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2015 fantasy football draft kit: Players to avoid

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For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. In fantasy football terms, that means that for every player who steps up and has a huge season, there will be those that disappoint. Enter our list of fantasy players of which to beware. For the guys who appear on these lists, don't take it personal. We're sure you're good guys. We're just a little nervous about having you on our fantasy rosters this year. No hard feelings, okay?

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Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers: We've been predicting the fantasy demise of Gates for years, but last season he made us eat those words with 12 touchdowns. However, news that the veteran will miss four games in 2015 due to a league-imposed suspension isn't encouraging. Before last season's resurrection, Gates had been a fringe TE1 for the previous two seasons. Now that he is entering his 13th season and the final year of his contract, this could be the opportunity for the Bolts to finally integrate Ladarius Green further into the passing game.

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints: This isn't some screed designed to make you believe Brees isn't going to be a QB1. Think of this more as a cautionary tale about a veteran quarterback playing in an offense going through a makeover. The Saints seem poised to run the footall more this year, not to mention that two of Brees' top targets -- Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills -- will be catching footballs elsewhere this season. Brees isn't likely to fall out of the top 10 among fantasy quarterbacks, but he could have a hard time putting up the same type of video game numbers.

Nick Foles, QB, St. Louis Rams: Sometimes a change of scenery does a player good. Sometimes it doesn't. Expect Foles to fall into the latter category. He moves from one of the league's more efficient offenses to one of its least efficient attacks. Despite having a receiving corps that rotates more horses than a merry-go-round, St. Louis has yet to prove that any of them can truly be difference makers. For all of the things said about Foles in Philadelphia, few considered him a player who made others around him better. That won't start now.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: Maybe you've heard ... but the Chiefs didn't have a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass in 2014. The likelihood of that happening again this season is almost nil, but it illustrates the hardships of being a wideout in an Alex Smith-led offense. At some point this season, I'd expect Maclin to give Nick Foles a call so they can reminisce about the good ol' days in Chip Kelly's offense.

Steve Smith Sr., WR, Baltimore Ravens: You might be able to outrun Father Time for a little while, but he will eventually catch up to you. We saw a little bit of it last season when Smith slowed down in the latter part of the campaign. This season, Smith will be 36 years old and won't have any games against the Carolina Panthers to get him über-motivated. Last season's pleasant surprise could end up being this season's bitter frustration.


2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYERS TO AVOID


Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars: Considering the depth of the tight end position (or lack thereof), you can't afford to pass on a guy like Thomas if he's hanging around in the middle rounds of your draft. But you also shouldn't expect him to put up the same type of numbers he did in Denver. This ain't exactly breaking news, but Blake Bortles is no Peyton Manning. if anything, Thomas should get downgraded just because his move has made the "Orange Julius" moniker much less relevant.

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Philadelphia Eagles D/ST: Yes, I know that the Eagles were the top scoring fantasy defense last season. But go back and look at just how they got to the top of the charts. They did it, in part, by scoring 11 touchdowns -- far and away the most by any unit in the NFL. But touchdowns are fickle beasts and it's hard to count on that kind of production again this year. In reality, the Eagles were a pretty poor defensive unit and allowed the sixth-most yards last season. The Birds are likely to get grounded this season.

Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams: It hurts me to write this because I had high hopes for Tre "Plug 4" Mason this year. Then the Rams had to muck it all up by drafting Todd Gurley. Sigh. The only upside is that Mason should see plenty of work while Gurley continues his rehab from a knee injury. But once the rookie is ready to go, I'd expect to see Mason slowly losing touches as the season progresses. Jeff Fisher just doesn't want us to have nice things.

Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: Last season appeared to begin Witten's long, slow slide into fantasy obscurity. Dallas is built to run the football more often and effectively while Gavin Escobar could begin to see a bigger role in the passing game. Witten is still likely to be a TE1 this season (I repeat ... the tight end pool is shallow), but his numbers could once again be depressed.

Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos: In many ways, Manning is in the same boat as Drew Brees. He'll still be one of the first few signal-callers off the board, but fantasy enthusiasts should temper their expectations in 2015. There will still be plenty of questions about Manning's arm strength, which could cause the Broncos to lean on C.J. Anderson early in the season. You could do worse than drafting the future Hall of Famer. But he could look more like old Peyton Manning than the Peyton Manning of old.

The NFL Fantasy LIVE podcast has returned! Listen in as our experts discuss 2015 sleepers, bargains, busts, draft strategy and more. Visit the Fantasy Draft Kit for more on what the gang discusses in the latest episode.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.

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