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Revenge of the Busts

After the first two weeks of the season, there were quite a few busts, left for dead and hanging on for dear life on many a roster. And then suddenly, out of nowhere like an unexpected zombie invasion, these busts resurrected from the dead and made a fantasy impact. For every unexpected comeback bust though, there were negative consequences for other fantasy stars. Let’s take a look at the Brutal and Merciless Revenge of 3 Busts and the fantasy implications their malicious vengeance caused.

Ryan Grant

I could’ve sworn that James Starks was the new lead running back for the Super Bowl winning Packers. After Starks had clearly outplayed Grant in the first two games, it seemed a done deal that Starks would continue his dominance going forward. And then Week 3 happened and Starks was the lone negative in the Packers key divisional victory over the Bears.

With Starks critical fumble that helped key a Bears’ comeback being his only “highlight” of the game, Starks “gained” an embarrassingly low 11 yards on 5 carries. And what did over the hill bust Ryan Grant do in response? He rushed for a tough 92 yards on 17 carries, playing a significant role in beating the Bears at Soldier Field.

Grant’s status for Week 4 is a little complicated because of a bruised kidney injury but if he plays against a mediocre Denver defense, it’s going to be interesting to see which running back is the most productive. In Week 1, Grant had nine carries to Starks’ 12, as Starks played the majority of the 2nd half. In Week 2, Grant had only six carries for a paltry 21 yards while Starks clearly outshined him gaining over 100 total yards. It remains to be seen how long Grant’s resurrection will last, which makes the Denver game all the more interesting.

Ryan Mathews

Ryan Mathews and Ryan Grant’s respective situations are eerily similar. Both RBs had negative buzz at the end of August when most drafts were held. Both RBs had disappointing seasons last year, marred by injuries that made them lose their spot at as the best fantasy RB on their teams. For the first two weeks of the season, both Mike Tolbert and James Starks seemed like the player most owners wanted to have on their teams.

The differences stop there though. Grant may still have some tread left on those tires but he’s not long for Green Bay after this season. Mathews, on the other hand, is the future of the Chargers’ offense. He also was the biggest bust of 2010, based on his still to this day outrageous 1st round ADP. This year Mathews was drafted in the 4th/5th round and he might end up being  one of the fantasy football’s best values.

Week 2 was Mike Tolbert’s Waterloo. His 2.1 yards per carry was already an early red flag but he had made up for it with touchdowns and piling up receiving yards. Mathews was clearly outplaying him between the tackles but Tolbert still seemed entrenched as the goal line and passing down running back. And then Tolbert fumbled in Week 2 against the Patriots, obliterating any chance the Chargers might’ve had against the then invincible Patriots. While Tolbert still had over 70 receiving yards in Week 2, owners knew there would be consequences for Tolbert basically losing the game for the Chargers.

The consequences were dire for Tolbert as he lost his spot as the passing down back and main goal line carrier. Instead, Tolbert was relegated to being Mathews’ backup, carrying the ball only four times for 19 rushing yards. Unlike the Starks/Grant showdown, the Mathews/Tolbert competition seems to have taken a decisive turn in Mathews direction. If Mathews keeps up his incredible production, close to 400 total yards and 3 touchdowns after three weeks, Mathews may finally reach his potential and be the best fantasy comeback player of 2011.

Lance Moore

The New Orleans Wide Receiver fantasy sweepstakes has taken a lot of twists and turns since the season started. For those keeping score at home, here’s a quick recap. Marques Colston got injured in Week 1, opening up an opportunity for either Lance Moore, Robert Meachem or Devery Henderson. Lance Moore was injured before the season started so he didn’t even play in Week 1 and only played sparingly in Week 2.

This left Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson and the former waiver wire wonder Henderson held an early lead with two fantastic performances. For the first two weeks of the season as Brees primary target, Henderson averaged 100 receiving yards and 1 touchdown. After Week 2, Henderson was one of the hottest waiver wire picks on the market.

And then Lance Moore got healthy and had an incredible comeback performance last Sunday, in a crucial shootout with the Texans. Moore’s breakout game included 9 receptions, 88 yards, 1 touchdown and two 2-point conversions. Henderson could only muster a measly three receptions for 62 yards. For his part, Meachem continued to be reliable for five catches and a touchdown, which he’s done in every game thus far. Meachem might actually be a better value than Henderson going forward.

With the return of Colston only weeks away, Henderson might get buried even further down the depth chart. Moore’s outstanding Week 3 further muddies the waters as to who is the best fantasy Saints’ receiver. This weekend’s game against the Jaguars will give us a better idea on which Saints’ receiver will be the best fantasy option, which will impact the values of Henderson, Meachem and even Colston, once he returns.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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