Here's some simple draft advice: Don't draft players you don't buy into.
Simple philosophy, right? Fantasy Football is about building and maintaining a team with players you believe in. Why louse it up with players you just don't think are going to be great?
Every year I release a list of players who I'm avoiding at their current Average Draft Position. JuJu Smith-Schuster, which I admittedly wrote "I want to be wrong on this one" was pretty ugly. But other than that, I avoided a bunch of headaches and landmines.— the call I made on
This year, we're going for the perfect sweep of players I don't want to draft — and we're swinging for the fences. Two former top-five running backs, several former elite-tier quarterbacks and a heap of tight ends are on the avoid list.
Losing Antonio Brown is going to sting Big Ben. Over the past six seasons, roughly 35% of Roethlisberger's yards and nearly 40% of his touchdowns were gained by Brown. He finished as a top-10 quarterback in four of those seasons and might have had more if not for injuries. Before Brown exploded on the scene in 2013, Roethlisberger had two seasons with over 4,000 yards and one with more than 26 touchdowns. He finished as a top-10 quarterback three times over nine years. And it wasn't like he had junk at receiver -- he was throwing to Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Emmanuel Sanders and plenty of others. So unless JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief and James Washington all pick up the slack left behind, expect Roethlisberger to disappoint. Don't draft him expecting another 5,000-yard season ... or even a 4,500-yard season.
Mid-August ADP: Round 7
I'd take him: Round 12-plus
You know the deal already: Gurley has Rams brought back reserve runner Malcolm Brown and traded up in the draft for Darrell Henderson, two crystal-clear signs that they intend to keep Gurley's snaps and touches down. That means it's unlikely he'll come close to averaging 22.5 touches per game, which was his 2018 average.that requires daily treatment and management. While it doesn't mean he'll definitely be slower, it does mean there's significant risk of him missing time due to anything from pain tolerance to major injury. We also know the
Gurley has 28 career games with 19 or fewer touches, recording 10-plus non-PPR points 13 times (46% success rate) and 15-plus PPR points 12 times (43% success rate). Predictably, the numbers are worse if we lower the bar to 17 or fewer touches. So if he's not getting a lot of work, history says he'll be ineffective more often than not. Further hurting his cause is an offensive line with two new starters on the interior and a 37-year-old left tackle who contemplated retirement. In his favor is, but it won't matter if his O-line regresses — or if he's hurt. Gurley is worth taking, just not as his ADP.
Mid-August ADP: top-15 pick
I'd take him: Early Round 3
Obvious, right? If he's holding out and not playing football, he's going to get you zero Fantasy points. If his holdout lingers into the season, there's a chance he doesn't step foot into the Chargers facility until after Week 10, or not at all. These possibilities create enormous Fantasy risk in Gordon.
But let's paint a rosier picture. Let's say Gordon and the Chargers mend fences and he returns a week before their Week 1 game against the Colts. Will the coaches immediately give him his usual allotment of touches (18.8 per game last year)? What kind of shape will he be in? His trainer says he's ready, but how do we know if a running back who has missed a handful of games in three of four seasons will be primed to handle starter's reps without risk of another injury? Rare is the training camp holdout who doesn't suffer some kind of problem upon his return.
In this example, Gordon would be a welcomed top-15 pick since his risk would be minimized by the potential reward of a top-five kind of season. That's better than what his sliding ADP suggests. But this scenario is only going to happen if the Chargers budge on their contract offer (unlikely) or if Gordon doesn't want to miss any game checks (a possibility). Then again, Gordon sympathized with Le'Veon Bell's holdout last year and even reacted to a tweet from Bell regarding another possible holdout, Ezekiel Elliott's.
There are draft strategies for taking Gordon in late Round 3 and Austin Ekeler in early Round 6. There are draft strategies for taking Gordon at any point in the draft and finding Justin Jackson in Round 10-plus. And then there's the strategy where you don't open yourself up to any risk whatsoever by drafting a disgruntled holdout with a top-40 pick. Until there's more clarity with Gordon's situation, I'm letting other people take him.
Mid-August ADP: Round 3
I'd take him: Early Round 5
I suppose this one's close, because I would draft Jones if he slipped in drafts. But I'm not taking him at his ADP, nor would I reach for him. He's a good downhill runner with just enough physicality to go with underrated receiving skills. But the Packers aren't exactly a breeding ground for elite Fantasy running backs so long as Aaron Rodgers is under center. In Rodgers' 11 years as the Packers starter, only four running backs had 200-plus carries, only five have totaled over 1,000 yards and only four have scored seven or more times. Jones managed to score nine times last season, but only twice in short-yardage situations.
The other knock on Jones is his injury history. He already missed time this summer with a hamstring strain, but before that he's been sidelined in the pros and college by hamstring and knee problems (2018 and 2017), torn ligaments in his ankle (2015) and shoulder and rib issues (2013). He's a warrior for continuing to play well despite the injuries, but the new coaching staff in Green Bay will be sure to give him some support by utilizing Jamaal Williams in the offense. And when push comes to shove, the Packers will lean on Rodgers, not Jones, to make things happen.
