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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 and identify players that should underperform their draft position.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Antonio Brown, Oakland
Jeff Haseley: It seems unlikely that Antonio Brown will produce at the same level as he did with Pittsburgh. Oakland will utilize him heavily, but how will that translate to touchdowns and fantasy points? Pittsburgh scored 34, 29, and 33 passing touchdowns in the last three years. Oakland scored 19, 23, and 29 in that same span. I will be shocked if he even comes close to his previous productivity with Pittsburgh.
Ryan Hester: The narrative is right for Brown to have a big year. He’s coming off a year that some would call a “down” year (touchdowns notwithstanding), and he’s on a new team trying to prove to the world that he was right for forcing his way off his old team. But the more concrete items work against Brown. There’s a fear of the unknown with a new offense; he’s on the wrong side of 30; and Oakland’s philosophy under Jon Gruden last season was originated in the Stone Age. At this point in the draft, selecting a younger player on a better unit feels more comfortable than taking Brown.
Daniel Simpkins: The more Oakland’s offense is examined, the more convinced we should become that Jon Gruden is going to make the running game, and particularly Josh Jacobs, the focal point of the offense. Brown’s ceiling is much lower than when he was with the Steelers. With fewer quality opportunities, he will not reach the statistical heights of the players that are being drafted around him at current ADP.
Maurile Tremblay: Antonio Brown has been the best wide receiver in the league over the past decade, but last season he was less effective than in previous seasons. Given his age, I believe a continued decline is more likely than a resurgence. Leaving Ben Roethlisberger for Derek Carr won't help.
Will Grant: I can’t see how Antonio Brown’s stats don’t take a major hit in Oakland. Certainly the touchdowns and probably the receptions too. Oakland feels like a run-first team now with Josh Jacobs in the mix, and while Brown is clearly the best pass-catcher on the team, that also bring the best coverage his way without a #2 like JuJu Smith-Schuster to keep defenses honest. Brown will be good, but I don’t see him as a guy who I can bank on every week, and that’s what I want from a pick at his current ADP. I’m also not a fan of wide receivers who switch teams, so I’m happy to let someone else take the risk.
Player Receiving 4 Votes
NKeal Harry, New England
James Brimacombe: The excitement was real when the Patriots selected Harry at the end of the first round. With all that excitement his ADP went sky high and now we are getting reports of him having an up and down offseason so far. Drafting rookie wide receivers is always a tricky scenario and oftentimes you can find veteran players around the same ADP that can contribute much more than what the hyped rookie can give you.
Jeff Haseley: Patriots wide receiver draft picks often struggle because Tom Brady expects and demands so much from his receivers. If they are not mentally prepared to flawless run plays, they will not see much of the field. Expectations are high on Harry, but he needs to prove he belongs on the field before any success can be had.
Matt Waldman: Harry has fantasy WR2 upside this year, but much depends on his ability to handle option routes with Tom Brady and how he'll be deployed in an offense that lost some of its top supporting talents in the passing game. Harry's ability to separate at the NFL level will be a lingering question mark until he proves otherwise. He's quicker-than-fast and his techniques off the line are often sloppy. Considering that New England already has a slot option in Julian Edelman, Harry may have to spend more time on the perimeter where he hasn't been as effective during his college career.
Jason Wood: Bill Belichick is the greatest coach ever, but he’s not infallible. Bethel Johnson. Chad Jackson. Brandon Tate. Taylor Price. Aaron Dobson. All are former high draft picks by Belichick whose careers were, shall we say, forgettable. That doesn’t mean Harry is doomed, but it does mean we can’t assume greatness simply because of the landing spot. Harry also got off to a rough start in OTAs, which isn’t a death knell save for the fact he has to win over Tom Brady, who at this point in his career has zero time or patience for developmental players. I can see Harry being productive this season, with some maturation and seasoning, but drafting him at his current ADP requires a productive start – and that’s unlikely.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Will Fuller, Houston
Andy Hicks: Will Fuller looks great as an NFL receiver and then he gets injured. We have seen the same thing for his first three years as an NFL player and expecting something different in 2019 seems optimistic at best. His main competition for playing time in Keke Coutee has a similar track record, but he only played his first season in 2018. Someone on this offense is going to be a beneficiary of the passing talents of Deshaun Watson and the presence of DeAndre Hopkins on the other side. I would prefer to take the guy with the lower draft pick and not coming off an ACL tear.
