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The flip side of succeeding with value players is failing with overvalued players. These players will not put up stats commensurate to their draft spot, and avoiding them is another of the important keys to a successful fantasy team. To point out these players, we asked our staff to look through the Top 150 and identify players that should underperform their draft position.
Here is the player who received the most votes:
- Myles Gaskin, easily
And here are all of the payers mentioned and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 6 Votes
Phil Alexander: What makes people so confident the Dolphins backfield is not a committee? Malcolm Brown is one of the least-sexy names in fantasy football, but NFL teams sure seem to love him. Brown never stopped earning playing time for the Rams despite the team investing early draft capital at the position. In 2019, the Lions tried to steal him away with a restricted free agent offer. And ultimately, he was targeted by Miami ahead of an early-round draft pick when he finally hit unrestricted free agency. Brown should have a role, most likely on early downs and at the goal-line, which would sink Gaskin’s chances of living up to his ADP.
Andrew Davenport: I've had ample opportunities to draft Gaskin and just haven't been able to do it. Coach Brian Flores comes from New England, where they liked employing a committee, and now they have come out publicly to say this will, in fact, be a committee in Miami. Gaskin is a nice player, but the signings by this staff the last two offseasons say they don't have confidence that Gaskin is their guy. Malcolm Brown should play plenty, and this offense isn't likely to be explosive enough to support two running backs in any meaningful way. Gaskin is an easy fade at his current price.
Jeff Haseley: The Dolphins have a three-headed approach to the running back position this year. Gaskin may be the top option for now, but that could change with a strong outing from veteran Malcolm Brown or Salvon Ahmed. Brown has always been a strong contributor inside the five-yard line scoring 9 rushing touchdowns in the last two years in that hot zone. Gaskin may be the best receiver of the trio, but Ahmed isn't far behind. Gaskin's current draft position is indicative of him being the top back in Miami, and it's not a foregone conclusion that he is.
Andy Hicks: If people are using a fourth or fifth-round pick on Myles Gaskin, they will end up disappointed. Miami will use a committee as none of the backs on the roster can handle the lead-back role. Gaskin has missed long periods through injury in his first two seasons in the league. He doesn’t have that much of a skill set difference with Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed either. There is no upside with drafting Gaskin this high. It seems the case that he is being drafted well above his upside. Never a good idea.
Jordan McNamara: Malcom Brown drew the starter role in the first preseason game, and the team has shown the willingness to change starters against conventional wisdom when Gaskin was a surprise starter in Week 1. At present, I'm avoiding Gaskin because I do not trust the role, especially ahead of projected starters like Mike Davis and other players with higher upside like Travis Etienne.
Chad Parsons: Malcolm Brown looks, at a minimum, like a strong 1B option but did get the start and most of the snaps with Tua Tagovailoa with the first team in the initial preseason game. Gaskin was a revelation versus his cost a year ago but is a buyer beware in 2021.
Player Receiving 4 Votes
Sigmund Bloom: Not that the Texans offense was anything you wanted to go near in fantasy drafts in the first place, but Johnson's ADP needs to adjust by multiple rounds to the news that he will be sharing the backfield with Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram and no longer in the lead back role. Johnson himself has acknowledged it, and the backs' usage in the first preseason game indicates frustration for anyone wanting to farm this barren land.
Ben Cummins: I don’t want much to do with the Texans at all this season. They’re going to be one of the worst teams in NFL History. Drafters are still grabbing David Johnson due to projected volume, yet in their first preseason game, Houston utilized Phillip Lindsay on first and second downs with the starters while David Johnson was restricted to a third-down role. And free-agent acquisitions Mark Ingram and Rex Burkhead didn’t even play. The role we envisioned for Johnson is already in question. Even if he receives most of the early-down and passing game work, it still won’t be very valuable on a putrid offense.
