First I’d like to thank all the great writers here for their time and expertise they gave to this roundtable. I’d also like to thank Purple Jesus for guiding me toward the perfect fantasy football prognostications. I always think, WWPJD?, and all becomes clear.
Our first question of this roundtable is short, but I think helpful. What three players are you avoiding in fantasy football drafts?
Doc, Razzball (you’re here, no need to click)
Brian Westbrook — He turns 30 before the season starts and had two offseason surgeries, and not surgery on his left ear, surgery on his ankle and knee, two parts that running backs often use unless they do some handstand running. In points per reception leagues it will be hard to pass him up because he will haul in plenty of catches, but even there I am suspicious. If LeSean McCoy is capable we could easily see Westbrook’s role diminish as he tries to stay healthy.
Kurt Warner — I have touted this guy for the last few years based on his upside and usually late adp, but now that he’s coming off hip surgery and is going around the 5th round I believe there is much more value in a healthier QB. He says he’s at around 85 percent which is 85 percent of an old guy with a bad hip. I could be proven wrong here, and I usually go for upside over anything else, but I think Warner’s luck will run out this year.
Santana Moss — This guy can have games that will win your week for you, but more often than not he’ll lose a week for you. In the final 8 games last season he didn’t top 72 yards and had 1 touchdown, uno. And even in the first half when he had some outstanding games he would come back the next week and shat a goose egg on your computer screen. With the undevelopment of Campbell it is hard to believe he will become more consistent this year. I’m not touching him with a ten foot guitar.
Bryan Fontaine, RookieBlitz
My draft philosophy is to never cross any player off your draft board, all players have value. Depending on your own personal rankings, you may have several players way down on your list that will go much sooner than you would take them. In theory, you let others make the tough decisions for you. This season there is three players on my draft board that are much lower than others and I will be avoiding each at all cost: WR Eddie Royal, RB Jamal Lewis, and QB Jake Delhomme.
Eddie Royal by all accounts had a successful rookie campaign. Many things came together creating the perfect situation: the Brandon Marshall suspension, a mediocre running game, a crumbling defense, and a pass happy offense led by Jay Cutler that often played from behind. Fast forward to 2009 and Royal is unlikely to duplicate last year’s totals. Brandon Stokley will be inheriting the Welker role in McDaniel’s offense limiting the PPR potential of Royal. The game plan will become more conservative to limit Orton’s mistakes and capitalize on the strength of the offensive line. Royal’s current ADP of WR23 is much lower than my ranking of WR34 for him. Royal likely will not be on any of my teams this year.
Jamal Lewis is in for a brutal 2009 season. Lewis faces an unsettled QB situation, one of the toughest schedules in the league, a new coaching regime, and Jerome Harrison and James Davis nipping at his heels. There are many backups and RBBC RB’s who will give you much more bang for your buck than Lewis. It is hard to imagine Lewis succeeding under these circumstances and he is not getting any younger. The cupboard was left bare by Crennel and Savage, don’t hedge your bets with the Browns offense in 2009.
Jake Delhomme in the past has been a decent fantasy option at quarterback largely because of the great Steve Smith. This season Carolina faces a tough schedule and is moving to a more run oriented team led by DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Delhomme may have sealed his fate with his atrocious playoff performance against the Cardinals highlighted by 6 turnovers. Even if he bounces back, it will be hard to see Delhomme crack the top 24 QB’s. I would rather have Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez as my last ditch backup QB in 2009. You could even see a switch to Matt Moore or Josh McCown as early as midseason for the Panthers if Delhomme continues his downward spiral.
Jason Sarney, Fantasy Phenoms
The player I am avoiding like the plague is the Rams Steven Jackson. The reason I am avoiding him is not because I doubt his talent, but because I doubt his ability to stay healthy, and the fact that he is a runner on a lousy team. Jackson has missed a combined 8 games in the last two seasons, and has only played in all 16 once during his five-year career. I like to have limited risk and headaches when it comes to my first overall selection.
If he does stay healthy, he won’t be posting huge numbers. The Rams will not be in many close games late, so expect a lot of desperation passing plays once we hit the 4th quarter, hence limiting Jackson’s touches. There are plenty of better options in the 1st round, who are younger, healthier and are in better situations to provide for your team than Jackson.
Moving to the QB slot, I am in no way whatsoever targeting Tony Romo. He lost Terrell Owens, and even with him last season, Romo barely cracked the Top-10 QB list in most formats. He now has to rely on Roy Williams as a No. 1 WR, and while his potential is there, I need to see some proof before putting stock into the Cowboys air attack.
I have no desire to reach on Romo in rounds I can fill out my WR corp. or select that flex RB, while waiting a few rounds to get a QB like Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler. The Cowboys will be focusing on the ground game this season with three quality runners in Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.
As for the WR I am avoiding, Steve Smith of Carolina may be past his best years from a fantasy perspective. Smith’s overall stats have regressed in each season since his ridiculous 2005. With the Panther’s dual running attack in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and Jake Delhomme being on the decline, Smith should see his 4th straight year of his numbers going south.
Gregory Dietz, Big Troph
Willis McGahee – Every year McGahee is one of those guys that comes up when you’re picking and either you look at him and think he’s a steal or you think he’s a bust waiting to happen. I’d say that the split on him is 50/50. In all honesty, in his five years in the league, three of them have been 1,100+ yard seasons which isn’t too bad, but his touchdown totals have not been as stellar. He has had double digit touchdowns in one year (2004) and since then has had no more than seven in one season. Plus, by no means is he a threat as a receiver out of the backfield (you can expect about 15-20 catches from him). To top it all off, the Ravens have been giving LeRon McClain a lot of goal line carries and second year back Ray Rice is turning heads in camp. This will lead to McGahee getting less carries and his numbers spiraling in 2009.
