Do Not Draft: Fantasy Players to Avoid For a Family-Friendly Roster

I am a proud feminist. I don a “Nevertheless, She Persisted” tee three times a week, and recently passed on buying a perfectly lovely Honda Accord because I couldn’t bear promoting the unfortunately named dealership until the plates arrived.

There is only one exception to my feminism…

In a draft last weekend I had the third round option of Joe Mixon or Marshawn Lynch. After considering the ceilings for both and watching Mixon juke his way past Washington corner Josh Norman, my choice was clear. I drafted Mixon, sordid past and all. (Lynch’s ADP is also astronomically high given his age, injury history and going incommunicado last season.)

While having Mixon on my roster makes me somewhat queasy, my approach to fantasy is admittedly narrow-minded. Compartmentalize the toxicity and win.

However, I respect anyone with a stronger moral compass that strategically keeps their fantasy rosters family friendly. To that end, a few good-hearted fantasy folks on social media asked me to create a Do Not Draft list. This is that list for 2017.

Players listed have mostly entangled in some form of domestic violence, though there are a few exceptions.  We also kept the list to players selected in most fantasy drafts. We did not include players like Le’Veon Bell that were charged with marijuana possession given its growing legality. Nor did we list injured players like Jets WR Quincy Enunwa who was charged with assaulting a woman near the Jets facility three years ago. Giants WR Brandon Marshall is also not on our list given how repentant he has been for his long ago domestic violence issues, and was subsequently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Information was largely gathered from USA Today’s NFL Player Arrests Database. Let us pray that the need for such a database will someday disappear.

Joe Mixon, Bengals RB: Mixon was dropped en masse from several draft boards after a 2014 video surfaced of the rusher punching and knocking out a woman in a Norman, Oklahoma bar while a student-athlete for the Sooners. Mixon agreed to a plea deal and apologized to the woman two years later. He was suspended for the entire 2015 season, though many believed Bob Stoops should have kicked him off the team.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, hardly one to shy away from controversial players (see Browns defense below), selected Mixon in the second round of this year’s draft as the crowd in Philadelphia loudly booed. Mixon’s incident was so horrifying that Bengals owner Mike Brown wrote a letter to fans explaining the pick. “In this case, the risk has an upside as well as a downside,” he wrote. As we have all sadly witnessed, Mixon’s downside is incredibly disturbing. 


Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys RB: When the NFL announced it was suspending Elliott six games for violating its personal conduct (read: domestic violence) policy, most reaction was misguided. Too many people focused on whether or not the league got it right based on past suspensions. (We admittedly wrote a piece applauding the league for its detailed letter incriminating Elliott.) The reason Elliott is on this list is because of what that letter contains.

Elliott was never convicted after being accused of assaulting an ex-girlfriend in July 2016, and his ex’s credibility has been widely questioned. But after a year-long investigation that included parsing through text messages, the testimony of Elliott and his alleged victim, and soliciting the expert opinions of forensic and medical specialists, the league found enough evidence to conclude Elliott was in the wrong. In addition, the league concluded there was not one, but three separate incidents involving a form of assault.

Elliott’s appeal hearing is this week and is likely to enter the judicial system.

Adrian Peterson, Saints RB: In 2014, Peterson was indicted by a grand jury on a felony charge of injury to a child, his child. The running back disciplined his four-year son with a tree branch that left visible marks.

Peterson was hardly remorseful in the aftermath, suggesting that his way of discipline was commonplace in the South. While the incident received a mountain of attention at the time, it is rarely brought up these days.

Tyreek Hill, Chiefs WR: This one is pretty cut and dry. While a student-athlete at Oklahoma State, Hill punched and tried to choke his then-girlfriend who was eight weeks pregnant with their child. He pleaded guilty and agreed to three years probation as part of a deal that would erase the incident from his record.

Hill was dismissed from Oklahoma State, which would have ended his football career if he lacked talent. But alas, University of West Alabama allowed Hill to enroll and play football for the 2015 season. Though many thought Hill would go undrafted in the 2016 draft due to the assault, the Chiefs drafted him in the 5th round.

Dede Westbrook. Jags WR: Last year, Tulsa World reported that Sooners wideout had twice been arrested for domestic violence charges, both involving the mother of his children. The first was in 2012 while Westbrook was in college in Texas. A police report claimed that Westbrook threw the woman to the ground. In a subsequent incident a year later, Westbrook was accused of biting the woman. Both cases were dropped due to a lack of cooperation from the alleged victim. At this year’s Scouting Combine, then NFL prospect Westbrook showed an utter lack of self awareness in an interview with USA Today: “I got in some trouble and I did some things as well, but I was never convicted of anything. Like, I’ve been to jail, but all the charges (were) dropped. I have no pending charges or anything. So, I think I’m just like you.”

Westbrook was drafted by Jacksonville in the fourth round. Upon drafting Westbrook, Jags GM David Caldwell staunchly and stupidly defended his new wideout when he said, “many of us have been accused of things.”

Dez Bryant, Cowboys WR: Bryant was arrested in 2012 after assaulting his mother, ripping her shirt and bra in the altercation. Bryant turned himself in and was charged with a Class A misdemeanor for assault on a female family member. His only real punishment was attending anger management classes. TMZ later obtained a copy of Bryant’s mom’s disturbing call to 911 in which she insinuating that Dez had laid hands on her before.

Kenny Britt, Browns WR: Unlike most of the players on this list, Britt has never been charged with domestic violence. But his overall arrest record can almost fill two hands. Britt has been charged with various crimes seven times and seems to have a very unusual relationship with his driver’s license.

Washington defense: LB Junior Galette was arrested on domestic violence charges in January 2015. The charges were dropped but after an investigation, the league suspended Galette for two games. The accuser, who claims she endured three years of abuse from Galette, filed two subsequent civil suits.

Green Bay defense: Newly acquired LB Ahmad Brooks is in the midst of legal trouble. Charged with misdemeanor sexual battery in 2015 from an incident at ex-49er Ray McDonald’s house, Brooks has a pretrial motion scheduled for September 29th.


Cincinnati defense: When it comes to Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones’s trouble with the law, well, how much time do you have? Jones has been arrested at least nine times since being drafted in 2005. His latest arrest came in January on misdemeanor charges of assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing official business. He reportedly spat on a nurse and was so combative during booking that he had to be fixated to a restraint chair. Jones was suspended one game in violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. The larger question surrounding Jones is why has he not been banned from football.

Cowboys defense: LB Damien Wilson was arrested this July on two counts of aggravated assault after allegedly backing into a woman in a parking lot and brandishing a gun. The case is still under investigation and Wilson is subject to a suspension.

Rams defense: DE Ethan Westbrooks was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence in March after Sacramento police found injuries on the upper body of the mother of one of Westbrooks’s children.

Note: Ben Roethlisberger and Jameis Winston are not on this list given the murkiness of their respective situations, but a very strong case could be made for their inclusion.

If you or someone you know is an abusive relationship, The National Domestic Violence Hotline can help.