All-Avoid Team: Six Fantasy Football draft picks likely to disappoint

Yahoo Fanalyst Liz Loza thinks Tyreek Hill, Carson Wentz and Kenyan Drake are likely to disappoint in 2018.

One of the biggest keys to successful roster construction is balance. It’s important to insure high ceiling players with sold solid floor options. This article isn’t about that though. Instead, I’m being honest about that guys that I have zero interest in owning given their current ADP. These are guys that are, in my estimation, unlikely to return on investment. Behold, my All Avoid Team.

1. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP 84.5, QB7)

A top-six fantasy producer in 2017, Wentz was a revelation last year. Whether he was chucking it deep (64 deep ball attempts, QB9), orchestrating jaw-dropping connections (32 danger plays, QB7) or using his wheels to buy time (22.6 rushing yards per game, QB5), he was winning for fantasy managers while emerging as one of the most exciting signal callers in the game. That was, however, until he tore his ACL late in the Eagles’ win over the Rams during Week 14.

Despite reports that Wentz may not be ready for Week 1 of the 2018 season, fantasy owners remain shockingly optimistic. Being selected ahead of more proven options like Kirk Cousins or upside plays like Jimmy Garoppolo, Wentz’s draft price is all bloat and no bargain. Even Doug Pederson admitted to seeing some “hesitation” in Wentz’s game. Perhaps that kink works itself out as the 25-year-old gets reps and shakes off rust, but the same may not be said for his weapons.

There are whispers that No. 1 WR Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) won’t be available until the middle of October.  Slot-man Nelson Agholor hasn’t been on the field since early August.  Pass-catching RB Corey Clement is dealing with a lower body injury.  And potential No. 3 WR Mack Hollins has struggled throughout the summer. That leaves only 32-year-old WR Mike Wallace and TE Zach Ertz. Yikes.

Not to mention the fact that Wentz will additionally be without OC Frank Reich and QBs coach John DeFilippo, both of whom were instrumental in his development. Forgive my skepticism, but expecting high-end QB1 numbers out of the North Dakota State product given these circumstances seems impossible. I’d much rather target Matt Stafford (who has been a top-eight fantasy QB for three consecutive years) three rounds later.

2. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins (ADP 40.1, RB21)

One of 2017’s biggest breakouts, Drake had one heck of a December. Averaging 4.8 YPC (RB7), ripping off 9 breakaway runs (RB13), and logging a top-seven juke rate (30.9%), the Alabama product was the definition of “slippery.” However, a five-game sample size is not enough for me to draft him inside of my top-twenty-five RBs.

Drake – even with five extra pounds – isn’t built to be an every-down back. The team wouldn’t have added the ageless Frank Gore if they believed the 24-year-old could win near the goal line. Plus, Drake has struggled with drops throughout college and in the pros. In fact, he recorded the ninth most drops among RBs (5) last year.

While Kalen Ballage has been a hot mess since the start of August, he’s still another body (that happens to be bigger, stronger, and nearly as fast) in this backfield. Ultimately, I believe the situation in Miami is shaping up to be much more of a time share than drafters are anticipating. Personally, I’d rather reach a bit for Alex Collins (ADP 33.6, RB18) or secure Lamar Miller (ADP 40.4, RB22), both of whom have more guaranteed workloads.

3. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks (ADP 63.2, RB28)

The excitement surrounding Penny’s talent has been absolutely warranted. A big-bodied bruiser with 4.46 speed and crazy elusiveness deserves extra attention… especially when he’s drafted in the first round… and extra-especially when that team has demonstrated a fondness for a single RB backfield. But everyone needs to take a breath, because he’s not the team’s starting RB… and might not be until 2019 (or beyond).

