10 fantasy players the experts say you should avoid
Over the course of the last month, PFF Fantasy czar Mike Clay has had the opportunity to interview beat reporters from around the NFL on the Pro Football Focus show on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (10 a.m. ET weekdays – Sirius 210 & XM 87). Beat reporters from 17 different teams have stopped by the show, and they have all dropped fantasy football nuggets perfect for your preseason consumption.
These interviews will continue throughout the regular season, so keep an eye out for them. In the larger pieces, the beat reporters touch on nearly every fantasy-relevant player on offense, and I provide some context, statistics and draft analysis about each player. You can find all of those individual pieces by clicking on my author link above. In this piece, I will provide a shorter recap on some key takeaways.
On Wednesday, we looked at the 20 players the beat reporters like most in fantasy for the 2015 season. In this piece, we will look at the players they like the least. Most of these players made the list because they were not preferred options in relation to their ADP. As you would expect, this is a much shorter list.
These are the opinions of the beat reporters and not my own. They have crafted these conclusions from their time spent around the team and at every practice, scrimmage and preseason game.
As we have been touting all summer at PFFF, Jimmy Graham’s volume is a sure bet to drop significantly in 2015. Seahawks beat reporter Gregg Bell confirmed that Pete Carroll isn’t going to change his winning offensive philosophy with one new tight end in the mix. Bell sees Graham finishing with somewhere in the 60-catch range, and he believes the rest of the offense will benefit from his presence. Unfortunately, that won’t help Graham’s fantasy owners. Our projections have Graham finishing with 62 receptions for 738 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
At one time, Christine Michael was a dynasty league diamond. Everyone wanted him on their dynasty team. That time has passed us by. According to Bell, Michael is squarely on the roster bubble as we head into final cuts. Talent has never been an issue for Michael, but maturity issues have continued to be a problem with him, and they date back to his collegiate days at Texas A&M.
Terrance Williams has been a boom-or-bust fantasy player since entering the NFL, and Cowboys beat reporter Nick Eatman doesn’t see that changing in 2015. Eatman believes that Williams still has to show more consistency in practice if he wants to prove that he’s ready to take that next step. In Eatman’s words, “he’s going to be tough for fantasy owners” in 2015.
Although the Texans have given Alfred Blue a chance to prove himself this preseason, he has failed to give them any reason to utilize him as their feature back until Arian Foster returns from injury. Beat reporter Tania Ganguli thinks that when the regular season starts, we’ll see a combination of backs that are used in different situations based on down and distance.
In 2014 when Foster was out, Blue handled 160 snaps and that included 83 runs and 10 targets. Houston ran the ball on 57 percent of his snaps. Jonathan Grimes was the No. 2 and he handled 111 snaps. He carried the ball only 27 times and was targeted seven times. Houston called a run on only 24 percent of his snaps. With Chris Polk and potentially a late free agent acquisition added to the mix, we could be looking at a running back by committee (RBBC) to avoid until Foster returns.
Jeremy Maclin’s productive preseason has his ADP buzzing, but Chiefs beat reporter Herbie Teope is not buying into the hype that Maclin can emerge as a strong value at his newly minted ADP. In Andy Reid’s offense, only three wide receivers have ever topped 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. Our projections have Maclin finishing with 83 receptions, 1,065 yards and five touchdowns. Teope also sees Maclin hauling in around 80 receptions, but he thinks 1,000 yards receiving is his absolute ceiling.
Teope was one of the first people to beat the drum for running back Charcandrick West when he told Clay that he sees West as the Chiefs’ preferred option to Knile Davis. Teope doesn’t see Davis as a fit for Reid’s offensive scheme and his per-snap advanced statistics back that notion up. He believes that West offers the Chiefs “more pop” in the passing game. If you still have the opportunity to sell Davis in dynasty, now is the time to pull the trigger. He won’t become an unrestricted free agent until 2017, which works against him as long as Reid is in Kansas City.
Vernon Davis has received some buzz as a late-round tight end flier. In the 49ers’ new offense, they are expected to use more tempo and that could benefit Davis. Beat reporter Kevin Lynch is not a believer. He doesn’t see Davis as the same player he was two or three years ago, when he burst onto the scene as a fantasy TE1.
Virgil Green is a tight end who got a lot of early offseason buzz as a potential late-round flier. The Broncos showed faith by re-signing him to a multi-year contract this offseason and Green had success in the passing game at Nevada with Colin Kaepernick. People want to see the Julius Thomas situation play itself out again with Green, but it’s not going to happen in 2015. When the Broncos break out the 12 personnel package, with an extra tight end on the field, beat reporter Andrew Mason said that they will use tight ends James Casey and Joe Don Duncan instead of Green.
The hype is real and the Broncos will be using a lot more 12 personnel packages with Gary Kubiak on board. This means that Latimer’s opportunities will be few and far in between. Mason doesn’t believe that Latimer will find fantasy relevance unless Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders get injured. There are plenty of other wide receivers to throw a late-round flier on. Dorial Green-Beckham and Tyler Lockett are two of my favorite options instead of Latimer.
In the wake of the Jordy Nelson news, some people are ready to anoint Davante Adams as a high-end WR2 with legitimate WR1 upside. This would assume that Adams sees all of the targets that Nelson saw and can be just as productive with them. According to Packers beat reporter Rob Demovsky, that won’t be the case. Nelson saw 149 targets in 2014 and Adams won’t be reaching that number in 2015. Demovsky believes that Nelson’s targets will be spread out among Adams and primarily Richard Rodgers and Eddie Lacy. While Adams will obviously still see the bulk of those, it will be difficult to justify selecting him at his rising ADP.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy and he covers the NFC East beat for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL. You can also add him to your network on Google+ to find all of his past material.