Fantasy Football 2022: 7 Players to Avoid in Every Draft, Including Jaylen Waddle, Kadarius Toney, More
Getty Images. Pictured: Kadarius Toney
With the NFL preseason behind us, the final week of fantasy football draft season has arrived.
Here are seven players I am avoiding at cost in every draft, based on their FantasyPros’ average draft positions in half-PPR scoring:
1. Jaylen Waddle, WR14
Waddle was a shoo-in top-12 pick on the heels of a stellar rookie season — that is, until the Dolphins traded for Tyreek Hill.
Waddle had a huge breakout campaign in 2021 and was poised for an even bigger 2022. The 23-year-old reeled in 104 of 140 targets for 1,015 yards and seven touchdowns — good enough for a WR17 finish in half PPR. My issue is that Hill, whose ADP is currently WR8, is a proven superstar with three top-six finishes at the position in six seasons. Waddle has superstar potential, but it feels unlikely that he will be quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s first look.
Even so, Tagovailoa’s passing volume has not been overly impressive since entering the NFL, and there are multiple mouths to feed in this offense (Hill, Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki). There have been rumors that Gesicki could be on the trading block, which would open up more targets and scoring opportunities for both Hill and Waddle. At this time, however, it feels unlikely that Waddle will see the requisite volume of targets to return on investment at his lofty ADP.
2. Jerry Jeudy, WR25
With Denver’s addition of nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson, one of the biggest debates of the offseason has been which Broncos receiver should be drafted first in fantasy.
A case could certainly be made for Jeudy, who was a consensus All-American and CFP national champion for Alabama. He was drafted 15th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft and many had high hopes his college success would carry over to the NFL. Unfortunately, Jeudy has been a disappointment as far as fantasy goes and finished as the WR51 and WR89 in his first two seasons, respectively. He has been plagued with poor quarterback play and dealt with an ankle injury and COVID-19 last season, which sidelined him for a total of seven games. He also missed OTAs due to a groin injury.
Jeudy has an ADP of WR25 right now, which is just five positional spots behind Sutton at WR20. Members of the Broncos media have made it clear that Sutton has built the stronger rapport with Wilson and have indicated that Sutton — not Jeudy — will be the alpha in this receiving room. Even with the loss of Tim Patrick for the season, I am avoiding Jeudy at cost and am much more bullish on getting Sutton just a few spots higher.
Russell Wilson getting that pregame work in with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. #BroncosCountry #NFL pic.twitter.com/11nRlAgJZw
— Taylor Kilgore (@TaylorKilgore33) August 20, 2022
3. Kadarius Toney, WR47
Toney has been a popular post-hype sleeper in 2022, but I have not been a fan ever since the Giants made the bold move to select him with the 20th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 23-year-old former three-star recruit enjoyed a prolific college career at Florida and turned heads with a 4.38 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. Toney appeared in only 10 games in his rookie season due to COVID-19 and injuries and caught 39 of 57 targets for 420 yards and no touchdowns, finishing as the WR87 in half-PPR.
Toney is reportedly dealing with a knee injury that held him out of the Giants’ second preseason game (he underwent knee surgery this offseason, though it is unclear if it is the same injury). Once healthy, he will have to vie for targets with some combination of Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and another one of the Giants’ bold draft picks, Wan’Dale Robinson. The selection was head-scratching, as the 5-foot-8, 178-pound Robinson profiles as a slot receiver. New York’s quarterback situation is less than ideal as well.
I simply do not see a clear path for Toney — if he can even stay healthy — to break out in this system and I am staying away from him at his ADP of WR47.
4. Antonio Gibson, RB27
In our 24-hour news cycle, it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of preseason reports. But there are some major red flags that have caused me to take a bearish stance on Gibson.
