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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 are the wide receivers who were voted the most overvalued:
And here are all of the players mentioned and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 11 Votes
Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
Dave Kluge: We’ve now got a four-year sample on Samuel in the NFL. For three of those years, he was a boom-or-bust WR3. And in one season, he was an elite WR1. That flukey 2021 season must be considered with a healthy dose of context. Brandon Aiyuk was inexplicably in Kyle Shanaha’s doghouse and couldn’t get on the field. George Kittle dealt with injuries all year. The 49ers traded up for Trey Sermon, who never panned out. Elijah Mitchell, who looked great to start the season, could not stay healthy. Jeff Wilson Jr. got hurt. Those factors pushed Samuel into the “Deebo Role,” where he was the offensive focal point. Since then, the team expanded Aiyuk’s role and traded for Christian McCaffrey. Although Samuel returned to his boom-or-bust WR3 tendencies, fantasy managers are still drafting him as WR16, hoping to recapture that magical 2021 season.
Daniel Harms: As a Deebo Samuel fan, this pains me, but he’s being drafted far too high for a WR that finished 2022 the WR28 in points per game at 13. With an average target depth of just over four and a half yards, it’s tough to make a case for Samuel if he’s not getting the running back touches in this offense, even if he is one of the best after the catch in the game. The 49ers have not utilized Samuel on his best downfield route (dig) enough or his physicality at the catch point in the red zone to translate to more touchdowns. Unless there’s a change coming for Samuel in 2023, his current ADP is too high.
Christian Williams: Deebo Samuel had a rough 2022, and there's reason to believe that extends into this season. Samuel struggled with injury but also disappeared within the offense often. He eclipsed 70 yards receiving just three times; in his breakout 2021 season, he hit that mark in eight games. The emergence of Brandon Aiyuk, combined with the further incorporation of Christian McCaffrey into the offense, is enough to be out on Samuel at a WR16 acquisition cost.
Gary Davenport: Fantasy drafters appear more often than not to be drafting the Samuel who exploded for almost 1,800 total yards, 14 scores, and a WR3 fantasy finish in 2021 and not the player whose production nosedived once Christian McCaffrey landed in San Francisco. Once CMC hit the Bay Area, Samuel’s rushing opportunities plummeted, and he turned into a dump-off option whose Average Depth of Target free-fell to 4.3 yards—just over half his 8.4-yard ADOT in 2021, lower than Greg Dortch and Russell Gage and 160th in the NFL. Samuel is still an excellent football player, but the much smarter play in fantasy leagues is drafting batterymate Brandon Aiyuk multiple rounds later.
Jeff Bell: Samuel is taking the layup. The arrival of Christian McCaffrey effectively signaled the end of the "Deebo" wide-back role. Samuel topped 64 scrimmage yards just once after McCaffrey arrived, a number he hit five of six games before the trade. Add in significant historical injury risk, given Samuel's physical play style, and you end up with a player mispriced by entire rounds off legacy valuation.
Ryan Weisse: Samuel was a part of my 8 Overvalued Players list from last month. He was electric in 2021, scoring 14 total touchdowns and recording 136 touches. Then, the 49ers traded for Christian McCaffrey last season, and to put it bluntly, McCaffrey did what Samuel did in 2021, only better. The two players were on the field together for seven games last year, during which Samuel averaged just seven touches and 11 fantasy points per game. He was the WR40 on a per-game basis in those seven games. It's hard to envision Samuel receiving the necessary volume and scoring opportunities to return to his previous glory.
Dan Hindery: Last season, Samuel averaged just 4.3 catches and 48.6 receiving yards per game. When the 49ers offense is healthy, the team has one of the deepest pass-catching groups in the league with Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey. With so much target competition, it is going to be difficult for Samuel to put up WR1 fantasy numbers as a pass catcher. His only clear path to outperforming his current ADP is if he gets six to ten rushing attempts per game. He received nowhere near that level of rushing usage after McCaffrey’s arrival. In fact, Samuel averaged just 15.7 rushing yards per game after the McCaffrey trade. Despite technically playing different positions, Samuel and McCaffrey are similar enough players that we should expect that many of McCaffrey’s touches are going to come at Samuel’s expense.
Kevin Coleman: The question heading into the 2023 season will be whether Samuel will be used in the 49ers rushing attack. When he is used in their rushing attack, Samuel can be a WR1, but with the addition of Christian McCaffrey, that role has disappeared. He only has one year of proven production in his career; with the emergence of Brandon Aiyuk last season and the uncertainty of the 49ers' quarterback situation, it's hard to rely on him heading into the 2023 season without him getting used in their rushing attack.
Joey Wright: Anyone who was expecting Deebo Samuel to repeat his 2021 season as the third-highest-scoring wide receiver probably limped away from last season in disappointment. Samuel finished as the WR33 on the season and managed just a little bit better as the WR29 per game. The 49ers brought in Christian McCaffrey after Week 6, which going forth, I see putting a major cap on the rushing work we saw propel Samuel's fantasy stock in the second half of 2021. Also, Brandon Aiyuk just looked like a better and more dependable wide receiver for the team in 2022. Samuel is going as the WR16 currently, which just feels entirely too high for someone with so many question marks.
