The next week will see fans across the country testing their gridiron grit and knowledge as they draft their fantasy football teams. Trash talking will commence (if it already hasn't), but the players that will be able to back it up will be the ones who did their homework.
There are some players that will be picked fairly high since they are known to be big fantasy producers. While some of them will be great picks there are some that might best be left to someone else. They could be great, but due to several factors (age, new team, loss of role players, injury, etc.) they might not be all that they used to be.
It may sting a little bit to watch these guys go to someone else; they've been studs for sometime. The sun stops shining on everyone at some point in their career. This is not to say that these guys still can't help your fantasy team out. Just be careful that you don't take them too early or spend too much on them:
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: For the last five years AP has been one of the best fantasy producers in the game and a consensus top 5 pick. Coming off of knee surgery that could all change. The team could/should try to limit the wear and tear on their franchise player by utilizing Toby Gerhart more. He did well in relief of AP last season and has looked good in limited action this preseason too.
If you have a pick in the top five of your draft let someone else take him. There are more reliable options available that will be just as good if not better. Let the guy with the last pick of the round take him.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos: It may be sacrilegious to say it, but drafting Peyton Manning earlier than the fifth round is a mistake. The man is old in football years (36) and is coming off of four neck surgeries. Factor in the fact that the talent pool is not as deep in Denver as he's used to, the team likes to run the ball, and the offensive line was one of the most porous in pass protection last season (42 sacks, 10th overall).
Peyton was never a big scrambler, but he'll need to be in Denver. It will not be shocking to see him do well, but it will not be shocking to see him go the way of Joe Montana once he left the 49ers (it wasn't pretty).
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: This one is a pretty tough call. All things normal, MJD easily warrants being a top 5 pick. If the man isn't playing though he can't score your team any points.
Unless something happens before you draft you have to pass last season's rushing champion by in the first round; I'd even say wait till the fourth. He seems pretty entrenched in his refusal to play for his current salary, however, the Jags new owner Shahid Khan is just as entrenched in his refusal to pay him anything more than his current salary. It will hurt, but you need someone who will be playing in your first 3-4 picks.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans: After last year's debacle of a season many will already be scared off of CJ2K. However, there will be plenty that will buy into the hype that he's back and ready to be the same man who gained over 2000 yards on the ground just a few seasons ago.
Don't believe the hype. Johnson has given fans no reason to believe that he is back to the form that made him a household name among NFL fans. Yes, it is just preseason, but he still stunk it up pretty bad. His performance in the Tampa Bay game was okay (10 carries for 46 yards), but that was one of three games; he only had four good games all of last season.
Tack on the fact that teams will be stacking the box against the run in order to force first year starter Jake Locker to beat teams through the air and CJ2K barely warrants being your No. 2 RB.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears: Forte will still have a good season, but he will be nowhere near the numbers that he had last season. Jake Cutler has already stated that Forte is not likely to get as many receptions as he has in past seasons; the team simply has too many weapons now, i.e. Cutler's old buddy from Denver Brandon Marshall. Last season Forte thought the Bears were trying to break him down by working him to death. To keep that perception from arising again they went out and got Michael Bush from the Oakland Raiders.
Chicago has always tried to pass, but has always ended up having to run in order to set up the pass. That will not be the case this season. Cutler has some targets now and will be more than happy to throw to them. That means fewer carries for Forte as well as receptions since the team will be looking to other players more.
As a player that bodes well for his career longevity. As a fantasy player it knocks him down to late first round/early second round material at best.