Oh, I am definitely not drafting him. Not after last year…

We have all been there. As we start to do our fantasy football draft prep for 2018, we see players that we just cannot stomach the idea of drafting. For the most part, the reason being is that you are still trying to recover from the burns that the players scarred you with in 2017. In this article you fill find the players that burned the most fantasy owners in 2017. Identifying them is the easy part, but projecting their 2018 output will be the real challenge. So should you avoid these players going into 2018 or should you take advantage of others’ recency bias? We will have to open up the NFL’s 2017 Burn Book to find out!

Dez Bryant WR- Dallas Cowboys

The “winner” of my Twitter poll, many owners are writing Dez Bryant completely off.

They all make great points from the fact that he is going to be 30, and that unless the offensive scheme changes, it will be more of the same from Bryant in 2018. However at the rate he is going to fall in drafts could he be a desirable asset at a discount price? Right now he is going as the 23rd receiver off the board according to Fantasy Football Calculator. He still received a ton of targets last year (132) 12th most in the NFL, so his target market share should remain relatively high in 2018.

Additionally, his schedule will not be nearly as difficult as it was in 2017. Over the 2017 season, Bryant faced (sometimes more than once) Janoris Jenkins, Josh Norman, Patrick Peterson, Aqib Talib, Trumaine Johnson, Marcus Peters, Desmond Trufant, Casey Hayward, and Richard Sherman. A tough slate of corners for sure, Bryant showed inconsistency in tough matchups. With that in mind just be aware if you decide to take a risk on Bryant that he is not a weekly starter. But if he remains the number one receiving threat in Dallas getting him in the 6th or 7th round could be very serviceable. In seasons where Bryant has played at least 13 games, he has never finished worse than WR 25.

Nov 30, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) makes a fourth quarter touchdown reception against Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Evans WR – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The next player on the list, is one that players got burned bad by. Going as a top-five wide receiver in fantasy drafts a year ago, Evans was utterly disappointing by finishing as the WR17 in PPR formats. He totaled 203.10 points, just 3.1 more points than undrafted wide receiver Robby Anderson from the Jets. However, I do believe that a bounce back year is in order for Evans in 2018 if quarterback Jameis Winston stays healthy for a full 16 games. Excluding the five games, where Winston did not play or left the game early, Evans averaged 10.83 standard fantasy points per game. With Winston, he averaged 8.2 fantasy points per game. These stats can be a little deceiving however, as the sample sizes are very different. Evans also was ejected from one game and then suspended for the next game, hurting fantasy owners. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also started off the season on a rocky note, due to the weather forcing their bye week to be Week 1 and forcing them to play for 16 consecutive weeks.

Nov 26, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons cornerback C.J. Goodwin (29) after a reception during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

The important thing to point out is this has happened to Evans before. His rookie year, he broke out for 12 receiving touchdowns, and then followed up with three the next season. That followed suit with his past two seasons where in 2016 he had 12 receiving touchdowns again, but then followed it up with just five last year. Evans in mock drafts right now is going in the middle of the second round as the sixth receiver off the board. With his upside, I am almost certainly going to be targeting him at a value price point. Evans is only the third player in NFL history to begin his career with four-straight 1,000 yard seasons. Believe in his talent. Evans will also be playing for a long-term deal in 2018, after the Buccaneers picked up his fifth year-option.

Jay Ajayi RB – Philadelphia Eagles

A player that I can personally say destroyed me in 2017, Jay Ajayi’s path to becoming a volcanic burn of fire, was unlike any other player on this list. That is because he was traded from the Dolphins about half way through the year. But even after being traded after being ineffective in the Dolphins system, Ajayi was unreliable as a fantasy asset as an Eagle. In 2017, Ajayi was going off the board at the end of the first round and finished as the RB…33. Ironically, the RB 34 was Kenyan Drake the same player that replaced him in Miami. It’s funny because the season started so well with Ajayi, getting 28 carries out of the gate, a lot of fantasy owners were excited for their workhorse back. However, not ever again in 2017 would Ajayi see more than 26 carries in a single game.

Dec 3, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi (36) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Ajayi’s usage in 2017 was mixed, because of the other Eagles’ running backs. Based on his carry volume, he was relatively productive, but that was not enough to help fantasy owners dig out of the hole Ajayi put them in. Corey Clement looks to be in line for solid work in 2018 after his astounding 2017 season, so it seems the days of Ajayi being a workhouse back are merely just wishful thoughts. Currently Ajayi is going at the beginning of the fourth round in mock drafts. At that price I am staying as far away as possible. Ajayi even in his great 2016 campaigns was very up and down, so it looks like 2018 Ajayi will be more of the same inconsistency.

