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The flip side of succeeding with value players is failing with overvalued players. These are players that will not put up stats commensurate to their draft spot, and avoiding them is another of the important keys to a successful fantasy team. In an attempt to point out these players, we asked our staff to look through the top 150 players and identify players that should underperform their draft position.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Josh Hill, New Orleans Saints
Brown: I would love to know why Josh Hill is going off the board as a top-10 tight end. So far, the logic behind it seems to be: Jimmy Graham is gone, and someone has to pick up the slack. It’s that same thought process that put Zach Sudfeld atop sleeper lists when Rob Gronkowski was going to get a late start two years ago. Let’s not pretend Hill is anywhere near the caliber player Graham is. Furthermore, the Saints are likely to scale back the passing game quite a bit this year. Which means they won’t necessarily have all of those tight end targets to be distributed anyway. If Hill had been a former 1st round pick that was biding his time to get in the lineup, I’d say okay. But this just looks like a case of “next man up”, and I’m not spending a high pick on that.
Hicks: Josh Hill is being drafted as a fantasy starter right now. It would be almost laughable if it weren’t so serious. Rarely are NFL teams able to replace a player of the caliber of Jimmy Graham straight away. As an example Atlanta or Kansas City didn’t replace Tony Gonzalez. It would be great if Josh Hill were able to step straight in and be a fantasy starter, but perhaps we need to see if he can handle the every down play without Jimmy Graham around before making him a fantasy starter. Surprising NFL defenses in 2014 on a few plays where Graham was the prime focus does not mean they can’t handle Hill with ease this year. Add in an undisclosed injury and fantasy disappointment is around the corner. The team wanted to add Jermaine Gresham, but he signed elsewhere. 34 year old Ben Watson is being talked about as the starter. There is so much smoke here to warn people.
Pasquino: Talk about hype, and the conversation quickly goes to Josh Hill, otherwise known as the guy who will be replacing Jimmy Graham. Let’s be clear – no one can really replace Jimmy Graham, either in New Orleans or even in general, unless their name is Rob Gronkowski. Hill has plenty of upside to be a solid contributor as the likely “move” tight end for the Saints, but all of the value is gone if you have to draft him as a Top 10-12 tight end. There are safer options to take with far less downside in that range.
Simpkins: No one will mistake Hill for Graham in terms of talent, but they will argue that Hill should be selected in the tenth round based on getting Graham’s previous volume in the passing game. What proponents of Hill fail to realize is that the Saints air attack will be depressed this year. Sean Payton will finally do what he has been saying for years and commit to the run. The Saints showed all the signs of this commitment with their offseason moves to improve the line. While Hill’s tenth-round price is cheap, there are a few others who can be taken rounds after with higher upside. Dwayne Allen, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and Tyler Eifert are a few names that come to mind.
Wood: Josh Hill intrigues because of the gaping hole in the Saints offense left by Jimmy Graham’s trade to Seattle. But fantasy owners are projecting Hill as the clear-cut winner of a TE battle that’s yet to be decided. Ben Watson is going to have a role (and has a much longer track record than Hill), and is listed as the starter. Equally concerning is New Orleans’ continued pursuit of additional TE help. They put in a claim for Tim Wright, worked out Jermaine Gresham, and signed Alex Smith right before camp.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos
Brimacombe: Now entering his 10th season in the league, Daniels has always been a fairly consistent player at the TE position and has seen 3 seasons in his career where he was a top 8 TE. There is lots of hype with Daniels coming to Denver and playing with Peyton Manning but I have a hard time believing he will come anywhere close to the athlete that Julius Thomas was. There are better TEs with more upside that I would rather consider at Daniels current ADP
Holloway: Daniels followed Coach Kubiak from Houston to Baltimore and now to Denver. He is an experienced tight end that has had some fantasy success over the years. However, with the Broncos perhaps running the ball more and having excellent wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and perhaps second year player Cody Latimer, targets may be difficult to come by. Over the past two seasons with Houston and Baltimore, Daniels has averaged only 6 targets and 3.6 catches per game. It will be a struggle to increase that number this year in Denver for the 32 year old Daniels.
Wood: I get it. Owen Daniels has been with Gary Kubiak at every stop. I'm not sure why that matters much. Daniels finished 8th in 2012 but has ranked 26th, 16th, 40th, and 18th in the last five years. Daniels is going to be a part of the Broncos offense, but he's not going to be a full-time player. If you're going to roster a 2nd tight end, it has to be a player with breakout potential. The (soon-to-be) 33-year old veteran is the antithesis of "breakout potential."
Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
Brown: Thomas likely to be the top receiving option for Jacksonville, as there isn’t much else around him in terms of established talent. And that’s where the upside ends. He’s going from arguably the greatest QB of all-time to the unproven Blake Bortles. He’s going from an offense that threw it all over the place at an historic pace, to…the Jaguars. He missed much of the season with an ankle injury (an ankle that is starting to creep up on “chronic injury” status). And lastly, to circle back on the first point, there’s nobody else to take the pressure off. In Denver, he didn’t get a ton of opportunities but the ones he got were outstanding because there were All-Pro receivers all over the place drawing the defense’s attention. This time? Not so much. Thomas will be hard-pressed to finish in the top five at his position.
