Up to this point, all my columns have discussed players I like as we head into the 2011 NFL season. On the eve of the most popular draft day in fantasy, I figured it would be helpful to post some quick hits on guys I'm not so high on. Not to say that all those listed will be complete disasters, just players I have ranked lower than most, and probably won't be on any of my teams as a result.
Drew Brees - New Orleans
This is the perfect guy to start this column with. Brees has thrown for 33-plus touchdowns in three consecutive years, and has topped the 4,000-yard marker in five straight. I don't think he's going to have a bad year, I just think he'll finish out of the top five at the position. He's not old, but not young either at 32. The year with his lowest output as far as attempts and yards in the past five, the Saints won the Super Bowl. Their move on draft day to get Alabama running back Mark Ingram leads me to believe coach Sean Payton is aiming to return more balance to the offense. Number one wide out Marques Colston is banged up, coming off a knee injury, they lost their All-Pro center Jonathan Goodwin, and also Reggie Bush, a dynamic target out of the backfield. I also think their division got stronger on defense. Atlanta added Ray Edwards, Tampa Bay is one more year into the Raheem Morris era, and Carolina has a lot of young talent and added respected defensive mind Ron Rivera.
Josh Freeman - Tampa Bay
There are always growing pains. No good reason for this statement, I just can't see him repeating his immaculate 25-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He's getting drafted like he will.
Eli Manning - New York Giants
Sure, lil' bro has thrown for 4,000 yards in two consecutive seasons. He also was responsible for 30 turnovers last year. I expect Tom Coughlin to shorten the leash a bit and get back to running the ball more. The Giants have also been struggling with issues along their aging offensive line, and Steve Smith and Kevin Boss are gone. Not exactly Pro Bowlers, but weapons are weapons.
Donovan McNabb - Minnesota
McNabb is going 20th among quarterbacks, according to ESPN.com, so it's hard to say he could disappoint. I'd still rather go with Kyle Orton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, or Jason Campbell, all whom are ranked lower.
Jamaal Charles - Kansas City
Charles' inclusion is much like that of Brees. There is no questioning the skills of perhaps the league's most explosive player. And through the first 10 weeks of the season, this statement may look incredibly stupid. But fantasy titles are not won in September. Starting in week 11, the Chiefs play; at New England, home versus Pittsburgh, at Chicago, at the Jets, and home versus Green Bay. That's brutal.
Rashard Mendenhall - Pittsburgh
Mendenhall is very much like Michael Turner, in that he's strictly a two-down back, and he takes a lot of punishment from the amount and type of carries. By the same token, his powerful style translates into touchdowns. I suppose I'm just partial to the more all-around rushers who can be had for a cheaper price, like Ahmad Bradshaw and Felix Jones.
Steven Jackson - St. Louis
The Dreaded Man has 1,878 career carries. He looks old, and despite what you probably think, he's only had two seasons of double-digit touchdowns.
Shonn Greene - New York Jets
Not happening. LaDainian Tomlinson is waaaaaaaay past his prime...and still the best back on his team. I get the feeling that Rex Ryan doesn't trust him, and I look for the Jets to pass more than is customary.
Ryan Grant - Green Bay
He missed last year with an ankle injury. His team won the Super Bowl. Not quite an MVP. He had a nice three year career.
DeSean Jackson - Philadelphia
Teammate Jeremy Maclin had more catches, and more touchdowns. So did running back LeSean McCoy (total Tds). Yet it's Jackson who is consistently drafted early. Unless your league awards large bonuses for long plays, or style points, you can do better than this hard to find speedster. Despite racking up an impressive 1,056 yards, at a league-best 22.5 per clip, he only hauled in 47 balls.
Dwayne Bowe - Kansas City
Marques Colston - New Orleans
Mike Williams - Tampa Bay
Dez Bryant - Dallas
Anquan Boldin - Baltimore
Maybe my eyes are deceiving me in my advancing age. Or perhaps the lockout really set some of these veterans back as far as conditioning goes, because a lot of players looked old to me this summer. Boldin was high on the list of guys who made me question, "what happened to him"? I was just kidding about my eyes, I'm only 30, Boldin's knees, on the other hand, I believe just turned 47.
Chad Ochocinco - New England
Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Julian Edelman, Danny Woodhead, Taylor Price. Too many options in Patriot-land for Ocho to post big numbers, and he won't be able to "Keyshawn Johnson" his quarterback into throwing him the damn ball, like he used to in Cincinnati.
Pierre Garcon - Indianapolis
Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, Jacob Tamme, Blair White, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown. I think you get the point. I like guys with more opportunities to produce. Also, you have the injury concerns of Peyton Manning.
Braylon Edwards - San Francisco
Two words: Alex Smith. Let's move on.
Davone Bess - Miami
Bess is a nice player. He was a third down machine last year. In PPR leagues, he could still be valuable, but I try to stay away from guys who are unlikely to produce touchdowns, and have to collect their yardage 10 at a time.
Danny Amendola - St. Louis
Hines Ward - Pittsburgh
A consummate warrior, and a long time fantasy standout, Ward turned 35 this past March. No one can play this game forever, and the Steelers' tough-guy put up just 59 receptions and 755 yards in 2010, each representing 10-year lows.
Donald Driver - Green Bay
Driver has one year on Ward, he's 36, and is in a similar predicament. His 51 catches and 565 yards last season represented nine-year lows.
Dallas Clark - Indianapolis
After entering the year as the consensus top-ranked tight end, Clark's 2010 season was cut short after just six games, due to a wrist injury. The concerns about Manning, and his own health, combined with the return of very lofty expectations at age 32 place the probability of him being on my team quite low.
Jermichael Finley - Green Bay
Finley is another uniquely talented player who won't be on my fantasy squads. I'm not saying he won't put up a huge year, I just want to see it first. Then I'll pay the toll, next year.
Tony Gonzalez - Atlanta
–see Ward, Driver. Gonzalez posted eight-year lows in catches and yards in 2010.
Kellen Winslow Jr. - Tampa Bay
He's a "soldier", but he's always screaming for the medic. Winslow Jr. has started 33 of a possible 48 games over the last three seasons.
Zach Miller - Seattle
Two words: Tarvaris Jackson.
That should do it for my pre-draft articles. Thanks for reading these last couple weeks. I have my two drafts in the next three days. I'll update the results. Wish me luck, and good luck to you.