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.
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Player Receiving 10 Votes
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville
Mike Brown: Sure, Bortles could go out and replicate his 2015 season. But with such poor efficiency ratings, he'll need to keep the volume of passes at an extremely high level in order to match his 2015 productivity (or just be more efficient). With the defensive improvements and a likely stronger running game, I fear that the passing volume just won't be there for Bortles to sustain those sort of stats. And he won't provide much more than the guys going several rounds later.
Cian Fahey: Through two preseason games, Blake Bortles looks exactly the same as he did last year. His mechanics haven't altered even slightly and his throw-it-up-and-hope mentality remains. Efficiency and consistency is going to be more important for Bortles this year because he will no longer be throwing all the time in the redzone. His 27 redzone touchdowns last year won't be replicated because Chris Ivory has arrived to be the goalline back. Ivory carried the ball 18 times within five yards of the endzone last year.
Ryan Hester: Bortles had a fantasy season unlike many we've seen before in terms of his preseason ranking vs. where he finished. However, the factors that contributed to that are likely unrepeatable. First, Jacksonville passed in the red zone often last season due to a mediocre run game. They have beefed up their running back corps this season and plan to be improved. Also beefed up is their defense, which should provide the offense with fewer production-friendly game scripts. Bortles as QB7 seems like it might actually be above his best-case scenario. I'd rather have Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, or even Tom Brady backstopped by a streamer for four weeks if he's suspended.
Stephen Holloway: There are a lot of positives around Bortles as he enters his third season. He has abundant young weapons in the passing game, his ypa climbed from 6.12 as a rookie to 7.31 in 2015 and he threw 35 TD passes. He finished as QB4 in Footballguys.com scoring a year ago and has a current ADP of QB8. The big concern is that the Jaguars defense, which ranked 29th in points allowed and 24th in yards allowed should be greatly improved and they may actually get ahead on the scoreboard more often in 2016. Their addition of Chris Ivory also stabilizes their running game which should also reduce the number of passes thrown. Despite his improved production, he completed under 59% of his passes in each of his two NFL seasons.
Devin Knotts: Blake Bortles provided fantasy owners with tremendous value last season as he threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns. This has had his fantasy value skyrocket for the 2016 season as he is being drafted as the 8th quarterback overall. Bortles threw the ball 606 times last season and a large contributor of this was due to the defense being horrible as they allowed 28.0 points per game. The Jaguars have significantly improved their defense this season drafting as they went defense heavy in the draft headlined by Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. They also made significant contributions via Free Agency adding Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson. As the defense improves, Bortles will be less relied upon to throw the ball at such a high volume and this will negatively impact his fantasy outlook in 2016.
Chris Kuczynski: Bortles had an impressive sophomore season throwing 35 TDs, but those numbers will be very difficult to reproduce. Two things to be concerned about is his 18 interceptions and being sacked over 50 times. He had an average completion percentage and QB rating, so his ranking among elite signal callers like Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees seems premature. What can't be overlooked is he accumulated much of his stats through garbage time. Which leads to the next point, Jacksonville’s spend big in free agency and focused their draft strategy all on defense, which will probably keep scores much closer, so Bortles won't be throwing non stop in the 4th quarter against prevent defense. He may be a solid starter, but at his current ranking, you can wait later on selecting a QB and get similar points at a better value.
John Mamula: Blake Bortles is due for some negative touchdown regression this season. Last season, Bortles had 19 touchdowns from inside the 10-yard line. With the addition of Chris Ivory, those touchdowns have nowhere to go but down as Jacksonville will look to pound the rock near the goal line. Bortles ADP is QB7 but there are at least 5 QBs, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Derek Carr, that I would draft ahead of Bortles.
Jeff Pasquino: I do like Blake Bortles this season, but not as a Top 7 quarterback. That feels like too much of a high valuation for me. I would much rather have Carson Palmer, Tony Romo or even Matt Ryan ahead of Bortles as my higher QB1. If I am able to get Bortles in the QB10-12 range, sure – but QB7? Give me two of the Top 15 quarterbacks (namely any two of the eight right after Bortles) and I would be happy with those pairings. Trusting Bortles as my fantasy starter every week is too much to ask at this point of his career.
Mark Wimer: Bortles is an ascending NFL talent and should finish the year as a top-12 fantasy quarterback, but I don't think he finishes in the top five. He is overpriced as of August 23 due to his gaudy 35 TD passes last year.
