There's a difference between picking a bust and drafting a guy that you shouldn't be taking in your fantasy football draft. This list will feature both of those categories of players, but let's break down what each is to avoid any further confusion.
Bust: A player who enters the season with high expectations but finishes with minimal statistical results.
"Don't Touch" Player: A player who will probably put up decent numbers for you but you will end up taking too high in the draft, ultimately weakening the rest of your roster.
It's a lot harder to avoid a bust than it is to simply draft smart. Busts can be born from a lack of talent around them, a chain of events that ultimately hurts your player. For example, Julio Jones and Randall Cobb are nice picks not only because of their own talents, but the fact that their the top receivers in offences led by Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers. Replace those two with their backups and it's unlikely Jones and Cobb put up the number you would expect to them to get when you drafted them.
Drafting smart, though, is really up to you. Often times players will get excited when they see a familiar name drop down to them in the later rounds of a draft. There's a reason those guys are dropping - the rest of us studied up and know these guys are declining, or are about to hit the downside of their careers (statistically). Sure, the name pops on paper, and he might break out once or twice during the year, but he's not the guy who is going to help your roster bring home a championship.
Plan ahead, be prepared and draft smart - and avoid these names as best you can.
* All ADP amounts are taken from FantasyFootballCalculator.com and are correct as of August 5th, 2015.
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20 Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
I'm not quite sure what it is, but every time Alfred Morris is sitting in front of me as the top-ranked option in a mock draft, my eyes are immediately looking further down the list for other options. You could do much worse than Morris, who's proven his worth as a workhorse in the Washington backfield, but you could also grab a lot more upside.
All this is without mentioning the pressure he's going to get from rookie Matt Jones, who will likely sub in on third down, and the fact that his numbers have gone down considerably in each of his two seasons following his 1,600 yard breakout rookie season in 2012, makes me skeptical that Morris is worth a third or fourth-round selection - you're better off taking your chances with Frank Gore, or even Todd Gurley, if he's ready to go sooner than expected.
19 Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is the standard case of an older player reaching the tail-end of a solid NFL career. You can't rely on Jackson as a top-flight wide-out anymore, be it in real life or on your fantasy team. His yards and receptions have dropped since he arrived in Tampa three seasons ago, and he's now going to lose even more targets to up-and-coming star Mike Evans and, if all goes well, tight-end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who's a prime breakout candidate in what is considered a tight-end friendly system. If Jackson drops to around the 9th round, then maybe consider him - but don't waste a seventh-rounder on him.
18 Seattle Seahawks Defense
Don't read this the wrong way. The Seahawks' defense is not about to fall apart, nor are they going to hurt your fantasy team.
However, if you have the Seahawks defense on your roster, it likely means you're the schmuck who reached for a defense in the seventh or eighth round and left names like Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, among others, on the board. Unless you've already drafted Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck, leaving any of those three on the board would be foolish and irresponsible at that point of the draft - and even if you already have a top QB, having Tom Brady on your bench isn't a bad thing when you need a trade chip down the road.
There's nothing wrong with making it a priority to take a top-5 defense. Just don't reach for one and mortgage more important positions just for a shiny name on your roster.
17 DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins
DeSean Jackson has gone on the record saying that "no one can stop him." If he's able to prove that this season, all the power to him - but I'm not buying it.
While Jackson had a decent year considering the mess that was the Redskins last season, his numbers still dropped significantly from his final year in Philadelphia. This season, we should expect Pierre Garcon to re-establish himself as the first read for whoever ends up behind center, and while Jackson is a big play waiting to happen, the lack of targets is concerning. He only topped ten targets twice last season and the majority of his fantasy points are reliant on him making plays deep downfield.
Couple that with a history of being banged up and you have what could be a recipe for disaster. Jackson average draft position (ADP) is in the middle of the fifth round right now - I'll gladly let someone else take that risk.
16 Victor Cruz, New York Giants
I had to add a guy to the list due to an injury past, as the NFL is a cold, cold world and we have to take these things into consideration even when it comes to fantasy football.
Cruz wasn't as productive as he usually was even before he tore up his knee early last season, and while all the reports suggest that he'll be as good as new come Week 1, history has shown that it takes some time to get back to form after such a devastating injury - if the player can even manage to get back to where they once were.
