Screwing up your first-round pick is just about the easiest way to put your fantasy football team behind the eight-ball.
And there’s a handful of ways it can be done. Most of the time, though, fantasy managers create the disadvantage for themselves by reaching on a player at a position of importance or by drafting the top player at a far less impactful position.
We’ve included 10 specific NFL players who are worthy of avoiding with your first-round pick to help fantasy football managers with those decisions.
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Kamara long has been viewed as one of the top running backs — he’s second in scoring behind only Christian McCaffrey since 2018, per Sportradar — but his uncertain future when it comes to potential punishment under the NFL’s personal conduct policy casts a cloud over his current standing. Sure, there’s a chance any a potential suspension won’t come until 2023, but the last thing a fantasy manager wants is their first-rounder to be sidelined for the start of the season. He’s ranked Yahoo’s RB14 entering the season, likely because of those question marks.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins
Hill became one of the most electrifying players in fantasy football in recent years, best depicted as he’s the second-highest scoring receiver behind only Davante Adams since Patrick Mahomes started in 2018. He was the sixth-highest scoring wideout in 2021. But Hill being traded to the Miami Dolphins could very well hinder his fantasy production. Tua Tagovailoa, no matter what Hill praises, doesn’t offer the same upside as Mahomes. Hill is ranked 25th overall in Yahoo’s preseason rankings.
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos
Williams put together a midseason stretch during his rookie campaign where he was one of the most efficient running backs in all of football. And while hopes are high for Williams entering his sophomore season, the addition of Russell Wilson both helps and hinders his stock. Williams offers high upside as an RB2 but presents the most value after the conclusion of the first round. He’s ranked as Yahoo’s RB13 entering the season.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
The allure of the superstar Mahomes probably has cause some fantasy managers to previously jump on him in the first round. That should not be the case this time around. Mahomes, who was the sixth-highest scoring player in all of fantasy football last season, has watched one of his top targets in Hill get traded. And the crucial theme of finding value, especially in the first round, doesn’t coincide with quarterbacks. Mahomes is ranked 55th overall in Yahoo’s preseason rankings.
James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals
At first glance, fantasy managers will notice how Conner finished as the fifth-highest scoring running back in the league last season. He was exceptional for the Cardinals and now takes over as the lead back with Chase Edmonds in Miami. But the majority of Conner’s fantasy points came when he found the end zone with 15 rushing touchdowns, tied for second at the position behind only Jonathan Taylor. Conner, though, doesn’t offer the same upside as other high-end running backs in the first round. He sits at RB17 in Yahoo’s rankings.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fournette put together an impressive fantasy season in 2021. He ranked fourth among running backs in average scoring and recorded the sixth-most points of any player at the position. Fournette scored 10 touchdown while even getting involved in the Tom Brady-led passing game. With that said, though, reports out of Tampa Bay indicating the former first-rounder didn’t enter camp in playing shape can’t make fantasy managers too confident. And then there’s another massive factor with Brady’s arsenal of weapons — Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, Julio Jones — taking away ground opportunities for Fournette. He’s ranked 18th overall on Yahoo.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
The name recognition certainly has some sway when fantasy football managers are staring at the seconds ticking down when they’re on the clock. And while Jacobs offers that given his previous successes — RB9 in total scoring the last three seasons, RB12 in total scoring in 2021 — it’s crucial owners don’t reach for him in the opening round. Not only will there be better running backs on the board, depicted as he’s Yahoo’s 49th-ranked player, but head coach Josh McDaniels and the Raiders seemingly will let Derek Carr sling it more after the addition of Davante Adams.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Barkley continues to show potential when it comes to being a fantasy star, but key factors have hindered his overall production. Most notably, Barkley has played just 15 games during the last two seasons and has not played more than 13 games in any of the last three seasons. It’s somewhat similar to Christian McCaffrey. Barkley is RB7 when it comes to average scoring since entering the NFL in 2018, but slips to RB12 in total scoring during that period. The situation around Barkley, too, makes him a bit of a risk in the first round. He’s ranked 20th overall in Yahoo’s rankings.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
To drive the point home as it comes to finding value, Mahomes isn’t the only quarterback you should avoid in the first round. Allen, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Tom Brady, etc. all fit that bill. Allen was one of two players to eclipse 400 points last season — Cooper Kupp compiled 439.5 in full-point leagues, per Sportradar — and yet fantasy football’s QB1 still ranks as Yahoo’s 32nd overall player. Quarterbacks finished second, third, fourth and sixth in total scoring last season proving how they’ll get their points. Look elsewhere rather than the top signal-callers.
Rather than break down why you shouldn’t draft Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts or George Kittle, it’s important for fantasy owners to disregard the tight end position in the first round. Yahoo ranks 18 players higher than TE1 (Kelce). Some owners will opt to grab one of those top tight ends in the second round rather than a receiver, and that’s respectable, but other positions offer more value.