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Week 1 Busts - Overvalued Players to Avoid In Fantasy Football


Football is finally, finally back. Since the NFL is the professional sports league with the longest off-season, the wait for the new season to come around feels like a lifetime. Sure, there are other sports to fill the void, but some of us just can't get into baseball, which is a completely valid thing to say on this website. You guys won't bully me into caring about the MLB!

Anyway, football is back! You've drafted your fantasy squads and are ready to win your Week 1 games. But you always have to be careful; there are landmines waiting on all of your rosters, no matter how perfect you felt you did coming out of the draft. Each week, I'll be here to let you know 10 names who could be worth avoiding. Some of these will be players who profile to be complete busts and others will be key players whose ceilings are lowered for whatever reason.

Below are 10 lineup busts and avoids for Week 1 of NFL action.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

Top 10 Busts - NFL Week 1

Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, San Francisco 49ers)

Garoppolo's 5-0 record as a starter last season has a lot of people excited for San Francisco this year, but he'll open his 2018 season against the Vikings, who allowed the third-fewest points per game to quarterbacks last year at just 11.7 per game. Sure, you can make an argument that his performance against the league's best pass defense, Jacksonville, suggests Garoppolo won't be affected by the matchup -- he went 21-for-30 for 242 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception against the Jags last December -- but I'm not sure I'd want to stake my Week 1 success on him.

Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs)

I love the potential of Patrick Mahomes, especially in an Andy Reid offense with a pair of talented receivers who can make things happen down the field and one of the NFL's best tight ends. However, the game against the Chargers in week 1 will be just his second NFL start and it's coming against a team that allowed the fourth-fewest points to quarterbacks last season. They'll take a step back this season with Jason Verrett (Achilles) out for the year, but there are still a lot of solid defensive pieces that could make it a long day for Mahomes. (And if he does have success against this team, we'll have even more reason to trust him over the rest of the season.)

Ronald Jones II (RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Maybe you did your fantasy draft back in July, went on a long vacation somewhere, and are just now getting back online to set your lineups. You head to RotoBaller for some advice. You're wondering if that rookie who was shooting up the draft board before the preseason should be in your starting lineup this week.

No.

Jones is coming off a rough preseason. He carried the ball 28 times and finished with 22 yards. Meanwhile, Peyton Barber looked good running the football and earned the starting role in Tampa Bay. Barring injury, he'll keep that role for a while. If you ended up picking Jones early in your fantasy draft, you might just need to take the L here. Don't start him in Week 1. Barber will see the majority of the carries and nothing from Jones's preseason performance suggests he'll make anything happen with the limited touches he'll receive.

Alfred Morris (RB, San Francisco 49ers)

With Jerick McKinnon gone, picking up Alfred Morris was a smart move for fantasy players, but Week 1 is unlikely to be the time it pays off. The 49ers go on the road to Minnesota to face a defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs last season. While the Vikings defense shut down backs on passing plays at a slightly better rate than they shut down backs on the ground, they still allowed running backs to finish with just 1,095 rushing yards, the second-fewest in the NFL. Meanwhile, Morris has played sparingly over the past couple of seasons and while there were encouraging signs last year during Ezekiel Elliott's suspension, he was running behind a Cowboys offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranked as the fourth best in 2017. This year, he comes to a 49ers team that is currently ranked 16th by the same site's metrics heading into the 2018 season.

Adrian Peterson (RB, Washington Redskins)

So, the Washington Redskins signed Adrian Peterson after Derrius Guice went down. What can we expect from Peterson in 2018? Well, here's his game log from last season per Pro Football Reference:

So, umm...yeah! Peterson's 2017 season was a roller coaster ride, but it was mostly a bad roller coaster ride. Keep in mind that his two best games -- 134 yards and two touchdowns against the Buccaneers and 159 yards against the 49ers -- came against teams that were in the top-six of points allowed to running backs. His Week 1 opponent this year, the Arizona Cardinals, were much better at stopping the run. Factor in touches going to Chris Thompson and you have a player who should stay on your bench.

Amari Cooper (WR, Oakland Raiders)

I want to see what this Raiders offense looks like before I'm willing to consider 2018 Amari Cooper as anything other than an extension of 2017 Amari Cooper, who spent the majority of the season frustrating fantasy football players. Oakland opens this season against the Rams, who have brought in a new duo at corner -- former Chief Marcus Peters and former Bronco Aqib Talib. Talib has been to five consecutive Pro Bowls while Peters has made the Pro Bowl in two of his three seasons. PFF has the Rams ranked as the NFL's third-best secondary heading into the 2018 season. I'm not here for Cooper.

Corey Davis (WR, Tennessee Titans)

The Dolphins were one of the best teams against receivers last season and corner Xavien Howard should continue to take steps forward in his third NFL season following a strong preseason. Meanwhile, I think we all collectively have mixed feelings on Corey Davis. He had a good playoff game against New England, turning his five catches into 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but his regular season numbers weren't great. I think he makes some strides this year along with quarterback Marcus Mariota, but there are concerning numbers from Davis's rookie season -- 81st among wide receivers in catch rate, 95th in yards per target. There will be better weeks for Davis to wander into your lineups, opponents that provide a softer pass defense. Consider holding off on him for now.

Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Buffalo Bills)

The thing about Kelvin Benjamin is that he's going to wind up putting up numbers somewhere in the WR3/WR4 range based solely on his role as the top receiver in this offense, but his production is going to be really uneven, especially with the downgrade at quarterback from Tyrod Taylor to Nathan Peterman. The Ravens are a tough opponent for the Bills to open the season against. It's possible Peterman throws 10 interceptions in the first quarter and gets benched for Josh Allen, who'll throw 10 of his own. Peterman struggling to complete more than 50 percent of his passes and turning the ball over a few times is a result that wouldn't be shocking either. Neither scenario will help Benjamin have a productive day.

Antonio Gates (TE, Los Angeles Chargers)

Antonio Gates is the tight end for the Chargers once again, but don't expect him to step in and immediately give you vintage Antonio Gates. There's been some pretty obvious regression from Gates over the past couple of seasons -- taking his rookie season out of consideration, 2016 and 2017 featured his two worst catch rate, his two worst yards per game, and his two worst yards per reception. Even without Hunter Henry there to compete for catches, the Chargers still have three solid receivers who should be heavily involved in the team's game plan -- Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Tyrell Williams. Playing against the Chiefs, whose defense struggled in most areas last year but did hold tight ends in check, allowing just three touchdowns to the position all season, isn't going to be a fruitful day for the veteran Gates.

Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST

I saw some people going wild for the Jaguars during draft season, with them being picked multiple rounds before any other defenses came off the board. I understand the reasoning behind that -- in standard defensive scoring, the Jaguars finished first in the league last year with 208 fantasy points. In second was the Ravens at 172. A defense that scored exactly 100 points less than Jacksonville, the Cowboys with 108, finished 14th. The Jaguars were far from the rest of the pack. I think they'll be a top defense again this season.

But for Week 1, Jacksonville isn't Jacksonville. Defensive end Dante Fowler is suspended for Week 1's meeting with the Giants. Fowler recorded eight sacks last season and provided a key piece on the edge for the Jaguars, whose Week 1 opponents, the New York Giants, will be bringing in a ton of offensive firepower -- wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is back after missing most of last season with an injury, Evan Engram has had another year to grow at the tight end position, and the team has a new running back who might be decent -- Saquon Barkley. I don't like the Jaguars missing a good defensive end in Barkley's NFL debut.

 

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