Opinion: Who not to draft on fantasy football

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With the NFL football season approaching, many people are planning their fantasy football team. Despite how numerous players won’t play for the NFL this season, fantasy football is buzzing with excitement. Photo courtesy of unco.edu.

When I was a child, my father and both late grandfathers watched sports religiously and there was never a dull moment while they were watching sports. The constant sounds of booing and cheering could be heard through the whole house and mobile home. The sports programs all three men watched the most were Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, but the most popular sport event was the National Football League.

The NFL has changed throughout the years and in today’s world, the league is still a tough and complicated place because some NFL players have opted out from playing football. Despite how numerous players won’t play for the NFL this season, fantasy football is buzzing with excitement. Some fantasy football team owners are excited to see rookies, such as Jonathan Taylor and Cam Akers, fulfill expectations on the field, or, like me, some are happy just knowing that there will be a football season.

As a regular fantasy football team owner, I am relatively picky about who I am going to draft because players change when the football season is over. I have a top five list of players who I will not be drafting and why I decided not to add them to my team. I do realize some of the players on my list may cause people to question my motive, but logistically, it does make sense. Here are the top five players I will not be drafting:

  1. Quarterback Cam Newton – Putting Newton at number one on the list was the hardest decision for me because he is a gifted athlete, but there is an issue that is preventing me from drafting him. The first issue is how the NFL team the Patriots have four quarterbacks on their roster and Bill Bellichick wants a quarterback who understands how the offense works. Quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Jarret Stidham know how to work the offense because Hoyer was a backup for Tom Brady for five years before he got traded to the Colts last year and Stidham was drafted by the Patriots in last year’s NFL draft where he became the backup for Brady. Before Newton signed a one year deal with the Patriots, undrafted Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke joined the team but I can see Lewerke joining the practice quad before the football season starts. I do not see Newton playing this season because he will be standing on the sidelines learning about the offense with Hoyer and Stidham.
  1. Running back Le’veon Bell – Bell was an amazing player during his five years as a running back for the Steelers, but things quickly changed for Bell because he didn’t sign a new contract with the Steelers in 2018, leading him to miss the entire football season. When the 2018 season was over, Bell got traded to the Jets where he was expected to help bring back the running game. Last year, I kept a close eye on Bell’s performance and I wasn’t too impressed because he seems to be lacking the skill set he used to have when he played for the Steelers. I know he can make it to the end zone when the offense is near the goal line, but he has struggled with running the ball consistently. According to pro-football-reference.com, Bell had a total of 26 carries, which resulted in 789 rushing yards and I know he can run for more than 789 yards. The other factor is how the Jets picked up running back Frank Gore from the Bills during the offseason and from what I have seen, Gore ran over defenders last year with his quick running ability. Gore is a potential starting running back if Bell doesn’t deliver his best for the Jets. If I see Bell eating up rushing yards with his skills, I will draft him, but for now he remains on the fantasy sidelines till I see improvement.
  1. Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins – Ohio State football program is notoriously known to have outstanding elite student athletes who excel tremendously while playing on the field and Dobbins was one athlete on the OSU football team that managed to ignite fire while he ran away with the football. Dobbins was drafted as the 55th pick in the second round of the NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. I did not, and still do not, understand why the Baltimore Ravens drafted a running back when they already have Mark Ingram Jr. and Justice Hill to continue running the football for this season. Perhaps the reason why Baltimore drafted Dobbins is because the team is adding more weapons for their stud quarterback Lamar Jackson or head coach John Hardbaugh will release Hill due to how inefficient he was last season. I like Dobbins because he is a versatile athlete on the football field, but I need to see how Dobbins performs with Baltimore’s offense. As for right now the saying “I’ll believe it when I see it” is how I feel about watching Dobbins playing football.
  1. Tight End Rob Gronkowski – Gronkowski will become a future NFL Hall of Famer by how dynamic he has been playing football. Gronkowski lit up the football field with incredible blocking and catching skills. I remember watching Gronkowski dragging a defender on his back while running toward the the end zone and I know he is capable of doing wonderful things while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I don’t see him as a superior athlete anymore because of the injures he has suffered throughout his career. He also did not play last season because he retired from playing football. For me, I do not want to draft Gronkowski because throughout his entire NFL career, Gronkowski has had 20 concussions and I believe those concussions have caught up to him because he retired his performance as good as it should have been. I am looking forward to seeing how Tampa uses Gronkowski in their offense and if he does well, I will gladly trade up to get him.
  1. Quarterback Lamar Jackson – Jackson is a gifted athlete and he was fun to watch last season because he led Baltimore to the American Football Conference last year against the Tennessee Titans. Although Tennessee won, Jackson showed players and viewers what kind of an athlete he is and how he is capable of running a professional offense. The only reason Jackson is on the list is because last season he was a rookie quarterback and for this season, he is a sophomore. The achievements Jackson received during his rookie season was well earned, but Jackson entering his second season does concern me a bit because there is a chance Jackson may not be as successful as last season. From last season, Jackson ran for a total of 1,901 yards and threw 4,328 yards. I hope Jackson can produce higher numbers this season, but I think he may decline a bit due to how Harbaugh is building an offense for his star quarterback. I hope I am wrong because I am sure Jackson will continue to light up the football field.
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