Fantasy Football 2015: Top 10 players to avoid


Dec 7, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr (13) catches a pass for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football 2015 is finally here as we’re in the thick of preseason football in the NFL which means only one thing. All across the country, fantasy drafts will now be starting over the next several weeks. With that being said, I thought a warning guide was in order for all my fellow fantasy footballers out there.

Across every grocery store you’ll see dozens of fantasy football magazines with stats, projections, sleepers and busts. But I’ll give you my fool-proof guide to win your fantasy football championship this season. “60% of the time it works every time” in the infamous words of Brian Fantana for all you Anchorman fans out there.

Let’s get started with my top-10 fantasy football players to absolutely avoid in 2015.

Next: 10. Tom Brady

Aug 12, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady enters federal court for a hearing over the legality of Brady

10. Tom Brady

First on the list is none other than the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, Tom Brady. While currently he is still slated to sit out the first quarter of the season due to his involvement in DeflateGate, that is not the sole reason he is on this list. Though his impending legal battle with the NFL in the courts of Manhattan certainly will affect his fantasy draft stock this season, he could be heading into somewhat of a decline in play.

He should be avoided for a variety of other reasons including the fact that he’s never really been a fantasy superstar, especially over the last several seasons. And on top of that his weapons around him, specifically at receiver, leaves much to be desired. Has he won Super Bowl championships with no name receivers before? Yes. But I think eventually the lack of talent around him is going to catch up to the oh so great Brady.

In 2015 he’s ranked as the 96th best player on the big board according to Athlon Sports: 2015 Fantasy Football guide. And across the league he’s ranked borderline top-10 on most quarterback fantasy football power rankings. I wouldn’t have really touched him until maybe the 9th or 10th round and that was before the suspension.

A definite buyer beware sign should be around Brady’s neck heading into any fantasy draft. I will end with one positive here, he could end up being a quality steal late in the draft if you miss out on the first few tiers of quarterbacks. But he’s not someone I would bank on being my rock for the long haul of the season without a solid backup.

Next: 9. Julius Thomas

Oct 13, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) enters the field before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

9. Julius Thomas

There’s a significant difference between the consensus top-3 fantasy football tight end Julius Thomas of 2014 and the #9 ranked Thomas of players to avoid in 2015. That would be going from Peyton Manning who arguably the best quarterback of our generation to 2nd year starter Blake Bortles. We’ve seen this ball and chain before, a player no one has heard of explodes with star quarterback at the helm. Going into an off-season gets a huge pay-day from said team and doesn’t provide the same punch he did with his former team.

Though I’d like to avoid stereotypes and things of that nature, it’s hard to think that Thomas will be the same player who caught over 100 balls and double digit touchdowns over the last two seasons in a Broncos uniform. With the Broncos he was the 3rd or 4th option at times in the offense. In Jacksonville he will be expected to be the No. 1 target and that comes with a lot of extra attention and expectations.

Thomas will not sniff anywhere near double digit touchdowns nor will he get close to 1,000 yards in 2015. More reasonable expectations would be somewhere in the ball-park of 500 yards, 50 receptions for 5-7 touchdowns. A borderline flex-tight end, maybe a bye week starter, but beyond that I can’t rely on a Jaguars’ offensive weapon till he can prove he can do it without Manning.

The state of the tight end position in fantasy football is to be honest barren beyond the top heavy: Gronkowski/Graham 1-2 punch. Then after that, there is well, everyone else. Quite honestly there’s a huge gap between the top of the stack and the rest of the class. If you’re sitting there at the end of round one and you have the choice between the 5th or 6th best running back or the number one tight en,d it might make for some interesting decisions in round one.

Next: 8. Torrey Smith

Jun 11, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) during minicamp at Levi

8. Torrey Smith

I’m going to be honest here, I wasn’t that big of a Smith guy when he was in Baltimore. So when San Francisco overpaid for his service,s I was the first one to say something. And then after the 49ers having perhaps the worst off-season in NFL history that just continued to build on it. So all of that alludes to the fact that I think the 49ers are going to win maybe 2-4 games this upcoming season. I think they’re going to implode and I wouldn’t touch almost any 49er with a 10-foot pole.

