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Offseason Extra: Our frightening 15 for Draft Day

Senior Fantasy Writer
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You need to gamble on sleepers and potential breakout players to get ahead in Fantasy football. But don't underestimate the value in knowing when to pass on somebody on Draft Day.

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Spot the players you think will let you down this year and make sure they're not on your team.

We've already highlighted guys I would target on Draft Day with the 15 players I want in 2012. Here is the list of players I plan to avoid in most leagues unless they land in my lap, which likely won't happen in the majority of formats.

I'm not counting on Adrian Peterson, Vincent Jackson or Tony Gonzalez to live up to past reputations, and those are some of the players I don't want on my Fantasy team this year. If they play at a high level, my hat is off to them, but I have little confidence in these players coming into the season.

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans
2011 stats: 17 catches, 289 yards and three touchdowns
Early 2012 projections: 63 catches, 955 yards and eight touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 5
I would draft him in: Round 7
Britt suffered a torn ACL in Week 3 last year, and he needed another minor surgery in May on the same knee. He's expected to be ready for training camp, but I want to see him in action first before I commit to him. He was among the best receivers in the NFL through two games last year, and he has amazing potential. But the Titans might have tipped their hand in terms of counting on Britt when they drafted Kendall Wright in the first round. Granted, Wright can play in the slot for the Titans and might be the eventual replacement for Nate Washington, but he also is a great insurance policy for Britt if he's not ready by Week 1. The only way I would draft Britt would be as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver since I can't rely on him as a starter.

Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins
2011 stats: 1,086 rushing yards and six touchdowns; 43 catches for 296 yards and one touchdown
Early 2012 projections: 988 rushing yards and seven touchdowns; 56 catches for 444 yards and two touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 4
I would draft him in: Round 6
This entry should be for the entire Dolphins roster because there's not one player I want from that team on my Fantasy squad this year. Bush has the most potential based on how he finished last season, but the Dolphins have to involve Daniel Thomas more and they drafted Lamar Miller. The Dolphins also are going away from a run-based attack under new coach Joe Philbin, who was the offensive coordinator in Green Bay last year. Now, Bush should be more involved than what the Packers had with James Starks and Ryan Grant, but this offense isn't going to live or die with Bush. In fact, it's hard to know who the Dolphins will rely on, which is why this is a team to avoid in most Fantasy formats.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers
2011 stats: 72 catches, 874 yards and four touchdowns
Early 2012 projections: 67 catches, 961 yards and five touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 9
I would draft him in: I won't draft him
Crabtree has plenty of talent, but he has yet to show that he can be a reliable Fantasy receiver. In 2011, which was Crabtree's third year in the NFL, he had a successful campaign with career highs in catches and yards, but he had only four games with double digits in Fantasy points. His quarterback situation didn't help since Alex Smith isn't exactly a premier passer, and the 49ers decided to upgrade at receiver this offseason with Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and A.J. Jenkins. Crabtree now has plenty of competition for catches, including Vernon Davis, and his Fantasy value will take a hit as a result. He may never live up to the potential he showed at Texas Tech as long as he stays with the 49ers.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
2011 stats: 83 rushing yards; five catches for 9 yards and a touchdown
Early 2012 projections: 1,413 rushing yards and five touchdowns; 37 catches for 321 yards and one touchdown
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 3
I would draft him in: Round 6
This entry should be about a player I would avoid in Charles and someone I would target in Peyton Hillis, who is now the No. 2 running back for the Chiefs. I don't expect Charles to live up to his draft status. For starters, Charles is coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 2 last year. He should be fine for the beginning of the season, but with the addition of Hillis, Charles' production won't be the same. Hillis can play on all downs, and he will most likely take away goal-line opportunities. On top of that, Hillis is being reunited with his former offensive coordinator in Cleveland, Brian Daboll. We can see Hillis having a bounce-back year, and he presents better value on Draft Day then Charles since you can get Hillis with a mid-round pick.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears
2011 stats: 997 rushing yards and three touchdowns; 52 catches for 490 yards and one touchdown
Early 2012 projections: 1,345 rushing yards and six touchdowns; 65 catches for 505 yards and two touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 2
I would draft him in: Round 4
Forte has been one of the best Fantasy options since coming into the NFL in 2008, but his outlook is not enticing this season. His contract situation, which could lead to a holdout, is clearly on his mind, and the Bears gave him direct competition with the addition of Michael Bush. Now, if Forte is with the Bears in training camp without any issues, he would be the No. 1 option in the backfield. But Bush is still going to get his touches, and he will likely work at the goal line. The Bears also will be more pass-happy this year with the addition of Brandon Marshall, and Forte might not be worth drafting as a No. 1 Fantasy running back this season.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins
2011 stats: 70 catches, 947 yards and six touchdowns
Early 2012 projections: 64 catches, 976 yards and five touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 7
I would draft him in: Round 10
The Colts passing game was a mess in 2011 with Peyton Manning (neck) out, but Garcon still managed to set career highs in catches and yards and match his career best in touchdowns. But I'm not expecting him to improve going to Washington and playing with a rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III. There are a lot of mouths to feed for the Redskins with Santana Moss, Fred Davis and Josh Morgan. And Garcon's production last year was fluky. He had three games with double digits in Fantasy points, which were the only games he scored. In his other 13 games he topped five Fantasy points just twice. Garcon should be considered a No. 4 Fantasy receiver at best. If you draft him as a starter or even your first reserve you will likely be disappointed.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons
2011 stats: 80 catches, 875 yards and seven touchdowns
Early 2012 projections: 51 catches, 622 yards and six touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 9
I would draft him in: I won't draft him
Gonzalez is a future Hall of Famer, and his impressive career is coming to an end. He has set the standard for elite tight ends, but you're drafting for the future and not the past. Gonzalez's last good season will be 2011, and he is due to falter this year. A full year with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers will leave Gonzalez behind, and there are more Fantasy tight ends with upside this season. I'd rather pass on Gonzalez and draft a tight end like Jermaine Gresham, Jacob Tamme or even rookie Coby Fleener. Gonzalez will still post decent stats, but this will be the year of his decline. He's 36 and has mulled retirement this offseason, and I'm not banking on him having another good year to close out his career.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
2011 stats: 1,211 rushing yards and eight touchdowns; 17 catches for 114 yards
Early 2012 projections: 987 rushing yards and six touchdowns; 22 catches for 133 yards
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 4
I would draft him in:: Round 7
The 49ers did a lot to enhance their offense this offseason by adding Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James to the backfield. That will help the team, but it will significantly impact Gore in a negative way. Jacobs will likely vulture touchdowns, and James will take away from Gore even more in the passing game. Kendall Hunter also remains on the roster, and the 49ers now have plenty of options to keep Gore fresh for a playoff run while limiting his production during the year. He was once a No. 1 Fantasy running back in the majority of leagues, but you can argue that he's just a No. 3 option now. It's best to view him as a low-end starter, and if you're going to draft him it should be after Round 4 at the earliest.