Jordan McNamara: Like Gaskin, David Johnson is in a cloudy situation after Philip Lindsay drew the starting role in Houston in week 1. If Johnson is the starter, he is probably a value where he is being drafted, but I'm not taking him at his current cost without some reassuring news about his role in the coming weeks.
Jason Wood: Preseason depth charts aren't perfectly predictive, but the new Texans coaching staff clearly sent a message listing Johnson as the No. 3 back on the depth chart before the first preseason game. Johnson is the incumbent with the largest contract, and yet he's being downshifted in favor of Mark Ingram -- who did his best work in Baltimore, where Texans head coach David Culley comes from -- and Phillip Lindsay.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Sigmund Bloom: Barkley may not be 100% to start the season, and he might not truly be 100% until next season. This is more important for Barkley than most backs because he relies on his immense gifts more than most backs. The Giants offensive line, playcalling, and quarterback play give us no faith that they can help create fantasy overachievers. Barkley could hit on pure talent and above-average recuperative ability, but everything else is going against him to return value on his lofty ADP.
Jeff Haseley: It's easy to succumb to the notion that Saquon Barkley is one of the best running backs in the league. He showed elite promise in his rookie year and followed it up with a top 10 season despite a high ankle sprain limiting his ascension. The next season he hit bottom with a knee injury that damaged his ACL, MCL, and meniscus. We've seen running backs repeatedly return from severe knee injuries; very seldom do they return the following year and have a memorable fantasy season. In Week 16 of the 2011 season, Adrian Peterson tore his ACL and returned as the #1 overall running back in 2012. Jamal Lewis rushed for nearly 3,400 yards in the first two seasons back from his ACL tear. Terrell Davis, Edgerrin James, Reggie Bush, Rashard Mendenhall, Jamaal Charles, and recently, Dalvin Cook all took over a season of play to return to form if they did at all. Barkley is a workhorse. He's a workout warrior - I get that, but whether or not he recovers immediately from this injury is yet to be seen, and because there is a doubt, he's someone I am avoiding at nearly all costs.
Jordan McNamara: The news on Saquon Barkley does not reassure me. His week one status is in doubt, and there are reports he may not be ready for 12-15 touch workloads until October. I understand the upside, but I don't want to take a huge miss if I'm drafting in Week 1. I'll pass on Barkley at cost.
Phil Alexander: Beware of drafting running backs based solely on their perceived opportunity. Davis has changed teams five times in the last three seasons. His production waned down the stretch in Carolina last year, and when was the last time we cared about an Atlanta running back in fantasy football anyway?
Andy Hicks: When looking at the Falcons backfield, it is clear there is no one currently there to challenge Mike Davis to start the season. A veteran, a trade, or another team's roster cut is more likely to be the bigger threat. Davis was great in relief of Christian McCaffrey in Carolina last year, but he got tired quickly. It also must be remembered his journey through the NFL before that. There are no guarantees he fits with what Atlanta wants to do or whether he has the endurance to handle a workload after last year's use. By the season's end, Mike Davis will be a case of "I knew it," but the guy who pushes him down or out is pure guesswork at this stage. Preseason may help a little.
Jason Wood: Sometimes fate aligns, and that's what happened for Mike Davis last year in Carolina. No one can take away his heroics stepping in for Christian McCaffrey, and he was rewarded in the offseason when Atlanta presumably signed him to be new coach Arthur Smith's feature back. While the opportunity is undeniable, it's risky betting on Davis as the answer. He's playing for his fifth team in seven seasons and has never been an instinctive runner. Even last year, as the Panthers starter, he averaged just 3.9 yards-per-carry. His fantasy value came in catching 59 receptions, which won't happen in Arthur Smith's offense that doesn't throw to the tailbacks much.
