The Gut Check No.508: The 2020 No Fly List

Matt Waldman gives you his "No Fly List" for the 2020 fantasy football season, and it doesn't spare star talents. 

This article is about a 20-minute read.

Every player has potential value...

You shouldn't remove players from your draft board...

Having a Do Not Draft List is dangerous...

Drafting is choosing and the best choices are as much or more about what you decide not to do. There's nothing wrong with agonizing over difficult decisions, but your draft room isn't the Oval Office and the draft isn't the Cuban Missile Crisis.

At best, you have 2-3 minutes for each decision, so you better have anticipated enough of these potentially difficult scenarios with your draft plan before you walked in or logged on, or else you'll be more prone to emotional decision-making round after round, and it will get the better of you.

Yes, every player has potential value—if they fall further than expected or a teammate gets injured, suspended, or suddenly opts to retire. These things happen but at some point, you need to know before your draft who isn't realistically worth consideration unless there's a dramatic change to their situation.

When you make cuts from your draft list ahead of time, you'll have fewer considerations to weigh as the clock is ticking. Making advanced decisions de-clutters your mind to be aware of things that matter—players who slide for no logical reason, staying ahead of or leveraging position runs, and acting on breaking news that alters the value of a player.

The "Every Player Has Potential Value," logic sounds smart, but it's so often misapplied that it sucks fantasy players into a state of overanalyzing too many potential choices. Do your research and make firm decisions based on it. If the rationale changes and you have time to adjust your views on the player before the draft, do it. Otherwise, lead your draft; don't let it lead you.

Many of the 19 players on my 2020 No Fly List are excellent talents, but it doesn't make them good fantasy picks based on their ADP. There will be no participation trophies handout out here. If you want to win, some of these players--as talented as they may be--are overvalued as a fantasy asset due to surrounding talent, scheme, or enough comparable talent available later that drafting them isn't a great choice.

The average draft positions (ADPs) in parenthesis next to the names are from late July. In all circumstances, unless specifically stated within the analysis below, they won't be erased from the No-Fly List if their ADP drops.

19. James Proche, Baltimore (ADP 254)

Proche earns love in part because of NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, who loved sharing the "Alpha Catches" that Proche displayed numerous times on tape against tight man coverage. If you recall, slot receiver Anthony Miller of the Bears made a lot of these at Memphis and earned a lot of heavy touting among the draft and fantasy community

The difference is that Proche is smaller, slower, and has more difficulty against physical coverage at the line of scrimmage than Miller. He's also not much of a runner after the catch. The fact that Proche is getting drafted in the final rounds but speedster Devin Duvernay—a far more compelling rookie prospect with speed, skills after the catch, great hands, and skill to play multiple spots in the offense—is drafted 4-5 rounds later, if at all, is pure ignorance.

Expect Duvernay to earn playing time before Proche and even if Proche manages to carve out a contributing role early in the season, his upside is too small to consider.

18. Cole Kmet, Chicago (ADP 250)

The Bears have blind spots with selecting talent. Mitchell Trubisky is a perfect example. Trubisky has the athletic ability, physical dimensions, and baseline technical skills of a field general. His feel of the pocket, decision-making inside the 20s, and his penchant for foolishness make him a private.

Kmet, like Trubisky, has the athletic ability, physical dimensions, and baseline technical skills of a starting tight end. His catching ability against contact and ability to move with top athletes as a blocker are problematic. Despite diminished athletic ability, Jimmy Graham will be the top-targeted tight end this year and yet, Kmet is earning a higher ADP.

The hype for Notre Dame prospects remains a real thing—warranted or otherwise—and in this case, draft the starter or at least a rookie with a shot to contribute in an offense that has a greater potential for statistical upside. Devin Asiasi of the Patriots is on Line 1. And, if you're truly thinking about drafting the No.2 tight end on a team other than Dallas Goedert, Jason Witten, or Irv Smith, then David Njoku or Harrison Bryant of Cleveland or Adam Trautman are worth greater consideration.

17. Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco (ADP 228)

McKinnon hasn't played a regular-season game since 2017 and rookie JaMycal Hasty has a better feel as a between-the-tackles runner. Hasty also catches the ball well. If he can show enough as a blocker, McKinnon has no chance of making the roster.

If Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman stay healthy, McKinnon's "opportunities for a third-down role," as stated to the media will be sparse. McKinnon is a fine waiver wire target but at this point in a draft, taking a chance on Hasty makes more sense if you're targeting a 49er back. If you're simply targeting a quality runner with skills to produce if called upon, Damien Harris, Jalen Richard, Ito Smith, and Jaylen Samuels come to mind. Even Royce Freeman is a more compelling talent with opportunity as the third back on his depth chart.

16. Rashaad Penny, Seattle (ADP 181)

Fantasy players can't quit you, Penny. I get it. You're fast, you catch well, and you've had flashes of the athletic skill to earn big gains even when you completely screwed up how to read the play. You were getting better at not "going college" on plays and actually following the blocking scheme last year before you got hurt.

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