It’s amazing how quickly some fantasy stars can fall out of favor. We’ve narrowed down the list to the 11 fantasy-relevant players most surprising to be unemployed this July. Some of these former fantasy stars should find new homes eventually, but some of them have likely played their last down in the NFL.
11) James Starks (RB): A few years ago, Starks appeared to be the best back on one of the most productive offenses in the league and was a necessary high-end handcuff to a injury-prone lottery pick. Starks is now one of several examples of how quickly that window closes for runners in the NFL. Green Bay preferred to go with few running options up to the draft where they brought in a few more. Starks career is likely over.
10) Vincent Jackson (WR): For years V-Jax was considered a low end WR1 in fantasy with San Diego. After a few solid seasons in Tampa Bay, injuries and problems getting separation began to factor into his fantasy value. With the emergence of Mike Evans as the primary WR, Jackson was a late round dart throw last season that unsurprisingly couldn’t hold up for another NFL season. He seems content retiring in Tampa.
9) Khiry Robinson (RB): The former Saint was a solid sleeper RB for years when New Orleans either suffered some backfield injuries or fed their most violent runner the ball. Robinson was able to parlay his limited success into a contract with the Jets that showed some short term fantasy value. With the free agent signing of Matt Forte and the emergence of Bilall Powell, Robinson was the odd man out of the Jets backfield last season and remains out of work.
8) Robert Griffin III (QB): Griffin’s well documented fall from grace in Washington led him to a shot to be the starting QB in Cleveland. Nobody was surprised that RGIII was injured and missed most of the season (although I was surprised how quickly he was hurt). With more intriguing younger options, Cleveland decided to cut the cord on the former Rookie of the Year. With no links to teams, RG3 will likely have to wait until a training camp injury to get a call. And that’s best case scenario.
7) Stevie Johnson (WR): Early in his career, Stevie Johnson was an electric WR for the Buffalo Bills that seemed destined for fantasy football stardom. Like many of the guys on this list, Johnson couldn’t remain healthy and eventually joined San Diego on a limited deal. Although he has shown some promise when healthy and he was certainly worthy of a roster spot in fantasy early last year, San Diego has moved on and Johnson is waiting for the call.
6) Ladarius Green (TE): Many fantasy experts missed the board when they listed Green as one of the best sleeper options of 2016. The former Steeler spent much of the year on the PUP list and never gelled with the offense when he did briefly return. As a cap casualty in a weak free agent market, you would think teams are simply waiting for a clean bill of health to sign the once promising deep threat for the Chargers.
5) Rashad Jennings (RB): The Dancing With the Stars champion has made it clear that he’s not ready to hang up the cleats just yet. Jennings has been in the RB2/FLEX conversation over the last three or four years for Jacksonville and New York, but age, injuries, lack of receiving skills are all factors in his lack of fantasy value moving forward. Perhaps he could be a 3rd string RB for the right team once a RB goes down?
4) Gary Barnridge (TE): Last season Barnridge was one of those fantasy values I really didn’t like and it ended up being his last with the Cleveland Browns. Barnridge was relatively unknown, but had surprising success with Josh McCown in 2015 and received a big extension that summer. As it goes though, Barnridge didn’t keep that level of play up and the once deep sleeper is now looking for work and should be an intriguing add sometime this preseason.
3) DeAngelo Williams (RB): Often overdrafted last year (thanks to a missed drug test by Bell), Williams performed excellent as the Steelers backup RB over the last few years. Likely because of age, teams are shying away from the former Panther and Steeler forcing him into a brief minor league wrestling career. Williams is another back that could get the call once a team realizes they could use that versatile backup.
2) Anquan Boldin (WR): Although he’s 85 years old, Boldin isn’t ready to hang up the cleats yet and he wants a shot to play in 2017. Last year with the Lions, Boldin surprised a lot of people as an elite red zone target that was certainly worthy of a dart board start when your WR corps was lacking. Somebody should bring in Boldin for simply his red zone presence. I hear the Bills are calling.
1) Colin Kaepernick (QB): Did you know this guy was unsigned?