5 players to avoid at all costs feat. Deshaun Watson 

Fantasy football rosters should be full of players you are excited about. Drafting guys emerging as NFL superstars makes the experience much more fun.

Not every player gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling in our stomachs on draft day, though. It’s not because they are bad players. Sometimes, the ADP (average draft position) is too high on a particular player, and I’m out then.

Here are five players I’m avoiding at their current draft cost.

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Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys
Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys

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#5 Travis Etienne Jr – RB – Jacksonville Jaguars

ADP 30 (Fantasy Pros consensus ADP data)

I love where this Jacksonville team is headed. Great coach, a high-end QB, and a group of fun skill position players. That said, I’m out on Travis Etienne this year.

Etienne struggled last season as a receiver. While many thought pass catching was a strength coming out of college, he didn’t exhibit those traits on the NFL field. Etienne failed to catch more than three passes in any game in 2022. The former Clemson product also struggled mightily as a goal-line back, converting just four of his 23 carries from inside the 10-yard line into touchdowns.

The Jags added exciting rookie Tank Bigsby this offseason, and judging by his training camp highlights, he will take a major bite out of Etienne’s workload. If Bigsby steals goal-line touches and proves to be a more capable pass catcher, then I see Etienne being relegated to a between-the-20s type back. With his upside capped by Bigsby, I’m passing on Travis Etienne this year.

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers

#4 Deebo Samuel – WR – San Francisco 49ers

ADP 38

There’s no denying Samuel is a monster with the ball in his hands. The question here is how much will it be in those hands?

Once the 49ers settled on Brock Purdy as their quarterback and traded for Christian McCaffrey, the backfield touches that made Samuel such an outlier dried up. Samuel handled 18 carries in his six healthy games following the 49ers’ Week 9 bye week. That’s a far cry from his 2021 campaign, which saw him run the ball 34 times over the final five weeks.

Samuel also saw his role in the 49ers’ receiving game take a hit. Per Fantasy Points Data, his target share dipped from 24.2% in 2021 to 22.6% last year. In contrast, his average depth of target (aDot) plummeted from 8.5 to 4.2. That is a massive drop-off. You can thank the emergence of Branon Aiyuk and new QB Brock Purdy for that.

I don’t want to spend a late third or early fourth-round pick on a guy who last year scored just two receiving touchdowns and isn’t being used as the same elite runner we’ve seen in years past. I’ll let someone else draft Samuel, and I will scoop his teammate Brandon Aiyuk a few rounds later.

Las Vegas Raiders v Seattle Seahawks
Las Vegas Raiders v Seattle Seahawks

#3 Kenneth Walker – RB – Seattle Seahawks

ADP 39

Walker had a fine rookie campaign. He ended the season as RB 18 in PPR scoring. After a slow start, he posted double-digit scoring weeks in 11 of 12 to close the season.

My issue with Walker this year is what the team did around him. They added a potent wide receiver in Jaxon Smith-Njigba (now out with a wrist injury) and second-round running back Zach Charbonnet. When a team adds a premium outside weapon to go along with the studs they already have, you might think they’ll want to throw more.

Then, when they added another player at Walker’s position, I’m out. None of these additions spell more touches for Walker. Just more competition.

Give me Dameon Pierce, Cam Akers, or Alexander Mattison in that same range. If you want a piece of the Seahawks run game, draft Charbonnet in the 9th round.

Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles
Indianapolis Colts v Philadelphia Eagles

#2 Michael Pittman – WR – Indianapolis Colts

ADP 76

I’ve always been a Pittman fan, but this year, I don’t trust his situation one bit. The Colts are starting rookie QB Anthony Richardson, who is a raw passer by all accounts. So now we have an inaccurate thrower who, more often than not, will look to tuck and run instead of standing in the pocket to deliver a pass. That’s not a recipe for success for Pittman and the Colts wideouts.

While Pittman will have spike weeks, I’m more concerned that a lower volume pass game in Indy will lead to uneven production, contributing to losses on your fantasy ledger. I can’t see Pittman approaching the 99 receptions he had a season ago.

Attack upside in your drafts, not instability. I would instead select Diontae Johnson or Tyler Lockett in that same draft range.

Cleveland Browns v Philadelphia Eagles
Cleveland Browns v Philadelphia Eagles

#1 Deshaun Watson – QB – Cleveland Browns

ADP 81

It’s not hard to pass on Watson for off-the-field purposes. But I’m only looking at what he brings as a player. Watson is three years removed from his 2020 QB 5 finish.

I don’t see that same player ever returning in Cleveland because of head coach Kevin Stefanski’s rigid system. Watson thrived in off-script plays while leading the Texans. It was playground football, and he was the best kid on the playground. Now he’s locked into a scheme that forces him to play from the pocket, and thus far, he doesn’t look comfortable.

Last year, from Weeks 13-18, Watson was QB 15 in total points and averaged a very pedestrian 15.1 points per week. During those weeks, the Browns were 21st in pass attempts and 5th in rush attempts. It’s easy to see the game plan; Cleveland will want to pound the football with Nick Chubb. Find a different QB with more upside, like Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields.

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