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Players to Avoid: Calvin Ridley, Evan Engram, James Conner (2024 Fantasy Football)

After a certain point in fantasy football drafts, players are selected too late to be deemed busts. It’s disingenuous to deem a mid-round pick a bust. Still, players can and do underachieve expectations for their average draft position (ADP) at all points of fantasy football drafts. The following fantasy football players are ill-advised choices at their respective ADP.

Fantasy Football Players to Avoid

Calvin Ridley (TEN – WR): 69.3 ADP/WR35

Calvin Ridley joined the Titans in free agency on a sizable contract after successfully returning from his gambling suspension with the Jaguars in 2023. Despite the big contract, Ridley wasn’t a top-shelf producer.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), among 71 wide receivers with at least 40 targets, including the postseason, Ridley was 45th in PFF’s receiving grade (72.4) and 50th in yards per route run (1.57 Y/RR). Per Fantasy Life, Ridley was tied for 36th in targets per route run rate (20%) out of 93 wideouts with at least 300 routes in the 2023 regular season. The underlying stats would have been alarming if he’d re-upped with the Jaguars.

The underlying data is even more concerning now that he’s on the Titans. First, the Titans already have a superior wide receiver on their roster. In 2023, DeAndre Hopkins had a higher PFF receiving grade (82.3), more yards per route run (2.09 Y/RR) and a higher targets per route run rate (26%) than Ridley. Ridley is also probably downgrading his quarterback.

While Will Levis showed flashes in his rookie campaign, his 200.9 passing yards per game and 33.2 QBR, per Pro-Football-Reference, were worse than Trevor Lawrence‘s career-low marks in both categories. Lawrence had 214.2 passing yards per game and a 39.1 QBR in his rookie season while playing for the comically inept Urban Meyer. Furthermore, Lawrence had 251.0 passing yards per game in 2023, 50 more per game than Levis.

Ridley shouldn’t be drafted ahead of Chris Godwin (75.0 ADP/WR36), Hollywood Brown (77.0/WR37), Nuk (81.7/WR40) or some others picked after him in half-PPR leagues. Ridley’s boom-or-bust style and attachment to an unproven, inaccurate, rocket-armed young quarterback epitomizes a better-in-best-ball profile.

Evan Engram (JAC – TE): 71.3 ADP/TE8

Evan Engram was the TE2 in half-PPR and the TE6 in half-PPR points per game (10.2) last year. However, he had substantial in-and-out splits for the first 12 weeks when Christian Kirk was healthy and Week 13 through the end of the season when Kirk was hurt (Kirk played one snap in Week 13).

Kirk is healthy again, and the Jaguars added Gabe Davis in free agency and Brian Thomas in the first round of this year's NFL Draft. Engram was only the TE14 in half-PPR points per game when Kirk was healthy in 2023, and Engram's new teammates will also muddy his path to targets. Dalton Schultz has a 121.7 ADP as the TE14 in drafts. Engram is picked closer to his ceiling than his median outcome and should have an ADP much closer to Schultz's, making Jacksonville's starting tight end an easy fade.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

James Conner (ARI - RB): 79.3 ADP/RB24

James Conner is a perfect example of the need to be flexible with player rankings and takes as information changes. I loved and hyped up Conner earlier in the offseason before the NFL Draft. The veteran running back was an efficient workhorse in Arizona's offense last season, and he avoided the Cardinals adding meaningful competition in free agency. Sadly, Conner couldn't avoid competition in the NFL Draft, though.

The Cards picked Trey Benson with the second pick in the third round, making him the second running back prospect selected this year. Benson has the size and speed to add juice to Arizona's backfield. He's also almost certainly an upgrade to last year's motley crew of replacement-level backup running backs. Benson should have a role as a change-of-pace back when Conner is healthy, and he could overtake the veteran on the depth chart if the injury bug strikes and the rookie makes the most of an enhanced role.

It's usually best to avoid speculating about injuries because they're often flukey, random or unpredictable. However, Conner has played in more than 13 games only twice in his seven-year career, playing in 14 games as a rarely-used rookie in 2017 and 15 in 2021. Moreover, rookies frequently emerge later in the season, and Benson cutting into Conner's workload during the fantasy football playoffs would be a nightmare for gamers counting on the veteran running back.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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