The Football Scientist’s ‘Do Not Draft’ list: Tua Tagovailoa, Christian Watson and more


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Many “Do Not Draft” fantasy football articles take the position that the players on the list should not be drafted, yet the reality is that most of those players are draft-worthy prospects, just not at their current ADP level.

With that thought process in mind, here are five players who qualify for the “Do Not Draft” designation given their current ADP (per Fantasy Pros), with the caveat that if they fall below their “Do Not Draft” level, they can be considered for fantasy rosters.


Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL

  •  Do Not Draft: As a Top 4 QB

The problem for Jackson is that Baltimore’s new offensive approach will ask him to rush less and pass more. This is not a good tradeoff for Jackson’s fantasy value on a per play basis as, per TruMedia/PFF, he averaged 0.4 fantasy points per pass play last year versus 0.83 fantasy points per rush play.

If the new approach allows Jackson to trade one rush for two passes (not a given), it’s basically a push in per play fantasy production, but before assuming that, let’s note that the Ravens’ entire wide receiver corps is unproven outside of Odell Beckham Jr., and OBJ’s 6.5 yards per target pace with the Rams in 2021 was the lowest of his career. Jackson also has a track record of being rattled by an aggressive pass rush (see the 2021 Miami game for evidence) and has missed five games in each of the past two seasons. Add it up and there are just too many question marks to take Jackson as a Top 4 fantasy QB.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, MIA

  •  Do Not Draft: As a low-end QB1

Tagovailoa is almost certain to see a notable drop in vertical PPG, as his 10.34 total in this category last year made him one of only seven players since 2000 to post a 10+ mark.

His concussion issues last season were so serious that Tagovailoa considered retiring and that isn’t the only physical ailment of note, as in his college and pro careers, Tagovailoa had suffered a severely dislocated hip, and had multiple ankle surgeries, fractured ribs, and multiple broken fingers. This is part of why Tagovailoa was 30th in rush PPG last season at QB and won’t be running the ball any more than absolutely necessary. Combine those concerns with the amount of quality depth at the quarterback position and it is why Tagovailoa ranks 18th in my updated 2023 fantasy football quarterback rankings.

Tagovailoa’s durability status also impacts the potential value for Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, adding notable risk to their current mid first-round and late second-round ADPs, respectively.

Running Back

Dameon Pierce, RB, HOU

  •  Do Not Draft: As a mid-range RB2

The primary issue in trusting Pierce as a mid-range RB2 is the presence of Devin Singletary. Pierce had the fifth-lowest yards per target among running backs with 30+ targets last year and Singletary is a better receiver and pass blocker, so Pierce could be relegated to two-down status.

Singletary also possesses higher than average breakaway ability, as he rated tied for 11th in my GBYPA metric in 2022 and wasn’t that far behind Pierce’s No. 6 ranking (all of which can be found in my advanced run blocking metrics article). Merge this with a very demanding schedule (Houston has a meager 18 rush defense matchup points per my draft guide) and it skews Pierce towards being a RB3 candidate.

Wide Receiver

Christian Watson, WR, GB

  •  Do Not Draft: As a low-end WR2

It’s really tough to trust a low volume pass catcher as a borderline WR2/WR3. That’s a key factor in Watson’s fantasy case, as over the course of his five-year college and pro career, he has posted a grand total of 146 receptions. That isn’t a typo, as Watson had 41 catches with the Packers last year and, per his North Dakota State bio, Watson tallied 105 receptions in 52 games with the Bison.

Before making the case for Watson to be able to step up his receptions total, don’t forget that he dealt with hamstring, hip, and ankle injuries last year and also suffered a concussion. Those factors alone might be enough to lower his value, but once the change from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love is accounted for, it’s clear that Watson is better valued as a somewhat risky mid-tier WR3 than as a low-end WR2.

Tight End

Darren Waller, TE, LV

  •  Do Not Draft: As a mid-range TE1

It’s tough not to get fired up for Waller’s potential, as he has dominated in training camp so much that former Giants star wide receiver Amani Toomer, who  visited camp recently, said that Waller will require cornerback coverage this season.

That’s not the only plus case to make for Waller, as he did have tremendous production on vertical and stretch vertical passes last year (aerials thrown 11+ and 20+ air yards, respectively), so there is a path for him to return to the Top 4 fantasy TE status he held in 2019 and 2020.

The question is, can Waller hold up to a 100+ target volume anymore? The past two years call that into question, as Waller has missed 14 games in that span. He is also going into his eighth NFL season and his age-31 campaign. In addition, Waller may not be a reliable dink and dunk target, as he was abysmal on short passes last year, ranking 35th in PPR PPG at that depth level.

The negative aspects continue when looking at the schedule, as Waller has the most difficult tight end pass coverage slate in the league. He is due to face nine red-rated (unfavorable) matchups this year, all of which occur in the first 15 weeks. That makes Waller too boom-or-bust to rate as a mid-tier TE1 in my rankings, but fantasy managers who do want to try for the upside boom value can draft Waller and then hedge that pick with a low-cost option like Dalton Schultz, who rates as one of my top mid-round draft targets and could be available as late as Round 10 in most draft rooms.

(Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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