Fantasy Football: 8 Busts to Avoid at All Costs
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The first few rounds of a fantasy football draft are somewhat overlooked in favor of predicting who the late round sleepers are going to be. Obviously finding the next Arian Foster can help propel a team to a championship, but only if the fantasy owner doesn't blow it earlier in the draft.
Wasting an early pick on a player who has a terrible year or misses time due to injury can severely hurt your team's chances of making a playoff run in your fantasy league. Knowing who to avoid and when to make the safer pick can be the difference between a successful draft and a total disaster.
The eight players I've listed are generally being drafted in the first 5 rounds of most fantasy leagues, some of them as high as round 1. All of them are also incredibly risky picks who could easily ruin whatever team they end up on. So take my advice and let the other guys pick these players during your draft. You can thank me when you make the playoffs.
1. Maurice Jones-Drew
MJD led the league in carries in 2011; that will hurt him in 2012.
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Maurice Jones-Drew had a huge 2011 campaign. He was and will be the focal point of the Jaguars offense again in 2012, and he'll likely put up decent numbers because of it.
The problem is that Jones-Drew also led the NFL in carries last year, and that kind of workload puts some serious wear and tear on a running back.
For where MJD is being drafted, which is generally somewhere in the 2nd round, he is way too risky of a pick. Any running back who carried the ball as often as he did is going to be an injury concern, but MJD is also holding out and trying to get a new contract. There's legitimate potential for this holdout to last into the regular season, as the Jaguars ownership has thus far been unwilling to budge during negotiations.
If you can get him for a decent value in the 4th round or later, I would say draft MJD. But be aware that even then there are probably safer options available. Let someone else make the mistake of drafting him in the top few rounds, it'll come back to bite him or her in the long run.
2. Dwayne Bowe
Bowe has a mediocre QB throwing him the ball, and he's holding out. Pass.
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Dwayne Bowe has somehow managed to post respectable numbers throughout his career despite having consistently sub-par quarterbacks throwing him the ball. There's no denying that he's an immensely talented player. The issue here is his motivation.
He claims he won't play under a franchise tender, but that's all he's got right now. I see Bowe holding out for a very long time, and it could possibly become another Vincent Jackson situation from last season.
Right now he's rated as a top 20 fantasy option at WR. I think he's being overrated. If he decides to play under a franchise tender I may change my tune, but right now he's looking like a good bet to hold out for an extended period of time, and there's no way you want to end up drafting a benchwarmer in the first 5 round of your fantasy draft.
3. Peyton Manning
Getting old, coming off an injury, on a new team. Too many question marks.
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Peyton Manning just recovered from a very serious neck injury, and he's nearing the end of his career. There's really no telling what kind of shape Manning is in heading into the season. If he's near 100 percent, then he'll be a steal wherever he goes, but there are just way too many unanswered questions for my liking.
He's got a new cast of surrounding players to familiarize himself with, he's playing outdoors where he tended to struggle compared to his indoor stadium in Indy, and there's just no way to know if his body's going to hold up all year. Stay away until the later rounds of the draft, and even then, only take him if you have a quality insurance plan in place.
4. Michael Vick
Vick's a lock to miss at least a few games and he's an inconsistent passer.
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Michael Vick was a popular pick in a first few rounds last year—and I doubt you'd find a single owner who was happy with their decision to draft him. Vick's style of play is exciting to watch, but it's also dangerous. It is almost a certainty that Vick will injure himself at some point in the season and miss a few games. This in itself is worth knocking him down a few rounds.
He's also terribly inconsistent as a passer though, throwing nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns. Really the only saving grace fantasy-wise is the fact that Vick racks up rushing yards and rushing touchdowns...but he's only going to get slower as he gets older, and Vick's no spring chicken anymore.
Vick is going to have some tremendous fantasy games this year, that's not in question. He's also going to have some absolute duds, though. Factor in his constant injury concerns and you've got yourself a really risky play each week.
5. Marshawn Lynch
Lynch just got a fat new contract. His response: a DUI.
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Lynch runs like he wants to kill everyone he comes into contact with. There's definitely something admirable about the way he plays the game.
Unfortunately, that mindset goes completely out the window when he's not on the field. He was recently arrested for a DUI; and it's not his first run in with the law, so a suspension is a distinct possibility.
The Seahawks signed Lynch to a $17 million guaranteed contract in the offseason, so it's entirely possible that he will be unmotivated and lazy now that he got paid. Lynch has had bad seasons in the past, and he may have just been playing for a contract last season.
He's being drafted as a top 10-15 running back option and I just don't see it. Seattle is not exactly an offensive powerhouse, and Lynch is not the great talent he's being made out to be. Sell high and let someone else make this mistake.
6. Roddy White
White's being drafted way too high. Go for Julio Jones instead.
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Before you blast me a new one for listing Roddy White as a bust, let me explain myself.
During the second half of last season, it became pretty apparent that Julio Jones is the better wideout in Atlanta. He catches bombs like they're going out of style and he is Matt Ryan's preferred target in the red zone.
Roddy White will still catch a ton of balls, but even that number is likely to decline as Jones is only going to get better with more experience. White is currently being drafted as high as the 2nd round, which is ridiculous for a player that is only the 2nd best option on the Falcons.
Even in a PPR league—which is where White will have the most value—I can't see drafting him much earlier than the 3rd or even 4th round. He's going to struggle to find the end zone, and he's going to keep losing targets to the more talented Jones.
7. Kenny Britt
Stay away. Far away.
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This one's maybe a bit too obvious, but Kenny Britt needs to be avoided like the plague. He's coming off of a nasty ACL injury and he can't seem to keep himself out of trouble off the field. He's had 8 arrests now since entering the league, and so far he's proven to be injury-prone to boot.
There's no guarantee that Britt would fully recover in time to play every game anyways, but now it's looking like he's almost a shoo-in for some sort of disciplinary action from Roger Goodell as well. Even if he falls to the later rounds, I'd have a hard time drafting Britt, knowing that he won't be 100 percent and he can't stay out of trouble.
8. Steven Jackson
The Rams have run SJax into the ground.
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Remember when I said MJD was likely to struggle after leading the league in carries? Well, Steven Jackson has also had a ton of carries just about every year he's been in the league. He's pushing 30 and he's had nearly 300 carries six of the last seven years.
The Rams offense is likely to be below average as it is, and I don't think Jackson is going to do much to change that. With the number of carries he has under his belt, he's likely to begin slowing down and showing some serious wear and tear as the season goes on.
Injuries are always going to be a concern as well, as he's still likely to carry the ball a ton in an offense that doesn't have many quality receiving options.
I simply can't condone drafting Jackson in the first four rounds or so, as I feel there are much safer options out there. If he drops to the mid rounds, however, he's probably worth the risk to see if he has one more good season in the tank.