Trying to decide who you should avoid this year in fantasy football? We’re here to help.
No one wants a bad draft pick, and knowing who to avoid can be just as crucial as knowing who you should draft. It’s easy to draft the well-known players on name value or following a great season, but that doesn’t mean someone will recreate what they did last year.
Let’s take a look at 10 players (in no particular order) who you shouldn’t jump to draft.
Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders
Is Brown getting cold feet in his first year with Oakland? The wide receiver is at war with the NFL in regards to the helmet he wants to wear. The league upheld its ruling on Brown and he later was called out by Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. But that didn’t stop Brown from filing another grievance with the league on Aug. 19. The 31-year-old did return to practice, but there’s still no timetable for his return from frostbite he suffered in a cryotherapy machine. He’s certainly attractive to take in the first round due to constantly producing year after year, but he needs to build trust with a new quarterback this season. And while the targets likely will be there, the efficiency may not be as he’s never caught a touchdown pass from someone not named Ben Roethlisberger.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
This will be the first time since 2010 that Roethlisberger doesn’t have Brown as a target, which is worth noting after the duo connected 104 times for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Steelers last season. The QB still has JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner in his arsenal, but Brown’s absence leaves a big hole in Big Ben’s fantasy production.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
There’s no denying what Brees brings to the field over the course of 16 weeks, but fantasy team owners should be cautious if they’re looking for Brees to rack up points. New Orleans has become run-heavy over its past two seasons, and Brees attempted just 489 passes in 2018 — his lowest during his time with the Saints. You also can’t forget about Taysom Hill, who’s been crucial in the red zone and easily could take over some snaps for the 40-year-old Brees.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
This marks two straight seasons Henry has made the fantasy busts list. The running back also is suffering from a calf injury sustained during training camp in July and was unable to play in Tennessee’s first two preseason games and is questionable for the third. And while he finished last season with 12 touchdowns, seven of those came in the final four weeks of the regular season. It’s likely you don’t want to wait around until the final weeks to see production from one of your running backs.
Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts
With Ebron it’s simple: When Jack Doyle is healthy he’ll get more playing time, as showcased last season. Ebron’s still a reliable red-zone option, but don’t look for him to re-create the 14 touchdowns amassed last year. Don’t forget the additions of Parris Campbell and Devin Funchess to the Colts’ passing game, either. And if T.Y. Hilton plays all 16 regular-season games, Ebron’s targets will be diminished from 2018.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
It’s hard to not notice Landry’s production drop after Freddie Kitchens took over following Cleveland’s Week 8 loss to Pittsburgh. The wide receiver was targeted 149 times in his first year with the Browns, but it’s hard to imagine him reaching that mark again with Cleveland acquiring Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants in March, who likely will see the majority of Baker Mayfield’s targets.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Watkins has yet to show any real consistency over his last three years and has faced injury in two of his three NFL seasons. He’s also behind top wideout Tyreek Hill, so it’s probable his targets won’t be as plentiful as Hill’s as well as tight end Travis Kelce’s. Watkins missed six games last year with the lingering ankle/foot injury that has given him problems since 2015. And during a season when quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 50 touchdowns, Watkins was found in the end zone just three times.
Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots
Michel appeared in 13 games (eight starts) for New England last season and racked up 209 rushing yards and had six touchdowns. The running back has a history of knee issues, including undergoing a minor procedure in the offseason. ESPN’s Mike Clay believes the “two primary reasons” for Michel being a bust is his “small role in the passing game” and his overall health. It’s easy to side with Clay, especially with Michel’s knee being a concern. The 24-year-old also was targeted just 11 times last season, and it’s hard to see that number increasing with James White on the field.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
When your own head coach is worried about you, you know it’s a problem. Freddie Kitchens revealed he wants the tight end to “get better” at both catching and blocking. Yes, he did rack up an impressive 639 yards in 2018, but it’s hard to believe he’ll see close to that number this year with Beckham and Nick Chubb also looking to earn Mayfield’s trust.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets
Bell has the potential to be a bust this season due to sitting out an entire year in Pittsburgh and needing to form a relationship with a new quarterback in Sam Darnold. He’s an electric player and has been a fine pick in recent years after topping 1,000 yards in three of his five NFL seasons. It’s also worth noting the Jets will keep Bell on the bench for the remainder of the preseason to avoid injury risk. That’s understandable, but it only extends the amount of time Bell hasn’t seen game action.
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