Jason Wood: Bortles won a lot of fantasy leagues last year; he was easily the best value at the quarterback position. Entering 2015 most thought the Jaguars would struggle to put up points, yet when the dust settled Bortles threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns on his way to a Top 5 fantasy finish. So what's not to like? Bortles is a prime candidate for mean regression. Watch the film. Bortles played from behind so much of the season and did major damage against prevent defenses. His mechanics are erratic. Let's remember he led the league in interceptions (18) and didn't complete 60% of his passes. Most importantly, his TD rate (5.8%) is historically unsustainable – even for all-time NFL greats. Bortles is a productive NFL quarterback, but he's not an elite fantasy passer. Don't make the mistake of paying for last year's stats.
Player Receiving 7 Votes
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Sigmund Bloom: Roethlisberger has Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell and… well, not much else that is proven. Sammie Coates Jr and Eli Rogers will hope to fill a third wide receiver role with Martavis Bryant suspended for the year. No one knows if tight end Ladarius Green will play this year. The vaunted Steelers pass offense has more questions than answers, and Bell being out for the first three games won't help. Roethlisberger also only has three seasons with 16 games played in his career. If you're going to take a top 6-8 quarterback, there are better options.
Jeff Haseley: Outside of Antonio Brown, the Steelers offense, particularly their receiving corps, is average at best. The year-long suspension of Martavis Bryant has left a negative effect on the receiving game. Markus Wheaton has shown signs of positive play, but he's been inconsistent. Sammie Coates Jr has one career reception and is lacking experience. The retirement of Heath Miller and the hole left at tight end due to the uncertainty of Ladarius Green adds further concern to the passing game. If something were to happen to Antonio Brown, or if teams figure out a way to bracket him in coverage and limit his effectiveness, it could be a long year for the Steeler offense. I haven't even mentioned the injury concerns with LeVeon Bell. The Steelers are a fragile offense with some cracks on the surface. If those cracks grow, don't count on the often-injured Ben Roethlisberger to be a top fantasy quarterback.
Justin Howe: Roethlisberger has no business being drafted alongside Drew Brees – and several rounds earlier than a handful of similar low-end QB1s. Touchdowns rule the roost among fantasy quarterbacks, and Roethlisberger has always struggled to create red zone scores. If we look at his last two seasons and remove that dazzling two-game, 12-touchdown stretch from 2014, he's averaged just 1.6 TDs per game. A 26-TD season isn't likely to return on your investment. I know we can't simply remove a guy's statistics, but that stretch was pretty fluky, considering Roethlisberger's historically a light TD producer. And this year he'll lack Martavis Bryant and Heath Miller near the goal line. Throw in major health concerns (for a quarterback) and his utter lack of rushing production, and Roethlisberger isn't a demonstrably better pick than 6-8 guys available over the next few rounds.
Jeff Pasquino: The Steelers have been becoming more and more of a passing team, and Ben Roethlisberger has benefited from that change in offensive scope. The problem I have with Roethlisberger at QB5 is that he has lost Martavis Bryant (suspension) for the season and Heath Miller has finally retired. Those two now force Pittsburgh to elevate former WR3’s and TE2’s on the squad to starting roles, and expecting Roethlisberger to throw 35+ times a game and survive in a pocket without Miller blocking for him or being a quick dump off target over the middle frightens me at this point. Throw in that Pittsburgh has one of the best feature running backs (Le’Veon Bell) and backup rushers (DeAngelo Williams) and the Steelers may be a little more focused on the ground game and less on throwing a ton every week.
Daniel Simpkins: The offense being without Martavis Bryant could end up being a bigger blow than most taking Roethlisberger are predicting. We’ve seen the limitations of Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey when it comes to serving as the complementary option to Antonio Brown. Sammie Coates Jr has generated a lot of buzz in the offseason for supposed improvement, but his abysmal fumbles and drops in preseason show that hype to be somewhat unmerited. Ladarius Green is still battling concussion symptoms from last year and his football career is on tenuous ground because of it. In addition to missing and underwhelming personnel, as has been the case in recent seasons, Roethlisberger is almost a sure bet to miss some games. There are much better value propositions for fantasy production among quarterbacks going off the board after the sixth round, the place you would need to take Roethlisberger.
Jeff Tefertiller: Even with the Martavis Bryant suspended for the 2016 season, and poor play by replacements Sammie Coates Jr and Markus Wheaton, Ben Roethlisberger is still being drafted as the QB6. LeVeon Bell will miss the first three games of the season, creating even more pressure on the huge passer. We do not expect Roethlisberger to finish in the top ten at the position at the end of the season.
