I really enjoyed compiling a Most Overrated NFL Players in 2012 list. It received a ton of feedback, and while not all of it was all positive, it was fun to argue which NFL players were truly the most overrated.
If you're too lazy to click the link, here's the rundown on who made the cut:
Of those 10, I was only really off on Brandon Marshall. I still think he's slightly overrated - he has never helped any of his teams reach the playoffs - but he should not have been named one of the 10 most overrated players in the league.
My goal this year is to go 10-for-10 in this overrated list. I thought long and hard about which NFL players receive too much acclaim, and here's what I came up with:
10. Jake Long, OT, Rams
If you followed Twitter throughout the NFL free agency period, you're familiar with the frenzy Jake Long generated. His extended physicals and wishy-washy decision-making made people go insane. Ram fans took to social media to beg Long to come to their team. The former Dolphin finally relented, inking a 4-year, $36 million deal.
Long used to be regarded as one of the top left tackles in the league, but his play has dropped off in recent seasons. Injuries can be blamed for this, but when is Long not hurt? He's always nursing something, and these maladies have a way of piling up. Just ask former Texan and Jaguar Tony Boselli. One of the NFL's top blockers, Boselli had to stop playing when he hit 30 because of a barrage of injuries. It's unfortunate, but it appears as though Long is headed in that direction.
9. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
Everyone always seems to have an excuse for why Darren McFadden disappoints every year. "Oh, he was just injured..." or "Oh, the blocking scheme didn't suit his skills..." or "Oh, his blocking was poor..." or "Oh, the Raiders were too dysfunctional for McFadden to produce..." or "Oh, he was just banged up again..."
How about, "Oh, McFadden just isn't that great?" Don't get me wrong; the former Arkansas star is talented, but what good is that talent if he's always hurt or absent of motivation or unable to adjust to a blocking scheme? McFadden, looking like he lost all of his explosiveness, averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in 2012. That's pathetic.
8. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs
Dwayne Bowe is one of the most physically gifted receivers in the NFL, but he doesn't grasp the mental aspect of the game enough - and the constant errors he's made have really killed his team in the past and ultimately cost both Matt Cassel and Romeo Crennel their jobs.
It all started when Bowe and head coach Todd Haley clashed. The latter was blamed by the media, but Bowe has still had his troubles with the next regime. He drops tons of passes and fumbles at the worst moments possible. He could be one of the top wideouts in the league if he were more focused, but being unreliable has always been something he should be more known for.
7. Jared Cook, TE, Rams
As with Darren McFadden, people love to make excuses for Jared Cook. Some fantasy publications love him because he wasn't utilized enough or correctly in Tennessee. What these publications fail to consider is that there's a reason for this.
Cook is very inconsistent. He disappears from time to time. He has issues grasping the playbook. He's not a good blocker. He hasn't put much effort into improving his overall game. He has never caught more than 50 passes in a single season. He's unbelievably athletic, but there is no way in hell he's worth anything close to the 5-year, $35 million deal he received from the Rams.
6. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
If you owned Antonio Gates in a fantasy league last year, you know that this guy is done. Not only could he not generate any sort of separation anymore; he couldn't even move. Gates, who just turned 33, caught only 49 balls for 538 yards. His yards-per-reception figure of 11.0 was the lowest of his career.
It should be apparent that Gates is done, but not everyone is aware of this. Gates was voted as the No. 73 player in the NFL Top 100 Players list. They ranked him over Jimmy Graham, for crying out loud.
5. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles
Do you know how many 100-yard games DeSean Jackson has had since the middle of December 2010? Four. That's it. Jackson is a one-trick pony who is too scared of taking hits over the middle of the field. He's a bad guy to have in the locker room. He's quit on his team before, prompting some of the Eagle players to call him a "candy a**." Despite all of this, Jackson is still considered a second-tier receiver in many circles. I've never understood the infatuation with him.
4. Ed Reed, S, Texans
I mentioned the NFL Top 100 Players of 2013 list earlier. Did you know that Ed Reed was voted No. 18 overall? If you don't think there's anything strange about that, well, that's exactly why Reed is extremely overrated. Here's what I wrote in response to that ranking:
3. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins
Mike Wallace is another one-trick receiver who is extremely overrated. He can run go routes with the best of them, but he can't do much else. In fact, his go routes aren't even that effective because he drops a ton of passes. He's also not very good to have in the locker room. He has a loser attitude which came to light when he signed with Miami. Several Steelers came out and said how much of a relief it is to have him off the team, hinting that it's better to have players who will take games seriously.
Wallace signed a 5-year, $60 million with the Dolphins this offseason, which is just insane. It's painfully obvious that he abandoned a perennial Super Bowl contender and went to a lesser team solely because of the money. This can't possibly go well for Miami.