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Fred Jackson, RB, Bills
2011 stats: 934 rushing yards and six touchdowns; 39 catches for 442 yards
Early 2012 projections: 1,155 rushing yards and seven touchdowns; 36 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 3
I would draft him in: Round 5
The allure for Jackson the past few years was his lack of competition for touches. He had more than 250 touches in 2009-10, and he was on his way to that total last year before he suffered a broken leg in Week 11. This year, Jackson should again be the workhorse for the Bills, but the presence of C.J. Spiller will hurt. When Jackson went down last year, Spiller shined with double digits in Fantasy points in four of his final five games. The Bills can't keep Spiller off the field any more with Jackson healthy, and that will hurt his overall production. He's also 31, and the Bills would be smart not to overwork him. Most Fantasy owners will draft Jackson as a No. 2 running back, but don't be surprised if he's more of a No. 3 option by the end of the season.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
2011 stats: 60 catches, 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns
Early 2012 projections: 68 catches, 1,108 yards and six touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 4
I would draft him in: Round 7
I tend to stay away from players like Jackson who beg for a new contract and leave a team for big money elsewhere. Does he deserve to get paid? Absolutely. Does that mean he will succeed in his new home? Probably not. To give you an idea of some receivers who have left a good situation and not panned out look at Sidney Rice in Seattle, Santonio Holmes with the Jets and Anquan Boldin in Baltimore. All were better with their previous team, and the same could happen with Jackson. He gets a downgrade in quarterback from Philip Rivers to Josh Freeman, and Jackson's production should decline. I don't consider him a guaranteed starter in the majority of leagues.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots
2011 stats: 51 catches, 683 yards and five touchdowns
Early 2012 projections: 63 catches, 1,029 yards and seven touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 4
I would draft him in: Round 7
Lloyd going to the Patriots this offseason was a great move for his career and the team. He follows offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and Lloyd has thrived with McDaniels in two previous stops in Denver and St. Louis. The Patriots also get a receiver who can stretch the field and play outside the numbers. But I would rather have seen Lloyd go somewhere that had a need at receiver. The Patriots are loaded with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch. There are only so many targets Tom Brady can focus on, and Lloyd's stats could suffer. He's a great No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but most owners will draft him as a starter. I consider that a mistake.

Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
2011 stats: Did not play
Early 2012 projections: 4,565 passing yards, 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 5
I would draft him in: Round 8
You have to be rooting for Manning this year after he sat out 2011 following neck surgery. We hope his comeback effort is successful, but Fantasy owners need to commit to two quarterbacks early if you draft him. You can't be left without a capable No. 2 Fantasy quarterback in case Manning goes down. He should do wonders for his top targets in Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme if he's healthy, but there is a lot of risk involved with Manning in case he suffers a setback. You might want to let another owner in your league take the chance on drafting Manning unless he falls to you in the right spot. And if you can somehow draft Manning as your No. 2 quarterback then your team is in great shape.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2011 stats: 970 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns; 18 catches for 139 yards and one touchdown
Early 2012 projections: 1,213 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns; 34 catches for 312 yards and one touchdown
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 2
I would draft him in: Round 5
Peterson suffered a gruesome knee injury in Week 16 last year, but he said his goal this offseason is to be ready by Week 1. We hope he can make it, but I don't want to risk it by drafting Peterson before Round 5. In fact, I'd rather wait to take Toby Gerhart in Round 8 or later, and Gerhart had five games with double digits in Fantasy points in his final six outings last year. Peterson has been an elite Fantasy running back since coming into the NFL in 2007, but his best days might be behind him. And he could suffer a setback if he tries to rush back before he's ready. The Vikings would be best served to put Peterson on the PUP list to open the season and bring him back at 100 percent in October. No matter what happens the advice here is not to reach for Peterson too soon because, for the first time in his career, he could disappoint you.

Laurent Robinson, WR, Jaguars
2011 stats: 54 catches, 858 yards and 11 touchdowns
Early 2012 projections: 56 catches, 833 yards and six touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 8
I would draft him in: I won't draft him
Robinson capitalized on his career year in 2011 with a big payday this offseason in Jacksonville. He had career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2011, but that was playing with Tony Romo and the Cowboys. In Jacksonville, Robinson will have to get cooking with a young quarterback in Blaine Gabbert. As such, his stats should suffer. Prior to his one-year stint in Dallas, Robinson combined for 89 catches for 1,000 yards and four touchdowns in four injury-plagued years with Atlanta and St. Louis. Don't be the one to reach for Robinson as a starting option, and I would pass on him altogether. He is definitely going to be a letdown after what he accomplished last year.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
2011 stats: 761 rushing yards and four touchdowns; 47 catches for 413 yards and one touchdown
Early 2012 projections: 877 rushing yards and six touchdowns; 38 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns
Likely Average Draft Position: Round 6
I would draft him in: Round 10
Put DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert in this entry because I don't want any of Carolina's running backs on my team if I can avoid it. The addition of Tolbert makes this backfield even more of a headache, especially when you factor in Cam Newton and his rushing prowess. Stewart has plenty of upside in a contract year, and he stepped up his game in 2011 with a career high in catches and receiving yards. But he was already a risky Fantasy option before Tolbert signed because of Williams, and now this could be a mess. There will be some moments where Stewart is great, but consistency will be an issue. He should only be drafted as a reserve with a late-round pick.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Report: OT Jake Long visits Giants Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:45 pm ET) Free-agent offensive tackle Jake Long visited the Giants on Thursday, ESPN reports.

