Fantasy Football Busts to Avoid on DraftKings and FanDuel

In fantasy football, avoiding the obvious mistakes are a key to winning. Those owners who don’t shoot themselves in their proverbial feet are the ones who are contenders in most local leagues. They give themselves a better than 50% chance to win, simply by fading the right players at the right time.

Daily fantasy football contests are a little more intensive than the average local league. The concepts are the same. Many DFS entrants set a lineup in the middle of the week, then forget to change it when injuries, team issues, and bad weather happen. They literally have no chance to win before the first kickoff happens.

In 50/50 leagues, heads-up DFS contests, and private leagues, starting injured players or demoted starters is the best way to lose. Thus, avoiding the obvious mistakes puts you in a position to win. Below, I offer the list of NFL players to fade in NFL Week 8. I include start/bench tips in the writeups, because the best sleepers are often the injured players’ backups.

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers

Antonio Gates is not practicing this week and the rumor is he won’t play for several weeks. Avoid Antonio Gates at all costs. Fade him entirely in your DFS lineups.

Ladarius Green, on the other hand, is a good play. Keep in mind his ascension to the starting unit combined with his relatively low cost means Ladarius Green likely will have a high draft percentage.

Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets

Reports out of the New York-New Jersey media are that Chris Ivory might get fewer carries this week. He’s nursing a quad injury and those injuries can be troublesome. Given Ivory’s hard-running style and history of injury concerns, expect the Jets to be cautious.

Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns

Several weeks this season, Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Josh McCown has been a winning DFS quarterback. He’s been cheap and highly productive. Avoid Josh McCown in Week 8, because he likely won’t play. Johnny Manziel appears ready to start in his place.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vincent Jackson has a knee injury and he might not be available this week. Even if he is, Jackson is likely to be hobbled. Jameis Winston is still having growing pains, while he began to build chemistry with Mike Evans last week. Meanwhile, he has Austin Seferian-Jenkins ready to return soon (maybe this week, probably not) and Charles Sims collecting a lot of passes out of the backfield. Vincent Jackson is a bad bet in Week 8.

Ty Montgomery and James Jones of the Packers

Davante Adams, the preseason starting wide receiver opposite Randall Cobb for the Packers, is back at practice this week. Davante Adams isn’t like to play much, if he plays at all. He might not have a starting job when he returns. But his presence throws doubt into the receiving corps of the Packers, outside of Randall Cobb. I’d avoid this group, unless you think James Jones is worthy of a spot start.

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

It goes without saying unless you’ve been exploring the Amazon River the past week, but Arian Foster is on IR and out for the season with an Achilles tendon tear. Fade Arian Foster in all formats.

Joseph Randall, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Joseph Randall was demoted in lieu of Darren McFadden as the Dallas Cowboys’ starting running back going into Week 8. The Cowboys have gone 0-4 since Tony Romo got injured and they appear to be in complete meltdown mode. Joseph Randall is a significant part of that meltdown.

After learning about his benching, Joseph Randall left the Cowboys’ facility and didn’t appear available for the team. Meanwhile, he’s facing NFL suspension for a February 2015 arrest involving a domestic dispute with the mother of his child. The actual arrest came from marijuana possession. Though the charges later were dropped, the NFL is likely to suspend Randall…and that suspension is likely to come soon. While he’ll be available for Sunday, the Cowboys are clearly devaluing and demphasizing him.

Joseph Randall is officially a complete headcase, by the way. Months prior to the February arrest, he was arrested for shoplifting. After that incident, he claimed the Cowboys overlook Dez Bryant’s indiscretions, so they should overlook his. In the offseason, after Demarco Murray broke a Cowboys’ record for single-season rushing years (beating men like Emmitt Smith, Herschel Walker, and Tony Dorsett), Joseph Randall said he’d watched the game tapes and Murray had “left a lot of meat on the bone”. He actually implied he would get more than 1,800 yards this season.

That gets at the heart of Joseph Randall running away from his Cowboys home this week. He thinks he’s special and he’s just not. People who think they’re special usually have to learn their lessons the hard way, and that looks like the case here. Last week, the Cowboys got roasted for letting Greg Hardy disrespect the Cowboys’ special teams coach and get in the face of Dez Bryant, who defended the coach. Greg Hardy is a sack rush specialist on a team who needs that talent desperately. They might let the Kraken get away with insubordination, but because of the savaging they took, expect them to make an example of Joseph Randall.

Terrance Williams, Devin Street, Cole Beasley

Not to say that these players are high on your list, but I’ve seen Terance Williams and Cole Beasly played in recent weeks by those using contrarian DFS strategies. I’d avoid any Cowboys receiver besides Dez Bryant, because the word is Dez is back at practice in a limited capacity. With the Cowboys desperate for a victory, they might rush Dez Bryant out there on the field this week (or he might be ready to go).

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

I’d fade Dez Bryant one more week. If you saw Dez Bryant available for a low cap figure, I could see starting him in a big weekly tournament. His upside would be huge on a return, even with Matt Cassell starting. Unfortanately, most daily fantasy football sites which list him as a playable option is likely to list him at his usual high price.

Under those circumstances, he’s not worth starting. There are too many question marks.

Bye Week Players to Avoid

The Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, and Jacksonville Jaguars are all on bye this week. Those players aren’t likely to be available for drafting on FanDuel and DraftKings, but if you play at an off-brand daily fantasy sports site, you might see these players about the startable options. If you do, fade them.

  • LeSean McCoy
  • Bills Defense
  • Demarco Murray
  • Darren Sproles
  • Ryan Mathews
  • Jordan Matthews
  • Eagles Defense
  • Kirk Cousins
  • Jordan Reed
  • Blake Bortles
  • Allen Robinson
  • Allen Hurns
  • Julius Thomas

It goes without saying that certain players off those teams should be avoided at this point, such as Sam Bradford, Alfred Morris, and Matt Jones. Keep an eye on Redskins receivers in the coming weeks to see if they might emerge as fantasy threats, given Kirk Cousins’ slight emergenence. But avoid their runners at all costs.