Drivers who eschew the blinker, six-voweled racks in Scrabble, the second half of Nic Cage's career … these are a few of my unfavorite things. And when it comes to fantasy football in 2011, here are some players I hate (such a harsh word) more than you. Okay, I like them less than you. I'm not paying the sticker price on these chaps (if the price comes down, we can talk).
Michael Vick(notes): I've already taken some heat for this one, but stay with me and absorb the argument. First of all, I had Vick on most of my teams last year (luckily), so I know all about what he's capable of doing. I enjoyed that run as much as anyone. But we have to consider several key issues here: defenses adjusted to him a little bit down the stretch (he had at least one pick in each of his last six games, along with three lost fumbles); he comes with a massive amount of injury risk (probably the most of anyone at quarterback); he's not going to be cheap anywhere in 2011; and he plays a position that's very deep in one-starter leagues. If Vick slides to Round 2, okay, I have a decision to make. There's no chance I take him in Round 1.
Matthew Stafford(notes): He's tied to a superstar receiver in Calvin Johnson(notes), a nice start, and he had six TD passes against one pick in three games last year. But a completion percentage under 60 percent is a concern, and a 5.6 YPA doesn't move the needle. Can Stafford stay healthy for a full season? I'm not chasing his likely improvement to the extent that the market is.
Maurice Jones-Drew(notes): He's coming off a down year and he's slowly recovering from knee surgery. I'm worried the Jags could be one of the worst teams in football this year and MJD's dip in catches has me concerned; you need that element of the game if your team is constantly playing catch-up. I want more certainty, a better floor, from a top 10-12 pick.
Mark Ingram(notes): When's the last time Sean Payton went to a bell cow in his backfield that made everyone happy? Payton knows how to put up pinball numbers on offense, but his scheme is usually going to spread things around, share the wealth. Be ready to be frustrated, learn from the Pierre Thomas(notes) experience.
Brandon Marshall(notes): There's no debating his talent, but let's look at the empty issues here. He's played one full season in five. He's scored just 28 times in 75 pro games. His YPC is an ordinary 11.8. Chad Henne(notes) isn't a star maker at quarterback. And you know all about the off-field concerns that come with Marshall. I'll never target him; the price has to come to me.
Braylon Edwards(notes): Is there a Niners quarterback who can get the ball deep to him? Can Edwards quickly absorb a new offense? And then there are the hands – if you threw 50 perfect passes to Edwards in practice, he'd probably catch 22. I want more consistency from my third fantasy receiver.
Michael Crabtree(notes): I'm not meaning to pick on the Bay Area here. I love the city, I love the Giants and their wonderful park, and hey, I love Vernon Davis(notes) too. But Crabtree has been an oft-injured disappointment all through his career, and he's not wowing anyone in the film room either. I don't want to deal with his news cycle for four months, those updates are seldom optimistic ones.
Reggie Wayne(notes): The high volume from 2010 masked a career-low in YPC and a mere six touchdowns. I'm probably 6-10 picks behind Wayne than the national average, and that means I'm unlikely to get him.
Visanthe Shiancoe(notes): This is as much a shot at Donovan McNabb(notes) as it is at Shiancoe – I've stopped expecting No. 5 to spike anyone's fantasy value. Keep in mind that Chris Cooley(notes) scored just three times last year in Washington, despite decent catch stats. And Shiancoe is the type of fantasy tight end that needs regular end-zone visits to be worth owning; he's not going to be among the reception leaders.
Rob Bironas(notes): When you're picking your fantasy kicker (and defense, for that matter), you want to get behind a winning club. I'm not expecting the Titans to challenge for a playoff spot, so I'm not looking at Bironas in 2011. If you've got a case for the Tennessee offense, make it in the comments.