The Giants are having to shuffle their offensive line with Will Beatty expected to miss the first part of the season with a pec injury. Long was scheduled to make $9.25 million in 2015 but was released by the Rams in March.


Saints CB Brandon Browner impressing teammates, coach
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7:11 pm ET) New Saints cornerback Brandon Browner is having a positive impact on not just the secondary, but the entire defense. At least that's the view of defensive backfield mate Kenny Vaccaro.

"Browner's a good dude, leads by example, talks when he needs to talk," Vaccaro told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "He's real serious, kind of keeps everybody level headed and knows what we've got to work for. He's won two Super Bowls, so he knows what to do."

Sean Payton echoed those sentiments.

"He's competitive," he said. "He's driven and certainly one of the things we talked about this offseason through the draft, through the acquisition of players is the makeup and making sure that this is something we felt like was a plus and certainly with him we feel that that is a strength of his."

The Saints are Browner's fourth team in six seasons in the NFL.


Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans working way back from injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:37 pm ET) There was a bit of a discrepancy Thursday in regard to the practice participation of Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

Chip Kelly said before the session that Ryans would be a full-go despite him being just seven months removed from rupturing his Achilles tendon. Ryans did practice, but he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was not a full participant.

Ryans missed half of the 2014 season with the injury, but contributed to 45 tackles in eight games before going down.


Eagles QB Mark Sanchez optimistic as offseason rolls on
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) A stronger arm, greater familiarity with the offense and more confidence has Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez feeling quite good these days.

Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery two years ago that affected him early last season. He expects to be better in 2015, especially if given an opportunity to play over newcomer Sam Bradford.

"First thing, physically, I feel so much better," he told the team website. "The farther it gets away from surgery and all the reps I've had, all the rehab on through, it can only get better and stronger. So this is definitely the best I've ever felt. And then as far as the scheme, every rep, every time we sit down and watch film, every meeting, that can only help with my growth as well."

The chance to play is one reason why Sanchez chose to return this offseason to the Eagles.

"Were there other opportunitites? Absolutely," he said. "Did they look potentially good, better, similar, maybe worse? Potentially, yeah, there was some stuff out there. But when I factored it all in, I just felt this was the best spot for me. I enjoy playing for coach Kelly, I love this system, I love the tempo, I love the pace."

Sanchez also expressed a desire to remain on the team for which he threw his highest completition percentage of his career in 2014. He hit on 64.1 percent, by far a personal best.

Chip Kelly has seen a difference in Sanchez.

"I think you can see it in how he's performing out there now," he said. "He's also not learning an offense again. ... He is really comfortable in terms of the scheme."


Ravens waive/injured Julian Wilson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) The Ravens waived/injured cornerback Julian Wilson on Thursday, the Baltimore Sun reports. Wilson suffered a broken leg on the first day of rookie camp and will miss the season.

Saints' Anthony Spencer works ahead of Junior Galette Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:01 pm ET) Saints linebacker Anthony Spencer worked ahead of Junior Galette in the team's base 4-3 defense, a run-heavy look that featured just three linebackers, ESPN.com reports.

"However it came out, we’re not worried about depth chart now," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "We’re putting in a defense, we’re all working hard together and getting to know each other, our teammates and what we got. But I know both those guys can play, so we’re excited about 'em."

