Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
This article features some players that I like and some that I don't like, but they all can have a place on your fantasy team. The question that you have to ask yourself is: Self, is there value in picking this player at this point in the draft?
My evaluation of whether a player should be avoided is mostly predicated on his average draft position (ADP). Often, if I could get that same player a few rounds later, he would be on the list of players that I'm targeting!
With that qualifier, here are a few of the players that I am avoiding at their current ADPs.
Calvin Johnson: ADP 5
Johnson is the best receiver in the league and barring injuries should be the best once again. So why put him on this list? Very good question, sir or ma'am. He's here because fifth overall is too high for me to draft a wide receiver this season.
I'm not going to throw a tantrum when someone says that they will give me a wet willy if I don't take him fifth, but as far as overall draft strategy and the likelihood of another career year goes, I feel much better grabbing a running back at that position.
Johnson will have trouble putting up 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns again. If you look at other, similar seasons, it just hasn't happened. Can it happen? Yes, and Johnson is the kind of player to beat the odds, but I also see Titus Young taking a step forward this year, which might bring Johnson's targets down a bit.
I've also been very happy with the wide receivers I've gotten later in drafts. Players like Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant, Mike Wallace, Percy Harvin, Marques Colston, Brandon Lloyd, Jeremy Maclin, Dwayne Bowe, Antonio Brown and Eric Decker all can be had in the third to fifth rounds. I'll grab a running back early, because you are getting the same kind of value at running back as you are at wide receiver in the third through fifth.
Wes Welker: ADP 25
Welker's first eight games last season were ones for the record books. He averaged 120 yards receiving and over eight receptions per game and scored six total touchdowns. That's crazy talk!
But in the last eight games, he averaged just 76 yards receiving and seven receptions and only had three touchdowns.
Those second-half numbers are more his norm, and they are still good numbers and more of what we would expect from him. The problem this year is that the Patriots also added Brandon Lloyd to an already stacked receivers group.
It will nearly be impossible to keep Welker from his 100 receptions, but the touchdowns and yardage will go down. I'd rather grab a higher-upside player this early in the draft.
Fred Jackson: ADP 31
Jackson was on a tear last season before going down with a broken leg. And if C.J. Spiller hadn't stepped in and also gone on a tear himself, I'd say draft Jackson at will.
Unfortunately for Jackson, Spiller did have a great second half of the season and made it very hard to not keep him squarely in the game plan this year. Add to that Jackson is 31 years old—or in running back terms, nearly dead—and I think that we'll see Spiller take away enough work to keep Jackson from being a top running back this season.
Michael Turner: ADP 36
Is Turner done? No. He'll still be a productive back this season, but his opportunities are going to decrease with the new, uptempo offense that the Falcons plan to run.
That offensive mindset will give Jacquizz Rodgers more reps in an attempt to keep Turner fresh, which he wasn't last season, for the stretch run. In the final eight games, Turner posted only two 100-plus yard rushing games and three games with an average of four-plus yards per carry.
He has also looked slow this preseason, while Rodgers has shown more all-around ability.
Turner will get into the end zone enough to be a relevant fantasy player, but his consistency will rely on crossing the goal line.
Frank Gore: ADP 39
Frank Gore has been written off for many years now and still is able to be a productive and at times dominant back. So why write him off once again? Well, because of Kendall Hunter, Gore's dramatic decline in usage and effectiveness toward the end of last season and the wild-card duo of LaMichael James and Brandon Jacobs.
Gore did not have a good second half last season. His total offensive yards per game dropped from 107.5 to 58.1, his total touches dropped from 21.5 to 15.9 and his yards per carry dropped from 4.9 to 3.5.
Also during that second half, Hunter saw 76 touches compared to 127 for Gore, and that split will most likely grow closer this season after a strong camp from Hunter.
Miles Austin: ADP 50
Miles Austin missed much of last season after hurting his hamstring again and again, and now he's gone and hurt his hamstring, that's right, once again.
He won't play any preseason games, and this recurrence isn't because he isn't stretching enough! Something is up. Maybe his ham is just too stringy. I'm no doctor! But this season we have a troop of wide receivers who are healthy and have lots of upside. I'd grab one of them instead.
Robert Griffin III: ADP 76
We all want to draft the next Cam Newton. I understand that and agree that RGIII has great upside as a fantasy quarterback, but right now he is being picked as the 12th quarterback, which makes him a starter.
Does he have the ability to put up starting fantasy quarterback numbers? Sure. Will he? I really don't know. That's why I don't want him as my starter.
I'm fine with waiting on a quarterback this season, but I'd much rather grab Ben Roethlisberger a round later and pair him with an upside quarterback like Andrew Luck at the 110th pick.
49ers Defense: ADP 82
Huh?! And whuh? Defenses are much too unpredictable to not wait on until your last pick. Last season the 49ers were taken in the 14th round and finished first overall. And in the last five years, no defense picked No. 1 finished No 1.
Oh, but the 49ers are different! Maybe they are, but I'm not going to waste an eighth-round pick on a defense when I can just pick up defenses that play the Dolphins.