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5 NFL players you should avoid at all costs in fantasy football

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 01: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) warms up prior to the start of a game between the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys on December 01, 2016, at U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 17-15. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

Everybody has that player they won’t touch in fantasy football drafts.

Someone like, say, Doug Martin, whose banged-up seasons are as putrid as his spectacular seasons are, well, spectacular.

Nab that guy in the wrong year and you’ll be wary of him for the next 10.

But not every fantasy owner has to know that feeling firsthand. That’s what we’re here for.

Below you’ll find five big names who, in spite of your temptation to draft them, are destined to disappoint in 2017.

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 18)

Bryant has been a massive asset to fantasy football owners in the recent past. Between 2012 and 2014, the Dallas Cowboys star pulled in 273 passes for 3,935 yards and an eye-popping 41 touchdowns. That in mind, it’s not hard to see why some consider him to be in the same tier as Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. and A.J. Green.

Talent-wise, Bryant absolutely belongs in that discussion. But his production hasn’t been anywhere near that quartet  the last two seasons. In fact, Bryant has 81 catches for 1,197 yards and 11 touchdowns since 2015. Of course, injuries played a large part in that decline. Bryant has missed 10 games since 2015.

But his per-game averages over that time simply aren’t on par with the company he’s being drafted within. Since ’15, Bryant has averaged four catches, 54 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game. Over a full season, that amounts to 58 catches, 864 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers should improve as Dak Prescott does. But they, along with his injury history, are too damning to justify making Bryant the eighth receiver off the board.

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams (ADP: 19)

Gurley catapulted his way into the hearts of fantasy footballers with a stellar 2015 season. The former Offensive Rookie of the Year went for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in just 13 games in ’15. That performance led him to an ADP of 2nd overall in 2016. Needless to say, he fell well short of those lofty expectations.

Gurley managed just 885 yards in ’16. He topped the 80-yard threshold just once (on 27 carries) and managed a paltry 3.2 yards per tote on the season. With defenses keyed in on him, Gurley faltered. Those making him the 11th running back off the board are certainly counting on a bounce-back season in ’17.

But should they be? The Rams added some solid offensive talent in the form of Robert Woods and Andrew Whitworth, but the group surrounding Gurley as a whole is still largely underwhelming. Gurley’s outstanding first season is still fresh in the minds of many, which makes it tough to fault them too much for making him a second-round pick. But counting on him to repeat his 2015 success seems like fool’s gold.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders (ADP: 21)

Lynch threw a wrench into the plans of fantasy footballers when he announced his decision to return to the game this spring. Prior to his short-lived retirement, Lynch racked up five Pro Bowl nods between the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks. The man affectionately known as “Beast Mode” could accomplish big things in Oakland’s high-powered offense.

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

But just because he could, doesn’t mean he will. Lynch managed just 417 rushing yards (on 3.8 yards per carry) in his last pro season. As with most early retirees in the NFL, an extensive list of nicks and bruises inspired Lynch’s early exit. Of course, it could be argued that a year off did the 31-year-old’s body some good.

Then again, Lynch only knows one way to run: hard. He can be an effective short-yardage runner. But the Raiders would be wise to manage the veteran’s touches. And with a talented, young twosome off the bench in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, that’s exactly what we expect them to do. Which means Lynch’s current status at the 12th running back off the board is a little on the optimistic side.

Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 40)

As with every player on this list, Allen is a phenomenal talent. In his first two-and-a-half pro seasons, Allen managed 215 grabs, 2,554 yards and 16 scores. Allen was on pace to be one of the league’s best receivers in 2015 when disaster struck and he suffered a lacerated kidney. Just one game into his comeback season in ’16, Allen had the misfortune of sustaining a torn ACL.

The fact that Allen is still the 17th receiver off draft boards is a testament to his considerable talents. And with what we’ve seen out of men like Adrian Peterson and Rob Gronkowski in the past, we’re not doubting his ability to rebound from a serious injury. But that doesn’t mean the Chargers won’t try to ease him back in a bit.

Between Melvin Gordon, Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman and Mike Williams, Philip Rivers should have no shortage of mouths to feed. Given the risk of re-injury and Los Angeles’ boatload of talent at the skill positions, it’s easy to see why drafting Allen high is a risky proposition.

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (ADP: 56)

It’s not hard to comprehend why Reed remains a highly drafted commodity. The Redskins tight end is as dynamic as they come. He authored a dominating 2015 (87 catches, 952 yards, 11 touchdowns) and followed it up with another strong campaign last season (66 catches, 686 yards, six touchdowns). He belongs in the discussion for the league’s best pass-catching tight end.

The problem with Reed isn’t production. It’s availability. The 27-year-old has missed 18 games since debuting in 2013. His production when on the field makes one want to dismiss any previous health concerns. He’s bound to play all 16 games eventually, right? Well, maybe. But he hasn’t done so yet.

Last year, Reed missed games in Weeks 13 and 16. He bowed out of the lineup after Week 12 of his rookie season as well. That’s right when fantasy playoff races are heating up. Reed is a tremendous talent, but he has continually broken down as seasons have worn on. He’ll no doubt be a tremendous asset to whoever drafts him when he’s active.

But that whole “when he’s active” part is a big caveat.

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