10 NFL Stars Already Tumbling Down 2013 Fantasy Football Draft Boards

Jordan HeckContributor IIIJune 3, 2013

10 NFL Stars Already Tumbling Down 2013 Fantasy Football Draft Boards

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    Already NFL players are falling down the ranks for the 2013 fantasy football season. Each player has a different reason for their fall. Some are because of injury, others because of competition and a few because of their performance from last season.

    Here are 10 players who are already falling down the ranks in mock drafts. All current average draft position (ADP) information is from fantasyfootballcalculator.com and all previous year ADP information is from myfantasyleague.com.

    Also, all ADP information is based on 12-team standard-scoring leagues.

Rob Gronkowski

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    Rob Gronkowski went from being a second-round pick in March to a late fourth-round pick today. His ADP is falling because of news about Gronk's health. He is expected to undergo back surgery this month after already undergoing a fourth surgery on his broken forearm.

    Gronk's health issues could force him to miss time in training camp and even the regular season. 

    When Gronkowski isn't dealing with surgeries, he's one of the best weapons in the NFL. He's nearly unstoppable in the red zone and is a touchdown machine. In 2012 Gronkowski finished second among tight ends in scoring despite missing most of the last six weeks of the regular season.

    Taking Gronkowski in 2013 is a big gamble. If he isn't healthy, then you're wasting a top pick on a player who won't maximize his value. On the other hand, if he's fully healthy and ready to go, then you've got yourself a steal.

    So, do you feel lucky?

    I'm staying away from Gronkowski this season for a couple of reasons. The first is that I don't like taking a tight end that high; the second reason is that I don't want to rely on a player's health before the season even begins.

Larry Fitzgerald

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    Over the last three seasons Larry Fitzgerald has been a top-five wide receiver in fantasy football drafts. But after a 2012 season in which Fitzgerald played all 16 games and had fewer than 800 yards receiving, his value isn’t where it used to be.

    Fitzgerald is the eighth receiver coming off the board in mock drafts. Given Fitzgerald’s talents, this is a lot lower than where he should be going, but given his situation, it makes sense. 

    This upcoming season holds a little more promise than 2012. Carson Palmer is a big upgrade from the quarterback trio of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley. Fitzgerald played receiver in the Bermuda Triangle of quarterbacks. Expect a 1,000-yard season from Fitz in a redemption season. 

Robert Griffin III

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    Last season Robert Griffin III was more than exceptional, as he took home the Rookie of the Year award. As a fantasy player, there wasn't much more you could hope for. The Baylor product threw for over 3,000 yards with 20 touchdowns and was efficient as he threw just five interceptions. His 815 total rush yards were the fifth-most ever by a QB in a single season. When healthy, RG3 is a top-five quarterback.

    But he isn't healthy. 

    Griffin is recovering from a torn ACL, an injury that has caused his fantasy stock to drop. Right now, Griffin's average draft spot is in the seventh round and has fallen as far as the ninth round. Since Griffin isn't guaranteed to start Week 1, selecting him would be a huge risk.

    That's why, if you plan on selecting RG3, you should draft another quarterback around the same time so you aren't scrambling for another option. Adrian Peterson's ACL recovery in 2012 has us optimistic that Griffin can fully recover from this, but owners should be cautious.

Greg Jennings

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    According to 2012 ADP results, Greg Jennings was a top-10 wide receiver. He was playing with the previous year’s MVP Aaron Rodgers in a pass-happy offense. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Packers receiver before the 2012 season started. 

    Jennings’ season would not bring good results, however. He played in just eight games and had just 366 receiving yards. He did not reach a contract extension with Green Bay, and he was free to sign wherever this offseason.

    The conference-rival Minnesota Vikings signed Jennings in hopes of giving Christian Ponder some weapons. Jennings is expected to be the Vikings number one receiver, but that’s not the same as being the number one receiver in Green Bay. That’s why Jennings went from a top-10 pick last year to barely being in the top-30 this year.

    To me Jennings is a steal in fantasy drafts this year. It’s hard to trust Christian Ponder, but Jennings is a veteran receiver who is capable of putting up a 1,000-yard season. He’s a great value pick for as far as he’s falling in drafts.

