Although fantasy writers spend most of their time telling everyone who to draft, deciding who not to draft is perhaps just as important. After all, a few awful selections will always sink a season. Here are the players whom I am avoiding at their current Yahoo ADP.
Round 1: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Kupp could lead the NFL in catches and receiving yards this year. After all, he accomplished those feats in 2021 and might have done it again last year if he hadn’t suffered a season-ending injury after nine games. But I have a bad feeling that the Rams, who are undergoing massive roster turnover, are going to be a mess by the time we reach the fantasy playoffs. Even worse, Kupp reportedly suffered a recent setback with his ailing hamstring, and Sean McVay has labeled him "day-to-day" — less than a week before season's start.
Likely to be playing out the string by December, the club could sit Kupp or QB Matthew Stafford at the time of year when fantasy managers need them most.
Round 2: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Managers are dreaming if they believe that Taylor is going to rebound from all this drama in time to find fantasy success this year. We know that he is going to miss the initial four games of the season, and from a football perspective, the Colts might have one of the worst offenses in football during QB Anthony Richardson’s rookie campaign. And if Taylor is traded, he will be up against the clock to learn a new playbook and get his body ready to handle a significant workload. Overall, this is a risk that isn’t worth taking until you're drafting for your bench.
Round 3: Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Simply put, Harris isn’t very good. The Alabama alum has averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and 6.1 yards per catch in his career, which are terrible marks for a player who has received over 300 touches per season. The guess here is that Jaylen Warren will cut into Harris’ workload as the year progresses, which will lead to Harris being a weak RB2 option when we reach the fantasy playoffs.
Round 4: Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets
A healthy Hall is one of the most dynamic rushers in football, but we can’t be sure that Hall has had enough time in his recovery from an ACL tear to have his full-speed burst at the outset of this season. And the Jets didn’t sign Dalvin Cook to have him sit on the bench. Hall’s 2023 fantasy value will be limited by his workload before he returns to being a fantasy star one year from now.
Round 5: George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
Kittle should have a productive season, but his value is capped by being part of an offense that includes an elite pass-catching RB and two excellent WRs. Additionally, the jury is still out on whether former seventh-round pick Brock Purdy can lead a high-octane offense for a full season. Kittle is unlikely to outperform tight ends who are available in later rounds, such as Kyle Pitts, Dallas Goedert and Darren Waller.
Round 6: James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Conner is going to get plenty of carries but may have trouble getting yards on a Cardinals team that is liquidating veteran assets while seemingly racing to the forefront of the Caleb Williams sweepstakes. At age 28, Connor is past the prime age for RBs, and he has reached a meager 800 rushing yards just once in his six-year career. Expecting him to have his best season on this year’s Arizona team feels like a fool’s errand.
Round 7: San Francisco 49ers defense
I would love to roster the 49ers defense this season, but there is no way I’m taking a defense while players such as Drake London, Brandon Aiyuk and Dalvin Cook are still on the board. Managers should make sure they have players for all starting positions and a couple of backups before looking at defenses, as this is an easy spot to stream throughout the season.
Round 8: Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Simply put, one good season isn’t enough for me to trust Engram. And let’s be honest, even at the TE position, 766 yards and four scores aren’t enough to be a league-winning player. Engram’s career has been plagued by inconsistency, and he is part of a Jags offense that added weapons Calvin Ridley and Tank Bigsby in the offseason without subtracting anyone. Engram represents the start of a large, flat tier at TE that includes similarly valued players who can be drafted much later.
Round 9: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
Pittman needs a massive amount of volume to be fantasy-relevant, as he has averaged just 11.1 yards per catch and scored 11 times in 46 career games. And while working with a rookie QB in Anthony Richardson, who completed just 54.7 percent of his passes in college, Pittman is unlikely to accumulate more than 75 catches. I see Pittman as having a high floor and low ceiling, which is not the type of player who should be targeted during the middle rounds.
Round 10: Brian Robinson, RB, Washington Commanders
Aside from the three kickers who are the worst picks in Rd. 10 ADP, Robinson stands out as someone who doesn’t offer great value. The 24-year-old is a hard-charging rusher who averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last year. And he is a complete non-factor in the passing game. Teammate Antonio Gibson has a more diverse skill set and will likely outproduce Robinson in fantasy points. As was the case with Pittman in Rd. 9, drafters should be chasing players with a higher ceiling than Robinson.