I posted my updated Tier Rankings and Players To Target earlier this week and here are the players I’m avoiding this year. Some of these players are on my list because I don’t think they will help your fantasy team, others because I think they won’t return value given their current average draft positions (ADP).
Additionally, I say this every year, it is important for you to get your guys as opposed to just taking players that may fall to you. By just taking players that fall to you, even using a tiered ranking sheet, you will often end up with a team consisting of players you don’t like or with very little upside. It’s okay to reach for players if they are your guys, as long as you are not reaching too much, and that’s where ADP comes in handy.
With that in mind, here are the players I am avoiding this year:
Devonta Freeman, Falcons (2.08 ADP) – Freeman did most of his damage (and serious damage it was) over only four games last year. As Matthew Berry of ESPN recently pointed out, from Weeks 9 through 17 last season, Tim Hightower and Ameer Abdullah were among the 27 NFL running backs who had more rushing yards than Freeman who averaged a pathetic 3.1 yards per carry over that time frame. Berry went on to add that 46 different players had at least one run of 40-plus yards last season, while Freeman had zero. I will concede that his redzone prowess and pass catching ability provide him a very solid floor in the PPR leagues, but Tevin Coleman will get the ball more than people are expecting, especially after comments from the teams Head Coach, General Manager and Running Back coach all confirming this. Don't read this wrong, I don't hate Freeman as a player, but unless he falls to the 3rd round, I’m taking a high end wide receiver in round 2.
Duke Johnson Jr, Browns (5.05 ADP) – I hate putting him here because I love the talent, but with an ADP in the early 5th round and climbing, he is too pricey. Earlier in the year the team didn't have a passing game, which is no longer the case with Gordon, Pryor and Coleman all flashing in the pre-season. Additionally, trusted beat writers have maintained that Crowell will handle early down and goal-line work. I love the talent, but he's looking more like Gio Bernard in this offense. If you want to own just one Browns RB, Crowell the better value, but the Duke should have a safe PPR flex floor at least, catching 50+ passes. I just wish he was going in the late 6th or 7th and not pushing into the 4th.
Matt Jones, Redskins (6.05 ADP) – His body and hair fly’s in all directions, but that doesn’t mean he’s always going in the right direction as evidenced by his pathetic 3.4 yards per carry last year, and from Week 3 on, he actually averaged an even more pathetic 2.85 yards per carry. Additionally, 26.4% of his carries went for negative or zero yards, third worst in the league. He could easily put up Latavius Murray 2015 type numbers through sheer volume, but when he ends up in the doghouse for fumbling again, like he did in the second pre-season game, my money is on Keith Marshall or someone else stepping in eventually. Dealing with a shoulder injury right now as well doesn’t help his cause.
Arian Foster, Dolphins (5.05 ADP) – Beset with soft tissue injuries, with his groin muscle being torn off the bone and then tearing his Achilles last year, he didn't have a lot of juice to begin with as he enters his year 30 season. Foster’s most likely impact will come in the passing game, where he is as good as a pass catcher as there is at the position. Early camp reports have been positive and he will probably return high end PPR flex value with possible RB2 upside, that is, until he gets hurt again and is done for the season. I don't mind him in the 7th or 8th, but in the 5th round, you can do far better.
Justin Forsett, Ravens (8.04 ADP) – He is entering his age 31 season and dealing with a slew of good competition in Terrence West, Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon. While he may start out the season as the teams lead back, I don’t expect that to last long. At best he is in a running back committee, most likely he will be cut or ride the pine by mid-season.
C.J. Prosise, Seahawks (13.01 ADP) – Big (6'1” 220lbs), fast (4.48 forty) and productive his final year in college, he has been a popular sleeper. However, he has missed most of the pre-season with injury and he needs to work on his game after only playing one year of running back in college. While injured, Christine Michael seems to have stolen his job and it’s not like the passing down back in this offense has ever held much fantasy value, as we have seen with Robert Turbin and Fred Jackson in previous seasons in Seattle.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos (3.04 ADP) – We obviously know his insane upside, but he’s not playing with 2013 Peyton Manning. He put up big numbers last year, yes, but HC Kubiak would like to make the run game the teams foundation, so I don't see him getting anywhere close to the 177 targets he received last season. Look for that to drop to around 140 and many of those could be erratic. I'm letting other people draft him in the 2nd or early 3rd, and rather opting for guys like Amari Cooper, Golden Tate, Jeremy Maclin and Donte Moncrief later in the draft. Like Freeman above, I am not absolutley against him, but he would have to fall to me later in the draft than where he is currently going.