Victoria Geary: Sanders has talent and breakaway ability, but he may not garner a large enough workload to be worth his ADP this season. He had the second-worst catch rate in the league last year among running backs, catching only 56% of his targets and dropping eight passes along the way (tied for most with Ezekiel Elliot). The coaching staff did not ignore this, as they selected the best pass-catching running back in the fifth round of the NFL Draft in Kenneth Gainwell. The Eagles also resigned Jordan Howard and added Kerryon Johnson to the backfield, exhibiting their lack of trust in Sanders to be an every-down back. Jalen Hurts will inevitably take away carries and goal-line rushes from the backfield, capping any true remaining upside Sanders may have been clinging to. Investing in Sanders as your RB2 is likely to leave you feeling disappointed.
Chad Parsons: Sanders stands out in the mid-teens of the running back draft pecking order most with his odds of being a high-impact option. The Eagles consistently added to the depth chart this offseason with Kerryon Johnson, Jordan Howard, Kenneth Gainwell added to Boston Scott. Color me skeptical Sanders has a new ceiling for receiving production with Scott and Gainwell passing game-centric options, and Howard could be a goal-line option. Also, Jalen Hurts is poised to siphon a few short-range scores from the running back position. Give me Chris Carson or Josh Jacobs in a similar draft range with stronger probabilities to hit as a top-10 option.
Jason Wood: Sanders is talented, and when healthy, was productive under former head coach Doug Pederson. But drafting him as a high-upside No. 2 fantasy back this year is a dubious decision. The new coaching staff is inexperienced (second-youngest in the NFL), the system is unproven, the quarterback will gobble up a ton of rushing yards and touchdowns, and the front office has added running back depth aggressively in the offseason. Finally, Sanders has continued fumbling and dropping passes in camp -- problems that plagued him last season.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Andrew Davenport: Fantasy managers are drafting Carter as though he is the unquestioned starter. And in fact, some managers are drafting him to be in their fantasy starting lineups in Week 1. That looks like a mistake from where the situation sits now. Tevin Coleman was specifically brought in because he knows the run-blocking schemes the Jets will employ this year, and Ty Johnson hasn't gone anywhere either. Projecting a fourth-round pick to take over the backfield would be fine if there was evidence that this was happening. But so far, there is nothing to suggest that it is, and all three running backs are likely to play plenty. Take Carter later as a committee back with some possible upside, but he's being overvalued by drafters right now.
Chad Parsons: It's a crowded Jets depth chart, and assuming Carter rises to the top of a collection of similar profiles is overstated with his draft valuation. Tevin Coleman is one of those veteran thorns in the sides of young backs to garner touches. Ty Johnson has strong athleticism and played over Carter in the first week of the preseason, and LaMical Perine has a similar profile to Carter. I definitely do not want the most expensive option here (Carter), but Coleman and Johnson are arbitrage plays.
Victoria Geary: Dobbins is an elite talent on the best rushing offense in the NFL. His ADP has not shot up the draft boards as quickly as he propelled into fantasy relevance last year due to the almost non-existent target share he received in the passing game. From Weeks 13 through 17, Dobbins received a measly two total targets from quarterback Lamar Jackson. Ten different running backs had more targets alone than the entire Ravens backfield in 2020. Unfortunately, he needs to stay hyper-efficient on the ground to stay fantasy relevant, as Ravens’ running backs have gotten a 70/30 carry split with Jackson over the last three years. In addition, teammate Gus Edwards just signed a two-year, $10M contract extension in June, so he isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Quarterback Lamar Jackson will always cap Dobbins' upside in total carries and goal-line looks. The investment in veteran wideout Sammy Watkins and rookies Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace almost cements Dobbins’s capped upside in the passing game. When you select Dobbins in your drafts, you are banking on the hyper-efficiency of his limited touches to continue.
Jason Wood: We all want Dobbins to be an every-down workhorse. He has the ability to handle that role and thrive in the process. But the Ravens are a Super Bowl contender and won't veer from the system that's gotten them to the peak. The Ravens view Gus Edwards and Dobbins as co-starters who are both vital cogs, and the front office rewarded Edwards with a new contract supporting his role. Combine a true committee situation with a quarterback who racks up 1,000 yards and a handful of scores, and you have a ceiling on Dobbins that won't be unlocked without a rash of injuries.
Ryan Hester: He might not keep his job, his offense probably won’t be great, he’s not explosive, and he’s on the wrong side of the running back career arc. There isn’t much to like here. Take a chance on a committee back in the same range who might emerge into a starter or become one due to injury.
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Andy Hicks: The Broncos don’t seem overly excited to use Melvin Gordon this year. They traded up in the draft to select Javonte Williams and, without the large contract, may have already released the former Charger. Gordon was adequate last year, but that was almost purely on volume. If he is still on the opening day roster, Gordon's workload will be usurped by the rookie when the coaching staff trusts him. Gordon has always been a runner that needs a large workload to produce fantasy stats. Without the volume, it is going to be difficult to get decent fantasy numbers.
Victoria Geary: We should not steer clear of Harris completely for the 2021 season, but we should lower our expectations for a locked-and-loaded RB1 finish. Harris stayed an extra year in college to improve his draft capital, and rightfully so, as the 2020 class was filled with elite running back talent. The Steelers were 23rd in red zone attempts per game in 2020 and were ranked as having the fourth-worst offensive line ahead of the 2021 season by Pro Football Focus. Though volume is important in fantasy football, Harris could struggle behind his offensive line and not garner an elite share of red zone touches. Harris has the potential to be this year's Clyde Edwards-Helaire, as he may end up burning us relative to his current ADP of RB13 and 20th overall.
Jordan McNamara: Fixing your running game by drafting running backs is a losing strategy. This is exactly what the Steelers tried to do by selecting Najee Harris in the first round in the NFL Draft. In 2020, James Conner ranked 36th and Benny Snell ranked 54th in expected yards-per-carry out of 55 qualifiers, a sign of a weak offensive line and scheme. There have been personnel changes and a change in offensive coordinator to Matt Canada. That enthusiasm should be tempered because Canada was the offensive coordinator fired by LSU before LSU hired Joe Brady, who oversaw Joe Burrow's historic season. At cost, DAndre Swift and others are better combinations of floor and ceiling.
Phil Alexander: Michael Thomas' ankle injury opens up additional targets for Kamara, who will operate as New Orleans' de facto No. 1 receiver for a significant chunk of the season. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against Kamara repeating as the best player in fantasy football. Drew Brees is arguably the best screen game quarterback in NFL history. We don't yet know how much of Kamara's past success as a pass-catcher to attribute to Brees. Then we have the Taysom Hill conundrum. Even if he isn't named the Saints' starting quarterback, Hill's continued presence in the red zone and at the goal-line infringes on Kamara's touchdown opportunity. And just how many touchdowns should we expect from an offense with glaring question marks at quarterback and the worst wide receiver depth chart this side of Detroit?
Ryan Hester: Short of Taysom Hill (if he wins the job), this whole offense is an avoid for fantasy football right now. And Hill is only touchable due to the cheat code rushing factor for quarterbacks. But regardless of quarterback, Kamara is unlikely to return to his 80 reception ways. Jameis Winston is a downfield passer, and Hill would rather run than check down. Add in the fact that offense is unlikely to provide as many goal-line chances as the other high-end RB1s, and Kamara has plenty of factors going against him.
Ben Cummins: Robinson was an awesome story in 2020 as he just kept producing while seeing 21.43 opportunities per game (6th most in the league) from Weeks 1-16. Yet, Travis Etienne was drafted in the first round, and Carlos Hyde, who Urban Meyer coached at Ohio State, was signed. Robinson’s workload will dramatically decrease this season, and drafters aren’t taking that into account as much as they should.
