40 Players To Avoid In Your Fantasy Football Draft
It happens every year. You’re getting ready for your fantasy football draft and you have all your hopes and dreams set on one player. Maybe they signed a huge contract in the offseason or had a breakout performance the year before. Whatever the reason, you know this player can’t fail you. Then he does. He gets injured or worse — underperforms. Suddenly your fantasy football season is over before it even began and you regret putting all your chips on one player. These are the hyped-up players entering the 2020 NFL Fantasy Draft that you might want to hit the brakes on!
A.J. Green’s Success This Year Isn’t Guaranteed
Ever since entering the NFL, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has been one of the most explosive players in the league. When healthy, he has never been anything less than a top fantasy option – until this year.
Green is 32-years-old this season and missed all of 2019 with an injury. Rookie QB Joe Burrow will also be under center, and will probably have limited passing opportunities while he learns the ropes of the league. If you can, draft Green in a later round, but avoid grabbing him early.
John Brown Won’t Be A Top Target In Buffalo
Last year in Buffalo, wide receiver John Brown was one of Josh Allen’s favorite targets. He was thrown to 115 times and finished the season with 1,060 receiving yards. It was a resurgent season for the speedy deep threat, and one he likely won’t replicate in 2020.
The biggest issue holding back Brown’s value is new addition Stefon Diggs. Buffalo gave up a treasure trove to acquire the player from Minnesota, and we expect him to become the team’s top target.
Will Tom Brady Be The Same In Tampa Bay?
For the first time in over 20 years, Tom Brady will not be lining up under center for the New England Patriots. Now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, the 43-year-old six-time Super Bowl winner will finally get a chance to prove he’s not a system QB.
Will he prevail? The truth is you should never count out Tom Brady. Still, it’s hard to recommend buying high on a player in his mid-40s playing in a new system for the first time ever.
Avoid The Headache Odell Beckham Jr. Will Cause You
There is no denying the talent that Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has. That alone will put him high on experts’ draft boards. Before jumping on the hype though, remember how much he regressed in 2019.
Beckham Jr. went from a top-five player with the Giants to an afterthought in Cleveland. Add to that how his attitude changes when he stops seeing balls come his way, and you might want to wait on picking him. A risky pick in the first two rounds, wait to grab him for as long as you can.
Don’t Buy High On Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon may have signed a big contract with the Denver Broncos over the summer, but that doesn’t mean you should take him in the first round of the draft. Coming off a season where he only rushed for 612 yards, Gordon is likely to find himself as a complimentary back in the Mile High City.
The hype around Gordon throughout his career has been just that — hype. He’s only rushed for more than 1,000 yards once, which also happened to be the only season he played a full 16 game schedule. Leave this running back for someone else!
Deshaun Watson Is A High-Risk Option
Deshaun Watson has shown time and time again that he is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL. Entering the 2020 season, Watson will once again have to prove himself after losing top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Without his top receiving threat, Watson will be left throwing to a trio headlined by Brandin Cooks. To help take the pressure off him, head coach Bill O’Brien will lean on running back David Johnson. Expect Watson to be good, but not come close to putting up the same numbers he did in 2019.
Is This The Year Drew Brees Finally Regresses?
Like Tom Brady, it’s hard to imagine Drew Brees not being a viable fantasy option, but it could happen. Brees will be 42-years-old when the season starts and has suffered from diminishing arm strength for years.
The Saints have been smart to surround Brees with players who are explosive after the catch to make up for his deficiencies, but how long can that last? If Brees maintains his accuracy he should still be good, but expect New Orleans to run more to expose their franchise star to less criticism.
Marlon Mack Won’t Be A Workhorse
The Colts were not a good passing team in 2019, forcing them to lean on Marlon Mack to carry a heavy load on the ground. Mack responded with over 1,000 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. With Philip Rivers under center now, Mack likely won’t repeat the same success.
Add into the equation the Colts’ appear set to use a stable of running backs and Mack’s overall carries could be cut in half in 2020. If you want to take a flyer on Mack, take it as late in the draft as possible.
Todd Gurley Will Not Be Reborn In Atlanta
Todd Gurley ended his career in Los Angeles with a thud. His aching knee brought him diminishing returns year after year, and that’s not something a change of scenery will fix. Gurley’s carries will have to be limited for him to be effective, which depletes his fantasy value.
Don’t forget, the Rams waited too long in 2019 to lean on Gurley, in part because the team didn’t want him to be hurt during a possible postseason run. With a healthy Gurley in 2018, the Rams made it to the Super Bowl, losing to New England.
