While we always spend so much time suggesting to you that you grab this particular wide receiver or that particular running back, we often forget to tell you which situations or players to avoid. It might seem like basic fantasy common sense, but when you’re sifting through your waiver wire here in the early goings of the season, desperately looking for some unfound gem in a quarry filled with lumps of coal, even the slightest glimmer of hope can become exaggerated to the point where you’re tempted to drop someone from your roster to take a chance. So for today, rather than hype someone who may not even deserve a look, let alone a roster spot, we’re going to take a bit harsher a point of view and go over those situations around the NFL that you’re going to want to avoid this year.
I’m still reeling from the fact that the higher-ups thought they were safe enough at the position to release Greg McElroy, rather than keep him on as the third string quarterback. Instead, the Jets have decided that an inexperienced Matt Simms is the best way to back up rookie Geno Smith, who looked below-average coming back from an ankle injury that kept him out of a good portion of training camp, and Mark Sanchez whose bum shoulder is being used an excuse to turn the page on a very disappointing one-time first-round draft choice. There’s a very good chance that this job changes hands a few times as neither Smith nor Sanchez seems like an appealing choice and Simms is just way too green. No pun intended. It’s not even worth looking at for a bye-week replacement.
For the sake of not believing that the Raiders have actually gotten worse since the death of Al Davis, I’ll have to assume that Terrelle Pryor is getting the nod for Week 1 because Matt Flynn’s elbow is in worse shape than originally believed. Pryor may have more mobility and will undoubtedly pick up more rushing yards than Flynn, but come on. Can this guy even throw the ball past 20 yards? I mean, with any sort of accuracy? The team may go with Pryor for the time being, but after a couple of losses, they’re likely to make the switch. Unfortunately for Flynn though, the offensive line is still a bit of a disaster. His pass protection is going to be sketchy and with the likelihood that Darren MCFadden will be hurt soon enough and the running game will be a mess, defenses will be able to continue falling back into coverage with the more than occasional blitz. This just isn’t going to be pretty. One thing I will note is that if you’re in a deep two-quarterback league with 14 or more teams, maybe it could work out.
I mean, I‘ve always been a fan of but did you read the section right above this…?
This is more of a “not now, but maybe later” situation. Le’Veon Bell is a worthwhile stash, but it’s very likely that he doesn’t emerge until Week 6, right after the Steelers’ bye week. In the meantime, the Steelers are going with that ever-mediocre Isaac Redman who had one good game last year in a season of just blech! Behind him on the depth chart, but likely to take over on passing downs, is LaRod Stephens-Howling. I’m not saying that there’s no talent there, but in the grand fantasy scheme, there’s just nothing even remotely reliable. Like I said, Bell makes for a good stash, but if the Steelers are, perhaps, rushing him back (although cutting Jonathan Dwyer was a bold move to indicate Bell is getting better), then he may not be as effective as you’d like. I could see him being a solid play after Week 8 though.
Get past Pierre Garcon and the lingering foot issue and there’s really not much there. Josh Morgan has been the epitome of mediocrity and then you’ve got an aging Santana Moss. While Robert Griffin is a fantastic quarterback, when healthy, he’s got limited weapons available to him. Garcon is a nice deep threat, but it’s hard to see Morgan or Moss being reliable on the short passes throughout the season. And if Garcon’s foot does start to act up, this receiving corps just doesn’t look appealing. I could see a lot of work for Alfred Morris and a lot of roll-outs on passing plays that result in a tuck-and-run.
Here’s one that takes a backseat to the situations in Oakland and New York but is just as avoidable. If you’ve already drafted, you’ll see that even in a 14-team league neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne came off the board at any point. Nor should they have. It’s a shame really, because I happen to like the weapons that Jacksonville has. Maurice Jones-Drew could have a great bounce-back season, Cecil Shorts is a fantastic deep threat and after a four-game suspension, Justin Blackmon should become a super-hot waiver commodity if he was left off everyone’s draft board. Sadly though, lots has to do with the quarterback and with Gabbert’s lingering thumb issue and Henne’s…well….Henne….it’s not a trusted situation. Sure, lightning could hit for a one-week filler, but you’ve got to make sure the match-up is a favorable one. Similarly to the Raiders situation, while this shouldn’t be a situation you should seel out, in a 14-team, two quarterback league, this might be helpful.
Just as division rival Washington has it’s wide receiver shortcomings, so do the Eagles. It didn’t start out that way, but after season-ending ACL tears for both Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn during the preaseason, they are left with DeSean Jackson and little else. Sure, you could draft Riley Cooper or Jason Avant, but Cooper has never proven to be too reliable (and he’s liable to take a few cheap shots as well) and Avant always manages to sling an invisible piano onto his back before he starts to run. I would draft Jackson, particularly in a PPR league, but the rest of the lot can be left alone.
It’s a run-first offense with Christian Ponder at the helm. What do you think? If Ponder can stay reasonably mistake-free he’s probably going to hold down the job, but fantasy-wise, he just doesn’t have too much going for him. He’s not totally useless and can be used as a second quarterback in a deep two-quarterback league, but is it a situation you want to be a part of? Probably not. Given Ponder’s shortcomings as a quarterback, there’s also the chance that a few straight losses leads the team to a change to Matt Cassel. Not that he’s much better, nor is he likely to hold the job all year, but he’ll eat into Ponder’s starting time, thus killing any remote value he ever had.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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