NFL football starts in less than a month, which means fantasy season is upon us. This is the time I start doing all my research so I want to be prepared as possible. There have been a lot of changes this off season with free agency, coaching changes, and the draft that can drastically affect players’ value. You never want to miss the boat on some crucial information that could possibly cause you to miss out on a player, or even worse overdraft a player. Which is why I am saving you fantasy fanatics the trouble by giving you a list of 5 big names that you should stay away from.
- Le’Veon Bell RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Arguably the best player in fantasy football starts off my list at # 5. Now that probably sounds crazy, but let me explain myself before you stop reading. To make myself as clear as possible, I understand how special of a player Le’Veon is, and how he has been one of the best fantasy players since he has been in the league. So it would be crazy to not draft him at all (because he is still a top 5 player on my board). However, there is a handful of players I would take over him. Usually he is a top 2 pick every season, but this year is a little different. As most of you know Le’Veon is currently holding out because he and the Steelers couldn’t agree on a new deal. He is expected to be at practice when the season starts, so I don’t expect the hold out to carry over into the regular season. Yet I am still fearful that his financial situation will affect his fantasy situation.
Le’Veon has made it very clear that he is all about his dollars, and he can’t get a new deal until next off season. This is pure speculation, but I expect him to be very careful with his body. Meaning minor injuries he used to play with, will cause him to miss time because he doesn’t want to take the risk. He needs to stay healthy in order to make the money that he wants in 2019. I can see him taking dramatic precautions especially with his injury history. Now you might be saying, “but he held out last year and he was fine.” Well the difference with last year is that he and the Steelers were still working towards a new deal. That ship has sailed now because Pittsburgh probably won’t place the franchise tag on him again, so it is very likely that he will be on another team in 2019. Le’Veon really has no incentive to play with an injury for a team that has no intention of giving him the contract that he wants. Call me a crazy conspiracy theorist, but I believe that this is a very real possibility.
- Julio Jones WR, Atlanta Falcons.
I need to clarify myself again before I lose all credibility. Like Le’Veon I know that Julio is a top 3 player at his position, and is still a top 20 player on my board. How ever his actual status around the league doesn’t always translate to his fantasy status. Fantasy football is a game that revolves around players’ production. If I told you that a receiver was going to have 1444 yards and 3 Tds, would you think that production is worth a top 10 pick? Well let’s dive into those numbers a little more. Sure the touchdown production is a little low but 1444 yards is a lot. The total yards is kind of a misleading stat because if you look on how they were divided over a 16 game season, you can see that 43% of his total yardage comes from only 4 games. Oh and out of the 3 touchdowns he scored, 2 of them came from the same game. I don’t know about everyone else but I want consistent top end production from a top 10 pick. Not games where they might be the highest scoring fantasy player one week, and put up duds the next two. Which has kind have been Julio’s MO throughout his fantasy career. Most don’t even know that Julio scored over double digits only 5 times last year in standard scoring.
I know I can’t soley predict Julio’s production off of his numbers last year, but even when the Falcons offense was at its peak in 2016, Julio only had 6 touchdowns. I think there is a really simple reason why Julio’s fantasy performances are so up and down. Matt Ryan doesn’t force feed him the ball. The Falcons have a plethora of other weapons that Ryan can get the ball to, especially when teams roll their coverage toward Julio most of the time. Ryan is not the type of QB to throw the ball up into double coverage and let Julio go get it. He is going to throw it to the open man. So to wrap up my thoughts on Julio I still think he is a great fantasy receiver. I just don’t think he is worth a top 10 pick because of his inconsistency. I wouldn’t take him over the premiere running backs who are almost guaranteed 20-25 touches a game, which is probably why he won’t be on a lot of my teams.
- Kenyan Drake RB, Miami Dolphins.
Kenyan Drake was a major contributor to my championship team last season. He looked like an absolute star in the games he started, which is why I was very excited for a full year of him as the lead back. Yet Dolphins’ head coach Adam Gase has other plans to ruin the hopes and dreams of fantasy owners. Miami signed the ageless Frank Gore this off season to a one year deal. Currently Drake and Gore are listed as costartes, so it looks like they are going to be splitting carriers 50/50. Now I understand this story looks great on paper because Frank Gore started his college career at the University of Miami and will most likely end his professional career in Miami (very sentimental). But come on Frank Gore, you are like 100 years old, and you still want to play running back in the NFL. Why take a beating playing for Miami when you could be relaxing in Miami during your retirement. I never want to encourage anyone to retire, but you have taken enough hits throughout your long career. It’s time to pass the torch to the young guns and let them shine. If you still want to play, you should’ve went to the Raiders, where older players are welcome.
In all seriousness this really does hurt Drake’s value. In Fantasy opportunity is everything. No matter how good Kenyan looked, it doesn’t mean anything if his touches are limited. Running back by committees are kryptonite to fantasy owners, and it looks like that is what is happening in Miami. Not to mention they drafted another running back Kalen Ballage who could be in the mix for some touches. The earliest I would take Drake would be late in the 6th round. He will probably be long gone by then.
- Sammy Watkins WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Many people were surprised when the Chiefs signed Sammy Watkins this offseason. He is joining an offense that already has Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, and is quarterbacked by Alex Smi… Oh wait Alex Smith isn’t on the Chiefs anymore? Who is their QB? Patrick Mahomes? Who is that? Excuse my sarcasm, but Mahomes has been the talk of the offseason. I am very excited to see the young QB play on the big stage. I was a huge fan of Mahomes coming out of Texas Tech because of his unique play style. However, I don’t know how he is going to do in his first season as the starter. In fact, I think he might struggle because he plays with a gunslinger mentality.
With that being said, Mahomes’s play clearly affects Watkins fantasy value. Meaning if the QB struggles, than the receivers will struggle. Also, I don’t know where Watkins is in terms of target share. Is he the number one option, or is he the number 4 option? There is just way too much unknown with the Chiefs’ passing game. That is why I am not counting on Watkins to be a major contributor on my team. Right now he is a high end third receiver, and he is going to stay there until I see more from this offense.
- LeSean McCoy RB, Buffalo Bills
Now you are probably thinking that my negative take has to do with McCoy’s off the field situation. As most of you know his ex-girlfriend was allegedly assaulted by a group of men at LeSean’s home. She is claiming that the men were hired by LeSean, but nothing has been proven yet. Now if these allegations are true he is completely off my draft board. However, there is still much that is unclear, and I really don’t know what is happening with the case right now. Even before these unfortunate allegations I was still low on Shady McCoy.
The Bills’ offense experienced a whirlwind of personnel changes this offseason. They traded away a competent starter at Quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, who kept defenses honest. Now they have a 3 Quarterback competition with 3 unproven guys (Nathan Peterman, A.J. McCarron, and Josh Allen). Meaning defenses are more likely to key in on the run. On top of the change under center, their offensive line looks a lot different as well. They traded away Left Tackle Cordy Glenn (who is an above average Left Tackle) in order to move up in the draft, and lost former Pro-Bowlers Richie Incognito (Guard) and Eric Wood (Center).
What’s even worse is that they really did nothing to replace them. They drafted one offensive lineman in the 5th round, and signed former Bengal, Russell Bodine (Center). Who was nothing short of horrendous last season. If you don’t believe me, just look at the Bengals draft. They drafted a Center in the first round for a reason. This combination of a bad offensive line, and a question mark at Quarterback is why I am out on LeSean McCoy. He is extremely low on my board, so the only way I would draft him would be if the value is right.
- “Atlanta Falcons.” NFL.com, National Football League, http://www.nfl.com/player/juliojones/2495454/gamelogs.