The Giants don't need to rely on Cruz as their top receiver anymore either, as Odell Beckham Jr. is firmly entrenched as the No. 1 in Eli Manning's offense. Reuben Randle is a nice complimentary piece and Shane Vereen will steal some targets running out of the backfield.
Cruz's ADP is in the sixth round right now. At that point, you can still take a flier on Kevin White or Nelson Agholor, or bank on a guy like Marques Colston to continue to produce as he always had.
15 Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills
It's almost a travesty that a talent like Watkins is stuck catching passes from one of Matt Cassel, E.J. Manuel or Tyrod Taylor. Watkins still put up decent numbers last year, despite Manuel's deficiencies, but also showed signs of being a bit of an injury-prone player very early on in his career. The fact that he only caught 65 passes on 128 targets last season is alarming and the fact that the QB position hasn't been improved suggests that number likely won't improve that much.
Watkins isn't being overvalued in drafts - a fifth-round ADP sounds about right. We're putting him in the "bust" category right off the bat.
14 Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Every year, we think Antonio Gates is about to hit the wall and every year he proves us wrong. This year could very well be the year, though.
Gates was already going into this season as a 35-year old tight-end with some semblance of an "injury history." Now he's a 35-year old tight-end with some semblance of an "injury history" who's suspended for the first four games of the season.
Ladarius Green, who is in a contract year, looks like he'll finally get a chance to breakout - and while it's just as likely that Green does absolutely nothing with his chance, there's plenty of reason to believe that if Green succeeds, the job will remain his even when Gates returns from his ban.
13 Andre Johnson, Indianapolis Colts
Yes, Andre Johnson can still play. Yes, he'll have Andrew Luck throwing him the football. Still be wary about taking him.
For all his talents and accomplishments, one thing Johnson has never been exceptionally good at is scoring touchdowns. For a guy his size, you'd think he'd be a red-zone behemoth - put him down for 10+ TD's a season, right?
Wrong. Andre Johnson has never cracked ten touchdowns in a season in his NFL career (although he probably would have had it in 2007 had he not been injured). In his last three full seasons Johnson has seasons of 4, 5, and 3 touchdowns.
So he's not there to score touchdowns - and the Colts did just fine in that department without him last season. He's definitely not there to stretch the field, considering the speed in that receiving corps. Is he going to be nothing more than a big-name possession receiver? If he is, you can go ahead and take him in the fourth-round.
12 Percy Harvin, Buffalo Bills
Some of you may have gotten excited when Percy Harvin ended up in Buffalo, because Rex Ryan is the king of using gadget players (only of using them - not of using them very well).
Don't do it.
Some of you may buy into the mindset that he'll be forgotten by defense in an offense now boasting Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy.
Don't do it!
Others might think that since they are playing in a league that awards points to kick returners, he's worth a flier anywhere past the 10th round.
DON'T. DO. IT!!!
Harvin has fooled many a smart player over the years, and he's bound to do it again this year. Don't get suckered in. We can list ten players with a lower ADP that will be more useful to you than Percy Harvin, so for you own sake, don't do it.
11 Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Don't act so surprised.
Peyton Manning is bound to look old on the field at some point and this might be the year. Between the miles logged over the years, the neck problems that nearly ended his career a couple of years ago, and what looks like a significantly less powerful arm, Manning is in the twilight of his football life. He's still effective down near the goal line, but he lost his best red zone threat in Julius Thomas.
All that, combined with the likelihood that the Broncos will run the ball a ton this year, makes Manning a big name you'll want to avoid come draft day.
10 Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
Andre Ellington made a bunch of us (myself included) look like fools for taking him in the first or second rounds of our drafts last year. He simply cannot handle the load of an every down back. He's too small for the job and fragile is the worst thing a running back can be.
Bruce Arians has a much, much brighter football mind than the majority of the football watching world, but for some reason he is not seeing what the rest of us saw last year and is seemingly prepared to keep Ellington in the same role he had last season. For that reason alone, I'm jumping off the bandwagon - there's no reason to subject oneself to same dejection and disappointment two seasons in a row.
9 Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Look, no one is saying Alshon Jeffery isn't an elite talent at the WR position. Just, he's already dealing with injury issues (calf) and hasn't been a number one receiver at any point in his career. How will he deal with double coverage now that Brandon Marshall is gone? How will he rebound from the calf injury that's cost him valuable preseason time? All questions you don't want to wait to have answer early in the season when you pick a WR in the early parts of the third round. With safer options like Brandin Cooks, Mike Evans and Jordan Matthews available, take a look at Jeffery only if you get a discount.
