We are approaching the second week of August, which means all is right with the world in the minds of American football aficionados as the upcoming NFL campaign is now just over one month away. With the season rapidly nearing, many fantasy football enthusiasts are finally preparing for a month laden with endless draft research, analysis, and debate.
With so many knowledgeable NFL fans playing fantasy football nowadays, failing to do an adequate amount of studying will be to your own peril. You know full well if you draft a terrible fantasy team, your buddies will have an abundance of material to blast you with all season.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five players who are destined to disappoint during the upcoming fantasy season.
Melvin Gordon, RB – San Diego Chargers
Gordon carried a ton of hype into his rookie campaign last year after the Chargers elected to trade up in the first round to obtain his services. Sadly, many fantasy owners took a leap of faith on Gordon figuring any running back playing in an explosive offense led by QB Philip Rivers would deliver in fantasy, and the exact opposite occurred. Melvin struggled all season, finishing with just 641 rushing yards and zero rushing TDs.
Gordon is said to be an incredibly hard worker and a high-character guy. These are undoubtedly traits that should work in his favor, but putting stock into an unproven player who struggled so badly just a year ago is not a recipe for fantasy success.
Only draft Gordon if he falls considerably.
Randall Cobb, WR – Green Bay Packers
When Green Bay lost Jordy Nelson for the entire 2015 season last summer, the majority of fantasy experts were certain Randall Cobb would step up like a knight in shining armor and finish with the best statistical season of his career. Cobb was coming off a monster 2014 fantasy season in which he tallied 91 receptions, 1,287 yards and 12 TDs, and was expected to improve on that incredible stat line.
Unfortunately for Packers fans and players alike, Randall instead somehow managed to take a gigantic step backward. He finished the 2015 season with a lackluster 79 receptions, 829 yards and six TDs to the dismay of fantasy owners nationwide. With Nelson back this season, many fantasy experts believe Cobb will return to form, but he’s done nothing this offseason to indicate this will indeed be the case. And with running back Eddie Lacy in tip-top shape, Randall projects to receive reduced targets in the new campaign as the Packers place additional emphasis on the run attack.
Stay away from Cobb unless he falls a number of rounds past where he’s typically being taken.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB – Pittsburgh Steelers
There’s no denying Ben Roethlisberger can be a fantasy football stallion over the course of a 16-game season. And with Le’Veon Bell once again expected to miss time to a suspension, the Steelers will end up doing a plethora of passing in 2016.
Unfortunately, his aggressive, scrambling style of play leads to many injuries, and Ben has only managed to play in all 16 games in two of his last six seasons. This makes it incredibly difficult to rely on him in fantasy, especially in deeper leagues with less impressive backups available.
If you have your heart set on drafting Big Ben, make sure to have a solid insurance policy. He’ll be a guy you’ll be much better served utilizing in daily fantasy leagues.
Demaryius Thomas, WR – Denver Broncos
Let’s preface this by saying Thomas has been a fantasy football stud over the past four years, and possesses as much talent as any other wide receiver in the world. This is not up for debate. The problem with Thomas is the fact that the Denver Broncos don’t have much talent at quarterback this season.
Mark Sanchez is solid at times, but maddeningly inconsistent. The rookie Paxton Lynch might be a serviceable starter one day, but still needs an abundance of seasoning. And Trevor Siemian is a question-mark at best.
Thus, no matter who ultimately wins the job, the Broncos will likely struggle to get Thomas the ball. Your best bet is to avoid Thomas in season-long fantasy leagues unless he falls much later than expected.
Torrey Smith, WR – San Francisco 49ers
Smith’s first season with the 49ers was an unmitigated disaster. Neither Colin Kaepernick, nor Blaine Gabbert were able to get him the ball downfield, and he devastated fantasy owners by finishing with just 33 receptions, 663 yards and four TDs.
Not much has changed under center in San Francisco over the past six months. New head coach Chip Kelly is an offensive genius, but he can’t make his quarterbacks better deep-ball passers. Unless Kelly cooks up some exotic routes for Smith, he will be under-utilized again in 2016.
Smith might be worth a shot in your deepest leagues, but he should generally be avoided.
[Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]