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NFL fantasy football: 10 players to avoid

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Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens: Flacco was outstanding in the 2012 postseason and earned Super Bowl XLVII MVP honors for his impressive performance against the San Francisco 49ers - that will prompt countless fantasy football owners to reach for him in 2013 drafts. Just keep in mind that during the regular season, the veteran was just 14th in fantasy points at his position and was awful on the road. Don't be fooled - he's still just a fantasy reserve at a very deep position.

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Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Big Ben has been a great quarterback on the football field, but he's been seriously lacking in the stat sheets at the NFL level. The veteran has thrown for 4,000-plus yards just twice in his career, and injuries have been more of an issue for him in recent seasons. What's more, Roethlisberger lost his top target in Mike Wallace and could be without Heath Miller for part of the season. If you draft him, do it as a reserve.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals Green-Ellis finished among the 20-best running backs in fantasy football last season, rushing for 1,094 yards and six touchdowns. Unfortunately, the addition of rookie runner Giovani Bernard means that a decrease in his overall touches could be all but imminent. In fact, the Law Firm is almost certain to lose work on third downs and in passing situations. Bernard is talented enough to see some time in early-down situation as well.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers: I was on the Mathews bandwagon ever since he entered the NFL, and he's been a major disappointment in two of his first three pro seasons. He's had problems with injuries - he had more broken collarbone (2) than touchdowns (1) last season - and the addition of Danny Woodhead is a virtual guarantee that he won't be on the field on third downs. While the addition of new coach Mike McCoy could be a positive, Mathews is still only a flex starter now.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Once considered a first-round pick in fantasy leagues, Mendenhall has seen his stock plummet over the last two seasons. His move to Arizona is a good thing from a fantasy perspective, but can he re-emerge into a solid starter for your team? I wouldn't expect it, at least not in a greater role than a potential flex starter. With Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington in the mix, that backfield could be quite crowded in 2013.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers: Stewart's potential at the NFL level has been hindered due to injuries and backfield committees. Unfortunately, he's going to deal with both again in 2013. Stewart is coming off surgery on both ankles - that alone makes him a risk - and both DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert remain in the mix for carries. Oh, and let's not forget that the Panthers also have a running quarterback in Cam Newton. There's very little upside here this season.

Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos: Decker had a breakout campaign last season, posting 1,064 yards and an impressive 13 touchdown catches. However, he is almost guaranteed to see a decrease in targets after the addition of Wes Welker. Furthermore, Decker could also see his number of end-zone visits decrease by close to half (compared to 2012) in an offense that is loaded with weapons in the pass attack. He shouldn't be drafted as more than a No. 2 fantasy wideout.

The addition of rookie Giovani Bernard will mean fewer touches for BenJarvus Green-Ellis this season.
The addition of rookie Giovani Bernard will mean fewer touches for BenJarvus Green-Ellis this season. (Mel Evans/Associated Press)

DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: The presence of new coach Chip Kelly and his dynamic offensive attack could help Jackson re-claim his role as a viable fantasy starter, but I'm still pretty skeptical. His yardage and touchdown totals have dropped in each of the last three seasons, and Jackson hasn't played in a full 16 games since his rookie campaign. Simply put, Jackson shouldn't be reached for in drafts even without Jeremy Maclin - he's just a No. 3 wide receiver in fantasy land.

Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Jennings is going to get more than his share of targets in Minnesota's passing game, but the downgrade from Aaron Rodgers to Christian Ponder at the quarterback position is enormous. In fact, it's hard to see him finishing anywhere near the top 12 wideouts based on fantasy points - that's something he did quite often in Green Bay. Jennings should now be seen as a No. 3 fantasy wideout in drafts, so make sure not to reach for him before Round 5.

Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins: Wallace was a top-10 fantasy wide receiver in back-to-back seasons (2010-2011) with the Steelers, but he'll be hard pressed to reach that same level of statistical success in Miami. The veteran will experience a downgrade at the quarterback position from Roethlisberger to Ryan Tannehill, and it's tough to like the fit from an offensive perspective. Owners should expect him to be far less consistent and avoid reaching for him in 2013 drafts.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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