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.
They gave us 15 names. That's a lot, especially at tight end.
NOTE: We know all these different opinions can be a lot. And certainly, not everyone agrees on everything.
If you want to cut straight to the chase and get our "Bottom Line" for where we project every player right down to the last yard, you can see that here. That's our Bottom Line and where we plant the Footballguys Flag for all these players.
If you'd like to see more detail about how the staff sees different players, here is every wide receiver who was mentioned and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay
Chris Allen: Gronkowski's target share was as high as 23% during his time with Tom Brady in New England. The targets and touchdowns were why Gronkowski was a part of the first-discussion three or four seasons ago. But, his situation (and health) has drastically changed. Instead of Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola being the primary receivers, Gronkowski is competing with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin for targets. O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate couldn't top 60 targets with Bruce Arians in 2019. Brady might prefer his former teammate in the redzone, but that won't help him meet his current draft cost as his weekly target share will likely take a hit.
Sigmund Bloom: Gronkowski is getting back into football form, but we shouldn't assume he'll be the player we saw before 2018 when his body seemed to break down and his fantasy value went over the cliff. He should still be involved in the red zone and maybe in other high leverage situations, but the Bucs will also use OJ Howard and Cameron Brate, perhaps as much as they use Gronkowski if we believe the guess of Peter King, long time NFL writer who opined this after visiting Bucs camp. Maybe touchdowns will get Gronkowski back in our good graces, but it sounds like without that weekly bump, he might be frustrating after we drafted him to our TE1.
Andrew Davenport: Those predicting a breakout for Smith are missing the key fact that Delanie Walker didn't play most of last season and Smith was unable to take advantage. Now looking at 2020 there are no conditions that have changed in Tennessee that mean he'll suddenly jump into line for targets in their offense. They'll still run it plenty. They'll use A.J. Brown, and they'll feed Smith his 3-6 targets a game. He's an athletic marvel and rational coaching says he should be given more opportunities. But there is nothing from 2019, or this 2020 offseason, that says that will happen. Smith is too hyped as a breakout candidate and should be passed over at his ADP.
Dan Hindery: Gronkowski is arguably the best tight end in NFL history and has a proven rapport with Tom Brady. Given those two facts, he has obvious upside. However, there are also enough glaring risk factors that I am okay passing on him at his current ADP. First, Gronkowski is 31-years old and has been out of football for almost two years. Given the huge number of injuries and surgeries, he is an “old 31.” He also reportedly is not in great shape and was recently called out by Bruce Arians for his conditioning. Speaking of Arians, he is another reason we should be skeptical of Gronkowski’s 2020 fantasy upside. We know Arians’ offenses do not throw to the tight end much and as everyone who drafted O.J. Howard last year can attest, that is not just a personnel issue. Lastly, there is serious competition for targets. Howard, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and others should limit the number of targets Gronkowski will see.
Chad Parsons: After a year off of football, Gronkowski returns to the NFL and reunites with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. Juxtaposed to the previous environment in New England, Gronkowski will compete with 2019 top-5 fantasy receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin plus Round 1-pedigreed O.J. Howard at tight end for targets. Will Tom Brady maintain the high level of fantasy utility in Tampa Bay as Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick? That sounds tongue in cheek, but the pair was electric from a yards and touchdowns standpoint. The interceptions are bound to recede with Brady in 2020, but assuming Gronkowski is A) the same player from his prime to warrant high-level targets and optimize them and B) the offense will be an elite unit feeding 2-3 strong fantasy options, which will include Gronkowski are both leaps of faith. At best, Gronkowski is a neutral value compared to his draft position with plenty of downside and risk.
Player Receiving 4 Votes
Darren Waller, Las Vegas
Sigmund Bloom: Waller had a breakout 2019 and was one of the best values at tight end. This year his price has gone up to match his 2019 production, but there's still a question as to whether his 2019 numbers will be predictive this year when the Raiders added two talented rookie receivers and Tyrell Williams foot issues are rested and feeling better after affecting him for most of the season. Waller was also minimally involved in the red zone, which gives him a much smaller margin of error week-to-week. He's not worth a pick as one of the first tight ends off of the board after the big four.