Julian Edelman, Patriots (3.10 ADP) – The four game Brady suspension hurts, couple that with their bye week and that means a diminished Edelman for more than a third of the regular Fantasy season. He’s a great player, but let someone else over draft him especially since he is also coming off foot surgery. It’s just too high a price to pay.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (4.12) – His production last season was no fluke, but his touchdown totals were. The progress of Tyler Lockett, the return of Jimmy Graham and the health of their run game will cap his touchdown upside. I would bet his touchdown total goes down from 14 to well below 10.
Allen Hurns, Jaguars (4.12 ADP) – He was right there with Allen Robinson for a lot of the season last year, but reduction in targets and garbage time touchdowns will drop his numbers playing with a better defense, a proper run game and the return of Julius Thomas. He only had 65 catches without all of that. He should be drafted no earlier than the 7th or 8th.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins (5.05 ADP) – Not as big a believer in his talents as some others. While he's a big receiver, he has trouble seperating at the line of scrimmage against both man and press coverage. He's also a deep threat on a team with a quarterback that doesn't throw a good deep ball. Parker certainly has upside, but at his current ADP he is just too far over-priced. I don’t see him as a true number one and wouldn’t be surprised if Leonte Carroo and Kenny stills ate into his production like Rishard Matthews did last year. In fact, Stills has been running ahead of him already this pre-season.
Jordan Matthews, Eagles (5.11 ADP) – Despite the hype, he’s best used in the NFL as a complimentary receiver and your WR3 in an offense that will look much different with Chip Kelly gone. Volume will be down and he failed in his pre-season experiment to move to the outside. Expect his targets to go down from 128 to around 100.
Torrey Smith, Ravens (9.09 ADP)– Even though Chip Kelly is great at scheming wide receivers open, Smith still has to play with Kaepernick or Gabbert and doesn't truly command the ball. I’m not buying a huge bounce back to where he can regularly be relied on in fantasy beyond your WR3. He will have some big weeks, but one beat writer recently projected him to not even catch 60 passes.
Sammie Coates Jr, Steelers (9.09 ADP) – An athletic clone of Martavis Bryant who showed up to camp in excellent shape. Unfortunately he doesn't track the ball well and is looking like a part time player, currently running as the teasm 4th or 5th receiver. He shoul dbe drafted around the 13th round at the earliest, not the 9th.
Coby Fleener, Saints (6.06 ADP) – Fleener couldn’t have landed in a better spot and he will see a lot of the 125 targets that Watson left behind, especially his 18 red-zone targets. While Snead and Cooks are both under six feet, Fleener stands 6'6" with 4.51 jets. That said, his route running continues to be an issue and he has been slow to learn the Saints playbook. I'm still hopeful once the season starts Brees will take full advantage, but at his current ADP you should rather grab players like Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce and Julius Thomas. If you can get Fleener towards the end of the 7th into the 8th, I'm fine with him there.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks (11.04) – He's been activated but as ESPN's Stephania Bell recently said: "Of all the different surgeries that these guys have, those who fared the worst when it comes to rate of return to play and performance metrics like yards gained and touchdowns scored, it was patellar tendon repair." We’ve seen how much Victor Cruz has struggled to get back into form. If he is healthy, he's a good bet for TDs, but may not give you much else beyond that.
Jordan Cameron, Dolphins (16.01 ADP) – Dolphins HC Gase wants him to be more involved and he was able to get great production out of Julius Thomas in Denver and Zach Miller in Chicago. Early reports from camp have not been positive though. I’m not hopeful he will have any impact.