Aaron Rodgers Has A Lack Of Talent Around Him
After making the NFC Championship Game in 2019, the Packers were supposed to go all in to get Aaron Rodgers a chance at a second ring in 2020. Instead, the team spent its first-round draft pick on quarterback Jordan Love.
What Rodgers needed was a new wide receiver or two. What the team chose to do was look towards the future, not only putting Rodgers’ 2020 fantasy viability in doubt, but also his future in Green Bay.
Mark Ingram Is On The Wrong Side Of 30
Mark Ingram was great in Baltimore in 2019. He rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored ten touchdowns. Is it possible he can repeat that feat in 2020 now that he’s in his 30s?
Technically, anything is possible, but the reality of the situation is that running backs don’t age well. Baltimore also has younger options, and an MVP winning QB who can rush for 1,000 yards if he really needs to. If you are interested in Ingram, pick him late and stash him on your bench.
A Change Of Scenery Won’t Benefit Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers did not have a good season in 2019. He tossed 23 touchdowns and was intercepted 20 times while completing 66 percent of his passes for an 88.5 QB rating. Now 38-years-old, it’s hard to imagine moving from sunny Southern California to Indianapolis will help revive his career.
That doesn’t mean Rivers won’t try though. Earlier on this list, we highlighted Marlon Mack specifically because Rivers signed with the Colts. Rivers is a classic “gunslinger” under center and isn’t afraid to throw into tight windows or 40 times a game, they just won’t be fantasy worthy attempts.
Rob Gronkowski Won’t Be A Difference Maker
Someone in your fantasy draft is going to get way too excited that Rob Gronkowski is back in the league and will draft him too high. Please, we beg you, make sure that person isn’t you.
While Gronk is 100 percent healthy for the first time in years, he’s also one year removed from playing. Add in that he, like Tom Brady, is having to learn a new system for the first time in his career and you have a recipe for disappointment.
CeeDee Lamb Won’t Be A Rookie Sensation
CeeDee Lamb is an exciting fantasy football prospect. A rookie wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, he was brought in to help stretch the field. If you plan to play in a PPR (points per reception) league, then you’ll want to avoid Lamb.
Not only will Lamb be fighting for balls from Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, but the Cowboys offense should also feature a heavy dose of runs. It might be a prove-it year for QB Dak Prescott, but with Zeke Elliot in the backfield, we think those “prove it” opportunities will be limited, which won’t work out well for Lamb.
Dak Prescott Can’t Be Trusted Week-To-Week
When Dak Prescott is good, he’s a top-five quarterback in the NFL. When he’s bad, you wonder why he’s even on a roster, let alone starting. And that is exactly why he can only be trusted in fantasy football week-to-week.
If Prescott is one of your must-have players, the best strategy is to start him against teams with losing records, which is when he historically puts up his best numbers. Don’t even try to start him on weeks he faces a team with a winning record.
Be Cautious Jumping On The Cam Newton Bandwagon
At the peak of his career, Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl berth while winning the league MVP along the way. At his worst, he was released in favor of a rebuild.
After a tumultuous offseason full of speculation about his health, Newton signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots. On paper, he should be a perfect fit in New England. In reality, he will be tasked with carrying the load on one of the least talented offenses in the NFL.
Le’Veon Bell Should Be Left In Free Agency
Le’Veon Bell was always considered a top tier fantasy player until 2019. In his first season with the Jets, Bell was less than spectacular, rushing for under 800 yards and only scoring three touchdowns.
In the offseason, New York head coach Adam Gase said he wants to limit Bell’s touches even more. This is one running back who you should wait to see if you can grab in free agency, but don’t make the mistake of drafting him.
How Much Will Tom Brady Target Mike Evans?
In Tampa Bay, Tom Brady has a wealth of targets to throw to, which could end up hurting Mike Evans’ fantasy production. While the Bucs led the league in passing in 2019, leading to an excellent year by Evans, Brady doesn’t have an explosive arm anymore, among other issues.
With less arm strength, we expect the Bucs to try and run a more balanced offense. Take into account all the talent in Tampa, and Evans might struggle to reach 1,000 yards.
Raheem Mostert Will Be Stuck Splitting Carries
By the end of the 2019 season, 49ers’ running back Raheem Mostert was carrying the load in a crowded backfield. Head coach Kyle Shannahan loves to play the hot hand, and no one was hotter than Mostert.
In 2020, Jerrick McKinnon will finally make his return after knee injuries, helping create a three-headed monster of RBs in the Bay Area. That, if you haven’t figured it out yet, means Mostert’s carries will be limited and his fantasy value will be crushed.
Don’t Buy High On George Kittle
If you get the chance, you should absolutely draft George Kittle as your starting tight end. We just recommend waiting, and not grabbing him too early when other more valuable players will be available.