Amari Cooper WR – Oakland Raiders

Who is the number one wide receiver on the Oakland Raiders? Well, in 2017 it was once again Michael Crabtree and not Amari Cooper. In 2017 Cooper was the tenth wide receiver off the board, and Crabtree was 22nd. In PPR formats Cooper finished as the WR36 and Crabtree the WR30. The Oakland Raiders as a whole underwhelmed tremendously. In 2018 mock drafts, Cooper is going in the middle of the fourth, while Crabtree is in the middle of the fifth. Crabtree once again is at a value price in 2018 , but this time so is Cooper. Obviously at a much better price than in 2017, I would surely choose a player like Cooper over Ajayi in the fourth round. I like Cooper’s situation more.

Amari Cooper

There should be significant change in the Raiders offense in 2018 with Jon Gruden as the new head coach. For a fourth round pick, I think Cooper is worth the upside. He struggled with injuries throughout 2017, so if he can stay healthy I assume his fantasy production will turn back to the norm. He is a player that should at least finish as a top 24 WR in 2018 and have a few big games to win you weeks.

Julio Jones WR – Atlanta Falcons

Last but not least Julio Jones. It seems odd that a player that finished so high overall at his position could be disappointing, but Jones was just that in 2017. So much inconsistency across the board from him, and from his quarterback play. However, Jones is a special type of player that can win you weeks by himself. Not all wide receivers can do this which is why I love that his stock has dropped. Last year Jones did not make it out of the middle of the first round, and now you can draft him in the second round! I will buy that all day. Jones may have burned you in 2017, but do not be stubborn and avoid him for a Jordan Howard or a Devonta Freeman. Draft Julio Jones in another year in the Steve Sarkisian system, and burn your opponents on a weekly basis.

Julio Jones

Honorable mentions:

Jordy Nelson WR – Green Bay Packers –  Nelson will be 33 for the 2018 season, and it may appear like Davante Adams will be taking over the number one wide receiver role. Nelson became a fantasy ghost after Aaron Rodgers went down. However, never underestimate the Rodgers-Nelson connection. But a third round pick is definitely on the pricey side which is the going rate for Nelson in 2018 mock drafts.

David Johnson RB – Arizona Cardinals- Missed essentially the entire 2018 season with a wrist injury. I repeat.. a WRIST INJURY. Not a torn ACL, broken leg, or something more severe. I think many owners will forgot that David Johnson’s 2016 campaign (407.80 fantasy points) was better than Todd Gurley’s 2017 campaign (383.30). So draft David Johnson at the backend of the first round? Yes please.

Cardinals running back David Johnson breaks a tackle

Andrew Luck QB – Indianapolis Colts – Buy low, buy low, buy low. Luck is at the lowest draft price ever and you need to go get him, whether in dynasty or redraft leagues. Yes his injuries are a huge concern, but is upside is a quarterback that can throw 40+ touchdowns. Only four other active quarterbacks have accomplished that feat. Also, if he does not work out, the quarterback position is so deep, you can easily manage a way out. Eighth round pick in 2018 mock drafts right now.

Terrelle Pryor WR – Washington Redskins – We wanted to believe, but it did not work out for Pryor in Washington. Unless he goes to another team or back to the Browns he is tough to trust in.

Mike Gillislee RB – New England Patriots – It started out great, but fumbling gets you in the doghouse very quickly. Still a relatively young player, he is a player to monitor in the offseason. What the Patriots decide to do with Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead could have a big impact on Gillislee.

Isaiah Crowell RB – Cleveland Browns – Just put him on a team that can actually get the lead and get him carries because Crowell has talent. I like to buy him low before he gets traded to another team in dynasty formats.

Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell runs the ball

Alshon Jeffery WR – Philadelphia Eagles –  Jeffery finished as the WR20 and Nelson Agholor finished as the WR 22. After the Eagles magical season, I am not sure things could get better for Jeffery, so I do not like his upside to comeback more than a low-end WR2 in 2018.

DeMarco Murray RB – Tennessee Titans – It’s Derrick Henry’s world and we are just living in it.

Jimmy Graham TE – Seattle Seahawks – I’d hardly say Jimmy Graham was a big burner considering every TE struggles to be consistent, but considering he is going in the eighth round as the 10th TE off the board IN 2018 mock drafts, I am for sure buying that price tag. Since 2011, Graham has never finished outside the top five of TE finishes when playing a full season.

Nov 20, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham (88) catches a touchdown pass during the first half as he is tackled by Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell (59) at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

 

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