Matt Waldman: Although something most fantasy players won't notice because of Fuller's injury history, Fuller has developed into an excellent route runner. If he can stay healthy, he should earn career highs this year in a passing offense loaded with talent. If you fear soft tissue injuries from Fuller, you'll be staying away from him unless you can get him at a discount. I fear the injuries and it’s why I have Fuller lower than most.
Jason Wood: Fuller hasn’t finished inside the Top 40 at his position in three seasons, yet fantasy managers fawn all over him every draft season. His supporters argue Fuller need only finally stay healthy to become a fantasy star. He’s only appeared in 31 of 48 regular-season games in three years and tore his ACL last October. Labeling someone injury prone can be tricky but Fuller certainly pushes the limits. Even if you think Fuller finally stays healthy, his value is overrated. In two seasons playing with Deshaun Watson, Fuller ranks 27th in fantasy points per game. A respectable ranking, sure, but not high enough to bet on his health. Fuller also needs to contend with a healthy Keke Coutee this year. Let others pass on Fuller and focus on Coutee a few rounds later.
Cooper Kupp, LA Rams
James Brimacombe: The only reason that I would put Kupp in the overvalued category would be the fact that he is coming off an ACL injury midseason. With both Cooks and Woods also in the offense, I just find it hard to pay a premium for Kupp right now. If word gets out that he is ahead of schedule with his recovery that is when I will reevaluate where I feel comfortable drafting him.
Drew Davenport: Calling Kupp overvalued is purely about his injury. He tore his ACL in the middle of November last season. When training camp began, he was just eight months removed from surgery. These days players can succeed the year after an ACL reconstruction, but it's wise to be cautious with their outlook. Kupp's current ADP doesn't allow that. Pay attention in training camp and see if he suffers from any mention of possible cascade injuries like a hamstring strain or groin pull. These are red flags that Kupp's body is compensating and he may not be ready and certainly will lack explosiveness. If his ADP stays the same or dips a bit and he comes through the pre-season healthy, this could turn into a player to target instead of avoid. But for right now it's a pass.
Andy Hicks: Cooper Kupp looks like a vital cog in the Los Angeles Rams passing attack, but his current draft slot is ridiculous. Both Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks are the clear main threats, while the presence of Kupp allows them to be at their best. Kupp will have good days, but coming off an ACL tear and seeing fewer targets than the other receivers mean he has an almost impossible chance of giving back those who draft him a fair return.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle
Justin Howe: Lockett doesn't look like a particularly bad WR2 pick. He's the default WR1 in Seattle has been remarkably efficient throughout his career. But drafters may be overinflating that efficiency in his new offensive role. For one, that role may not actually materialize, or at least not at the level many expect. Doug Baldwin missed all or most of four games last year, yet Lockett drew only 23 targets in those matchups. To turn 90-100 targets into a WR2 finish, Lockett would need to carry on his wild 13.8 yards per target and 17.5% touchdown rate from last year. In this run-dominant, Lockett could struggle to hit on those huge plays as often as needed. He's best targeted at the tail end of the WR2 ranks, by drafters who have already secured strong and consistent wideout production elsewhere. Lockett looks destined for more 3-40-0 weeks than most of us can stomach from our weekly WR2.
Jeff Pasquino: Tyler Lockett enters 2019 as the clear top wide receiver in Seattle, which was likely the case even before Doug Baldwin’s surprising retirement. The Seahawks, however, are among the league-leaders in rushing attempts. Such emphasis results in less opportunity for all members of the passing offense for Seattle, which is one reason Russell Wilson’s projections (justifiably) are held down for 2019. Lockett’s WR11 status for last season was inflated due to his very high touchdown-to-catch ratio (10 to 57). The touchdowns pushed him into WR1 status, but double-digit scores on fewer than 70 targets is extremely rare (he is only the third wide receiver since 1992 to have 10 or more touchdowns on less than 70 chances). Lockett’s value is heavily skewed by touchdowns, making him far better in best-ball leagues than as a weekly WR2, where solid production each week is paramount.
