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10 Players to Avoid at their ADP

By Bill Anderson | 8/22/23 |

A Perhaps the most important part of any fantasy season is the draft. Perhaps the most important part of any draft is the value you get while avoiding landmines. The following ten players are not necessarily guys that I don’t like (although in some cases that’s true) but they are players that I believe are being drafted too high, where the risk outweighs the potential reward.

Note: ADP is based on Half-PPR scoring.

RB Jonathan Taylor IND; ADP: 16

Just over a year ago it looked like Taylor was the easy choice for the overall RB1 in fantasy leagues, as he put up massive numbers in his 2nd year, with over 1800 yards rushing and 20 total touchdowns. The 2022 season unfortunately, went south with multiple ankle injuries, six missed games, and a big drop in both efficiency and overall production.

Now this preseason Taylor is dealing with multiple issues including feuding with the Colts owner, contract disputes, a potential trade and possible injuries. While these things could easily be resolved by the start of the season, the saying “where there is smoke there is fire” may be appropriate here. These issues, however, are not the only hurdle Taylor will face this year if he sticks in Indianapolis. The Colts will be running out Anthony Richardson, their first round QB, and while Richardson is a total freak athlete, he is very raw as a thrower and will likely have growing pains for most of 2023. The Colts offensive line, once a top unit in the NFL, took a big step back last year and there are questions if it can rebound.

With a raw rookie QB, a questionable line, offseason drama, potential injury risks, and a likely inconsistent offense, Taylor looks like a major risk as your 2nd pick in redraft leagues.

QB Patrick Mahomes, KC: ADP 15

Mahomes on this list has zero to do with his talent or ability and everything to do with value. Mahomes is currently being taken as the top QB off the board in fantasy drafts and is going in the early to mid-2nd round. This is insane considering the quality of players at other positions in this range and the quality depth of the QB position. In a 12 team, single-QB league there are better options available by simply waiting a few rounds and still snagging a player with top 5 upside but at a bigger discount.

The opportunity cost of passing on a true bellcow-stud RB (of which there are very few) or a true, consistent target-hog WR to take a player at such a deep position like QB is how managers lose their leagues every year. While Mahomes should certainly have another great season, the gap between and Justin Herbert, Justin Fields, or Trevor Lawrence, all available 30+ picks later, is likely too small to justify Mahomes early draft capital. I would personally even argue that guys like Deshaun Watson and Tua Tagovailoa, both normally available about 70 picks later, is a much smarter option than taking Mahomes in the 2nd.

Instead of investing in a QB so early, lock down studs at RB and WR and still score a quality, high-upside QB much later.

Josh Jacobs

RB Josh Jacobs, LV: ADP 22

Jacobs shares some similarities with the aforementioned Taylor, in that there are red flags that seem hard to ignore this close to the start of the season. Jacobs, like a few other veteran backs around the league, is unhappy with his contract (or lack-of) and is currently holding out. You have to start to be concerned that Jacobs may miss some regular season games or at the very least, miss enough of the preseason that he may get off to a slow start. Even if he comes back soon, does he take his foot off the gas at some point in order to remain healthy for a new contract somewhere else next season? I think it is certainly possible, especially assuming the Raiders are not playoff contenders deep into the season.

Another reason to be hesitant is the historic finishes of running backs high touches the previous season. Jacobs had just under 400 touches last season, which led the NFL, just ahead of Derrick Henry. Historically there are very few backs that followed up that kind of volume with another top 10 fantasy finish the following year, and many fell out of the top 15.

Jacobs, like Taylor simply has too many red flags for me to invest such an early pick when there are safer options with similar upside available.

RB Travis Etienne, JAX: ADP 29

After missing his entire rookie season with a Lisfranc injury, Etienne broke out for just over 1,400 total yards and 5 touchdowns last season. A fine season for sure but his price implies that he will improve quite a bit from last year. While Etienne’s basic cumulative stats were solid last season, his advanced metrics were average and his usage was inconsistent. Some would say he was disappointing based on the lack of competition at the position.

