The plague. Law enforcement. Delicate punches tossed by Orlando Bloom. And, in the case of Mike Wallace, well-thrown deep balls from Ryan Tannehill ... Someplace, somewhere, someone is purposely trying to avoid something.
This loudmouthed half-wit is no different.
Around this time last year, romantic prose about Dolphins sophomore rusher Lamar Miller was written. Without meaningful competition outside plodder Daniel Thomas, an above average offensive line and off an impressive 4.9 yards per carry in his rookie season, all signs pointed to the ‘U’ product graduating to the RB2 level within Joe Philbin’s West Coast brand. As a result, yours truly, intoxicated by his potential and assumed substantial workload, shelled out a foolish $45 for his services in a 14-team auction league.
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I blame the Silver Bullet kegger at the draft.
Naturally, the climax didn’t match the build-up. The Richie Icognito-Jonathan Martin scandal hampered an underachieving O-line, Wallace failed to keep defenses honest downfield and Miller, my overpriced albatross, failed miserably in his quest to secure every-down work. His 879 total yards and two touchdowns were a mere 440 combined yards and six scores short of my lofty preseason fearless forecast. The resulting 6.2 fantasy points per game in standard formats slotted him No. 51 among RBs, one spot behind a washed up Peyton Hillis.
Yes, it still hurts.
For those that invested similarly, the bitter taste has lingered. Though he’s made noticeable strides in several categories throughout the summer, particularly in pass protection, and is firmly atop Miami's RB depth-chart, I for one won’t be selling my soul to acquire him again.
To be fair, every player has their price. If he can be secured on the cheap, it’s possible I would entertain another purchase. Early camp buzz reached a crescendo last week when the Miami Herald reported “a hope” Miller could fill the” LeSean McCoy role” in OC Bill Lazor’s Philly-styled offense. That’s awfully enticing, but the reconfigured offensive line, down arguably its best blocker in Mike Pouncey, looks horrendous on paper. Knowshon Moreno’s eventual presence also doesn’t inspire confidence. The ex-Bronco, who showed up to OTAs doughy and missed time due to a knee scope, may not return to action until the regular season, but once available, he's sure to pose a threat. Keeping all of that in mind if a bidding war over Miller ensues this year on draft night, I will gladly enjoy a moment with my beer.
What other players invoke chilly feelings? For fans of fading the Noise, who should you lock in on? Here are 11 additional commodities widely available inside the overall top-70 I will purposely circumvent in drafts, whether auction or snake, this year:
Rob Gronkowski, NE, TE (Yahoo ADP: 45.7, Calculator ADP: 26.0, Mean ADP: 35.8, Yahoo AAV: $13.7)
When Gronk is healthy he’s arguably one of the most intimidating forces, no matter the position, in the entire league. Among RBs and TEs, only Calvin Johnson has averaged a higher fantasy points per game clip over the past three years in standard leagues (Gronk – 13.9, Megatron – 15.4). Unfortunately, his vulnerability to the scalpel cannot be overlooked. If the fantasy gods could guarantee even 14 games this season, he’s a certifiable Round 2 pick in 12-team drafts. However, at that price point, he’s simply not worth the enormous risks attached.
Marshawn Lynch, Sea, RB (Yahoo ADP: 8.0, Calculator ADP: 10.9, Mean ADP: 9.4, Yahoo AAV: $56.4 )
At 28 and with three straight seasons of 300-plus touches on his record, Beast Mode has seen his fair share of battles. It’s conceivable he could be an invincible Adrian Peterson-type, a running back impervious to rapid decline, but a violent, brutalizing running style doesn’t typically imply longevity. Lynch was brilliant in Seattle’s Super Bowl run, however, his yards per carry did decline sharply (5.0 in ’12, 4.2 in ’13). That combined with his underutilization in the pass game and explosive second-year standout Christine Micheal’s anticipated increased role say stay away. Over the past five years 43.3 percent of rushers drafted inside the RB top-12 haven’t measured up. Lynch is a strong candidate to add to that statistic this year.
