The “Never Again” Team

Every year there are players that are overrated, underrated, over-hyped, and under-hyped. We love our sleepers, we love our three-down, goal-line backs, and we love the guys that have won us fantasy championships in the past. But there are some players that we don’t love. As Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary from Shark Tank says to a contestant that has a poor product, “You’re Dead to Me!” Here are the players that are dead to me. I am like a scorned lover. These players may be talented. They may even have good seasons. I don’t care because I don’t trust them. They’ve hurt me. I can forgive a co-worker for eating my food in the break room that had a big label with my name on it. I can forgive the person going 10 MPH below the speed limit in the left-hand lane. I can forgive my friend for forgetting my birthday. But what I CANNOT forgive is a player that lets me down repeatedly in fantasy football. I mean come on man! This is serious! This is real, for Pete’s sake!

Eli Manning (QB – NYG)

Peyton’s little brother and a 2x Super Bowl champion has fooled me many times in the past. After all, he is most likely Canton-bound one day so why wouldn’t I draft him and start him many weeks. Add in the fact that he has Odell Beckham, Jr. to throw to and he seems just right. WRONG! I don’t care what kind of stats he has. I don’t care how successful he is, I will always remember his 2016 and 2017 seasons being clunkers. He ranked 20th and 23rd, respectively among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. Come on man. I don’t care if you’re team battled through some injuries and you had suspect coaching, you are in the Hall of Fame discussion. You have to find a way to perform better. In particular, I still can’t get past a week during the 2016 season when I played him against the Cowboys in New York. Even though Dallas was 10-1 at the time, Dallas didn’t have a very good pass defense. They had a real good run defense, though. Being a slight home-underdog, I believed that the Giants would take to the air. Up to that point, the Cowboys had given up nearly two TD’s per game and an average of 285 passing yards. In the earlier meeting that year, Manning had earned 25 fantasy points. In this rematch, he only earned 8 throwing for less than 200 yards. I lost a head to head match-up I shouldn’t have lost that day and lost a decent amount of money in DFS. A Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback shouldn’t perform poorly at home in a positive passing situation … when I have money on him.

Jay Ajayi (RB – MIA)

Even though a friend of mine told me I should be playing him during the 2016 season, I didn’t listen. In weeks 6 and 7, he went for 200+ yards in each game. His next game was against the Jets, who actually had a pretty good defense. I figured that the Jets would have his number and be able to stop him. Ajayi came back down to earth that week as he “only” had 111 yards and a touchdown. It was time to start playing him. I was finally going to listen to my friend. In the next 6 games, he proceeds to rush for exactly one TD and go over 100 yards the same amount of time that I did – 0. Then in week 16 against a Rex Ryan defense that is in the playoff hunt, Ajayi goes over 200 yards again. I decide to give him a chance again for 2017 because he is just too talented, and I don’t want to miss out on his eruption spots. It looks like I am right as he is the Dolphins feature back and averages 22 touches for his first seven games with exactly 0 touchdowns. He was then traded to the Eagles and played himself into a running back by committee role. I will not be fooled by his talent and potential again.

Doug Martin (RB – OAK)

I have lost track of how many chances I have given Doug Martin. He started his NFL career with such promise gaining 1,454 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns in his rookie season. The sky was the limit for this stud out of Boise State. However, in the five years since his rookie season, he has been bad. Whether it has been injuries, off-the-field issues, or just plain good old-fashioned under-performing, he has let many fantasy owners down through the years. In those five years, he has rushed for more than 500 yards just once. That was in 2015 when he went for 1,401. In his six NFL seasons, the only two years he has been good (2012 and 2015) are the only years he has played all 16 games. Now he is part of a crowded Raiders backfield playing for a head coach that has been away from the game for 10 years. That is not combination that I want to take a chance on anymore. I have finally learned my lesson and will not be calling his name in my drafts this year. I would rather waste a roster spot on a rookie than someone that has let me down and been a bust as much as Doug Martin has.

DeVante Parker (WR – MIA)

For each of the last two seasons, DeVante Parker has been lauded by some of the best in the business as a player to watch going into that season. The headlines seemed to all say the same things: “DeVante Parker among young pass catchers poised to break out”, “Why DeVante Parker is the breakout player for the Dolphins”, “Can’t miss breakout players”, “Sleepers to keep an eye on” and so on and so forth. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Well, shame on me. I’ve been fooled both in 2016 and 2017. No longer. This Devante Parker wishful thinking stops this year! A breakout wide receiver needs more than one touchdown in a season – especially if he isn’t going to get anywhere close to 1,000 yards (670 to be exact). This might be the year that he breaks out with Jarvis Landry off to Cleveland but I will not fall for the banana in the tailpipe trick again that is Devante Parker

Mike Evans (WR – TB)

Evans is very talented. I remember him making big catches at Texas A&M. I remember him scoring 12 touchdowns in both in the 2014 and 2016 seasons. I also remember him catching a total of 8 touchdowns in the 2015 and 2017 seasons combined! I missed out on him in 2016 because I didn’t like his 2015 season. He was in my top tier last year right behind Antonio BrownJulio Jones, and Deandre Hopkins. I bought into the Dirk Koetter and Tampa Bay hype prior to last season. Evans wasn’t terrible as he went for 1,001 yards. However, he only scored 5 touchdowns and had only one 100-yard games. That is okay if you are drafting him in the 4th or 5th rounds. But he has burned me in two seasons now. Yes, you could say that the numerical sequence says that he will have 12 touchdowns again since it is an even year (2014, 2016, 2018), but I am not taking that chance. I don’t think Tampa Bay will be very good and I don’t trust their play-calling or their quarterback options (whether it is Winston or Fitzpatrick). He is ranked 22nd by FantasyPros. I don’t doubt the experts, but I can’t pull the trigger on him that soon. In fact, I am not sure I could pull the trigger on him at all until he wins my heart back – and that won’t be until he does Mike Evans things for two years in a row.

Eric Ebron (TE – IND)

The 10th pick of the 2014 draft never fulfilled the expectations Detroit Lions fans had for him. In fact, non-Lions fans never were really satisfied with his production either as he was constantly under-performing relative to his potential. He has a reputation for dropping balls, having mental letdowns, and not making the most of opportunities. As a Lions fan and a fantasy player that has a sweet spot for athletic TE’s, Ebron disappointed me more times than I care to remember. Producing only 5 total touchdowns in the last two years with Matthew Stafford under center is criminal in the world of fantasy football. He now has new life having been cut by the Lions. Think about that for a minute. Just four years into his career, the team that drafted him #10 overall (ahead of Odell Beckham, Jr., Taylor Lewan, and Aaron Donald to name a few) has given up on him. If anyone can breathe life into him again, it’s probably Frank Reich. He seemed to do wonders for Zach Ertz and Trey Burton in Philadelphia. But with Pro Bowler Jack Doyle already entrenched in Indianapolis and the status of Andrew Luck up in the air, I will pass all day – and twice on Sunday – when it comes to Eric Ebron.