Don't fall for the trap. When fantasy football managers look through the rearview mirror at the 2018 campaign, they could set themselves up for disappointment. Aside from a small group, every season reshuffles the deck in scoring totals.
Managers have to read in between the lines of glowing reports to find the nitty-gritty. At times, offseason roster moves provide hints as to what's coming up.
When a quarterback loses his top wideout, he's likely due for a drop-off in production. If a club signs a running back or expects another to return from injury, last year's featured tailback will probably see fewer touches. Low-tier passers can limit the ceiling for their receivers.
Before you refer to last year's production, take a look at 10 players to avoid for the 2019 campaign—a list that includes a quarterback who recorded career highs in completions, passing yards and touchdowns in 2018.
10 Players to Avoid
1. QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
3. RB Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. RB Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers
5. RB Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
6. WR Golden Tate, New York Giants
7. WR John Brown, Buffalo Bills
8. WR DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins
9. TE Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
10. TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
In standard Yahoo leagues, Ben Roethlisberger finished third in fantasy points (357.36), and he led the league in pass attempts (675), completions (452), yards (5,129) and interceptions (16).
Fantasy managers may think Roethlisberger can still throw the ball 40 or more times and provide solid results for a starting spot on their rosters in the upcoming campaign. We have to consider his surrounding cast.
Roethlisberger won't have wideout Antonio Brown on the perimeter; the Steelers traded him to the Oakland Raiders. Last year, he accounted for a large chunk of the team's aerial production, logging 1,297 receiving yards and a league-high 15 touchdowns.
JuJu Smith-Schuster should have a solid year moving into the lead wide receiver role, but Roethlisberger won't have two high-end options at the position. Donte Moncrief played four campaigns with Indianapolis Colts and suited up for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year; he has one 50-catch season.
Fellow wideout James Washington experienced a rough rookie campaign (16 catches for 217 yards and one touchdown). He's unproven at the pro level.
Running back James Conner will handle the featured role in the backfield, and the front office selected Benny Snell Jr. in the fourth round of this year's draft—a bruising ball-carrier who can grind out yards between the tackles.
We could see the Steelers revert to a more physical approach with a high volume of rush attempts for Conner, Snell and Jaylen Samuels, taking a load off Roethlisberger's arm.
Don't expect the 37-year-old quarterback to lead the league in pass attempts for consecutive seasons. He's due for a significant decline in fantasy value.
RB Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers have a versatile backfield with multiple running backs who can run and catch. In reality, defenses will find it difficult to prepare for Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon, but fantasy owners should stay away from the team's 2018 rushing leader.
Last year, Breida took advantage of his opportunities, registering 1,075 yards from scrimmage. McKinnon tore his ACL weeks before the season, sidelining him for the year. Coleman just signed with the 49ers in March.
McKinnon and Coleman will certainly cut into Breida's touches for the upcoming season. Furthermore, according to The Athletic's Matt Barrows, one of the running backs seems to have an edge because of his durability and familiarity with head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense:
"The former Falcon was a surprise signing in March, but he may end up being the team's de facto lead runner in 2019. Coleman knows Shanahan's offense, is dangerous as both a runner and pass catcher and—perhaps best of all considering the 49ers' recent injury-riddled past—missed just six games in four seasons."
Breida will likely have a decent role, but the 49ers could rotate all three running backs based on performance and weekly matchups. It's a fantasy nightmare, so steer away from him during the draft.
WR John Brown, Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills revamped their wide receiver corps, signing John Brown and Cole Beasley. They provide different elements to the passing attack. The former can stretch defenses vertically with good traction on deep balls, and the latter has served as a chain-mover in the slot for most of his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Fantasy managers should beware of Brown's hit-or-miss potential. In five seasons, he's averaged 15 yards per reception (17 last year), but the 29-year-old has a 50.2 percent catch rate.
Looking back at previous seasons, Brown will wow spectators and fantasy owners with chunk plays downfield, but he'll also draw criticism because of drops. Secondly, quarterback Josh Allen only completed 52.8 percent of his passes last year.
Allen's accuracy coupled with Brown's catch rate may become the definition of a 50-50 ball to a receiver. Finally, in 72 games, the wideout only has six 100-yard performances. With Zay Jones' second-year improvement and Beasley's 70.9 percent catch rate, they should garner more attention than Brown during the draft.