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Fantasy Football: Eight players to fade in 2023 drafts

The fade list is always a little controversial in fantasy football. Some of you will draft these players. Some of you will openly covet these players. That’s cool. It’s a game of opinions. And certainly, I’ll get my share of things wrong.

Of course, most players will make some sense at the right price, but I’m not going to sneak that cheat code in. We need to speak about ADPs that are reasonable and gettable. Sure, if everyone on this list sails significantly past their ADP, you might reevaluate. I will, too.

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Feel free to tell me who you’re avoiding this year. Catch me at @scott_pianowski.

Here are my Eight to Avoid for August 2023.

Career arc isn’t the problem with Jacobs — it’s just his age-25 season, his fifth year — but any running back bet is a bet on infrastructure, and the setup in Vegas worries me. This looks like one of the five-worst run-blocking teams in the league. Jimmy Garoppolo at this stage is an average quarterback at best, and he has durability issues. Jacobs is also due some regression after a fourth season that blew his previous three out of the water.

The holdout risk hasn’t completely torpedoed Jacobs’s ADP — he’s still landing in the top 20. And at the end of the day, I expect most NFL players to recognize their earning windows are short, which means they’ll eventually play. But if I’m going to saddle up to an Anchor RB in the early rounds, I want to trust all the pieces around him. And I suppose I’d also like to know if this player hasn’t had his likely career year already. Jacobs can’t check either of those boxes.

Running back is the one position where it’s almost mandatory you assemble a young group, and an age-28 season (which Kamara is facing) is what the age-30 season used to be. Kamara’s efficiency has dropped the last two years (just 4.8 yards per touch since 2017; it was 6.2 the previous four years), and the Saints’ offense prefers to punch in short touchdowns elsewhere.

Kamara only found the paint four times last year, and now Jamaal Williams is in town to handle the short ones. And to top it all off, Kamara will miss three games due to suspension. I’m out.

Evans is on his way to the Hall of Fame, but this could be the season when the 1,000-yard music stops. The Tom Brady efficiency will be missed, but even more so, the volume — there have been just three seasons with 700 pass attempts in NFL history, and two of them were authored by Brady (2022, 2021).

There’s not a chance the Buccaneers will play that way with Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask at the controls. Evans is also entering his 10th pro season, and it’s fair to wonder if he’s lost a step.

I’ve been a McLaurin fan and a McLaurin drafter for his entire career, even if the experience has commonly been soured by Washington’s poor quarterback play. Maybe Sam Howell can make things better, maybe he can’t. But the main reason I won’t proactively draft McLaurin this year (I get sad just typing that) is because sophomore teammate Jahan Dotson has an ADP that’s 44 picks cheaper, and he probably has a 40% chance to outscore McLaurin straight up.

It was fun to watch the Jaguars offense take off last year, with ascending quarterback star Trevor Lawrence and an adult in the coaching room, Doug Pederson. But Pederson’s game plans generally split the backfield work, and I worry that Etienne won’t have an inside track to short touchdowns or easy catches. Etienne didn’t even manage four receptions in any game last year. He’s being drafted as a borderline RB1; I need him closer to the lower-end RB2 market before I’m tempted.

For decades, the wise move was to ignore rookie receivers, and you made money off that play, even with the occasional Randy Moss explosion. Then the 2014 wideout class detonated and broke all the rules. That doesn’t mean every rookie group has to be fantasy relevant. Generally, I’d rather roster these players after Halloween, not deal with the growing pains of September and October. And if that means I miss out on a precocious player, so be it.

JSN is likely to be a star someday, but he’s still the No. 3 receiver on a Seahawks offense that has established holdovers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. I’d argue Smith-Njigba’s presence sets up Lockett to be the screaming value in this group. I’ll wait two months on JSN, if not a full year. He’s not an August target.

I’m excited to see what new OC Kellen Moore does with this offense, but Allen’s file is filled with things he doesn’t do. Allen doesn’t get downfield much, he doesn’t play full seasons, and he rarely catches a lot of touchdowns — a modest 36 in the last six years.

Allen’s also stepping into his age-31 season, so the career arc isn’t his friend. I’m not opposed to some boring floor plays to mix with your upside picks, but Allen still lands in the top 50, where some ceiling is expected. I don’t see it.

Hockenson is a good player and his volume spiked nicely after the trade to Minnesota. But this summer he’s being drafted as the TE3, which is lofty territory for a player who’s never going to dominate targets on his own offense.

Fantasy football managers have been smart to realize that touchdowns are to some degree variance events, but players do own some of their touchdown rates. Hockenson hasn’t spiked more than six times in any season. If you want a vanity tight end aside from Travis Kelce, I suggest you target Mark Andrews, the obvious featured guy in Baltimore’s passing game.

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