Every year in fantasy football, there are first-round picks that underachieve and drive fantasy owners crazy—2012 is no different. Your first selection should be a guaranteed point machine that you can rely on to play every game and produce.
Whether it's due to past injuries, personnel and coaching changes or depth at that particular position, these are all players you should avoid with your first-round pick.
It's hard to believe that two seasons have come and gone since Chris Johnson broke Marshall Faulk's record of 2,429 yards from scrimmage.
After joining the 2,000 yard rusher club, Johnson has rushed for 1,364 yards and an incredibly average 1,047 yards in 2010 and 2011, respectively. This steep drop in production was not the result of injury or missed games, Johnson just simply didn't produce. Nor is it due to a subpar passing attack in Tennessee—the Titans ranked 12th in passing yards per game last season.
While the 26-year-old possesses world-class speed, there's no explanation for spending a first-round pick on the man formerly known as CJ2K. He may have a decent year—easy to do when compared to last season—but there's no reason to believe that Johnson is going to put up numbers anywhere close to his 2009 stats.
ESPN.com is projecting Johnson to accumulate the ninth-most fantasy points next season—don't count on it. I'd rank Johnson in the second tier of running backs like Marshawn Lynch, Matt Forte, perhaps even Ryan Mathews.
Bottom line—Johnson is just too inconsistent to be taken in the first round. Last year was boom or bust for the former rushing champion. He rushed for 100 or more yards in four games, but in the other 12 games he never gained more than 65 yards.
That sort of inconsistency should scare off fantasy owners and deter them from taking the self-proclaimed best running back in the NFL in the first round.
Adrian Peterson's success in 2012 depends greatly on the health of his knee—which was operated on this offseason. Fortunately for Viking fans and fantasy owners alike, Peterson's rehabilitation has been on a fast track since it began.
While AD has stated his goal is to play Week 1 on September 9, Minnesota's medical and coaching staff are not going to clear Peterson until he's 100 percent healthy. Until then, third-year running back Toby Gerhart will get the majority of the carries—diminishing Peterson's numbers significantly.
Just a couple of seasons ago, Peterson was the most coveted player in fantasy football. Now, Peterson is being projected as the 42nd best player by ESPN.com.
The future is just too unsure to spend a first-round pick on Peterson. Look to pick him up in the third or fourth round with the second wave of running backs.
Despite the fact that Calvin Johnson was easily the best wide receiver in football last season, selecting a wide receiver with your first-round pick is fantasy blasphemy.
Johnson has an outstanding 2011 season, finishing fourth in receptions, first in receiving yards and second in touchdowns. Yet, in ESPN's leagues, 10 players gained more points over the 16 regular season games than Megatron—including Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, and Eli Manning, all guys who should be available after the first round.
With Jahvid Best coming back off of injury and guys like Brandon Pettigrew and Titus Young expected to have bigger roles in the offense, don't expect Johnson to put up godly numbers as he did last year.
He will be the best receiver in the league once again, but he won't break the top 10 in fantasy points overall.
Arian Foster is another guy who, when healthy, can dominate a game or even a season.
Last year, Foster's hamstring injury kept him out of three games. Yet, he still managed to rack up over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. When he's not forced to the sideline and tweeting pictures of his MRIs, Foster is arguably the best back in football.
Foster is likely ranked extremely high on everybody's draft board—ESPN.com is projecting the 25-year-old to put up the fifth most points next season and the most by any running back.
While he very well may have another All-Pro season, his injury proneness makes taking Foster in the first round far from a sure thing—and you don't want to make that sort of gamble with your first round pick. Not to mention his running mate Ben Tate's carries will continue to increase—giving less chances to Foster.
Don't be that fantasy owner who drafts based merely on rankings by ESPN—dig a little. Instead of Foster, consider Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy—two guys who both put up better numbers than Foster last year and have injury-free histories.
Many fantasy owners are going to overreact to Drew Brees' record-breaking season last year and use their first-rounder on the 33-year-old quarterback.
Let me warn you—do not select Drew Brees with your first-round selection. Picking a quarterback in the first round is almost as bad as picking a wide receiver. The only exception is Aaron Rodgers because he will put up big enough numbers to make selecting him worth it.
Let me explain why using your first-round pick on a quarterback (besides Rodgers) is a waste. In ESPN's leagues, the point differential between the No. 1 quarterback and No. 5 quarterback last season was only 52 points by season's end. That averages out to about three points per week.
Therefore, there's no point in selecting Brees in the first round when you could get Matthew Stafford or maybe Cam Newton in the second round. Instead, spend your first-round pick on a position that you cannot find an easy replacement for—such as running back.
Of the top 20 point scorers last year, 13 of them were quarterbacks, compared to just four running backs. While quarterbacks may put up the most points, it's also the position with the most depth.
Furthermore, don't expect Brees to put up similar numbers as he did in 2011. Sean Payton won't be on the sideline to call the plays, and that will definitely effect the six-time Pro-Bowler.
So don't waste your first-rounder by selecting Brees—or any other quarterback not named Aaron Rodgers.