The NFL preseason is underway, and fantasy football drafts will not be far behind. Some leagues have already finished drafting, but if yours hasn't, this article should help you out a bit.
Injuries have already ended the seasons of players like Dennis Pitta and Jeremy Maclin. Also, Michael Crabtree is a long shot to play this season, the return of Percy Harvin is unknown, and Rob Gronkowski is a big question mark for the Patriots right now. Then, as Ricky Henne of Chargers.com reported, Danario Alexander is likely to see his season end before it begins after tearing his ACL on Tuesday.
Even though you should obviously not draft these injured players, there are still other stars out there to avoid as well. In this article, we'll highlight three players at each position—including kickers and team defenses—to avoid drafting in 2013.
Read on to find out who they are.
*All stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Tom Brady is one of the quarterbacks to avoid in 2013—no, that is not a typo.
Brady still has the talent to be an elite quarterback in fantasy; he's just lacking a receiving corps to go along with that talent. That makes Brady a risky draft pick when all things are considered.
Yes, the Patriots were fourth in the league last season with 4,844 receiving yards, and they were also fourth as a team with 34 receiving touchdowns. However, Rob Gronkowski is the only one of the Patriots' top five receivers from last season that is still on the roster.
Gronkowski started training camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), though, and he might not be healthy in time to start the regular season. A recent report from ESPN's Adam Schefter suggests that the buzz surrounding "Gronk" has been positive (h/t NESN.com), but the risk is still present. If he is still on the PUP list to start the season, he will have to sit out at least the first six games of the year.
The Patriots have Danny Amendola, but there is a lot of unproven talent on their roster at the wide receiver position, and not having Gronkowski would make the first six weeks of the season unbearable for a Brady owner.
Between the weaker talent at wide receiver this season and the roll-of-the-dice approach with Gronkowski, Brady is a quarterback to avoid in 2013.
Cam Newton is another quarterback to let someone else draft. Yes, he can run the ball quite well and is one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the game. Despite that, though, he's still one to pass on.
Newton has a star receiver in Steve Smith. His other strong receiver is...umm...exactly. Brandon LaFell and tight end Greg Olsen just do not provide much of a second threat for Newton in the passing game.
The other factor is the Carolina running game. Newton has to decide when to hand it off to Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams or Mike Tolbert—or simply keep it for himself. He has rushing prowess around the goal line, but getting there could be problematic for him this season due to a mediocre offense.
Teams will also prepare for Newton around the goal line. Newton was a sloppy passer in the red zone last year, completing just 20-of-57 passes during those situations for 161 yards and eight touchdowns.
If you draft Newton this year, you must hope that he can actually play consistently. He started off poorly in the first half of 2012 before turning it around in a big way in the second half. However, you can't afford to wait half the season for your quarterback to come around.
Keep in mind that Carolina plays three NFC West teams in its first eight games, so another slow start is possible for Newton. Then, the Panthers close out the season with four NFC South contests in their final five games, including two against New Orleans in the final month.
Let someone else draft Newton, and you might be able to buy low on him about midseason.
Carson Palmer put up good numbers last season for the Oakland Raiders, but most of them came when his team was trailing. Oakland traded him to Arizona this offseason, but that shouldn't be enough to make you want to draft him.
Working with Larry Fitzgerald is a plus, as he is a significant upgrade over what Palmer had at his disposal in Oakland last season. After Fitzgerald, though, the talent drops off to second-year receiver Michael Floyd, fourth-year receiver Andre Roberts and tight end Rob Housler.
The bigger issue is that Arizona's offensive line has been porous. It's allowed at least 50 sacks in each of the last three seasons, and it bottomed out last season when four Arizona quarterbacks hit the turf a combined 58 times.
As a result, the running game in the desert has finished last in the league in three of the last five seasons. If Palmer does not get much support from the running backs again this season, he will have to try to win games on his own with his arm.
When you put it all together, Palmer is a player that would be better left on the waiver wire to start the season. He might not be able to help during some bye weeks, either, as Arizona takes on San Francisco, Seattle and Atlanta in Weeks 6, 7 and 8, respectively, before its Week 9 bye.
Ryan Mathews has been one of the most frustrating players to own in fantasy football over the last couple of seasons. He keeps getting hurt and doesn't produce much when healthy.
Last season, San Diego simply could not run the ball, as it put up just four rushing touchdowns. Jackie Battle had three of them, so do the math and see how many Mathews had.
As NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal noted, Chargers head coach Mike McCoy wants Mathews to become "the guy" at the running back position this season. With Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown in the mix, though, any slip-up by Mathews could result in his playing time taking a sharp dip. Woodhead and Brown are more likely to take the field in passing situations, too, so Mathews' value in PPR formats is very low.
The Chargers' last three games are all against AFC West rivals, so Mathews has some value late in the year. If he stays true to form, however, Mathews won't even be there to play in those contests.
