Welcome to 5 Fantasy Football Players to Avoid where we’ll analyze five specific players, their statistics, situations, and average draft position (ADP) in order to prove why these players should be avoided at their current ADP.
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Now, here are the fantasy players to avoid this year and the findings that support making that call.
Rob Gronkowski | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Fantasy ADP: 75th overall
First is the greek god himself, Rob Gronkowski. Everyone loves a reunion story. God knows I’ve been waiting for a Friends reunion since 2004, but the expectation of Gronk’s once dominating field presence is not going to happen this season for the party extraordinaire.
There are simply too many mouths to feed in Tampa for Gronk to be worthy of his eighth round ADP (75th overall). This is 15 rounds earlier than OJ Howard, a first round pick in 2017 and the TE2 in Tampa Bay that will be stealing snaps and targets from Gronk all season long.
An obvious downside is that Gronkowski is changing teams, and players who move teams (don’t forget to account for Covid!) typically don’t transition well in their first year. However, there are a few statistical similarities between the 2018 Patriots and last year’s Buccaneers team. The completions (375 Buccaneers vs 380 Patriots) are almost identical. Also, the Buccaneers passed in 11 personnel (one RB, one TE) 71% and 12 personnel (one RB, two TEs) 18% of the time which is very similar to the 2018 Patriots (67% in 11 personnel and 12% in 12 personnel).
So why should you avoid playing Gronk at his 8th round ADP? For starters, in order for Gronk to end his 2018 season as the 11th TE overall in PPR formats, he had to garner a 16.1% target share. On the same number of team completions and about 50 more team attempts, Howard had a target rate of 10.3%. The fact of the matter is that Bruce Arians seems to believe the primary role of a tight end is to block and pass, not catch the ball regularly.
This could likely change with Gronk on Arians’ roster, but it’s not likely his target share will make justify his ADP. There are many tight ends to target later in the draft that have just as much or more upside for a lower price.
ALL Rookie Running Backs
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH) | Kansas City Chiefs | Fantasy ADP: 27th overall
Jonathan Taylor | Indianapolis Colts | Fantasy ADP: 54th overall
D’Andre Swift | Detroit Lions | Fantasy ADP: 69th overall
Cam Akers | LA Rams | Fantasy ADP: 83rd overall
JK Dobbins | Baltimore Ravens | Fantasy ADP: 98th overall
Part of building a solid fantasy roster is to be risk averse, and taking these rookie running backs at their current ADP is not risk averse. You don’t want the foundation of your team having a wide range of outcomes. The higher a draft pick, the more detrimental that player will be for your team if they fail.
No one can knock the upside these running backs possess. Clyde Edwards-Helaire couldn’t have landed in a better spot with the Kansas City Chiefs and is now the lone threat in one of the most deadly offenses. Jonathan Taylor is trudging behind arguably the most efficient offensive line in the NFL. D’Andre Swift was arguably the best all-around running back coming out of college. Cam Akers replaces Todd Gurley and is coached by one of the most brilliant minds in football. And lastly, J.K. Dobbins could become the lead back for the most run-heavy team in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens.
All of these rookie running backs have the opportunity to breakout and lead fantasy managers to victory, but it’s just as likely they come into the season raw, unprepared, and not ready to lead their teams. This could especially happen with Covid-19 restrictions and rookies not being able to transition as quickly.
In a normal offseason, NFL teams host rookie mini-camps and workouts throughout the months of May, June and July to help rookies transition, but this isn’t a normal offseason. Covid-19 has forced clubs to shut down, leaving rookies to learn playbooks, routes, and team rhythm via zoom calls. It could take multiple weeks or longer to get into a rhythm. More than ever, rookies may not be ready for the start of the NFL season.
Devin Singletary | Buffalo Bills | Fantasy ADP: 48th overall
I remember drafting in the 12th round when I received the alert that LeSean McCoy was released from the Bills. Many believed Frank Gore would slide in as the starter, but I knew the third round rookie would emerge. I silently laughed after drafting him so late knowing that I was getting a steal in the 12th round. Fast forward one year later and the Bills drafted yet again another rookie running back in the third round in Zack Moss.
Devin Singletary is now being drafted 48th overall. After Keenan Allen, after Courtland Sutton, and before the likes of DJ Chark and David Montgomery. The sad truth is, Devin Singletary isn’t even the number one running back on the Bills’ roster. It’s Josh Allen.
