brister.
Fact is, fantasy owners aren’t looking for efficient game managers who save their energy for the playoffs. And that’s exactly what Ben Roethlisberger is.
He might be a franchise QB in real life, but in the world of cyberball, Ben Roethlisberger is just your average joe.
9. Braylon Edwards, WR, Cleveland Browns
With hands to rival that of any Tyrannosaurus Rex, Braylon Edwards has plagued fantasy owners over the years thanks to his knack for dropping the ball.
Contradicting his job title as receiver, Edwards is an undeniable talent that has had three bad fantasy seasons to negate one good one. Which means if you’ve had him on your team all four years that he’s been the league, you’ve probably hated his ass for 75% of that duration.
The fact that Edwards is a member of the Cleveland Browns doesn’t do anything to salvage his reputation as a fantasy dud, and with a drone for a head coach and a muddled quarterback situation, the future doesn’t appear bright for the ex-Pro Bowler.
8. LenDale White, RB, Tennessee Titans
Nicknamed “Plumpy” by the owners in my fantasy keeper league, LenDale White is perhaps the worst kind of fantasy player there is. No matter whether you’re with or against him, White seems to strike at all the wrong times.
First of all, he’s a touchdown vulture. Teammate Chris Johnson is more apt to do the dirty work, marching his way towards the end zone, before getting treated like the black guy in Varsity Blues. Once inside the five-yard line, Johnson becomes the forgotten man and White gets the glory of the score. Think of it as sitting through 20 minutes of foreplay before someone else gets to come in and nail your significant other.
Second, he’s a notorious fat ass that can’t run for more than, say, eight or nine yards without getting winded. On a typical afternoon, Plumpy will tally 30 rushing yards and record two or three touchdowns. Except on the weeks when you pull him off your bench. Those weeks he’ll still record the same yardage, only he won’t be able to find the end zone. Enjoy your three fantasy points.
Third, the only time he seems to do well is when you happen to be playing against him or need big production from Johnson. Those are the days where he reaches deep down and musters 40 or 50 rushing yards and one or two extra TDs. He’s an absolute killer.
White’s big claim to fame is that he quit drinking tequila over the offseason as a way to lose weight. Interestingly enough, the world’s supply of tequila continues to decrease thanks to all the fantasy owners who need a drink after being victimized on a weekly basis by Plumpy’s inconsistent play.
7. Laurence Maroney, RB, New England Patriots
An all-world talent, Maroney was a perennial first-round draft selection in most leagues until 2009, when everyone finally caught on to his act of deception.
In his first three professional seasons, Maroney racked up 1,673 rushing yards and ran for 12 TDs. Those are decent numbers, without a doubt, but nowhere near the production level that the Patriots tailback was expected to maintain.
In 2008, Maroney was placed on injured reserve after suffering a shoulder injury and quickly went from promising underachiever to complete afterthought.
This season, Maroney is a victim of the Patriots’ four-man rotation of running backs (along with Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk), and his days as a viable fantasy option appear to be behind him.
6. Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins
The most mind-numbingly frustrating wide receiver in the history of the world, Moss has plagued fantasy owners for years thanks to manically inconsistent play.
Just as likely to go off for 200 yards receiving as he his to put up a goose egg, the University of Miami product is the kind of player that either festers on your bench, unworthy of your trust, or starts on a weekly basis, costing you games in which he fails to produce.
No doubt Moss is a difference maker: In most cases, he’s the difference between a win or a loss in your weekly matchup, dependent upon which Santana Moss chooses to show up.
Further proof of Moss’s inconsistency is evident in his career statistics. Though he has topped 1,000 yards receiving on three occasions, none of those grand seasons came in back-to-back years.
In 2003, Moss tallied 1,105 receiving yards and a career-high 10 TDs. The next season he went for 838 yards and just five TDs.
In 2005, Moss recorded a career-high 1,483 yards, adding nine TDs in the process. One year later, he produced barely half the yardage (790) and just two-thirds the number of TDs (six).
In 2007, Moss’s seventh season as a pro, he appeared to be on the decline of his career after amounting just 808 yards and three TDs. Surprisingly, the diminutive pass-catcher rebounded in ’08 with 1,044 yards and six TDs.
If history is any indication, 2009 should be a down year for Moss. Now 30 years of age and in his ninth professional season, down years may become the norm for the man who has been nothing if not inconsistent as all hell.
5. Edgerrin James, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Edge has been a 1,000-yard rusher seven times in ten seasons, which makes you wonder why he’s even on this list. If you’ve ever had the guy on your team, you might know why.
James has a reputation for racking up yardage in a painfully slow manner. He runs for ten meaningless yards. Then eight, then seven, then nine, and before you know it you look up and he’s put up a 1,000-yard season. But how did he do it, you ask. You never saw him record a 100-yard game, nor have a run longer than 20 yards all year.