Specifically on Smith, just look at his stats in Baltimore and tell me that it warranted a 5-year $35 million dollar deal. He’s only had one season over a 1,000 yards in his career. A positive is that he has had a propensity for making big plays over his career. Smith finished last season ranked 2nd in the league in receiving touchdown rate. A huge difference from his 2013 campaign in which he had a career cavalcade of mistakes.

His ceiling is probably a WR3 with WR2 potential based solely on match-ups from a week-to-week basis. I would avoid him along most 49ers because usually terrible teams don’t provide many fantasy superstars for your team. Colin Kaepernick is the epitome of inconsistency and after a terrible 2014 campaign, he has a lot to prove in 2015 to prove he’s worth the massive contract he was given a couple years ago.

Heading to San Francisco, Smith is replacing Michael Crabtree in the offense and a huge problem for the 49ers last season was the lack of a home-run hitter. If anything, Smith is a deep threat in every sense of the word. With Anquan Boldin making the tough over catches over the middle, Vernon Davis hopefully having a bounce-back year and the combination of Reggie BushCarlos Hyde replacing Frank Gore‘s production, maybe just maybe, Smith will emerge. I doubt it though and that’s why he’s on my list.

Next: 7. Sammy Watkins

May 26, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) catches a pass during the organized team activities at the ADPRO Sports Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

7. Sammy Watkins

I know what you may be thinking, how is Watkins on this list? Well, on the outside looking in it may seem the additions of Percy Harvin, Charles Clay and LeSean ‘Shady’ McCoy would take the pressure off Watkins to be ‘the guy’ on offense. But popular opinion isn’t always the right opinion. Despite all the additions, he’ll still be the No. 1 option on offense for the Buffalo Bills.

Last season his 2014 receiving yardage totals ranked in the top-10 since 2000. Being the first receiver taken in the NFL draft holds all it’s own pressure, but being the first receiver taken in arguably the greatest receiver draft in the last 50 years puts even greater pressure on him. Especially when several other of those rookie receivers posted better numbers statistically last season.

A huge reason Watkins is on this list is the quarterback play is a major question mark, obviously. Some receivers we’ve seen over the years can put up numbers despite the inconsistent quarterback play like Larry Fitzgerald. But Watkins isn’t on that level yet, nor close for that matter. I think he will struggle and the sophomore slump is going to hit Watkins hard.

I think he figures to be a risky WR3 and his current situation limits his potential in every facet of his game. And with the wide receiver depth in fantasy, I’d kick tires on several other receivers who figure to be available around the same time as Watkins. Golden Tate, Julian Edelman and Brandin Cooks just to name a few.

Next: 6. Jarvis Landry

Dec 7, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) runs against the Baltimore Ravens cornerback Asa Jackson (25) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Ravens won 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

6. Jarvis Landry

Let’s go with another receiver in the AFC East, and another spectacular rookie receiver from last year’s infamous draft class in Jarvis Landry. Something I didn’t talk about was the improvement of the AFC East over the course of the off-season. The New York Jets completely revamped their roster with the additions of Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis along with Buster Skrine to give them one of the best secondary’s in the league. The Bills have one of the better defenses in the league as well.

Long story short, the AFC East is going to be one of the best divisions in 2015. Specifically from a defensive perspective, it’s going to be tough on all of these offenses to be able to do anything. Landry deserves all the credit in the world for his amazing rookie season in which he hauled in over 80+ receptions, as a rookie might I add. But now that the Dolphins have added some more pieces to their offense in Jordan Cameron, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills so there’s not a lot of ball to go around.

Outside of a PPR league, I would be very nervous to have Landry on my team hoping for consistent production. He’s a high ceiling-low floor WR3 in most league formats. According to Pro Football Focus he ranked 9th among best drop rate among wideouts. He played primarily in the slot last year and he figures to do a lot of the same this year especially with the pieces they added to the outside.

