Every year, there are fantasy owners who make the mistake of selecting players solely on their production the previous year. Knowing how a player performed last year is important, but offseason and preseason developments are just as important. These players produced last year, but owners should be wary of drafting them.
DeMarco Murray –> Injury-Prone
Murray played 14 games last season and that was the most he’s played in his career. When healthy, Murray is a good back who can easily end up as a top 7 or 8 RB. But his injury concerns limit his value, especially considering he’s being taken in the 2nd round of most drafts. If Murray slips to the 3rd round, he’s worth the pick. But in the teens, Murray only lives up to that selection if he stays healthy for nearly the entire season. That’s something I wouldn’t bet on.
Zac Stacy –> Starting QB Tore ACL
With Sam Bradford tearing his ACL (again) last night, the Rams are in trouble offensively. Yes, Stacy produced last season without Bradford on the field, but this time around, Stacy won’t be surprising anyone. It wouldn’t be surprising for Stacy to face nine and 10 men fronts, until Shaun Hill proves he’s a competent QB. The Rams were expected to rely on their defense and running ability coming into the season, and without Bradford playing, they will surely lean heavily on Stacy. Problem is Stacy only had a 3.9 YPC last season, and teams will key in on him this year. Not to mention the Rams drafted Tre Mason in the 3rd round of the draft in April.
Alfred Morris –> New Offense
Morris may be slipping a little too much in drafts. In many drafts he’s going in the 3rd round and his yardage is still very reliable. In his two years in the league, he rushed for 1600 yards and then nearly 1300 yards. Owners are reluctant to take him this year because he has a new coach, Jay Gruden, who plans to throw the ball a lot more, and Morris is not a great pass-catcher out of the backfield. Also, RG3 has been less than impressive so far in preseason, and much of Morris’ value hinges on how well RG3 plays. We don’t expect RG3 to run much anymore, but if he’s not a competent passer, then Morris will have a hard time doing better than last year.
Reggie Bush –> New Offense
Like Morris, Bush is also dealing with a new coach. Bush’s new coach Jim Caldwell loves to pass the ball, and new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is coming from New Orleans, where he basically used Darren Sproles as a WR. And that’s how he plans to utilize Reggie Bush now, too. There’s a good chance Joique Bell gets more carries this year than Bush. Bush still has plenty of value and is one of the most explosive players in the league when he touches the ball, but his touches could be diminished.
Frank Gore –> Age and Previous Workload
Gore has to fall off a cliff eventually. He just has to. Since becoming the starter in 2006, Gore has topped 1,000 yards in seven of the last eight seasons. He might be the least sexy pick, out of everyone, in this year’s draft. He’s 31 years old and that’s like 74 in running back years. Most RBs experience a sharp, sudden decline. Think Shaun Alexander or Clinton Portis. Gore managed over 1,100 yards last season, but his 4.1 YPC was the worst of his career. Plus, the 49ers drafted RB Carlos Hyde in the 2nd round of the draft. You have to think they will give him carries to save Gore for the playoffs.
Ben Tate –> Injury-Prone
Tate has been fantasy relevant for years, even though this is his first year in the NFL as a starter. And for good reason. In 2011, even as the backup, Tate rushed for nearly 950 yards with a 5.4 YPC. That probably had more to do with the Texans’ offensive line at the time, but most backup RBs couldn’t do what Tate did. In the past, he was the trendiest handcuff RB in the draft. In Cleveland, Tate gets his shot to prove what he can do as the starter, but most fantasy owners aren’t as excited to draft him. His injury history, whether it be cracked ribs or a broken ankle, have limited his ability to stay on the field. Investing a 3rd or 4th round pick, which is what’s necessary to secure Tate, is not wise. Even if Tate manages to stay healthy (unlikely), he’s on the Browns. He’ll have a mess at QB and no Josh Gordon for part of the year. This year’s Browns offense is nothing like those Texans’ offenses Tate was a part of that had Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, and Owen Daniels.