Monday, December 22, 2014 • 07:41
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Fantasy football: guys I don't like


August 14, 2013
Quarterback

Tom Brady—I have to admit that I just plain don't like Tom Brady, fantasy football or otherwise. It probably has something to do with all those tiny hats he likes to wear. On the football field, however, he's missing all but one of his top receiving targets from last season, and that one (Rob Gronkowski) is having all kinds of trouble staying healthy. Sure, Danny Amendola is a legitimate weapon, and, after all, the Patriots are the Patriots — they're going to score points, one way or another. But if you're expecting a huge year like last season, Brady probably won't be able to deliver.

Ben Roethlisberger—Another guy I generally don't like, but once again have some concerns from a fantasy perspective. He lost one of his top receivers (Mike Wallace) and the offensive line is shaky at best. Roethlisberger has developed a reputation for bouncing off of would-be sackers (it's like the pro wrestling principle — the fatter you are, the harder you are to knock over), which is good in that he extends plays, but is bad in that he's almost always getting hit before he can make said plays. At some point, no matter how bulky the quarterback is, those hits are going to take a toll. I doubt that last season showed us the last of Roethlisberger's injuries.

Matt Schaub—Meh. That's all you can really say about Schaub. I just found out he's been in the league for ten years. It seems like it's been a lot longer. His team runs the ball. A lot. And I don't think he's fooling anyone with the shaved head. I suppose he's consistent, so if you're the kind of person who enjoys plain oatmeal for breakfast, here's your quarterback.

Running Back

Jamaal Charles—I get that he's a talented, exciting player to watch. But he just gets hurt too much. He tore his ACL in 2011, he had a good season last year, but has already been carted off the practice field in 2013 with a sprained foot. He could be a huge factor in Andy Reid's offense, or he could be the name that haunts you from your Injured Reserve slot. If I'm drafting in the top six and I have a choice between Charles, CJ Spiller, Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris or LeSean McCoy, I'll take any of those other guys (with the possible exception of Richardson, who has health concerns of his own) before I take Charles.

Frank Gore—Not for lack of talent or effort, that's for sure. It's just that the San Francisco backfield is getting more and more crowded. They already had Kendall Hunter, a speedy little guy who draws favorable comparisons to Darren Sproles. They drafted LaMichael James a couple of years ago, and because of Hunter's injury last season, James has developed a lot more than a lot of second-year runners. They even have a big, bruising back in Anthony Dixon. Plus, the Niners know they need to get quarterback Colin Kaepernick involved in the running game as well. Gore has been great the past few seasons, and I'm confident he'll continue to be great—but he just won't have as many opportunities.

Any Of The Rookies—There are a few, such as Montee Ball, Le'Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy and Giovani Bernard. There are lots of stats about how at least one rookie rusher exceeds 1,000 yards every year. But we never know which one it will be, and more often than not, it's not the one you expect. Doug Martin was last year's rookie running back sensation. Who will it be this year? Are you willing to gamble that it'll be the guy you pick?

Wide Receiver

Mike Wallace—I hate to say it, as a Miami Dolphins fan, but I just can't let myself get too excited about this acquisition. Wallace has been a great downfield threat for the Steelers over the past few years, but the Dolphins are going to have trouble on the offensive line, Ryan Tannehill is still growing as a quarterback, and I think Brian Hartline is going to be Tannehill's safety blanket like he was last year. Wallace will put up decent numbers, but probably not anything extraordinary.

James Jones—He was a touchdown machine for the Packers last year, but there are too many mouths to feed. Sure, Aaron Rodgers is a generous quarterback when it comes to doling out the scores, but the Packers know that, in order to get back to the Super Bowl, they need to be able to run the ball more consistently, especially around the goal line. Eddie Lacy and/or James Starks should help with that, which should eat into all the touchdown passes. And without touchdowns, Jones is just as likely to put up a zero as he is to have a good day.

Greg Jennings—Christian Ponder is pretty bad at football. I mean, he's obviously way better than any of us can ever hope to be. But still, compared to other professional football players, Christian Ponder is pretty bad. That's not good for Jennings, who needs Ponder to be not so bad at throwing the football to him.

Tight End

Vernon Davis—He's too hit-or-miss. Sure, he's going to have some big games, and athletically, he's an impossible matchup for most defenses. But when you watch him score 20 points one week, then have two points the next, and this goes on for an entire season, you start to lose patience. And probably some hair. You can get more consistent production out of a lot of guys this year, so let someone else in your league bear the burden of deciding whether or not to shave their head like Matt Schaub. We can all still see the horseshoe-shaped stubble.

Owen Daniels—See my thoughts on Matt Schaub, then add another half-hearted shoulder shrug for good measure.

Ed Dickson—I know Dennis Pitta. I served with Dennis Pitta. And you, sir, are no Dennis Pitta. I admit that Dickson has the opportunity, but darn it all if that opportunity doesn't come with the catch of simply making a catch. If Dickson's ability to manually control a floating football has improved, then he may get a chance or two to make a play. But if the recent signings of Dallas Clark and the ageless Brandon Stokley mean anything, I think Dickson may have run out of passes to drop.

Defense & Kicker

I don't know, I guess don't draft the Jacksonville defense. That seems pretty obvious. My strategy is to play matchups, so I plan on playing any defense going against the Jaguars, the Cardinals (Carson Palmer is the gift that keeps on giving), the Jets (ditto for Mark Sanchez), the Browns or even the Raiders.

As for the kickers, the one potential trap is to not get too excited about a kicker on a high-powered offensive team, like Mason Crosby in Green Bay or Phil Dawson in San Francisco. Sometimes, the best fantasy kickers play for teams that can move the ball between the 20s, but have trouble getting into the endzone. For this, we love the Blair Walshes, the Greg Zuerleins and the Dan Baileys of the world.

And why Randy Bullock might be the most exciting player on the Texans this season.

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