As we near the NFL season and subsequently the fantasy season, fans try their luck at fantasy football.
One of the biggest mistakes inexperienced owners can make is drafting certain players too early, especially because of average draft positions and "expert" rankings.
Yes, these so-called fantasy experts are guilty of the same mistakes that many make, and their mock drafts aren't always templates to follow.
Here are some players to be wary of based on rankings/ADP or avoid altogether.
If you drafted Ryan Mathews last year, chances were you bought into the rookie hype. I did too, in one league—the luster was too shiny to resist.
This year, he's overvalued again, but you should stay away for different reasons.
First, his legs are an injury concern and they already showed soreness coming into the preseason. It's not a good sign for a player who struggled to stay healthy with ankle issues all of last season.
The big reason, though, is Mike Tolbert. Tolbert is not just a goal-line back; in addition to vulturing plenty of touchdowns, it's been projected that he'll be part of a two-back timeshare.
The coaching staff isn't very pleased with Mathews, and they made that clear by giving Tolbert the start over him in preseason week one. Although Mathews is clearly more talented, they aren't going to anoint him as anything just because of his draft position last year.
That's not what you want if you're drafting Mathews as an RB2 in the third round (ESPN ADP 40.2). Expect a lot of games where he's either injured or receiving 15 touches with no TD's.
He's just not worth the price, and you might even end up getting the less productive player in the backfield anyways.
No, just no. There's no reason to draft Ryan Torain this year.
Especially not when his ADP on ESPN is 100, which is the ninth round in a 12-team league.
Torain is a player you should stay away from in fantasy leagues. He's not even as talented as rookie Roy Helu, and newly acquired Tim Hightower is the favorite for the starting job. When Tim Hightower is starting ahead of you, it says a lot about your situation.
And even if he was the starter, he'd be injured fairly quickly; it didn't take Torain long to find himself shelved for a month with a hamstring injury.
So when you have a brittle running back caught in a timeshare with two other backs on a poor offense, it's not the best idea to draft him in the ninth. I can assure you it'll be a wasted pick—one you could have at least taken a gamble on with Brandon Jacobs or Julio Jones.
This one's even worse than Torain.
I'm not the first one to say this, but there's no better vote of confidence than drafting two rookie running backs in the first three rounds. Yes, they don't trust Law Firm, even after his breakout season where they were forced to hand him the ball by default.
Both Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley are light years ahead of him talent-wise, and considering their differing skill sets all four (including Danny Woodhead) may be used depending on the situation.
What should concern BJGE owners is that Ridley is a more talented version of him that can catch the ball and will be stealing goal-line carries.
Experts who rank him as a low-end RB2 are delusional at best and plain ignorant at worst. There's no way you can expect BJGE to come even remotely close to sniffing last year's numbers, and it's not worth a fifth round pick (52.5 ADP) to find out.
BJGE is grossly overvalued at this point and I'd rather have Marshawn Lynch (76.1 ADP) or Daniel Thomas (77.3) over him by a mile, and then some.
Please stay away, for your own good.
This one's tough, and only applies for non-PPR leagues. Jason Witten was money down the stretch and won many owners their fantasy championships. He was even the top scorer at the tight-end position (by default of injuries).
But the thing is, his stats are misleading. After week six, Romo was injured and Kitna targeted Witten with greater regularity. Then, Dez Bryant was injured and Kitna looked Witten's way so much that you'd think they were having an affair.
Okay, not really, but you have to temper your expectations with Witten next year. With Romo last year, he was only averaging 6.2 points per game, and that was when Dez was still getting used to the NFL.
Next year, Witten finds himself between Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, two top-tier receivers.
Witten will be good, but he shouldn't be going ahead of Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis. He's not a very dynamic player like either and his ceiling is capped. You could be in for more five- and six-point performances than you'd like out of a fifth round choice, and the tight-end position is pretty deep this year.
It's better to draft that third RB/WR or QB and wait on a TE. I'd suggest Owen Daniels or a lower TE1 and grab a late-round flier like Jared Cook or Lance Kendricks.
Colston had his fifth knee surgery back in the off-season, and after claiming he was fully recovered sat out from much of Saints camp with swelling and irritation in the knee.
This should be a massive red flag for fantasy players, as the micro-fracture surgery has shown side effects and could very possibly be a nagging issue for owners.
Three knee operations in a 12-month span is not what you want out of a late fourth-rounder, someone you need to depend on or risk your entire season. At this point, you can't trust Colston to be WR2 material until he shows that his knee can hold up. I'm not a believer.
Also ever-present is Sean Payton's offense that never seems to emphasize the no. 1 receiver, and Colston's size won't be utilized as much in the end zone with Jimmy Graham in the equation.
A better option at the fourth-fifth round turn is Santonio Holmes, who was a top-ten receiver after being acclimated to the Jets offense. Or, you can wait until a couple of rounds later and grab a receiver like Percy Harvin or Mario Manningham.
Dwayne Bowe is another receiver going high in drafts but represents too much risk.
Bowe's numbers were inflated by a stretch of ridiculously easy games against poor excuses for secondaries, which turns into one of the toughest schedules this year. As well as he performs against bad defenses, Bowe does not fare well against good opponents.
He's also lost Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis, a significant factor in the offense's success last season. His quarterback, Matt Cassel, is inconsistent and disappeared down the stretch.
It's going to be tough for Bowe to put up consistently good numbers, and over-expectations will lead to the over-drafting of Bowe.
Given the choice, I would take Dez Bryant or Mike Williams (TB) over Bowe without much hesitation. There's just a lot of downside to him and a good chance you'll be pretty disappointed.
You're telling me that you want to expect starter numbers from a 34-year-old who hasn't played a snap in the NFL since 2008?
Burress may have been a big-name signing for the Jets, but he's not going to do much on the field. Without much time to learn a new offense, get in sync with new players, and re-adjust to the rigors of the NFL, it's tough to see him having much success.
Though he's supposedly the No. 2 receiver, Burress will quickly find himself in over his head and fighting for targets with Derrick Mason in a run-first offense. His ankle injury history has also picked up where it left off, as he is already set to miss the first preseason game.
This is not a player worth his 103.3 ADP on ESPN and 96.1 percent ownership in leagues. Plaxico isn't going to do much except take up a lot of headlines and a few touchdowns.
If you're looking for a WR4/5 flier, don't waste a ninth round pick on it. I'd suggest waiting until later and snagging a sleeper like Mike Thomas (PPR leagues), Greg Little, or Jacoby Ford.
This one will take some explaining—let me preface this by saying I don't believe in taking a quarterback early. Unless you're in a heavy QB scoring league, it's just not worth it.
Having an elite QB is a luxury that often leaves you scrambling for a serviceable RB or WR to fill a slot, when you could wait until the fifth or sixth round and have an elite running back.
With an ADP of 6.2, Rodgers is being taken ahead of Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy, both of whom I would select over Rodgers.
These elite running backs cater to a position that usually requires two or three slots in standard leagues, and leave a lot of uncertainty after the fourth round.
Meanwhile, you can still draft a quarterback like Matt Ryan with plenty of upside to be an elite option in his own right. Hell, you can even draft a QB2 like Matthew Stafford or Sam Bradford with that QB1 potential.
The point is, a QB like Rodgers is not worth spending a mid-first on. Far better values are players like Phillip Rivers (24.3 ADP) and Tony Romo (44.0), whose points per game was comparable to Rodgers before going down for the season.
It's an age-old fantasy dilemma, but I simply believe that taking a QB in the first round creates a imbalanced roster that leaves glaring weaknesses, relying on finding a successful sleeper or two.
I had to do a double-take when I saw Steelers D/ST's ADP: 65.2 on ESPN and 56.4 on Yahoo.
If that's true, owners have a lot of Fantasy101 classes to take.
It's not a new concept that top fantasy defenses are hard to come by, but they're not that valuable anyways. Playing the match-ups is always a more economical strategy, and that draft pick you saved is better used elsewhere.
D/ST's are always hard to predict, anyways. Last season, it was the New York Jets on the top of every ranking. They finished only 1 PPG ahead of the Raiders.
Yes, the Steelers defense is pretty dang consistent, but it's not worth spending such an early pick for.
Every league has that player who will take Nate Kaeding or somebody several rounds before the end of the draft.
Beats me. It's never a good idea to take a kicker before your last pick, especially when many of the top scorers at the position will come off the waiver wire anyways. Matt Bryant—remember him? Ranked in the top five this year, he was left undrafted in most leagues last year.
If you're looking for a consistent kicker, just pay attention to good offenses next year. You'll probably be better served taking a sleeper of yours and then picking up Connor Barth (TB) or Jason Hanson (DET) than wasting an earlier selection on Kaeding.
106.4 ADP—really? I shake my head, but somewhere, some owner just took Kaeding in the tenth round. Don't be that guy.