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Fantasy Football 2012: 5 NFL Draft Prospects to Avoid in Fantasy

Rob TongContributor IIIApril 24, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: 5 NFL Draft Prospects to Avoid in Fantasy

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    Before the draft, it's difficult to declare who to avoid for fantasy football.

    After all, a talented player could wind up in a terrible situation—like a timeshare, bad coaching, etc.—and become irrelevant for fantasy.

    Or a mid-round talent could be drafted by a team with a great opportunity for success and become relevant for fantasy.

    But looking at a combination of talent and intangibles can give us an early clue as to who to throw up red flags as we await the NFL draft.

QB Ryan Tannehill

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    Tannehill is going to be a top-10 pick in the NFL draft, most likely in Cleveland or Miami.

    Such a high draft status will make fantasy owners wonder whether to take a flyer on the converted wide receiver from Texas A&M.

    One word for you: don't.

    Tannehill has good QB mechanics and being a former receiver is also fairly mobile. He has the arm to make all the throws and has the key NFL-ready trait of being willing to step up to make a pass even in the face of taking a hit.

    However, he is pretty inexperienced as a quarterback against big-time college competition and now will be facing NFL competition.

    As part of his inexperience, he's still learning how and when to put touch on certain passes, as well as improving his decision-making.

    Although the talent is there, so is the learning curve. Rookie NFL quarterbacks—Cam Newton notwithstanding—are not usually relevant for fantasy except in deep leagues. Tannehill is no different.

RB LaMichael James

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    You can't teach speed, they say.

    LaMichael James has speed.

    As a home run threat on any carry and great open-field runner, James' speed is likely to garner attention from fantasy owners—depending on where he lands after the draft.

    But regardless of where he lands, there's a problem.

    You can't teach size either.

    And LaMichael James does not have size.

    His below-average size may have been a factor in James being frequently nicked up while at Oregon. He could continue to have durability issues in the NFL.

    The lack of size is also likely a factor in why James is a poor runner between the tackles.

    And his poor pass protection skills means he won't be an every down back in the NFL.

    Unfortunately, complimentary backs are useless for fantasy.

WR Alshon Jeffery

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    Talent is not a problem for Alshon Jeffery.

    Effort is.

    Jeffery has ideal size and great hands. He runs well and can make tremendous catches.

    But Jeffery is also inconsistent in his effort. He doesn't always "want to."

    Then there are problems of weight issues surrounding Jeffery.

    Even sticking with football issues, he can struggle to get separation from defenders.

    Add it all up and you get what sounds like Mike Williams II, the 10th overall draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 2005.

    Best to avoid the risk for fantasy.

WR Stephen Hill

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    Stephen Hill leaves some scouts salivating at his potential.

    And that's the key word: potential.

    With a short collegiate resume, Hill is drawing first-round attention due to his combine measurables.

    But as a receiver, he's a project.

    He runs sloppy routes and has a very limited route tree due to a Georgia Tech offense that does not feature the passing game.

    Though his collegiate calling card was big plays (average 29.3 yards per reception), he figures to be an inconsistent performer in his rookie year in the NFL as he continues to learn the nuances of the position.

    Maybe Hill will be worth a look in fantasy for 2013. But for 2012, he's a prospect to avoid.

TE Dwayne Allen

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    Fantasy tip: Rookie tight ends aren't studs in their first season.

    No matter who it is—Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham or Tony Gonzalez—no tight end lights up fantasy in their first year.

    Even Rob Gronkowski averaged only 6.4 fantasy points per game (FPPG) in his rookie year—the same as Oakland's Zach Miller, only 0.1 FPPG better than Brandon Pettigrew and 0.1 FPPG worse than Chris Cooley.

    Fellow incoming rookie Coby Fleener will get lots of hype this August, and some residual attention will go to Dwayne Allen.

    Without knowing where both Fleener and Allen will go, I can't say definitively that they will flop. But you can bet they won't be studs.

    Allen will probably be a red-zone option for his future NFL team. But given that, in general, Allen is more of a short and intermediate passing threat rather than a vertical threat like Fleener, Allen is unlikely to become consistent enough to be relevant for fantasy in 2012.

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