2016 WR Do Not Draft List (Fantasy Football)
Most serious fantasy players can tell you a story (or three) about a top-round draft pick that killed their season due to injury or awful play. ’08 Tom Brady, ’11 Michael Vick, ’14 Montee Ball, ’15 Jamaal Charles and many others left their owners with a wasted pick and a terrible story to retell annually.
Don’t let this be the season you get your top-round bust story. With incredible depth at the wide receiver position, you should limit risk with your early WR picks and focus on upside with your later picks.
Keep in mind that in some drafts, so many people will be avoiding the same players that they could fall too far. At that point, most of the risk is gone so the upside may be too great to avoid. Unless that happens, do not draft.
Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) Overall ADP – 37
In his rookie year, Benjamin broke 1,000 receiving yards and scored 9 TDs. In 2015 he looked to improve on those stats but tore his ACL before the season started.
A look into how Benjamin accumulated his rookie stats should make you feel uneasy about his chances of improving on them or even repeating them. Benjamin’s 146 targets in 2014 were tied for fifth most in the league that season.
He was only able to convert 73 of those targets (50%) into receptions. Both his unpolished route running and Newton’s inaccuracy accounted for this low rate.
In his absence, no WR for the Panthers saw over 100 targets. At first glance, it looks like TE Greg Olsen took up some of the slack with 123 targets, but he saw only one more target in 2015 than he did in 2014 when Benjamin last played. Meanwhile, Cam Newton’s completion percentage (58-59%) has remained unchanged.
Benjamin’s rookie stats would have barely made him a top-20 WR in 2015, which is where he is being drafted now. Unless Benjamin sees as many targets as he did in 2014, it seems unlikely that he would return value on his third-to-fourth round ADP.
ESPN fantasy football analyst Mike Clay has reported that the Panthers plan on spreading targets out this season, so around 100 targets seems like Benjamin’s ceiling. Unless he drops below the fourth round, do not draft him.
Keenan Allen (SD) Overall ADP – 30
Keenan Allen’s breakout rookie season featured five games over 100 yards and eight touchdowns. Since then, it has taken him 22 games (across two incomplete seasons) to amass those same stats (six games over 100 yards and eight touchdowns).
Much like Arian Foster, Allen is developing a reputation for having a body that does not hold up even though we don’t know what injury might occur. SportsInjuryPredictor.com places his chance of getting injured this season at 83%.
In 2015, his season ended when he lacerated his spleen. Because this is such an unlikely injury, it would be easy to discount it as a fluke.
Unless you owned him, you might have forgotten that Allen didn’t finish the 2014 either due to a sprained ankle and broken collarbone. In college, he didn’t finish his final season due to a PCL tear.
Even with his injury risk and inconsistent play, Allen is certainly capable of finishing the season as a top-10 WR, but who do you have to pass up to take that chance? According to FantasyPros’ consensus ADP, players are drafting Allen between the second and third rounds around players like Mike Evans (ADP 25), LeSean McCoy (ADP 27), Thomas Rawls (ADP 29), Aaron Rodgers (ADP 31) and Demaryius Thomas (ADP 32).
Those players offer similar upside to Allen without the injury and consistency risk. In the unlikely event he falls to the fourth round or lower in your draft, his upside would be hard to pass up. Otherwise, do not draft him.
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) Overall ADP – 62
Perhaps no recent player demonstrates the difference between real football and fantasy football than Larry Fitzgerald. From 2012-2014, fantasy owners chased Fitzgerald’s early-career success because of his incredible talent. In those three years, Yahoo’s preseason rankings placed him at No. 2 in 2012, No. 7 in 2013 and No. 16 in 2014 but he did not finish as a top-20 WR in any of those seasons.
He was a top-20 WR in 2015 but scored one-third of his season-long point total in two early games. Going into 2016, drafters are picking up Fitzgerald (ADP 62) and fellow Cardinals WR Michael Floyd (ADP 59) almost interchangeably. Remember that Floyd broke three fingers in his hand in the preseason last year.
From Week 8 on, Floyd had five games of over 100 receiving yards. In that same period, Fitzgerald had only one. Fitzgerald remains the respected veteran on the Cardinals and an important chain-mover, but will continue to regress as receivers Floyd and John Brown take over the offense.
Let the player that drafts based on name recognition pick Fitzgerald. His low ceiling and no guarantee of consistent production mean that if you spend a fifth- or sixth-round pick on him, he will sit on your bench until you can finally swallow your pride and drop him for a bye-week TE replacement. Unless your league gives points for stats from 2011, do not draft him.
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