Jason Wood: Touchdowns are the most volatile factor in fantasy value, and Tyler Locket is 2019’s poster boy for negative regression. Lockett finished as WR11 last year in a most unusual manner; doing it off less than 100 targets and 1,000 yards. To score ten touchdowns on 57 receptions is highly unusual, and historically unsustainable. To think Lockett will replicate his low-end WR1 ways this year requires a belief he’ll see increased target share. Yet, the Seahawks are among the most conservative teams in football. Russell Wilson isn’t going to suddenly throw the ball 600 times. Meanwhile, Lockett benefitted from a lack of alternatives but this year the Seahawks brought in a younger, stronger, faster version of Lockett in rookie D.J. Metcalf. Metcalf may not be a star in Week 1, but he is capable of displacing Lockett atop the depth chart in short order.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota
Drew Davenport: Through seven games last year, Thielen averaged a ridiculous 12.7 targets per game, and he ripped off 7 straight games of over 22.8 fantasy points (PPR) in his first eight. But over the final nine, he averaged just 7.1 targets per game and he went from the overall WR1 to WR7 by the end of the season. That's not to say that this is a poor overall finish. But he failed to eclipse 38 yards in 4 of his final 9 games, hit 100 just twice, and ranked as the WR19 over that stretch. Head Coach Mike Zimmer was not happy with how much his offense was throwing the ball early in the year, and he moved to correct this by replacing his offensive coordinator and handing the ball to his running backs at a much higher clip to end the year. This is not to say that Thielen is a poor fantasy asset. The problem is that he's still being drafted near his ceiling based off his torrid 2018 start, and if the 2019 Vikings run the football like they want to, he won't have the opportunity to come close to his lofty ADP.
Dan Hindery: Thielen shouldn’t be going off of the board as a top-10 wide receiver ahead of more proven options like T.Y. Hilton and A.J. Green. Thielen’s production fell off a cliff in the second half of 2019. After Week 8, he caught 39 passes for 448 yards and 3 touchdowns. From Week 9 to Week 17, he was the WR27 (PPR) and was outscored by players like Zay Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Theilen should be better than his rough second half but the blazing hot start to 2018 that quickly fizzled out seems like more of an outlier than a reasonable expectation moving forward.
Jeff Pasquino: There is no question that Adam Thielen got off to a red-hot start last year, opening up 2018 with eight consecutive 100-yard receiving games. The problem was his second half of the year, where only once he was able to top that mark. His splits are abysmal for the second half of the season, where he averaged less than five catches and 60 yards per game with only three touchdowns (his first half averages were 9.25 receptions, 115.6 yards along with six total scores). Thielen is a forced pairing with Kirk Cousins’ performance numbers as well, which should also give fantasy team owners something to think long and hard about. Couple all of the above with Minnesota wanting to give Dalvin Cooks and rookie Alexander Mattison more chances this year and Thielen’s numbers on 150+ targets from 2018 could easily go down this season.
Player Receiving 2 Votes
Amari Cooper, Dallas
Ryan Hester: Cooper finally flourished after being traded to Dallas last season. But his production there seemed a bit fluky. First of all, it was a small sample size with only a portion of the year played in Dallas. Secondly, he had plenty of big plays with a low aDOT and huge chunks of yardage after the catch. Cooper’s first game as a Cowboy was Week 9. From that point on, he ranked fifth among all receivers in PPR points per game despite ranking 21st in total air yards and 14th in percentage of his team’s air yards. The fantasy community has seen over the last couple of years that air yards are a good predictor of future success. Cooper’s elite half-season happened despite a lack of elite air yards numbers, suggesting that it could be difficult to duplicate.
Jeff Pasquino: The Dallas Cowboys are a run-first team, led by Ezekiel Elliott’s performances. Dallas would much rather ride their workhorse back (and strong defense) to a weekly victory than to try and have Dak Prescott try and win a game by airing it out each week. While it is clear that Cooper was a big factor once he joined Dallas last year (76 targets over nine weeks, resulting in 51-724-6), but teams are going to be much more focused defensively on Cooper for this coming season. Dallas’ passing attack will have plenty of question marks with Cole Beasley gone and an un-retired Jason Witten coming back to steal red-zone targets. Investing in Cooper to be a WR1 means banking on a 1,000-yard season with near double-digit touchdowns for Cooper, which looks like a lot to ask.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Keenan Allen, LA Chargers
Phil Alexander: Allen had four top-12 finishes in 2018, which ranked 14th among wide receivers. He needs massive target volume to post elite numbers and the departure of Tyrell Williams isn't enough to get him back to 150+ looks. In fact, Allen may actually command less than last season's 136 targets due to the returning Hunter Henry's ability to operate in the same areas of the field. With Williams' vacated downfield targets earmarked for Mike Williams and Henry cutting into his volume over the middle and in the red zone, Allen's opportunities have nowhere to go but down.