Jason Wood: I'm not going to argue against Roethlisberger's abilities, but I am concerned about expectations; at his present ADP fantasy owners are pricing in a perfect outcome. We all know how talented Antonio Brown is, but who else does Roethlisberger have? Markus Wheaton is limited yet Sammie Coates Jr has shown in the preseason he's a practice player who flops in game situations. If Ladarius Green can't get back on the field, the situation is dire. Add to that Roethlisberger's injury history and I want no part of building my fantasy offense around him. He's more of a QB2 in my rankings/projections.
Players Receiving 5 Votes
Tom Brady, New England
Justin Bonnema: Setting new standards every season, Tom Brady continues to play at a high level despite his age and despite the lack of talent around him. Even when the Patriots roster shed some of its best play makers a few years ago, Brady never stopped and has been a guaranteed QB1 almost every week of every season. But we’ve seen chips in his armor, particularly over the last few weeks of 2015. He started the year as the highest scoring quarterback through Week 10. From Week 11 through Week 16, he fell to QB10. That may not seem like a big deal, but here are his weekly finishes during that stretch: QB19, QB9, QB3, QB13, QB17, QB23. It’s a tale of inconsistency that may or may not be a preview of Father Time shadowing one of the greatest of all time. Now suspended for four weeks, and an offense already dealing with major injuries—particularly on the offensive line—it’s time to pass on Touchdown Tom and his seventh-round ADP.
James Brimacombe: There is no denying Tom Brady and his greatness as a football player but already being faced with missing 4 games and another year tacked on to his age I find it hard to list him as a top 8 quarterback this year as his current ADP has him listed. Brady is coming off his best season since 2007 as he finished as the 2nd best QB last year. The two years prior he finished 13th and 10th while playing a full 16 games each season. I think he is more of a QB10-to-QB15 this season. I do understand the point of drafting Brady so you have that security blanket come fantasy football playoffs but giving up 4 weeks just doesn’t seem worth it when you can get a full season out of Blake Bortles, Carson Palmer or Derek Carr that all come at a lesser price and each have great receivers to pass to.
Stephen Holloway: Brady is undervalued due to his scheduled suspension for the first four games of the 2016 season. If the suspension again is overturned, Brady will demand a healthy bump. He could also be a sneaky later round pick if he drops too low because he will definitely again be focused on success when he returns to the field.
John Mamula: Every player has value, but Tom Brady’s value is too high for a 39-year-old QB that will miss at least 5 weeks during the fantasy regular season. Let somebody else manage the headache of trying to keep their team above water during the first month of the season. If Brady drops into the 10th round, and you already have drafted your QB1, then you should consider Brady as an option for your team.
Mark Wimer: The four-game ban of Tom Brady has been upheld by the courts. Brady will only play in 12 games this upcoming season - and more importantly, will miss four weeks of reps with his receiving corps, which will take some time to address during the second quarter of the season. There are too many negatives to be considering Brady as a starter for your fantasy team - he is in the lower tier of backup fantasy quarterbacks this year due to his ongoing strife with the league and it's likely impact on Brady and the Patriots.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
Sigmund Bloom: Perhaps we all got too far ahead of ourselves when projecting Luck's development over the first four years of his career. 2015 was a step backwards, both physically and mentally. While Luck does have the fastest trio of wideouts in the league, his offensive line is still a question, and his ability to function under pressure seemed to falter last season. Being healthy should help the physical side, but the mental side might be harder to rebuild completely by Week 1. Luck could pan out as a top five quarterback again, but spending a pick that treats that a sure thing is unwise.
Andy Hicks: Andrew Luck looked like he would become the next elite fantasy quarterback replicating the man he replaced in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning, with top 3 fantasy production year in and year out. 2015 didn't work out like that though. He was a turnover machine with multiple interceptions in 5 of his 7 games and Luck ended the season with a severe kidney injury. Others are keen to wipe 2015 from the slate and assume production will resume from 2014. I'm going to be a little more cautious when it comes to Luck. The Colts will struggle in their division and Luck showed that with pressure he will turn the ball over. While he may have looked good against vanilla defenses in preseason, his propensity to take unnecessary hits in regular season action make him a significant risk in 2016.
Devin Knotts: Many people are disregarding Andrew Luck’s disappointing 2015 due to injury and poor offensive line play. While the injury likely had something to do with Luck’s disappointing year, there are still major red flags for Andrew Luck. In his first three games in the 2015 season, Luck did not throw for 300 yards and threw for 5 touchdowns but 7 interceptions. Luck is currently being drafted as the third quarterback off the board as there is hope that he will return to the 2014 form, but the offensive line problems still exist, Luck is coming back from an injury filled season, and he struggled even early in 2015 when he should have been at his healthiest.
