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Top Players to Avoid

Footballguys staff members discuss players in the Top 100 who they are avoiding this season

Welcome to the 2015 Footballguys Discussion series, where we get a few staff members and toss them an open-ended question. Check out their answers.

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

Andy Hicks: This player was mentioned in the recent roundtable, but I'll bring him up again: Jimmy Graham.

He is currently being drafted early in the 3rd round on average. He is going to have to do what no receiver, tight end or wide receiver, has done in the 5 years since Pete Carroll arrived in Seattle. The Seahawks have been a dominant outfit highlighted by the running game and awesome defense. They have tried and failed for 5 years now to bring in a big playmaker to the passing game.

Sidney Rice was ranked 8th at Minnesota as a receiver in 2009 and brought in by Seattle to be their number 1 in 2011. Injuries obviously affected his play, but his 30th ranked finish in 2012 ranks 2nd on this team in the last 5 years.

Who ranks 1st? Golden Tate's 28th finish in 2013. We saw how good Tate was in Detroit last year away from the Seattle system.

Percy Harvin was tried and failed. The Seahawks didn't know how to use him, he didn't fit into the locker room, he had injuries, etc. Even the guy Jimmy Graham replaces in Zach Miller was brought in to help In 2011. He was fresh off 2 seasons as a fantasy starter in Oakland. His best with the Seahawks was less than 400 yards and 5 touchdowns. Good enough to scrape in as the 23rd ranked tight end.

Because we can't see into the future our eyes can blinker us into only seeing the upside. Many are just translating his New Orleans form to Seattle. We have seen countless examples of players who work in one scheme, fail to adapt to an new environment. Seattle have tried this numerous times with receivers.

Of course people will say Jimmy Graham is different, but let's just take a step back. Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin and even Zach Miller were big news when they came to town. Graham will be 29 this season. His best years are left in New Orleans.

Graham has never been a good blocker. How patient are Seattle going to be if he misses blocking assignments or makes major mistakes that stall drives or causes turnovers? Eagles coach Chip Kelly stated late last year before the trade that Graham wouldn't see many snaps in his offense because he couldn't block. Pete Carroll is keen to try, but this offense isn't going to change a great deal. Graham will either play as a wide receiver or will be used as a red zone threat. He clearly will not approach his 120 plus target days with the Saints and as such has to be a considerable risk to get anywhere near his ADP. I can see touchdowns, but week to week production and lots of receptions are going to be very difficult unless either Pete Carroll has changed his approach or Jimmy Graham takes and makes his blocking assignments.

Jeff Pasquino: For me it is Drew Brees. He is getting up there in age (36 now, 37 in January), but that is not as big of an issue as are the changes around him. First, he has lost Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham, two guys that accounted for over 200 targets last year (over 30% for the team), over 1,800 yards (about 36%) and 13 touchdowns (nearly 40% of Brees' 33 touchdown passes). Those numbers are huge. Who is going to replace all of that production? Brandin Cooks, Nick Toon, Josh Hill and Ben Watson? I am not buying that for a minute. Then when you start to read about how the team wants to emphasize the ground game with Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller and Khiry Robinson, I see Brees' struggling to get anywhere close to his lofty numbers from the past several seasons.

Daniel Simpkins: This one is a no-brainer for me. LeSean McCoy is typically leaving the board in the second round, and I want no part of him this year. My chief complaint with McCoy has to do with his running last year. I know that the offensive line had issues, but he didn’t do much to help himself with all that dancing behind it. It also looks as if he’s lost his top-end speed, which is another big reason to worry about him. Neither the offensive line or the quarterback play in Buffalo will be as good as it was last year in Philadelphia, leading me to believe he won’t have a lot of daylight to work with. He had an unceremonious departure from the Eagles that had all the feel of a nasty divorce. His females only party controversy brought a lot of negative attention to himself and his team. All this cumulatively doesn’t leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling about McCoy. As I was writing this, news broke that he’s dealing with toe soreness! Yeah, I’ll take that as an omen and stay far, far away!

Phil Alexander: I'm having a hard time figuring out why some people are so excited about Carlos Hyde this year. I understand the obvious - Frank Gore has moved on from San Francisco, leaving last year's second rounder, Hyde, as the 49ers' lead back. What I'm wondering is, should we really care about the 49ers' running game this season?