Nick Foles, Phi, QB (Yahoo ADP: 67.6, Calculator ADP: 65.2, Mean ADP: 66.4, Yahoo AAV: $5.8)
What Foles accomplished off the bench last year was nothing short of staggering. Over 13 games, he threw for 2,891 yards, totaled 30 touchdowns and accounted for TWO picks. His resulting 0.71 fantasy points per drop back and obscene 9.1 yards per attempt led the league. But that level of production seems unsustainable. DeSean Jackson will be extremely difficult to replace, Jeremy Maclin is about as durable as a double-wide in a tornado and Riley Cooper is a one-dimensional weapon. Also, let's not forget the Eagles ranked No. 27 in pass attempts in 2013. Rookie Jordan Matthews, Darren Sproles and much-discussed tight end Zach Ertz could pick up the slack, but, under the Chipster, this is more McCoy’s than Foles’ team. A rather harsh per game regression is possible.
Frank Gore, SF, RB (Yahoo ADP: 61.7, Calculator ADP: 44.5, Mean ADP: 53.1, Yahoo AAV: $10.3)
When the veteran broke into the league in 2005 Busta Rhymes was still Billboard revelant and hadn’t swallowed an entire lifetime supply of bologna. That was an eternity ago. With 2,518 career touches on the dashboard, old reliable could break down at any moment. His dramatic decline over the second half last year is a sign (No. 32 RB Weeks 12-17). I realize the ‘expert’ community has incorrectly predicted a Gore demise in recent years, but one can only stave off Father Time for so long. The Niners came to that realization after last season, grabbing his heir apparent, Carlos Hyde, in May’s NFL Draft. The 31-year-old will pass the torch soon. Hyde has drawn rave reviews in training camp and looks poised to become an every-down workhorse for years to come.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Min, WR (Yahoo ADP: 45.3, Calculator ADP: 43.6, Mean ADP: 44.4, Yahoo AAV: $12.1)
Liquid hot magma. That’s how hot Patterson stock is. Since early July his ADP has climbed nearly a full round in average drafts, ballooning his perceived value into the top-45 overall and top-17 among wideouts. There’s no questioning his pure talent. He’s big, highly explosive and downright nasty after the catch (6.8 YAC/rec No. 8 in ’13). Because Norv Turner transformed Josh Gordon into a fantasy god overnight, many are banking on a similar outcome with Patterson. Throughout OTAs and minicamp, he was shifted all about the field, an indication of how he will be used in the regular season. However, he’s still raw in the route-running department and is on a team where the RB is the offensive centerpiece. At his current price, it's hard to see him leaving investors in the black.
Alfred Morris, Was, RB (Yahoo ADP: 26.7, Calculator ADP: 21.3, Mean ADP: 24.0, Yahoo AAV: $30.7)
When The Butler emerged from the woodwork two years ago, he had no bigger supporter than the Noise. In Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme, he was a truck, cutting through holes while plowing over defenders. Even in a lost season for Washington last year, he cranked out a respectable yield in standard formats totaling 1,275 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. However, he finished No. 17 among RBs in per game average. Due to his lack of versatility and in a new offense, I’m not completely sold on Morris chipping in a RB1 line in 12-teamers. Roy Helu and possibly speedster Chris Thompson, who RGIII recently said could take on a Darren Sproles role, will eat into his workload. His QB could also steal a handful of TD opportunities. He’s more of a middling RB2, especially in PPR.
