Every year in fantasy football there are certain players you don’t end up with on any of your teams. There are two groups among these players. The first group is the list of guys you simply didn’t end up with for no reason other than chance, for me last year one of these players was Jordy Nelson. I didn’t avoid him intentionally I just didn’t end up with him. The second group is the players you avoided, and that is what we are going to talk about here. Sometimes the players you avoid end up bombing and you look genius, like I did with Trent Richardson and CJ Spiller last year. Other times the player busts out and has huge year and you look foolish for it, for me this was Matt Forte last year. While having Matt Forte in some of my leagues(I played in 11 leagues last year, so that’s my sample size) would have been nice I would definitely make do the exact same thing if given the option of having him or totally avoiding CJ Spiller and Trent Richardson. Now it’s time to look at the players I’m avoiding at each position.
Average draft ranking(averaged among the big 3, Yahoo Sports, NFL.com and ESPN) 69
I don’t believe, it’s that simple. I have been down on Foles since before pre-season. First of all the sample size is tiny. This is a guy who started 10 games for the Eagles last year. His touchdown interception ratio is not repeatable point blank. Foles has already thrown more interceptions this pre-season than he did all of last year. The loss of DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant is going to hurt him, his receiving corps looks very thin with brittle Jeremy Maclin(more on him later), Riley Cooper and Jordan Matthews as his best options. His draft price is what raises my biggest flag though. In a year where QB is super deep why would you waste a 7th or 8th round pick(in a 10 team standard league) on Foles when you could draft Andy Dalton in the 13th round? Or Tony Romo in the early 10th round? He is the player with all my flags going into this year’s fantasy season and I am sure I won’t him in any drafts.
Average draft ranking: 102
It’s not really the price tag that makes me feel compelled to stay away from Rivers,( A 10th or 11th round pick in standard leagues) it’s that I think the Chargers offensive philosophy changed into a run first team the latter half of last year, combined with my feeling that Rivers hit his ceiling last year and won’t repeat those totals. If you factor in some regression for Rivers I like a few players being drafted in similar territory better. Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Andy Dalton, and Tom Brady are all better or more interesting options than Rivers who can be had at similar value.
Average draft ranking: 95
Copy and paste what I said about Rivers and just change the part where the offensive philosophy changed to a run first team to “has been a run first team”.
Average draft ranking: 55
This is mostly about price tag. I think the argument about Cam Newton losing all his receivers is a little overblown. Cam Newton isn’t a top 5 fantasy football quarterback because he is a great passer, it’s because he is a solid QB who adds a back-up running back’s season totals onto his stats. I think his receiving corps will be negligible in affecting his fantasy outlook. The main concerns I have are his recent injuries(ankle in the off-season, and rib fracture in the 3rd pre-season game) and if that takes away some of the goal line carries Cam is used to seeing as a measure of precaution. If he loses some of his rushing totals he is comparable to Colin Kaepernick or other QB’s being drafted much later than he is. If Cam falls to you, there is nothing wrong with taking him, but his 6th round price tag is a little steep, especially considering QB is so deep.
Average draft ranking: 20
I think this is a disaster waiting to happen. Martin didn’t look good last before he got hurt, hasn’t looked great in this year’s pre-season and is somehow a top 20 overall player who some have as high as a first round pick? Yeah right, give me a break. Firstly, he has not played well. A 3.6 ypc average and just 1 touchdown in six games last year before the injury and a 3.2 ypc average on 21 carries this pre-season. Secondly, he seems to be in a dreaded RBBC(running back by committee) with rookie Charles Sims, Mike James and maybe Bobby Rainey(if the Bucs keep him). So your telling me a guy who is closing in on Trent Richardson esque numbers who isn’t “the guy” in his offense is a first or second round pick? No way
Average draft ranking: 18
It’s not the player it’s the price tag. I like Bernard and think he will build off of a strong rookie year, but I can’t risk taking him with a second round pick. The running backs that ruined teams last year were the unproven young running backs who were going to “step up” because they were supposed to be “the guy”(aka Trent Richardson and CJ Spiller). I don’t want to end up having another guy like that cripple my team by submitting a good year and not a great year at a high draft price. The first two rounds of the draft are about minimizing risk and taking the surest players you can. Not that Bernard isn’t a sure player, but not to the quality and certainty that a similar player like Alfred Morris does. I ended up grabbing Bernard in one of my leagues, but in the 4th round. If you can find him that late or even somewhere around the 3rd round he is definitely worth grabbing, but going higher than that is a reach.
Average draft ranking: 34
If I’m drafting a Lions running back this year it’s going to be Joique Bell. Bell’s average draft position is the start of the 6th round(50) and I don’t think the gap between them is as big as people think. There has been speculation that with Joe Lombardi coming in as Detroit’s offensive coordinator that Reggie Bush will resume the role he had with the Saints, which wasn’t very useful for fantasy football. On top of that I wouldn’t dream of taking Bush in the 4th or as early as the 3rd round as some people have him ranked. There are plenty of better players available so don’t buy into Bush.
Average draft ranking: 62
I’m not touching any skill position players on the Jets, besides Chris Ivory and Geno Smith are going to drain a lot of production away from Chris Johnson.
Average draft ranking: 123
I don’t want any part of a Saints running back not named Pierre Thomas. I would rather take Shonn Greene, Knowshon Moreno, DeAngelo Williams or Fred Jackson then speculate what a back-up running back on a team that doesn’t run will do.
Average draft ranking: 47
Do you know how little the Seahawks pass? They were 31st in pass attempts with 420 last season, the median pass attempts for a team last season was 578. The gap between their passing attempts from the median was over a third of their total pass attempts! What does this have to with Percy Harvin? A lot. He is being drafted in the 5th round with receivers like Victor Cruz, Cordarrelle Patterson, Michael Floyd, Torrey Smith and Pierre Garcon are going. I would rather have all of them then Harvin. I am just doubtful of the volume he is going to receive in the Seattle offense to warrant his current draft position, if they utilize him the way Minnesota did by running him out of the backfield a couple times a game maybe it can be justified but I am doubtful.
DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon
Average draft ranking: 48, 41
I am staying away from this duo of receivers. They are a lesser version of the Bears twin receiver headache and I don’t know if either is worth it. Garcon is probably the safer bet but he is going earlier to account for that. I don’t know how they will affect each other’s production and tack that on to a struggling RG3 and I am going to stay away from these two during the draft.
Average draft ranking: 39
A late 4th or early 5th round draft pick is a bit too high for Fitzgerald. He finished 7 spots ahead of Michael Floyd in receiver scoring but is a full round ahead of him? Their stat lines are separated by one thing, can you guess what it is?
Floyd 112 targets, 65 catches, 1041 yards and 5 touchdowns
Fitzgerald 136 targets, 82 catches, 954 yards and 10 touchdowns
So if the difference between those two is negligible other than the touchdown discrepancy why wouldn’t you just wait for Floyd and grab a player like Vincent Jackson, Keenan Allen or Gronk in the 4th round?
Average draft ranking: 33
I have no doubts about Andre Johnson as and NFL player, he is easily a top 5 receiver, but he has been a frustrating own at times in fantasy over the last few years. First were the injuries that plagued him for a while. The frustrating part of owning him now is his low touchdown totals, he has only had 9 touchdowns in the last two years combined. Last year all 5 of his touchdowns came in two back to back games, meaning fantasy owners had to rely on his yards totals for fantasy points for 14 games out of the season, that greatly caps his ceiling. With Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback this year I am concerned more of the same is coming, Fitzpatrick used Kendall Wright as the high volume low touchdown player in Tennessee last year.
Average draft ranking: 75
He is un-draftable to me, and the fact that is going in the top 10 rounds is astonishing to me. I can see a case built for Riley Cooper as a productive player this year and I like Jordan Matthews as a sleeper but I can’t conceive Maclin staying healthy and being productive this year. I am dubious in the argument that Maclin will benefit by the departure of DeSean Jackson. Jackson was a primarily a deep threat and so is Riley Cooper, so I assume Cooper will take over that role if anyone does. Also the addition of Darren Sproles eats away at a big chunk of the targets left behind by Jackson. Even if he does both of those things, he has lost all the value for whatever upside he has by being an 8th round draft pick
Average draft ranking: 36
I’m concerned he is a regression candidate this year. The Broncos offensive output is going to have some regression compared to last year’s record breaking year and I think Thomas’ 12 touchdowns from last year is unlikely to happen again this year, and that would be a big hit to his value. Thomas was 8th among tight ends in receiving yards last year, but third in touchdowns among tight ends, trailing only Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis. So if he drops off a couple touchdowns he won’t justify his 4th round price tag at all. Pair that with the fact that he is an injury risk who hasn’t played a full 16 game season in his career. He isn’t Jimmy Graham or Gronk so he shouldn’t be drafted as high as them.
Average draft ranking: 58
You could hit Ctrl+V for most of what I wrote about Julius Thomas. The 13 touchdown campaign that Davis had is unlikely to repeat this year and that diminishes his value. The difference between Davis and Thomas is that I think Thomas will still be heavily involved in the Broncos offense while I think Davis’ role in the offense could shrink. While he scored so many touchdowns last year it was easy to overlook that Davis was targeted only the 13th most among tight ends. That’s behind guys like Garret Graham, Delanie Walker and Coby Fleener. Not to forget that Michael Crabtree will be healthy from the start of the season and the 49ers also brought in Stevie Johnson from the Bills and there are reasons for concern about Vernon Davis and his hefty price tag for a tight end this year.
I don’t think they will be as dominant as they were last year. Tampa Bay and Atlanta should show some life offensively this year, giving them some problems. The way they are being reached for like the Seahawks D is ridiculous and diminishes all the value you would get for them. I am more content to grab a defense in the last three rounds of a draft than reach for the Panthers D.
Ditto for the 49ers. Their injury has lost been hit by some injuries and I don’t think they are worth reaching for. I’d rather take the Bengals D as a safe bet, the Rams D for upside or the Ravens D for low value high return