There are some players Fantasy managers just shouldn't feel too good about.
You know the types -- ones with red flags. Concerns. Warts. Risks. Bad vibes. Players who you're not as confident in as the general public.
You might draft them if they fall past their Average Draft Position, but that would be the only way you'll take them.
It's important to know who you aren't comfortable with before you draft. The last thing you want to do is realize you don't like a player after you draft them. Take the time and go through a rankings list and cross-out the names of players you just aren't digging.
That's what I've done with the eleven players below. These are the players I don't wanna draft this year unless they somehow get to a point where I feel like they're a value.
They're listed in order of their FantasyPros full-PPR ADP as of July 28, 2022.*
Christian McCaffrey (RB2, 2.6)
If you were in the market for a used car and you were offered one that had broken down on the side of the road five different times over the past two years, you wouldn't even think twice about buying it. So why buy McCaffrey? Because he plays a ton of snaps? Expect that to get trimmed -- even his coaches have learned not to lean AS much on him anymore. He might even lose some goal-line touches to D'Onta Foreman. Because he posts a ton of Fantasy points? He did, but even if we cherry-pick from the (only) five games he finished in 2021, he averaged 22.6 PPR points. That's worth a Round 1 pick but not a top-3 pick. Because he's still in a great situation? Uh, maybe not. Ben McAdoo somehow luckboxed his way into calling plays for the Panthers; the last time we saw him he fizzled fast with the Giants. Baker Mayfield could be a serviceable solution at quarterback but he isn't guaranteed to over-target McCaffrey, plus Carolina's schedule is projected to be tough early and tough in the Fantasy playoffs. Smart Fantasy drafters will make a list of players they'll take before McCaffrey -- those who love to take chances might not have any names on that list, but those who understand the importance of nailing a top-3 pick should come up with enough names to push McCaffrey to at least fourth or fifth overall.
I'd take him: Fifth overall.
I'd rather have: Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, Najee Harris
Javonte Williams (RB11, 19.4)
Everything's changed in Denver except the running back room. Melvin Gordon still figures to be the one taking the largest portion of work away from Williams each week, although the new coaching staff in Denver probably won't break out the abacus to make sure it's an even-Steven split like the last regime did. But there will be a split nonetheless, which splits the hearts of Fantasy managers who just want to see Williams reach his dominant potential. That's not the only roadblock -- Russell Wilson's arrival should push the Broncos' pass rate higher than the 56% they had in 2021. And, Wilson is a downfield passer, not a dinker-dunker, which hurts all of Denver's running backs' targets. Rushers who get taken in Round 2 don't share the ball much and are usually strong contributors in the pass game. Williams isn't expected to be either of those things, which is why he's much better off as a mid-third-rounder.
I'd take him: 30th overall (Round 3)
I'd rather have: Leonard Fournette, Aaron Jones, Saquon Barkley, David Montgomery
Cam Akers (RB17, 31.4)
Some discouraging stats for you on Akers: He had seven runs of 12-plus yards over 145 carries (a 4.8% explosion rate), an 18.6% avoided tackle rate, 27 runs of zero or negative yards (18.6% of all carries), and one touchdown on six goal-to-go carries from inside the 4 with a fumble. These aren't his numbers from his miracle return late last year -- these are his numbers from 2020, before he popped his Achilles. And you better believe his numbers from late 2021 aren't as good as these. Fantasy managers aren't wrong to be in love with whoever runs in the Rams offense, but Akers has sparsely proven to be explosive and must be fed heavy volume in order to come through for large stats. For me to take him at his ADP, I would have to be certain that he'll get fed, and/or be sure he's regained more explosiveness that I remember him having. That's a tall order considering what his legs have gone through and what the Rams offense figures to be moving forward. I'm going to let other people take the chance on him.
I'd take him: 60th overall (Round 5)
I'd rather have: Antonio Gibson, Breece Hall, Josh Jacobs
Patrick Mahomes (QB2, 35.0)
Mahomes has finished fourth or worse among quarterbacks in Fantasy points per game in two of his past three seasons. If you draft him as the second quarterback off the board then it means you're taking him close to his ceiling. Losing one of the NFL's most ridiculous playmakers in Tyreek Hill is a big problem -- Hill accounted for 23.6% of Mahomes' targets, 24.8% of his receptions, 24.9% of his yards and 24.3% of his touchdowns. Asking as many as three new receivers -- JuJu Smith Schuster, rookie Skyy Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling -- to replace those numbers isn't a tall order, but getting on the same page with three different guys is a lot different than getting into a groove with one. And while Moore and MVS have fleet feet, they're just not as fast as Hill. No one should mind drafting Mahomes, but no one should want to take him as the second (or, worse, first) quarterback off the board. A Round 3 pick feels too soon, too.
I'd take him: 46th overall (Round 4)
I'd rather have: Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, maybe Lamar Jackson
Diontae Johnson (WR14, 41.2)
We're about to see a new Steelers offense. Leaner. Quicker. Less willing to enable an oversized, over-aged future-Hall of Fame quarterback. With Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers checked in with a 63% pass rate in 2020 and 2021, which helped Johnson see 10.1 targets per game. They're expected to run more often and spread the ball around more evenly with Mitchell Trubisky under center. That's bad for Johnson since it's been strictly volume that's catapulted the wideout into rare Fantasy territory. Among wideouts with at least 50 catches in 2021, Johnson ranked 32nd in end-zone targets (7), 38th in yards per reception (10.9), 41st in explosive play rate (12.1%) and 29th in catch rate (63.3%), which is wild considering his average depth of target was a short 8.52 yards. Last year, only four receivers in the top-20 in PPR per-game average had less than 7.5 targets per game. All four had at least eight touchdowns. That's what Johnson will have to match in order to make up for a decrease in targets, and even though he scored eight times last year, the quarterback change figures to hurt his chances for a repeat.
