I admit that the “Do Not Draft” title has an element of attention-grabbing in mind. The purpose of this list is not to say that these players are terribly flawed or predicting that these players will have horrible seasons.

The point is that I personally will not be drafting any of these players because in all likelihood, these players will be long gone before the point in the draft comes where I’m willing to take them. 

These kinds of articles don’t need a whole lot of build up, so without further ado, here is my “Do Not Draft” list for 2021: 

J.K. Dobbins

Dobbins on the run
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

ADP 33, RB15 

Dobbins’ place on this list has much more to do with the situation in Baltimore than it does with his talent, but at the end of the day, all we care about are fantasy points. 

At first glance, Dobbins is an early draft capital (second round) running back who has the starting job for the best rushing team in the entire league. What’s not to like? 

The narrative seems to be that despite Dobbins and Gus Edwards (and Lamar Jackson) splitting carries, the Ravens run the ball so often that there will be plenty of volume available for Dobbins to be a high-end RB2/low-end RB1. 

In 2020, Baltimore led the NFL in rushing attempts with 555. Jackson kept the ball himself for 159 of those attempts, ranking first on the team. Gus Edwards was second on the team with 144 carries (in 16 games), with Dobbins ranking third with 134 attempts (in 15 games) with both Edwards and Dobbins carrying the ball nearly the identical number of times per game (9.0 vs 8.9). Both Edwards and Dobbins were given the same number of goal line carries (inside the 5) in 2020 as well. 

Mark Ingram is now in Houston, but he only vacates 72 carries from 2020, and so it appears much more likely than not that Dobbins and Edwards are going to continue splitting carries 50/50 as they did last year, especially with Edwards signing a two-year, $9 million contract this past offseason to stay in Baltimore. 

This isn’t to say Dobbins won’t be a very good fantasy runner in 2021, I think he will. Like we’ve mentioned, he’s the “1A” runner on the top rushing team in the league. But his ADP has him going off the board in the third round, and for someone who is likely going to receive fewer than 150 carries without high upside in the passing game (Dobbins caught just 18 passes in 2020), that’s a little rich for my blood. 

I’d rather take someone like Chris Carson or David Montgomery a round later because they have a clearer path to way more volume than Dobbins. 

Patrick Mahomes

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

ADP 35.1, QB1 

In dynasty, even in 1QB leagues, the combination of Mahomes’ age, his stable contract situation and the fact that he essentially guarantees you elite play at the position without worry for the next ten seasons is pretty appealing. 

In one-off redraft leagues (that are not Superflex), I wouldn’t touch him at his current ADP, and that has nothing to do with Mahomes himself. He’s excellent. 

But just in terms of strategy, it does not make sense to take Mahomes in the third round when you can get Kyler Murray and his rushing upside two rounds later or Aaron Rodgers three or four rounds later. 

Personally, I normally wait even longer to draft a quarterback in any 1QB league. 

Mahomes finished 2020 as the QB4 in virtually all scoring systems, and he’s being drafted as QB1 this year. 

Ryan Tannehill is being drafted as the QB11 this summer, and he scored less than five fewer points per game than Mahomes, and Tannehill is available six or seven rounds later. 

By comparison, the difference in 2020 points per game production between the current RB1, Christian McCaffrey, and the RB11, Austin Ekeler, is almost 15 points per game! This means there is a MUCH smaller difference between the QB1 and the QB11 than the RB1 and the RB11 in drafts this year, making it a much smarter strategy (in general) to draft running backs early and quarterbacks later in terms of points per game. 

Kyle Pitts

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

ADP 47.5, TE4

Even in dynasty, Pitts’ ADP is insanely high for someone who has yet to take an NFL snap, but at least you get the benefit of locking down a premium prospect at a scarce position for the long haul even if he’s expensive. 

In re-draft — even in TE Premium leagues — I just cannot get behind drafting him given how early he is going off the board. 

Again, if you’re drafting Pitts in Re-draft or Best Ball, you are essentially saying, “I am willing to bet my fourth round pick that Kyle Pitts is going to have one of the greatest and most productive seasons from a rookie tight end in NFL history.” 

In the last 30 years, only two rookie tight ends have topped 700 receiving yards in their first year in the league: Evan Engram in 2017 (722 yards) and Jeremy Shockey in 2002 (894), and certainly, if you’re picking Pitts in the fourth round, you are assuming he will equal or eclipse those numbers. 