Spencer had a career-high 11 sacks in 2012 but has managed just 24 total tackles and a half-sack in 14 games over the last two years while dealing with a major knee injury.

"I think sometimes there are tougher positions to evaluate at this time of year," coach Sean Payton said, when asked to give his early thoughts on Spencer. "But I think, No. 1, he can affect the passer. ... He’s an edge player, I think he’s very good at fitting the run, and I think he can affect the passer."


Report: Bryant participates in drills despite unsigned franchise tender
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:46 pm ET) Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant took a huge risk by participating in a limited portion of his team's organized team activities on Thursday, because he has yet to sign his franchise-tag tender, sources told Todd Archer of ESPN.com.

Bryant, who wants a long-term deal, has made a number of appearances at the Cowboys' offseason conditioning program but Thursday was the first day he participated in meaningful on-field work.

Bryant and the Cowboys need to work out a long-term deal before July 15 or he would be forced to play the season under the franchise tag, which would pay him $12.8 million.

In 16 games last year, Bryant caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns.


Browns' Josh McCown not bothered by 'game manager' label
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) Browns quarterback Josh McCown brushes off the negative connotation around phrases like "game manager" and "building around the quarterback," per the team's website.

"That stuff doesn't bother me," McCown said after Tuesday’s OTA. "We're trying to win a championship. You can call it what you want to call it. I just want to win football games. That's my main focus. I understand who I am and how I want to go about winning football games. That's the key for us."

Coach Mike Pettine understands why McCown was attracted to Cleveland as a potential landing spot this offseason.

"I think he sees that as potentially a way to win football games," Pettine said. "I think virtually any quarterback in the league, if we said, ‘Hey, we want to get you in second-and-5 and not second-and-11. We want to get you in third-and-2 and not third-and-8,’ I think they’d all be appreciative of that."

McCown also had praise for his new offensive line after getting to work with the unit.

"I knew they were physically good, you see it on tape, but these guys are so smart," McCown said. "It's rare to get a group of five guys that can really see the field the way they do. I've said this all along, they were a big reason why I wanted to come here. After being with them now the last five or six weeks, had I known it was this good, I might not have even had to take a visit (before signing). They're really sharp. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with them."


Jaguars' Denard Robinson ready for second try as kick returner
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:33 pm ET) Jaguars running back Denard Robinson is getting a shot at being the team's kick returner this offseason, a role he hasn't performed since early in his rookie season, but he's ready for the challenge, ESPN.com reports.

"Anything they ask me to do, I’m doing," Robinson said. "Now I feel more comfortable [returning kicks] than I was my rookie year."

General manager David Caldwell has said that while Robinson will get work returning kicks, he'd still have a significant role on offense. The running back hasn't dwelled on the comment.

"You just go out there and do yourself," Robinson said. "Do your thing and have fun and get better every day."

Robinson averaged 4.3 yards per carry on 135 rushes last season while racking up 582 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The Jaguars are expected to use rookie T.J. Yeldon as their primary runner in 2015.


Jaguars' Toby Gerhart feels for first time since last September
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:25 pm ET) Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart is expected to fill an H-back role after the team selected T.J. Yeldon in the second round, but he's worried less about his role and focusing on the fact that he's back to full health, ESPN.com reports.

"It’s feeling good," Gerhart said of the ankle that bothered him all of last season. "I feel healthy for the first time since last September. Feeling good and excited to go out there and be healthy and fresh this spring and show what I can do and compete."

Gerhart's new role will open him up to be a bigger part of the passing game.

"I’m learning the F [H-back] and running some of that and also taking just as many reps at tailback and competing and just trying to be the best I can be and see what happens," Gerhart said. "A lot of it so far has been a lot of routes and stuff like that, not so much iso downhill, more get me out in the flat, get me in pass pro and get out. It’s exciting to move around and we’ll see what happens."

Gerhart averaged just 3.2 yards on 101 carries last season while scoring two touchdowns. His average of 9.3 yards per reception represented a season high.


 
 
 
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