Fantasy Football: 10 Players to Avoid Early in the Draft

WesAnalyst IJuly 6, 2011

Fantasy Football: 10 Players to Avoid Early in the Draft

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    Fantasy football championships are not won in the first five rounds of a draft, but they can certainly be lost.

    Those who took Randy Moss, Ryan Matthews, and Brandon Marshall may have overcome the odds, but in all likelihood their season was buried.

    Championships were won when players like Michael Vick and Peyton Hillis made their way onto rosters late in the draft or via waiver wire.

    The key to avoiding the downfalls early in the draft is to stay away from anybody that may set off the red flag for one reason or another.

    Last year Moss complained about his contract before the season started. Poof. He blew things up in New England and never recovered.

    Matthews was an unproven rookie, but people just assumed the Chargers system would carry him through a successful season. Enter Norv Turner who can mess up just about anything as a head coach.

    Marshall looked like one of the best receivers in the NFL from 2007-09. It didn't matter who threw him the ball. Too bad Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen and Chad Pennington proved that theory wrong and ruined Marshall's year.

    This year the red flags should be going off for 10 players who will go off the board between the first and fifth rounds.

No.10: Shonn Greene

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    This is the player I am least concerned about on the list because LaDainian Tomlinson has openly admitted Shonn Greene is ready to take on the role of being a feature back.

    The support sounds good, but there is always a chance Greene will lose touches to L.T. on goal-line carries and to rookie Bilal Powell throughout the game.

    If splitting carries doesn't set off the red flags you should be alarmed by his numbers last year when he was asked to share the workload.

    He scored two touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards or more only once.

    Greene could flourish in an offense predicated on the run.

    But with so much uncertainty surrounding Greene, you would be wise to avoid him and look to a player like Matt Forte who is guaranteed to be the team's go-to back, has proven an ability to catch balls out of the backfield and can find the endzone with more consistency.

No.9: Jonathan Stewart

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    Your offense is going to struggle when Jimmy Clausen is in the mix for starting at quarterback.

    You're in even bigger trouble when he is competing with Cam Newtown.

    Jonathan Stewart is by no means a bad running back, but those around him, namely Clausen and Newtown, have the potential to drag him down.

    Last year Stewart saw the effects of a bad offense as he only scored three rushing touchdowns and was only able to crack 100 rushing yards twice.

    If you're looking for a feature running back who won't be hampered by a poor offense try to use a first-round pick on LeSean McCoy.

No.8: Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice

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    Christian Ponder.

    That's where the conversation begins and ends.

    The 12th overall pick from Florida State has an excellent shot to start in Minnesota and that should scare you away from Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice.

    Here's what Ponder did at Florida State: He started, rode the bench, started, rode the bench some more and then tried to mess up the team's success again.

    I'm not even sure if I correctly calculated the amount of chances he was given at Florida State.

    There is nothing to suggest he propensity to fail won't carry over to the NFL and that it won't affect those around him.

    It's a shame because both Harvin and Rice have plenty of talent to be worthy of a pick early in all leagues.

    Mike Wallace is the perfect receiver if you want an explosive young receiver who won't have to deal with a bad quarterback situation. 

No.7: Frank Gore

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    Frank Gore is always on the verge of being a top-tier running back in fantasy football.

    He's also always on the verge of injury and ruining your season.

    In six NFL seasons Gore has played in all 16 games only once. That season produced 1,695 yards, nine touchdowns, 61 receptions, and 485 receiving yards.

    It's obvious why people want to take the risk on Gore. You need to ask yourself if the risk is worth the reward.

    I would avoid Gore, fill another need and then take someone like Peyton Hillis who appears to be a more durable running back.

    There are some questions about Hillis being a one-hit wonder, but at least he is the feature back and will get goal-line touches.

No.6: Brandon Lloyd

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    I talked about taking Peyton Hillis, but now I'm going to dis Brandon Lloyd because he has never proven himself before?

    Yes.

    The difference is obvious. Hillis will get touches since he is a running back while Lloyd can be limited because he is a receiver.

    In his first seven seasons Lloyd's career highs were 48 receptions, 733 yards and six touchdowns.

    Last year he blew up for 77 receptions, 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    I have a difficult time taking a receiver like Lloyd when there is a chance players like Wes Welker and Kenny Britt may still be on the board.

No.5: Dwayne Bowe

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    When you play fantasy football you want to get as many no-brainers as possible.

    A no-brainer is when you say to yourself, "Do I start Adrian Peterson or Fred Jackson?"

    It's a no-brainer because one player is clearly better and proves it on a consistent basis.

    The problem with Bowe is his inconsistency.

    Last year Bowe was held to four catches or less nine times. He also had double digit touchdowns in five games.

    That means each week you are flipping a coin and eventually second-guessing yourself. And the moment that happens you might as well call it a season.

    I can almost guarantee you will have Steve Johnson on the bench when Bowe get shutout only to have Bowe on the bench when he goes off for three touchdowns and 10 catches for over 100 yards.

    And if you still need a reason to avoid Bowe please look at the picture.

No.4: DeSean Jackson

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    DeSean Jackson will be on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays about a half dozen times next year.

    He will disappear in regular season more frequently.

    Last year Jackson was held to three receptions or less seven times.

    In his career he's never caught more than 63 passes in a year and never had more than nine touchdown receptions.

    And if you think he's a great pickup because of his efforts on special teams you need to remember most leagues award touchdowns to the defense/special teams unit and not the individual player.

    But if your league awards points to the individual take a look at Jackson's punt returns. They went from 50 as a rookie to 29 in his second season and down to 20 last year.

    If you want an Eagles receiver take Jeremy Maclin and thank me later.

No.3: Darren McFadden

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    Darren McFadden is a poor man's Frank Gore.

    In three seasons in the NFL he has never played in more than 13 games and cracked 1,000 yards only once.

    It is almost inevitable he will miss games and it could happen when you are in the midst of fighting for a playoff berth or your league's championship.

    Why risk a second-round pick on a guy who requires you to constantly worry about injury when his payoff could be found later in the draft from someone like Steven Jackson, Rashard Mendenhall or BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

    When you also consider he is on offense struggling with quarterback issues—please don't tell me Jason Campbell is good—and is under the direction of new head coach Hue Jakcson, who no one knows how he will call games, it would be wise to avoid McFadden early in the draft.

No.2: Michael Vick

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    Michael Vick is coming off an MVP-caliber season and put up mind blowing numbers.

    His 3,018 passing yards. 676 rushing yards and 30 combined touchdowns have people projecting him as a first-round pick.

    And that's part of the concern going into 2011.

    It's hard to imagine Vick putting up those kind of numbers again and validating using a first-round pick on him.

    If he comes back down to earth you basically wasted a first-round pick on someone you could have picked up later, such as Matt Ryan,

    The other obvious downside to Vick is his injuries.

    Vick took a ton of unnecessary hits when he ran out of the pocket, which also produced his high rushing totals and nine rushing touchdowns.

    In order to stay healthy he needs to eliminate some of his runs and as a result diminish his fantasy value. If he decides to run at will you can bet it's only a matter of time until you're plugging in his backup.

No.1: All Dallas Cowboys Backs and Receievers

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    I think the Cowboys are going to be darn good next season.

    The problem with drafting a Cowboys player early in the draft is guessing which one to take. And saying it's a guess is exactly what it is.

    No one knows who will emerge as the go-to target for Tony Romo this year. Before Romo went out with an injury last year Miles Austin flourished.

    After Romo was injured and Jason Garrett took over as head coach, Jason Witten began to flourish under Jon Kitna and Dez Bryant had moments when he proved why he was selected with 24th overall pick.

    And then there's Roy Williams who clearly has the talent, but maybe not the chemistry with Romo.

    The backfield is a littler easier to figure out with most reports saying Marion Barber will no longer be with the team. That leaves Felix Jones as the man until you realize he will be competing with Tashard Choice and rookie DeMarco Murray.

    To make even more convoluted is the Garrett factor.

    What kind of offense will he run when everyone is healthy?

    If nothing mentioned above bothers you I'm willing to bet you are lying to yourself.