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Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: I love Scahub in a reality sense, and think his injury affected the AFC landscape more than any other player last season. That said, the days of Schaub throwing for 4,770 yards or putting up the 53 touchdowns he did in 2009-10 are probably gone. Schaub is still an outstanding player, but the Texans offense is predicated on Arian Foster and Ben Tate ... not the passing game. Not to mention, Andre Johnson is coming off an injury-filled 2011 campaign while Kevin Walter is still the No. 2. Proceed with caution.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers: I don't trust Blount. He's a one-dimensional back who struggled to fit in the Bucs offense in 2011. Some fantasy owners will jump based on his 2010 production, but I would steer clear until the late rounds. Blount led the team with 781 yards rushing last season, but will be pushed by rookie Doug Martin out of Boise State. Blount is a non-factor in the passing game (14 receptions in 2011), further reducing his fantasy value.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: It provokes guilt putting Gore on this list. This is not a guy worthy of the first 20 slots in your fantasy draft. Wear and tear is going to catch up on what was once one of the elite lead backs in pro football. Gore is 29 with nearly 2,000 touches under his belt. Last season, he was decent with more than 1,200 yards on the ground, but he only hit paydirt eight times. At this stage of his career, he's not a RB who is guaranteed to hit 1,200 yards and 10 TDs. Rob Gronkowski, for example, despite being a tight end, is clearly a safer choice. Let some other fantasy geek move early on Gore. Wait until the third round. He's likely slowing down.
Mark Ingram, RB, Saints: The idea exists out there that Mark Ingram is a lead back, but I don't see it. To me, Ingram is a late middle-round pick at best. The 2011 first-round pick is not expected to be ready for training camp, and still must contend with Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles in the Saints offense ... which, by the way, is a pass-oriented attack. Take a chance with Ingram in the late rounds, otherwise it's a safer bet to avoid him unless better news comes out regarding his health.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Most fantasy owners feel Steven Jackson is a late-first, early second-rounder in fantasy. That's too rich for my blood. Jackson has been nothing short of a warrior in NFL terms, but the train has got to stop running at some point. Jackson is one of my favorite players in the NFL, but his resume of 2,507 of career touches is tops in the league over the span of his career, and speaks to an impending proverbial wall on the horizon ... one that he might hit this season. You don't want to spend the 14th overall pick in your fantasy draft on a guy who might miss time or barely break 1,000 yards. By the way, Marshall Faulk hit that same wall ... in his ninth year no less. This will be Jackson's ninth season.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings:Fantasy prognostication: Peterson doesn't sniff anywhere close to 1,400 yards this year. He's not a top five pick. In fact, he's not a first-round selection in my book. Peterson suffered a late-season knee injury and is entering the 2012 season as a player running on surgically repaired wheels. He might not be ready for a full workload even if he is healthy for the season opener. Not to mention, Green Bay and Chicago fortified their front sevens in the early rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft in April. This will not be a typical Peterson fantasy season, especially with the passing game in Minnesota still being a work in progress.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: Turner just turned 30 years old. Fine, if you're Sofia Vergara. Not fine if you're a running back with three 300-carry seasons in the last four years. In five of the last six weeks of 2011, Turner averaged under four yards a pop while scoring one touchdown from Week 12 through Week 16 -- right when fantasy owners needed him most. This is not a first-round pick, like in past years. Buy with caution.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins: Getting $20.5 million guaranteed must be nice. Yet, at the end of the day, this is still a player who is peaks and valleys in fantasy. Here's your fantasy stat of the day: Garcon had 11 games of 55 yards receiving in 2011. This isn't a guy with Reggie Wayne-esque skins on the wall. Someone in your fantasy league will jump on Garcon in the early rounds. Let 'em!
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets: The relationship between Holmes and Mark Sanchez is tepid, at best. With Tim Tebow potentially getting 20 snaps per game, things ain't looking up. Either way, so many people who cover the NFL and play fantasy consider Holmes a "No. 1." I'm glad they do. My team, Plantar Smashiitis, would have won my league had I gotten anything out of Holmes. The thought here is that 51 catches for 654 yards isn't too far off from where Holmes' numbers will end up in 2012.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: Jackson is a good player, not a 1,350-yard fantasy beast. Tampa Bay has an inconsistent, young quarterback with a brand new head coach in Greg Schiano, as well as newly minted offensive system. For those who jump on Jackson in the second round thinking he will be a fantasy monster ... think again.