Hester: Peyton Manning to Blake Bortles – that is the downgrade Thomas faces this season after signing with Jacksonville in free agency. His offense will be inefficient and inconsistent, and the passes thrown his way (both in quality and quantity) won’t even come close to replicating what he had in Denver. At this point in drafts, it’s probably wiser to take a player from another position and hope to hit on a tight end late or off the waiver wire. It’s fantasy’s most inconsistent position, and the others still offer talent at this point of the draft.
Wimer: Blake Bortles is learning to be a pro quarterback, and he has a bad offensive line protecting him. Though Bortles is reportedly working on his throwing mechanics, he's in a bad situation and often rushes his throws. Thomas will not see a steady diet of quality throws - I think he'll vastly under-achieve given his current lofty ADP of seventh tight end selected in an average draft. I'm avoiding Thomas this season.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
Hester: A good portion of Bennett’s production in his outstanding 2014 season was in “garbage time” as Chicago struggled to stay in games late in the season. Aside from that, Bennett’s outlook took a hit when the team fired Marc Trestman. With John Fox now in town as the Head Coach, Chicago will likely focus more on the run and being conservative – as opposed to Trestman’s aggressive offensive approach. Tight end is such an unpredictable position that selecting a middle-round tight end almost seems like a wasted pick. There is still talent at other positions to be had, and similar production can be cobble together by multiple players selected later in drafts or even picked up off the waiver wire.
Wimer: I like Bennett's game, but am not savvy on Jay Cutlers' approach/attitude at quarterback. I think Bennett falls short of the top-five tight ends this year, making him overpriced at his current ADP.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
Haseley: There is a strong possibility that Jimmy Graham will not meet the lofty expectations of being the second tight end off the board. Seattle's offense is not pass-friendly, which leads me to believe Graham's numbers will be decreased considerably. He may still catch 8-10 touchdowns, but he's not going to come close to his reception and yardage totals from his days in New Orleans.
Hicks: Jimmy Graham looked like a sure fire top 3 tight end for years to come in New Orleans. The move to Seattle cannot be seen as anything other than a serious threat to his fantasy stock. Zach Miller was a starting fantasy tight end from 2008 to 2010 and would have been more if he could have gotten touchdowns on terrible Oakland sides. In Seattle he couldn’t exceed 400 yards or 40 receptions. Graham is a better receiver, but Miller was a much better blocker. That will be a necessity for the Seahawks and if Graham can’t or won’t do it, his playing time will be minimalized. Graham will be drafted on reputation not likely production this year. Do not use a high pick on a player that is likely to underperform.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Holloway: Seferian-Jenkins is another second year tight end who struggled in his rookie season. He caught 21 passes on 38 targets for 221 yards (only 10.5 ypc) and scored 2 TDs. Brandon Myers actually caught one more pass on six fewer targets a year ago. Seferian-Jenkins will be challenged to get significant targets as the Buccaneers have two excellent wide receivers in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, who are both excellent in the red zone. Brandon Myers is still around and the team added Tim Wright as their third tight end. They also have two excellent red zone targets in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.
Waldman: I need more proof from game film before I believe the "he's uncoverable" hype that has come from camp the past two years. Big, fluid, and sporting good hands, Seferian-Jenkins will win 50/50 balls, but he's not the game-wrecker in the open field that Rob Gronkowski is. Not remotely.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Waldman: It's nice to hear that Ertz has improved his blocking this year. He showed potential as a blocker at Stanford. What matters more is Ertz displaying skill in tight coverage and after contact. He's still dropping too many balls on these type of targets. He doesn't need to catch them to be part of two-tight end set and produce in the 9-15 range at his position. He'll need to make those plays to earn that ADP of 6. I'm skeptical.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Pasquino: The hype is on for one of the better second half tight ends from last year in Travis Kelce. Part of the love for Kelce was that he did produce when he saw targets from Alex Smith, but Smith could easily hold Kelce back again this year. Throw in that the Chiefs added former Eagle Jeremy Maclin at wide receiver and that Kelce is now a Top 5 tight end on many ADP lists and I will be looking elsewhere for value.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Haseley: Delanie Walker was a breath of fresh air for the Titans offense last year, but there's a new quarterback in town in Marcus Mariota, who rarely used the tight end in his time with Oregon and that concerns me regarding Walker's value. Mariota will more often than not run the ball if flushed from the pocket, instead of targeting down field to one of his hot reads in Walker. There isn't much risk with Walker if you take him as your second tight end, but I would be cautious if you elect to make him your starting tight end.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Simpkins: No one can argue that Witten has had a wonderful, hall-of-fame-worthy career. However, Witten is now thirty-three and beginning to show his age on the field. While the Cowboys passing game will certainly be leaned upon more heavily without DeMarco Murray in the fold, Dez Bryant and Lance Dunbar are the more likely benefactors of the uptick in targets. To give drafters more incentive to pass on Witten, realize that his ceiling is very low compared to many of the options that can be drafted well after him.