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Avoid this Year’s Fantasy Land Mines

Many on this site may assert that maneuvering through a fantasy draft is like navigating shark-infested waters. In the summer of 1977, a now-famous fantasy manager was heard to shout, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!” (that would be Chief Brodie) However, I would argue that Draft Day is more like a World War II battlefield. Oh, let’s be cute and call it “D-Day.” After all, we are storming the beach with the best ‘intel’ we’ve got (our August ‘cheat Sheets’).

Few of us saw the film “Saving Private
Ryan Grant
” in the theaters and we were burned by the first manager to rent it on DVD. That manager discovered a soldier who would be the ‘Sleeper Star’ of their platoon in 2007. Of course, this soldier seemed a magnet for shrapnel in 2008, which brings me to my point.

Every fantasy draft is littered with countless land mines we like to call, “overrated players.” If you step wrong, your platoon could be decimated. In other words, a major part of drafting smart is not who you draft, but who you do NOT draft. Every pick counts – high-rounders and low. I would contend that the manager with the best draft is he who avoids the most mines.

The following land mines, er … star players should be avoided like deadly barbed wire, particularly in the first six rounds of your draft. The number ranking attempts to measure the “height of expectations vs. the need to avoid this player” in a typical 2009 fantasy Draft. Or to put it in “shark terms,” think of it as the “bite radius,” you will suffer if you draft anyone from the list below.

Terrell Owens

Trent Edwards
is the least accomplished QB T.O. has ever played with.  How long do you think it will be before Mr. “That’s my Quarterback” let’s him know it? If Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo can be thrown under the bus, I shudder to think about the locker room chemistry in

this season. Bad attitude + injury age = BUST. I know there’s a shortage of marquee fantasy receivers, but T.O.’s numbers will be way down in 2009, even before the

cold freezes his aging joints.

Jay Cutler
– I know. This trade probably made you as sad as it made me from a fantasy standpoint. It’s a little early in his career to be shipped off to the quarterback junk yard of the NFL. Now Cutler can be enshrined on

Rex Grossman
Shane Matthews
! Why, even Sean Payton started two games in the 90s. Did Cutler even check out the Bears’ starting receivers before agreeing to this career killer? 
Devin Hester
Rashied Davis
(of the Arena League, oy!) are a steep climb down from Brandon Marshall and
Eddie Royal
. Jay, say “adios!” to 25 TDs and 4,500 yards. He’ll never see those numbers again and his mercurial self-esteem is going to shatter like a thermometer in


Kyle Orton
– I hope this is a no-brainer, but just in case you thought the Broncos got “an above-average QB” in the Cutler deal, I’m here to tell you that Orton is going to flush this offense down the toilet faster than you can say Jake “Plumber.” Josh McDaniels seems to have torpedoed this franchise before his season has even begun. Right now Mike Shanahan is somewhere, smiling to himself.

Brandon Marshall
– If you had him last year, you know what I mean. Forget his unlimited talent, which reminds me of
Plaxico Burress
. The problem is his off-the-field problems also remind me of Plax. He is a suspension away from being a no-show any day of the week. Even when he played, he got upstaged by the Royal rookie far too often last year.

Matt Cassel
– Do you really want to be the manager who explores the possibility that
Cassel was the product of a great system? Of course, he played well! Look who he was throwing to!  Look who was coaching him!

Kansas City
will feel like a different planet to the spoiled backup.  The running game is in shambles, led by attitude-prone
Larry Johnson
and … Jamaal Charles? 
Dwayne Bowe
Randy Moss
Cassel won’t even have the old master Tony Gonzalez at TE.  Let someone else storm this castle.

Jeremy Shockey
– To hear some people describe him, you’d still think Shockey was the second coming of Ozzie Newsome. Fact is, he’s been statistically shown up by the likes of
Chris Cooley
for several years now. The only time he doesn’t drop a pass is when he’s too injured to step on the field. And just you wait. As soon at he bolts

New Orleans
, the Saints will win the Super Bowl. Giant fans can you tell you a thing or two about that.

Eli Manning
– Eli is a great clutch QB, but he has never been a great fantasy QB and his numbers may be about to take a dip. We saw what happened to Eli’s TD passes with Plaxico gone. There weren’t any. Let’s not kid ourselves. Neither the current crop of Giant receivers, nor those rookies, are going to fully compensate for the loss of the gun-toting giraffe. Eli may have under 20 TD passes for the first time since his rookie year. Where’s Braylon in Big Blue when you need him? 

Carson Palmer
– Palmer was one of the top passers in the league just two years ago, but much has changed since then.

looks on the decline. No more reliable T.J. to throw to and an aging Ochocinco who’s more concerned with the name game than offensive production. Lavernues Coles has never had Housh’s numbers, so he won’t be an adequate replacement. With woeful
Cedric Benson
 starting at RB, defenses won’t respect the ground game. They will tee off on poor

. I hope he’s healed. He’s going to need the quick release.

Derrick Ward
–If he is to be the lead back in the rotation, beware. Giants fans will always remember his multiple long runs against the Panthers to secure a playoff spot in 2008. They will also remember that 2008 was the only year he ever remained healthy for a full season.  The Buccaneers don’t have

New York
‘s superior offensive line either. Ward will get his bell rung. Expect plenty of
Earnest Graham

this season.

Marion Barber
– The Barbarian runs so hard, it’s easy to forget he’s only 225 pounds, not nearly big enough to absorb the pounding he takes with that running style. I’ve noticed the way Barber wears down when he’s used as a primary back. His best days were when he complimented
Julius Jones
. Plus, the new Jones (Felix) is talented enough to steal a lot of yardage from Barber. So, at best, we’re looking at a backfield by committee situation. At worst, the departure of T.O. allows defenses to overload the box.  Either way, Barber will be overrated in most drafts, as he was last year.

And be warned …

LaDainian Tomlinson – He slipped so much, it’s hard to imagine him returning to form. He won’t be worth the price you’ll pay.

Brian Westbrook – We thought he’d kicked the injury bug. We thought wrong.

Willie Parker – Has never been a big scorer and the other two are forged of real


Reggie Wayne – Last year he gave the worst impression of a
Peyton Manning
number one target I’ve ever seen.

Joseph Addai – Toughness is lacking. Proceed with caution.

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