And also in terms of his quarterback play, Ryan Tannehill, a former wide receiver himself will have to be consistent and be able to spread the ball around to his wide array of targets this season. I have legitimate concerns about the Dolphins ability to keep Tannehill upright which would directly affect his ability to throw the ball to Landry. Which for me is a wide receiver I’d rather avoid if I have the option.

Next: 5. Giovani Bernard

May 26, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) looks on during drills during OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

5. Giovani Bernard

The curious case of Giovani Bernard. He had a spectacular rookie season and looked like the second coming of Barry Sanders. With his ability to quickly shift his lateral speed and to be able to stop on a dime was impressive to say the least.  And then Superman somehow got affected by kryptonite. He fell back down to earth and got injured last year and watched from the sideline as Jeremy Hill stole the job away from Bernard and never looked back.

Another player who still has massive PPR potential due to his prowess for catching quick hits out the backfield, his 99 receptions over the last two seasons speaks to that fact, even with the missed time due to injury. Bernard saw his playing time decline and decline as the season wore on. Drawing just 27.7% of team rushing attempts over the seven games after his return.

The good news here is that the Cincinnati Bengals are a run heavy football team so they have enough to go around to support two backs in the world of fantasy. The bad news is that Bernard won’t get goal-line touches, he’ll be mainly a 3rd down option, and his lack of pass protection will keep him off the field more then not.

As I said earlier, I’d only have him on the roster as a occasional flex or borderline starter in PPR league formats. There’s a lot of other running backs who grade out in the same range as Bernard I’d inquire about before drafting him. The LeGarrette Blount‘s of the world, Chris Ivory as the bell-cow for the Jets or even taking a chance on one of the rookies from this class in Tevin Coleman or T.J. Yeldon.

Next: 4. Drew Brees

Jun 17, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during minicamp at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

4. Drew Brees

Let me assure you this won’t be the most surprising player on my list. The days of penciling in Drew Brees for 5,000 yards and 35+ touchdowns every year are over. The New Orleans Saints were in and are still in cap purgatory from their Super Bowl or bust mentality over the last several years and it finally caught up to them. Resulting in fantasy superstar Jimmy Graham getting shipped to the Seattle Seahawks.

The impact of that trade affected the rest of their off-season as they shipped out Kenny Stills, cut Junior Galette, brought in CJ Spiller and re-signed Mark Ingram. The almost random reason I included Galette in that statement was because though he gave the Saints an excuse to cut ties with him, it was really driven by another cap move as they saw an opportunity to save some more money.

But I believe a philosophy change is on the horizon for the Saints. The high-octane offense that consistently lead the league in every offensive category I believe is over. With the running backs they re-signed and brought in, it appears the Saints are shifting to a run-first mentality. Which results in a more conservative Brees, minus the weapons he is used to having at his disposal.

There is a new era of quarterbacks climbing to the top of the fantasy football draft charts: move over Brees, Brady, Manning as in comes Luck, Wilson and Rodgers. Regardless it isn’t that I wouldn’t avoid Brees as it is I would severely temper my expectations for the upcoming season or you’ll be really disappointed.

Next: 3. Lamar Miller

May 26, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) during practice drills at Miami Dolphins Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

3. Lamar Miller

Well if you already didn’t know my obvious disdain for the Miami Dolphins, well you’re about to. It’s not really a disdain, as much as it is a disbelief in the Dolphins chances this upcoming season. Everyone saw them bring in Suh on defense, give Tannehill nearly $100 million dollars, blah blah blah. But really all those moves are really just masking what is truly the issue here and that is the offensive line.

It’s a combination of a bunch of young guys and guys who can’t stay on the field (cough…cough Branden Albert). What they do have is an interesting assortment of pass catchers and a somewhat inconsistent quarterback. And the other thing Lamar has going against him is 5th round pick rookie Jay Ajayi, who some analysts have said could be the steal of the 2015 NFL Draft.

He figures to take away some of the carries and I could see at least a 50-50 split which severely limits the potential of Miller. Especially to the fact that Ajayi is bigger which figures to help him in his case to be the goal-line back which again, limits Miller’s impact in the realms of fantasy.