Chris Ivory is in the right position to be a breakout player in 2013, as he went from being buried on the depth chart in New Orleans to becoming a possible starter with the New York Jets this season.
However, Ivory is in a tough situation due to the entire Jets offense being one big question mark. The starting quarterback is still unknown, and according to Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday, wide receiver Santonio Holmes is nursing injuries that might have him miss the first four games of the season.
And then we have this gem from NFL.com's Chris Wesseling, who reported that Bilal Powell is ahead of Ivory on the team's current depth chart.
Jets players are some of the most difficult to own from a fantasy perspective. It looks like it is going to be a difficult season for them, and Ivory should be left to another owner in fantasy.
DeAngelo Williams is another Carolina player to avoid in fantasy drafts. As previously mentioned, the ground game in Carolina is murky at best, and quarterback Cam Newton makes sure that he gets his own fair share of carries, especially in the red zone.
Williams is left with the role of trying to lug the ball up and down the field while his own quarterback vultures carries from him. Also, fellow running back Jonathan Stewart is currently on the PUP list and has no date set to return, according to Dave Richard of CBS Sports.
Williams is also 30 years old, which is a tough age for running backs to continue being productive. Add that to his team's brutal early schedule, and Williams should be left to be someone else's headache.
People can make the argument that Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most talented wide receivers in the game. The argument can also be made that he needs a real quarterback and hasn't had one since Kurt Warner.
Arizona added Carson Palmer to the roster this offseason, but it still doesn't warrant a recommendation to draft Fitzgerald. New head coach Bruce Arians does favor a vertical passing game, but that won't change the opinion here.
Remember, Arizona has no running game to take the pressure off the passing attack, and there is also no real No. 2 receiver in Arizona to take the pressure off Fitzgerald consistently. The tight ends don't contribute, either, as Cardinals players at this position have scored a combined seven touchdowns in the last five seasons.
Fitzgerald is going to have make catches in traffic this season, much like the one pictured above. He will consistently have multiple defenders draped on him, but Fitzgerald's ability to position himself to ward off defenders will help him get open at times. Still, it will be difficult to make catch after catch in that kind of coverage.
Add to that a tough schedule, and it will be a down year for Fitzgerald. It won't be as bad as last season's nightmare, but he is unlikely to top 1,000 yards this season.
Mike Wallace's tenure with the Miami Dolphins isn't off to a great start. He signed a five-year, $60 million contract during free agency, but Wallace has already been bothered by a groin issue and sat out the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday against Dallas.
Also, second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill has looked rough at times in camp, according to Rohan Nadkarni of the Miami Herald. Tannehill's throws have been off target, which has resulted in a lot of interceptions. If Tannehill can't iron out these problems, he's going to damage Wallace's fantasy value.
Wallace will have little support from his fellow receivers as well, even though Brian Hartline did post over 1,000 receiving yards last season. After the first month of the season, though, Hartline recorded just one game with more than 100 receiving yards, and Davone Bess went to Cleveland in a trade at the NFL draft. The Dolphins brought in Dustin Keller after a couple of unproductive seasons with the Jets, but he is not one who will revolutionize an offense.
With no one to help take the pressure off him, Wallace is going to wither this season. If his quarterback can't even get the ball to him, it's time to move on and look elsewhere for production at wide receiver.
Danny Amendola is another receiver to let someone else have. While he has a great opportunity to succeed in New England, he needs to show some results before anyone buys into him.
Also, Amdendola is a player who has missed 20 games over the last two seasons. While he does have 153 catches in his last 28 games, he needs to find the end zone more than three times a season. He could have value in PPR formats, but don't expect much after the catch from him.
He's also too inconsistent to be relied upon. Amendola had a 15-catch game for 160 yards against Washington early on last season, and he also had an 11-catch outing against San Francisco in a game that ended in a tie. However, Amendola's results can land on the other end of the spectrum, too, as evidenced by his two-catch, five-yard output against Tampa Bay in December.
Amendola won't produce in a standard-format league, but he could present a little value in PPR leagues. Still, proceed with caution when thinking about drafting him.
Jermichael Finley is frustrating to own. The tight end from Green Bay scored all of two touchdowns last season for the Packers on 61 receptions.
Finley was more of an afterthought in the passing game in 2012. He was overshadowed by the likes of Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and even Greg Jennings. Finley was overlooked to the point where backup tight end Tom Crabtree caught more touchdowns than him (three) on just eight catches.
The Green Bay offense has some question marks this season, too. As reported by NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, Nelson had knee surgery recently and will miss the entire preseason. Also, the running back situation is up for grabs, as multiple players are battling for carries.
Finley seems to perform better in odd-numbered years, but that's an obscure stat to hang your hat on. In 2009 and 2011, he combined for 1,443 yards and 13 touchdowns. In the even-numbered years of 2008, 2010 and 2012, Finley gained only a combined 1,034 yards and four touchdowns.
Take that for what you will, but I still advise you to avoid Finley this year.
