All week long heading into the final weekend of Fantasy draft season, I’ve been rummaging through the rankings for our trio of Fantasy football experts, Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard and Heath Cummings, looking for interesting nuggets for Fantasy players to consider heading into their drafts.
For the last installment in the series — before rankings turn over to Week 1 Friday! — I thought it was a good time to put together a list of players I probably won’t be touching in my last few drafts this weekend. It isn’t that I necessarily dislike all of these players or wouldn’t want them on my team; just not at the price I’d have to pay right now.
*All Average Draft Position data comes from consensus rankings at FantasyPros.com
Dez Bryant (No. 11 ADP)
|Jamey: WR6||Dave: WR6||Heath: WR11|
One thing I’m not sure the Fantasy community as a whole is good at — and this is a trend that will come up over and over in this piece — is properly evaluating the risk of injured players. Bryant is actually a great example of this, as he suffered a fractured foot in the team’s season opener last season, and though he was able to return in less than two months, he didn’t look like himself. He recorded just one 100-yard game and scored just three touchdowns in eight games following his return — before suffering a setback with the injury that ultimately required offseason surgery. Bryant is already without Tony Romo for what looks like it could be half the season or more, and though Dak Prescott looked the part in the preseason, that’s another notch against Bryant. He is sliding down in CBSSports.com’s ADP, and if he starts to hit the latter half of the second round, it will be much easier to handle that risk.
Le’Veon Bell (No. 13 ADP)
|Jamey: RB7||Dave: RB8||Heath: RB9|
Another player coming back from a serious injury, Bell tore his MCL 10 months ago, the second time he has missed time with an injury to his knee in the past two years. The gray lining? He has an extra three weeks to recover from the injury, thanks to his three-game suspension to open the season. Taking Bell in the first half of the second round — or end of the first, where he is going in CBSSports.com leagues! — is making a big bet that he will return from his suspension and hit the grounding running without a hitch. For a player who averaged 115 all-purpose yards per game last season and was the No. 2 running back in Fantasy the year before, that might not be a bad bet. But the margin for error is so slim there. If Bell is just the 10th best running back in Fantasy from Week 4, that is probably a disaster at his current ADP.
Matt Forte (No. 38 ADP)
|Jamey: RB23||Dave: RB22||Heath: RB22|
If we could predict with any sort of accuracy when an elite running back with history of massive workloads will fall off, this game would be a lot easier, but this has to concern you:
Over the past four seasons, Forte has played more than 500 snaps than the No. 3 running back. He is far ahead of the field, after years of playing nearly every offensive snap for the Bears, and it finally seemed to catch up to him last season when he missed three games and saw his all-purpose yardage total fall from 115.4 per game in 2014 to 99 a year ago. Forte turns 31 in December, and probably isn’t going to get any healthier moving forward, making him a huge risk at this cost. If he was going later in the fourth or fifth round, I might be more open to Forte this season. I would rather have, say, DeMarco Murray (No. 47 ADP) or Jeremy Hill (No. 52) than Forte.
Julian Edelman (No. 40 ADP)
|Jamey: WR26||Dave: WR24||Heath: WR32|
This might be a case where Edelman’s PPR value is pushing up his overall ADP, but the middle of the fourth round still seems awfully high for him this season. Yes, Edelman has been tremendous over the last three seasons, averaging 6.6 receptions for 69.7 yards per game in that time, but he has two knocks going against him coming into this season. The first and most important is that Edelman is coming off a Jones fracture in his left foot, the kind of injury that can creep back in when a player thinks it is in the past — just as happened to Kevin Durant. Edelman also has to deal with life without Tom Brady for the first four games of the season, a factor he has never had to deal with before because Brady hasn’t missed a game since 2008. I don’t want to say Edelman is just a product of Brady’s greatness, but… yeah, I might say that.
Andrew Luck (No. 42 ADP)
|Jamey: QB3||Dave: QB3||Heath: QB6|
In this case, the series of injuries that sidelined Luck isn’t quite as much of a concern for me. Sure, it’s a risk, but the bigger risk comes anytime you are taking a quarterback this early in the draft. The league has become so passing oriented that you really have to put up crazy numbers to stand out, and Luck hasn’t done that for most of his career. His 2014 was monstrous, but he had two full seasons of fairly lackluster production before that, finishing 10th and seventh in Fantasy scoring among quarterbacks. That isn’t bad, but we’re looking at a player with just one top-six season in four tries as a the No. 3 overall quarterback? I’m with Heath on this one.
Jeremy Maclin (No. 50 ADP)
|Jamey: WR22||Dave: WR21||Heath: WR29|
If you wanted to draft a quarterback, why not pass on Luck and take Drew Brees , currently going off the board at No. 51 overall, one spot behind Maclin. I would certainly rather pair Brees and, say, Kelvin Benjamin (No. 45) or Jarvis Landry (No. 44) than Luck and Maclin, who just doesn’t have a ton of upside in this offense. Maclin did everything he could with the targets he got last season, but he ultimately ended up with just 124 of them, good for just 26th in the NFL. Maclin finished as the No. 16 wide receiver in standard scoring last season, and finished outside of the top-20 in the position 10 times. In fact, Maclin had as many finishes outside of the top-36 as inside the top-20. This just isn’t a great offense for a wide receiver to thrive in, as good as Maclin might be.
Ben Roethlisberger (No. 53 ADP)
Roethlisberger is currently going sixth among quarterbacks, which seems totally insane. He plays in a high-volume passing offense (37.8 pass attempts per game, last three seasons), but has just one season with 30-plus touchdowns since 2007. The Pittsburgh Steelers will also return just two of their top four targets from last season, and Roethlisberger will be missing Bell for those three games as well. It isn’t clear who will step up behind Antonio Brown , and that should terrify anyone investing an early fifth-round pick into Roethlisberger.
Arian Foster (No. 67 ADP)
|Jamey: RB32||Dave: RB31||Heath: RB37|
Achilles’ injuries are bad news, especially for players in the latter halves of their careers. Foster already has to fight off the effects of aging entering his age-30 season, and now has to come back from a catastrophic injury while running behind a team that has finished 32nd in ProFootballFocus.com’s run blocking grading the previous two seasons. Even if Foster stays healthy, this seems like a huge long shot, and one you have to invest a sixth-round pick in. You’ll be much better off going with someone like Giovani Bernard or Melvin Gordon if they are there.
DeVante Parker (No. 91 ADP)
Parker is another player whose ADP has been dropping, but at this point you need to look at him as just a late-round flier. He has seemingly dipped to third on the Miami Dolphins ‘ depth chart, and has been fighting a minor, lingering hamstring injury over the last few weeks too. Coach Adam Gase told reporters he thinks Parker has some learning to do, and said recently he would like him to figure out how to “push through certain kinds of pain.” That sounds like a coach frustrated with his uber-talented but so far disappointing receiver. Parker has a ton of upside as a do-it-all receiver for the Dolphins and could end up seeing quite a bit of the field anyway because the Dolphins often run three-receiver sets. However, despite racking up 445 yards in the final six games of his rookie campaign, Parker clearly still has a lot to prove, both to his coaching staff and Fantasy players.
Tyler Eifert (No. 92 ADP)
|Jamey: TE14||Dave: TE11||Heath: TE14|
Another injured player, Eifert’s ADP has been in absolute freefall lately; he was 76th at FantasyPros as recently as Wednesday. He still hasn’t fallen far enough for me, after news came out recently he is targeting Week 4 for a return. I’m not sure I would draft Eifert at all at this point, but certainly not in the first 100 picks.
Source: CBS Sports / 2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Do Not Draft list