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Faceoff: Top Players to Avoid

Footballguys staff members point out top players who they are avoiding this season

Name a player in the Top 100 you still wouldn't draft if he were available 12-15 picks after his normal ADP. Why are you avoiding him?

Jason Wood: Darren McFadden.

Can't stay healthy. Performed horrendously last season. The Raiders made no substantive improvements this offseason.

Heath Cummings: Colin Kaepernick.

I don't see anyone in his receiving corps that can get the kind of separation that Kaepernick needs. His athleticism means that there will be some monster games this season, but there will also be some huge duds when opposing defenses sell out against the run. I don't see him as a QB1 this season, much less one that I'd reach for in the fifth round.

Matt Waldman: Greg Jennings. I like his skills and I think he can still succeed in Minnesota although there will be a significant drop in play at quarterback with his move. I won't be picking him because because of the players available around Jennings who I believe have more upside: Cecil Shorts, Tavon Austin, Shane Vereen, and T.Y. Hilton. There are also more players 12-15 spots below him like DeSean Jackson, Kenny Britt, Anquan Bolden, and Mike Williams who offer similar value or more upside.

Jeff Pasquino: Maurice Jones-Drew for the same reasons as Darren McFadden. Also, Jacksonville is terrible.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is my next choice, because of the imminent threat of Giovani Bernard.

Stephen Holloway: DeMarco Murray is a guy that I will not take. For one thing, he has had injuries every year and for another, the Cowboys always talk up their running game much better than they follow through. You can count on Tony Romo passing early and often, and with such great receivers as Dez Bryant, Jason WItten, and Miles Austin, you really can't blame him or them. Joseph Randle has a very similar skill set to Murray and he may start off the season sharing more carries than many think. When you run the ball as little as Dallas and also have a potential sharing system, it really limits the lead back. When you add to that Murray's injury history it makes it easy for me to stay far away.

Andy Hicks: I can logically see that Steven Jackson is a great fit in Atlanta and will easily achieve his ADP, especially considering that a washed up Michael Turner finished 18th last year. Guess who finished one spot ahead of him? Steven Jackson.

Sure the conventional theory is that Jackson will get more touchdowns and more receptions, but history has a habit of destroying 30 year old backs who change teams. I remain solid in my conviction that Jackson will not be who the Falcons want and will struggle to carry the ball more than 200 times with effectiveness and that despite all his flaws Jacquizz Rodgers will score better than most are predicting. His 2,397 regular season carries is a lot of work and add in a new offence with a team that need to win now and Jackson is going to disappoint a lot of owners who see the past and not the future.

In the end I have to battle logic up against history. History wins more often than not, so I'll side with that.

Ryan Hester: I'll step this up and give out my "All Overvalued Offensive Team."

  • QB: Tom Brady: With the tumultuous offseason (both in terms of typical football transactions and off-the-field issues), Brady is a guy I want no part of. There are so many quality quarterbacks with far more high-upside playmakers around them to invest a pick in Brady.
  • RB: Frank Gore and DeMarco Murray: Gore makes the list because of his age, his team's situation (postseasons aspirations could lead to them "pacing" Gore), and his backfield mates. Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James (and even Colin Kaepernick, for that matter) are legitimate rushing threats who can help in stretching out Gore's shelf life this season. Murray is always injured, and Dallas is a pass-first team even when he's playing. Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Miles Austin are arguably all higher than Murray on the proverbial totem pole in Dallas.
  • WR: Andre Johnson and Danny Amendola: Johnson is aging, and Amendola is going to a new team. Add in the fact that Amendola has been very injury-prone to this point in his career, and these guys are two question marks I don't want to attempt to answer.
  • FLEX: Rashard Mendenhall: Bruce Arians has shown a tendency to use one lead back. However, Mendenhall isn't talented enough to succeed week-in and week-out behind Arizona's "under construction" offensive line.

Adam Harstad: For starters, I want nothing to do with Matthew Stafford this season. Yes, his touchdown total will certainly rebound (especially if Calvin Johnson stops getting tackled at the 1 yard line). On the other hand, if you shatter the NFL record for pass attempts, I expect you to finish a lot better than just the #11 fantasy QB.

Tony Gonzalez is another guy who I'm not particularly interested in. Yes, he's the GOAT. Yes, he was amazing last year. He's also 37, and age has eventually claimed the career of every single Hall of Fame pass catcher who came before him. No one would have thought Marvin Harrison was on the precipice of decline after he was the #1 fantasy WR in 2006, but that was the last time he reached the top 36. If you'd told someone Randy Moss would play 16 games and still fail to crack the top 60 in 2010 a year after finishing as the #2 receiver in 2009, they'd have thought you were crazy. No one would have believed you if you'd told them that Torry Holt's 8th straight 1100+ yard season would wind up being the last time he even topped 800 yards. Last year, Tony Gonzalez became the 10th player to top 800 yards at age 36 or older. Of the previous nine, one retired (Jimmy Smith) and three remained fantasy relevant at 37 (Charlie Joiner, Jerry Rice, and Terrell Owens). The remaining five (Tim Brown, Joey Galloway, Isaac Bruce, Derrick Mason, Cris Carter) all returned, but only one (Tim Brown) managed to get even 300 receiving yards. There's a huge chance Gonzalez just flames out completely, and I don't think his draft position reflects that risk.

Mark Wimer: I'm avoiding Matt Forte like the plague this year. He isn't good for consistently scoring touchdowns with Michael Bush in town (or when Marion Barber III was in town before Bush was in town), and though he may see an uptick in short-range pass targets with Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator, it is equally possible that he loses receptions overall because a very good tight end has arrived in town, Martellus Bennett. Bennett may siphon off 12-15 mid-range receptions from Forte, enough to more than offset any uptick in short-range targets that Forte enjoys in the new offense.

I'm letting other fantasy owners roll the dice on Forte, who has a high of six total touchdowns over the last two seasons - Forte has scored just four touchdowns during two out of the five seasons he's played in the NFL, friends.

Jason and Heath picked two good ones. McFadden was a guy I really liked going into last season and after another injury-filled season with chronic under performance, I won't be picking him unless there is serious value there. I think the running quarterbacks in general from last season - Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are not nearly as effective as they were last year.

My pick to avoid though is Chris Johnson. I just think he has the potential to really have the bottom drop out of his stats. Between a stable of above average wide receivers, a QB looking to prove himself and a backup RB like Shonn Greene in the mix, I think that Johnson has the potential to really fall short of expectations this season. He's a guy that I'll probably avoid unless he really falls down the draft board.