Miller reportedly has added some muscle to his frame over the off-season in his anticipation of a larger workload. A lot of Dolphins fans have been chirping about the fact Miller was ranked third among running backs in yards per carry last year and 15th in rushing attempts. But to be a legitimate No. 1 running back in fantasy, he’s going to have to hold off Ajayi and prove that his small frame can handle the workload of a bell cow in this league.

Next: 2. Alfred Morris

Dec 28, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris (46) rushes the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

2. Alfred Morris

I know I’m bursting a lot of bubbles here, especially putting all these running backs on my list in a league where fantasy running backs aren’t a dime a dozen. But the Washington Redskins are another team I feel is going to have a horrid 2015 campaign. Which as I said with the 49ers earlier, will harshly impact all the potential stars on their respective teams.

What has Alfred Morris done right since being a late round gem several years ago? Just run for over 1,000 yards every season while being the bell cow for the Redskins. But taking a deeper look, Morris has been declining since that marvelous rookie season. Every year he has had a decrease in production in terms of yards, attempts and nearly touchdowns but he just edged that figure last year over his 2013 campaign.

Without the dynamic play of RG3 in the lineup, Morris hasn’t been the same running back. Captain Kirk Cousins simply doesn’t provide the threat of taking off and running with the football which results in extra guys in the box to stop Morris. The Redskins may have used their first-round draft choice on the offensive line but they’re going to need more help than that to solidly a unit that has steadily been on the decline over the last several years.

I just tend to think this pattern of decline is going to continue heading into 2015. With RG3 still coming back from injury, DeSean Jackson just pulling out his shoulder and the inconsistent play of the offensive line leaves much to be desired from a fantasy football perspective. I think this may be the first season we see Morris run for less than 1,000 yards and watch the Redskins implode and miss the NFL Playoffs yet again.

Next: 1. Odell Beckham Jr.

Oct 19, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) celebrates his second quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

1. Odell Beckham Jr.

Drum roll please… yes my No. 1 player on my list of players to avoid in 2015 is OBJ. Woah, woah here me out here before immediately throwing harsh names and expletives about how I don’t know anything about football or the fact that I’m a New York Giants hater or anything like that.

Just to defend myself, you can ask football enthusiasts who were watching the 2014 NFL Draft. At the top of my board for the Jets was getting our hands on a certain LSU product that I thought would be dynamic. Of course he never got close enough and the Giants snagged him at No. 13 and the rest is history.

So why is one of the most popular players and the talk of the town on my fantasy players as the top player to avoid in 2015? Well as great of a rookie season as OBJ had, I’m worried about those bothersome hamstrings. According to several reports, they continue to be a problem heading into 2015. I’ve been watching all the fantasy football shows, reading the magazines and just engulfing myself in anything and everything fantasy. The consensus seems to be that OBJ is a can’t miss prospect heading into 2015.

With one fantasy football analyst saying “there’s a negative percent chance that OBJ is bust,” I think bust is a relative word. I think that OBJ has unrealistic expectations to live up to. He averaged over 17 points per game in fantasy last season, OVER 17! Antonio Brown had just over 15 ppg. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the hype since he’s young, talented and did all that last year while missing 4 games. All this is true and I’m not denying that, but since I’ve been handing out slices of realism this entire slideshow why stop now?

I would take Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, and Julio Jones before OBJ. Some people have said OBJ will go top-3 in a lot of fantasy drafts and they can’t blame them. That is ludicrous, I don’t think you should avoid OBJ, similar to my Brees comparison. As you need to tread with caution, rein it in a little, OBJ is great but he’s only a sophomore.

There’s a reason they call that little something a “sophomore slump” since there are lots of reason for optimism. Victor Cruz is coming back from injury, they have Rueben Randle and hopefully the offensive line can keep Eli Manning upright. But there’s a lot of ifs and buts for me. I know OBJ is going to be over-drafted in a lot of these fantasy drafts, but consider this fair warning. And oh yeah in advance, I told you so.

Next: Fantasy Football 2015: Top 25 funny team names

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