Fantasy football is usually a never-say-never game. There are no bad players, just unappealing ADPs. That’s one way of reminding you that this Fade List is scribbled in pencil. We’re still in July. Like most of you, my main drafts come in August and early September. News will filter in, teams will shift and adjust, and my rankings will continue to evolve.
Take this article for what it is: Early leans.
It’s also worth repeating that you know your league and its habits better than I do. Perhaps you can acquire some of these players at attractive draft prices. I’m not anticipating that for myself.
You'll probably disagree with some of this list, maybe most of it. That's why we have a game; it's a game of opinions. Season to taste, and away we go.
Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints (Yahoo ADP: 19.8)
Of all the players on this list, this is the one guy I’m least likely to change my mind on. Kamara enters his sixth season — late in the dance for any running back — and his efficiency cratered last year, largely due to Drew Brees’ retirement. Brees obviously isn’t coming back, Sean Payton is also out the door, the Saints have their weakest offensive line in years and there’s a possible suspension looming over Kamara’s head.
Kamara’s ADP has come down somewhat in the last month (his overall Yahoo ADP is misleading, I concede you that), but I can’t draft him proactively.
A.J. Brown, WR, Eagles (Yahoo ADP: 32.6)
Love the player, don’t trust the situation. Jalen Hurts is a work-in-progress as a downfield passer. The Eagles' target tree could be jumbled, with Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert all jostling for position. Miles Sanders is also a mouth to feed in this offense, and when Hurts tucks it and runs, no one else on the roster gets a fantasy benefit. Throw in the expected adjustment for Brown in a new city and offense, and I have to pass on one of my favorite NFL players.
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans (Yahoo ADP: 4.3)
Another star player whom I’d love to be wrong on — Henry is a blast to watch and treats every carry like it’s his last. He never met a defender he didn’t want to run over. But Henry is entering his seventh pro season, he’s been worked heavily, the Titans offense lost several key pieces and Henry has never carved out a consistent pass-catching role. At the juncture when fantasy managers are drafting Henry, I’ll probably be looking at Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase.
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Falcons (Yahoo ADP: 97.2)
To be fair, his early ADP isn’t prohibitive, as the market doesn’t expect Patterson to come anywhere close to his 2021 breakout. Alas, neither do I. Patterson was an ordinary runner after the Falcons shifted him from hybrid player to more traditional running back, and generally, it’s a good idea to run the other way when a player spikes his production out of nowhere as late in the game as Patterson did. The Falcons are also moving backward at quarterback, and I’m not nearly as confident in head coach Arthur Smith as I was a year ago.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders (Yahoo ADP: 43.2)
I’m concerned the offensive line is going to stink, and the way to mask something like that is through the passing game (when your line can’t run block, there’s no band-aid to apply). Jacobs isn’t a great pass-catcher, but several backs behind him on the roster do that job well. The Raiders don’t view Jacobs as a long-term solution, and the transition could begin this year. He doesn’t fit the team’s offensive identity.
If you disagree with me on Jacobs, well, you're in good company.
Amari Cooper, WR, Browns (Yahoo ADP: 61.7)
Kevin Stefanski’s Cleveland offenses have not been receiver-friendly, and we have to expect Deshaun Watson is headed for some kind of suspension. Cooper is quietly entering his ninth NFL season, so there’s tread on the tires. He’s never been a dynamic touchdown scorer, and Jacoby Brissett is no kingmaker. Ultimately, I’d rather be a year early than a year late on Cooper.
Tyreek Hill, WR, Dolphins (Yahoo ADP: 25.1)
We still have no idea if Tua Tagovailoa is any good, and Hill isn’t a lock to lead his team in targets. Let’s be clear, the Dolphins' offense benefits greatly from Hill’s ability to stretch the field; every opponent has to start its defensive plan with the idea that Hill can’t take the game over. But that doesn’t mean Hill will hit the ground running in Miami, or ever get comfortable here.
I suspect around October, we’ll hear whispers that Hill wishes he were back with Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes.