Fantasy Football Picks 2012: Players You Should Avoid Drafting Early

Dan Gigliotti@@dangigliottiCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2012

Brees's productivity could be adversely affected by the Saints offseason turmoil.
Brees's productivity could be adversely affected by the Saints offseason turmoil.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Fantasy football drafts are all about timing. There is nothing worse than picking a player too early and then watching him become a bust.

It’s not easy to evaluate players when there is little information to go by other than last season’s statistics and career trends.

It would be nice if we all had a friend with the name Sammy the Greek who could tell us inside information, like if Greg Jennings got into a fight with his girlfriend before the start of the season or if Arian Foster has been suffering from chronic toothache.

These factors can make or break a player’s season!

OK, that‘s an exaggeration, but if you rely too heavily on the numbers, you could be in for disappointment.

Here are a few players whose stats could deceive you into picking them too high.

Drew Brees

With all the weapons around him—Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles—Brees is a sexy pick for stat lovers. With 46 touchdowns and nearly 5,500 yards passing in 2012, it is tough to fight the urge to take him with your first pick.

Fight it.

The New Orleans Saints had an atrocious offseason, filled with controversy, deceit and plenty of questions. The question most concerning to Brees was whether or not Sean Payton would coach.

The answer is no, and that will have a considerable affect on the veteran quarterback, whose chemistry with Payton has been impeccable, leading to NFL records nearly every season.

Without his right-hand man on the sideline, Brees won’t have as much value as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

He’s definitely a top-10 quarterback, but he may not be in the top five.

Victor Cruz

If you could pick up points for end zone dancing, Cruz would be my first pick. Unfortunately, I have doubts about how many times he’ll get to enjoy the salsa dance in the upcoming season.

Cruz had one good year—excuse me—one great year. But one year, nonetheless.

He is a consummate professional, as Tom Coughlin has routinely praised his work ethic, and it was evident in the way he leaped into the starting role about halfway through last season. So there is no reason to think that his play would drop off because of a lack of focus or a “Super Bowl hangover.”

Cruz is a great route-runner who has deceiving, breakaway speed in open spaces, and he performed better when the Giants needed him to, when injuries sidelined their other starters.

Yet, last year was the only litmus test run on the UMass alum to date.

With Mario Manningham gone to the San Francisco 49ers and Hakeem Nicks nursing an injury that could keep him from playing in Week 1, Cruz will be the main focus of every opposing defensive coordinator the New York Giants face.

He has never had to be the No. 1 receiver, and there’s no telling how he will adjust to his altered role. If last year’s Super Bowl was any indication, however, it could be prove difficult.

I expect Cruz to continue proving his worth as a starting wideout in 2012, but he wouldn’t be the first wide receiver I pick.

Darren McFadden

McFadden could be the top fantasy producer in the NFL come season’s end.

But you gotta ask yourself one question…

(Clint Eastwood voice) "Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?"

McFadden runs like a thoroughbred in the open field and is one of the fastest backs in the league when he breaks into a defense's second tier. He wastes no time running downfield and can make sharp cuts without losing a step. He has great hands and can run after the catch.

One problem though: his health is simply unpredictable.

Run DMC ran out to the league lead in rushing yards before being sidelined for the final 10 games of the 2011 season with a Lisfranc injury. Judging by the opening drive in the Oakland’s first preseason game on Monday, he hasn’t any lingering effects.

McFadden has missed 19 games in his first three seasons, and this begs the question of whether or not a player can be “injury prone” or if it happens to be coincidence.

If you pick McFadden before the third round, you are taking a huge risk. If everyone else in the league has the same apprehension, however, you could steal him for a bargain in later rounds.

Wes Welker

The Patriots’ addition of Brandon Lloyd to their already potent offense is a great addition for the team.

Not for Welker though.

Welker has statistically been the most productive receiver in the league for the past three seasons. Somehow, he managed to catch 122 passes last season for 1,569 yards.

Since Rob Gronkowski pulled in every pass within arms reach with his over-sized mitts and Aaron Hernandez kept defenses honest by sneakily catching 79 balls for over 900 yards, it is likely Welker will take a hit statistically.

Consider, though, that Brady and the New England offense utilize Welker as if he were a running back, content with throwing to him on short yardage plays like quick slants, screens and with three-step drops. In this sense, he’s almost like a running back, so he should get a lot of catches.

I don’t see him scoring many touchdowns, however, or racking up yardage.

The fourth round is a safe bet, if he lasts that long.


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