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Best Ball Players to Avoid at Current Cost (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
May 21, 2021

Aaron Rodgers is being overdrafted in early best ball drafts

Earlier this week, I posted an article on players to target in the later rounds of your best ball drafts. You can read that here. Today, we’re going in the opposite direction.

When I hear fantasy managers say things like, “I’ll never roster that player again!” it drives me nuts. Every player is worth the gamble if they fall far enough. “So, why the article on players to avoid?” These are players to avoid at their current cost. Yes, you’ll hear me saying something like, “I’ll never draft that player… at that price.” There’s a difference.

This isn’t an article on players you should avoid in the late rounds… no. This is an article for players to avoid at their current cost. Based on the most up-to-date aggregate ADP I could get my hands on, I’m going to give you the players that’ll be left off all my rosters, and I’m left feeling very good about it. Can my opinion change if their ADP does? Yep. But for now, they’re a ways off.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers (GB) Current Cost: QB7
There are a few different markers for Rodgers in best ball ADP, with the lowest being QB9. That’s too expensive for a player we don’t know who’s playing football in 2021. Heck, even if Rodgers does play for the Packers, his touchdown rate was 9.13 in 2020. If we dial that number back to Rodgers’ career mark of 6.3 percent, which is still elite, he would’ve finished as the QB10 instead of the QB2 that he did. He doesn’t offer mobility anymore and his offense isn’t what we’d describe as “pass heavy.” Even if we knew he was playing this year, QB8 should be the price.

Derek Carr (LVR) Current Cost: QB20
The article I write every year titled, “Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between,” highlights the both the consistency a player offers, as well as his upside. Carr has no upside. Over the last two years under Jon Gruden, Carr has played 32 games. In those games, he’s delivered QB1-type performances just 14 times (43.8 percent), and a “boom” performance just one time (3.1 percent). I’d rather take shots on the rookie quarterbacks who might not start out of the gate, as Carr certainly wouldn’t be your QB1.

Running Backs

Alvin Kamara (NO) Current Cost: RB3
You won’t find a bigger Kamara fan than me, and that’s going back to his college days. However, with the way Sean Payton rotates his running backs, it’s going to be mighty hard for Kamara to live up to his draft cost now that Drew Brees is gone. Brees targeted his running backs at least 28 percent of the time in each of the last four years. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston hasn’t targeted running backs more than 18 percent of the time in each of his last four seasons as a starter. The offense is also not nearly as likely to be scoring as many points without Brees.

Jonathan Taylor (IND) Current Cost: RB6
When you draft Taylor in the first round, you better have absolutely zero concerns about his stability and upside. I have questions. Not that I know I’m 100 percent correct, but I want you to think about it for a minute. Through 10 weeks of the season, Taylor was the RB19, and David Montgomery was the RB20. Taylor finished the year as the RB6 while Montgomery was the RB4. Many will talk about Montgomery’s schedule as the reason for his production, hence why he’s going as the RB21 right now, but are they ignoring Taylor’s schedule? He played against the Texans TWICE, Packers, Raiders, Jaguars, and the Steelers (who were decimated by injuries in that game). That’s a large reason for his jump in production. On top of that, the Colts re-signed Marlon Mack when they clearly didn’t need to. Taylor might finish as the RB6, but I think that’s his ceiling. You can wait a full round and get Nick Chubb, who I like just as much.

Antonio Gibson (WAS) Current Cost: RB13
Do you know how many snaps Gibson played in 2020? 405 of them. That’s an average of 28.9 per game. He played 40-plus snaps just twice all season. Do you know how many snaps the top-tier running backs play? Anywhere from 40-50 per game. The Football Team still has J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber on the team, who both took valuable touches away from Gibson his rookie season. It’s the same coaching staff, and now they have even more talent at wide receiver, and a quarterback who doesn’t check down nearly as much. Gibson might see an increased role, but at this price, he absolutely needs to.

James Robinson (JAX) Current Cost: RB28
This is his updated ADP, so many are buying the fact that Urban Meyer said Travis Etienne is going to be the third-down back. I’m not one of them. My early projections have Robinson in the Kenyan Drake/Michael Carter territory, two running backs who come at a much cheaper price. This isn’t 2020… Robinson isn’t getting 21.4 opportunities a game like he was last year. In fact, I say he’ll be lucky to get 12 of them per game.