Owen Daniels is just an average tight end at best. Last year, he scored only one touchdown after Week 9 and fell into the background of the Houston offense.
Also in the second half of the season, Daniels posted just one game with more than four catches and failed to rack up 30 yards in four separate games.
Daniels can't get the job done despite a thin Houston receiving corps that features Andre Johnson. If he can't produce in that situation, how will be able to do so this year after Houston upgraded its receivers in the draft?
Antonio Gates used to be the big-name tight end that everyone wanted on their fantasy football team. In 2013, though, he's one to pass on because of his weak performance from last season.
Yes, he shined at the end of last season, as he scored touchdowns in each of San Diego's final three games.
Before then, though, he had some very weak games. His three-catch, 19-yard outing against New Orleans was miserable, and his two-catch, 14-yard game against Cleveland just doesn't cut it either. He had just two games with more than five receptions in 2012, so Gates wasn't a factor in PPR leagues either.
San Diego spreads the ball around, but nobody had more than 85 targets last year. Quarterback Philip Rivers needs to connect with Gates like he did back in 2010 and 2011 for him to be someone worth drafting.
Sebastian Janikowski has the leg for the job, but he doesn't have a team that provides enough offense to make him worthy of being drafted. Unfortunately, newly acquired quarterback Matt Flynn won't be able to fix that for an Oakland team that looks primed to have a miserable passing attack in 2013.
Don't be fooled by the fact that Janikowski has put together three consecutive seasons with at least 31 field goals. Before that, he had 10 straight years with 26 or fewer field goals.
The reason people clamor for him is that he can hit from long range, as he has the most field goal attempts of more than 57 yards, with 17 tries from that distance. Even with all that power, though, he was able to record 10 points just once in the second half of the season.
Kickers might be an afterthought for most people, but getting just a handful of points from Janikowski could have been the difference in a fantasy playoff game.
Mason Crosby used to be a solid option before having a down year last year. In 2012, Crosby missed a dozen field goals and left his fantasy owners shaking their heads in disbelief.
Things were supposed to be better this year, but instead they've gotten worse.
According to Frank Schwab of Shutdown Corner, a Yahoo! Sports blog, Crosby missed 5-of-8 field goals in a Friday scrimmage.
That type of performance isn't going to cut it this season, and fantasy owners should be cutting Crosby off their rosters. He's best served as waiver-wire fodder until he starts splitting the uprights consistently.
Rob Bironas is coming off a poor season in 2012. He hit 25-of-31 field goals for a conversion rate of 80.6 percent. That is his lowest success rate since 2006, his second season in the league.
Most of the top field goal kickers get between 40 and 50 attempts a season. Bironas has only one campaign with more than 33 attempts.
He needs the chance to attempt more field goals in order to have more value. He's got the leg to hit them but lacks opportunities. It also not like the Titans are scoring great amounts of touchdowns, either.
The Tennessee offense will struggle from time to time, and a difficult schedule makes Bironas a kicker to pass on.
CB Patrick Peterson
The Arizona Cardinals are a defensive unit to avoid in the 2013 fantasy season. It was mentioned earlier on the Carson Palmer slide that they will play a tough schedule.
As reported by Craig Grialou of Bonneville Phoenix, the team has also said it may have both Patrick Peterson (pictured) and Tyrann Mathieu back at the same time to return punts. All that's going to do is force opposing punters to kick it to the sidelines to avoid a return.
The Cardinals will also be without Pro Bowl linebacker Daryl Washington for the first four games of the season. Washington was suspended for a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy. He led the team in tackles and sacks in 2012.
Another key factor is that Arizona was ground up by opposing running games in 2012. It allowed 137 yards per game on the ground, which was 28th in the league. That will wear down the Cardinals defense if that continues.
S Troy Polamalu
The Pittsburgh defense suffered through a tough 2012 season and then lost key players to free agency.
They posted a middle-of-the-road 37 sacks but recorded just 10 interceptions and one touchdown in 2012. James Harrison and Casey Hampton are both gone, and Troy Polamalu (pictured) missed significant time with injuries. The defensive secondary is also getting gray with Polamalu, free safety Ryan Clark and cornerback Ike Taylor all being more than 32 years old.
Newcomers Jarvis Jones and Shamarko Thomas will be looked upon to help rebuild an aging defense.
When you put it all together, the Steelers have gone from a must-have unit to a defense that can be stream-rolled in certain matchups.
CB Darrelle Revis
Don't get fooled by the fact Tampa Bay signed Darrelle Revis (pictured above).
The Bucs were the worst defense against the pass last season, and Revis will certainly help to improve that, but he can only cover one guy at a time. Tampa needs to get more of a rush out of its front four to drive up its sack total. They managed a paltry 27 sacks on the season, which tied them with Kansas City for 29th in the league.
The Bucs were awful on kickoff returns last season as well. They returned 31 kickoffs for a total of 630 yards, with a long return of 55 yards. They averaged a mediocre nine yards per punt return and failed to score a touchdown in the return game.