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Least Favorite Early-Round Draft Picks (Fantasy Football)

Jul 27, 2021

The biggest killer when it comes to early-round selections is injury. Anyone who selected Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, or Michael Thomas last year can attest to that. However, there are times when your first or second-round picks just fail to deliver the way you would’ve hoped. Lamar Jackson comes to mind there last year. In 2019, it was David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell. In 2018, it was Jordan Howard, Rob Gronkowski, and Le’Veon Bell once again (who held out the entire year).

Our featured experts are here to give you their thoughts on who they would prefer to avoid in both the first and second rounds. Please note, that these analysts would likely warm up to these players if they had a lower draft cost.

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Q1. What player in the top 12 of half-PPR ADP are you least interested in drafting and why?

Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG)
“Do I love Barkley and watching him on the football field? Absolutely. Do I have him ranked as a top-five RB this season? Yes. However, when I am on the clock in that range of drafts, I simply can’t convince myself to pull the trigger on the explosive RB. He’s now missed 16 games over the past two seasons and he no longer has the guaranteed target workload that came with Eli Manning as his QB. There’s a lot of risk with Barkley and I’d probably prefer to lean back on someone like Ezekiel Elliott, who’s a bit safer.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

“I have very little interest in drafting Saquon Barkley right now. His ADP has dropped from third overall to fifth overall, but that’s still not enough. My thinking is pretty simple…why? Why would you take a chance on the health of Barkley when there are at least 10 other elite players who don’t carry that same level of risk. There are so many incredible players available with the fifth pick, so taking a chance on Barkley just seems silly.”
– Nick Zylak (Fantasy Football Advice)

Saquon Barkley is a phenomenal talent, however, there’s possibly more risk with him than any other first-round selection. Two straight seasons have been crushed by injury and there’s already talk of easing him into his normal workload in the first month of the season. Now, I’ve still drafted Barkley myself regardless, but if you do, you need to plan your RB depth more carefully. You should also understand the risk he poses in leagues with heavy prizes on the line rather than a league played for pride only.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND) 
“This time last year, I was much higher on Taylor than the consensus. I like him, but did everyone forget about what happened the first 10 weeks of the season? Taylor was the RB19 and David Montgomery was the RB20. He 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 ranked at RB20 in ECR 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. I still like Taylor, just not nearly as much as the consensus.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Jonathan Taylor ended the season with an excellent five-game stretch, which certainly helped carry him to finish as the RB6 in half-PPR scoring formats. Nyheim Hines will continue to see the field in passing situations, and with Marlon Mack returning, he could eat into some of Taylor’s rushing opportunities. Taylor did have some difficulties with teams that finished in the top half of rushing defense, but fortunately for him, the Colts have one of the easiest strengths of schedules for running backs heading into this season. Taylor is an elite talent, but concern over the game scripts is what puts him on this list for me.”
– Rich Piazza (Fantasy Shed)

Q2. What player in the second round (13-24) of ADP are you least interested in drafting and why?

Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC) 
“Mahomes is the consensus No. 1 quarterback for this upcoming season, as he should be, but we thought the same heading into the 2020 campaign as well. Mahomes finished as the QB4, and he still could’ve been the QB1 had he played in the final game of the season. Unless it’s a Superflex league, having any quarterback with a second-round ADP is a mistake. The difference between last year’s QB1 (Josh Allen) and the QB6 (Russell Wilson) was 33 fantasy points or about two points per game. There are a lot of good premium position players going off the board in the 15 picks between Mahomes and consensus QB2 Josh Allen.”
– Rich Piazza (Fantasy Shed)

“Why draft Patrick Mahomes in the second round when you can get Lamar Jackson in the fifth round? If you don’t want Jackson in the fifth round, get Ryan Tannehill in the ninth round. Did you know that since taking over as the starter in Week 7 of 2019, Tannehill has more fantasy points than Mahomes? None of this is a shot at Mahomes the player, but rather how replaceable the quarterback position is in fantasy. By drafting him in the second round, you’re passing on someone who’s a borderline lock to be in your RB or WR slot every single week.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“In somewhat of an upset, Patrick Mahomes is my pick here. I’m a massive advocate for QB early this season (and my projections agree), but even I can’t get on board with Mahomes 18th overall. I have him projected as the 29th-most valuable player in fantasy and I think that makes sense. The gap in value from Mahomes into that second tier isn’t super wide, but the drop-off from the elite RBs and TEs is. By taking Mahomes in the second you’re just not gaining as much value as you are when you take the upper-end skill players, especially the ones going in the mid-second round.”
– Nick Zylak (Fantasy Football Advice)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB – KC) 
“While Patrick Mahomes is the obvious choice here, I’ll go with his teammate in Kansas City. Edwards-Helaire is an incredibly talented RB, but he simply does not have the guaranteed workload that’s necessary to vault himself into the top 12 at the position. He should bring a safe floor every single week — and the touchdowns should come — but there are other players in this range like J.K. Dobbins or David Montgomery a little bit later on that seem to have more guaranteed volume.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC) 
“Ekeler is a nice PPR back, but I prefer special talents early in the draft that can win you a week. Most of those names in Round 2 that I like are WR talents such as D.K. Metcalf, Calvin Ridley, and A.J. Brown. I’m also concerned with Ekeler’s durability for his draft cost and TD upside. Travis Etienne offers a similar skill set a few rounds later.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their least favorite early-round draft picks. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

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