This year the Jags have added Tank Bigsby, who they drafted in the 3rd round and has been reportedly having an excellent pre-season. They also added WR Calvin Ridley to pair with last year’s target leader Christian Kirk. If anything, I would not be surprised if Etienne had fewer touches this season and since Bigsby profiles as more of a short-yardage guy, it’s difficult to predict more touchdowns for Etienne.

I actually like Etienne but he is being over-hyped based on his youth and the Jaguars offense taking a leap last year. If he was being drafted around where he finished last year (RB17 in most leagues) I would be fine with his value, but drafting him a round earlier you are basically counting on him hitting his ceiling. That’s too risky of a proposition for me given what we know about his circumstance.

WR Deebo Samuel, SF: ADP 40

Samuel lit the NFL and the fantasy world on fire in 2021 with over 1,700 total yards and 14 total touchdowns. Last season, Deebo took a significant step back, with less than half the total yards and his touchdowns were cut down to 5 (playing three fewer games). While Deebo is one of the more exciting and dynamic players in the league, 2021 is very likely to go down as his career year and there is good reason to avoid him in the first four rounds of your draft this year.

The Niners have one of the better groups of skill players in the NFL, with Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey all good enough to demand targets. The obvious issue here is the number of talented mouths to feed, but it goes even a bit deeper. The guy feeding these players is still a mystery. Brock Purdy is coming back from injury, Trey Lance is totally unproven, and Sam Darnold is, well, Sam Darnold. Purdy will be getting first crack at the job but he is coming off a serious elbow injury and has a small sample size of success as a 7th round rookie last year. In the end, none of these QB’s are sure things and it wouldn’t be shocking if the SF quarterbacks finished below league average this year.

Finally, with one of the very best defenses in the NFL, I expect the 49ers to be one of the league’s more run-heavy teams in 2023. Overall, Samuel is a fun real-life player to follow but is unlikely to offer consistent high volume nor the kind of high fantasy upside that it takes to make him a top 50 pick.

RB D’Andre Swift, DET: ADP 66

The Eagles have one of the best offenses in the NFL so you would think their running backs would be highly valuable in fantasy. While I think the final, cumulative numbers of the position will look good, at this point I am avoiding the whole situation, especially Swift, who gets drafted first of the bunch.

The issue here is nobody in the committee is a bellcow back, and especially not Swift. He is an explosive playmaker who is great in the passing game best used for a change of pace running the ball. Unfortunately, the Eagles checked down to the RB at the lowest rate in the NFL last year and there is little reason to think that will change this season. With so many weapons in the passing game, Jalen Hurts running the ball, and competition from both Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Gainwell, the chances Swift is anything more than a low-end RB3 is pretty low.

Currently being drafted as the RB25, there are much better value picks in his range, even at the RB position. I would rather draft Javonte Williams, Rachaad White, David Montgomery or James Cook, yet each of these guys is going after Swift on average. While Swift is bound to have a handful of great games this year, it is unlikely you are ever going to feel safe starting him on a week-to-week basis.

TE Kyle Pitts, ATL: ADP 64

I absolutely love Pitts in dynasty leagues, as he is one of the best tight end prospects of the past decade. For 2023 however, I believe Pitts will not come close to his ceiling and is being over-drafted in the early 6th round.

After selecting Bijan Robinson in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft, the Falcons boast one of the league’s most exciting young trio’s in Robinson, Pitts, and WR Drake London. However, this is likely to be a conservative, run-heavy offense, as the Falcons ranked 31st in pass attempts last year and will likely to continue to lean on the run after drafting Robinson. Even if the offense ramps up the passing game, QB Desmond Ridder does not exactly inspire a lot of confidence in executing an efficient passing game.

With multiple mouths to feed, a conservative game-plan, and the personnel to be able to run the ball, getting more than 5-6 targets a game for Pitts is unlikely. Pitts is a flashy name but in the 6th round, you are likely to get more production from other tight ends including Darren Waller, Dallas Goedert and even Evan Engram.

