An old adage is "Everyone has value." We all believe this on the surface, but there are teams, situations, and players you just don't want on your team. Name some of these situations. Why are you avoiding them?
Ryan Hester: A general rule of thumb I carry into each fantasy draft season is to avoid players on what I think will be bottom-quartile NFL offenses in the first three rounds of my drafts. Last year, for instance, this kept me away from players like Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Lamar Miller. Of course, this can lead to some misses (out of that group, Miller was a decent fantasy asset), but in general, I maintain this rule for myself.
Last year, when I had a Gurley-vs.-A.J. Green debate at 1.04 in my favorite league (yes, I overlooked David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott), I asked myself, "do you want to be watching L.A. Rams games all season kicking yourself when they've gone three-and-out fives times in a row?" After all, fantasy football is about entertainment as much as destroying the wills of your friends and co-workers, right?
This year, that rule applies to the following players in the first three rounds: Jordan Howard, Jay Ajayi, Gurley, Hopkins, Miller, Leonard Fournette, Allen Robinson, and Isaiah Crowell. Out of those players, only Howard and Crowell appeal to me because of their individual efficiency, their use in the passing game, the offensive tendencies of their coaches, and Crowell's price tag (cheapest of anyone on the list).
At running back, I'd rather roll the dice on Ty Montgomery (mid-fourth) or Joe Mixon (early fourth) as my third-round pick than anyone listed above. For receivers, Davante Adams, Terrelle Pryor, and Golden Tate (all mid-to-late fourth) have better situations than the players mentioned above.
Target opportunity independent of offensive unit in the mid-to-late rounds, but treat the first three as though you not only want to win but want to watch entertaining offensive football all season long.
Matt Bitonti: The Bengals offensive line scares me a ton. I also want to avoid the Washington RB situation but their good OL keeps dragging me back to poke at the scraps.
Chad Parsons: One strong connection I follow is quarterback play translating to wide receiver and tight end upside. For example, if a receiver is a secondary option on his depth chart - without a top quarterback - I have minimal interest as historical results point to flex options at best. Getting a top tight end is another equation-based decision for me. I want a tight end with a strong quarterback and without a dominant No.1 receiver on their roster. At a minimum, I want a functional quarterback and a murky wide receiver pecking order. Using those guidelines, here are some players unlikely to be on my rosters this season:
- Randall Cobb (No.3 at best and Martellus Bennett a tight end upgrade)
- Adam Thielen/LaQuon Treadwell (Need to leapfrog Stefon Diggs)
- Tyrell Williams (Keenan Allen back, two quality tight ends)
- Martavis Bryant (Behind Antonio Brown, suspension risk does not help at price)
- Austin Hooper (Tempered upside with Julio Jones)
- David Njoku (Fade rookie tight ends, plus non-optimal quarterback situation)
- Evan Engram (Crowded wide receiver group, plus the rookie factor)
Jason Wood: I'm in so many leagues of varying complexity, roster size and scoring rules that I find it's almost impossible to avoid any player or situation entirely. There are players I expect to roster infrequently based on consensus ADP results, but if they happen to fall several rounds I would reconsider.
All else equal, I avoid running back situations where the teams are projected to be toward the bottom of the league offensively and have porous defenses. That's why Carlos Hyde won't be on my rosters. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell will also find their ways off my draft lists in most cases.
I agree with Chad that it's best to avoid WR2/WR3 situations when not paired with elite quarterbacks. I'm scared to death of the Dolphins trio (Stills/Parker/Landry) and the Ravens trio (Maclin/Wallace/Perriman).
Andy Hicks: I'm always looking a lame duck coaching situations. Every year we know there are coaches who need a playoff appearance, at least, to stay in their job.
When a team loses hope, there are a lot of players who enter self-preservation mode and their fantasy stocks nosedive. Todd Gurley is a good example from last year.
The most obvious coaches in tenuous situations are Bruce Arians, John Fox, Marvin Lewis, Bill O'Brien, Chuck Pagano, Todd Bowles, and Sean Payton. Mike Zimmer, Ron Rivera, John Harbaugh, and Jay Gruden could also face difficulties with a bad season.
Some of these guys will be fine, but when it lines up with players at the end of their careers like in Arizona with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald I worry about the offense as a whole. It is hard not to like David Johnson, but if there are several players of equal ranking this is a fairly important tie breaker for me.
Chris Feery: The main players that I shy away from are pass catchers in offenses with unsettled quarterback situations. DeAndre Hopkins fits the ball in that regard. While his talent is off the charts, the prospects of Tom Savage at the helm until the Texans hand the keys to Deshaun Watson doesn’t fill me with warm and fuzzy feelings. While I won’t completely avoid Hopkins if he falls to a reasonable ADP, I’m absolutely looking elsewhere for my WR1.
I’ll add Sammy Watkins to that category after his trade to the Rams. While I’m confident that Jared Goff will improve in year two, I’m not completely sold on that fact. As such, WR2 prices for Watkins are a bit too steep for me. The same caveat I applied to Hopkins applies to Watkins as well: I won’t avoid him if he falls to a reasonable spot.
While there are no guarantees that all of your draft choices will pan out. I like to remove as many question marks as possible. That’s especially true in the first few rounds, as nailing your stud picks is imperative.