It’s that time of year again when I take a look at average draft position and react with horror at some players who really should not be going where they’re going. That’s the essence of the “do-not-draft” concept — every player makes for a reasonable choice at some point in drafts, but certain guys are best avoided at their current prices.
As always, The Post defaults to PPR scoring, which informs some of these calls, and we will get our ADP information from Fantasy Pros, which aggregates results from several prominent websites.
I just get the feeling that Cook owners are going to see a lot more of Latavius Murray than they want. Or to put it another way, why does it seem likely that Cook will just go right back to his workload from his first four games last season, before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee? After all, the 85 touches he received in that span, which would have been more if he had made it though that fourth game, came under a different offensive coordinator. Pat Shurmur is now the head coach of the Giants, replaced by John DeFilippo, who comes over from an Eagles staff that preferred to make use of multiple RBs.
Of course, we don’t know exactly what approach DeFilippo will take in Minnesota, but we do know that, in those four games, Murray was working his way back from ankle surgery. He played well later in the regular season, rushing for 593 yards (4.3 per carry) and seven touchdowns over the final eight games, and has looked good in the preseason. Reports on Cook’s recovery are positive, but the team has been handling him cautiously thus far, and it would seem logical to continue doing so, at least in the early going if not throughout the campaign. The Vikings’ shaky offensive line, meanwhile, could be a problem for both Murray and Cook.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers (ADP: 30 | me: 48)
Poor Rodgers has become the poster boy for QBs in this space, but it’s really a tribute to the fact that he tends to be the first one drafted. I agree with that assessment — in fact, I think there could be more distance than usual between him and the other top QBs, given Tom Brady’s age, Russell Wilson’s supporting cast and Deshaun Watson’s likely negative regression in efficiency — but it’s not so much where Rodgers ranks in relation to his position, but to all the other positions (well, really just RB, WR and TE).
The issue, as usual, is that QB is just too deep, in one-QB leagues, to make spending a high pick on one worthwhile. The opportunity cost is too great, because the other prime positions thin out quickly, whereas perfectly good, start-worthy QBs can still be found in the later rounds.
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans (ADP: 39 | me: 68)
If Cook has a Murray problem, Henry has a major Dion Lewis problem. Especially in PPR formats, given that Lewis figures to get the lion’s share of the passing-downs work.
As for the early-downs work, sure, that should go mostly to Henry, but Lewis was pretty good last year at running between the tackles with the Patriots. Henry, meanwhile, wasn’t particularly good at running anywhere late last season; take away a 156-yard effort against the porous Chiefs defense in the playoffs and he averaged 2.3 yards on 63 carries over his final five games, including a 28-yard postseason effort at New England. Henry did show big-play ability at other points along the way, but that could indicate that he’s too much of a boom-or-bust player to be going in the early fourth round, ahead of more stable options.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles (ADP: 54 | me: 75)
Even if he avoids starting the season on the dreaded PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, Jeffery’s slow recovery from offseason shoulder surgery could cost him a game or two. He reportedly played through pain last season, which is admirable but also a reminder that ailments have been a frequent part of the Alshon experience. In addition, while he did well to finish 20th among WRs in PPR, that was largely fueled by nine TDs, at a per-catch rate that seems unsustainable, and his catch percentage was an alarmingly low 47.5. There are just too many other tantalizing — and healthy — WRs to spend a fifth-round pick on Jeffery.
Ronald Jones II, RB, Buccaneers (ADP: 57 | me: 76)
I’ve been dropping Jones amid a drumbeat of reports that Peyton Barber will, in fact, be the starting RB in Tampa Bay. Of course, practice-field chatter is one thing, but the preseason results thus far appear to provide corroboration, as Barber has taken 25 of 34 snaps with the Bucs’ first-teamers, compared with just three of Jones’s 34 snaps (per Fantasy Guru’s Graham Barfield). Barber has rushed 10 times for 53 yards, while Jones has 12 carries for an ugly 11 yards, and the latter’s sparse usage in the passing game at Southern Cal (32 receptions in three seasons) suggests that he might have trouble even carving out that role as a rookie.
Evan Engram, TE, Giants (ADP: 62 | me: 84)
There were no rookie-season blues for Engram, who finished fifth among TEs in scoring last year, just behind stalwart Delanie Walker, but there is reason to think he could take a step back as a sophomore. The main issue is targets, a category in which Engram led the Giants in 2017 with 115, but that had much to do with the absence of Odell Beckham Jr. for most of the season, as well as major injuries to Sterling Shepard and then-Giant Brandon Marshall. Not only are Beckham and Shepard back in good health, but New York spent the No. 2 overall pick an RB, Saquon Barkley, who excels in the passing game and could steal more than a few of Engram’s looks.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans (ADP: 74 | me: 94)
As with Jeffery, WR is just too deep to spend a relatively early pick on a player with so many question marks. In 10 games before his 2017 season was cut short by injuries, Fuller caught just 28 passes on 50 targets, but he turned them into an absurd seven TDs. I pointed out earlier this month how Deshaun Watson’s TD rate last season was utterly astronomical and can’t help but plummet this season, so Fuller would need to sharply increase his productivity to make up for his own expected drop-off in scoring rate. That could happen, but he’s being drafted as if that’s an expectation, not a hope. I’d hope my readers would be smarter than that.
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