Fantasy Football 2012: 5 WRs to Avoid
As the fantasy football 2012 season has grown closer, just like every other fantasy season, certain observations and opinions get beaten to death.
Among those opinions this year is the belief that the WR position is incredibly deep. Most people seem to agree with this, as the NFL shifted more to a passing attack last year and saw many receivers post stats that were previously reserved for the elite.
Since fantasy football is about getting the best value for your pick, it's a good idea to stay away from players that are low-upside or high-risk in relation to players being picked around them.
Even though the group of fantasy WRs this year is a very deep one, it is still filled with trap picks and pitfalls that could help derail your fantasy season before it begins.
These five guys, in relation to the players they're considered equal to, are less than desirable picks. If you can avoid them, your initial post-draft fantasy football team will be that much better.
That doesn't mean don't draft them at all, but wait for them to fall before considering them.
All ADP stats are courtesy of ESPN, and all scoring referenced is ESPN standard scoring.
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Vincent Jackson is a very talented and dangerous receiver.
He's 6'5", fast and great at catching the deep ball. On talent alone, he might be a top-10 receiver.
But fantasy football is oftentimes more about opportunity than it is about talent, and that's why staying away from VJax is a good call.
Jackson was never a sure thing in San Diego, where he experienced a holdout-shortened season as well as general inconsistency. He would put up a big week only to disappear for weeks at a time.
That type of inconsistency alone should be cause for concern, as never knowing if a guy is a good start or not can be very frustrating. No one enjoys seeing their bench outscore their starters.
Six times last season, Jackson scored double-digit fantasy points, and five out of six times he did that he followed it up with a single-digit effort.
The other time it was the last week of the season, so he never had a chance to follow that up with a disappointment.
But Jackson downgraded offensively this offseason by joining up with terribly inconsistent QB Josh Freeman and the run-first offense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jackson could be the missing piece, but it just doesn't seem likely. He has to build new chemistry with his QB, learn a new playbook and adapt to an offense that probably will run much more.
Vincent Jackson is currently being selected as the 21st WR off the board ahead of guys with much higher upside and about the same amount of risk, such as Demaryius Thomas.
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Miles Austin, the WR being taken three spots ahead of the aforementioned Vincent Jackson, was the type of guy who wins fantasy football leagues when he broke out in 2009.
He came out of nowhere and posted big numbers, solidifying himself among the better receivers in the NFL. But since then, injuries have limited his production, and he hasn't returned to that form.
Austin, if he and the offense around him are healthy, is a No. 1 receiver. But there is very little reason to bet on that outcome.
Austin has battled hamstring issues since last season, and that type of injury doesn't go away easily. He only posted five double-digit fantasy outings last year, as he was out for or limited in most of the games.
Combine that with how bad Dallas' offensive line has looked and the pass rush dominance in their division, and it's hard to believe that even if Austin stays healthy he'll have a QB to get him the ball.
Austin also has to compete with super-talented Dez Bryant for targets. If Dez can keep his head screwed on straight, or at least straight enough to not get suspended, he is the best receiver for the Cowboys and will definitely take some of Austin's numbers away.
Drafting Miles Austin is a lot like drafting Vincent Jackson. It could work out, but you're passing on guys who are just as risky that offer a higher ceiling.
That's just not a good draft strategy.
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Victor Cruz exploded last season in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles and hasn't looked back since.
His knack for the big play and nose for the end zone helped fantasy football owners everywhere if they were lucky enough to grab him off waivers.
But his best attributes are also the biggest reasons to stay away.
Victor Cruz will have big plays and he will also score touchdowns, but it seems unlikely that he can repeat what he did last season.
A lot of his TDs were the results of terrible tackling or blown coverage, something that was very prevalent last season due to the lockout.
Counting on missed tackles for fantasy production also seems unwise, and counting on consistent TD performance at the WR position is always risky if that player isn't a red-zone threat.
Cruz will have to compete with stud receiver Hakeem Nicks for red-zone targets, meaning his touchdown total is likely to drop off if he can't replicate his big-play scores.
Cruz doesn't seem like a one-hit wonder, but it's always possible he could be.
At any rate, paying for last season's stars doesn't win you this year's fantasy football games, which is why taking Cruz with a high fourth-round pick ahead of more established veterans like Brandon Marshall and Steve Smith is risky.
Cruz probably hit his ceiling last season, and any regression would make taking him that high a reach.
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Mike Wallace is one of the best deep threats in the NFL, and he has become one of the all-around best offensive weapons in the game.
As such, he would like a new contract, and as of this writing he has yet to receive one.
Holdouts are terrible for players' fantasy values, and Wallace has already missed valuable training camp and preseason time.
That practice time is vital to WRs, as they develop timing within the passing game that makes their routes more effective and helps them gain the trust of the man throwing them the ball.
That man in this case being Ben Roethlisberger, a good quarterback but one that is currently battling injuries. A slightly torn rotator cuff could easily tear fully, especially given how bad the Steelers offensive line has looked.
Big Ben is a tough guy, but it seems unlikely at this point that he can play all 16 games, which inherently hurts the value of his receivers.
So if Wallace has a slow start, it might be too late for him to make up lost ground if his QB goes down with an injury midseason.
Couple that with the emergence of WR Antonio Brown, who oddly enough got a big contract this offseason and has been in training camp, and Wallace will be very much behind the eight-ball to start the season with a diminished chance of ever catching up.
That's if Wallace even reports for Week 1, which is no guarantee.
Wallace is going ahead of guys like Hakeem Nicks, A.J. Green and Julio Jones. All three of those guys seem safer right now, and they all probably offer better upside as well.
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Andre Johnson is, when healthy, one of the best receivers in the NFL.
He is the complete package and has a history of dominant fantasy seasons.
He has the potential to regain that form, but at the spot you'd have to take him he's too risky.
Johnson missed almost all of last season with a torn hamstring and has been battling hamstring problems in camp this year. That sounds like a problem that will be a factor all season.
Johnson is also getting older and will face double-teams pretty much every time he goes to catch the ball, unless an unexpected talent emerges on the Houston Texans' roster.
The Texans are also a run-first team with a strong defense, which means fewer targets going Johnson's way.
As the third receiver off the board, he's being taken ahead of guys like Roddy White and Wes Welker. Those two guys have been the definition of consistency for fantasy receivers and offer a lot more safety than Johnson.
Picking in the middle of the second round, where Johnson is projected to go, safety should be one of your first concerns.
The saying goes that you can't win your draft in the first few rounds, but you can certainly lose it.
Andre Johnson is one of the poster boys for losing your draft in the early rounds.