Aug 3, 2012
Each year, we publish an article about Overvalues & Players to Avoid, but make a point to say that at the right value, anyone is worth drafting. While I agree with that philosophy for the most part, there is always a group of players I want nothing to do with due to injury history, continuing off-the-field issues, too much competition at the position, or a coach who doesn’t care about your fantasy team (looking at you, Mike Shanahan). With training camp underway and mock drafts happening much more often, I figured I’d share my 2012 list with you. You’ll probably have some disagreements, which is understandable since some of these are based on gut feeling. I asked some of you on Twitter about players on your list and will include them below.
Ahmad Bradshaw – Bradshaw has been one of my favorite players to watch since making a name for himself as part of the Earth, Wind, and Fire backfield for the 2007 Giants. After Derrick Ward departed, Bradshaw got a much-deserved increased role in the offense. I’ve given him plenty of credit for being a versatile back with the ability to be a tough, inside runner, as well as reliable part of the passing game. He’s battled multiple injuries, a sometimes bad OL, and most recently, a shift in offensive philosophy. However, the Giants are coming off a Super Bowl season in which they were among the worst rushing teams in the league. Bradshaw battled injuries for a good portion of the season, and with an obvious shift in philosophy to more of a pass-first offense, the team took home yet another Lombardi Trophy. HC Tom Coughlin would like to improve on that rushing attack, which probably explains the selection of David Wilson, but he has to know that winning in the NFL starts with a successful passing attack. Between the threat of Wilson, his long injury history, and the passing attack being the key to victory, I just don’t see how Bradshaw will ever rise to prominence again. He’s going way too high as it is in drafts right now and will probably be someone you keep in your lineup for a few extra weeks too many based on name value alone. As much as it pains me to say, I’m staying away from him in 2012.
Any Jet Skill Player – Early last season, I had a discussion with a friend, who strictly plays in (extremely) high-stakes fantasy leagues. We were discussing draft strategy and he said a big deciding point on players comes down to just how good their team is. He loved Darren Sproles last season because he knew Sproles was part of one of the best offenses in the league. On the other hand, he wanted nothing to do with Shonn Greene because there didn’t appear to be a lot to get excited about when it came to the Jets. Of course, he ended up being correct on both accounts, which had got me to thinking about using this strategy a little more often going forward. The Jets stuck out as a team I want nothing to do with this season because of their mess of a QB situation, a lack of talent in their receiving corps, no RBs to feel good about, an OL that took a step back last year and didn’t improve in the off-season, and the giant monkey wrench Tim Tebow is going to throw into the offense. I can’t find one reason to be optimistic about this offense, so I’ve decided to stay away from them altogether. If I could find any upside, maybe I’d change my mind, but I just don’t see it.
Redskin RBs – I hate seeing good talent go to waste, but I hate it even more when I waste a draft pick on a player I banked on starting for my team. If you’re taking Roy Helu in the top eight rounds, you’re probably expecting him to be in your lineup just about every week. One problem: he’s a Redskin RB. I really want to get behind a talented player like Helu or Evan Royster, but how can I when Mike and Kyle Shanahan seem to change their minds on a daily basis when it comes to who will be getting the ball for them in any given week. Even worse, they’ll talk up a player, like Ryan Torain, and then keep him off the field once we get around to the actual game. Why should we believe this is going to change when it’s all we know from the Shanahans dating back to their days in Denver. Outside of two great backs, Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis, they’ve shifted backs on and off the field on a constant basis. To me, it’s such a crapshoot to deal with on a weekly basis that it’s not worth my time to have any of these players on my roster, especially not someone like Helu, who’s been going around the 6th round of many drafts I’ve seen. There’s definitely some good talent in this backfield, but no one that sticks out enough to ride with for the majority of the season, so I’m staying far away from all of them.
Patriot RBs – Much like Mike Shanahan in Washington, Bill Belichick doesn’t care about your fantasy team. Outside of Corey Dillon in 2004, the Patriots haven’t really given us a reliable fantasy back in the Brady Era and I don’t expect that to change in 2012. Sure, we’ve seen guys like Danny Woodhead, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Kevin Faulk have decent numbers for a few weeks here and there, but relying on this team to give you a consistent option is asking for trouble. We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback on Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley, but that doesn’t mean Belichick is going to make one of these guys his main ball carrier for the entire season. He, like the rest of the league, knows that the key to winning is by throwing the football and as we saw on their way to the Super Bowl last season, the Patriots can certainly do that with a lot of success. The addition of Brandon Lloyd will only make them that much more dangerous through the air, which is why I expect the ground game to continue to be an afterthought in their offense. Why bother with anyone in this backfield if Belichick won’t (and shouldn’t) feel the need to commit to any of his RBs?
LeGarrette Blount – The former UDFA had a nice rookie season in Tampa Bay back in 2010, but came crashing back to Earth last season after many drafted him to be their #2 fantasy back. He certainly fell well below those expectations and often didn’t even belong in a starting lineup. The Buccaneers made some big changes in the off-season and traded back into the 1st round to get a much more talented player in Doug Martin, who is already getting plenty of praise and appears to have already passed Blount on the depth chart. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since Blount is a big, lumbering back, who doesn’t react well to contact and has shown just about no skills as a receiver. I’m confident saying he’s a player with no upside and the most he’ll do is steal a couple of TDs from Martin, although that’s probably reaching. Considering how late he’s going, I’d rather get someone with upside than waste a pick on Blount.
