Every year it happens in fantasy football. You draft a player who you think is bound to have an awesome year, only to watch them week after week do nothing but constantly disappoint you.
Last year there were plenty of examples. Eddie Lacy, C.J. Anderson, Jeremy Hill are just a few first-round busts that derailed more than a few fantasy teams last year, but it’s not just first-round picks that didn’t pan out either. I’m looking at you DeMarco Murray, Melvin Gordon, Alshon Jeffery, Jordan Matthews, Jimmy Graham, and the list could go on.
But what if there was something that you could do about it?
Drafting winning fantasy teams is all about finding the best value at the best time and also avoiding reaching for a player that doesn’t represent value at that current pick.
Here are a few players who just aren’t worth their current average draft position or ADP.
*Note: ADP is in accordance to FantasyPros
Adrian Peterson – Current ADP: 5th overall, RB2
After a 2014 campaign almost completely lost due to suspension, Peterson bounced back nicely last year, leading the NFL in the triple crown of RB counting stats: attempts, yards and touchdowns. His 4.5 yards per carry is a shade under his 4.9 career mark, but when he’s getting that much volume week-to-week, and plays a full 16 games, the slight drop doesn’t matter. Either way, 2015 was a pretty good year for any running back, let alone one that turned 30 last year.
Now Peterson, like the rest of the world, is one year older and by now fantasy owners know to be weary of any running back in this age bracket.
Peterson has been the epitome of consistency since his rookie season way back in 2007. But regression is coming like a Mack truck going 100 MPH.
Just look at former fantasy studs like LaDainian Tomlinson, Edgerrin James and Shaun Alexander (to name a few) and see what they did when they turned 30. Of course Peterson is better than Alexander and James, but you get my point.
Tomlinson is a great example. He went from rushing for 1,110 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns to 730 rushing and 12 in his last year in San Diego. While those touchdowns are nice, he was being drafted in the first round that year, a decision that cost his fantasy owners dearly.
Even at 31, Peterson should still come close to 1,100 yards and around eight touchdowns, but those numbers aren’t what you expect from someone being taken as the fifth pick overall.
Plus, the Vikings are already on record in training camp that they want to keep Peterson fresh for late in the season and get backup running back Jerick McKinnon more touches and more involved in the offense.
These are all major warning signs to not draft Peterson in the first round.
Dez Bryant – Current ADP: 11th overall, WR5
If you’re drafting Bryant at the tail end of round one and before guys like A.J. Green and Allen Robinson, you are hoping that the Bryant of old returns.
The Bryant that produced double-digit touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards in three consecutive seasons before a foot injury limited him to just nine games last year.
From 2012-14 Bryant had no fewer than 88 catches, 1,233 yards and 12 TDs in any season and he finished in the top six in fantasy scoring among wide receivers in each of those years. Numbers like that would easily make Bryant worth taking late in the first round.
The problem is that Bryant is one of the riskiest picks that can he had this year within the first two rounds of the draft. Bryant said he wasn’t right last season after coming back from his foot injury, and his unusually lackluster numbers would seem to bear that out. Yes, it’s true that Tony Romo was injured for most of Bryant’s nine games last year, but No. 88 never looked like his old self.
Things got further complicated this offseason when he underwent two foot and ankle surgeries. So far in camp he says he’s 100 percent ready to go and he avoided the PUP list, but he’s really taking things slow so far.
The Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in football and drafted Ezekiel Elliot fourth overall to be their lead running back and have other options behind him.
Throw in the fact that Romo is now 36 years old and has a history of shoulder and back injuries and you’ve got a team that is going to run the ball way more than they pass it.
By no means is Bryant going to be a bust, but he’s not going to score as many fantasy points as Green, Robinson or even Mike Evans this year and correct me if I’m wrong, but you want your fantasy team to score the most points each week right? If so, don’t draft Bryant in the first round.
Ben Roethlisberger – Current ADP: 53rd Overall, QB5
The only reason Roethlisberger is the fifth quarterback drafted is because of Antonio Brown. And maybe Le’Veon Bell, but he will be of no help for the first three games because of a suspension.
Everyone thinks that the Steelers are going to be the next version of the Kurt Warner-led St. Louis Rams “Greatest Show on Turf” offense that lit up defenses back in the late 1990s, but I just don’t see it.
It could be possible if Martavis Bryant didn’t get himself suspended for the entire season. That leaves Markus Wheaton as the team’s WR2 and second-year wideout Sammie Coates as the big mystery. It has been said that Coates could be even more talented than Bryant, but yet he couldn’t put it together enough as a rookie to catch more than one pass for 11 yards.
Oh, and don’t forget about Big Ben’s injury history. Drafting him as one of the first quarterbacks in the fourth round in a 12-team league means you absolutely need him to play 16 games. That’s something he’s only done three times in his 12-year career.
Not only did he get injured once again last year, but he threw 16 INTs, his most in a decade, and his TD percentage (4.5) was his lowest since 2011.
Roethlisberger is now 34 years old and with his style of play, it’s no doubt taken its toll. Others like Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and even Eli Manning are being drafted after Roethlisberger and represent way better value.
Tyler Eifert – Current ADP: 63rd Overall, TE5
This one is a real head scratcher. How can it be that a tight end who most likely will miss the start of the season and could be out the entire first month, is still being drafted as high as the fifth round?
Even if by some miracle of miracles Eifert is able to play in Week 1, he won’t be 100 percent and won’t be much more than a decoy when he’s on the field.
Drafting Eifert at his current ADP means that you are pretty much going to need to draft at least one more tight end. Or you could be in a position where you would have to drop Eifert or another player to make room for another TE to start in Week 1 (and perhaps longer). This doesn’t make sense.
I understand Eifert’s intrigue. He was third in fantasy points per game among TEs last season, thanks to his 13 touchdowns, which tied him for fourth in the NFL. Eifert was uncoverable in the red zone, where he scored 11 TDs on only 15 targets. Inside the 10-yard line he was at his best, scoring six times, as defensive backs had a tough time matching up with his size (6-6, 250) and leaping ability (36-inch vertical).
However, for the entire season Eifert finished with just 52 receptions for 615 yards, which breaks down to just four catches and 47.3 yards per game (13 games played). His only 100-yard game came in Week 1, and he had at least 70 yards only one other time.
Eifert missed three games with a neck stinger and concussion. That’s after missing all but one game in his rookie season with an elbow injury and now he’s dealing with an ankle injury that is sure to hamper him throughout the 2016 season.
It’s true that there are plenty of targets to go around in the Bengals’ offense with Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu leaving (152 targets to be exact), but don’t count on many of them coming Eifert’s way.
Drafting Delanie Walker, Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz or Gary Barnidge appear to be far better options and offer way better value than Eifert in the fifth round.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.