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Living the Fantasy: Players to cross off your NFL draft board

Adam Levitan's weekly take on fantasy sports.

Baltimore Ravens v San Diego Chargers Philip Rivers is a player clearly on the decline. Do not take him in your fantasy draft.


There are certain players that have us on the fence, waiting to see what's next. There are others we can simply cross off the board.

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of fantasy football drafting is identifying a player that has reached his career peak and is now on the downslope. Not only will these players be overdrafted, but they'll also perform well below expectation. Here are this year's prime over-the-hill candidates:
Lil' Wayne
Reggie Wayne was rejuvenated by the arrival of Andrew Luck and passing-game guru Bruce Arians last season, finishing with an impressive 106/1355/5 line. Over the last eight games, he managed just 45 catches for 520 yards and two touchdowns. Now Wayne will turn 35 in November and Arians has fled for Arizona. Drafting based on last year's numbers will get you burned.

Rivers of Screams
For some reason, Philip Rivers remains a big name in NFL circles. The truth is that over the last two seasons, he has gone 15-17 while throwing 53 touchdowns against 47 turnovers. His yards per attempt has gone from 8.7 to 7.9 to 6.8 over the last three years. At age 32, his arm strength is declining and he is playing behind perhaps the worst offensive line in the league. Don't take the bait.

Pocket Hercules
It's been a rough year for Maurice Jones-Drew. Last offseason, he staged an ugly holdout that produced zero wiggle from the Jaguars. Then he sustained a severe Lisfranc injury, underwent surgery in December and showed up to offseason workouts out of shape. Last week, he allegedly sucker-punched a bouncer at a Florida restaurant. Meanwhile, MJD has 1,862 career touches on his 28-year-old wheels. It's time to let someone else take the plunge here.

MLB News »Cheaters?

Fantasy owners don't care if their players are doping. We just don't want them to get caught. Well, a whole bunch of us are steaming now as Ryan Braun is among the players facing lengthy suspensions stemming from the Biogenesis case. However, there's no reason to go selling for pennies on the dollar. Braun could drag this thing out for a couple months via appeal — and keep playing in the meantime.

MLB Pickups » Sign 'em

Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD: Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Puig is the second coming of Mickey Mantle.
Rex Brothers, RP, COL: He's closing while Rafael Betancourt is hurt, but Brothers has standalone appeal as well. He has allowed one earned run in 25 2/3 innings.
Mike Aviles, CLE : A streaky hitter that is better in fantasy than real life. Has some speed and is eligible at three positions.

NFL Injuries » Watch out

These last few weeks of non-padded practice brought a new batch of nicks to keep an eye on.
1. Trent Richardson, RB, CLE - After slogging through two knee scopes and a pair of broken ribs last year, Richardson is already out with a shin issue this year. The Browns are carrying four other capable backs. Durability is a concern.
2. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT - Seven years ago, Big Ben had a scope to repair the meniscus in his right knee. He had the same procedure Wednesday. It should be water under the bridge by camp.
3. Arian Foster, RB, HOU - There were already concerns here after a 4.1 YPC last season and a league-high workload over last three years. This calf strain won't help.

 
 
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