You’ll never win a Fantasy Football League purely off of your initial draft, however you can very well lose one with a poor draft. One instance of this that comes to mind for me is a personal anecdote from a few years ago, as I decided to draft Broncos running back C.J Anderson and Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant with my first two draft picks. I almost immediately regretted these decisions as Bryant went down with a foot injury in week one while Anderson lost the starting job in Denver after a few weeks. Because of these moves I ended up with a 5-6-2 record, good enough for the final wild card spot in my 12 team league’s playoffs. I lost easily in the first round thanks to Andy Dalton’s season ending finger injury, a fitting culmination to a frustrating season. The moral of this story is that research (and a bit of luck) can go a long way in determining your success during the fantasy season. Had I done my research properly, I would have likely used my first rounder on Antonio Brown, who would go on to have one of his best all-time seasons that year. As for this article, I hope it can help at least one person avoid a devastating gaffe this fantasy season.
Quarterbacks to steer clear of
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
You’ve probably heard this before, but drafting Mahomes in the first couple of rounds would be a major mistake. As amazing as he is and should be this season, the QB position is just so deep that drafting a player like Mahomes at his current ADP would be an inefficient strategy. The risk-reward here is far too low to justify drafting Mahomes so early.
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Watson has dealt with a lot of injury issues already in his short career and the Texans seem intent upon exposing him to further injury risk by continually ignoring the offensive line. With another patch-work line set to protect him, Watson presents the highest injury risk of any QB heading into this season. He is currently being drafted as a top-5 player at his position, a warranted spot considering his tremendous production when healthy. However, given his injury risk I would avoid Watson unless he drops into round 7 or 8.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Brees is very much a first half player, as his seasons always tend to start off scorching hot yet trail off dismally towards the end. If you draft Brees, be sure to invest in a capable backup for the end of the season. I would rather just avoid Brees altogether though, as his ceiling is capped even in the early part of the season thanks to the Saints run-heavy offensive philosophy.
Running Backs to steer clear of
Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs
Williams is a fifth year running back who couldn’t beat out Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake for touches in Miami. I highly doubt that he is the long term answer at running back for the Chiefs and I believe he is a strong candidate to be supplanted as the starter. If anyone this year gives me C.J Anderson flashbacks, it’s Williams, as I don’t trust his track record at all. Investing in him as a RB1 could be a major setback if he doesn’t perform as well as he did towards the end of last season.
Melvin Gordon, LA Chargers
I never like to target guys who are holding out, especially if their contract disputes remain unsettled. This, along with Gordon’s injury history, sounds like a bad permutation for a potential first round pick in most leagues. With capable understudies in Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, the Chargers should be in no rush to spend all of their money on retaining Gordon, especially with the incoming class of running backs in the 2020 draft. I expect Gordon to either sit out or be traded before the end of the season.
Le’Veon Bell, NY Jets
A year of inactivity only to wind up playing on one of the least talented offenses in the league? Bell has a chance to be a major fantasy bust this season, despite his strong track record from his days in Pittsburgh. He is one player that I will refuse to draft for any of my teams.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
How many games has Cook actually played in during his NFL career? With his injury history, I am extremely skeptical about drafting him with one of my picks in rounds 2 or 3. Although his backup Alexander Mattison could be a very savvy late round flyer.
Todd Gurley, LA Rams
Arthritic knees are not a trait that I look for when drafting players for my fantasy team. Much like Cook, I think Gurley will give way to his backup Darrell Henderson by the end of the season.
Wide Receivers to steer clear of
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Cooper’s tendency to run hot-and-cold scares me too much to invest in him as an early round pick. While I’m not completely against taking him, I think there are simply more proven commodities available at that stage in most drafts.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
Perhaps the most overrated receiver in fantasy football, Golladay is a player who reminds me a lot of a young Alshon Jeffery in terms of play style and production. He plays a very athletic, touchdown centric brand of football that can really make or break your team’s performance on any given week. Similarly to Cooper, Golladay is a guy that I just can’t get behind enough to justify drafting him as one of my starters.
A.J Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Already sidelined with an ankle injury, things shouldn’t get much better for Green in 2019, as he will return to the same shotty offensive line, the same saltine-with-mayonnaise QB in Andy Dalton, and the same rookie head coach who many believe is going to be in over his head running an NFL team. Barring a midseason trade to New England or Indianapolis, Green should once again be held back by the Bengals offense.
Keenan Allen, LA Chargers
Allen is essentially the anti-Drew Brees, where he starts every season off very slow only to finish at a blistering pace down the stretch. The best strategy for acquiring Allen would be to make a move for him right before his bye week before he reminds everyone that he is one of the best receivers in the league.