8 Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
If you haven't been paying attention, you're going to be sitting in front of your computer watching the names fly off the draft board when, all of sudden, your gaze will rest of the name of Giovani Bernard. You heart will start racing as memories of Bernard's rookie season flash before your eyes. His name is still there when your pick is up and without even thinking you snatch him up, a wry smile wrapping around your lips as you pat yourself on the back for grabbing a guy like Bernard during the sixth or seventh round.
Just a friendly reminder that Gio Bernard will NOT be starting for the Cincinnati Bengals this year - and even if you think you're getting a good "change of pace" back, what you're really getting is a handcuff in the event that Jeremy Hill goes down.
Unless it's the 11th round, pass on Bernard. There are better options out there, even that late in the draft.
7 Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
While Peyton Manning will likely miss Julius Thomas, it's unlikely he'll miss him more than Thomas will be missing Manning. Not only is he going from being the favorite red zone target of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, he's going to play for a cellar-dwelling franchise with an unproven quarterback that only threw to its tight ends 66 times all of last season.
Thomas is going to be tempting to take in the eighth round, but there are better options available, in the tenth and even in the later rounds.
6 Brandon Marshall, New York Jets
The big name should interest you. The baggage should not.
Brandon Marshall has never been able to stick, wherever he has gone. Couldn't do it in Denver. Couldn't do it in Miami. Couldn't do it in Chicago.
Now he comes to the Big Apple with a ton of baggage, a lot more miles on the odometer and uncertainty over who will be throwing him the football. On the surface, it doesn't really matter who ends up winning the Jets quarterback competition. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't going to fill up the stat sheets and we all know about Geno Smith. That, combined with what should be an offense centered on the run game, could make Marshall ineffective (and annoyed) early on in the season, and that will probably get you annoyed, too.
5 Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
It's hard to believe Drew Brees would ever end up on a list like this, but as he nears the end of his career, it's becoming harder and harder to fully buy-in to him from a fantasy perspective.
Sure, he put up pretty good numbers last season, but he did that with Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Pierre Thomas still on the roster. He did it with Mark Ingram having a career year. Losing three of his top targets hurts (especially Graham) and if defenses can key in on Mark Ingram, they'll be able to load up their secondaries and will be content with letting Brees check-down to Brandin Cooks 10 times a game. That's not going to put up many fantasy stats, so don't touch Brees unless he drops really far down the board.
4 Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
Not only is Roddy White getting up there in age, he's been dealing with a lingering knee injury - possibly the worst thing to have "lingering" outside of a concussion. Julio Jones looks primed for a monster year and it would appear that the Falcons will have some semblance of a running game with Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman taking over the backfield. That doesn't bode well for White - all the signs point to a disappointing year.
3 Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
There's a good chance Jimmy Graham will be quite effective in Seattle, but if you're expecting the numbers he put up in New Orleans, you'll probably get pretty aggravated as the season rolls along.
Although the final moments of Super Bowl 49 may have suggested otherwise, the Seahawks offense goes through Marshawn Lynch. That means Graham will be doing a ton of blocking in Seattle's offense and while he still represents a top-end passing option for Russell Wilson, it's not like he's going to see the truckload of targets he was getting with the Saints. If he drops for some reason, by all means - but don't get suckered in during the first two rounds.
2 DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles
If you want to take DeMarco Murray in the first or second round, be my guest. The fact that Murray touched the ball 449 times last season should have been enough to at least make you hesitate in trusting him as your lead fantasy back for 2015 - but when he bolted from Dallas, you should have taken him off your board completely. He was running behind the best line in football last year. This year, he'll be running behind the oldest line in the league that has question marks at both guard positions.
Good luck, Murray owners. You're going to need it.
1 Arian Foster, Houston Texans
Arian Foster was on my "buyer beware" list last season, but he proved me and countless others wrong with a solid season.
Despite that, he's back on my list. With more conviction than last year, too. He's a year older and as I write this we might find out Arian Foster just got injured.
Update: Arian Foster out for the first eight weeks of the 2015 season.
See what I mean? If you took Foster already, and you took him early, you deserve this. If you still haven't drafted, don't touch him unless he goes undrafted.
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