The process of posting my list of bust players begins with a review of who I hit on and who I missed on from the previous year's list. So why not review them to get a better feel for what to look for (and what to not look for) when considering a bust?
(Plus it's always fun to look over my lists and laugh at the stupid picks I made. Fun for you, not me.)
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
What I said: Cutler would struggle to catch on to Marc Trestman's offense.
What happened: Cutler didn't struggle at all -- a rickety preseason was forgotten after he had 20-plus Fantasy points in five of his first six games. If not for injuries he would have finished easily as a Top 10 quarterback.
Bust or no bust? As much as I'd love to take credit for this one because Cutler finished as the 21st QB in Fantasy last season, I'm not. My reasoning was off and I was saved only because he got hurt. Josh McCown was grabbed by many of Cutler's owners and they thrived. Maybe you'll disagree but I can't call Cutler a straight-up bust.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
What I said: The Steelers would be more run-oriented and Roethlisberger's inexperienced receiving corps would hurt him.
What happened: Roethlisberger was horrible for his first seven games, then came alive when the Steelers ran the no-huddle with incredible success. Antonio Brown broke out in a big way, Emmanuel Sanders posted big numbers on his way to free agency and the supplemental numbers from Le'Veon Bell and Jerricho Cotchery helped push Roethlisberger into the Top 10 by the end of the season.
Bust or no bust? It looked good early but Big Ben made me look bad late. Not even close to a bust.
Andre Brown, RB, Giants
What I said: Brown looked like the better draft bargain than David Wilson but durability issues combined with a lack of promised playing time made him unappealing.
What happened: Brown got hurt before the season even started! When he did play he did have three big games in his first four but then cooled off big time down the stretch. On the plus side, he ended the season healthy and was the Giants' best rusher last season. That was good enough for him to finish as the 49th best back in Fantasy.
Bust or no bust? Busto.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
What I said: Gore's declining workload would catch up with him, making him a good Flex pick in Round 4 but not a No. 2 running back. He went over 2,000 carries in 2012 and would begin breaking down in 2013.
What happened: Gore vented about his lack of work and the Niners responded by giving him the ball. He had nearly 20 more carries and 10 more catches in '13 than he had in '12, totaling 10 touchdowns and over 1,300 yards in the process.
Bust or no bust? See what I get for picking a fellow 'Cane as a bust?! Maybe I shouldn't have Reggie Wayne on my list this year. Not a bust.
Chris Ivory, RB, Jets
What I said: Ivory's injury risk overshadows his potential in the Jets' run-first offense. Only once in the last seven years has Ivory played more than five consecutive games and has totaled 15 or more carries in consecutive games just once over three years.
What happened: Ivory played 15 games, including 12 consecutively, but finished with 843 total yards and three touchdowns. So he was healthy enough to play but wasn't a consistent factor for the Jets. At all. One week 34 carries, six the next. He did have 15-plus carries in back-to-back games, though.
Bust or no bust? When you play 15 games and Trent Richardson still scores more Fantasy points than you, you're a bust. The Jets were so happy with Ivory's work that they signed Chris Johnson this offseason.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
What I said: Something something injuries, something something terrible offense, something something lack of opportunities.
What happened: McFadden played 10 games, totaled less than 500 yards and scored five touchdowns ... and still got a contract from the Raiders this offseason! So did Maurice Jones-Drew, though.
Bust or no bust? Obvious bust is obvious.
Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots
What I said: Just because he signed with the Patriots didn't mean Amendola would become a Fantasy dynamo. He was still considered very injury prone. I predicted 12 games or less for him.
What happened: Amendola was plagued by injury and played in 12 games and put up worse numbers than he did with the Rams in 2012. This is in spite of the Patriots offense relying on several rookie receivers. His breakout 2010 season looks more and more like an anomaly.
Bust or no bust? With only three games with 10-plus Fantasy points (Dwayne Bowe had more), Amendola was a bust.
Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings
What I said: Jennings took the cash grab with the Vikings and would struggle mightily with Christian Ponder as his quarterback. Added that by the end of the year teams would worry more about Cordarrelle Patterson.
What happened: Jennings was awful with Ponder but better with Cassel, suggesting that he can do well with a capable quarterback. He finished just inside the Top 40 receivers in Fantasy but, like Amendola, had just three games all season with 10-plus Fantasy points.
Bust or no bust? Bust. And FYI, Patterson had four 10-plus Fantasy games -- all in the last four weeks of the season.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants
What I said: Nicks loafed it during training camp, making Tom Coughlin turn red-in-the-face angry. I surmised that Nicks was worried about getting hurt during his contract year like DeSean Jackson did a few years back.
What happened: Nicks went touchdown-less and racked up just 56 catches in 15 games. He did record a remarkable 16.0 yards per catch but the Giants offense failed everyone who played in it. So while Nicks' numbers made him awful to own in Fantasy, his receiving average suggested he's not gassed as a pro. And playing 15 games was a pleasant surprise for the G-men.
Bust or no bust? He didn't score a touchdown. Bust. But remember the positives here when you re-evaluate him for 2014.
Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins
What I said: Wallace looked like the standard receiver who would change teams, get paid and underwhelm statistically. He and Ryan Tannehill struggled to get on the same page in training camp and Wallace would serve as the top wideout, a role he might not be suited for.
What happened: Wallace didn't deliver big numbers -- 963 total yards and five touchdowns with five games with 10-plus Fantasy points. He often struggled as the top receiver for the Dolphins and the playcalling couldn't figure out how to better use him. Not that it would have helped as Miami's O-line was a mess, making it hard on Tannehill to throw. The worst part? Wallace averaged a career-worst 12.7 receiving average.
Bust or no bust? This is one for the bust column.
Grand total: 0-2 on QBs, 3-1 on RBs, 4-0 on WRs. 7-3 overall.
So not bad, but what did we learn? Picking injury-prone players as busts doesn't reek of originality, and when we use it as a reason not to draft someone it doesn't mean it's going to work out that way, but it obviously is a significant factor. And picking busts on teams likely to struggle offensively isn't exactly rocket science, but it works.
The last factor is whether or not the expectations put upon a player are likely to come through. That's where we went wrong with Gore -- we thought his workload would continue to be lightened and instead it went the other way and his numbers were super. There are busts on my current 2014 list where I don't believe expectations will materialize. Might have to double-check those guys before pushing the publish button.