And that’s exactly what is so befuddling about him. His inability to put up relevant fantasy numbers, while totaling Hall of Fame-worthy stats.
The biggest knocks on James in the roto world are as follows:
a. He doesn’t run for big gains.
b. He doesn’t post very many 100-yard rushing games.
c. He doesn’t run for very many touchdowns.
Edge may be destined for Canton sometime in the not-so-distant future, but he’d have a tough time making the fantasy football Hall of Fame after 10 seasons of perfecting his efficiently inefficient style of play.
4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
A.P. could be higher on this list, but the fact is he’s only hated by 90% of fantasy owners out there. The other 10% have the Oklahoma product on their teams.
Even when the likes of LaDanian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, and Marshall Faulk were in their primes, nobody tormented fantasy owners the way Peterson does.
Entering 2009, Peterson had already rushed for 3,101 yards in just two professional seasons. In the process, he found the end zone 22 times, and had amounted 16 games (one full season’s worth) with over 100 yards rushing.
Facing Peterson on any given week is almost guaranteeing oneself a loss, and there’s no denying that he will be the unquestioned No. 1 overall pick in fantasy football for years to come.
3. Reggie Bush, RB, New Orleans Saints
Since his arrival to the National Football League in 2006, Reggie Bush has been one of the most highly touted underachievers in sports history, fantasy or otherwise.
Following an outstanding collegiate career at USC, Bush entered the NFL to a great deal of hype and fanfare. Dubbed as the savior of a once-moribund New Orleans Saints franchise, Bush has been anything but in his three pro seasons.
Beset by injury and inconsistency, and lacking the durability of an every-down back, Bush has rarely displayed the brilliant athleticism that he showcased in his college days.
In spite of all that, fantasy owners have been more than willing to give Kim Kardashian’s ex opportunity after opportunity, drafting him as high as round one as recently as this year.
Based on talent alone, it’s hard to argue with spending a high pick on the speedback. Common sense, however, would indicate that drafting a second-string running back who has never rushed for more than 581 yards in a season is a bad idea.
Until Bush manages his breakout season, he will continue to frustrate blinded fantasy owners who only see the potential of sunshine through all the dark clouds.
2. Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Larry Johnson is a bonehead. There’s no getting around it.
As a bonehead, L.J. has squandered his good standing with the Kansas City Chiefs organization and, more importantly for us, deceived all the fantasy owners who wasted first-round picks on him in 2007 and 2008.
Blessed with all the God-given talent in the world at the running back position, Johnson rushed for a combined 3,539 yards and 37 TDs in 2005 and 2006. That remarkable performance had him pegged as a fantasy stud for years to come.
That is until 2007, when Johnson headed down a path of injury and idiocy that all but eliminated his chances for the fantasy football Hall of Fame.
A foot injury in Week 9 of the ’07 season forced Johnson to the injured reserve list, and offseason antics didn’t improve his standing for the following year. In February, 2008, Johnson was arrested for the third time in five years for assaulting a woman. By October, he had been arrested a fourth time for a similar crime.
His transgressions and durability issues have prompted a reduced role for Johnson in Kansas City’s offense, and at 29 years of age, L.J.’s best days are likely well in the past at this stage of his career.
1. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Like Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady is likely known to you only as a sign of the enemy. A murderer of your weekly fantasy hopes, and a criminal responsible for stealing your victories and instead handing you defeats.
That is, unless you were fortunate enough to land Brady in 2008, in which case he probably goes down as one of your least favorite human beings in the history of the world.
You see, most fantasy superstars only plague you from an opponent’s standpoint. You never expect to land such a stud on your roster, and instead you watch from an outsider’s perspective as the likes of a Tom Brady terrorizes both your fantasy league and the NFL.
That’s why 2008 was supposed to be your year. The year you managed to thwart all the other owners in your league and secure a superstar like Brady on your roster. The Patriots QB, who you despised personally and secretly wished ill will against when he wasn’t on your team, would establish a new mark for greatness at his position, leading you to a league championship in the process, and….wait, what? What?! Are you..?! Are you kidding me?! Injured?! INJURED?!! In week one?! OUT FOR THE SEASON?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
Yes. The Benedict Arnold of franchise quarterbacks, Brady betrayed you in the absolute worst way in 2008. Amidst season-after-season of Pro Bowl-caliber play, Mr. Gisele Bundchen showed the world his soft side by succumbing to a knee injury in the first game of the year. End of season. End of the world.
Instead of Brady racking up the points for your team, you began to plow through quarterbacks like Ron Jeremy through a taco fest, entrusting your offense to Matt Hasselbeck, then Trent Edwards, and ultimately Shaun Hill. It was bad. Real bad. Tarvaris Jackson.
A year later you passed on Brady and in all likelihood the future Hall of Famer will return to form in 2009, costing you at least one win when you play him during the season. Damn you, Tom Brady. Damn you to hell.