Earlier this week I took a brief look at players who I was either heavily invested in through my own drafts and mocks (or wished I owned more shares of).
In today’s post, I want to give the opposite… I’m listing players that I will be avoiding. I won’t say that I won’t draft them, as each player represents value at a certain point in the draft, however I will say that I’m unlikely to own them simply because I believe their current ADP far outweighs my perception of their worth. In short, their cost doesn’t line up with my ranks. We shared an NFL busts as part of our comprehensive draft guide list with you some time ago, and I’ll reiterate… that’s not what we’re talking about here, we’re just looking at players where the draft day cost is higher than warranted.
Quarterbacks I’m Avoiding
Andrew Luck - Luck was a fantastic rookie Quarterback in both the real and fantasy world last season. I owned him in a couple of spots, and I was happy that I did. However, things have changed considerably in the last twelve months. Last season the Stanford product could be had reasonably cheap at the draft table, but this year he’s typically coming off the board as the 9th highest quarterback selected and the difference in price isn’t likely to be justified. Make no mistake about it – Luck was a revelation last year – but that fact alone makes him more expensive than he should be. His seven game winning drives led the league and have earned him some well deserved hype, but those drives (on their own) don’t pay the fantasy bills. This is a case of real life hype exceeding fantasy value, and he’s not worth the price tag. Plus, the measurables as a whole weren’t off the charts: his 54.1% completion percentage, 18 picks and 7.0 YPA leave a little to be desired. Pro Football Focus rated the rookie as their 24th best passer and 17th best QB overall on the season. His aforementioned completion percentage trailed such luminaries as John Skelton, Mark Sanchez and Brady Quinn among 36 other qualified QBs.
Mix in the fact that he’s changing systems (sure, he’s played with Pep before) and it’s hard to see Luck exceeding last year’s numbers. Although maintaining them would be fine the problem is that you’re paying an anticipatory price that presumes a jump in value. With two potentially more appetizing sophomores (Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson) and a veteran who is far better in our numbers game than the fantasy community believes (Tony Romo) all still available after Luck I just can’t commit to drafting him.
Ben Roethlisberger - with Big Ben the situation is considerably different. He’s being drafted late enough to be worth consideration as your second QB (ADP 19th at the position), I’m just simply not interested. With the departure of Mike Wallace, the continued disappointment of the Pittsburgh offensive line and an undefined timeline for return of favourite target Heath Miller there just isn’t much to like about his set up this year. Plus – even though you’re likely drafting him as a bench QB this year, unless you’re a Salvatore Stefanile style player, then you’re drafting a player who is almost certain to be dealing with an injury issue as some point this year.
Running Backs I’m Avoiding
Alfred Morris - I may be in the minority here (in fact, if you ask Fantasy Pros and view 36% as less than 50%, I am) but I don’t see Morris as being likely to deliver value on his late first round price tag. He’s being drafted somewhere around 10/11/12 overall in standard leagues and while he’s coming off a top five season I don’t see a repeat in the cards. He excelled in the Shanahan family’s zone blocking scheme as a rookie, but given the Sr. Shanny’s much published propensity to juggle running backs and the likelihood that the Redskins will adjust their zone-read play-calling to a certain degree leaves me unsure if Morris will a) see the field quite as much as he did in his freshman season or b) see the same type of running lanes he saw last year when he is out there. Not to mention Roy Helu is having an impressive spring and could carve out a role for himself provided he stays healthy.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis - When Green-Ellis arrived in Cincinnati from New England he could boast two significant virtues that made his 2011 3.7 YPC average palatable: he had never fumbled the ball and he scored touchdowns. With the Bengals that yards per carry number remained below four, but BJGE (nearly) halved his touchdown production from the year before and he put the ball on the ground three times. Without those redeeming qualities, he’s simply not much of a back. Enter Giovani Bernard, who the Bengals made the first draft pick at the Running Back position this spring. He’s a better runner than the veteran; the tape and the offseason scuttlebutt confirm this. Sure, The Law Firm is listed as the starter right now but this backfield will be a committee to some degree early in the season and there shouldn’t be much doubt that production will tilt the scale more and more in favour of the rookie as the year progresses. Current BenJarvus backers feel good on draft day knowing that they have a ‘starter’… but… well… they don’t.