Kittle will be complemented this year by Jordan Reed, which will help the physical player get rest to stay healthy. It also means he will see fewer targets in the passing game. If you can grab a player you know will score more points, take them before Kittle and hope he falls to you.
Avoid Lamar Jackson Early
We get it, Lamar Jackson is coming off of winning the NFL MVP. He threw for over 3,500 yards in 2019, tossed 36 touchdown gems, and rushed for over 1,000 yards. He’s a once in a lifetime player. He’s also one of several viable QB options.
You only need one starting QB in your league. Focus your early rounds on multi-position needs. Don’t leave yourself under-handed at receiver or running back because you just couldn’t help yourself.
Derrick Henry Won’t Have To Carry The Load This Year
There one big reason we suggest you consider avoiding Derrick Henry with your first round pick this year. Last year was sensational, coming on like lightning down the stretch and finished the season with 1,540 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns.
Entering the 2020 season, there is every reason to believe the Titans will want to lessen the load on Henry. Ryan Tannehill just signed a major contract to be the team’s starting QB, and we expect the team to throw the ball more, too. Henry, unlike other backs, is not a pass catching threat.
Just Don’t Touch Devin Singletary
Last season, Bills running back Devin Singletary was a hot ticket fantasy option. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a bust then, and we expect him to be a bust again this year.
A lot of analysts have him graded to go in the fourth round of drafts. Even that’s too high for a player who is clearly running second whistle to Zack Moss. Let Singletary hit free agency, then pick him up if you’re desperate.
Don’t Overvalue Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournetter went from Jacksonville Jaguar outcast to likely starting running back in Tampa Bay. That alone has skyrocketed his fantasy value, which means you know what, according to us — don’t overvalue him just because everyone else is.
Fournette never materialized in the game-changing back the Jaguars drafted him to be, and that won’t happen playing next to Tom Brady either. Not only will Fournette have to learn a new playbook with limited time before week one, he will also have to fight for the ball against one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.
DeAndre Hopkins Comes With A Warning Label
DeAndre Hopkins is going to be drafted, and he is going to be drafted high. Before you commit to taking him, though, let us give you this warning label. In Houston, Hopkins was targeted 30 percent of the time and saw over 150 targets.
In Arizona, Hopkins will be surrounded by more complementary talent (Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald) and a QB who can run when he gets in trouble in the passing game. Hopkins will still produce, just not first round fantasy numbers.
Amari Cooper Will Regress In Dallas
After being traded from the Raiders to the Cowboys in 2019, Amari Cooper became of the hottest wide receivers in the league. He made an instant impact and his fantasy value soared through the roof as a result.
In 2020, we expect his numbers to regress, even if his initial fantasy value doesn’t. Dallas has surrounded Dak Prescott with several talented receivers, which will make it harder for Cooper to find targets. There might be even fewer opportunities if the Cowboys lean on the running game.
T.Y. Hilton Isn’t Aging Gracefully
T.Y. Hilton has been a fantasy stud nearly every year he’s been in the NFL. He’s explosive and, when healthy, was a sure bet to reach 1,000 yards. In 2019, Hilton missed six games with a calf injury.
In 2020, Hilton will be 30-years-old. We expect his production to slow down, even if his targets increase. Philip Rivers doesn’t have much arm strength, which will limit explosive plays and, in turn, limit Hilton’s overall fantasy value.
Jared Cook Is A Risk At TE
Jared Cook flourished as a fantasy option catching passes from Drew Brees in 2019. If you really dive into his stats, though, most of his value came from his seven touchdowns, not his yards or catches.
In PPR, that means Cook is a TE best avoided until late rounds. In other leagues, the same goes. It won’t be easy for Cook to repeat his seven touchdown year, which limits his value on a team filled with other talented options.
Kenyan Could Fall Out Of Favor In Arizona
Kenyan Drake was a solid pickup by the Arizona Cardinals last season. He made an instant impact as a difference-making back. He took pressure off of rookie QB Kyler Murray and is expected by many to play a big role again for the club in 2020.
In PPR leagues, Drake will have a chance to flourish again as a runner and receiver. With a fast-paced offense, however, Drake could also find himself on the sideline more often than not, especially if he starts a game slowly. Expect head coach Kliff Kingsbury to play the hot hand, not the highest-paid player.
Daniel Jones Isn’t Ready Yet
In 2021, Daniel Jones has a chance to be a special player in the NFL and a high-value fantasy pick. This season, however, he is best left to free agency. His rookie season was filled with ups and downs and turnovers.
This upcoming season should be filled with more of the same as he continues to learn with limited talent around him. Jones will surely have a few explosive games, but more often than not, his stats won’t justify the pick unless you need a spot starter during your normal QB’s bye week.
