The Avoid List: Fantasy Football Experts Reveal the Player They Will Not Be Drafting

It’s mid-August so naturally fantasy advice is flying everywhere. Positional rankings, overall rankings, sleepers, deep sleepers, busts, team previews and so many draft strategies  There is a lot to ingest, most of it quite valuable.

A simple yet effective strategy for any draft is knowing which players to avoid and which to snag based on their current ADP –  and in some cases, any ADP. We polled 15 of the top fantasy experts and asked them to name one player they are most avoiding at all costs this draft season. (Tomorrow we will unveil the “must haves” from this same esteemed group.) 

Andy Behrens, Yahoo!: Marshawn Lynch, Raiders RB

One thing has become perfectly clear in my early drafts: someone in every league is dead-on sure that they’re getting a vintage version of Lynch. I can imagine him reaching double-digit touchdowns if everything goes well, but we need to remember that he’s 31 years old and coming off a year of leisure. When last we saw Beast Mode on the field, injuries limited him to just seven games and 3.8 YPC. There’s no way I’d draft him as my first RB in any league.

Stephania Bell, ESPN: Alshon Jeffery, Eagles WR

In fantasy football there should be some indicator of the percentage of a player available. A number of players who take the field on gameday are dealing with injuries that impact performance to varying degrees. A guy struggling to run at top speed or who can’t get up in the air enough to beat the defensive back for a reception is clearly less than the 100% healthy player you drafted. Also, each player should have an anxiety quotient relative to how close to gametime the player’s status remains in question combined with the number of weeks this occurs in any given season.

Jeffery, talented as he may be in other offensive statistics, would outshine many others in these two categories. He has battled various soft tissue injuries over the last two seasons; in 2015 he was limited to just nine games as a result of injury and in 2016 he missed four games due to suspension but was less than 100% healthy with a pregame questionable status for many more. He has already missed a handful of practices in this year’s training camp as the result of a shoulder strain. While this is considered minor, his injury patterns over the last two years have not been favorable. Draft at your own risk.

Sigmund Bloom, Lamar Miller, Texans RB

Miller was a mediocre RB2 last year, and I don’t expect much improvement from the offense, not to mention Tyler Ervin and D’Onta Foreman are going to improve the options behind him and steal touches.

Brad Evans, Yahoo!: Amari Cooper, Raiders WR

The power of assumption is very persuasive. Fantasy speculators from coast to coast believe Cooper will suddenly wrest away red-zone targets from Michael Crabtree. I’m not buying. Coop is good for 80 catches and 1,000-plus yards, but Crab’s role inside the 20 combined with Marshawn Lynch’s presence arrow to another 4-6 TDs. Largely going inside the top-10 among WRs, he simply won’t return on investment.

Pat Fitzmaurice, The Football Girl: Marshawn Lynch, Raiders RB

Lynch enthusiasts believe that the erstwhile Seahawk could run for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in a potentially explosive Oakland offense featuring a strong offensive line. But we haven’t seen vintage Lynch since 2014. He has compressed cartilage in his back, a condition that won’t heal. He doesn’t catch passes, and he’ll probably play a more limited role than he played in Seattle since he has two good young backs (DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard) behind him. Lynch is being taken far too early for a guy with a medical issue coming out of retirement.

Alex Gelhar, Mike Gillislee, Patriots RB

I’d be in on drafting Gillislee if he was available in the later rounds, but his summer ADP has shot up into the fourth or fifth round, which is insane. There is zero guarantee he assumes even 75 percent of LeGarrette Blount’s workload from a year ago, and he’s battled injuries already. With so many talented backs in New England I can’t fathom spending that early of a pick on one of them.

Matt Harmon, Davante Adams, Packers WR

Despite a strong and legitimate bounce-back 2016 campaign, at this moment, Davante Adams’ third to fourth round ADP is simple untenable. Unless you ding Jordy Nelson’s traditional market share or remove Randall Cobb from the offense, it’s impossible to project the volume needed for Adams to repeat his WR7 finish. That doesn’t even touch on the utilization demands of Martellus Bennett and Ty Montgomery. A historic season from Aaron Rodgers would raise all tides here, but that’s tough to bank on even if it is always in the cards.