I know the heart wants what the heart wants, but Chris Carson is the team’s “bellcow.” Back to health and drawing rave reviews throughout the offseason, Carson has looked LEGIT in preseason action. Before going down four games into 2017 (leg), the then-rookie managed 267 scrimmage yards and 1 TD on 56 total touches. Considering both the number of injuries and lack of consistency that the Seahawks have endured, it makes sense that they’d lean towards insuring their newest and shiniest toy with a guy they drafted in the seventh round. That’s simply good capital management.

It makes even more sense given Penny’s broken finger as well as his lack of experience in pass protection. Whether or not you’re buying into Pete Carroll’s unending platitudes regarding Penny’s remarkable “comfort” as a pass blocker (also, welcome to any Carroll answer ever) or believe in the talents of new o-line coach Mike Solari, an inexperienced blocker with compromised digits isn’t ideal when your stud QB has been sacked over 40 times for five consecutive campaigns.

Bottom line: Avoid this headache. If you’re looking for an RB with upside, target Kerryon Johnson (ADP 52.0, RB25). If you’d prefer value at the position, wait a round and snag Carlos Hyde (ADP 72.3, RB31).

4. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP 30.8, WR13)

Since July, Hill’s ADP has, mercifully, come down. Still, I’m not buying that he’ll score enough to warrant WR1 consideration. Targeted just four times in the red area of the field, only one of Hill’s seven touchdowns came via a reception in the red zone last year. The other six spikes were born out of the speedster’s ability to rack up yards after the catch (423 yards, WR 8).

The question remains whether or not Andy Reid can consistently scheme to get Hill into space, where he can wreak havoc and pile on the points. Based on last year’s data, it seems unlikely. Before Reid handed the clipboard over to Matt Nagy, Hill produced top-twelve fantasy numbers in only two efforts (Weeks 1 and 7). For the four weeks that Nagy was in charge, Hill fell inside the top-twelve producers at the position three separate times. No wonder Chicago hired Nagy away.

The Chiefs’ addition of Sammy Watkins further clouds the issue. While Hill has been looked to more than his new teammate throughout the preseason, Watkins appears to be catching up. Recent reports suggest that he and QB Pat Mahomes are “starting to synch” and that the Clemson product is beginning to carve out a role in KC’s offense. The last thing fantasy owners need is Hill seeing fewer opportunities, especially when he’s already in possession of such a boom or bust skill set. Even in the third round, that’s some high-priced volatility.

5. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos (ADP 44.4, WR19)

Back in July, I was more optimistic about Thomas’ value and subsequent ability to put up solid WR2 numbers. Since then, however, I’ve cooled on the vet. Already dinged up (toe, wrist) and heading into his age-30 season, a leveling off is a concern. That apprehension is exacerbated when noting the efficacy of the offensive line and a less-than-favorable strength of schedule.

Despite scoring fewer TDs in 2016 and 2017 combined than in the whole of 2014, Thomas has posted top-20 fantasy numbers in back-to-back efforts. Much of that, however, has to do with Denver’s narrow passing tree. Averaging nearly 9 targets per game for two consecutive seasons, Thomas has had volume on his side. While he’s still the team’s undisputed No. 1 WR, rookie Courtland Sutton has dazzled in camp and emerged as a legit red zone weapon. Emmanuel Sanders is going 30 picks later and could outproduce Thomas. None of this bodes well for Thomas’ season-long outlook. Give me Chris Hogan (ADP 47.7, WR21) instead.

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6. Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans (ADP 80.5, TE8)

Sacrilege, I know. Walker has been an ironman at the position since landing in Tennessee. This year, however, he’s heading into the season with a toe injury. Maybe it’s nothing. Or maybe he’s hampered by what becomes turf toe all year. At 34, I’m not willing to take the risk, especially with Jonnu Smith waiting in the wings.

A 92nd percentile SPARQ athlete, Smith was highly productive as a receiver at Florida International. After drawing numerous comparisons to Walker himself, Smith was selected by the Titans in the third round of the 2017 draft. Last summer, Walker noted Smith’s potential, admitting the then-rookie would eclipse him. That feels prophetic now.

Which players are you staying away from? Share them with Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.

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