Sam Wagman: Samuel really hasn't shown the need to be ranked this high since his breakout 2021 season in an offensive system that was perfectly tailored to him, but that past season looks like a fluke at this point, given that three of his past four seasons he has looked like a shell of that season's player. Injuries necessitated Samuel to play a multitude of different roles for the team, and he noticeably did not like doing that.
Nick Whalen: I've been a Deebo Samuel fan since his South Carolina days, but he's ranked too high in fantasy. It feels like people are holding onto his 2021 season, but was an outlier in many regards. Yards per reception by year in the NFL: 14.1, 11.8, 18.2 (2021), 11.3. Yards per game by year in the NFL: 53.5, 55.9, 87.8 (2021), 48.6. Yard per target by year in the NFL: 9.9, 8.9, 11.6 (2021), 6.7. Rushing and receiving touchdowns by year in the NFL: 6, 1, 14(2021), 5. Christian McCaffrey's arrival in San Francisco has diminished and changed Samuel's role.
Player Receiving 6 Votes
Kadarius Toney, Kansas City Chiefs
Jason Wood: JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman are no longer part of the team. This is significant because they were the leading receivers for the Chiefs last year after Kadarius Toney joined the roster midway through the season. Over the course of two seasons, Toney has accumulated just 65 touches for 679 yards and 3 touchdowns. Given this, it is unreasonable to expect him to become Mahomes' primary receiver suddenly. Travis Kelce remains the focal point, and there is also the possibility of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Sky Moore, or rookie Rashee Rice emerging as the second target behind Kelce. While Toney possesses the athleticism to be a fantasy contributor, concerns arise from his track record, coachability, inconsistency as a route runner, and ability to make catches in traffic.
Christian Williams: Guessing which Chiefs wideout will get the largest share of the pie in 2023 is challenging, but only Kadarius Toney is going at a price point where being wrong could be detrimental. Toney has accumulated 591 career receiving yards in his three-year career, and while his per-target numbers are impressive, the targets have never come. Gadget players rarely become high-value fantasy performers, and Toney has shown nothing to make fantasy managers believe he's more than that. With Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, Richie James, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the mix for targets as the secondary and tertiary options to Travis Kelce, it's challenging to imagine Toney hitting on an ADP of WR40.
Dan Hindery: Toney does not have as much upside as the hype would lead you to believe. While Kansas City obviously has an elite passing offense, the wide receiver group ranked just 16th in fantasy points last season because so many of the high-value targets went to Travis Kelce and the running backs. This is a deep wide receiver group with Toney, a pair of recent second-round draft picks (Skyy Moore and Rashee Rice), and a high-priced veteran in Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Even if Toney does emerge as the top target amongst this group, it is unlikely he separates from the pack enough to actually outperform his inflated ADP. It is worth remembering how far Toney would have to come to emerge as an impact fantasy player considering how lightly used he was last season. He played just four offensive snaps in the AFC Championship game and six offensive snaps in the Super Bowl.
Kevin Coleman: There isn't an upside to drafting Toney at his current ADP. Every single season we tend to overdraft a Kansas City Chiefs receiver hoping that this will be the year someone unseats Travis Kelce as the No. 1 option, and fantasy managers get disappointed every year. While Toney has flashes every season, he hovered around a 35% snap share last year, and there will still be a ton of competition for targets in that receiver room. With any uncertain receiver room, I look for the cheapest option and would be much more willing to draft Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, or Marquez Valdes-Scantling at their respective ADP than Toney.
Sam Wagman: It's hard to push back against an explosive playmaker on one of the league's best offenses, but Toney just hasn't shown any sustainability just yet. Outside of Travis Kelce, the Chiefs offense just doesn't have the need for a receiving focal point, and it seems unlikely that Toney is going to suddenly step up to be that guy when numerous others have failed at the same role in recent years.
Nick Whalen: After being traded to the Chiefs, Toney earned 221 receiving yards in 10 games. The Chiefs spent a second-round pick in back-to-back years on wide receivers, one of which was drafted after trading for Toney. I understand people are excited about any wide receiver associated with Patrick Mahomes II. But I wouldn't spend a premium pick on a player who hasn't broken out, especially with Travis Kelce hogging the majority of the targets there.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Michael Pittman Jr, Indianapolis Colts
Ben Cummins: I’m a fan of Anthony Richardson and fully agree his upside as a quarterback was worth the gamble the Colts took selecting him fourth overall. But he’s an inaccurate passer whose best trait, throwing deep, correlates better with teammate Alec Pierce than it does with Pittman. Richardson is a threat to run for 1,000 yards as a rookie, and his rushing ability will minimize the overall pass volume in Indianapolis this season. Pittman’s fifth-round ADP is an easy avoid.