Martellus Bennett – Drafting Bennett is similar to drafting a RB, who might not be any good, but may end up being a volume back. With Jake Ballard out for the year (and now gone) due to an ACL tear and Travis Beckum working his way back from his own ACL tear, the Giants added Bennett in the off-season and it certainly looks like he’ll be their starter come Week One, mostly because they really don’t have anyone else who can fit that role. We’ve heard all about Bennett’s potential, but he never came through in Dallas despite having little pressure on him playing as the understudy to Jason Witten. I realize Witten has been one of the best at the position during the time Bennett has been there, but we’ve certainly seen our share of teams with multiple TEs who contribute. Bennett’s had plenty of chances to step up and it hasn’t happened yet. Some believe he can be a sleeper in what might be a better situation, but I’m not buying it.
Randy Moss – If you owned Moss at any point in 2010, this shouldn’t be a hard sell, but I’m still seeing a lot of people buy into the hype created by 49er HC Jim Harbaugh when he told Rich Gannon Moss was the team’s best receiver this off-season. This is also the same coach who said the team wasn’t interested in Peyton Manning as a way to smooth things over and pump up Alex Smith. Moss turned 35 earlier this year and after a season out of the game, we’re supposed to believe he’s going to make a major contribution? This is the same guy that played for three teams in 2010 and made little impact on any of them. Even if Moss is somewhat refreshed from a year off, he’s still in the mix with a great talent in Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, who’s coming off a solid 2012 campaign. On top of everything, we’re relying on Smith to just not be bad again and I’m having trouble buying into that idea. Give me a player with some legitimate upside over a hope and prayer like Moss.
I also wanted to touch on a few players I don’t feel comfortable with on my team due to their high ADP, which I don’t expect to drop barring an injury/off-field issue. I’ll only take these guys if they fall considerably, which probably won’t happen.
Chris Johnson – Despite a very disappointing 2011 season, Johnson continues to be a 1st-round pick and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. Maybe it’s because the position is so weak near the top or maybe it’s because some believe he’ll rediscover the magic that helped him crack the 2000-yard mark in 2009. I’m having trouble buying into any of that logic since the only player I saw last year was a tentative runner, who continued to look for the big play too often as opposed to taking what was given to him. Add in the notion that the Titans will become more of a vertical passing team and Johnson doesn’t expect to catch as many passes, and you don’t have a player that should be coming off the board as your top pick. I don’t think he’s a bum, but I’m avoiding taking him unless he falls into the middle or end of the 2nd round, although I doubt that happens.
Dez Bryant – We know all about Bryant’s off-the-field problems and maturity issues, but I’m usually one to overlook that when you have a player that’s as physically gifted as Bryant. Unfortunately, he’s yet to reach his potential despite having lots of opportunities to do so in his first two seasons. I’m well aware that injuries have plagued him over that time and historically, third-year receivers tend to break out, but with his skill, it really shouldn’t be taking this long. His draft status hasn’t changed a whole lot for fantasy, yet he hasn’t really proven to be worth what I perceive to be too high of a pick. I still believe the potential is there for him to be a dominant player, but with the inconsistency he’s shown so far, I’m probably more willing to play it safe with a reliable option than hope Bryant is going to pan out.
DeSean Jackson – Jackson feels like the ultimate boom-or-bust player. We know he has the ability to change a game with one play, but we also know he’ll disappear at times. In PPR leagues, I’m not touching the guy because he’s never caught more than 63 balls in a season and I don’t see that changing this year, especially with guys like Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek on the same team. Jackson isn’t a RZ target and if he’s not scoring, like last year (2 receiving TDs), he’ll usually be a disappointment. Whether it’s his concussion history, perceived attitude problems, or relying on Michael Vick, Jackson’s stock appears to have dropped off just a bit heading into 2012. Some believe that because he finally got paid, his head will be in the game and he’ll rebound this year. Others think that because he got paid, the effort won’t be there. Jackson’s a bit of a polarizing figure and I’m not quite sure what to expect from him this season, but knowing how frustrating he can be, I’ve decided to stay away unless he falls down the board considerably and that’s probably not going to happen.
Finally, here are some of your tweets about players you’re not touching this season:
@ErictheBody: Andre Johnson, never scores double-digit TDs, never plays double-digit games
@druishprince: I’m passing on inconsistent players this year. DeSean Jackson and Vincent Jackson. Jermichael Finley. Need consistency from starters.
@The_Controller: Michael Turner.
@FG_Dolan: Ahmad Bradshaw!
@Alekismyname: Andre Johnson, the way he burned me last year I’ll never draft him again.
@Novocaine: Ahmad Bradshaw has to be on that list, right? Screws in foot = no-no. Maybe I’m wrong but I’d also add Kevin Smith. Yeah, he’s the week 1 starter, but people are forgetting he’s made out of glass.
Thanks to everyone who contributed on Twitter, and if you have any more suggestions or questions, please feel free to send them to me @TheMattCamp or include them in the comments below.