Last weekend, I asked all my Twitter followers what players ranked in the top 50 they didn’t want to touch in their fantasy football drafts.
I’m sure each one of you is hoarding some dark feelings towards one of the top 10 players in fantasy, but even knowing the hatred you hold in your hearts for some of the NFL’s best, I received a few curveballs in the responses. (Does that count as a mixed metaphor?)
So who does Twitter hate this season? Turns out they’re all running backs.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles RB
Current ADP: RB3, 3rd Overall
Brian Westbrook is not a hard man to dislike in fantasy football, and I am not even talking about that time he stopped short of an easy touchdown against the Cowboys last season. No matter what he does, Westbrook’s never good enough to please fantasy football fans when the draft comes around.
Last season, only eight players scored more fantasy points than Westbrook in standard, non-PPR scoring, and of those eight, only one of them was a running back. I am sure you have no idea who that running back was, so we’ll move on.
The No. 1 reason that many people stay away from Westbrook is that he is “injury prone.” Westbrook went down late in the season in 2004 and 2005, and no fantasy player wants to forget it even though Westbrook has only missed one game each of the past two seasons.
Missing the one game last year, Westbrook still scored 12 total touchdowns (7 TDs running, 5 TDs receiving) with more than 2000 yards rushing and receiving. Those numbers are pretty epic. He averaged more than 18 fantasy points per week in standard scoring and never scored less than 14–of course, overlooking the game he missed.
You can hate the guy or avoid him if you want, but I like him this season because he’s proven he can stay healthy for at least 15 games, and with few weapons, the Eagles are going to use him a lot. He has the same workload concerns as LaDainian Tomlinson since he has had so many carries in recent years, but I don’t see anyone backing off of L.T. because of that, do you?
I say you give Westbrook a chance this season. He’s a top five RB, no question, and I’d feel safe taking him before the Purple Jesus that is Adrian Peterson.
Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs RB
Current ADP: RB10, 13th Overall
L.J. is less of a puzzle than Westbrook. He is feared this season because he looked terrible last season.
He missed most of training camp with his holdout in 2007 and, once he was paid, started slow against a tough early schedule. Owners held out until he got to the chewy center of his rushing opponents only to see Johnson injure his foot and get knocked out for the season.
Not much has changed with L.J. He has a fully-functioning foot–or so I am told–but his offensive line is still going to be inexperienced.
Don’t count on Brodie Croyle to step in and take pressure off the running game. The offense will look about as inadequate as it did last season.
Best case, Johnson overcomes all and records a top five fantasy season, but with so many question marks, I understand why you all doubt him. I don’t see it happening.
Stay away from him in the first round, but if you see him floating by in the middle or end of the second round, he could be worth a shot.
Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins RB
Current ADP: RB18, 34th Overall
Brown’s also a pretty easy one to figure out since he is also coming off injury.
While Ronnie Brown was just starting to look like the new L.T., his knee injury in Week 7 stole him away from fantasy owners.
While he was out, Cam Cameron left town and in came Bill Parcells. The new coaches like Brown as their starter, but they have enough confidence in Ricky Williams to let him carry the load while Brown eases back into things. A plus for both RBs is the addition of Jake Long on the offensive line.
You can’t expect a lot of Brown until later in the season. If only someone would tell that to every other owner in your league, you could draft him at his real value. As the prodigal son of 2007 fantasy football, too many hype-drinkers are jumping on him early. Brown currently carries a late third round price tag on average, and that is reasonable if you can get it.
I like him more in the fourth round, but frankly, I have to agree that I would rather avoid him. A better option if you want a piece of the Miami running schedule (easy as pie according to strength of schedule) is Ricky Williams in the later rounds. He’ll face some easy opponents in the first weeks of the season.
Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers RB
Current ADP: RB12, 19th Overall
So you think he is a one-year wonder? You probably pin half his performance on the respect defenses gave to Favre’s big arm, or maybe you just like Brandon Jackson to emerge this year.
Well, whatever you think, don’t be so worried. Now that he has signed his contract extension, Grant should be the starter for Green Bay, a team that is more oriented toward solid defense this season and starting a first-year quarterback. That formula equals a commitment to the running game and plenty of opportunities for Grant.
If you put faith in strength of schedule, Grant ends the season on a hot streak (see: fantasy playoffs). He may not put up the numbers he did at the end of last season, but the Seattle playoff game proved that he can struggle through adversity and come out on top.
He’s a top ten talent you can get outside of the first round. Why would you pass that up?
Selvin Young, Denver Broncos RB
Current ADP: RB29, 65th Overall
Selvin Young doesn’t have a bad name for himself. Unfortunately, his team does. When it comes to RBs, Denver is a crapshoot.
Shanahan gets a kick out of torturing fantasy fans. He’s admitted that under oath. The man just makes no allegiances when it comes to the running game.
Still, Selvin Young is the man to start the year. Rookie Ryan Torain is now out 6-8 weeks with an elbow injury, so he is no longer a challenge. It looks like a committee might form from Young, Andre Hall and Michael Pittman, but Young should see the bulk of the open field work.
Being drafted at 65th overall, Young’s not too expensive, but I’ve seen him going earlier than the sixth round in many mocks. If you can get him fifth round or later after all the sure thing RBs are off the board, he could potentially be a starter for your fantasy team.
Denver’s rushing opponents don’t give me anything to get excited about and doubt surrounds the Broncos offense, but they should improve this year with Cutler maturing under center and managing the diabetes that weakened him at the end of last season.
Young’s in a committee, possibly an injury risk and in Denver. I leave it up to you whether you want to avoid him, but make sure you get him at a good price.
Now that we’ve talked these guys over, I open it up to you non-Twitterers…what players are you willing to avoid this year? Explain why in the comments for bonus points.
INCOMING TWITTER PSA…
If you’re not on Twitter, get with the program and start following my updates (@jacobsloan)!
Twitter is one of the easiest ways for us to harass each other about our fantasy teams during NFL games no matter where your opponent may be hiding…curled in a corner…crying under a pillow…or just screaming “WHY WESTBROOK? WHY!?!?!” into the sky.
If you don’t know what it is, check out this video for a simple explanation. Try it out even if you don’t “get” it. You’ll come along eventually and be talking fantasy football with me in no time.
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Thanks to @timdnew, @bbille, @timothompson and @dreamented for their input on this post.
Thank you for this moment of your time. PSA out.