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Early-bird busts

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The multitude of magazines has hit the newsstands and our friends at MockDraftCentral.com have compiled data from hundreds of early drafts. Armed with this data, let's examine players who are likely to be busts in light of their too-high market price. Click here for our companion piece on sleepers, i.e., the underrated. We'll go in order of the MockDraftCentral ADP – average draft position.

Maurice Jones-Drew(notes), RB, Jaguars (4th overall): His ADP is fine. He's here because he's one of four players being taken first overall. Jones-Drew is looked at as a guy who now has clear sailing to full-time duty. But it would be smart for the Jaguars to get the most out of him by limiting his touches. Take off your fantasy blinders and consider whether they'd be better off at least giving short-yardage and goal-line carries to another back – perhaps one of the two bigger tailbacks behind him on the depth chart (225-pound Chauncey Washington(notes) and rookie 235-pounder Rashad Jennings(notes)). You feel stupid when teams do the smart thing at your fantasy expense. Don't take Jones-Drew before the fourth pick.

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans (9th overall): Having guys who are fun to watch is important. But it's not going to be fun seeing LenDale White(notes) (15 TDs), who's lost 30 pounds this offseason, trot on the field for all those easy, goal-line scores. White's also likely to get about 40 percent of the overall carries, which is too much to share when you're a putative first rounder. Johnson was underwhelming last year as a receiver (6.0 yards per catch), lacks size (195 pounds) and plays on a team likely to struggle to score.

Wes Welker(notes), WR, Patriots (30th overall): Tom Brady's(notes) back, but he's unlikely to recapture that 2007 mojo irrespective even of his recovery from major knee injury. And it took 50 Brady TDs for Welker to be allocated a ho-hum eight back in '07. Third round is way too high unless catches are really important in your league's scoring system – we can confidently allocate him 100-plus. But since Welker's yards per catch are so low (always around 10.5 as a Patriot), a premium yardage total won't necessarily follow.

Pierre Thomas(notes), RB, Saints (33rd overall): I like him and touted him all last year. I own him as a keeper in my most important league. But the Saints don't seem to think he's durable and tough enough to be the team's primary ball carrier and goal-line back. I understand he was very good in short-yardage last year – he was the second hardest back to stuff last year (six times in 129 carries). This third-round ranking necessarily assumes a number of missed games by starter Reggie Bush(notes). But it's probably closer to a 50 percent chance that Bush doesn't get hurt.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh(notes), WR, Seahawks (34th overall): Free agent receivers usually disappoint and new head coach Jim Mora said he's changing the offensive philosophy to be more run-oriented. Houshmandzadeh is tough, but lacks size and play-making speed. These types fade quickly. QB Matt Hasselbeck(notes) struggled last year with performance and injuries. There are a multitude of better third-round options at WR.

Thomas Jones(notes), RB, Jets (35th overall): He had a great year, but if you pass on all running back with over 1,500 career carries who are at or approaching 30, you'll be right twice as often as you are wrong. I like those odds. Remember Curtis Martin(notes) falling off a cliff after that last big year for the Jets. Leon Washington(notes) is better and more explosive than Jones and the Jets love rookie third-rounder Shonn Greene(notes), who is better built for goal-line duty (Jones is 6-for-33 in converting goal-line carries the last two years).

Tony Romo(notes), QB, Cowboys (43rd overall): So overrated in real life given his inability to win even in December, never mind January. Now, no Terrell Owens(notes), who always had the safety over the top and thus made Romo's reads so much easier. Roy Williams is lazy and lacks competitive fire. And if you buy Romo at this price, you're necessarily investing in Williams. Check out how Owens' QBs have fared the first year after he's left town. It's not pretty.

Eddie Royal(notes), WR, Broncos (58th overall): Everything is different in Denver. Mike Shanahan was a Hall of Fame coach and play-caller and Jay Cutler(notes) a Hall of Fame talent at QB. Both are gone. So history is irrelevant now in the Mile High City. Royal is a dynamite, albeit undersized talent. But you're moving about a mile lower when you're dropping from Cutler to Kyle Orton(notes) at quarterback.

Steve Breaston(notes), WR, Cardinals (81st overall): I can't figure this out unless there's rampant speculation that Anquan Boldin(notes) is going to get traded. Maybe fantasy players are speculating on a Cardinals WR injury – Breaston had 21 catches for 276 yards and two (of his total three) TDs in the four games Boldin missed. But you can't take a WR at 81 who needs an injury to be worthy of starting.

Michael Salfino’s work has appeared in USA Today’s Sports Weekly, RotoWire, dozens of newspapers nationwide and most recently throughout Comcast SportsNet and NESN. Michael also covers the Jets and Giants each week for SNY.tv.

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