Once a fantasy star and PPR darling, Gibson’s stock is plummeting amid ongoing ball security issues and a fresh face in the Washington backfield. Gibson, 24, had been lauded for his versatility — namely his pass-catching abilities, which were a byproduct of spending most of his collegiate career as a wide receiver and return specialist. He tallied over 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10-plus touchdowns in each of his first two seasons; he finished as the RB13 and RB12 in half-PPR scoring in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Head coach Ron Rivera was quick to criticize Gibson, who had a league-high six fumbles in 2021, after he fumbled once again in the Commanders’ preseason opener. Rivera added recently that Gibson may be the team’s top kick returner — not exactly the type of endorsement you hope to see.
With rookie Brian Robinson Jr.’s ascension and a Washington offense that may not find itself in many positive game scripts, it’s easy to see why one would be tempted to fade Gibson. His stock has plummeted of late, moving from RB19 to RB27 in a matter of days. Even at RB27, he has massive bust potential. I am staying away from this train wreck, though I could be tempted if he falls outside of the RB3 tier.
5. Breece Hall, RB19
Hall garnered a ton of hype since well before the 2022 NFL Draft as a standout in an otherwise shallow running back class.
The hype is justified — to a certain degree. On paper, the 21-year-old is a flashy prospect with the build of a workhorse back who has freakish athletic abilities. He tallied a whopping 3,941 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons for Iowa State. At the combine, he recorded a swift 4.39 40-yard-dash and a massive 40-inch vertical jump.
I am pumping the brakes on Hall’s ADP, which has been on the rise since the draft. For one, he was drafted by the Jets — a team that has had a top-four pick in four of the last five drafts and has not had a winning season since 2015. Gang Green’s lack of success has not lent itself to game scripts that favor the run: The team ranked bottom six in rushing yards per game (98.1), bottom two in rushing play percentage (36.7%) and dead last in rushing attempts per game (22.4) last season – all of which could negatively impact Hall’s fantasy production.
Hall will also face decent competition from Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson. Carter, 23, was highly productive in his rookie campaign, recording 183 total touches for 964 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns, and I do not see the team casting him aside outright. Factor in the Jets’ offensive line, which has been an ongoing pain point (and lost Mekhi Becton for the year), I view RB19 closer to Hall’s ceiling than median production.
6. Travis Etienne Jr., RB22
Etienne could be a fantasy superstar this season and beyond, but it would be careless to ignore the risk factors.
For one, the 23-year-old Clemson product has yet to play in a regular-season game after suffering a Lisfranc injury during the preseason last year. This prompted the Jaguars to turn to James Robinson, once again. Robinson, 24, has been shockingly productive since entering the league — especially in light of his draft capital (or lack thereof). He finished as the RB4 in 2020 and RB23 in 2021 in half-PPR scoring. His 2021 campaign was cut short due to a torn Achilles in December, though he was able to avoid the PUP list and is looking like he may be ready by Week 1.
Most wrote Robinson off after the Achilles tear, but his potential health could muddy the waters for the Jaguars’ backfield, which was thought to be Etienne’s by default. In light of both Robinson’s and Etienne’s speckled injury histories, I believe it is unlikely either one assumes a full-time, workhorse role this season. This is likely to become a committee, which makes drafting Etienne as a top 24 back inherently risky. Personally, I would much rather have Robinson at his paltry ADP of RB44, six rounds later than his counterpart.
7. Cole Kmet, TE13
Kmet finds himself in the fringe TE1 conversation this season due in large part to the Bears’ thin WR depth chart.
Selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, Kmet was primarily deployed as a blocker in his rookie campaign. His role increased in 2021, as he recorded 60 catches on 93 targets for 612 yards and no touchdowns and finished as the TE22.
I have reservations drafting Kmet as a TE1, solely based on his speculative target share in what is shaping up to be an abysmal offense. In the same range, I would rather have either a tight end from an elite offense, such as Dawson Knox or Albert Okwuegbunam, or a more proven option like Pat Freiermuth or Mike Gesicki.
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