Top Five Fantasy Football Starters To Avoid
This was a hard list to make. Almost all of the players mentioned MUST be drafted, but in most cases you should let them slip well past the expected Average Draft Position.
My list is full of players you want your more trusting league partners to take while you grab the jewels that fall. Though I try to include IDP players as often as possible in my articles, I really couldn't think of many that are being overhyped.
1. Antonio Bryant TB, WR—The Tampa Bay wide receiver surprised the fantasy world last season after remaining dormant through years of being on everyone's sleeper lists. It seems once all expectations were removed, he finally felt the freedom to show up. Well guess what? The expectations are back and now he is the only big play wide receiver on a less than ideal offense.
The team made additions at running back and could produce valuable fantasy players at that position, but the quarterback carousel that will possibly continue into the season will not help the already mediocre passing attack.
With the loss of Joey Galloway, Bryant will find himself lining up with Michael Clayton (another underachiever) and one of the Buccaneers new unproven WRs (Sammie Stroughter or Dexter Jackson). The addition of Kellen Winslow Jr. is a plus, but can he stay healthy? Winslow himself was a very strong candidate for this same list.
Defenses will know who they need to stop in this passing offense. Once most No. 1 WRs are gone, start considering Bryant but there are plenty of No. 2 WRs that will match, if not greatly overshadow, his production.
2. Oakland WRs —This one should need little to no explanation. There is no sure thing in Oakland and so the wide receivers on this team will line up will likely be a mystery deep into the preseason. But it doesn't matter who gets the nod, you'll want to avoid them.
JaMarcus Russell should continue to prove to be a less than adequate NFL quarterback who simply made it this far due to arm strength. His arm strength will obviously help some Oakland WRs post the occasional strong games (Rookie WR Darrius Heyward-Bey comes to mind), but none of them will be able to secure a solid footing in an average fantasy starting lineup.
Unless you are in a 12+ team league, no Oakland WR should be more than your WR4. If your league has 14-18 teams, target the speedsters (Heyward-Bey and Johnnie Lee Higgins) as your WR3 and ignore who starts the season.
3. Joseph Addai IND, RB —How can a running back playing behind Peyton Manning be on this list? Addai right now is being labeled a fantasy sleeper. Every owner is dreaming of him falling to the second or third round and producing first round numbers out of him. Well don't crush their dream.
Unless you are in a TD-heavy league, Addai and Brown will be splitting the workload in the ways that count. Brown will work to reduce Addai's PPR value and will greatly reduce his receiving yard totals. While this might not result in a huge hit to Addai, the oft-injured (maybe an exaggeration) running back will no longer be able to sit out for weeks and assume his job is safe.
The Colts will likely ride the hot hand (in this case feet) like they did when Rhodes was starting in front of Addai. And the one thing rookies do well is display their hunger on the field. Donald Brown will remain healthy as long as he splits time with Addai. This will keep him ready to take over toward the middle and late portions of the season and there may be no looking back for Brown if Addai sits for two to four weeks.
So is Addai still worth drafting in the late third round? Of course, but unless you are willing and ready to spend an extra reach pick on Donald Brown, look elsewhere to players that don't have such a clear handcuff sitting on the bench. If a player like Kevin Smith is still available, you should not even consider Addai. While Smith might not have the huge weeks Addai has, Smith won't lose more and more carries as the season progresses.
4. Jason Campbell WAS, QB —The Washington quarterback is a sad addition to this list. He has good wide receivers, a great (although aging) running back, a satisfactory line and one of the better offensive systems for a QB. So why is he on this list?
Oh lets see...the Redskins wanted Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton (if you believe the reports) and Mark Sanchez all more than him. Campbell handled it all like a pro and kept his mouth from running in front of the media, but you've got to believe he is furious. Likewise, the Redskins coaching staff and organization obviously have lost faith in him. Once a team starts losing faith, relationships start to dwindle and upset players can become bench players.
Campbell is going to start the season and has a significant chance to finish the season. But a poor start (record-wise) or a incompetent start (production-wise) will lead to an early benching. It doesn't help that the Redskins drafted the perfect quarterback for their system in Colt Brennan last year. He looked great in the preseason and while there is no promise of him being the savior for the team, he'll get his chance this offseason to move up as the main backup to Campbell.
Between Brennan being humbled by his draft position and Campbell being a little ticked about the trading block home he had for a few weeks, Brennan might end up being the more teachable of the two (despite his known attitude issues).
If Shaun Hill, Marc Bulger or Kerry Collins are still available, they surely have more faith being placed in them at this point. Roll with a guy who wasn't on his team's trading block the entire two weeks leading up to the NFL Draft.
5. Any Kicker or Defense—Stop. Don't try and make an argument for drafting a Kicker of defense any earlier than you have to. If you have a 16-round draft, just pencil DST in for round 15 and Kicker for round 16.
Please don't be the guy that takes the Steelers or Cowboys DST when legit sleepers are on the board just so that you can say "Now I've got my starting lineup complete!"
Even if any of the other players are on this list, don't draft a K or DST. It's just that simple and easy. Yes, numbers can be presented that "prove" taking a DST early pays off in the end, but thats only if you get lucky and select the future best DST. Personally? I'd rather spend my spare luck on the someone I could trade down the line.
Honorable Mention: Daunte Culpepper DET, QB —This one should be obvious. The Lions drafted Matthew Stafford to become the leader this team needs. Culpepper will likely start out the season as the starter but should be avoided at all costs. In only the deepest of re-draft leagues should any Lions QB get drafted, but Culpepper has little to no long-term value and will likely have no short-term value after week five or six.
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