Fantasy football is not all about picking the winners; it’s also about not picking the losers. Around this time of year, you read about tons of different articles telling you whom exactly to draft at which spot, or which quarterback is better than the other, but what really matters in your draft… is who not to take, who to avoid when there is fifteen seconds left on the clock; do you pull the trigger on a known name or go with a player on your “sleeper” list? Here is a list of the top 10 players to avoid while drafting this season in no particular order:
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams:
1,548… what is the significance of this number? It is the number of carries Steven Jackson has had in his career. That number combined with Jackson having back surgery is the scariest part about drafting Jackson this season. With the rookie Sam Bradford at quarterback this year, Jackson will be without a doubt the focal point in the offense by far; which in most fantasy football situations is a dream come true, but I think that is the sole reason that Jackson will finally breakdown this year. His ADP is to high for me however if he slips in your draft then the value is still there.
Jackson has rushed for at least 1000 yards every season since his rookie year, and I think because of the current roster and the type of situation he has been literally “thrown” into, Steven Jackson is a running back to avoid at the beginning of your draft.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals:
With an overall ADP of 14th, I think its simple, Larry Fitzgerald is being taken too early in fantasy football drafts. With the absence of legendary quarterback Kurt Warner and wide out Anquan Boldin, it is now all up to youngster Matt Leinart to pick up where the Cardinals left off two seasons ago. The real reason I cannot, with a good conscious, pick Fitzgerald in any of my drafts this year is because there probably won’t be a single play this year where he is not at least double covered. Leinart is going to need a crutch this year to succeed, and every team who plays Arizona is going to solely focus on Larry every single down. Fitzgerald has not seen this type of focus without Anquan Boldin since his days at the University of Pittsburgh. When looking for your number one receiver this year, I would stay clear of Larry Fitzgerald for one reason… I simply do not trust Matt Leinart [you will see why later].
Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys:
Too many eggs in one basket… this is the reason why I simply would not draft Miles Austin in fantasy football this season. Surrounded by Roy Williams, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, as well as the multiple names running the ball for the Cowboys, like Felix Jones and Marion Barber. There is absolutely nothing worse than sitting on your couch every Sunday and watching someone else catch your fantasy player’s touchdown and stealing tons of yards from your stud wide receiver. A year ago today, nobody has any idea who Miles Austin was, and now he is being taken 15th overall in fantasy leagues [one behind Larry Fitzgerald], and I honestly believe at the end of the season his numbers will not match his draft status. There is a difference between coming out of nowhere and having a great season than starting the season with a bulls eye on your back, opposing DB's now have tape. Will the Dallas Cowboys play well this year, most likely, but will Miles Austin catch ten touchdowns? I am not too sure about that, and that is why I recommend not taking him early in your fantasy football draft, again there is value if he slips.
Ryan Matthews, RB, San Diego Chargers:
I am seriously sorry for this, but a rookie running back going in the ADP top 20 deserves a spot on the draft avoid list, no questions asked. I may feel different about this if Darren Sproles goes down to injury [or Matthews] early in the season. It is extremely difficult for me to pick Matthews above such names as Rashard Mendenhall, DeAnglo Williams and even LeSean McCoy when left with a tough decision on draft day. With other rookie running backs out there like Jahvid Best and C.J. Spiller, I am not even positive that Matthews is the best of his class, let alone worthy of a top 20 spot in your fantasy football league. In the weeks previous to my initial fantasy football draft day, I really tried to look at Ryan Matthews as a potential break out player this year, but it is very difficult to look at him and think upside when he is being taken so early in drafts. For where Matthews is being taken in the majority of leagues, I would seriously put him at the top of your list of players to avoid on draft day.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs:
When a franchise adds a former single season rushing champion to the roster [Thomas Jones] and a dynamic player in the draft named Dexter McCluster; it is seriously time to consider avoiding the running back that was there to begin with, even if he rushed for over 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns the previous season. Not liking Jamaal Charles this season has absolutely nothing to do with Jamaal Charles, it has to do with what is around him. Because of the addition of Dexter McCluster, Charles will also lose his duties as a punt/kick returner, which he did last year, and could deflate his potential, especially in leagues that count return yardage. My problem with drafting Charles in the top 25, which is where he is going in most leagues, is the fact he will not touch the ball enough for me this season. In any other situation where I knew Jamaal Charles would get his 200-250 carries this season, I would draft him in a heartbeat, but it is his lack of carries and the addition of a former rushing champion that makes me want to avoid him this year in your fantasy football draft.
