I try to never say never, but here are some 2019 fantasy commodities I expect to own infrequently, and perhaps not at all. These are my 2019 fades, the landmines who most concern me. Share yours in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
Like most teams, the Rams are not in the business of informing the public or being honest with disclosures. We're going to fly blind on Gurley information all summer, and this comes on the heels of a playoff run that featured the same thing. Heck, Gurley was thrown to the side in favor of C.J. Anderson — a street free agent — when the playoff stakes were highest. And keep in mind the Rams traded up to draft rookie RB Darrell Henderson; even if Gurley is hale, his days of owning a crazy-high share of the backfield work are likely over.
Gurley's body has already been through a ton of attrition, dating back to his days at Georgia. For my money, he's the oldest 25 year old in the league. I like to have at least some theoretical floor built into my early picks, but I can't establish it with Gurley.
Antonio Brown, WR, Raiders
I don't think the helmet flap is going to keep Brown off the field, but when you pick Brown, you are inviting the circus to town. New team, lesser quarterback, all sorts of drama. Granted, wideout is the diva position, and you want your pass-catcher to have some ego. But as Brown meanders through the back nine of his career, stepping into an age-31 season, I'd rather sit this one out. Around Columbus Day, I think Brown is going to wish he were still on the Steelers.
Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Old Quarterbacks
In one sense, including any quarterback on this list is a cheap play. There are a ton of playable quarterbacks in our current landscape, and even if you need two per week, I don't expect to feel emotionally taxed at the position. It feels like we trot out this line every year, but it's no less true — this is the deepest quarterback pool in fantasy history.
Obviously, age is a part of the fade here, but it goes past that. Brees used to be the surest volume play going, but is that true any longer? After seven straight years of 627 attempts or more, he came down to 536 and 489 (in 15 games) the last two years. Maybe the Saints don't play ground-and-pound, but the offense is a lot more balanced now. And although Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are terrific playmakers, the rest of the passing tree is underwhelming.
Of course, Brady would love to have the toys the Saints have. New England's two best theoretical targets are retired (Rob Gronkowski) and in limbo (Josh Gordon). Julian Edelman and James White are fantastic support players, but you need some steak, too. Where's the meat?
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Eagles
I'm jacked to see the Philadelphia offense in action this fall, and I expect to have a fair amount of Carson Wentz (while fully recognizing the abundance of right answers at quarterback makes it hard to be heavily invested in anyone). But the Eagles’ usage tree seems especially wide.
Perhaps Miles Sanders will throw others out of the way, but Doug Pederson generally likes a backfield platoon. Dallas Goedert is only partially blocked by Zach Ertz — they can play together, after all — but has all the looks of a breakthrough player. DeSean Jackson is back. Lots of mouths to feed here.
Jeffery's had a quirky career. Just two full seasons out of seven. He was an efficiency nightmare two years ago but saved by touchdown deodorant. Last year he was more efficient but averaged just seven targets a game (only two games in double digits). This is not an opportunity hog. I recognize the price is not exorbitant on Jeffery, but it's more than I'm comfortable paying.
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
Green was never going to be a target for me, in part because I want to be open for Tyler Boyd shares later. Green's injury history and career arc had me spooked, and it's not like he was especially cheap in early draft season. But once Green got hurt (ankle surgery), I knew I could essentially cross him off my list. Someone generally will get drunk on injury optimism in every league; don't be that guy.
Travis Kelce and the other premium Tight Ends
Any strategy can work if you pick the right players. And it's not like I wouldn't want Travis Kelce, Ertz, or George Kittle on my teams. Ertz was a staple of mine two years ago, and I was (along with others) begging people to draft Kittle last year.
But I'm not thrilled with the shape of my early roster construction if I take the premium tight-end plunge. I always feel like I'm chasing it at receiver and (especially) running back. I try not to have too much of a hard blueprint in mind as I enter a drafting room, but things would really have to get outside the lines for me to, say, call the Kelce audible. I see secondary and tertiary tight ends I'm fine with, it's a position all about collisions (leads to injury risk), and I want to be more proactive with my other six-point scorers.