Chad Parsons: Travis Etienne and Carlos Hyde were chosen additions by the new Jaguars regime with either Round 1 pedigree (Etienne) or a productive NFL profile (Hyde). The current regime did not select Robinson. This is a major factor to any expectation that Robinson is fantasy lineup-relevant without an injury to one of the other options, especially beyond the very early weeks in the season.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Ryan Hester: Chubb shares his backfield with a very talented player in Kareem Hunt, and Hunt is the one who gets the lion’s share of the passing game work. For both Cleveland backs to be values, the team would have to produce vintage New Orleans-level production for its backs. The only other way for one of them to achieve high-end RB1 value would be an injury that allows the other to see an increased workload. Backs who will receive bigger shares of their team’s usage are going after Chubb.
Andy Hicks: Austin Ekeler isn’t going to rush anyone to a fantasy title. His primary use has been as an excellent pass-catching back. Whenever a new coaching group comes in, especially an inexperienced one, there is always the risk that players with a high fantasy price underachieve. The depth behind Ekeler is average, but there are enough players to steal touches. It all depends on who works best in the new scheme and if the scheme works. His current draft price is almost his upside.
Andrew Davenport: Fournette's production in the playoffs was artificially inflated by the injury to Ronald Jones II, and part of Fournette's regular-season fantasy production last year was due to his pass-catching role. That role may not disappear completely, but the addition of Gio Bernard is a bad sign for Tampa Bay's intentions with Fournette. This three-headed committee with a healthy Jones is bad news for Fournette and means he is way overvalued at current ADP.
Ben Cummins: Henry’s past two monster years were with offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, the head coach in Atlanta. And the Titans got worse this offseason, losing wide receiver Corey Davis, tight end Jonnu Smith, cornerback Adoree' Jackson, and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Henry is all but guaranteed to regress after rushing for over 2,000 yards last season, and he doesn’t catch enough passes. Henry has never caught more than 19 passes in a season, and that limited production as a receiver is an issue. Henry is one of my favorite players in the league, but there are preferable first-round picks for me in 2021.
Phil Alexander: Hunt finished last season as the RB10 in PPR scoring, but his cumulative stats were buoyed by a four-game stint as Cleveland's starter when Nick Chubb was out with an MCL sprain. While Hunt has moderate standalone value playing alongside Chubb, he'll need to either break a long run, vulture a touchdown at the goal-line, or catch a score to help you win a weekly matchup -- all things that are difficult to bank on. Barring an injury to Chubb, Hunt will drive you crazy trying to figure out when to start him as anything other than a flex option.
Sigmund Bloom: Jacobs' ADP would be justified and reasonable if the Raiders hadn't added Kenyan Drake, but they did. Now we can extinguish any hopes of Jacobs getting more involved in the passing game. The Raiders are sure to recoup as much production as they can on the $8.5 million guarantee they gave Drake on a two-year deal, so this will look closer to a committee than a true lead-back situation.
Andrew Davenport: Montgomery was the 26th-ranked PPR running back in points per game at 12.2 a contest through nine games last year. This was largely in line with his previous year's number of 10.7 per game, allowing him to plod his way to an uninspiring RB24 finish. But after he sat a game due to injury, the Bears' lead runner came out hot after their bye, and he finished at a torrid pace of 25.7 points per game as the overall RB1 from Weeks 12 to 17. As everyone knows by now, Montgomery faced some of the worst run defenses in the league to put up those huge numbers over that finishing stretch. Should drafters trust the first 25 games of his career where he was a compiler with minimal ceiling or the final six games against bad defenses in 2020? His ADP has been climbing recently, and while his price says drafters are aware of the easy schedule down the stretch, he's still being overvalued at his current price.
Sigmund Bloom: Swift is surely more likely than Jamaal Williams to be the hot hand in the Detroit backfield, but Swift's ADP is too high for any back that has to rely on the hot hand approach to get the majority of the volume in the backfield. Swift has already broken the injury seal with a groin issue in camp, and Jamaal Williams has already been spoken of highly as a potential 1A to Swift's No. 1 status.