Cam Akers Has Big Shoes To Fill In Los Angeles
Cam Akers was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams to be the new Todd Gurley. While that could happen down the road, it’s unlikely to happen his rookie season. With a shortened offseason, Akers will be thrown into week one having never season a professional down before.
Akers, of course, is an interesting choice in a late round. He could surprise and come out swinging. If he does, he will be the leader of the offense and carry the load.
Jared Goff Won’t Rebound
If you’re sitting on Jared Goff in your fantasy draft thinking he might be a sleeper candidate, then keep sitting. With a weakened run game in 2019, Goff regressed badly as the leader of the Rams’ offense.
Unless Cam Akers explodes out of the gate (which we predict he won’t), then you’ll see more of the same from Goff. Given limited opportunities, he is one of the most accurate QBs in the league. When he is the focus of the offense, though, his skillset diminishes rapidly.
Anthony Miller Needs A Different Quarterback
Anthony Miller in the 2020 season is being drafted high because he’s the best wide receiver the Chicago Bears have. The problem with his production won’t be his talent, though, it will be the talent of who is throwing to him.
As the Bears’ starting QB, Mitchell Trubisky has led the team to the playoffs once. In his third year in the league he was benched. In 2020, the team placed him in competition with Nick Foles. None of that is good news for Anthony Miller.
Julian Edelman Is Over The Hill
We understand the nostalgia for Julian Edelman. He formed a power duo with Tom Brady for years in New England. That’s kind of the problem though, isn’t it, it’s been years. Edelman isn’t a young player anymore, and he’s become injury prone late in his career.
Expect Cam Newton to find a younger target to favor with fresher legs and more explosive route running ability. Edelman is a WR3 at best in 2020, but we don’t even trust that analysis.
Can Hunter Henry Stay Healthy?
The Los Angeles Chargers will try to lean heavily on tight end Hunter Henry this year as Tyrod Taylor tries to lead the team while teaching rookie QB Justin Herbert the ropes of the league.
If Henry stays healthy, he could be a productive fantasy tight end. If his career is any indication that likely won’t happen. Some players are just more injury-prone than others, and in three years in the league, Henry has never played a full 16 game schedule.
Austin Hooper Won’t Earn His Paycheck In Cleveland
Before the start of the 2020 season, Austin Hooper signed a four-year contract with the Cleveland Browns. After four moderately productive years in Atlanta, the Browns made Hooper one of the highest-paid TEs in the league, and as his price tag soared, so did his fantasy value.
If Baker Mayfield leans on Hooper, he might be worth the pickup. If Mayfield fails to improve on his disappointing 2019 season, though, you’ll want to trade Hooper early before he runs out of value.
Garnder Minshew II Isn’t A Sleeper Candidate
Gardner Minshew II was one of the breakout players of 2019. He came out of nowhere to become the Jaguars’ starting QB. As a rookie, he had his ups and downs, but showed enough potential that the team traded away Nick Foles, making the jort-wearing player the unquestioned starter.
What happens in the 2020 season will say a lot about Minshew II. We see it going two ways. He’s every bit the player the team hopes he is and they make the playoffs. The more likely scenario is that he’s average at best and the team is only starting him to lose games and draft Trevor Lawrence in 2021.
Hunter Renfrow Will Only Let You Down
Another surprise breakout player in 2019 will fall back down to earth in 2020. Late in last season, Derek Carr began to rely more and more on Hunter Renfrow. A tricky possession receiver, Renfrow holds value in PPR leagues but should be avoided in standard ones.
Our biggest concern with Renfrow is Derek Carr. After signing a $125 million extension, Carr became too careful. Las Vegas then brought in Marcus Mariota to challenge the former MVP candidate. With Mariota now on the injured reserve, Carr has no one breathing down his neck, which will hurt the talent around him.
Antonio Gibson Will Have All Eyes On Him
The Washington Football Team will be relying on Antonio Gibson as its primary running back in 2020, and all eyes will be on him. QB Dwayne Haskins will be watched closely in his second year under center, leading the team to lean on the running game.
Defenses will adjust accordingly, which won’t help fantasy owners hoping Gibson will be a surprise 2020 sleeper. Keep dreaming and pick someone else in the slot you would have targeted the running back.
Matt Breida Won’t Be An Impact Player In Miami
With too many running backs on the roster, the 49ers traded Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins in 2020. Fin fans are hoping Breida becomes the team’s leading rusher. After all, he is one of the fastest players in the NFL and averages more than five yards-per-carry with San Francisco.
Breida also fumbled a lot with the 49ers and had an injury-prone ankle. While his speed is exciting, don’t be fooled by it.