C.J. Spiller, Buf, RB (Yahoo ADP: 39.9, Calculator ADP: 32.2, Mean ADP: 36.1, Yahoo AAV: $23.1)
Last week, CBS writer Jason La Canfora ignited a Twitter firestorm suggesting the possibility of a preseason Spiller trade. Of course his claim was complete speculation, but when accompanied with Fred Jackson’s recent contract extension and the offseason acquisition of Bryce Brown, C.J., who has a $2.1 million option after this year, may play elsewhere soon. Buffalo, which ran the ball a league-high 546 times last fall, will continue to pound the pigskin. That bodes well for for the now healthy rusher, but involved in a three-back rotation, will he garner 18-20 touches per game? Most discouraging, Jackson is locked in as the goal-line back meaning Spiller would have to hit multiple home runs to justify his top-35 ADP. Given his rocket wheels and pass-catching ability, he’ll be highly employable in spurts, but he’s more FLEX than RB2 material in 12-teamers.
Bishop Sankey, Ten, RB (Yahoo ADP: 73.7, Calculator ADP: 41.5, Mean ADP: 57.6, Yahoo AAV: $11.9)
The power of assumption is very influential in fantasy drafts. Sankey is prime example. Most expect the former Washington standout to instantly step in, shoulder the load and produce. That, however, is a belief steeped in fiction. Ken Whisenhunt has made it clear the Titans will institute a RBBC featuring Sankey between the 20s, Shonn Greene at the goal-line and Dexter McCluster everywhere. This doesn’t inspire confidence for a strong RB2 line, essentially what you’re paying for at his top-60 ADP. I do like the rookie's offensive line and overall skill set. He’s equipped with excellent vision, hands and balance, but he’s tied to a highly suspect quarterback which will lead to stacked fronts. If you want to invest in a first-year rusher, wait four rounds for Terrance West (83.3 ADP) or seven for Devonta Freeman (109.6) and Hyde (115.7).
T.Y. Hilton, Ind, WR (Yahoo ADP: 53.0, Calculator ADP: 58.8, Mean ADP: 55.9, Yahoo AAV: $7.5)
This might be the first time in recorded history a fantasy writer will state this, but I’m actually on board with a Hakeem Nicks resurrection. If that really happens, Hilton’s overall worth is bound to suffer. Include Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen’s return, and I simply don’t see how on earth he can attract at or near the same workload as last season (134 targets). Also keep in mind, OC Pep Hamilton, even with mediocre Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw on roster, will attempt to establish a consistent run game, which he didn’t have last year. Total it up, and Hilton’s numbers are likely to finish in the vicinity of 2012 (50-861-7), not 2013.
Jeremy Maclin, Phi, WR (Yahoo ADP: 71.2, Calculator ADP: 60.9, Mean ADP: 66.1, Yahoo AAV: $4.2)
Considering his lower extremities are held together with rubber cement and a wad of Juicy Fruit, it’s hard to trust Maclin, a player who’s suffered multiple injuries in his brief NFL career, to play a full 16-game slate. He’s essentially the spitting image of Danario Alexander, coincidentally also a Mizzou product. In five years, he’s missed 21 games. Maclin should lead the Eagles in targets and has the speed and elusiveness in the open field to generate sizable yards after catch. Admittedly he possesses 75-1100-8 potential, but, again, I have serious trust issues when it comes to health. Give me Michael Floyd or Terrance Williams at or around Maclin’s ADP.
Julio Jones, Atl, WR (Yahoo ADP: 16.7, Calculator: 19.7, Mean ADP: 18.2, Yahoo AAV: $40.1)
When operating at full strength there are few weapons with as much downfield electricity as Jones. His blend of size, strength and speed is problematic for roughly 99-percent of defensive backs in the league. However, foot setbacks have hindered him over his first couple pro seasons. In three years, he's missed 14 games. Atlanta's offense should get back on track. Roddy White, who was greatly limited last year, is again at 100 percent and the ground game, with or without Steven Jackson, should be at least respectable. The Falcons' likely generous defense only enhances Jones' potential, but, simlar to Gronk, he's a high-priced commodity with considerable risk. In Round 2, give me the year-in, year-out reliability of Brandon Marshall instead.
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out "The Noise' along with colleagues Andy Behrens and Brandon Funston for another season of 'Fantasy Football Live' every Tuesday-Thursday at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network.