Every fantasy football owner feels like a superstar general manager on draft day, and if there’s one thing GMs love, it’s big-name players.
We’re here to remind you that a few of them — especially the established older ones — might not actually be very good draft choices. Of course, predicting fantasy success or failure is an inexact science. For example, last year I wrote that Cam Newton, Brandon Marshall and Doug Martin should be on this list.
Sixty-five touchdowns, three All-Pro teams, three Pro Bowl selections, an Offensive Player of the Year award and an MVP later, it’s safe to say I was wrong on a few of my picks.
Alas, we try again. Here are 10 veterans whose fantasy stardom is fading.
Jimmy Graham, Tight End, Seattle Seahawks
In 11 games before being injured, Graham was bad and the Seahawks clearly had no clue how to use him. Throw in a torn patellar tendon in Week 12 and the fact that he turns 30 in November, and we’ll pass on Graham.
DeMarco Murray, Running Back, Tennessee Titans
Murray ran behind a Philadelphia Eagles offensive line that ranked 12th in the NFL last season, per Pro Football Focus, and that was the oldest. He scored just the 18th-most points among running backs. Now he moves to the fourth-worst line, which also is the youngest in the league. No thanks.
Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals
We put Fitz on this list last season and, for the first half of the year, he made us look silly for doing so. But of his nine touchdowns in 2015, five came in Weeks 2 and 3, and seven came in the first half. Don’t be mislead by his standing as the 10th-highest scoring WR in standard leagues: Over his final eight games, Fitz scored just two touchdowns and surpassed 66 yards just twice. You’ll need much more production come playoff time.
Jay Cutler, Quarterback, Chicago Bears
OK, so Cutler never was a “star,” but in the past two seasons, the Bears got rid of three of his best receiving options: Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett. Cutler is injury prone, apathetic and another year older. He shouldn’t even be your backup.
Jeremy Hill, Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals
Hill was just bad last season. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry, never hit 100 rushing yards in any game and only had goal line carries to save him: He ranked third with 13 carries inside the 3-yard line, and scored 11 TDs as a result. We’re not convinced the workload will be there this time.
Frank Gore, Running Back, Indianapolis Colts
Look, the Colts had a lot of problems last season, and playing most of the year without star QB Andrew Luck certainly didn’t help. Gore still was decently productive last season with 967 rushing yards and seven total TDs despite all that, but at 33, he could fall off a cliff any day. The Colts operate a passing offense, so an aging running back doesn’t inspire confidence.
C.J. Anderson, Running Back, Denver Broncos
The Broncos really wanted Anderson back this season, matching an offer sheet he signed with the Miami Dolphins. But Denver doesn’t have a great offensive line or a quarterback who can keep the offense on the field after losing Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, and capable backups such as Ronnie Hillman are ready to steal carries. There are just too many questions.
Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Titans
Johnson probably is a Hall of Famer, but he also isn’t even a lock to make it out of training camp after last season’s abysmal performance with the Colts.
Antonio Gates, Tight End, San Diego Chargers
Gates is another guy who probably will make the Hall someday, though we do expect him to make the team. The Chargers don’t really have any other options, but you should at the tight end position, which has improved but still isn’t very deep. Gates’ 5.5 points per game in standard leagues actually were 11th best at his position, but we believe his numbers will continue to drop.
Anquan Boldin, Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions
Boldin steps into big shoes after Calvin Johnson retired but is coming off one of the worst seasons of his professional career: 69 catches, 789 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also 35. Maybe he’ll bounce back catching passes from Matthew Stafford, or maybe Father Time will catch up.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports Images