Willis McGahee

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    In 2011 Willis McGahee ran for 1,100 yards and surprised a lot of people. His 2012 season got off to a great start, but it ended in Week 11 when he suffered a season-ending injury.

    Even though McGahee has been the starter the last two seasons and has been successful, the starting job in Denver is not automatically his this season. With Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball, there’s a lot of young talent in Denver's backfield, not to mention veteran Knowshon Moreno who had a couple of 100-yard games after McGahee’s injury. 

    The Denver backfield is uncertain right now, and that uncertainty has damaged McGahee’s stock. He’s gone from being a sixth-round selection in March to a 12th-round selection now.

    McGahee’s 2013 outlook doesn’t look too pretty. The Broncos have a lot of depth at the running back position, and at 31 years old the veteran running back could be reduced to a small role.

Eric Decker

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    Eric Decker is coming off an 85-catch, 1,064-yard, 13-touchdown season, what's not to be excited about in 2013?

    The arrival of Wes Welker.

    Welker adds another great weapon that wasn't there in 2012, and it will hurt Decker's performance this year.

    Fantasy-football drafters have put two and two together and that's why Decker's ADP has gone from being a third-round pick in mid-March to being a current sixth-round pick. Last season Decker finished among the top ten in fantasy wideouts, but his current draft stock doesn't show it.

    Right now he's the 25th receiver off the board.

    Demaryius Thomas is a better outside receiver than Decker, which will cause Welker to have a bigger impact on Decker's stock. Decker will have his moments in 2013, as he's a talented player, but there's only so many targets to split up among Thomas, Welker and Decker.

Jonathan Dwyer

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    Jonathan Dwyer was the Steelers leading rusher last season and was in line to become their starter in 2013 as well. His ADP before the draft was about round eight, which was respectable.

    Since the draft, Dwyer’s stock has plummeted because the Steelers drafted Le’Veon Bell in the second round. As Bell gains more momentum, Dwyer is being forgotten. He’s not being taken until round 14 of 15-round mock drafts.

    While Bell certainly has the capabilities of a starter, it’s Dwyer who is getting the first-team reps at OTAs. The mere fact that Dwyer is running with the first team shows that the Steelers are giving Dwyer the benefit of the doubt. He had a chance to secure the starting role last season, but he wasn’t impressive. 

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

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    Last season BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for over 1,000 yards, but it wasn't really a strong season by the former Patriot. He averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and scored just six touchdowns, compared to the 11 TDs he had in 2011 and the 13 he scored in 2010. 

    The Bengals relied on Green-Ellis because they had no other options. Now they do. Cincinnati was the first team to take a running back in this year's draft, and they used it on North Carolina running back Giovanni Bernard.

    The arrival of Bernard has caused Green-Ellis' stock to fall. 

    In February and March, Green-Ellis was being drafted in the late fourth and early fifth rounds, ahead of guys like Vick Ballard and Ryan Mathews. Now his ADP is in the mid-sixth round. Bernard has seen his stock rise and is being drafted a little behind his teammate.

    It's too early to determine Bernard's role in this offense right now, but the fact that the Bengals selected him so early in the draft is discouraging news for Green Ellis. He'll still be used, but the arrival of Bernard might put a cap on Green-Ellis' 2013 outlook.

Antonio Gates

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    In 2012 Antonio Gates was a top-five option at tight end, being selected in the fourth round on average.

    And why not, after coming off a 10-touchdown season in which he played in only 10 games.

    The story has changed now, and Gates isn’t the same player that he used to be. Last season he put up his lowest numbers in receptions and yards since his rookie season of 2003. He was even healthy, playing in 15 games.

    His poor performance in 2012 is making drafters cautious about what he’ll do this season. That’s why Gates is the ninth tight end coming off the board in drafts. The veteran Chargers tight end is not the elite player he used to be. 

Aaron Rodgers

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    Last season, Aaron Rodgers was going number one overall in most fantasy football drafts—if not first overall, then definitely the first round.

    So far in 2013 mock drafts, that has not been the case.

    Rodgers is still being the first quarterback taken, but now he’s falling to the mid-second round. He’s even fallen to the third round on some occasions. In fact, a lot of the elite quarterbacks are being selected later and later because there’s so much talent at the position late in drafts.