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Fantasy Football 2011: Players to Avoid

08.22.11 at 3:10 am ET

Knowing whom to draft in fantasy football is pretty darn important, but knowing whom to avoid is a pretty good thing too. Almost every player has some downside; just look at Chris Johnson and what his situation is doing to fantasy GMs. Johnson tops our current list of players to avoid, but he’€™s also a pen stroke away from being nowhere near it. CJ’€™s contract dispute is a perfect example of why holding your fantasy draft early stinks on ice.

With that eloquence out of the way, let’€™s take a look at Johnson and some other malodorous draft options.

Chris Johnson, Titans

He’€™s the best running back in football, but that won’€™t help you if he’€™s watching Titans games in hi-def like you and I. We’€™re not at all worried about the time he’€™s missed so far.   In fact, you could easily argue that his keeper owners are better off with no defenders anywhere near him. The problem is, as we near the season we approach the time threshold where good turns to bad. For us, this begins to hurt his value in a material way as soon as we hit the end of August. Two weeks is more than enough time to get him ready for the opener. So, if you draft in September, you will be able to make a better decision whether he is signed or not. For those drafting now, we are counseling avoidance. As much as it hurts, you just can’€™t risk taking a player in the top five and not have him in your week one lineup. As long as he is signed before the end Of August, we will be taking where we’€™d normally take him.

Michael Turner, Falcons

He’€™s a good back and he’€™ll probably have a solid year, but we see too many potential issues. He’€™s coming off of groin surgery, which is not a big deal alone, but it is a problem when we couple that risk with the risk we see as Atlanta’€™s offense continues to evolve. It’€™s quite possible that Turner’€™s snap count will fall as the Falcs try to get more receiving targets on the field. Both of Atlanta’€™s other backs, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers, are far superior receivers. We still think Turner is the man when they want to punch it in at the stripe, and we assume he will lead the team in carries, but the ratios will be less favorable than in the past. Lastly, Turner’€™s running style lends itself to plenty of contact and at some point all players begin to shows signs of wear. Given that you need to use a first or high second round pick on him, we are not targeting Turner near his average draft position (ADP.)

Reggie Wayne, Colts

He’€™ll be a borderline Hall of Fame candidate in a few years, but he’€™s no longer a player we like for fantasy based on where we’€™d need to select him. Like Turner, Wayne will help any fantasy team. But near the end of round two, which is where he gets taken, we see some far more enticing options. We understand that some folks see Wayne as a safe option, but the path to fantasy glory is often not the safe one. He’€™s a better choice in PPR formats, and that is worth noting, but we still worry about his shrinking touchdown potential and his advanced age. There’€™s also the issue of all the other quality targets at Peyton Manning‘€™s disposal.

Jeremy Maclin, Eagles

This one is a tough one and I feel creepy writing it as Maclin has been battling real health issues. While we wish him nothing but continued good news as far as his health is concerned, we’€™re worried about taking him as a WR2. Like with Johnson, Maclin’€™s situation could change by the time most of us draft, but for now we recommend steering clear unless he slips into the 5th or 6th round. Better to look at guys like Santonio Holmes or Percy Harvin for the time being.

Knowshon Moreno, Broncos

He’€™s a good young back and John Fox likes to run, but he favors the power game. Denver has brought in Willis McGahee to pair with Moreno and we are very concerned that the former Raven may end up getting the lion’€™s share of goal line carries. If that happens, Moreno is a reach as a RB2 and that is where he’€™s being drafted. If you can get him as your 3rd or 4th back, then go for it, but targeting Moreno at the end of the 3rd round is bad business as things currently stand. Not enough upside and too many questions.

Ryan Mathews, Chargers

It’€™s no news flash that Mathews disappointed as a rookie. We advise that you don’€™t give him a chance to disappoint you in 2011, unless you can nab him as your 3rd or 4th option. There are two primary issues that we have with Mathews. First, he gets hurt getting out of bed. Second, even if he stays healthy, it appears that the Chargers are committed to using both Mathews and Mike Tolbert in equal measures. And, the kicker is that Tolbert was better on the goal line last year. We like Mathews’€™ ability and we see some real upside in his game, but as a third or fourth rounder, we need more. You can generally get a guy like BenJarvus Green-Ellis four rounds later, and we like his chances of getting goal line love a lot better.

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