T.J. Hernandez, 4for4: Christian McCaffrey, Panthers RB

There might not be a more obvious square peg in a round hole situation in the league than McCaffrey in the Carolina offense. If McCaffrey is to meet the expectations of his third-round ADP, he’d need to thrive in a Reggie Bush-like role, but that would mean more check downs and less scrambling for Cam Newton, the one thing that he’s actually good at as a quarterback. Cam is also the greatest touchdown vulture known to running backs. Hard pass.

Melissa Jacobs, The Football Girl: Sammy Watkins, Rams WR

No knock on Watkins, an unequivocal a talent who can stretch the field and make plays. There are two red flags surrounding Watkins – one is his new quarterback. Goff is still wildly struggling with accuracy and it’s hard to envision Watkins getting many pinpoint passes. More importantly, the 3rd year wideout can’t catch a break when it comes to injuries, the reason many believe he was traded. (Are there more undisclosed injuries?) He only played in eight games last year, and is simply not reliable enough to waste a WR2 pick. Watkins’s ADP plummeted from 3.011 to 4.09 after the trade and it’s still too high given the barriers to a breakout season.

Liz Loza, Yahoo!: Jordan Howard, Bears RB

As a life-long Bears fan, I hope I’m wrong about this, but Jordan Howard seems headed for a sophomore slump. Not just because defenses will stack the box against him, but also because of his reckless running style. Sure, he’ll get a ton of touches, but if he doesn’t learn to be economical with his body he’s going to be in shorts by Halloween.

Brandon Marianne Lee, Sirius XM and Martavis Bryant, Steelers WR

I hate that I have to say this because I really like Bryant’s talent, but right now he’s a fourth round pick. That is incredibly high for a guy who is third in line on his own team for touches. It’s confusing. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are first round fantasy picks and everyone (including me) believes they should be there. Then supposedly Bryant will be productive enough to be a fourth round pick all while Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t even break the top-10 in QB rankings? Which is it? Will everyone break offensive records, or is one of these guys on the outside looking in? I lean towards the latter. The risk is too high for the price.

John Paulsen, 4for4: Carlos Hyde, 49ers RB

Hyde is a good running back, but has missed 12 games the last two seasons, GM John Lynch has openly questioned his fit in new HC Kyle Shanahan’s outside-zone rushing attack, and during the draft Shanahan “banged the table” for Joe Williams, which prompted Lynch to trade up to select Williams in the 4th round. Given all these red flags, I want no part of Hyde at his current 4th round ADP.

Chris Raybon, 4for4: Tevin Coleman, Falcons RB

It’s all about Coleman’s ADP, which is in rounds 5-7. After scoring one TD on 89 touches in 2015, he scored a TD every 13.5 touches in 2016 for a Falcons offense that scored he seventh-most points of all time (540). His TD output screams regression, and his ADP is too rich for a backup RB.

Mike Tagliere, Cam Newton, Panthers QB

After suffering his concussion last year, Cam Newton played in 11 games, totaling just 212 rushing yards and three touchdowns. That pace over 16 games would’ve finished behind Blake Bortles’ rushing totals. Over Newton’s six-year career, he’s averaged 3,629 yards and 23 touchdowns as a passer. His closest comparison in 2016 was… Bortles, who threw for 3,905 yards and 23 touchdowns. There has been a clear trend in Newton’s rushing totals declining, and the Panthers actions of extending Jonathan Stewart and drafting Christian McCaffrey further prove they want that downward trend to continue. Outside of his magical 2015 season where he had a 7.1% touchdown rate, Newton has thrown 101 touchdowns on 2,433 attempts, or 4.2%. His passing isn’t nearly good enough to carry him inside the top 10 quarterbacks.

J.J. Zachariason, numberFire: Doug Martin, Bucs RB

Martin’s out the first three weeks of the season thanks to a suspension, which will give other Tampa Bay backs — mainly Jacquizz Rodgers — an opportunity to shine. Last season, among the 69 running backs with 50 or more carries, Martin ranked 58th in Success Rate, or the percentage of runs that positively impacted his team’s expected point total. In the same situation behind the same offensive line, Rodgers was 11th. Martin’s gig isn’t locked-in when he returns, so paying an early- to mid-round price on him makes little sense to me