4 NFL Stars You Should Avoid in Your Fantasy Football Draft
First of all, before we even get to the stars that you shouldn’t even think about drafting, let’s get one fact straight: You have to take a QB with your first pick unless the top five QBs are off the board.
If you have a late-round pick in the first round and Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees are taken and for some reason Maurice Jones-Drew or another stud running back is still there, take Matthew Stafford or settle for Cam Newton and snag a running back on the turn. If Newton is gone by the time you're picking, then you'll probably want to go in another direction, but if possible, you want to avoid entering this fantasy football season with an average quarterback.
This is a passing league and you’ll have a real chance of making the playoffs if you can go into every week-to-week matchup with an advantage or at least a tie at the QB slot.
You might think that it’s worth it to draft Arian Foster over Aaron Rodgers, but that will be a mistake 9 times out of 10. Running backs are not reliable for two reasons: They are more injury-prone than any one else on the field and sometimes they just regress.
The prime examples for last season are Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson who were two of the top five running backs. Charles missed 14 games after tearing the ACL in his left knee and Johnson was mediocre at best, finishing the season with only four touchdowns.
Now let’s take a look at four stars that you should pass on this season.
1. Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals)
It is a shame that one of the most physically gifted wide receivers to ever play the game of football is on such a bad team. It seems like a century ago that the Arizona Cardinals were in the Super Bowl, but now they are probably the worst team in the NFL.
Instead of having a torrid Kurt Warner at starting quarterback, Fitzgerald will have to catch passes from either John Skelton or Kevin Kolb. Furthermore, Anquan Boldin is no longer on the opposite side of the field and Beanie Wells is no Edgerrin James, so teams will likely double cover Fitzgerald on every passing play.
Because of his ability to pluck the ball out of the air whenever it is somewhere near him, he will be able to haul in touchdowns and have a few games where he racks up over 100 yards receiving this season. However, his point total will be unreliable due to poor quarterback play, so he isn’t worth an early round draft pick. Let someone else make the mistake of taking Fitzgerald in the second round.
2. Andre Johnson (Houston Texans)
There are certain players in the NFL who unfortunately just keeping get hurt. Andre Johnson is one of them. While he has certainly been one of the most talented receivers in the NFL in the past few years, he has only had two seasons that were phenomenal in terms of fantasy production. In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, he had eight and nine touchdowns respectively, and he had over 1,500 yards receiving in both seasons. Since then, he has played 20 games total.
While Johnson does have a reliable quarterback in Matt Schaub to get him the ball, the Texans are one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL. With Arian Foster and Ben Tate in the backfield, Houston was tied for first in the league in rushing attempts with Tim Tebow’s Denver Broncos.
In 2009, when Johnson had his best statistical season, Steve Slaton was the top rusher for the Texans, but now with less targets due to more carries for Foster and Tate and an effective goal line rushing attack, Johnson will catch fewer passes and score less touchdowns.
He is 31 years old and prone to injury, so don’t spend a second-round pick on him. There will be other wide receivers for you to pick up in the fourth round that will put up similar numbers.
3. Adrian Peterson (Minnnesota Vikings)
Last season, Adrian Peterson tore his ACL and his MCL. The fact that the Vikings are planning for him to return in Week 1 is ridiculous. He should be out for half of the season if not longer. But by coming back to the NFL so much sooner than anticipated, he is showing once again that he is a unique physical specimen.
Despite the fact that Peterson is supposed to start the season though, it is too risky to draft him in the second round. Toby Gerhart was solid last year for Minnesota, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and the Vikings could easily plug him in at RB1 if Peterson is still injured or isn’t performing up to expectations.
Obviously because Peterson has been the top running back in the NFL for the past few seasons, it might seem like the payoff of taking him with a second-round pick would be worth it, but if Michael Turner or Jamaal Charles are on the board and you’re looking for a running back, then you should give them some real consideration. Otherwise, just grab a non-RB, and chances are you’ll be better off than if you took Peterson.
4. Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles)
Last year, Matthew Berry had Michael Vick as his #1 preseason fantasy pick. Clearly, he was wrong.
Furthermore, this theme might seem to be getting unoriginal, but being injury-prone should be a serious deterrent for fantasy users. Vick is a tremendous athlete and is tough to tackle when he’s on the run, but his body is not built like a running back’s.
He cannot afford to take as many big hits as he does, and that became clear both last season when he missed three games and this preseason, as he took a monster hit in the second preseason game and was unable to continue playing.
Moreover, while Vick was phenomenal during the 2010 season, it is safer to consider that performance to be fool’s gold than the real deal. He seriously regressed last year despite the emergence of running back LeSean McCoy, as he went from throwing just six interceptions in 2010 to 14 in 13 games last year.
If all of the top five quarterbacks are gone by the time you get your first pick for some reason, don’t gamble on Vick. It’s better to take Philip Rivers or Matt Ryan in a later round than to settle for the Eagles QB.