Overvalued Fantasy Players
Despite concerns from concerned family members of it being “too early to write about football because it’s not even the season yet,” we serious fantasy football fans know better. There is no offseason. If anything, this is the time of the year when fantasy championships are won.
The calendar has turned to summer and fantasy football drafts and mock drafts are all the rage. Enough of these have already been established that there is ample room to analyze what other fantasy owners think about the upcoming 2014 season.
Our talented friend Zach Greubel discussed some excellent wide receiver options that should be considered as good values to draft ahead of their current ADP (average draft position.) Now it’s time to go in the other direction and discuss some players who may be overvalued early on this season. Using ADP rankings from our pals over at Myfantasyleague.com, here are some players that might have some concerns or situational variances that may cause them to be poor fantasy football values this season.
Rankings are based off of a 12 team, non-IDP draft with PPR scoring.
LeSean McCoy (ADP 1.1)
This has got to be a mistake, right? How can the overwhelming favorite to top fantasy drafts this summer be considered overvalued? Well, if you’re a longtime football fantasy owner, you should be aware of the ugly history of the follow-up season for running backs that lead the league in rushing.
Arian Foster is just the latest victim of this trend, but going back over the past 26 seasons, only 3 running backs that led the league in carries have come back to put up better numbers the next season. Every runner from the 2002 season on has tailed off, often significantly.
As great as McCoy is, at 5’11” and 200 lbs, he isn’t the biggest back and because he’s such an asset, he’s on the field a lot, taking a ton of hits. McCoy has missed at least one game due to injuries in three of his five pro seasons. Also, keep in mind that the Eagles have now acquired the services of pass-catching extraordinaire Darren Sproles, whose presence is sure to have at least a slight negative effect on McCoy’s role in the passing game.
Andrew Luck (ADP 3. 7)
This isn’t an indictment on Andrew Luck- he’s an excellent young quarterback and should be one of the most coveted signal-callers in any fantasy draft. But if you miss out on the “big three” quarterbacks, there’s not much difference in Luck and the next half-dozen or so QB’s (including Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Matt Ryan, and Nick Foles) that are going in fantasy drafts. There’s little to be gained by selecting one of them in round 3 when you can load up on running backs or receivers and get virtually the same QB production in round nine or 10.
In the case of Luck, his real value is based in dynasty leagues, where you could argue he should be considered the top signal-caller. But in redraft leagues, many of the QB’s selected between 4-12 have similar numbers, and the further you wait to nab your starter, the better value you get for your fantasy squad. Over the past two season, Andrew Luck has averaged 355.7 fantasy points a year, while Tony Romo has 344. That’s a difference of less than one point per week, and Luck is costing his owners a third round pick, while Romo can be had a full five to seven rounds rounds later.
Most fantasy experts and analysts will tell you that waiting on quarterback gives your team the best chance at building up important depth at much thinner positions. This pass-happy NFL of today has assures us that between 12 and 14 quarterbacks will put up solid fantasy production. If you miss out on Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, don’t be afraid to hold off on addressing your QB spot for the next eight rounds.
Cordarrelle Patterson (ADP 3.9)
Undoubtedly, Cordarrelle Patterson is an exciting young NFL talent, but the hype seems a bit much for a guy with one career 100 yard game. In his rookie season, the Vikings did supplement Patterson’s numbers with a healthy number of rushing attempts, which boosted his overall fantasy value significantly. But there’s no guarantee that will continue. Opposing teams will be more prepared for it this season, and who knows if new offensive coordinator Norv Turner will want Patterson taking hand-offs when Adrian Peterson occupies the backfield.
Speaking of Turner, he’s always been a proponent of a vertical passing game that favors bigger receivers (Michael Irvin, Vincent Jackson, Josh Gordon) running deep routes. That wasn’t how Patterson was utilized as a rookie and the early talk out of Vikings OTA’s is Patterson will be more of an “X” receiver, or a guy who lines up all over the field. Minnesota is in a state of flux, with an entire new coaching staff and an undecided quarterback situation.
That means there are a lot of variables at play and, besides Adrian Peterson, there is risk with all other Vikings skill position players. With a current ADP comfortably ahead of more proven veterans like Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, and T.Y. Hilton, Patterson seems like a roll of the dice.
DeSean Jackson (ADP 5.1)
Part of being a savvy investor is recognizing risk and to avoid taking unnecessary chances. The same holds true in fantasy football. DeSean Jackson is an exciting player, but is surrounded by many factors that make him a dicey WR2.
First, Jackson has missed games due to injuries in 4 of his 6 pro seasons- he’s only listed at 5’10” and 175 lbs. Secondly, 2013 was a career-best season across the board for Jackson, under the innovative tutelage of offensive guru Chip Kelly. You have to at least be slightly concerned that Kelly would simply release D-Jax and allow him to freely sign with a division rival.
Finally, Jackson is moving from a movable chess piece in an unpredictable Chip Kelly offense to one where he will likely be mainly used as a “Z” receiver in Jay Gruden‘s new offense in Washington. Most likely, Jackson will trail behind Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed in targets.
Knowshon Moreno (ADP 6.7)
Hopefully you’re keeping up with news and reports out of OTA’s and know to avoid Moreno this season. Not only was the former Bronco runner being overvalued due to his nifty numbers from 2013’s historic offense in Denver, but it’s been nothing but bad news for Moreno since he signed a $3 million deal with the Dolphins.
First Moreno was reduced to taking second-team reps behind incumbent Lamar Miller and didn’t show up in the best of shape. Then came late breaking news that Moreno may be afflicted by a serious knee injury that may require surgery, putting his entire season in jeopardy.
Only time will tell if this injury will be a determent to Moreno’s 2014 fantasy value, but early signs aren’t good, and Moreno has a long injury history throughout his tenure in Denver. Don’t get caught paying for last year’s stellar numbers. Let somebody else draft Moreno this season.
Eric Ebron (ADP 7.3)
By all accounts, Eric Ebron is a phenomenal athlete and is expected to make a big impact in the NFL. He’s also raw and has shown the expected signs of a rookie struggling to adjust to the NFL game. The Lions have a dangerous offense and are expected to put up excellent numbers, but it’s going to be hard for a rookie tight end to carve out a significant role on a team that has a surplus of offensive talent.
While Ebron looks like a big enough talent to command a role as soon as this season, he was never utilized much as a red-zone threat at North Carolina, so his touchdown numbers could be soft. The Lions also have two other tight ends, Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria, who have proved to be adept red-zone targets.
In redraft leagues, it doesn’t make much sense to draft Eric Ebron before a more prove player like Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who stands to gain more targets in Carolina this year, and has finished as a top 7 fantasy tight end in each of the past two seasons.
Seahawks Defense (ADP 9.1)
Under normal team scoring circumstances, there little reason to select a defensive team before round 12 or 13 at the earliest. Selecting one at or near the top of round 9, or even earlier, is just a bad value play. There’s only a small difference between the top rated defense and the league’s 12th ranked unit.
Over the past five seasons, the team that finished the year as the top-ranked unit has averaged about 133 points per year. Meanwhile, the number 12 defensive unit has averaged 90 points a season. That’s a difference of a mere 2.8 points per week.
Furthermore, there is little consistency from year to year among defensive teams. Nobody drafted the Kansas City Chiefs last season and they ended up as the top unit. Even the vaunted Seahawks only finished 5th last year, and have yet to end a season as the top ranked fantasy defensive squad.
The best bet, as it usually is for smart fantasy football owners, is to be prepared, sit back, let other owners reach and make mistakes, and pounce on the values. That’s how you build a consistent winner.