It's easy to call a player a bust. Simply look at where he was drafted and where he finished. If his fantasy point production didn't match or exceed his average draft position, then we cuss his name for the rest of eternity, vowing never to draft him again.
Again, that's the easy approach. However, our goal from one season to the next is to learn from past mistakes and apply them to the future. We do so by exploring the reasons he had a down season. Below is a small list of players who qualified as a bust, along with knowledge gained.
Maurice Jones-Drew; During the preseason every fantasy outlet from here to Beijing was warning us about the injury history of players who holdout through the entire preseason. We read names like Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson, Darrelle Revis and Dorsey Levins (for you old-schoolers). But an ADP in the mid/late second round was simply too appealing for a guy who led the league in rushing the year before. Lesson learned.
Brandon Lloyd; Many opined that Lloyd was set for a stellar season thinking, "If he can finish number one in fantasy scoring with Kyle Orton and Josh McDaniels, just think what he'll do with Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels" (myself included). However we failed to realize that Lloyd was the only receiving threat while in Denver, meaning he led the Broncos in targets. In New England Lloyd was third in the "target pecking order" behind Wes Welker and whichever tight end was healthy. The sudden increase in rushing attempts didn't help matters. Lesson learned.
Ryan Mathews; This is an easy one. The term "injury prone" isn't the Madden Curse, it's a reality. Certain players have a propensity for injury like me and Playboy. Other names come to mind such as Darren McFadden or DeMarco Murray, but Mathews had the worst of it by far. We should also note a severely depleted offensive line working against Mathews. If injuries weren't a part of football, each of the guys listed would be a solid top 10 pick. But I digress. Lesson learned.
Larry Fitzgerald; Oh, poor Larry. Perhaps the most physically gifted of all wide receivers, Fitz was hung out to dry by the torturous rotation of quarterbacks down in the desert (Dwayne Bowe also makes this list). Wide receivers devoid of a competent signal caller are severely limited by a lack of team talent. Fitzgerald might have been better off throwing the football to himself. Lesson learned.
Philip Rivers; Not the highest of draft picks, but managers who snagged Rivers early in the sixth round thought they had struck gold with the onetime Pro Bowler. What they actually found was a fugazi. Rivers struggles are easily attributed to the declining talent of his receivers (you can thank AJ Smith). Remember back in the preseason, the Chargers were pinning their hopes on Robert Meachem, Malcolm Floyd and the aging Antonio Gates, while letting Vincent Jackson walk in free agency. Even a moderately talented Danario Alexander quickly surpassed both on the depth chart. Had Vincent Brown not gotten injured, maybe Rivers season could have been salvaged. Like Ryan Mathews mentioned above, a paper thin offensive line didn't help matters. Lesson learned.
These are just a handful of the players whose pre-draft expectations went up in smoke. If you had a player on your team who made the s**t list, instead of leaving a nasty message on facebook, take a look back and determine why his season ended so poorly. Perhaps you might even find a lesson learned.