Finally, Lions have a big D-line and will come off a bye week). If you think that's bad, wait until you see who they play in Weeks 15 and 16., and it starts immediately with games at Chicago, vs. Minnesota, vs. Denver, vs. Philadelphia, at Dallas and even vs. Detroit (the
All Jones has to do to return excellent value at his draft average is stay healthy and get a ton of touches against a murderer's row of run defenses. Forgive me for not being optimistic.
Mid-August ADP: Round 3
I'd take him: Round 4/Round 5 border
Guice has done some drills at practice and looked fine according to reports and social media videos, but the Redskins are being very cautious with him. That will continue into the regular season so long as they have Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson on staff. Thompson has a lock on the passing-downs role and Peterson is capable of handling early down work alongside Guice. The Redskins' O-line is shaping up to be among the worst in the league, their passing game is equally uninspiring and they have . There simply isn't much to be excited about this season.
Mid-August ADP: Round 8
I'd take him: late Round 10
How could anyone seriously consider Freeman after watching his two preseason games? Not only was he as spry as a stone, he's part of a three-headed rotation at running back that doesn't give any one back a chance to develop rhythm during a game. And if that rotation changes, do you really think it'll be the strong-but-slow-footed Freeman getting work over Phillip Lindsay? doesn't help the cause. I don't mind settling for Lindsay on Draft Day in Round 6, but I'm done chasing whatever minimal upside remains with Freeman.
Mid-August ADP: Round 10
I'd take him: Round 14
Hunt guarantees your Fantasy team nine weeks of zero Fantasy points (eight games plus the Browns' Week 7 bye) and nothing else. Is he a cinch to play when he's reinstated? Probably. Is he going to suddenly minimize Nick Chubb and become a Fantasy workhorse like he was in Kansas City? The only way that happens is if Chubb misses playing time or is woefully ineffective. Perhaps he sees more touches in blowouts, but otherwise the Browns owe him nothing and can use him for as little as 10 touches per game. That's not worth waiting two-and-a-half months for. Anyone who drafts Hunt at his current ADP is choosing him based on the past, not on the present. It's a bad way to play Fantasy Football.
Mid-August ADP: Round 11
I'd take him: Round 13
You already know that Landry's first year in Cleveland was a downer and the addition of Odell Beckham means fewer targets are headed his way. But what you might not know is that he had a 60% catch rate with five drops on just his slot targets in 2018, per Pro Football Focus. That's out of character for Landry (his 2017 slot reception rate was 78%). Maybe it rebounds, maybe it doesn't, but after averaging 6.9 targets per game under Freddie Kitchens' playcalling last year, it's hard to be excited about any potential. He had five or fewer catches in six of his final seven games and failed to hit 10 PPR points in four of them.
Mid-August ADP: Round 6
I'd take him: late Round 7 in PPR, Round 8 in non-PPR
It's hard to find fault with anything Ebron did in his career-best season. But it's easy to see the Colts wanted more options in their passing game based on the additions of Devin Funchess (a big mismatch type of receiver) and Parris Campbell (a small speedster). Indy also will get Jack Doyle back, and when he played last year, Ebron's snaps shriveled.
These changes are sure to keep Ebron from continuing his torrid red-zone production. Of his 14 touchdowns (playoffs included), 11 came from 20 yards or closer. The Colts are no longer reliant on Ebron to handle as many scoring opportunities. And without touchdowns, Ebron is in trouble — he had only three games with 70-plus yards. And, oh yeah, his quarterback situation is muddled for who-knows-how-long.
Mid-August ADP: Round 6
I'd take him: Round 10
Njoku might be the most overrated tight end in Fantasy Football. Through two seasons (32 games), he's achieved 70-plus yards twice, has been at six Fantasy points or less in 18 games (that's in PPR, it's even worse in non-PPR), has scored eight touchdowns and has 13 drops. This summer his head coach has already railed on him publicly for not being consistent enough. Njoku has the raw talent to be amazing, but there's something stopping him from meeting that potential. Adding Odell Beckham into the passing game in Cleveland won't help his case for more targets (he's averaged 4.6 per game).
Mid-August ADP: early Round 9
I'd take him: Round 13
Haven't you heard? Antonio Brown's departure leaves 168 targets up for grabs in Pittsburgh. Where will they go? Don't bet the farm on McDonald benefitting. The Steelers have always used a tight end in their offense but rarely has one been good enough to qualify as a reliable Fantasy starter. McDonald is entering his seventh season. He's played 73 games. He's totaled 70 yards or more four times. He's caught five-plus passes four times. He's scored 12 times. He's missed 23 games. I know he was the 12th-ranked Fantasy tight end last year, but he still averaged 4.9 non-PPR points and 8.3 PPR points per game. Aim higher.
Mid-August ADP: Round 9
I'd take him: Round 12
So what Fantasy Football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which RB2 can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get 2019 Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Andrew Luck's huge season, and find out.