Ryan Hester: Waller's breakout 2019 was an inspiring story, but it was a product of a dearth of other viable options in the then-Oakland passing game. Antonio Brown was slated to be the team's top target-getter, and we know what happened there. This year, Las Vegas added target competition in many forms. Henry Ruggs III was the team's first-round draft pick; Bryan Edwards was picked in the third; and Jason Witten was added to the team's tight end room. Witten on his own isn't a reason to be down on Waller, but the collective redistribution of targets is.
Chad Parsons: Waller came out of the ether for a monster breakout season. The late bloomer was originally a boom-bust wide receiver prospect with Baltimore who has morphed into a move tight end. Waller had an ideal setting for a huge 2019 with a lack of wide receiver production. Fast forward to 2020 and the Raiders added Jason Witten at tight end and drafted wide receivers in the first (Henry Ruggs III III) and third (Bryan Edwards) rounds of the NFL Draft. Josh Jacobs *should* catch more passes as well in Year 2. Competition for targets will be much higher for Waller in 2020, who saw 46 targets more than any of his teammates a year ago.
Jeff Pasquino: Waller was the lone bright spot for the Raiders in the passing game, building on his potential to lead the Raiders in receptions (90) and yards (1,146) by a large margin. Waller was considered a sleeper last year and he more than met his potential as he became a Pro Bowler in his second season with Oakland / Las Vegas. Derek Carr targeted Waller 117 times last year, a large number mostly due to the dearth of wide receiver talent after the toxic Antonio Brown situation led to his release prior to Week 1. Waller may see a dip in production this year as the Raiders have added talent at wide receiver starting with first-rounder Henry Ruggs III III.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Noah Fant, Denver
Sigmund Bloom: Fant's size and speed made for exciting big plays last year, but in between, he was very inconsistent for fantasy, and that probably won't change this year after the Broncos drafted wide receivers in the first and second rounds to fan out the target tree. They also drafted Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round, who was Drew Lock's favorite touchdown target while they both played at Missouri, which also deals a hit to Fant's weekly and season-long ceiling.
Andrew Davenport: There seems to be an assumption being made in the fantasy community that Drew Lock is the next big thing. He's been given several new weapons before this season in Melvin Gordon III and two talented rookie receivers. But there is no guarantee that Lock will be successful in unlocking those weapons and making the offense a fertile fantasy producer. The very nature of the fact that they now have all those weapons also means that Fant will have to fight for targets. Once the Broncos feed Courtland Sutton, their two backs, and Jerry Jeudy, Fant will be left to fight for scraps in an offense that may or may not be a top half quality squad. The final problem is that Fant didn't seem to have much of a connection with Lock when the two played last year. In Fant's five games with Lock he recorded 4/113/1 in Week 14 against Houston, but otherwise had a pitiful six catches spread over the other four games. This is not the right trend for predicting a breakout. Pass on Fant at his ADP.
Jeff Pasquino: Noah Fant falls just beyond the TE1 category as we enter 2020, even though he had a respectable season as a rookie (40-562-3). Denver added two wide receivers in the NFL draft this year (Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler) along with veteran tailback Melvin Gordon III, all of whom could steal targets from Fant. With Drew Lock as the planned starter for 2020, it is worth noting that Fant had minimal numbers in the five games Lock started at the end of 2019 (10-188-1, mostly from a 4-113-1 performance in Week 14 against Houston). Fant was not targeted often by Lock (14 targets in five games), hinting that their chemistry still needs work. Expecting Fant to build upon 2019 and become a starting fantasy tight end this year may be asking a bit too much.
Hunter Henry, LA Chargers
Andrew Davenport: Henry is an exciting player who knows how to score the football. The problem is, he has trouble staying on the field. Last year, after completely missing 2018, he came into the year with plenty of promise and then promptly got hurt and barely played until Week 6. On top of that glaring issue, the offense is now likely to change quite a bit with Philip Rivers gone. They threw the ball an average of 558 times the past three seasons and that number is likely to come down quite a bit with a running quarterback, or with a rookie who can't move the offense as well. Investing in Henry means counting on too many things to come together to deliver on his ADP.