DeAngelo Williams - Jonathan Stewart is officially PUP’d, leaving DeAngelo Williams once again in firm control of the Carolina backfield. However, he still plays with a Quarterback who will take some of his scores away inside the five yard line, and even with Stewart injured there will still competition for touches. Mike Tolbert has been productive on a per-touch basis throughout his career and should earn a role on offense early in the season, and perhaps even with Stewart gets back on the field. Similar to the situation with Green-Ellis, yes, you’re getting a nominal starter in Williams but he’s being taken in a position where I’d rather chase quality handcuff/upside backup players. Also, while it hasn’t caused me to drop Cam Newton in my QB ranks anyone watching first year OC Mike Shula’s offense this preseason shouldn’t be scrambling to draft Panthers on draft day.
Wide Receivers I’m Avoiding
Wes Welker - PPR maven, occasional wordsmith, and wildly productive receiver during his days in New England, Wes Welker is currently off my radar. He goes from a system where he was heavily targeted to one where there are simply too many options and not enough footballs. Last year Decker got plenty of looks – including lots of work in and around the scoring area – and Demaryius Thomas had even moreso. Brandon Stokely, meanwhile, saw just 63 targets. Certainly the Broncos will reconfigure their offense somewhat to take advantage of Welker’s abilities – I’m not comparing him to Stokley in terms of talent, of course – but that number represents 38% of the looks that Welker saw in 2012 with New England. Even if they prioritize the slot it is difficult to imagine him coming anywhere near his typical season with the Patriots in terms of targets, and thus in terms of production.
Greg Jennings - I just don’t want to be tied to Christian Ponder. Greg Jennings finds himself in an undesirable position, moving from one of the league’s best QBs to one of it’s worse. While Jennings will man the flanker position that Percy Harvin found production in with the Vikings’ current QB he’s not the same player and he simply shouldn’t be counted on to produce with an underwhelming signal caller. He’s not getting any younger and finds himself in an overall offensive environment that isn’t conducive to fantasy production. In 2009 Jennings had an excellent season with Green Bay (68-1113) but scored just four touchdowns and therefore had little fantasy value relative to draft stock (WR21). This year could be similar – with the Vikings not expected to do much in the pass game you’d have to expect Ponder to throw for 20+ scores to assume Jennings will catch in the range of 6-8 – I see little reason to invest in him.
Santonio Holmes - the situation with Holmes is similar, but, it goes beyond shaky QB play. None of us are expecting much out of the Jets passing game, no matter who Marty Mornhinweg is calling in signals to. In fact, I would be listing Holmes in this list even if there weren’t other contingencies to consider. However, when you factor in the fact that he hadn’t participated in football related activities for 11 months until very recently, is a risk for re-injury, and seems to have very little interest in taking the field, he becomes a very tough player to justify selecting.
Tight Ends I’m Avoiding
Jared Cook - Cook has been a sleeper/breakout candidate for a number of years running. This year, in a new setting and reunited with the man who brought him into the league (Jeff Fischer), many are saying that the year has finally come. I won’t be among them. While Cook has the skill set to be a fantasy contributor at the TE position he’s never been able to put it together for a full season. I’m expecting an impressive campaign from Bradford but I don’t see the Rams QB lifting Cook up along with him. 3rd year pro Lance Kendricks will take some of the TE targets away from Cook. The issue for me here goes back to where we started this article with Luck: by making him the 9th TE taken according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com we’re paying an expectant price on Jared Cook – assuming that he’ll make a leap in production this year. Given that he’s never come close to a top 10 rank at his position, and there are few signs of a dramatic turn around, I’m ready to pass on Cook.
Antonio Gates - Antonio Gates is old, slow, and oft-injured. Philip Rivers is in a significant decline phase. The Chargers are less likely to feature the Tight End in their current offense than they were under Norv Turner. Fin.