It's been all fun and games this Fantasy Draft Week as we've explored the lighter side of fantasy football. Everyone loves looking for sleepers, deep sleepers and breakouts. But now it's time for A Very Special Episode of Top 10 Lists. Today we're talking about players to avoid. It's an episode you and your family won't want to miss.
Nick Foles, QB, St. Louis Rams
This offseason, the Rams and Eagles traded quarterbacks. But while Sam Bradford landed with a team that is a fantasy football goldmine, Foles finds himself in a fantasy wasteland -- surrounded by a glut of underperforming pass-catchers. Over the past few years, the Rams offense has operated as though it didn't have a coherent plan for how to accomplish its goal of moving the football. There are some reasons to believe that things can get better this season, namely Todd Gurley (once he's healthy enough to play). But pairing the likes of Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt and Stedman Bailey with a quarterback who stumbed to a 13/10 TD-to-INT ratio before getting hurt last season doesn't seem good for anybody.
Steve Smith Sr., WR, Baltimore Ravens
Smith appeared on a lot of these same lists last season and made us look foolish for the first half of the season. Few players show up when motivated like the diminutive veteran and he certainly has motivation to ball out in his final NFL season. However, all the "want-to" in the world is no match for the still-undefeated Father Time. The other issue complicating Smith's farewell campaign is the lack of a threatening No. 2 receiver playing across from him. The departure of Torrey Smith (49ers) has left a void at the other starting wide receiver spot. It could be Kamar Aiken, rookie Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro or a host of others. None of those names are causing sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators. That could mean Smith sees a lot of extra attention from defensive backs this season.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Roddy White's numbers from last season are probably better than you remember them being. The Falcons veteran finished the season as a top 30 fantasy wideout. But he missed reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season and spent another year dealing with a series of nagging injuries. This season hasn't started off in a very positive fashion with White having his knee drained before minicamp, and now reports of elbow surgery that could put his Week 1 availability in jeopardy. Combine that with an impressive preseason for Leonard Hankerson and the sun could be setting on White's fantasy viability.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Just a couple of weeks ago, so many of us -- myself included -- had high hopes for Cam Newton in 2015. Then Kelvin Benjamin suffered a season-ending knee injury and that positivity melted away. Life comes at you fast. Carolina's offense now consists of one reliable pass-catcher (Greg Olsen), one talented but injury-prone running back (Jonathan Stewart) and a whole host of question marks. That will put an undue burden on a quarterback who isn't known for his accuracy and who has seen his rushing totals decrease throughout his career. At the start of the preseason I thought Newton could challenge to be a top five fantasy quarterback. Now that hill looks too steep to climb.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Speaking of life coming at you fast, it wasn't that long ago that the 49ers were knocking on the door of a Super Bowl championship. Now they could be the worst team in the NFC West. Kaepernick regressed last season and despite all the stories of him working with Kurt Warner on his accuracy, the Niner QB has shown little in the way of positive results this preseason. San Francisco's offense features a young running back to go along with a pair of underwhelming wide receivers and an offensive line that is full of holes. As I wrote back in July, there's a very good chance that we've already seen the best of Colin Kaepernick.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
If opportunity is the lifeblood of fantasy success, then DeMarco Murray is going to need a transfusion after this season. Part of what made him such a dynamite fantasy running back last season was the number of times he had his hands on the football. Murray's 449 total touches in 2014 helped him compile 2,261 total scrimmage yards and 13 total touchdowns. This season, he finds himself in an über-crowded Eagles backfield where he will share time with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. It would not be a surprise to see his touches cut nearly in half and his total yardage decrease by close to 1,000. He's been demoted to the realm of RB2 this season.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
At the end of last season, the Carlos Hyde Hype Train was leaving the station. But that was before the 49ers had the offseason from hell. Now, that train is losing steam and coming to a dead stop on the tracks just outside of the middle of nowhere. Hyde has the makings of a two-down back who will give way to Reggie Bush while playing on a team that is likely to be trailing heavily in a large majority of its games. That's a recipe for fantasy disappointment. There might not be anything but fantasy fool's gold in the 49ers backfield this season.
Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts
This one hurts to write. Last season, Allen was high on my fantasy man crush list but eventually we all have to face the truth. Allen was heavily touchdown dependent last season and only landed among the top 15 at his position on the strength of his eight touchdowns. But with the Colts having so many pass-catching options -- including another quality tight end in Coby Fleener -- Allen is likely to see his targets, yards and even touchdowns take a hit this season. It just doesn't seem like this fantasy crush was meant to be. At least we'll always have this moment.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
There are a lot of running backs in this rookie class that I can make a case for. Yeldon isn't one of them. Before the draft, I studied a lot of his tape from Alabama and didn't expect he'd be an immediate starter in the NFL. The Jaguars have a lot of promising players in their offense, but an upright running back without much burst or straight line speed isn't one of them. I wouldn't be surprised if we see Denard Robinson seeing significant snaps by the midway point of the season.
Buffalo Bills WRs
This really has nothing to do with the players themselves. Between Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and even Percy Harvin, there's plenty of talent in that part of the roster. The problem is that all the talent in the world won't make a difference if there's no one to get you the football. There were some positive reviews about Tyrod Taylor after the Bills' second preseason game, but I'm led to believe that after the awfulness we've seen from Buffalo's signal-callers in training camp, anything short of an unmitigated disaster would have been looked upon favorably. Until Rex Ryan can find a competent quarterback, this receiving corps is just too untrustworthy.