For many fantasy owners hanging in the playoff race by a thread, patience is hard to come by with only a few weeks left in the regular season. Time is running out for many high-round players to produce.
Following are three players that haven't lived up to their pre-draft expectations, and no longer deserve a spot in your starting lineup.
Michael Clayton (WR – Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – Clayton dazzled last year when he caught a team-high 80 balls for 1,193 yards (14.9 avg.) and seven touchdowns as a rookie. He caught seven or more receptions in four games and started the final 13 games of the season.
It's been a different story this year. The 6-3, 215-pound wideout from LSU is on pace for less than 50 catches and 600 receiving yards. Highly touted entering the season, Clayton has only 25 receptions for 275 yards (11.0 avg.) and hasn't seen the end zone in eight games. His pedestrian output has been a result of a bruised knee and, ironically, the emergence of oft-injured wide receiver Joey Galloway, who is having a Pro Bowl year with seven touchdowns.
In this week's injury report, Clayton is listed as questionable. That also should be his status for your starting lineup the rest of the season.
Dallas Clark (TE – Indianapolis Colts) – Clark is a perfect example why nothing can be assumed in fantasy football. For the past few years, the Colts have used their tight ends to perfection. Unfortunately, neither Marcus Pollard nor Dallas Clark had real fantasy value since they shared snaps.
When Pollard signed with the Detroit Lions this off-season, many people anticipated Clark's production would skyrocket with no real competition at backup tight end. Instead, through eight games, he has only 19 catches for 205 yards with two touchdowns. He might surpass his career highs in catches (29), receiving yards (423) and touchdowns (5), but he'll still fall short of expectations.
Clark is partially a victim of the Colts' offense, which hasn't put up the same yardage or scoring numbers it did in 2004. Either way, his role is limited, and it doesn't look to grow considerably in the coming weeks.
Jamal Lewis (RB – Baltimore Ravens) – Aside from past production, age, health and a few other miscellaneous categories, fantasy owners often look at contract status before assigning a grade to a player.
It's often thought that a player in his contract year performs better because he's fighting for a lucrative deal. That's sometimes the case, but Lewis proves that there are exceptions to every rule.
The former 2,000-yard bruising back currently averages 53.3 rushing yards per game and has gained only 480 yards on 159 carries (3.0 avg.) with two total touchdowns. Lewis has looked like a completely different player from a year ago, when he surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the fourth consecutive season.
It doesn't help that Lewis plays in a moribund offense with a shaky quarterback situation. Unfortunately, he plays a position that's tough to fill. But if you have any other options, it's time to use them.