Top Fantasy Football Players 2012: Maurice Jones-Drew and Players to Avoid Early

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 11:  Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs for yardage during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at EverBank Field on December 11, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

You walk into your fantasy football draft with a list of players you want to pick up and what round you are targeting them in—but being smarter than everyone else, you've got two or three players under consideration, knowing full-well that one of your choices could be off the board before your pick comes up.

But when your name is called and all three of your choices are gone, owners tend to panic.

We tend to draft on name recognition alone, falling into the trap that it's a "safe" pick, one that won't come back to haunt us.

It happens to all of us.

So while there's nothing we can do about the panic, we can try to steer you away from making a bad decision—which is what drafting one of these three players early in your draft would be.


Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Even with his current holdout from training camp, Maurice Jones-Drew is still the fourth running back to come off of the board in ESPN drafts, the ninth pick overall.

That's a mistake.

While Jones-Drew is only 27 years old, he's carried the ball almost 1,000 times over the past three seasons, and that takes a toll on any running back's body. Throw in 173 receptions over the same period of time, and you're talking about a player who is bound to start feeling the effects of being hit as many times as he has.

Even with the addition of rookie Justin Blackmon at wide receiver, does anyone believe for a second that teams are going to respect Jacksonville's passing game? Quarterback Blaine Gabbert isn't going to be mistaken for Mark Brunell in the late '90s, and opposing defenses will unquestionably put eight in the box to shut down Jacksonville's running game.

Finally, you can't ignore the fact that he is holding out. While he is unquestionably the most talented running back on the roster, 2012 brings a new coaching staff to Jacksonville and, with them, a new offensive system. While Jones-Drew has been away from camp, Rashad Jennings has learned the system and gotten the majority of the reps with the first-team offense.

With so many question marks around him, taking Jones-Drew isn't the move to make. Running backs like Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson, while they all have question marks of their own, are better selections for you on draft day than Jones-Drew.


Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Over his disappointment of long-time coach and friend Bruce Arians being fired as the Steelers' offensive coordinator, Ben Roethlisberger has picked up Todd Haley's offense rather quickly. With Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and the holding-out Mike Wallace at receiver, Big Ben has plenty of talent to throw the ball to.

The question, however, is whether he can stay upright long enough to do so.

With right guard David DeCastro now sidelined with a torn MCL—and perhaps a torn ACL as well—the Steelers quarterback, who has been sacked 314 times over his NFL career, lost one of the pieces that the team bought in to shore up a shaky offensive line.

To his credit, he has been able to continually pick himself up off of the turf and continue playing, but Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this month that he has a slightly torn rotator cuff in his right arm.

While the team and the quarterback downplayed the injury—which he believes he suffered last Nov. 6 against the Ravens—it is a cause for concern.

All it takes is for Roethlisberger's arm to be pushed or pulled in an awkward direction as he goes to throw the ball, or for him to land just right that the rotator cuff tears all the way, knocking him out of action.

Roethlisberger has been the 12th quarterback to come off of the board, the 81st overall pick in ESPN leagues. Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub and even Robert Griffin III, the three quarterbacks going after Big Ben, would be better options under center for your team in 2012.


Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Unless your fantasy league awards points for highlight-reel plays, then Michael Vick is not who you want quarterbacking your fantasy squad.

While he's an explosive player who can score with his arm or his legs, Vick missed games in 2011 with multiple injuries—and the fact that he's left two preseason games injured and was held out of action this weekend is certainly not a good sign.

Also to be considered is the fact that Vick is no longer a young player—he's 32 years old—and he's yet to account for 4,000 yards of offense at any point during his career. To expect someone like Vick to get better with age, even though he missed two years of wear-and-tear on his body while in prison, would be foolish.

Vick has been selected 35th overall, the seventh quarterback to come off of the board in ESPN leagues. With Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Philip  Rivers and Matt Ryan all still on the board, taking Vick is a risky move—unless you have a legitimate starter as your backup, your pick would be better spent on one of the other arms who are sure to be available.