QB Dak Prescott, DAL: ADP 79

My personal strategy is to wait on drafting a QB, but I also get the strategy of taking one of the studs a bit earlier in the draft. However, one of the worst strategies you can have, is selecting Dak or another QB in the middle rounds as there are equal or better options later in the draft and some excellent values at other positions in this range.

Dak is likely to be an average fantasy starter. After being a fantasy stud his first four seasons, the Cowboys QB has come back down to earth the last three seasons, considerably reducing his rushing production, while raising his interception percentage and missing several games due to injury. He has decent weapons but coaches have hinted at a more conservative attack after offensive coordinator Kellen Moore left for the Chargers.

With a near-elite defense there may not be a need to throw a ton of passes and with no significant rushing production to lean on, the ceiling for Dak is fairly low. If I get to the 7th or 8th round without a quarterback, I would prefer to take Deshaun Watson, Tua Tagovailoa, Aaron Rodgers, or even (dare I say it) Kirk Cousins over Dak this year. For the floor/ceiling combo all these QB’s are favorable to Dak and you get the luxury of being able to add an extra player before you have to draft them, as compared to taking Dak in the 7th.

Michael  Pittman Jr.

WR Michael Pittman Jr., IND: ADP 77

While Pittman caught more balls last year (99) than the previous season (88), it was really a step back in fantasy terms, as he averaged 3 less yards per catch and only managed 4 scores, compared with 6 TDs the year before. This season Pittman will have a new quarterback, in rookie 1st round pick Anthony Richardson, a strong armed, athletic, yet very raw QB to go along with a new head Coach in Shane Steichen. Steichen is known for an aggressive, downfield passing offense and that sort of style would seem to fit the new Colts QB.

Unfortunately, neither the system nor the new quarterback is likely to benefit Pittman for fantasy. Pittman is a possession receiver who doesn’t get a lot of separation nor has a lot of burst or speed. Richardson is a raw, with a super strong arm but has accuracy issues, especially in the short and intermediate levels, where Pittman loves to reside.

While I like Richardson’s long-term outlook, he is very likely to struggle this season as he adjusts to the NFL game. I think most of the production on this Colts offense is going to come from the legs of Richardson and Jonathan Taylor (?), and the occasional deep shot down the field. Look for Pittman to lose quite a few targets and catches from last season making him a touchdown-dependent receiver, which is a scary proposition for someone that only has 11 scores in 46 career games.

Bottom line is I’m not betting on a raw rookie quarterback taking Pittman to the next level and there are safer options with higher upside being taken in the same range like Diontae Johnson or Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

WR George Pickens, PIT: ADP 85

Pickens stock has risen over the past month, as his highlight-reel grabs in practice have filled our social media timelines. While the catches have been impressive and fun to watch, we have to remember this does not necessarily translate to fantasy success.

The problem with Pickens’ ADP is he is being taken as the WR34-35, which would be a considerable jump from where he finished last season. His competition for targets has increased as the Steelers added TE Darnell Washington, a massive specimen who could be a redzone specialist, and veteran WR Allen Robinson, who is certainly past his prime but is still a solid slot player, which is where he has been lining up so far this Summer.

With Diontae Johnson back and likely to have positive TD regression (86 catches without a TD last year) and Pat Freiermuth also looking to improve in his 3rd season, Pickens is unlikely to earn many more targets than he had last year (84). The Steelers have an excellent defense, a questionable QB running the show, and a talented running back in Najee Harris. Are we expecting this offense to be high-powered through the air?

Pickens will likely have a handful of big games, making highlight-reel catches, but his week-to-week consistency is going to be maddening. In a Best Ball format, I’m happy to take a shot on Pickens but in the early 8th round of regular drafts, I see more interesting players in a similar range like Tua, Jordan Addison and Jamaal Williams.

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