In 2019, Devin Singletary (RB29 finish) ran for 775 yards on 151 carries (20 redzone touches). He caught 29 of 42 passes for 194 yards, and scored 4 touchdowns (2rush/2recieving). Frank Gore (RB50 finish) ran for 599 yards on 166 carries (26 redzone touches). He caught 13 of 16 passes for 100 yards, and scored 2 rushing touchdowns. Josh Allen ran for 510 yards on 109 carries (22 redzone), and scored 9 rushing TD’s. He would have finished as RB44 in PPR and RB36 in standard scoring – a half point behind David Johnson, who was injured for three games in 2019.
After watching college tape on Zach Moss, I can tell you that he is more explosive than Frank Gore and will ultimately cut into Singletary’s workload. Moss won’t be finishing as the RB50 and is an absolute steal at his 123rd ADP. Josh Allen, of course, will continue vulturing production from the running back position. Buffalo has a three headed monster that warrants avoiding Singletary at his current ADP.
Raheem Mostert | San Francisco 49ers | Fantasy ADP: 51st overall
I cannot stress this enough..DO NOT DRAFT RAHEEM MOSTERT at his ADP. If there was ever a player to stamp as HIGH RISK, it would be Mostert. On his seventh team in five years, the undrafted running back took fantasy leagues by storm when he was on the field in 2019. But can he repeat such a remarkable season’s end?
From week 13 on, Mostert became the guy to own in the San Francisco back field. He was the RB10 from weeks 13-17. I hate using week 17 but his limit games played implores me to use any data I can. He averaged an amazing 19.8 PPR points and literally scored a touchdown in every game he played except against MIN in the playoffs. So why should you avoid Mostert at his ADP? If we look closer at the data, it shows us that his numbers were greatly inflated by two statistics; outlier games and touchdowns.
First, including their superbowl run, two games in particular were considered extreme outliers. The large number of yards and rushing attempts in those games helped to inflate his averages. In Mostert’s final 8 games of the season, he averaged 14.625 carries and 89.375 yards per game. He also totaled 11 touchdowns! If we remove those two games, his numbers drop to 11.5 carries and 58.16 yards per game. He still managed to score six touchdowns in those six games – a feat not very likely to happen again.
Sure it’s nice to look at playoff stats, but why does that matter for fantasy? I hear you. Let’s look at the data from weeks 14-17, removing week 13’s inflation. Mostert averaged 11.25 carries and 58.25 yards per game. See any similarities to the stats above? Basically identical.
Mostert is a first and second down back that averages 5.8 points on the ground and 2 points through the air (1.3 rec/gm and 9.625 yards/gm). When his touch rate negatively regresses, he’ll be a running back whose floor is 6-8 points per game. And that’s if he actually is the starting back! Don’t even get me started on the swinging door that is the San Francisco back field. #thenewpatriotsbackfield
Not exactly the type of player you want to draft at 51st overall, which is exactly where Mostert is at.
Mecole Hardman | Kansas City Chief | Fantasy ADP: 128th overall
Okay. I’ll be honest here. I wanted to write about, yet again, another running back. Accurately, that’s a lie. I wanted to write about two running backs. Ronald Jones (ADP 78th overall) and Sony Michel (88th overall). The drafting strategy I adhere to is to draft running backs early, because drafting running backs the rest of the way is not a great investment. Every ADP is inflated – meaning there are values to be held elsewhere.
So I decided to find a receiver that has a high-ish cost but delivers the same value as others in later rounds. Let’s dive in. It wasn’t easy to find a wide-receiver that was going too high. The fact that so many running backs are risen in ranks means receivers are down, but I did it. But it’s a stretch.
Though it’s hard to penalize someone for taking flyers in the later rounds, I feel like Mecole Hardman could be had later then he is going. Currently going 128th overall, Hardman is a flyer that could eventually take over as KC’s No.1 wideout, but this isn’t dynasty football we’re talking about. This is redraft.
In 2019, Hardman 41 targets total. That is fifth in the pecking order if you include the sum of running back targets. Out of those 41 targets, he only caught 26 of them. Now of course, he managed to escape with six touchdowns within those 26 receptions, but that’s a touchdown rate of 23% per reception. This attributed to him being 1st in the league for points per target. He was also 1st in the league in yards per reception and yards per target. The data paints the picture that Hardman was an extremely efficient deep threat that reaped the benefits of Mahomes’ big arm. With most of the receiving core returning to the mix, it’s hard to see Hardman’s role increasing much at all this season.
But like I said, that’s what these late round flyers are for. You want to draft players that could go off, so I couldn’t fault you for taking him late, but I believe he should be acquired later then his current ADP.
Next Step: Focusing on the fantasy football players to avoid always makes me feel like a cynic. For a more positive outlook on players in 2020, be sure to check out our guide on fantasy sleepers.
Be sure to follow Jeff Roberts on Twitter @FantasyRoberts for more.