When making preparations for your fantasy team, knowing who not to pick in the draft is almost as important as knowing who to select.
Making a poor choice in the first few rounds of your draft can seriously set you back for the entire season—just ask anyone who grabbed Ray Rice or Trent Richardson early last year. You are simply wasting an opportunity to get a difference-maker with someone who quickly becomes dead space in your lineup.
Although it is almost impossible to guess which players will get hurt, it is easier to predict those who will have disappointing seasons based on expectations. These stars are likely to go early in all fantasy drafts, but it would be smart to avoid them unless they suffer major slides.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Although Marshawn Lynch has been one of the steadiest fantasy players in the NFL over the past few years, it does not guarantee success in the upcoming year.
The Seattle Seahawks running back has totaled 901 carries in the last three seasons, and the mileage could finally catch up to him. He dropped from five yards per carry in 2012 to just 4.2 yards per carry in 2013, a number that could continue to fall as he remains behind an inconsistent offensive line.
However, the bigger problem for fantasy owners will be the internal competition Lynch is set to receive this season. Both Robert Turbin and Christine Michael have shown potential, but neither has gotten much of a chance to shine on the field.
Seahawks offensive coordinator explained earlier in the offseason that this will change, via Terry Blount of ESPN:
Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times notes that Michael has improved his all-around ability to hopefully earn more playing time:
He carried the ball only 18 times during his rookie season because he wasn’t consistent enough to earn the trust of the coaching staff. He struggled with the nuances of the position — footwork, hitting the proper hole, pass protection — and Bevell said the biggest change in Michael this year is his “attention to detail and becoming a professional football player and kind of taking it like it was his job.”
Lynch's best value was the fact that he would get 20 carries almost every week. If this changes, though, the veteran running back might no longer be worthy of a first-round pick.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
A year ago, Zac Stacy was one of the best surprises in fantasy football. After getting only a single carry for the first four weeks of the season, he broke out with impressive production for the rest of the year, finishing among the top 20 running backs in total points.
He comes into this year as the likely No. 1 option in St. Louis and a potential first-round pick in a lot of fantasy drafts.
Unfortunately, that starting job is far from guaranteed. Last year at this time, everyone knew that Daryl Richardson would be the starter for the Rams with Isaiah Pead possibly stealing carries. However, Benny Cunningham and Stacy ended up getting the most touches.
These players will all once again battle for playing time, with third-round pick and Heisman finalist Tre Mason also in contention.
Even Stacy is aware of the competition coming from the rookie:
Bleacher Report's Eric Mack notes that Mason's stock is going up in a hurry:
Although it is hard to imagine the rookie being good enough in pass protection to be an immediate starter, he will get enough playing time to take value away from Stacy. Selecting him in the first two rounds would be a mistake.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton had a strong 2013 campaign where he improved on the field and finished as the No. 3 quarterback in fantasy. This makes it reasonable for ESPN to project the Carolina Panthers star to be the No. 5 passer in football.
The problem is that even replicating last year's numbers will be difficult. Bleacher Report's Cian Fahey breaks down the issues surrounding Newton this offseason:
According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the quarterback has recovered from his ankle surgery and will be able to resume workouts at training camp. However, getting acclimated with a brand new receiving corps will not be easy.
Of course, the problem is not just that the receivers are unfamiliar. The group is well below average, especially for a team expecting to contend in the NFC. Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood and an extremely raw Kelvin Benjamin will step onto the field for Carolina, and fans will be left wondering which real starter is injured.
Unfortunately, this is all Newton will have this year.
Michael Fabiano of NFL.com does not even think the quarterback is worth of a pick in the first five rounds:
While he does still have value as a runner, there are too many better and safer players at the position to draft Newton before the sixth or seventh round.
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