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Every time you hear, "You need to have insert-player-here in this year," there are also players you must avoid. Some players are just not as good as everyone makes them out to be. Maybe they had a stellar end to the 2021 season and are being overrated by the consensus without considering that their circumstances have changed. But most players that you need to avoid in fantasy football are being drafted at an ADP (Average Draft Position) that is too high, typically due to a disparity between their NFL game value and their fantasy football value.
Let's bridge the gap and dive into some overvalued running backs from an ADP standpoint.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans: RB4
When considering running backs to fade in fantasy football, one thing that comes to mind is whether they can hold up throughout the grueling 17-week season. Most running backs get nicks and scrapes here and there, but generally, missing a game or two is normal for a back. However, as they creep up in age, those bumps and bruises get more consistent, the recovery time gets lengthened, and the possibility of missing real time increases.
Henry is now 28 years old and is coming off of one of the most severe injuries you can have as a running back: a Jones fracture in his right foot. This injury, which occurred in Week 8 of the regular season last year, knocked Henry out of the rest of the fantasy football season, and he managed to return in the NFL playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals. In that game, he did not look like himself, with 20 carries for 62 yards and a short touchdown plunge. The Titans noticeably drafted a bruising back in Hassan Haskins and signed a couple of other backs this offseason which suggests faith in Henry to return to pre-injury form, but it is fair to wonder whether he will be the same back this year.
From an analytics standpoint, Henry has also experienced a decline in efficiency over the past few seasons. Henry's efficiency has tanked in the last few seasons, with his yards per carry after contact numbers dipping from 4.16 in 2019, to 3.85 in 2020, down to 3.28 last season, a nine-spot drop among running backs. According to Pro Football Focus, his Elusiveness Rating has also dipped. In 2019, his grade was 77.3, then dipped to 73.7 the following season, and finally dropped to 49.8 last season, ranking 27th among backs with at least 100 carries.
Derrick Henry's efficiency has plummeted over the last few seasons and his fantasy production has been propped by elite usage.— Dave Kluge (@DaveKluge) June 9, 2022
I'm not sure there's a first-round pick with more risk than King Henry.
James Conner, Arizona Cardinals: RB15
Conner first seems like a value when you look at his numbers from last year and then consider that Chase Edmonds has departed to Miami. Conner put up a whopping fifteen touchdowns on the ground to go along with the three he had thru the air but only put up 752 rushing yards on 202 carries. This presents a slight problem when you add that 18 touchdowns in 15 games is probably a massive outlier that won't happen again this season.
Conner was an absolute tank at the goal line last year. Still, the team also brought in Darrel Williams from the Chiefs this offseason and drafted Keaontay Ingram in the NFL Draft, so the Cardinals' plan may not be to give Conner a full three-down workload like he had last season. In addition, it is tough to overlook that Conner only averaged 50.1 rush yards per game on 3.7 yards per carry. The offensive line has not markedly improved across this offseason either, as our offensive line expert Matt Bitonti ranks their line at OL18 in his most recent article.
From Matt's article:
This Cardinals' line grades out just about average, led by Pro Bowl reserve left tackle D.J Humphries and former All-Pro center Rodney Hudson. Hudson especially is the glue that holds this unit together, but it's debatable for how much longer he and the other veterans (left guards Justin Pugh and right tackle Kelvin Beachum) will be able to provide steady play. The team acquired another vet in free agency, Will Hernandez, to man right guard. The coaches hope the starters will be pushed by rookies Lecitus Smith (fifth round, Virginia Tech) and Marquis Hayes (seventh round, Oklahoma). Optimistically, this starting group is well-seasoned. Pessimistically, they just look old, ripe for a total rebuild.
Adding insult to injury, with star wideout DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first six games of the season, I expect teams to stack the box against Conner more often, where he saw the second fewest amount of stacked boxes last year.
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