Vegas has the Niners pegged for 6.5 wins this year, the same number as the Cleveland Browns. Their offensive line has been decimated by the free agent defection of left guard Mike Iupati (PFF's second rated run blocking guard in 2014), the retirement of right tackle Anthony Davis, and center Daniel Kilgore's lingering leg injury. San Franciso's defense and coaching staff are also markedly worse on paper than they were a year ago. I don't envision many scenarios where the 49ers will be pounding Hyde late in games to preserve leads, which not only caps his carries, but also points to more game flow situations that favor passing down specialist, Reggie Bush.

It should also be considered that the 23 year old Hyde did less with his carries than 32 year-old Frank Gore in 2014. Hyde ran for 4.0 yards per attempt, Gore 4.3 Hyde was stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage on 14.5% of his rushes - the fourth worst rate in the league among backs with at least 75 carries. Gore was stuffed on 10.2% - much closer to the average. Hyde broke a run of 15 plus yards on 3.6% of his carries, while Gore did so on 4.7%.

Hyde's ADP is starting to trend down, but he's still going in the fourth round of most leagues. You can get 90% (or more) of his production four rounds later by drafting Chris Ivory.

Chad Parsons: Andy and Daniel gave strong cases for Jimmy Graham and LeSean McCoy. They are high on my list of 'avoid' players in 2015. In general, a player changing teams does not work out well if expecting the same (or better) results than their prime years with a previous team. While taking a shot on lower-priced options with a team change is tolerable, I shy away from high-priced options fitting the criteria.

Brandon Marshall is another name value option in 2015 I will avoid. Marshall changes teams (yet again) and the Jets have one of the worst quarterback situations in the NFL. Geno Smith is a likely bench candidate in-season, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a veteran stopgap type option, and Bryce Petty is a wildcard rookie. Eric Decker and Jace Amaro are functional targets within the same bottom-half pass offense as well. I see a target decline for Marshall, a player on the wrong side of the historical age curve, and an offense without more than WR3-type upside, at best, from the top receiver if the quarterback play avoids being abysmal.

Stephen Holloway: I am shying away from Martavis Bryant at his fifth round ADP. He had an outstanding rookie season, but it was with limited targets. In the 10 games that he played, he had five of those with only one or two receptions. His fantasy relevance was built on the 21.1 ypc and 8 TDs scored, which are not likely sustainable. Even though he has a solid quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, he has to share targets with Antonio Brown (181 targets in 2014), LeVeon Bell (105), Heath Miller (91) and Markus Wheaton (86), who is currently starting over Bryant. The wide receivers just behind Bryant in ADP are DeSean Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Maclin, and Jarvis Landry. I prefer all of them and several others over Bryant.

Jason Wood: There's no way I'm drafting Alfred Morris in the 4th or 5th round much less at his 3rd round ADP. He's not a special player and has seen his statline fall every year. Add to that a commitment by Jay Gruden to a power blocking scheme and I worry Morris will look like a plodder out there without the zone-blocking scheme that gave him stardom in the first place.

I'm avoiding Andre Ellington in the 3rd/4th, too. He's a talented player but can't handle a full workload; that much was proven last year. And I believe David Johnson can be the better player in all facets. Once Johnson gets a chance, I don't see him relinquishing the role.

Martellus Bennett fits the bill. People act like last year's numbers are his new baseline but I don't see it that way. We don't know what Adam Gase is capable of without Peyton Manning to run the offense. And we also can't assume that Gase will favor the tight end position, even if he can resurrect Jay Cutler's career.

Joique Bell is toxic to me, and I think drafting him in the 5th or 6th round is a fool's errand. Bell was never the most gifted of runners, but was versatile and in the right place at the right time. This year he's banged up and Ameer Abdullah is the better player. At best, I see Bell as a contributor in a 50/50 time share, not as an RB2 or high end RB3 flex.

Scott Bischoff: I'm not sure I can get on board with Todd Gurley at his current ADP (42 overall and RB 19) because of multiple reasons. Gurley is a gifted runner, no doubt, but the ACL tear and the offense he goes to are scary. He's being drafted as a starter in redraft leagues and he isn't performing any football activities to this point. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has indicated that Gurley will not play in the preseason and he has also said that he plans for Gurley to be in a rotation with second-year running back Tre Mason once Gurley gets onto the field. There is so much unknown with Gurley, which all amounts to risk, and what will be the reward? Sometimes you have to put aside your feelings for a player (Gurley was fantastic at Georgia pre-ACL tear) and understand his situation, and that situation is extremely muddy. He's not worth the risk when considering you're paying for a starter at this point in the draft.