For context, T.J. Hockenson finished 2020 as the TE4 with 67 catches, 723 yards and six touchdowns. 

It’s crazy to think Pitts could put up similar numbers, finish in the Top 5 at his position and it would still be a disappointment based on where you have to draft him. 

Things can change year to year, of course, but the current “tight end landscape” is such where only Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and (to a slightly lesser extent) George Kittle are considered elite enough to draft in the first four rounds. 

Why? Well look at points per game from the tight ends in 2020. 

Kelce averaged 24.3 points per game, Waller averaged 20.6, and Kittle, 18.6. 

After those three tight ends, the TE4 in terms of points per game (Mark Andrews) and the TE15 (Hayden Hurst) were separated by just three fantasy points per game. 

I love Pitts’ athletic profile, but pulling the trigger on him is too big of a gamble for me because Pitts has to perform like Kelce and Waller to justify being drafted as early as he’s going, and that would mean Pitts literally has to have the best season a rookie tight end has ever had. 

Myles Gaskin

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

ADP 65.2, RB24

Dolphins’ Head Coach Brian Flores addressed the questions about newly acquired RB Malcolm Brown starting Miami’s first preseason game with last year’s mini-breakout star Myles Gaskin entering the game second and splitting time with Salvon Ahmed once Brown’s night was over. Flores was asked about his thought process regarding the running back usage in that game:

“I mean, well, you saw all three backs played, all three of them got carries, so … pick one and put them in, basically. We like all three guys. They all do good things, and I think we saw that today. And [we’ll] just keep working all three guys,” Flores said. 

It’s uncanny how much this post-game quote sounds like Bill Belichick talking about his backfield stable, and as most fantasy players know, Belichick is notorious for torpedoing his running backs’ fantasy value by using multiple backs in multiple roles. 

Oddly enough, Flores coached under Belichick in New England for his entire pro coaching career, and was a scout with the Patriots before that. If he has his full slate of running backs available to him, will Flores use them in the same maddening, unpredictable manner as his mentor?

Brown fills a role as a short-yardage and early down  thumper, and Ahmed had three consecutive weeks of double-digit fantasy points in spot duty for Gaskin late last year (including an impressive 23-carry, 122 yard, one touchdown performance against New England in Week 15), giving Miami three dependable options in their backfield. 

Perhaps all of that three-headed monster talk from Flores is just coachspeak. I’d still take Gaskin first among Dolphins running backs, but with his seventh round (NFL) draft pedigree, the team will not feel obligated to keep him on the field if the game script is calling for a bigger back like Brown or if Ahmed is currently the hot hand. And Flores himself not only said this will be a committee, he showed us in the first preseason game that it will be. 

At best, this backfield feels murky enough to make me think twice about Gaskin in the fifth round where much safer options can still be had. 

Raheem Mostert

Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

ADP 88.8, RB31

In his six-year career thus far, Mostert has played in just 57 out of a possible 96 games (59%). He is averaging 9.5 games played per season, and he has only played in more than 11 games in a season once, in 2019. And he’s ALREADY sporting a knee brace in training camp this season for the 49ers. 

Even in the only full 16-game season he’s ever made it through, Mostert topped out at 137 carries with just 14 catches, and finished as the RB25 in PPR. 

I think that memorable 29-carry, 220-yard, four touchdown performance against Green Bay in the 2019 NFC Championship Game is still too fresh in the minds of many fantasy footballers. 

Excluding that crazy night against the Packers, Mostert has a grand total of one 100-yard rushing game in his six-year career. He’s been given more than 15 carries in a game just twice in six years as well. 

And it isn’t as if Mostert makes up for this lack of rushing volume with a ton of work in the passing game. He’s been targeted more than four times in a game just once in his career, and his career high for receptions is 16. 

Combine the injury history with San Francisco’s tendency to split the work among two or three backs with the fact that rookie Trey Sermon has reportedly been impressive in training camp and has been running with the first team plenty, and it’s hard to get excited about Mostert as anything beyond bye week fill-in duty on your teams this year. 

Beat writers are saying Sermon has been looking particularly great as a receiver in camp, so it’s conceivable, and even likely at this point, that he could steal a great deal of work from Mostert even as a rookie. 

Mostert isn’t even going all that early in drafts, but even in Round 7 or 8, I think you want someone a little more dependable, even if he’s your RB3 or RB4. Zero-RB and Hero-RB strategists should avoid relying on Mostert. There will just be too many weeks where Mostert provides meager production due to low volume, and that’s if he stays healthy. 

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