Fantasy football: Players to avoid this season

Brian Bernstein

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates will make a lot of fantasy owners unhappy with his inconsistent production this season. Photo credit: MCT
San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates will make a lot of fantasy owners unhappy with his inconsistent production this season. Photo credit: MCT

The 2013-14 NFL season is here, and that means fantasy football is back. With all the acquisitions teams have made, players stocks have gone up and down. Whether a player is on a new team, or the same team that has lost other key players, his stock may have dropped in the fantasy world.

TOM BRADY – Quarterback Tom Brady’s stock dropped slightly for the 2013 fantasy season because of the uncertainty of the New England Patriots offense.

Stevan Ridley, entering his third season in the NFL, will start at running back for the Patriots this season. Last year he rushed for 1,263 yards, however, his rushing stats will not earn Brady any fantasy points. Ridley’s production was also credited to how well the Patriots passing attack was with tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and wide receiver Wes Welker.

This year, Hernandez is in jail, Gronkowski is recovering from back and wrist surgery, and Welker is on the Denver Broncos. Although the Patriots replaced Welker with Danny Amendola, Brady’s numbers will slip without the duel threat of Gronkowski and Hernandez.

Brady is still a premiere quarterback in the NFL and will put up better numbers than most but his production will take a hit, even when Gronkowski returns, with a new offense.

MIKE WALLACE – The Dolphins are not known for their passing game, and no one knows if Wallace and second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill are on the same page. The Dolphins did not show any signs of a deep threat in pre-season, so the chemistry factor between these two players is still a mystery.

Wallace could be a steal because of the unknown aspect of the Dolphins offensive ability and schemes. He may have big reception numbers, but he may not rack up the yardage and touchdowns to keep fantasy owners happy.

Wallace is a high-upside receiver if offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and head coach Joe Philbin trust their quarterbacks arm enough to open up the playbook and take chances downfield, Wallace will become an intrical part of the Miami offense and rack up major fantasy points.

ANTONIO GATES – Gates’ production has dropped steadily since 2009 when he had a career high in receiving yards at 1,157.

His health has also been a problem and that won’t get better considering Gates is 33 years old. Also, he has not reached 800 yards receiving since the 2009 season and his average yards per catch has slowly diminished as well.

This is mostly due to the lack of talent around him. Receivers Malcolm Floyd and Eddie Royal are both battling injuries suffered during the preseason.

Without impact receivers surrounding Gates, opposing defenses can focus their attention on him which will make him an irrelevant fantasy option.

Quarterback Philip Rivers is also a reason for the lack of success Gates has had. Rivers has gotten the reputation of an irresponsible gun-slinger who throws the ball into tight spaces and turns it over at an alarming rate. He has thrown double-digit picks in the last three seasons, including 20 in 2011.

The Chargers also hired a new head coach this offseason. Mike McCoy, who was the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator last year. He is credited last year with helping the Broncos secure their second highest win total for a regular season at 13, but that was more due to Peyton Manning’s brilliance. Rivers can’t even be mentioned in the same breath as Manning so it’s safe to say the offense won’t be as high-octane and potent as it was in Denver.

Fantasy owners should steer clear of Gates this season as his production is bound to take a big hit.