2. QB Eagles No. 7, QB, Eagles
He was No. 2 on this list last year. Here's what I wrote:
The quarterback who has lost his name would have been No. 1 on this list a year ago, back when everyone was singing his praises and Matthew Berry was telling his followers to pick him first overall in fantasy drafts. I'll never forget the look on a bank security guard's face when we were discussing football and I told him that QB Dog Killer was the most overrated player in the NFL. I thought he was going to handcuff me.
People are now somewhat more familiar with QB Dog Killer's warts. He's very exciting to watch and he has great physical talent. There's no doubt about that. However, he struggles to read defenses and he can't recognize blitzes. Any smart defensive coordinator can simply out-game plan him, so I can't see Philadelphia ever advancing deep into the playoffs with him under center.
So, if more fans are familiar with QB Dog Killer's liabilities, why is he on this list? Is it because I hate his guts? Hardly. It's because he's not much of a runner anymore. I don't know if it's age (32 in June) or financial security after signing a huge contract, but QB Dog Killer's rushing attempts were down from 100 in 12 games in 2010 to just 76 in 13 games in 2011. His 76 scampers marked a career low in which he's started a dozen or more games.
And speaking of which, QB Dog Killer is unreliable. He always gets hurt, so the Eagles can't count on him to stay in the lineup.
Let's check in and see how things went in 2012... QBDK had more turnovers (15) than touchdowns (13). Shocker. His rushing attempts went down again to 62. Another shocker. He missed six games with injuries. Yet another shocker.
Despite it being painfully obvious that QBDK is a below-average quarterback, NFL analysts (mostly former players) continue to suggest that he's a good starter. Some even scoff at the idea that Nick Foles will start over him despite the fact that Foles outplayed him in 2012 as a mere rookie.
1. Wes Welker, WR, Broncos
Wes Welker was No. 1 on this list last year. Here's what I wrote:
This is not a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in the Super Bowl. I've always believed that Wes Welker has been incredibly overrated. When the average fan puts together a list of the top receivers in the NFL, Welker is usually included. He shouldn't be.
Welker is just a slot receiver. He's a really, really good slot receiver, but a slot receiver nonetheless. Because of the monstrous stats he has posted the past five years, some football fans argue that he's on the level of Larry Fitzgerald and other wideouts of that ilk.
There's no denying that Welker is tremendous in New England's system, but I highly doubt he would be half as effective in a normal offense with an average quarterback. Welker just doesn't have the talent to be a No. 1 wideout. He's very smart and crafty, and he's a great guy to have on a team, despite what hot supermodels may think, but his ability to be as effective in another scheme is very debatable. Forum mod Injured Reserve once told me, "The difference between Wes Welker and Davone Bess is Tom Brady." Like Welker, Bess is just a slot receiver. Who's to say Bess wouldn't post 100-plus receptions playing in Welker's spot with Brady?
This stat may surprise you: Aside from Brandon Marshall, no receiver has more drops in the past two years than Welker (26). Sure, Welker has many more targets than the average wideout, but most of the passes that go his way are of the short variety.
So, perhaps that decisive play in the Super Bowl wasn't a fluke. Maybe Tom Brady's supermodel wife knows what she's talking about after all.
Let's check in and see how things went in 2012... Welker once again led the NFL in drops (15). And no, he didn't have the most targets. In fact, three players saw more balls thrown their way. And once again, unlike those wideouts (Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Reggie Wayne), the majority of passes Welker saw were thrown near the line of scrimmage.
Credit Bill Belichick for recognizing that Welker was more of a product of his system than anything. He refused to pay Welker, allowing him to walk to his quarterback's greatest rival. The media made a big deal out of this, but Belichick didn't give a damn. The Patriots will get equal or better production out of Danny Amendola as long as the former Ram can stay healthy.
Overrated NFL Players Also Considered:
Jermon Bushrod, OT, Saints - Didn't surrender many sacks because Drew Brees got rid of the ball quickly. Allowed Brees to be pressured often.
Robert Griffin, QB, Redskins - Somehow was voted as the No. 15 overall player in the NFL Network's top 100. He has the talent to be ranked that high, but can he ever stay healthy?
Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers - Will he ever live up to his potential?
London Fletcher, ILB, Redskins - He was awful this past season, but was voted No. 86 in the top 100.
Dwight Freeney, DE/OLB, Chargers - As with Fletcher, Dwight Freeney's poor production in 2012 doesn't match his ranking in the top 100 (No. 80).
A.J. Hawk, ILB, Packers - He has nothing left in the tank.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Eagles - Could be good if he actually cared.
Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, 49ers - A fantastic pass-rusher, but was exposed in run support when Justin Smith was knocked out of the lineup.
Jonathan Vilma, ILB, Saints - Constantly gets washed away in the run. I suspect the only reason he's still on the team is a favor for staying quiet amid Bountygate.
Charles Woodson, S, Raiders - Another player who is pretty much washed up.