Some things you just never forget.
It was late summer in 2007, three weeks into the NFL preseason and the first Sunday after the first week of school (I understand that was difficult to read). I was hard at work at my desktop computer, thousand of notes spread across my desk, and a stack of fantasy football magazines sat on my lap.
In one minute, I’d be making the 1st overall pick in my uber-competitive 12 team PPR re-draft league, a pick I’d been researching for weeks. I was ready. LADANIAN TOMLINSON, the owner of an NFL-record 28 rushing touchdowns in 2006, would be mine.
I was on the clock. I panicked.
I picked Chiefs running back Larry Johnson.
Why? I don’t really know. It’s not like it was a bad pick. LJ had ran for 1,700+ yards in each of the last two seasons, and scored 40 touchdowns of his own over that span, so he was a legitimate candidate for 1st overall that season.
But for the rest of the night as I made my picks (and I don’t remember the rest of them), I had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’d blown a golden opportunity to win the league that season.
And I had.
Johnson played eight games, scored just three rushing touchdowns, and averaged 3.5 yards per carry as his career fell apart and dismantled my team that year. I couldn’t recover. I went 5-9, finished in 10th, and vowed never to draft Johnson again, no matter how good the value was (in his case, there never was value again). Tomlinson finished with close to 2,000 total yards and 15+ touchdowns.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Five “Do Not Draft” Players of 2014.
1. Phillip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
Honestly, Phillip and I have never really gotten along since I likened his throwing motion to that of a 10-year-old trying to toss a 20 pound shot put.
But that’s not to say he hasn’t been a productive fantasy QB over the years. In fact, despite being drafted outside the top 15 among QB’s last season, Rivers finished 6th in 2013 and scored 15 or more points in nine weeks under new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
The only problem is, just like the way Rivers is an emotional roller coaster on the field, he’s also an emotional roller coaster from season to season for his fantasy owners. Rivers finished an unsightly 21st at his position in 2012, and 16th in 2011.
For that reason, combined with my inability to watch him make multiple throws a game and the fact the Chargers are likely to lean on their three-headed monster at running back this season, puts Rivers on my do not draft list in 2014.
2. Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Everywhere I look, another analyst is predicting a bounce-back season for Richardson, screaming at the top of their lungs: “He wasn’t comfortable!” “He didn’t know the playbook!” “He played with raging hemorrhoids last season!”
Alright, I made that last one up.
I do agree that Richardson will be better this season, but honestly, it’s only because there’s no where to go but up. After showing the ability to run through contact at Alabama, Richardson was consistently tackled by the turf monster in 2013, and finished 3rd to last in the NFL in running back efficiency (only Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce were worse).
So if you want to be the guy that hitches his wagon to a guy that has a rarely-used fullback-like 3.0 yards per carry in his career, go ahead, I’ll gladly take Ahmad Bradshaw rounds later.
3. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
I’m sure I’m not the only with Bowe on their “Do Not Draft” list, but I’ll highlight why. For a guy with all the talent in the world, with great size and a potentially dominating skill-set, he’s been a massive disappointment besides his 15 TD season in 2010, from a football and fantasy standpoint.
But like a minivan full of candy and funny stories, Bowe continues to lure fantasy owners (me included) in season after season, thinking that this year could be the year that he makes good on his massive potential.
I’ve had enough.
Bowe–who hasn’t topped 59 receptions or five touchdowns the last two seasons–can waste away on someone else’s bench as he nears his 30th birthday. He’s just not worth the headache anymore.
4. Riley Cooper, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Cooper–by all accounts–had a career year in 2013, racking up 17.8 yards per catch, eight touchdowns, and a team lead in targets.
But it came in bunches. Cooper was a boom-or-bust candidate all season, scoring 8+ points in seven games, and four or less in the other nine, making him a frustrating guy to own.
Although he has obvious chemistry with Nick Foles, I can’t endorse a guy who caught just 47 balls last season, especially with the return of Jeremy Maclin and promising rookie Jordan Matthews in the mix. Cooper will have big games in 2014, but I’ll let someone else try to figure out when those are going to be. Pass.
5. Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins
There’s not a whole lot to like about Wallace in my opinion. He’s maddeningly inconsistent, gives up on plays, and he seems set on making excuses for not being able to hook up in the vertical passing game with Ryan Tannehill, those ranging from “The sun’s always in my eyes in Miami” and his newest comment from this preseason “We don’t get the same defensive holding penalties against our offense that other teams do.”
Give me a break Mike.
Stop running every route in a straight line. Catch the ball in the middle of the field. Be a chain mover. Adjust. Adapt. Maybe when I witness that I’ll endorse you as a WR3 again. Until then, you’re just a bye week option to me.
Follow OPSN Lead Fantasy Football Writer on Twitter @RealShawnFerris for more Fantasy Football news, rankings, and analysis.