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NFL fantasy football: 10 players to avoid

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Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots: He'll be terrific for New England, and for you if you draft him. But for how long? Amendola simply can't stay on the football field, and when it happens for a few years in a row, it's not an anomaly, it's chronic. If he's great for six weeks but then gets injured, what does that do for you? You're scrambling to fill his slot when you likely took him very high because you had visions of him catching 15 touchdowns from Tom Brady. His health is too much of a risk for me.

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Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: I'm always leery of the one-year wonder who comes out of nowhere to make you think he's for real. Shorts is going to go very early in your draft, especially with Justin Blackmon on a four-game suspension. But can Shorts duplicate his 2012 success? I'm dubious on it. A healthy Maurice Jones-Drew means more running plays and when Blackmon comes back he's going to be the man in Jacksonville. You could see it coming at the end of last season. I'm even nervous if I have Shorts as my No. 2 wide receiver for 2013.

Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers: You're going to say I'm a year early on Gore (with Marcus Lattimore basically redshirting this season in the hopes he gets healthy for 2014), but let's not ignore the facts. Gore's touches are decreasing for this season -- whether he likes it or not -- and he's 30 years old. Keeping him fresh and preserving him for the playoffs will be the 49ers number one goal, which means decreased fantasy production. He's also had plenty of dings throughout his career, and I don't want to be on the hook for the big physical breakdown he may be headed for. Gore is almost undraftable for me, because he's going to go as a No. 2 RB and there's no way I'm going to pick him that high.

Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos: You want to know whose production Wes Welker is going to cut into? That would be Decker. Demaryius Thomas is still going to be the deep threat and be a fantasy stud. But Decker's move-the-chains, red-zone, go-to-guy role is going to be disrupted. Sure, he may be Peyton Manning's number one target at the goal line, but his weeks of 80-plus yards receiving are going to go by the wayside. He may become someone who catches a few passes for 40 yards a week and hopefully gets into the end zone. I avoid Decker if I can.

Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Riddle me this: What happened to Austin's stats the last half of 2012 while Dez Bryant was becoming the Cowboys go-to wide receiver? Okay, this riddle's easy: they went down the tubes. Austin went from being a nice No. 2 wide receiver/flex option to sitting on your fantasy bench down the stretch. As Bryant's ascension continues, so will Austin's fall. He failed to top 80 yards receiving in a game the last half of 2012, while posting only two touchdowns. Those will be his numbers again while Bryant becomes a fantasy super-duper star.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Down the stretch last season Green-Ellis was every bit as valuable as Arian Foster or Adrian Peterson in terms of fantasy. So what did the Bengals do? They drafted Giovani Bernard out of North Carolina, a speedster who will see the field at least on third downs, and probably more. The Law Firm's appeal a year ago was that he was the only player who was going to carry the football in Cincinnati because there was no one else. Now that he's going to lose carries, he's going to lose value.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Dallas owner Jerry Jones has already talked about the potential time-share between Murray and draftee Joseph Randle. That's a bit of a shocker considering not too long ago Murray was considered the centerpiece of the Cowboys offense. But so far he can't stay on the field, and he can't get in the end zone. I drafted him last season as my No. 2 running back in the secondround, and I'm not making that mistake again. Too many question marks for someone who's going to be a third- or fourth-round pick.

Eric Decker broke out last season, but the addition of Wes Welker hurts his fantasy value for 2013.
Eric Decker broke out last season, but the addition of Wes Welker hurts his fantasy value for 2013. (Eric Bakke/Associated Press)

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals: I've never subscribed to the thinking that Mendenhall is a No. 1 fantasy running back. He's the de facto top guy right now as Arizona sees what they have in Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington, and maybe even Ryan Williams -- if he can ever get really healthy. There's a reason why the best Mendenhall could do was a one-year deal with Arizona: no one believes in him as a top-tier running back anymore. Let someone else view him as the answer in Arizona and draft him while you lay off.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: McFadden said he was lost in the zone blocking scheme the Raiders used last season. Good news for him is that's history. Bad news is that in his five-year career he's only played in more than seven games in a season twice. He's the player who has the 'Buyer Beware' sticker displayed across his forehead. I can't take him as a lynchpin to my running attack, because he's too unreliable.

Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers: The eight-year vet had a career season which saw him become a top-five tight end last year. However, a devastating knee injury in December means he'll miss at least the beginning of the season. Right now, all the Steelers are saying is that they don't think he'll miss all of 2013. Red flags galore on that one. And he's over 30, which means healing is going to take longer. Don't think you can draft him late and get a steal - Miller will take time regaining his 2012 form, and won't have any real fantasy value this season.

Jason Smith writes fantasy and other pith for nfl.com. He hosts NFL Fantasy Live during the regular season on the NFL Network, and you can download the weekly NFL Fantasy Live podcast with him alongside Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison. Talk to him on twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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