Fantasy Football 2012: 10 Superstars to Avoid
Even the greatest of NFL superstars can easily become bad fantasy selections.
Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, but it would simply be foolish to select him in the first or second round of a fantasy draft this season.
Yet, somehow, big name players such as Manning are taken above their actual value like clockwork every year.
The smartest of fantasy owners know where players true worth lies and how long to wait for them.
Let's turn you into one of those owners.
Here are 10 superstars being drafted too high in fantasy leagues that you need to avoid.
10. Steve Smith
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Last season was a tale of two halves for Steve Smith.
Before the Carolina Panthers Week 9 bye, Smith had 46 catches for 918 yards and four touchdowns. These totals included five games of at least 100 yards receiving.
After the Panthers' bye week, Smith's stats dropped considerably. He had 33 catches for 473 yards and three TD's, including just one 100-yard receiving game.
Apparently most fantasy owners are only remembering the first half of the season.
Smith is being drafted an average of 47th overall.
Let someone else spend a fourth-round pick on a 33-year old receiver that turned to ice at the end of last season.
9. Maurice Jones-Drew
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This one kind of goes without saying, but if for some reason you were still considering drafting Maurice Jones-Drew here is some great advice: DON'T DO IT!
If the star RB were in camp, he would be a top-five fantasy pick, but with no light at the end of the holdout tunnel, he is far too great a risk even at his current average draft position of 17th.
Someone is going to take the risk and hope everything works out. For your own sake, don't be that guy.
8. Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski's 2011 campaign was a giant "yo soy fiesta."
Now, after the 17 touchdowns and 1,327 yards receiving, Gronkowski is being drafted in the late-first to early-second-round range of most fantasy drafts.
In a word: No.
Gronkowski should definitely be the first or second tight end taken off the board, but it must be remembered that the New England Patriots have a crowded receiving corps.
There is no guarantee "Gronk" will even be the most productive tight end on his own team.
His stats will surely be good, but taking him anywhere near his 19th overall average is a scary proposition.
7. Trent Richardson
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There are plenty of reasons to draft Trent Richardson.
He is one of the few true, feature backs in the NFL and is going to demand a heavy workload.
He is a physical freak of nature, capable of becoming one of the best running backs in the league.
And he has tremendous potential and upside.
But, in just his rookie season, he is being far over-drafted at an average of 31st overall.
The need to get solid running backs is high, but being on the Cleveland Browns is not going to do Richardson any favors this season.
His production will struggle as defenses key in almost exclusively on him. The passing game is simply not good enough to provide a balanced attack and take pressure off the workhorse.
Richardson has already had injury issues and will undoubtedly take a pounding this season.
He is definitely worth a shot at some point, but 31st is too high for a Cleveland rookie.
6. Peyton Manning
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It is truly amazing the amount of fantasy excitement surrounding the Denver Broncos since the addition of Peyton Manning.
Demaryius Thomas has suddenly become the second coming of Jerry Rice.
Eric Decker is the next Wes Welker, and Peyton Manning is expected to be, well, the old Peyton Manning.
The problem is that the 2004 version of Peyton Manning is gone, and in his place is a 36-year-old quarterback who just missed an entire season of football.
Yes, his neck is healed, and yes, his arm appears fine,
All have thrown for 4,000 yards multiple times in the last few seasons, and all come with less risk than Manning.
Peyton is certainly still a viable fantasy QB option, but not at his average draft position of 56th.
5. Mike Wallace
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There are too many moving parts to Mike Wallace's 2012 story with the Pittsburgh Steelers to trust him as a legitimate fantasy option, especially at his average draft position of 42nd.
Wallace is a crabby patty because of his relatively small one-year contract. Meanwhile his supposed understudy, Antonio Brown, was given the big bucks and a long-term commitment from the organization.
It is always hard to tell how players, namely wideouts, will react to such a situation, but their reactions are always unpredictable to say the least.
Will Wallace use this as motivation and rally himself to a great season and convince Pittsburgh of his worth?
Or will he protect himself like DeSean Jackson a season ago and turn in his worst career year?
Combine this uncertainty with Brown's emergence as a star and you have a recipe not worth making at pick 42.
4. Cam Newton
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If you want Cam Newton in your fantasy league, it is likely going to cost you a first-round selection.
That's right; after just one season, the Carolina Panthers QB has become one of the hottest fantasy commodities in all of football.
But is he worthy of such a high distinction already?
His rookie year was amazing to say the least, as he threw for over 4000 yards, rushed for another 700 and had a total of 35 touchdowns.
Those types of astronomical numbers will be difficult to repeat, especially on the ground, where Newton averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry last season.
Newton is going to be a great fantasy QB for years to come, but in the first round, a selection of the former Heisman winner seems like a stretch.
The first round is where you take the reliant and consistently amazing players the NFL has to offer.
Newton has a small body of work and could easily fall victim to the sophomore slump in a tough NFC South division.
In the middle of the second round, pounce on him; at the end of the second round, laugh at everyone else for foolishly allowing him to slip through their grasp.
But in the first round, make sure you know the risk you are getting into.
3. San Francisco Defense
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The San Francisco 49ers have the best defense in the NFL both on the field and in fantasy football score-sheets.
The unit does not allow rushing touchdowns, causes turnovers and sacks quarterbacks at a faster rate than even the National Debt Clock can keep up with.
However, a defense should never, ever be taken at an average draft position of 87th.
In fact, a good rule of thumb is to only take a defense in one of the last two rounds of your draft, the same place where you should draft a kicker.
Production out of your first few bench players will be more important than your defense because injuries are going to strike most, if not all, of the teams in any given fantasy league.
You must have a back-up plan for when Jamaal Charles or Adrian Peterson suffers another knee injury.
The discrepancy between defenses is simply too small to justify a mid-round selection.
When someone jumps on San Francisco and starts an eighth-round avalanche of defenses flying off the board, sit back and relax.
You are one of the few owners who actually know what they are doing.
2. Jimmy Graham
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Jimmy Graham falls into the same set of circumstances as Rob Gronkowski, but to an even more extreme extent.
Graham is the 13th highest drafted player on average in fantasy leagues this season.
Far too high for a player receiving passes on the New Orleans Saints.
Drew Brees spreads the ball around too much and finds too may players in the open field to count on Graham repeating his monster stats from a season ago.
Again, this does not mean he will not be an elite fantasy tight end, but his stats are highly unlikely to equate to the value of the 13th overall pick.
Maybe Graham will prove doubters wrong and catch for another 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns, but at pick 13, that seems like a risk better served for somebody else come draft day.
1. Michael Vick
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If Michael Vick could stay on the field for an entire slate of 16 games, he would instantly become worthy of a top five fantasy selection.
Unfortunately, only once in his 11-year career has Vick started all 16 games in a season.
Vick's ability to combine rushing statistics with decent passing stats has always made him a popular fantasy option.
The problem is, he is the 46th highest drafted player on average.
Such a high and coveted draft position cannot be reserved for a player that is almost guaranteed to miss at least a couple of games over the course of the season.
Vick is the ultimate risk-reward player and a risk that is not worth taking before the 50th pick.