Damien Harris (NE) Current Cost: RB32
What’s the best-case scenario for Harris? Didn’t we see it last year when Sony Michel went down with an injury? Not only is Michel healthy, but the Patriots also decided to draft Rhamondre Stevenson in the fourth round of this year’s draft, which just adds another body to the mix. I like Harris as a player, but as someone who topped 16 touches just twice last year with little competition and no role in the passing game, you should aim higher in this range.

Wide Receivers

Robert Woods (LAR) Current Cost: WR15
Look, I’m a fan of snagging Woods as a back-end WR2 in redraft formats, but WR15 in best ball leagues? Matthew Stafford is an upgrade to Jared Goff, but part of the reason Woods’ volume was so high with Goff was due to his limitations throwing down the field. It’s likely they open up the offense a bit with Stafford under center, taking more shots down the field. Woods isn’t the reason you win a best ball league, especially when you pay borderline third round or early fourth round prices.

Deebo Samuel (SF) Current Cost: WR37
Something tells me that Samuel is going to become the Jarvis Landry of the 2020’s. What do I mean by that? Well, he’s probably going to finish better than WR37 at the end of the season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be the 37th-best receiver to have in best-ball formats. Through 22 career games, Samuel has never hit the “boom” mark of 25 PPR points. On top of that, there are suddenly a lot of mouths to feed in the 49ers pass attack. He’s a solid player with a decent floor, but that’s not really what we’re looking for in best ball.

DeVante Parker (MIA) Current Cost: WR45
This is funny because I was always the guy saying that Parker was undervalued, and he was, but we’ve reached the point where I’m abandoning that ship. Last year, he played in eight games with Tua Tagovailoa, and in those games, he averaged 7.1 targets, 3.6 receptions, 43.1 yards, and 0.25 touchdowns. That’s… not great. And now you add Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle to the offense? Parker is the “big body” wide receiver of the bunch, but he’s never been a touchdown scorer, finishing with more than four touchdowns just once in his six-year career. His ADP is way too high.

Denzel Mims (NYJ) Current Cost: WR59
Have best-ball drafters not paid attention to anything that’s happened with the Jets this offseason? They brought in a new coaching staff, and with that, they brought in a multitude of pass catchers. First, it was Corey Davis, who’s built nearly identical to Mims (both 6-foot-3, just two pounds apart). Next, it was Keelan Cole, who’s been underutilized throughout his career. Lastly, they drafted Elijah Moore, who’s a utility blade in the offense. Oh, and they still haven’t released Jamison Crowder.

Russell Gage (ATL) Current Cost: WR62
In case you may have missed it, Dirk Koetter is no longer calling plays for the Falcons. The Falcons ran 3WR sets 61 percent of the time last year, which allowed Gage to get on the field more often. Arthur Smith’s offense in Tennessee last year ran 3WR sets just 38 percent of the time, the second-lowest mark in football. That obviously presents a problem for Gage, as does the arrival of Kyle Pitts, who’ll be utilized as a receiver at times. The upside just isn’t there for Gage.

Tight Ends

Darren Waller (LVR) Current Cost: TE2
I remember getting Waller in the fifth or sixth round last year, and though it never felt amazing while doing it, the end result worked out. Why didn’t it feel amazing? He’s part of the Raiders offense, that lacks potency. The targets were what we were chasing, and the targets are what we got. But when you’re paying TE2 prices in the second round, you not only need the targets, you need touchdowns. While Waller scored nine of them last year, he scored just three of them in 2019 in the same offense. There’s a reason people pay up for Travis Kelce, and while I like Waller, I just don’t have that guaranteed Kelce-like production.

Kyle Pitts (ATL) Current Cost: TE5
He should be a very good player for a very long time, but we’ve seen highly-athletic tight ends have trouble out of the gate before. In fact, rookie tight ends in general have trouble producing. I want to ask you a question: Since 1998, how many tight ends do you think have topped 627 yards in their rookie season? Two of them. Both of those tight ends saw 115-plus targets, a number Pitts won’t see as long as Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are around.

Irv Smith (MIN) Current Cost: TE12
We’ve been saying, “just wait until the Vikings get rid of Kyle Rudolph.” That was when we were supposed to see Smith’s breakout. Well, unfortunately for him, Justin Jefferson came around. Despite the Vikings inflating their pass attempts last year, the combination of Rudolph and Smith netted just 80 targets. Even if Smith received all of Rudolph’s departed targets, that’s no guarantee to net top-12 production. Their defense should get back on track this year, and it’s not like Jefferson will become less involved. You shouldn’t be paying for top-12 production, but rather hoping for it.


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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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