By Michael Fabiano
Fantasy football enthusiasts can have short memories. We remember the heroics of Drew Brees, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice and Andre Johnson last season, but we tend to forget about other formerly prominent players that had down seasons due to injuries or other on-the-field intangibles. Rather than pass on such players, however, clever owners should actually target them instead. That's right, in certain cases these forgotten men can turn into some of the best draft values on the board. Want proof? Just ask anyone who drafted Thomas Jones last season. With that in mind, here's 10 players who faltered last season but are primed to produce improved numbers in 2010.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Ryan didn't meet the expectations of fantasy owners last season, but he still averaged close to 210 passing yards per game and scored a combined 23 touchdowns. He has the moxie and confidence to succeed at the NFL level, so Ryan could turn into a very nice gem in drafts. Based on his mediocre 2009 campaign, he could still be on the board in the low middle rounds in some formats.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears
There might not have been a bigger disappointment in fantasy football last season than Forte, who was a top-five pick but produced more like a middle rounder. While he won't reach his impressive rookie totals with Chester Taylor in the mix, Forte can still be an asset for fantasy owners in PPR leagues. New coordinator Mike Martz loves to throw the football, so a versatile back like Forte could have success.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers
The Cadillac was stuck in neutral in the two seasons leading up to 2009 with knee problems, but he still re-emerged into a viable option with over 1,000 scrimmage yards and seven total touchdowns. Those numbers were good enough to finish in the top 30 in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com. While injuries are a concern, Williams could turn out to be a very nice draft value in the low middle rounds.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers
The late-season emergence of Jonathan Stewart has put a dent into the value of Williams for 2010. But before he went down with an ankle injury, Williams was on pace to finish with 79 more carries than Stewart. He'll also remain the top back on the depth chart for coach John Fox, who's always been very loyal to his veterans. If you can land Williams as a No. 2 back in the second round, consider it a major bargain.
Dwayne Bowe, WR Chiefs
Bowe was a popular breakout candidate last season, but inconsistent play and a four-game suspension caused him to land on the waiver wire in some leagues. That won't be the case in 2010, though, as Bowe should benefit from the presence of new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. He has 70-catch, 1,000-yard potential in his fourth NFL season and could be a very solid No. 3 fantasy option if he falls in drafts.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers
Jennings might have posted a respectable 1,113 yards last season, but his reception and touchdown totals were down compared to his breakout season of 2008. On a positive note, he did post 100-plus yards in three of his final four starts (including the postseason) and has a fairly favorable schedule ahead of him. With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, Jennings could post No. 1 wideout numbers at a No. 2 draft position.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
Outside of Matt Forte, Johnson was the biggest disappointment in fantasy football in 2009. Things should turn for the better this season, though, as the man called "Megatron" is past his knee issues and now has Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler to help draw coverage from opposing defenses. Don't be shocked if Johnson posts the same sort of numbers he had during his breakout fantasy season of 2008.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins
Moss hasn't been a reliable fantasy contributor since 2005, but the addition of Donovan McNabb bodes well for his statistical projections. The veteran should develop into McNabb's top option in the pass attack, especially when the offense goes vertical, so a season with 70-plus receptions, 1,000 yards and six to eight touchdowns is well within reach. Moss could become a nice No. 3 fantasy option.
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans
Over the first eight games of last season, Daniels was the top-scoring tight end in fantasy football. Unfortunately, he sustained a torn ACL that put him on the shelf for the final eight contests. All reports concerning his rehab have been positive, however, so Daniels should be back in a prominent role in Week 1. He has 80-catch potential in the Texans offense and could be a low middle-round steal.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings
When we talk about the top fantasy tight ends, the names Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis come to mind. However, Shiancoe developed into an elite point scorer last season on the strength of a career-best 11 touchdowns. With a ton of depth at the position, Shiancoe could still be on the board in the late rounds on draft day. If Brett Favre returns, that would make Shiancoe a solid bargain.
Other notables:Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs; Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals; Lee Evans, WR, Bills; Hines Ward, WR, Steelers; Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins.