Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: 5 Players You Should Be Wary of Drafting
Fantasy Football is both a joyous and maddening event.
So many leave their respective drafts feeling like the team they've just assembled will provide scoring in the triple digits on a week-to-week basis, crushing all opponents in their path.
"Week 1 can't come soon enough," they think in their heads. Once it does, the sunny skies of projection-land and sleeper-ville turn into the dark clouds of what-was-I-thinking world, how-could-I-be-so-stupid town and I-knew-I-should-have-picked-him city.
As someone who knows those feelings all too well, I can say with full conviction that it stinks.
As someone who also knows the feeling of dominating a Fantasy Football league (mainly as a byproduct of luck), I can say with full conviction that it's awesome!
In the end, every draft pick comes with risk, and every season comes with numerous players who look so appealing on the available board, but fizzle out once games start counting.
I won't get too crazily in-depth with my reasoning behind why the following five players should be drafted with caution (since there are already tons of in-depth articles out there and the regular season is fast-approaching), but will rather provide short summations for each. By no means whatsoever am I a football or fantasy football expert, just someone with another perspective who could hopefully help you succeed this season.
Here are five players I believe you should be wary of drafting to your fantasy football team.
Michael Vick: Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
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2010 stats: 3,018 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, six interceptions, 676 rushing yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 11 fumbles (three lost).
2011 season ranking according to NFL.com: Ninth overall.
Michael Vick had an amazing season in 2010, finishing with a 100.2 quarterback rating—a career best. However, don't look for a repeat from the recent recipient of a six-year, $100-million contract in 2011.
Vick dominated in part because of his evolution as a passer. His play was impressive throughout most of the season, including a six-touchdown performance in Week 10 against the Washington Redskins, but slumped a bit towards the end.
Next season, the 31-year-old will be the starter from Day 1 and take a lot of hits, making him a huge injury risk.
Because of his dangerous style of play, he's not worth using a first- or even second-round pick on (call me crazy, but I wouldn't use anything higher than a fourth-rounder). Those who do may enjoy nice returns early in the season, but will likely become disappointed later on after he either is hurt or goes through a major funk.
If you do end up selecting Vick, it would be wise to pick up Vince Young either as a last-round pick (maybe a little bit earlier if you're in a deep league) or free agent.
Chris Johnson: Running Back, Tennessee Titans
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2010 stats: 1,364 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 245 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown, three fumbles (two lost).
2011 season ranking according to NFL.com: Sixth overall.
Chris Johnson is one of the NFL's best running backs. Unfortunately for him and his fantasy owners, running backs don't have much success sustaining amazing numbers season after season, especially ones that carry the ball over 300 times in a season—something Johnson's done each of the past two seasons (674 in total).
Johnson dropped 895 total yards from his 2009 output in 2010, and while you can chalk some of that up to nonsensical expectations, the fact of the matter is he's been hit a lot over the past two seasons. Still, he's managed to have the most rushing yards in the NFL over the past three seasons.
His current contract holdout with the Titans won't make things easier for him once the season starts. The two sides are reportedly not close on reaching a deal.
If Johnson's still around in your draft after the first round, he might be a good selection to gamble on. If you do, make sure Javon Ringer—Johnson's backup—finds his way onto your team.
Jahvid Best: Running Back, Detroit Lions
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2010 stats: 555 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, 487 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns, one fumble (one lost).
2011 season ranking according to NFL.com: 37th overall.
Based off NFL.com's rankings, Jahvid Best would likely be selected as a late-third-, early-fourth-round pick, depending on how deep the drafting league is. It seems pretty early to draft a player who lost his starting job last season and wouldn't qualify as a top-tier RB1/RB2 option.
If Best is available in the sixth or seventh round, he's a solid option.
I will admit, I might just be overly skeptical of him because he plays for the Detroit Lions and isn't named Calvin Johnson.
Mark Ingram: Running Back, New Orleans Saints
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2010 stats (college): 875 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, 282 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown.
2011 season ranking according to NFL.com: 52nd overall.
The rookie out of Alabama and 2009 Heisman Trophy winner certainly has the tools to become a great running back in the NFL. There's no guarantee it'll happen this season though.
At 52nd overall, Ingram would likely get selected as an early fifth round pick, which seems a bit high for a rookie who hasn't officially won the starting job over Pierre Thomas and is on a team that loves using multiple receiver sets to pass the ball around with.
Ryan Grant: Running Back, Green Bay Packers
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2010 stats: 45 rushing yards, zero total touchdowns (season ending injury in Week 1).
2011 fantasy ranking according to NFL.com: 53rd overall.
Ryan Grant had a strong 2009 season, amassing over 1,200 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for the Green Bay Packers. Unfortunately for the Notre Dame alum, last season saw him suffer a season-ending ankle injury in Week 1, which prevented him from contributing to the eventual Superbowl champions.
Heading into last season's playoffs, a major question about the Packers was how much their perceived lack of a running game would hurt them.
Well, we know the answer to that.
Rookie James Starks stepped up effectively, rushing for over 100 yards in their opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, and finishing as the postseason's leading rusher, with a total of 315 yards.
While previous reports that the Packers were considering cutting Grant appear to have been put to rest, taking him in the late-fourth- or early-fifth-round looks like a hefty risk. He's coming off a devastating ankle injury, his backup has emerged as a formidable foe on the depth chart and his team's offense has a pass-first philosophy and features numerous multiple receiver formations.
Grant might not be a bad selection in the sixth round or later. If you pick him, make sure you get James Starks on your roster.