More top 10 hate: Brad Evans
Like my disdain for olives, Brad Evans' thesaurus and Charlie Kaufman movies "Adaptation" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," here are 10 fantasy football players that I hate more than you for '09.
Note: with the exception of the first player mentioned (below), this list does not include any of the players on my previous "Hate" list
Eli Manning(notes): The younger Manning is a holdover from my previous "Hate" list because there's just too much love for him still in Yahoo! average live drafts, where he is the 13th QB taken off the board. This despite the loss of receivers Plaxico Burress(notes) and Amani Toomer(notes), as well as top RB receiving threat Derrick Ward(notes). Last season, Manning finished 15th among QBs in fantasy points. And now he's supposed to be even better? Considering the inexperience of his current receiving corps, the likelihood of an even greater emphasis on the run by the Giants and the pressures of heading into the season in the first year of what is the NFL's most lucrative contract, I'm avoiding Eli at all costs, as you can see.
Clinton Portis(notes): I was sweating the odometer reading (370-plus touches in four of the past five seasons, including '08) before news hit that backup Ladell Betts(notes) would replace Portis on third down/passing situations. The workload strains were evident to any owner that hoped to ride Portis to playoff glory last season. After he averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored seven TDs in the first half of the season, he withered down the stretch (3.5 ypc and two touchdowns in the final eight games). If you've already drafted Portis, take advantage of the early soft spots on his schedule (Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City), then strongly consider dealing him.
Pierre Thomas(notes): No, I'm not overreacting to head coach Sean Payton's comments that the team will employ a three-back setup (Thomas, Reggie Bush(notes) and Mike Bell(notes)). But I do believe that Bell will factor into the equation in some way. Especially when you consider that Thomas is dealing with a sprained MCL. Even if he's good to go for Week 1, as reported, you'd expect that Bell would be utilized to lighten Thomas' load that first week back from injury. And if all goes well (and it should, given that it's a home game against Detroit), the three-back rotation is likely to gain some more momentum. Look, I understand how incredibly proficient Thomas can be in this dynamic offense. His numbers in the second half of last season speak for themselves. But most of that damage was done sans Bush, who sat six of the team's final nine games. A healthy Reggie Bush and the potential meddling of a third back (Bell) is enough to give me pause. We've let Brad Evans lead the way with the Thomas analysis on the Yahoo! site, and if that's the only opinion you've absorbed in regards to Thomas, then you're probably calculating the future date of his Hall of Fame induction. Let this be a cold shower on all that hyperbole. Thomas is still a third-round value, in my opinion. But I'm not interested in making him a top 20-25 pick.
Derrick Ward: I never bought the idea of Ward as a featured back to begin with. And I was on the Earnest Graham(notes) bandwagon as soon as I saw how giant the discrepancy in draft value there was between the two backs in early fantasy drafts. Of course, with the emergence (resurrection?) of Carnell Williams(notes) this preseason, I'm no longer on the bandwagon of any Bucs running back.
Willie Parker(notes): Sentimentalists don't want to let go of the image of Parker romping for nearly 1,500 rushing yards and 13 TDs in '06. But the reality is that Parker has just seven touchdowns in 26 games since then, and his yards per carry has fallen to 4.1 in '07 and 3.8 in '08. Frankly, I have absolutely no faith in Parker's ability to stay healthy this season. I have no faith in the Steelers' ability to run block. I have no faith in the notion that Rashard Mendenhall(notes) will be strictly a backup. I don't care how far Parker falls, I'm staying away. I just see "Trouble" written all over him.
Julius Jones(notes): Some see Jones as a sleeper. I just don't get it. You can't count on touchdowns – he has just 13 touchdowns in his past 927 touches covering the previous four seasons. His yards per carry is a pedestrian 4.0 for his career. And he's caught more than 23 passes just once as a pro – to that point, the Seahawks look clearly enamored with Justin Forsett(notes) on passing downs. From my perspective, the Edgerrin James(notes) signing was a curse for Jones, not a blessing. Not only is he likely to lose goal-line touches to James, like he would have with T.J. Duckett(notes), but James is more of a threat to steal between-the-20s carries than Duckett ever was. Oh, and have I mentioned how bad the Seattle offensive line has looked? Jones went at pick No. 71 in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League draft. Don't be that guy.
Santonio Holmes(notes): Holmes is getting a lot of love for a player that has yet to record a 1,000-yard season or catch more than 55 passes. A Super Bowl MVP does that sometimes. Holmes is immensely talented, no doubt. But his relationship with QB Ben Roethlisberger(notes) needs a lot of work. Holmes caught only 48 percent of the passes intended for him last season, and of his 15 career TDs, only seven have come from inside the 20-yard line. An emphasis on the run and Hines Ward's(notes) presence as Roethlisberger's go-to guy in red zone/crucial situations will likely continue to inhibit Holmes from evolving into more than a deep threat. There are several wideouts coming off the board after Holmes in Yahoo! average live drafts that I'd prefer to Holmes – Anthony Gonzalez(notes), Eddie Royal(notes), DeSean Jackson(notes), Lee Evans(notes), for example.
Roy Williams: When it comes to the fine art of receiving, Williams is a color by numbers portrait. He's caught just 51 percent of his targets in his career. And, like passes intended for him, he also misses games at a steady rate (10 in a five-season span). He's in a great situation in Dallas. But my doubts about Williams have grown to the point that I'd look instead to any of the three receivers directly following him in Yahoo! average live drafts – Antonio Bryant(notes), Chad Ocho Cinco(notes), Vincent Jackson(notes).
Steve Breaston(notes): I liked Breaston as a sleeper last year when he was in Mr. Irrelevant draft territory, if drafted at all. Now that he's in the draft range of potential No. 1 wideouts like Ted Ginn Jr.(notes), Earl Bennett(notes) and Domenik Hixon(notes), I'm taking a pass. In reaching 1,000 receiving yards last season, Breaston was helped by aligning stars. With the second-worst rushing attack in the league (3.5 ypc), Arizona took to the air nearly 40 times per game. That helped Breaston net the 25th-most targets in the league among receivers. And Anquan Boldin's(notes) injuries provided an extra boost – he averaged 69 receiving yards and scored two of his three touchdowns in the four games Boldin missed. With the addition of rookie running back Beanie Wells(notes), count on Arizona trying to balance out the largest pass/run discrepancy in the league. If Boldin stays healthy, I'll wager that Breaston loses at least 300-400 yards off last season's yardage total.
Tony Gonzalez(notes): I don't really hate Tony Gonzalez. He's a skip-the-ballot Hall of Famer. But I have him at No. 61 on my Big(ger) Board, 17.5 picks later than where he is going in Yahoo! live drafts, on average. That's too rich for a 33-year-old changing teams for the first time in 12 years. I still see him as a top four tight end, I just see him more as a 75-catch, 800-900-yard, 6-TD guy than the player that caught nearly 100 balls (96) for more than 1,000 yards (1,058) and 10 TDs in '08. Yes, Atlanta will open up the passing game a bit more this season, but the Michael Turner(notes)-led rushing attack will still take top billing. And uber-talented WR Roddy White(notes) needs to be fed too. Given the depth at the tight end position, there's simply no need to reach inside the top 50 for Gonzo.