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All-Avoid Team 2012: Don’t overpay for Peyton

Brad Evans
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Mile High numbers aren't in the forecast for elder Manning (USP)

The plague, lima beans, law enforcement, dustups with Chuck Norris … everyday we all purposely try to dodge the perils of life.

Fantasyland's good citizens are no different.

In a violent sport where injury and ineptitude lurk around every corner, gamers constantly strive to reduce risk in the hope it will propel them to the winner's circle.

Entrust Peyton Manning as your QB1, and your odds of racing past a checkered flag could be minimized.

Once the king of consistency, Manning, for the first time ever in his Hall of Fame career, is smothered in doubt. Multiple neck surgeries, unfamiliar surroundings, throwing limitations and a different system have many people, including the Noise, second guessing whether or not No. 18 can regain his pre-injury form.

To be fair, preseason reviews on elder Manning have been largely positive. In the short-field, he's delivered passes with vintage crispness and precision. Outside three interceptions, the four-time MVP has shown glimpses of his old self. Through two games, he's 20-for-30 for 221 yards averaging a solid 7.4 yards per attempt.


However, his deep touch remains suspect. Earlier this month, observers noted his throws beyond 20 yards floated and fluttered, often wildly missing intended targets. His shortcomings weren't on display versus Chicago in Denver's first preseason game. Peyton played it close to the vest, working the field within a 10-15 yard box. But in his latest exhibition effort, Saturday against Seattle, he was a bit more liberal, taking shots downfield for the first time in game action.

The results were not pretty.

Again, Manning was quite effective on high-percentage attempts, but he repeatedly airmailed receivers beyond the sticks. On a 40-yard streak to tight end Joel Dreessen, he overthrew the 6-foot-4 sequoia by a good 3-4 yards, dropping the ball onto strong safety Jeron Johnson's lap (Watch the play here). Uncharacteristic.

Fluttering deep balls aren't Peyton's only ills. Though he popped back up after getting knocked down against the 'Hawks, durability is still a concern. His response could be much different when he takes a blindside hit.

More worrisome is his track-record in outdoor games. His rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt and touchdowns per game are all lower compared to his performance in a climate controlled venue. With a Week 2 matchup in the Georgia Dome his only indoor clash, it's certainly possible the elements could hinder his overall production.

At this point in his career, he could transform into a Kurt Warner-type, a signal caller who nickel and dimes opponents. Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Jacob Tamme and, once healthy, Ronnie Hillman, makeup a respectable arsenal. Still going just outside the top-50 in Yahoo! leagues (50.5 ADP, QB8), he's not worth the fifth-round pick in 12-team drafts. Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, and his Indy replacement, Andrew Luck are better values in terms of draft position.

This season, Peyton's comeback trail will be littered with potholes.

Fearless Forecast (16 games): 252.3 yards per game, 28 passing touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 45 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, QB11

Here are seven additional headaches to circumvent in drafts this season. In other words, your cheat-sheet:

RiversHead2

Philip Rivers, SD, QB
ADP:  69.5, QB10
The pro-Bolt crowd feels Rivers is destined for a rebound. After a tumultuous season in which the Chargers again failed to deliver on their playoff promise and the QB recorded a career-worst 25 turnovers, those outside of San Diego are more pessimistic. With Ryan Mathews potentially sidelined for the first couple weeks of the regular season, the former Pro Bowler could rage early. But Norv Turner is expected to lean heavily on the run once Mathews is healthy, possibly leaving Rivers' gun-in-holster. Additionally, there are many question marks in the receiving corps outside Antonio Gates. Robert Meachem, though a decent downfield weapon, isn't as talented as the departed Vincent Jackson. And the loss of emerging stud Vincent Brown to a broken foot is bigger blow than most think. To be fair, he finished 2011 No. 8 in per game average mong passers despite his woes. Sadly, though, his stock could dip further this time around.

Fearless Forecast (16 games): 263.8 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 38 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns

MoJoHead

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jax, RB
ADP:  9.1, RB5
The holdout, despite whispers he could cave soon, may not cross Shad Kahn's deep line-in-the-sand anytime soon. His trade demand, reported by Adam Schefter late Tuesday night, is a strong indication that won't happen, possibly ever. It may seem crazy not to grant MJD's wishes with the back coming off the franchise's first rushing title, but the superb play of contingency plan Rashad Jennings this preseason has made the decision easy. The backup has netted 5.1 yards per carry in exhibition action, close to his 5.4 career regular season mark. Even if MJD returns to the field tomorrow, Jennings will see substantial touches once meaningful games get underway. Add that with the wear and tear MoJo has experienced over the past three years and the Jaguars desire to throw more, and he's a very dicey selection in the back half of Round 2. Learn from Chris Johnson's debacle from a season ago. Back away from the fire.

