It’s the stretch run of fantasy draft season. Two big weekends remain until the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots meet for the Thursday night opener that kicks off the 2017 season. And that means that in man caves, watering holes and online draft rooms from Tucson to Timbuktu friends and strangers alike will be gathering to assemble their teams for 2017.
All summer long, you’ve read article after article about who to pick. The values. The sleepers. The good guys who can lead you to fantasy glory.
But what of their dark counterparts? The busts in waiting and overvalued players who will doom you team to a quick and inglorious demise?
What about the bad guys?
Well, this article’s all about them. Some of the players listed in this piece are in rotten situations. Others are injury risks. Others still are just being drafted higher than they should be.
Whatever the reason, each of them shares one thing in common. At their current ADP, they’re trouble waiting to happen for your fantasy team.
ROUND 1: Ezekiel Elliott – RB, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 1.11)
Ezekiel Elliott has become the most polarizing pick in fantasy drafts. More than a few leagues are going to be won (or lost) defending on whether or not Elliott’s six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy is upheld. Head coach Jason Garrett told Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News that the Cowboys are working under the assumption Elliott will be on the field against the New York Giants in Week 1.
“I think the biggest thing is just having the mindset of preparing him for Week 1 of the season,” Garrett said. “That’s the approach we’ve taken. He got a number of more reps in training camp than he did last year. … Anything beyond that we’ll take as it comes.”
It’s possible Elliott’s suspension will be reduced, or that the Cowboys will drag things out in the courts like the New England Patriots did with “DeflateGate.” And I’ll admit I’ve drafted Elliott in Round 2 a couple times since the suspension. But I did so with the belief Elliott will miss four games after his ban is reduced on appeal. Add in his bye and that’s five games without your first-rounder…at least.
ROUND 2: Amari Cooper – WR, Oakland Raiders (ADP: 2.04)
Cooper hit the weight room in the offseason in an effort to become more physical when high-pointing catches. Per Scott Bair of CSN Bay Area, quarterback Derek Carr said the change has been evident with the third-year pro.
“I think that that’s the (new) aspect this year. He’s just playing so physical,” Carr said. “He’s not going to let anybody push him around, and that’s his personality since I’ve known him. He doesn’t want anyone to push him around. He doesn’t want to take anything from anybody. I think that each year he has gotten so much better at both of those.”
That’s all well and good, but Cooper, who was out-pointed by batterymate Michael Crabtree last year, is being drafted 10th among wide receivers – ahead of players like Dez Bryant and Doug Baldwin. Last year Cooper finished 16th in PPR fantasy points. He’s being drafted at his ceiling – an unwise move this early in the draft.
Oh, and you can count his red-zone targets last year on one hand. You know, if you’re into touchdowns and stuff.
ROUND 3: Keenan Allen – WR, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 3.09)
Allen’s last two seasons have been injury-filled disasters. He missed almost all of the 2016 season with a torn ACL, and missed half the year before with a lacerated kidney. Still, cornerback Casey Hayward told Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune Allen has looked like his old self on the practice field.
“He’s not a burner, Hayward said. He can take you over the top – but, his game is getting in and out of his cuts, and that’s the same as a defensive back. To see him back at the rate that he is already, it’s going to be scary for a lot of people.”
Listen, I want to believe that Allen’s “back.” I’ve been a fan of his game dating all the way back to his days at Cal. The problem is that Allen’s injury history dates back that far too. Never mind that apparently Chargers owner Dean Spanos ran over a gypsy’s grandmother and got cursed by her bereaved family.
Make it right, Spanos. Eat the pie and make it right.
(OK, that last part made sense to maybe 11 people. It’s a Stephen King thing.)