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Players to Be Wary of Early in Your Draft

Matt Williamson gives you some players you should let other owners draft

It is nearing the end of August. The preseason is rolling along and we are getting news every day. We have seen live action on the field. But, as much as anything, it is truly fantasy football season. It is an ever-changing league, but there are some players that are simply being selected far too high at the tops of fantasy drafts. Based on FantasyPros.com’s Average Draft Position, these are some players that you should stay away from considering their cost. Let these players end up on someone else’s team.

LeSean McCoy (RB3, 6th overall)

Maybe McCoy’s ADP has yet to fully correct itself after the trading away of Sammy Watkins, but taking McCoy in the first round of a 12-team draft is just too risky right now. He is a great player. There is no doubting that. In fact, McCoy is one of the best running backs of this generation and shows no signs of slowing down. He’s averaged over 86 rushing yards per game over the past four years and scored 14 touchdowns last year while averaging over 108 total yards from scrimmage in 2016. The problems here are many though. McCoy is now 29 years old and while his fantastic vision will never leave him, his sweet feet will at some point. Not only that, but the Bills are installing a new running scheme even though they have been the best rushing team in the NFL over the past two years. As McCoy showed with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, he can certainly flourish in a zone scheme. But can the Bills’ big heavy offensive line make the transition? Also, Watkins has obviously missed a lot of time in the past, but with Buffalo now only really featuring chain-moving slot type wide receivers, will any defense fear the deep ball from this offense? Lastly, these new weapons sure look much more Nathan Peterman-friendly than the explosive big play guys that suit Tyrod Taylor. Buffalo is all about building for the future and accumulating draft picks. Will Taylor even finish the season as their starting quarterback? Might Buffalo even begin to give Jonathan Williams a lot more work very late in the year when they are out of the playoff race but your fantasy team is in the playoffs? That is just far too many variables to use a first-round pick on McCoy.

Amari Cooper (WR 10, 24th Overall)

Cooper is an excellent young player with tons of ability and is in a favorable spot with the Raiders for the short and long term with Derek Carr as his young franchise quarterback. There are two major concerns though with Cooper that is especially relevant for fantasy purposes. First of all, in each of Cooper’s two NFL seasons he faded down the stretch in a big way. The “Rookie Wall” is a very real thing, so this issue was forgivable in 2015. But failing his owners in the fantasy playoffs two years is a row is concerning. Of course that might correct itself, as might his second area of concern: Cooper just doesn’t score enough touchdowns. While he hasn’t missed a game in his two-year career, Cooper only has caught 11 touchdowns in those 32 games while Michael Crabtree has done great work when the Raiders get in tight. Actually, Cooper has never caught a pass inside the opponent’s 10-yard line in his career, which is rather staggering. What has changed with the Raiders offense since a year ago? Oakland brought in Jared Cook and Marshawn Lynch. Cook isn’t an outstanding player, but he is a clear upgrade at tight end and could see plenty of targets in the red area. Don’t sleep on what Cook might do this year by the way. And the signing of Lynch basically explains itself in terms of Oakland’s likely preferred approach when they get close to the goal line. Hand it to Lynch behind an excellent offensive line. That doesn’t help Cooper’s fantasy outlook.

Christian McCaffrey (RB15, 31st Overall)

History has shown us that running backs don’t catch many passes with Cam Newton behind center. Last year, all of Carolina’s running backs combined for a measly 44 receptions. Now, clearly the Panthers have new ideas on that subject and are sure to design more quick-hitting routes. Still, Newton has showed that he prefers to hang in the pocket and drive the ball deep downfield with one of the NFL’s most powerful arms. Or he takes off running with the ball in his hands. The biggest concern with McCaffrey is his ability to find the end zone. Near the goal line, he is probably Carolina’s third option as a runner behind Newton and Jonathan Stewart. And if the Panthers decide to pass near the stripe, it will most likely go to one of their king-sized wide receivers or Greg Olsen. McCaffrey is a very exciting and enticing young player that could really kick start Carolina’s formerly-plodding offense, but this looks like a more valuable player in real life than for fantasy.

Kyle Rudolph (TE8, 80th Overall)

It’s no secret by now that Rudolph put up excellent numbers in 2016. We all know that now. But that was in an offense with the league’s worst rushing attack and little to no verticality in their passing game. The reason? Minnesota’s offensive line evolved into an abomination as last season went on. Now this isn’t to suggest that the Vikings line now resembles Dallas’ of the early 90s, but it should at least be serviceable to allow for Minnesota to execute a normal NFL offense. Sam Bradford should benefit greatly and Dalvin Cook might end up as the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Vikings also have Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Laquon Treadwell and Malcolm Floyd. His target numbers almost have to decrease. Rudolph simply will not be featured as much as last year, when he produced almost by default. This sounds cold, but Rudolph is just a very average receiver. He isn’t special. He doesn’t run away from anyone and rarely makes plays that wow you. To select Rudolph before Martellus Bennett is insanity.

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