Fearless Forecast (14 games): 229 carries, 1,010 rushing yards, 29 receptions, 274 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns

MurrayHead

DeMarco Murray, Dal, RB
ADP:  27.1, RB12
A fixture on several pundit "breakout" lists, Murray is a dud in disguise. Yes, he is the unrivaled starter in Dallas, but the Cowboys' injury misfortunes (Jason Witten (Spleen), Miles Austin (Hamstring), Dez Bryant (patella tendonitis)) and penetrable offensive line raise red flags. Murray's unfavorable upright running style and general fragility, evident in the numerous lower-body injuries he suffered at Oklahoma and broken foot that cut his rookie season short last year, are major knocks. Also, even though most of the fantasy community has great disdain for Felix Jones, the No. 2 will carve out a larger role than most think. And let's not forget Jason Garrett's sketchy play-calling inside the 10. This star shouldn't shine for you.

Fearless Forecast (12 games): 199 carries, 872 rushing yards, 28 receptions, 193 receiving yards, 6 total touchdowns

TurnerHead

Michael Turner, Atl, RB
ADP: 39.7, RB15
Andy Behrens wrote a compelling argument denouncing the anti-Burner revolution. Unfortunately, he couldn't be more wrong. The fast-paced Falcons offense simply isn't suited for the clunky back's game. His high odometer reading, advanced age and straight line style aren't a good fit. He's also shown signs of a Shaun Alexander-like regression. Last year, omitting his 172-yard effort against the league's worst run D, Tampa, he tallied a lowly 3.5 yards per carry from Week 12 on. Looking extremely sluggish in preseason action, he's done little to dispel a significant decline isn't in his near future. Falcons head coach Mike Smith's repeated declarations No. 2 Jacquizz Rodgers is a "three-down back" is definitive proof of the organization's decreasing confidence in Turner. At pick No. 40, let someone else swallow cyanide.

Fearless Forecast (14 games): 207 attempts, 746 rushing yards, 16 receptions, 88 receiving yards, 5 rushing touchdowns

Andre3000Head

Andre Johnson, Hou, WR
ADP:  23.8, WR5
When operating at full-speed, Johnson is one of the league's premier receivers. He's big, ox-strong, speedy and athletic. However, he can't seem to avoid banana peels, felled by various ailments in recent seasons. Only twice since 2007 has No. 80 suited up all 16 games. Without him on the field for chunks of the past two years, Houston has evolved into a run-first juggernaut, spearheaded by Arian Foster and, to a lesser extent, Ben Tate. Even when Matt Schaub was in uniform last year, a stretch of 10 games, Gary Kubiak called "pass" just 42-percent of the time. Given the risks involved, he is an overpriced commodity at his current ADP. Pass on the headache.

Fearless Forecast (13 games): 73 receptions, 1,043 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns

WesHead

Wes Welker, NE, WR
ADP: 29.0, WR8
With PPR leagues the exception, Tom Brady's most trusted underneath ally is terribly overrated. Coming off a career-best 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns, investors are dropping heavy coin on the sticky-fingered wideout. Though another 100 receptions are again achievable, his yardage output and TD total will most certainly drop. With Gronk, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd clamoring for catches, Brady simply has too many mouths to feed. Expect numbers closer to his TD-starved 2009 and 2010 campaigns. In fantasy, the adage "Never pay for a career year" often applies. This year, Welker is a prime example.

Fearless Forecast (16 games): 101 receptions, 1,168 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns

WallaceHead

Mike Wallace, Pit, WR
ADP: 32.0, WR10
After weeks of trying to pry extra cash out of a franchise that typically doesn't bend to player demands, it appears "60 Minutes'" time is up. On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the Steelers' leading receiver from a season ago plans to sign his tender and return to camp this weekend. The move is a monumental step in rectifying his tarnished fantasy image, but his prospects of meeting or exceeding what he accomplished in 2011 remains questionable. While away from the Steelers, offensive coordinator Todd Haley installed a new system. That matched with Antonio Brown's emergence has Wallace climbing uphill. If he wants to make an early season impact, his playbook crash course will have to go smoothly. Be smart. If you plan to invest in a Pittsburgh WR this year, dole out the extra dollar for the better-rounded Brown.

Fearless Forecast (16 games): 61 receptions, 1,121 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns

GronkHead

Rob Gronkowski, NE, TE
ADP: 16.7, TE2
Brutishly strong. Handsome. Filthy rich. A connoisseur of adult film stars. We all would love to be Gronk. After a record-shattering season in which he snagged 17 touchdowns, many are shelling out big bucks for his services. Commonly, he's gone in the top-half of Round 2 in 12-team drafts, but, on occasion, has absurdly climbed into the the first-round. Considering the incredible depth at the tight end position and his likely TD downturn — Lloyd will wrest away several downfield targets — he isn't worth snapping tendons for at his current ADP. Hernandez, going some 40 picks later, is actually the better Patriots TE value. Over the last five weeks of '11, Brady actually lined up Hernandez in the cross-hairs more often. Expect that trend to continue.

Fearless Forecast (16 games): 78 receptions, 1,058 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns

Others Dudes to Dodge: Adrian Peterson, Min, RB, Frank Gore, SF, RB, Miles Austin, Dal, WR

Can't get enough Andy Behrens, Brandon Funston, Scott Pianowski, Dalton Del Don and "The Noise?" Listen to The Fantasy Freak Show (Now on iTunes) every Friday at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on Yahoo! Sports Radio

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