I'd take him: 54th overall (Round 5)
I'd rather have: Jaylen Waddle, Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf
JK Dobbins (RB23, 49.4)
How big of a role do you think Dobbins will have? As a rookie in 2020, Dobbins found regular playing time in the Ravens' final nine but still commanded only 46.3% of the running back carries and averaged 12.9 touches per game. For him to gain more, he'll have to outshine the rest of the Ravens' backs, which is tough to do when you start training camp on the PUP list and haven't played pro ball in over a year. Dobbins also figures to leave you hanging in the receiving game (24 targets earned in 2020; Ravens running backs totaled 15.1% of Jackson's targets from 2021). To take him in the Round 4/5 turn isn't that egregious, but there are other backs who should secure more work that you should want ahead of him.
I'd take him: 57th overall (late Round 5)
I'd rather have: Elijah Mitchell, A.J. Dillon
Joe Burrow (QB5, 60.8)
I feel like the class nerd telling you to stay away from the coolest kid in school, but there's so much hype around Burrow that it's artificially inflating his ADP. The appendectomy at the start of training camp really isn't as much of a concern as the 20.1 points per game he averaged between Weeks 1 and 15 last year, or the 17.5 he averaged in the NFL playoffs. His 23.1 per-game total from 2021 is totally pumped up by the 88 points he registered in two mega-games late last season, performances we can't count on him having too often. He's a great quarterback who has a lower floor than you'd like to admit. That's why he's still worth using as a Fantasy starter, but not one you take as the fifth passer off the board on the fringe of Round 5. One look at his schedule should further scare you off him.
I'd take him: 107th overall (Round 9)
I'd rather have: Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB26, 64.2)
There's a real chance the CEH train crashes in 2022. Kansas City not only signed two-down speedster Ronald Jones to a deal, but also brought back veteran third-down back Jerick McKinnon, plus they still have powerback Derrick Gore. At minimum it points to the Chiefs run game evolving into a multi-man attack; at most it spells the end of Edwards-Helaire being a regular contributor. Not that he was a super-involved part of the offense to begin with -- last year he had 15-plus touches in just four games, missing seven with injury and limited by coaching decisions in six others. It's hard to imagine him suddenly displacing his competition and becoming the main part of the Chiefs run offense. It's even harder to see him pick up a bunch of touchdowns when he has just 10 carries from three yards or closer over the past two seasons while Mahomes had 31 pass attempts, two rush attempts and 22 total touchdowns from the same distance.
I'd take him: 92nd overall (Round 8)
I'd rather have: Rashaad Penny, Kareem Hunt, Tony Pollard
Amari Cooper (WR24, 61.4)
I'm out on Cooper for however long Deshaun Watson is out. That's because Jacoby Brissett as a quarterback is bad news on two fronts. One, he's played as a starter for two NFL seasons and connected with a receiver once for more than 700 yards (TY Hilton, 2017, 57-966-4 on 109 targets). Two, Brissett under center likely points to the Browns sticking with a run-heavy approach like last year when they threw the ball 54% of the time (seventh lowest in the league). Not only would there be a volume crunch with Cooper, but he'd lack quality throws since Brissett is a glorified backup. The whole game changes if Watson were to play because Watson is a tremendous passer who would command more opportunities than Brissett. Naturally, that would help Cooper. Until we know for sure when Watson will play, Cooper isn't a safe starting Fantasy receiver.
I'd take him: 82nd overall (Round 7)
I'd rather have: Adam Thielen, Gabriel Davis, JuJu Smith-Schuster
Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR27, 65.0)
Do you think Jared Goff will continue throwing one out of every three throws in St. Brown's direction like he did from Week 13 on last year? That was the obvious secret to St. Brown's success in late 2021, because he wasn't a highlight-reel downfield target (7.04 aDot), nor an explosive receiver (11.0 yards per catch), nor a regular near the goal line (two targets inside of 10 yards). The Lions' additions via free agency (D.J. Chark) and the draft (Jameson Williams) tell you everything you need to know about how big of a role St. Brown will have moving forward. It'll be sizable -- he should be their slot receiver with five-catch potential from game to game -- but it may not be even half of the 24.5 PPR average he had in the final six weeks. Don't draft players for the points they scored last year. They don't count this year.
I'd take him: 90th overall (Round 8)
I'd rather have: Hunter Renfrow, DeVonta Smith, DeAndre Hopkins
Cordarrelle Patterson (RB31, 77.0)
What's the market for a 31-year-old converted receiver/returner who played running back and may revert back to receiver? It shouldn't be particularly robust, even though Patterson was a Fantasy staple for much of last season. The Falcons won't have to wedge him into a primary role if they don't want to -- they added depth to their running back unit and brought in some big guys to play power forward ... I mean, wide receiver. Both moves should push Patterson into a less intense role where he won't get many touches from game to game. It doesn't mean he'll disappear from the offense, but the upside he fell into in 2021 isn't anywhere as high. You should aim higher with a top-90 pick.
I'd take him: 93rd overall (Round 8)
I'd rather have: Chase Edmonds, Rashaad Penny, Tony Pollard