Dave Kluge: There were some red flags on Michael Pittman’s profile last year. Although he led the league in snap share and ran a route on 100 percent of his snaps, his target rate was 29th in the league. His target depth was 92nd overall. He was used as a safety blanket near the line of scrimmage and was 97th in yards after the catch per reception. And now he has the added stress of playing with a rookie quarterback, who historically struggle to prop up elite receivers. He’s a catch-and-fall receiver playing with a rookie quarterback on a run-first offense. Even if he exceeds his WR27 price tag, it’s unlikely that he possesses a league-winning ceiling.
Chad Parsons: Expect the Colts to focus on the run game with Anthony Richardson under center and a healthy Jonathan Taylor back as the starting running back. Pittman is priced near his career-best finish so far in his career, and this year's passing game features a developing Alec Pierce in his second season as well as Jelani Woods.
Matt Montgomery: The formula here is simple. Until we know what the quarterback situation looks like, avoid Indianapolis passing at all costs. Pittman just doesn’t have enough help right now to avoid being spotlighted by the secondary, and we could see this offense try to hide behind the run as they develop a young quarterback in Anthony Richardson. I think your safest bet here is not to take a risk on Pittman until you know more about the situation at hand.
Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jason Wood: The return of Calvin Ridley makes the NFL a better place. His addition to the Jaguars boosts their chances of a deep playoff run, building upon last year's successful turnaround under coach Doug Pederson. However, it's questionable to draft Ridley as a top-20 receiver. In his three healthy seasons in Atlanta, Ridley finished as WR29, WR16, and WR3. His standout season in 2020 occurred when he became the clear No. 1 target after Julio Jones departed. With the Jaguars' balanced offense and reduced passing volume, Ridley is unlikely to receive 140+ targets. Notably, the Falcons ranked 5th, 1st, and 4th in pass attempts from 2018 to 2020, whereas the 2022 Jaguars ranked 10th. Although Ridley is an improvement over Marvin Jones, he will still share touches with Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram. There is no alpha. Drafting Ridley as a WR3 is sensible, but relying on him for more could result in disappointment.
Chad Parsons: This is not the barren passing game depth chart of Atlanta Ridley left two seasons ago in Jacksonville. Christian Kirk signed a big contract last offseason and delivered his best season. Evan Engram operated on a prove-it deal and had a career year, now returning to the team. Also, Trevor Lawrence showed promise but needs to take yet another step forward to fuel fantasy starter production for three central targets to include Ridley.
Gary Davenport: Yes, Ridley’s last full season was impressive—90 receptions, 1,374 yards, nine scores, and a fifth-place finish in PPR points. But that season also came in 2020. Ridley missed a big chunk of the 2021 season while addressing personal issues and then sat out the entire 2022 season after being suspended for gambling on NFL games. The assumption that Ridley is just going to step in and immediately become the top wideout in Jacksonville is a dangerous one, especially when you consider the rapport that Trevor Lawrence and Christian Kirk demonstrated a season ago. There are also quite a few mouths to feed in the Jaguars passing game, so matching Ridley’s 143 targets from 2020 is a tall ask.
Andy Hicks: By the time we see Calvin Ridley, it will have been almost two seasons since he took an NFL catch. A year suspension was preceded by personal leave that makes it harder to trust a high draft pick on him. Christian Kirk earned the trust of Trevor Lawrence last year, and the Jaguars have other good options too. Ridley does have a high upside, but not considering the downside is looking at this without logic
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Davante Adams, Los Vegas Raiders
Dave Kluge: Inarguably one of the best receivers in the league, Adams will have the chips stacked against him this year. He turns 31 this year, and we haven’t seen a receiver above 30 finish inside the top-24 since Julian Edelman in 2019. And if the age doesn’t scare you, the quarterback change should. Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr are both known for their downfield gunslinging tendencies. Jimmy Garoppolo is the opposite. For Adams to command the target share he’s seen in previous years, he’ll have to play closer to the line of scrimmage, limiting his big play upside. Adams always has a sky-high ceiling, but his floor this season is shaky.
Gary Davenport: Adams is an immensely talented receiver who has had a phenomenal year and who was lights-out in 2022, finishing inside the top five in PPR points. But there are multiple concerns with the 30-year-old in 2023. Age is absolutely one of them, but the biggest is his quarterback. In 2021, Aaron Rodgers was 17th in the NFL in Intended Air Yards Per Attempt (essentially Average Depth of Target). Last year, Derek Carr was fourth. Jimmy Garoppolo was 25th. What does that mean in layman’s terms for Adams in 2023? Barring a complete change in Garoppolo’s game, fewer downfield targets—and a lower fantasy ceiling.
Sam Wagman: It's hard to say any past metric overrates Adams, but when looking at what he might do this season, the most predicting factors could have nothing to do with him and just the surroundings he finds himself in. He clearly was not happy with the switch at quarterback, with Jimmy Garoppolo coming in at a mind-numbingly low average depth of target number. Garoppolo could choose to play things safe more often than not, leading Adams' famously explosive downfield ability to tank downwards.
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