Most people view early-round picks in fantasy football as fairly simple propositions. After all, it involves selecting the best players the game has to offer.
As anyone who has played fantasy football can attest to, however, things rarely go as expected.
For every dominant early-round pick who helps your team, someone else will have taken a total bust who ruins their entire season. Fantasy football is largely about minimizing risks, so it's hugely important to avoid busts early in your draft.
Taking a player late who doesn't work out isn't a big deal, but a high-profile flop can lead to fantasy doomsday.
Here are three players who are being taken early in most fantasy drafts right now that you should avoid if at all possible.
Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson entered the NFL to much fanfare last season as the third overall pick in the NFL draft.
Many fantasy owners expected him to be a star right out of the gate, and while he certainly had his moments, he wasn't as explosive as initially hoped.
Richardson ended the season with 950 yards rushing, 51 catches for 367 yards and 12 total touchdowns, so he was starter-worthy, but that doesn't necessarily equate to him being the 10th overall player on ESPN's fantasy football board this season.
The Browns are expected to improve this season. Richardson is too, since he now has a year of experience under his belt.
There are definitely some red flags surrounding Richardson, though. The biggest concern is his penchant for getting injured. Richardson was dealing with an injury heading into the draft and was banged up throughout the season.
He only missed one game, but he was in and out of several contests and his production was clearly impacted.
Richardson seems to be fine thus far leading up to the season and Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reports that Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner is excited about his potential.
#browns turner said Trent Richardson "is really rolling right now." Says defenses will have to gameplan around him.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 18, 2013
That's all well and good, but teams won't necessarily have to game-plan for him if he can't stay healthy.
Also, Richardson averaged a paltry 3.6 yards per carry last season, so teams will be able to stack the box if they so desire.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden has looked more confident during the preseason, but that may mean a decrease in targets for Richardson in the passing game as well, so there are a lot of things working against Richardson despite the fact that he has a first-round fantasy grade.
The Miami Dolphins paid wide receiver Mike Wallace big money in free agency this offseason in hopes that he can become an elite No. 1 target for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
While the Dolphins unquestionably needed to find Tannehill a reliable weapon, it remains to be seen if Wallace qualifies. Wallace has made some big plays during his four NFL seasons, but he is often a deep-ball-or-bust pass-catcher, which may significantly limit his fantasy value.
Wallace disappointed many fantasy owners last year, as he ended the season with a mere 836 receiving yards.
With back-to-back campaigns of 1,100-plus yards prior to that, Wallace was taken by many as a No. 1 fantasy receiver. Wallace was a flex at best, and he was actually unstartable for long stretches late in the year.
His former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates don't seem to miss him much, either. Safety Ryan Clark told Bob Pompeani of KDKA TV that inexperienced receiver Markus Wheaton is superior to Wallace in almost every category.
Ryan Clark just told me on radio show that Markus Wheaton is BETTER than Mike Wallace in everything BUT speed. High praise for the rookie— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) August 17, 2013
Despite Wallace's poor 2012 season, he is being taken late in the fourth round of 12-team drafts on ESPN.com. That means he is a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver on most teams, and it remains to be seen if he can live up to that billing.
Wallace did have a couple of big seasons with an experienced quarterback in the form of Ben Roethlisberger throwing to him, but Tannehill has yet to prove anything at the NFL level, so there is no telling if he'll be able to get the ball to Wallace downfield consistently.
Which highly touted player are you likeliest to avoid in your fantasy draft?
Few players in fantasy football have been more maddening than Darren McFadden over the past few years.
McFadden had a strong 2010 season, as he rushed for more than 1,100 yards, and there were high hopes for a true breakout in 2011. He started out great and was on pace for a monster campaign, but injuries kept him out for nine games.
McFadden was once again ravaged by injuries last year, missing four games, but he was absolutely awful even when he did manage to get on the field.
As one of the league's least efficient running backs last year, McFadden averaged a measly 3.3 yards per carry en route to 707 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
While he did manage 42 receptions, they only amounted to 258 yards, so it's fair to say that he had absolutely no explosion.
He is public enemy No. 1 for many fantasy owners, including former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and current NBC Sports analyst Shaun King. that "you will lose your league" if you draft McFadden.
That may seem a bit over the top, but it takes an early fourth-round pick at the latest to get McFadden in standard 12-team ESPN leagues.
That is a major investment in a player who has never stayed healthy for an entire season and is coming off an absolutely terrible year.
McFadden obviously has a ton of talent, so he can never be written off completely, but there are quality backs getting picked after him who carry far less risk.
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