Matt Waldman: A great prospect with a lot left in the tank but the Colts have allowed him to get hit more than any quarterback in the NFL since 2012. Luck will be smarter about some of the punishment he can control but much of it, he can't. I don't care how good a quarterback is his game gets worse once he gets hit enough times. I'm worried Luck is entering that danger zone. I'd prefer a lower-risk, lower-reward player at this position when the differences in fantasy points aren't as great as other positions in the hobby.
Jason Wood: Don't get me wrong, I'm an Andrew Luck fan and expect him to bounce back this year after posting a massively disappointing 2015 campaign (1,881 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 7 games). Luck is healthy, which was the major issue last season. Yet, I can't help thinking that Luck is being overdrafted presently given the question marks surrounding him. The offensive line remains a major question mark, he lost his best friend and 1st-down safety valve (Coby Fleener) in free agency, and two of his projected top targets are injury risks (Moncrief and Allen). While I think a case can be made for Cam Newton at his current ADP, I think the smart move is passing on the likes of Rodgers and Luck and waiting for a reasonably comparable passer many rounds later.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Kirk Cousins, Washington
Phil Alexander: Cousins getting drafted ahead of Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, and Tyrod Taylor is preposterous. Prior to Cousins' 10-game hot streak to close last season, he posted a career 24:27 TD:INT ratio and was a dismal 57.6% passer. The schedule was also in his favor last year, as Cousins played seven games against bottom-10 pass defenses, including five total games against the Saints, Eagles, and Giants -- the three worst pass defenses in the league. This isn't to say Cousins will be without value in 2016. He's insulated by a favorable offensive scheme and above-average receiving weapons. But I'd only be inclined to use him against soft pass defenses when Washington is at home (check his disparate home-road splits). That makes him a streamer, and streamers belong on the waiver wire, which is where I'll bet Cousins will be found in your league at some point later this season.
James Brimacombe: Cousins was great last year leading Washington to the Champs of the NFC East. He was willing to do whatever on the field as he showed that by adding 5 rushing touchdowns to his 29 passing touchdowns and finished as the 9th rank quarterback for fantasy purposes. His current ADP is QB14 which feels reasonable but taking chances on rebound seasons from Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Ryan Tannehill seem like better options for the discounted price.
Mike Brown: I'm a bit biased against Cousins, in that I have never been a huge believer in his overall talent level. Giving credit where it is due for his 2015 performance, I'm just not sold on it happening again. And the simple fact is, you can get guys like Tony Romo, Matt Stafford, Tyrod Taylor even later. Guys with just as much or more upside, not as much downside, and at a better price.
Daniel Simpkins: It's telling that Washington was hesitant to lock up Cousins in a big-money, long-term deal. There are clearly some misgivings when it comes to their belief in Cousins. Owners need to show some of the same caution when considering Cousins to head up their fantasy teams. In 2016, Washington only played four teams who finished over .500 and lost to all four. Cousins’ performances in those games was uninspiring. While watching film, one can see many instances in which Cousins got away with making some questionable throws, a la Nick Foles a few years ago. Quarterbacks such as Tyrod Taylor and Matthew Stafford are going a full round or more after Cousins, giving owners even more reason to bypass him.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay
Sigmund Bloom: Winston could help teams win fantasy titles this year, but probably not with a hot start. He has to face Arizona, Los Angeles, Denver, and Carolina in the first five weeks of the season before taking his bye. That means five out of the first six weeks are bench weeks for Winston, who doesn't have the kind of ceiling (unlike Tom Brady) to merit tying up a roster spot that long on a quarterback you can't use. His Week 14 and 16 matchups with New Orleans are tasty, but you can probably grab him on the waiver wire to harvest those after he is dropped during his brutal opening stretch.
Chris Feery: Jameis Winston is expected to take a solid leap forward in 2016, and his current draft position reflects that optimism. While a jump in efficiency and productivity is certainly on the table, the risk of a sophomore slump is also very real. There’s a full season of tape on Winston at the disposal of opposing defensive coordinators, and it would be perfectly normal for him to experience some serious growing pains in the first half of 2016. Winston is currently being viewed as a borderline QB1, but he’s actually better served as a later round QB2. As a later round QB, Winston becomes much more intriguing as his production will likely increase in the latter part of 2016, making him a potential difference maker for patient owners as the fantasy season winds down.
Ryan Hester: Winston as a fringe QB1 seems a bit bold to me. He was wildly inaccurate last season, completing just 58.3% of his passes, “good” for 32nd in the NFL. While a second-year step up should be expected, asking Winston to be QB13 or better with an inaccurate arm, just one top-notch pass-catcher, and a run game that can be leaned on is a tough putt. I prefer quarterbacks who have multiple capable pass-catchers, little run game, or both. That’s why I would select Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Derek Carr over Winston – despite being drafted later.