Carson Palmer – At one time, Palmer showed the skills of potentially being one of the best quarterbacks in football for a very long time. However, after several injuries, Palmer is falling into the middle to late rounds of most fantasy drafts and rightfully so. When Palmer was at his best, he had a powerful Rudi Johnson in his backfield and Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh lining up on the outside. Even Chris Henry was regarded as one of the best slot receivers in football at that time. Fast forward to 2009 and as Palmer is coming off of an elbow injury that he probably should have had Tommy John surgery on, when he looks at the depth chart he will still see Chad (just with a different last name), Chris Henry, and that’s where the comparisons end. Cedric Benson is now the runningback and he could be good if he runs like he did in his years at Texas (doubtful). As mentioned, Palmer still has two other headcases in Ochocinco and Henry on the outside, and an aging Laveranues Coles. This is arguably Palmer’s worst supporting cast in his time in the NFL so I highly doubt he is going to catapult back to elite status in 2009.
Eli Manning – I’m tired of hearing, “But he just signed the highest contract in football!” and “He has a Super Bowl ring!” None of that matters. Eli Manning earned that contract and won that Super Bowl because of Plaxico Burress and in case you might have forgotten, Burress will be sitting at home (or in jail) this season. Before getting Burress, Manning was criticized for being inaccurate, inconsistent, and unable to lead. When you add a 6’5” 232 pound receiver who can springboard to catch overthrown balls and even grab passes that were intended for other receivers that went awry, of course Manning’s numbers went up. Now, he is playing with Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, and Ramses Barden. These five guys have a combined 104 catches for 1,196 yards and three touchdowns in their careers. The Giants’ offense is going to struggle in 2009 and Manning’s numbers will come back down to reality. Still not convinced? When Burress was in the lineup, Manning’s QB rating was 91.6. When he was out? 68.5.
Joshua Torrey, FantasyDC
Antonio Bryant — The Tampa Bay WR surprised the Fantasy World last season after remaining dormant through years of being on everyone’s Sleeper lists. It seems once all expectations were removed, he finally felt the freedom to show up. Well guess what? The expectations are back and now he is the only Big Play WR on a less than ideal Offense. The team made additions at RB and could produce valuable Fantasy Players at that position — but the QB carousel that will possibly continue into the Season will not help the already-mediocre passing attack.
With the loss of Joey Galloway, Bryant will find himself lining up with Michael Clayton (another underachiever) and one of the Buccaneers new unproven WRs (Sammie Stroughter or Dexter Jackson). The addition of Kellen Winslow Jr. is a plus, but can he stay healthy? Winslow himself was a very strong candidate for this same list. Defenses will know who they need to stop in this passing offense. Once most #1 WRs are gone, start considering Bryant but there are plenty of #2 WRs that will match, if not greatly overshadow, his production.
Joseph Addai — How can a RB playing behind Peyton Manning be on this list? Addai right now is being labeled a Fantasy Sleeper. Every owner is dreaming of him falling to the 2nd-3rd Round and producing 1st Round numbers out of him. Well don’t crush their dream. Unless you are in a TD-heavy league, Addai and Brown will be splitting the workload in the ways that count. Brown will work to reduce Addai’s PPR Value and will greatly reduce his receiving yard totals. While this might not result in a huge hit to Addai, the oft injured (maybe an exaggeration) RB will no longer be able to sit out weeks and assume his job is safe. The Colts will likely ride the hot hand (in this case feet) like they did when Rhodes was starting in front of Addai. And the one thing Rookies do well is display their hunger on the field.
Donald Brown will remain healthy as long as he splits time with Addai. This will keep him ready to take over toward the middle and late portions of the season and there may be no looking back for Brown if Addai sits 2-4 Weeks. So is Addai still worth drafting in the Late 3rd Round? Of course, but unless you are willing and ready to spend an extra reach pick on Donald Brown, look elsewhere to players that don’t have such a clear Handcuff sitting on the bench. If a player like Kevin Smith is still available, you should not even consider Addai. While Smith might not have the huge weeks Addai has, Smith won’t lose more and more carries as the season progresses.
Jason Campbell — The Washington QB is a sad addition to this list. He has a good WR Squad, a great (although aging) RB, a satisfactory line and one of the better Offensive Systems for a QB. So why is he on this list? Oh lets see… the Redskins wanted Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton (if you believe the reports) and Mark Sanchez all more than him. Campbell handled it all like a pro and kept his mouth from running in front of the media, but you’ve got to believe he is furious. Likewise, the Redskins Coaching Staff and Organization obviously have lost a lot of faith in him. Once a team starts losing faith, relationships start to dwindle and upset players can become bench players.
Campbell is going to start the season and has a significant chance to finish the season. But a poor start (record wise) or a incompetent start (production wise) will lead to an early benching. It doesn’t help that the Redskins drafted the perfect QB for their system in Colt Brennan last year. He looked great in the Pre-Season last year and while there is no promise of him being the savior for the team, he’ll get his chance this Off-Season to move up as the main backup to Campbell. Between Brennan being humbled by his draft position and Campbell being a little ticked about the Trading Block home he had for a few weeks, Brennan might end up being the more teachable of the two (despite his known attitude issues). If Shaun Hill, Marc Bulger or Kerry Collins is still available, they surely have more faith being placed in them at this point. Roll with a guy who wasn’t on his team’s trading block the entire two weeks leading up to the NFL Draft.