Players to Avoid: Week 1

Daily fantasy football isn’t all about who you are going to use. Sometimes it’s just as important to determine who you aren’t going to use. That way, if the salary happens to fit for your last spot, you’ll know which names to disregard in order to produce the greatest overall fantasy point output. Here are the guys to cross off your list heading into the 1st week of the NFL season.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers, $16,000 – Last season, the Jaguars ranked 29th in passing yards allowed per game (268.2) and they allowed opposing teams to throw a hefty 29 passing TDs against them. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers suffered through a down season partially due to the absence of top target Jordy Nelson for the entire regular season. Due to the return of both Nelson and Randall Cobb, expectations are once again sky-high for the Packers offense…but should they be? Do we really believe Nelson is equally explosive as a 31-year old coming off surgery as he was as a healthy 29-year old? Furthermore, and most importantly, the Jaguars defense is vastly improved this season. The team lured Malik Jackson away from the defending Super Bowl Champion Broncos and they also added both free safety Tashaun Gibson and cornerback Prince Amukamara. Then, the team went out and drafted defensive players with each of their first five picks: Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue, Sheldon Day and Tyrone Holmes, clearly making defense the focus of their offseason. If spending up on a quarterback (QB), why not target Andrew Luck whose team is implied to score the most points in Week 1 according to Vegas lines. Rodgers simply isn’t worth the price tag and would need to throw for six touchdowns (TDs) or so to pay off at this cost.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings, $14,200 – As if defenses weren’t focused enough on stopping Minnesota’s run game with a healthy Teddy Bridgewater, they’ll certainly key in on him now with Sam Bradford under center (assuming he draws the start). Bradford was traded about a week ago so there is no way he is anywhere close to learning the playbook. This offense is built around the run game but why wouldn’t the Titans load the box with a scrub under center? No team allowed fewer receptions to opposing RBs last year and only six teams allowed fewer fantasy points to the position. In other words, even if they load the box, they have linebackers quick enough to run with the backs out of the backfield and shut down potential swing passes. Plus, if they load the box, they are likely to be pretty effective at stopping the run game (or at least as effective as can be against one of the best backs in the game). If looking for workhorses, there are plenty alternatives elsewhere for cheaper, so there is just no need to spend up for Peterson.

Rashad Jennings, Giants, $10,100 –The price tag is enticing for a guy expected to act as “lead” back in his respective backfield but Rashad Jennings is still a guy reliant solely on volume. He’ll hardly ever catch a pass (29 receptions last year), won’t play on third downs (Shane Vereen will) and therefore will need a TD to pay off at his price. Recent reports suggest Jennings is likely to see more goal-line work this year but the floor is low and the ceiling is still mediocre outside of a two TD performance. For the same cost, DeAngelo Williams should see more touches, will actually catch passes and will receive the goal line work as well. The argument against Jennings is many backs priced similarly are superior options. Guys who do not catch passes need too much to go right in order to pay off whereas workhorses who factor into the passing game can have mediocre games and still post respectable fantasy point totals.

Theo Riddick, Lions, $7,800 – Scat backs such as Theo Riddick are the polar opposite of guys like the aforementioned Jennings because they rely almost solely on receptions in order to produce fantasy points. In FantasyDraft’s point-per-reception (PPR) scoring system, these types of backs are preferable because they rack up the points at a much more efficient rate on a per-touch basis. However, this just isn’t the right spot to deploy Riddick. In 2015, the Colts only allowed 72 receptions (RECs) to opposing backs which ranked eighth lowest in the league. On the other hand, they allowed the ninth most fantasy points to opposing backs, meaning opponents relied on pounding it out in the classic sense against them. This matchup is much more conducive to Ameer Abdullah so he is the preferred back to roster out of the Lions backfield. If looking for a PPR specialist back in Week 1, pivot to the likes of Duke Johnson and/or Darren Sproles.

Alshon Jeffery, Bears, $14,900 – At age 32, Johnathan Joseph remains one of the better cornerbacks on the league…and the only upper-echelon cornerback on the Texans roster currently. Therefore, it’s reasonable to infer the team will at least consider shadowing Alshon Jeffery with him. Jeffery is above-and-beyond the Bears top offense in the passing game and really on the offense as a whole. Jeremy Langford is just a guy who has been catapulted into the starting RB role with Matt Forte’s departure, Zach Miller is still ailing and Kevin White is still a virtual unknown. According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA statistic, the Texans rated eighth best against opposing number one WRs last season and only allowed 55.5 yards per game to them. For only slightly more, you can roster DeAndre Hopkins against a Bears team missing their top three corners. For slightly less, you can roster Brandon Marshall who draws the top individual advantage of the week, per Pro Football Focus’ wide receiver/cornerback chart. There is too much dud potential that comes along with rostering Jeffery especially when some of the safest options of the entire week are priced similarly.

Allen Hurns, Jaguars, $10,900 – Due to an improved Jaguars defense this season, something has got to give with the offense. Part of the reason Blake Bortles managed to throw 35 TDs last year was due to the team always playing from behind…and the terrible defense was to blame. Now that they are improved and games should remain more competitive, Bortles should be expected to see a dip in passing attempts (606 last year). Allen Robinson looks like a young Dez Bryant and Julius Thomas was made for the red zone so Allen Hurns is the probable odd man out. I’m not saying he’s going to flame out completely but I expect his production to take a dip. Oh by the way, the Packers rated as the second best team versus opposing number two WRs last year and the 10th worst team against opposing number ones. Essentially, Robinson is the receiver to roster here and Hurns can be safely faded.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots, $14,000 – Do you really want to spend $14,000 for a player whose QB looked incredibly ordinary all preseason. In his final preseason game, he completed 9-15 passes before Tom Brady came in and immediately led the team on two scoring drives. Prior to that game, Garoppolo had thrown one TD in two games against vanilla defenses. He is nowhere near the caliber of Brady and cannot be expected to support the production of an elite tight end (TE) in Brady’s absence. For nearly $4,000 less, Jordan Reed will be playing with a QB who has been sustaining his elite production since the latter third of last season. In fact, that production has continued into the preseason this year as Reed scored in his team’s version of the tune up game. Uncertainty is not what you are looking for when you pay up for a TE who costs more than Todd Gurley. Save salary and spend down for players such as Reed and/or Delanie Walker who have similar projections and much more affordable price tags.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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