Matt Leinart, QB, Arizona Cardinals:
I told you we would get back to the Arizona Cardinals. There is no player this season that I dislike from a fantasy football standpoint more than Matt Leinart. I do not care whether it is the 10th round or your last pick overall, I would not touch Leinart with a 50-foot pole. Arizona is due to have a rebuilding, frustrating, lack of offense type season, and for that reason I want absolutely nothing to do with their offense. A lot of people I talk to are very high on Chris “Beanie” Wells this season, but I still am questioning the role of Tim “All Along The” Hightower. A word of advice, if you are not high on a team for the upcoming season, don’t draft their quarterback. Since 2006, Leinart has thrown three touchdowns compared to eight interceptions and has a career quarterback rating of around 70. Bottom line here, I just don’t trust Leinart, there is not enough upside here to make the pick worthwhile and if I were you I would stay clear of Leinart when it comes to draft day [even if he can throw a ball into a trash can].
TJ Houshmandzadeh, WR, Seattle Seahawks:
If it was not for his famous fantasy football name, most people may think T.J. Whose Your Mamma had retired from the league when he made the move to go to Seattle. With that being said, T.J. was only 89 yards off what would have been his third 1,000 yard receiving season last year, but my problem with him was the fact he only caught three touchdowns, which was his low since 2002. Like Arizona, I am not too high on Seattle this year as a team, so it would be hard for me to turn around and think T.J. was going to have a fantasy stud-like season, especially with the addition of Golden Tate at wide receiver and the sleeper tight end of the year John Carlson on the roster. Houshmandzadeh will see each and every teams best cornerback week in and week out, which does not bode well for a 1,000-yard season, especially if the antics seen below keep up with Seattle’s lack of production from the offensive line and the ageing Matt Hasselbeck behind center. For your own good, please stay away from T.J. on draft day.
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers:
Whether it is Matt Moore or Jimmy Clausen [or both] this season, we know one thing for sure, the Carolina Panthers are a run-first team. With the two-headed monster of DeAnglo Williams and Jonathan Stewart at their disposal. Steve Smith may be the odd man out when it comes to offensive production this season. After breaking his arm during a flag football game in June, Smith is attempting to come back from surgery where they had to put a plate in his shoulder. This is the second time Smith has broken his arm, which for a fantasy football owner is the last thing we want to hear when drafting a wide receiver. Last season was the first time since 2004 that Steve Smith did not surpass the 1,000 yard mark and I think that trend will continue this season as well. With the additions of Brandon LaFell, Wallace Wright and Armanti Edwards to the receiving core, as well as the former Trojan Dwayne Jarrett, Carolina seems to be sending Steve Smith [and maybe even fantasy owners] a signal, the one-man show may not cut it anymore. When drafting wide receivers this year, stay away from the flag football phenom Steve Smith.
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams:
We are going to simply call this St. Louis Rams syndrome… In my opinion, taking Sam Bradford in your fantasy football draft this year, is the equivalent to thinking the Rams will win the NFC West and make it all the way to the NFC Championship Game; it is just not going to happen. At this point in his head coaching stint, Steve Spagnuolo has to be thinking, “what did I really get myself into here?” After averaging under 11 points per game last season, what really could be in store for the St. Louis Rams in 2010? With an injury prone rookie quarterback, an over worked, tired of losing running back and a defensive coordinator as their head coach, the Rams could be in for one heck of a season. If you want to have success this upcoming season in your fantasy football league, stay clear of Sam Bradford.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans:
Being taken above wide receivers such as Roy Williams, Jacoby Jones and Joshua Cribbs, I think Kenny Britt is going to make fantasy football owners squirm in their chairs all season long. There are some very positive points when looking at the Tennessee Titans roster this season, the running game will be on point, the defense will be stout and their kicker may have the biggest leg in the league; but when it comes to their passing game, I am just not too sure of much. With a receiving core mixed with veterans like Nate Washington and Justin Gage, I just do not feel comfortable having a young wide out on my fantasy team, especially with all the questions surrounding Vince Young this season. Down the line Kenny Britt might become the receiver I know the Rutgers alum knows he can be, but for this upcoming season I see Britt going through the famous sophomore slump and not repeating his great rookie season.