Dan Hindery: I believe in Henry’s talent but do not think he is likely to produce at or above his current ADP due to his situation. Philip Rivers finished third in the NFL in completions last season (390). In Tyrod Taylor’s last season as a starter (15 starts in 2016), he finished tied for 25 in completions with just 270. The Chargers coaches have talked openly of making the quarterback run a bigger part of the offense and this is not going to be the pass-heavy attack it was under Rivers. With Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Henry all fighting for targets, it is going to be difficult for Henry to get enough volume to put up big fantasy numbers.
Matt Waldman: Henry is a fine tight end, but despite one notable year hooking up with Charles Clay, Tyrod Taylor has a history of difficulty with finding tight ends down the field -- to the point that the Bills staff made cutups of Taylor missing open tight ends in his reads. Considering that Taylor will likely begin the season as the starter, Henry could lose opportunities for 4-6 games. Even if Justin Herbert earns the starting role early on, his work in the middle of the field has just enough question marks that I'm not counting on Henry as a consistent starter this year.
Tyler Higbee, LA Rams
Andy Hicks: When looking at Tyler Higbee’s season we need to differentiate the stats before Gerald Everett went down and after. When both were playing, Higbee only recorded 26 catches for 212 yards and one touchdown in 10 games. In the last five games, Higbee averaged over eight catches and a hundred yards a game. Everett significantly outperformed Higbee when both were available though. There is a good chance Higbee has the job for good, but if he continues to share time or falls back behind Everett then he will disappoint those expecting better.
Chad Parsons: Higbee is ranked in drafts with the assumption his ridiculous production-usage to close 2019 maintains in 2020. Gerald Everett was out and then returning from injury as Higbee went on his run and Higbee was a fantasy shadow previously with both healthy. As a Day 3 prospect fighting for targets with Everett at tight end plus two quality receivers (Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods) and Cam Akers as a dynamic incoming rookie running back, Higbee is a stretch (at best) at his draft cost. Draft an unquestioned starter instead of Higbee at a minimum for draft decisions.
Jason Wood: Higbee was incredible from Week 11 onward, but therein lies the risk. It was so out of whack with his usage for the prior 3.5 seasons, the alarms are going off everywhere. His usage also correlated with an odd time for the Rams. Brandin Cooks was hobbled after two concussions, Gerald Everett was hurt, and the team was losing games. Sean McVay is the most analytical coach in football, and we think he's going to look at that window as the textbook, versus what they did in 2018 (2nd in points scored, 13 wins)? Higbee could be great, we saw that in November and December. But the tight end position is too shallow and volatile to pay the price. You're paying for a best-case outcome.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Austin Hooper, Cleveland
Phil Alexander: Hooper didn't exactly command his career-high 97 targets last year. It was more a function of Matt Ryan needing to get the ball out quickly to his safety valve due to poor offensive line play. New head coach Kevin Stefanski is now calling the shots for the Browns. In his lone season as Minnesota's offensive coordinator, Stefanski's Vikings ranked 29th in pass play percentage. Expect Hooper to be called upon to run-block far more than he was in Atlanta. At least five tight ends typically available later in drafts have a higher ceiling than Hooper in his new digs.
Chris Allen: Hooper leaves an Atlanta offense that targeted the tight-end position 121 times in 2019 for Cleveland that doled out 69 targets to Ricky Seals-Jones, David Njoku, and Demetrius Harris. The 'many mouths to feed' cliche rings hollow here, but there's some truth to the idea given Hooper's competition for targets has considerably gone up. In addition, Cleveland's total pass volume can't be projected anywhere near Atlanta's. The Falcons passed at the third-highest rate in neutral situations while Cleveland (without Kevin Stefanski) was barely at league average. Minnesota (with Stefanski) was sixth from the bottom. Had Njoku been traded there'd be more optimism, but Hooper's weekly outlook shouldn't be much more exciting than any option you can get later in the draft.
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit
James Brimacombe: The Lions spent a first-round, eighth-overall pick on Hockenson a year ago, and as a rookie, he reeled in 32 of 59 passes for 367 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 12 games. He experienced a huge opening game with six catches, 131 yards, and a touchdown, but after that, he seemed to hit a wall over his next 11 games before going down with a season-ending ankle injury. With the struggles after Week 1 and the ankle injury, I am going to take more of a wait and see approach with Hockenson in 2020.