Geronimo Allison, Green Bay
Andy Hicks: Geronimo Allison has finished his three years in the NFL ranked 111th, 118th, and 97th. He only played five games last year, has a new head coach and young receivers needing opportunity. Yes, he can match his draft slot with his production, especially with Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball, but I would rather take one of the other guys here at a much lower draft price for a much more likely high return. Who’s to even say the new coaching staff like him enough to keep him in the starting group? Allison is a solid NFL receiver with advantages, but this seems a high price to pay right now.
Brandin Cooks, LA Rams
Dwain McFarland: Cooks continues to get fantasy love every year. Yes, he is still a young player with electric speed, but his price tag is the same as other emerging options not locked into a three-way split. At Cooks’ current ADP you need to believe he has a chance to separate from the other Rams’ receivers. Given the balanced nature of McVay’s offense plus the talent of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, that is a stretch. You can get similar production with a slightly lower floor but much higher upside two rounds later.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay
Chad Parsons: My argument against Godwin is a simple one. Betting on non-elite Day 2 receiver prospects and clear No.2 receivers on an NFL passing game with a strong WR1 are historically poor bets. Are there occasional outliers who hit from these buckets? Yes. However, I will be hyper-selective when making them. Godwin is both, which heightens the risk. Mike Evans will dominate targets as a historically strong early-career performer and a former top-10 pick. O.J. Howard returns to the lineup after missing a chunk of 2018 with an injury. Godwin will have his hands full attempting to be the No.2 target in the passing game over Howard, let alone challenge Evans.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit
Drew Davenport: Golladay enjoyed a breakout season of sorts in 2018. He benefited greatly from Golden Tate being traded during the year and the loss of Marvin Jones for half the season, but there were signs he was ready to take the next step before either of those occurred. Even so, he finished just WR21 and was prone to disappear at times. Anyone taking Golladay at his current ADP is betting that he can take another step forward this year, and that new coordinator Darrell Bevell will make him more of a focal point in the red zone than his running mate Jones. While both of those are possible, taking Golladay where he's going now is asking for everything to line up perfectly to justify the cost. In what could be a low volume pass offense owners can find a better gamble.
Mecole Hardman, Kansas City
Jason Wood: Just because Mecole Hardman is a speedy receiver with good open-field vision does not mean he could step into Tyreek Hill’s role and produce. Tyreek Hill is one of the most talented players at his position. Period. It’s not about the role; it’s about the man. Even if Hill’s off-the-field troubles meant he’s miss most of this year, Hardman was being overdrafted. But now, with Hill not even being suspended, Hardman shouldn’t be drafted in redraft leagues. He’s not even guaranteed the No. 3 role as Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson have claims to the position.
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia
Drew Davenport: Admittedly Jeffery's ADP isn't outrageous for his accomplished career. Despite missing the first 3 games of the season he still managed a decent final finish in fantasy points scored. But he is prone to completely disappearing in this offense and is too often an afterthought. From Week 8 through Week 14 last year (7 games), Jeffery failed to top 50 yards receiving one time. He had a string of five straight games below 9 fantasy points. Now the Eagles brought back DeSean Jackson, and Dallas Goedert has another year in the system. Asking Jeffery to beat his numbers last year is a stretch, and that's what his current ADP is asking you to do. It's even somewhat likely that his numbers will decline, and when he was not start-worthy in almost half of his games last year the cost is just not worth it.
Calvin Ridley, Atlanta
Phil Alexander: Ridley scored a touchdown on an unsustainable 10.9% of his targets, which trailed only Mike Williams and Tyler Lockett last season. We can't project a substantial increase in volume for Ridley to compensate for the touchdown regression he's due. And the entire offensive pie in Atlanta figures to get smaller this year as their defense gets back to full health following disastrous luck with injuries in 2018.
Allen Robinson, Chicago
Will Grant: Robinson had a disappointing season in Chicago last year, despite being targeted more than seven times a game. The Chicago passing offense had its ups and downs, but Robinson is clearly the focal point. For some reason, his ADP is a lot lower than it should be so far this year, possibly due to the additions of Mike Davis and David Montgomery at running back. Mitchell Trubisky won’t throw for 4000 yards this year, but Robinson will be his primary target and he is good mid-round value in any redraft or best ball league right now.
Courtland Sutton, Denver
Matt Waldman: My concerns with Sutton last year were routes and technical details with his hand usage at the catch point. Both issues held Sutton back from better production last year despite massive hype that was mostly unfulfilled. Until we see early returns from his offseason work, I'm not moving him up my board. Although Joe Flacco is a veteran, he’s also a low-producer among fantasy quarterbacks and his addition doesn’t automatically help Sutton’s cause as a fantasy option.