The following advice is intended to help you determine which players to draft and who to avoid with confidence.
Let me preface the following suggestions by stating the obvious; I would draft all of these players at the right value. However, I try to construct my roster with safer options for greater security in the beginning rounds and reach for high-upside players in later rounds. Following this strategy will help you win your league.
Players to Avoid
Note: Recommendations are based on standard scoring leagues starting 2RB, 2-3WR, 1TE, and 1QB.
Devonta Freeman (ATL): ADP14
Freeman is in a precarious position. In case you forgot, he underperformed in 2014; the Falcons drafted Tevin Coleman to be the guy, and Coleman was until his injury. Coleman has had a great offseason/training camp and most reports indicate there will be a shared workload. Not to mention, the Falcons’ passing game should be improved with the addition of Mohamed Sanu and Matt Ryan having another year under OC Kyle Shanahan. I prefer Le’Veon Bell, Mark Ingram or Jamaal Charles at a similar ADP or go with Coleman (ADP131) and perhaps get a lottery pick if Freeman suffers an injury.
Dez Bryant (DAL): ADP11
I will not take Bryant this year unless he falls to me in the late 2nd/early 3rd round (Disclaimer: I did have him as my second pick in my most important league last year). Obviously, when Dez is healthy, he’s nearly unstoppable, but I do not buy into him being healthy. The Jones’ Fracture is very concerning and often a recurring injury. As I write this article, Tony Romo just got injured again, and I’m not sure Dak Prescott can deliver on a week-to-week basis if Romo were to miss significant time. If I want a receiver at a relative ADP, I will take A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins or Allen Robinson before Bryant.
Jordy Nelson (GB): ADP17
In a “what have you done for me lately” community, Nelson has been dealing with an ACL tear for the last year. Before his injury, Nelson was the second best WR in football and catching passes from arguably one of the best QBs ever. But, can he return to form, and will he be at full speed for 16 games without injury? Perhaps he does stay healthy and is 100 percent, but the Packers’ offense should be more balanced with a lot of mouths to feed. I would prefer waiting a couple of rounds and getting his teammate Randall Cobb (ADP41). Remember, Cobb finished sixth in standard scoring in 2014 with Nelson on the field.
Target instead of Nelson: Randall Cobb (ADP45)
Doug Martin (TB): ADP18
Coming off a great, prove yourself contract year and perhaps anger from being nicknamed the “Muscle Hamster,” Martin has a new deal and a new nickname (“Dougernaut”). But, his primary concern should be Charles Sims. Both are excellent backs, but I am not interested in buying a potential timeshare as my RB1 or RB2. Jameis Winston had a great offseason, and the Buccaneers HC Dirk Koetter will likely trust him more in the passing game and therefore provide more opportunities for Sims, the pass-catching RB. For his price, I would rather take Brandon Marshall (ADP19), roll with skinny Eddie Lacy (ADP21) or get Sims (ADP115) in case “Dougernaut” gets hurt.
Alshon Jeffery (CHI): ADP23
No doubt, Alshon is consistently good, but often injured. He will likely have another solid year, but I prefer taking a chance on a rebound year from Eddie Lacy or Demaryius Thomas for a similar ADP. Also, I will reach a little for Kevin White in later rounds for his tremendous upside. When Jeffery missed time last year, Marquess Wilson was a regular contributor. Needless to say, White’s potential and talent far exceeds Wilson’s.
Thomas Rawls (SEA): ADP33
Rawls was fantastic in his limited time last year, but he has not played a snap in several months and missed significant practice time allowing other Seattle RBs to gain confidence. Pete Carroll views Rawls and Christine Michael as a “1-2 punch” making Michael a much better value pick. If you do take Rawls, make sure to secure Michael as well.
Target instead of Rawls: Christine Michael (ADP169)
C.J. Anderson (DEN): ADP32
Anderson disappointed owners for a majority of the year but did come on strong late. He is a scary pick at RB13 especially when LeSean McCoy and Carlos Hyde are at a similar ADP. Anderson has the ability and situation to produce, but Devontae Booker can fight for snaps if he can improve his pass protection. If Anderson gets hurt, he may never reclaim his starting spot.
Latavius Murray (OAK): ADP39
Murray has a chance to be solid this year behind a strong offensive line in a good offense. But, sticking with a common theme, he has injury concerns and a potential challenger in DeAndre Washington. Murray takes a lot of unnecessary hits with his vertical running style and will likely get banged up sooner than later. I will take Murray if you give him to me, but prefer to pair him with Washington or get the rookie alone at his current value.
Target instead of Murray: DeAndre Washington (ADP176)
DeMarco Murray (TEN): ADP46
I do not even need to comment here, just Google images of Derrick Henry. All kidding aside, when the Titans drafted Henry, the fantasy community suffered. Murray had the opportunity to rebound from his forgetful 2015 season and looked primed for a bounce-back season. Now, it appears the Titans’ backfield will be a timeshare which will be good for them, but bad for us. It is a much better play to try and get Henry at ADP107 and draft Donte Moncrief or Jonathan Stewart at a similar ADP.
I would recommend not drafting a QB, even Cam Newton or Aaron Rodgers, until later rounds because of the depth at that position. Now that we have that established let’s consider this example: QB A threw for 4,428 yards with 35 TDs and 316 fantasy points. QB B threw for 3,486 yards with 20 TDs and 271 fantasy points. That’s an average difference of 2.8 FPPG, but QB A was the 4th overall QB, and QB B was the 15th overall QB. In case you are wondering, QB A is Blake Bortles, the 2015 fantasy steal at QB and QB B is the rarely ever drafted, bye week fill-in, Alex Smith. Of course, QBs like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson will likely be great and produce high numbers, but you could also get a 2015 Luck. The QB position is the deepest position in the draft. If you do not get a stud to fall to you, wait.
Any TE, Including Gronk
Similar to QBs, the TE position is deep and rarely has as much discrepancy as others. Of course, the top TEs are more consistent and do better in season-long formats, but there are plenty of TEs going undrafted who can help you win your week and the league. To name a few, guys like Zach Miller, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Vance McDonald, Charles Clay, Dwayne Allen and even Jimmy Graham are going undrafted. By finding a late-round TE, you can build your depth at WR and RB.
Putting it All Together
Put simply, do not be confined to a single draft strategy. Let the draft come to you, know your league rules, scoring, and managers within the league to create the best roster. A game plan is great, and FantasyPros tools are essential to improve your draft, but ultimately you must make the most informed decisions that minimize your risk and maximize value. Good luck and strive for perfection.