Stephen Holloway: Winston played very well in his rookie season, averaging 7.56 ypa and passing for over 4,000 yards. He is also a running threat, adding 213 rushing yards and 6 TDs. There is no doubt that his off-field issues and struggles with maturity impact his potential production. In a season where there is an abundance of fantasy quarterback options, Winston most likely will not be chosen in any of my drafts.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Carson Palmer, Arizona
Andy Hicks: Carson Palmer turns 37 this year and is coming off a season in which he posted career highs in touchdowns and yardage. There is every chance he could replicate the numbers from last year given his supporting cast, but Palmer has rarely maintained high fantasy value throughout his career and I would rather jump off before he has that inevitable bad final season. Maybe I'm 1 or even 2 years too early, but only 5 of his 14 seasons have been as a QB1, with just 3 inside the top 6. Unlike Drew Brees or Tom Brady, Palmer doesn't project as a safe option.
Justin Howe: I don't have a problem with Palmer's draft placement among quarterbacks. But I do think he's being targeted a bit too high. I don't see him as a demonstrably stronger option than Eli Manning, Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, Matthew Stafford, or perhaps 2-3 other names available later. The Cardinals offense is unlikely to repeat its insanely efficient 2015 (second in the NFL in points per drive), so Palmer should settle squarely into that group. I prefer Dalton or Taylor with a multi-round discount.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit
Andy Hicks: Matthew Stafford has been a hot and cold fantasy option throughout his career, but the retirement of Calvin Johnson is going to hurt Stafford significantly. Fantasy owners need to ask themselves if Detroit have WR1, 2 & 3 receivers in Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin and Jeremy Kerley. I need to see if Stafford can operate on a long term basis without Calvin before I can trust him on my fantasy roster. Doubts about whether Stafford is a genuine quality starter in the NFL need to be answered in 2016.
Jeff Pasquino: The Detroit Lions are going to be a mess this year. With Calvin Johnson’s surprising retirement, the entire offense is going to take a major hit in 2016. Golden Tate is not ready to be a WR1, and TE Eric Ebron is not going to be a top tight end in the passing game yet either. Couple that with a shaky line and a modest at best rushing game and I see Stafford under duress and scrambling for his life every week. Stafford will likely have to throw often, but that does not guarantee success or fantasy production this season. I will be avoiding most of the Lions this year, especially Stafford.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
Daniel Simpkins: Like Roethlisberger, the loss of weapons, albeit complementary ones, stands to put a dent in the production of Andy Dalton. Both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu left in free agency and Tyler Eifert is injured with no clear timetable to return. Brandon LaFell also sustained an injury that may cause him to miss time. A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard will both surely have an increase in target volume, but will not be able to fully compensate for those losses. Rookie Tyler Boyd and Brandon Tate starting opposite Green do not inspire confidence. All things considered, Dalton will be hard pressed to return value, even though he’s being drafted in the 11th round.
Cam Newton, Carolina
Mike Brown: Cam Newton entered the world of superstardom a year ago. But a deeper look into the numbers results in a couple of staggering realizations. His completion percentage, yards per attempt, interception ratio, and rushing yardage don't really jump off the page at you. In fact, the only numbers that really popped in 2015 were both his passing and rushing touchdown totals. Now maybe he can sustain those, but looking at his career as a whole, those seem like the outliers and not the norm. If either or both of those regress to typical norms, he's nowhere near the top quarterback in the league.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Matt Waldman: Jordy Nelson's return will help but they still haven't found a third receiver. When Rodgers was at his best, he had Nelson, Randall Cobb and either James Jones or a still-competent Greg Jennings and/or Jermichael Finley. Jared Cook, Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, Richard Rodgers, Jeff Janis, and Ty Montgomery have not proven they can step up and win consistently enough. Rodgers is certainly still a good QB1 but I prefer Russell Wilson or Drew Brees. They do more with less.
Tony Romo, Dallas
Mark Wimer: Romo has been increasingly fragile over the past few years, and his team is geared towards running the ball first (partly in order to protect Romo from taking a lot of hits). His number one wide receiver, Dez Bryant, has a serious foot issue and was very limited in OTA's/mini-camp. I'm not committing a premium pick to Bryant or Romo until I know they are fully healthy/good to go... and even if those two things happen during preseason I think Romo is a long shot to finish as a starting fantasy quarterback (among the top 12) at year's end. There are too many negatives militating against him being a fantasy superstar this year. And as I write this on August 23, Bryant has suffered a concussion in practice on August 22. No thanks, friends, I'm avoiding Romo and Bryant this season.