Andy Hicks: T.J. Hockenson had a nice season for a rookie until it ended with an ankle injury. Most of his good numbers though came in week one. After that breakout game, he only exceeded 31 yards twice and barely averaged two catches a game. By the way, his sore ankle still isn’t right nine months later. Maybe it will be fine by the start of the season, maybe it won’t. Good luck getting a straight answer before your draft.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Mark Andrews, Baltimore
Jason Wood: Mark Andrews was a league-winner last year for many who opted to wait until the later rounds for a tight end. While most thought the smart play was targeting Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, or Austin Hooper after the top three came off the board, that strategy turned out to be a disaster while the Andrew or Darren Waller late-round choices were incredible. But fantasy managers tend to suffer from recency bias, and now Andrews is priced for perfection. Touchdowns accounted for 41% of Andrews' fantasy production last year, which was among the highest at the position and well above league average. Regression is a risk, particularly when other top options like Travis Kelce (20%), Darren Waller (14%), and George Kittle (22%) have positive regression looming.
Jared Cook, New Orleans
James Brimacombe: Cook scored a career-best, nine touchdowns in 2019 while missing two games. It is hard to view him as an overvalue as he has back to back seasons with strong fantasy production finishing as the TE5 and TE6. He will also be entering his 12th NFL season and there is concern that the Saints could be looking to ease up the workload as they drafted Adam Trautman with an early selection and also have Josh Hill in the mix to steal opportunities.
Evan Engram, NY Giants
Matt Waldman: Wake me when Engrams stops the downward trend of injuries that increasingly cost him more time per season. As talented as he is, Engram can only deliver as the leading option for the Giants if he can stay on the field. He'll have to prove that he can.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia
Ryan Hester: A player of Ertz's age being selected around this area of drafts is a reminder of the "black hole" of tight end drafting. Historically, many aging vets with past production have been in the middle tier of tight end picks. And the majority let fantasy GMs down. At tight end, it's better to pick one early to lock in the elite production or make some dart throws later in drafts when the cost of acquisition is lower but the athletic upside is higher.
Mike Gesicki, Miami
Danny Tuccitto: Gesicki is all the rage in fantasy circles right now, but his "true" stats don't come close to fitting the bill. Out of nearly 450 tight ends in the Pro Football Focus era (2006-present), Gesicki's tenure in Miami ranks 411th in True Yards per Route Run (1.26) and 420th (#Nice) in True Touchdowns per Route Run (1.00%). Perhaps with Miami's target distribution being narrowed after opt-outs, Gesicki's volume will overcome such bottom-dwelling efficiency stats, but I'm not inclined to take that kind of leap at anywhere near his current ADP.
Hayden Hurst, Atlanta
Jeff Haseley: I feel Hayden Hurst may have a bit of a learning curve, especially earlier in the season. He's joining a new team, learning a new offense, receiving a new playbook from a new coaching staff. He now has much more responsibility than he did with Baltimore. He's coming from 2.2 targets per game with little NFL success to this point. He needs to earn it first before I invest. TE2 is more of an interest for me when it comes to Hurst. I don't feel comfortable using him as my starting tight end.
Jonnu Smith, Tennessee
Phil Alexander: Smith showed occasional glimpses of game-breaking potential on long gains of 41, 35, and 57 yards last year. But he saw only 3.7 targets per game after Delanie Walker’s season-ending injury in Week 7. That is not enough to get it done for a breakout season, and where will more opportunities come from in Tennessee's run-first offense? Blake Jarwin, Eric Ebron, and Ian Thomas are each better ADP values usually available later than Smith.
Ian Thomas, Carolina
Danny Tuccitto: Thomas is a popular value pick right now, but his "true" stats don't come close to fitting the bill. Out of nearly 450 tight ends in the Pro Football Focus era (2006-present), Thomas' tenure in Carolina ranks 421st in True Yards per Route Run (1.23) and 413th in True Touchdowns per Route Run (1.01%). Although Thomas' new offensive coordinator's tendencies are a bit of an enigma due to his age, Joe Brady gave around 90% of targets at LSU to wide receivers and running backs. And although that tendency may have been due to having a talent stable that dictated it, having talents like D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey at his disposal in Carolina seems to point towards the same, which means Thomas is likely to not get anywhere near the volume necessary to overcome his lack of efficiency, and therefore come close to justifying his "potential breakout" status.