We have the popular Value Plays and Overvalued Players features, but sometimes a different view is needed. We asked our dynasty guys (Jeff Tefertiller, Jeff Pasquino, Stephen Holloway, and Andrew Garda) to give some players that are going too early or too late in the average dynasty league.
Pasquino: Michael Vick – Vick has put up some monster games in the past, but the questions have always been around consistency and health. Vick is always a threat to run and has a great deep ball arm, and he is surrounded by excellent talent at wide receiver, running back and tight end. He should not be discounted due to injury risk – that's what a fantasy bench is for. Ride Vick's big production and enjoy all of his strong numbers as long as he is able to suit up, which is more often than not.
Holloway: Ben Roethlisberger – Roethlisberger, who is only 30, already has two top-10 quarterback seasons and two more ranking as QB12. With an improved offensive line surely providing better protection, more experience for his young wide receivers, and a new offensive coordinator, 2012 should be the year the Steelers' passing game gains consistency. Roethlisberger should again exceed 4,000 passing yards and the number of touchdown passes should increase due to slight focus shift.
Pasquino: Ben Roethlisberger – The Steelers love to throw the ball when Ben Roethlisberger is in the shotgun, and now that Rashard Mendenhall is likely to be starting the year on the injured list Pittsburgh will have to throw even more. Roethlisberger lost Hines Ward to retirement but Ward was only the fourth wide receiver in Pittsburgh. The young talent for the Steelers at wide receiver is strong with Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown to start and Emmanuel Sanders coming on as a third target. Look for Roethlisberger to throw quite a bit this year which will only increase his Dynasty stock.
Tefertiller: Carson Palmer – Last season, Palmer took over in week nine as the starting quarterback. From that week through the end of the season, Palmer finished as the tenth best fantasy option at the position. The Raiders are loaded with fast, young receivers who will help his numbers. Also, with Michael Bush now in Chicago, there is the chance that Oakland passes more in the red zone. Palmer is a great QB2/3 option at an exceptional price. In dynasty, his value is low because of age and uncertainty. This will change by the end of preseason as the public sees the Raider offense in action.
Holloway: Mark Sanchez – Sanchez has struggled to improve with his YPA remaining in the 6.5 range and his interceptions averaging 17 per season over his career. His precipitous dynasty fall is more about the Jets adding Tebow than it is about Sanchez. He has finished his three seasons with the Jets ranked 24th, 19th, and 10th and is capable of improving this year, unless Tebow gets involved as a red zone quarterback or takes over the starting role. On the chance that the Jets only use Tebow in a gimmick role and Sanchez continues to run most of the plays, he is an excellent buy low. Even if Tebow takes over, Sanchez could surface on another team and provide value.
Holloway: Alex Smith – It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Alex Smith is just barely holding on to his starting position until the next 49er quarterback is ready. However, he finished as QB17 a year ago and the team has since added Manningham, Randy Moss and rookie A. J. Jenkins to the wide receiver roster. Coach Harbaugh has a reputation as a quarterback guru and Smith, rather than one of the younger back-ups may be the benefactor. Smith doesn't require much investment and could provide a solid return on that this year.
Tefertiller: Matthew Stafford – I like Stafford a lot as a player. He is still developing and only 24 years of age. But, the price of QB2 for the QB5 last season in a year where everything went his way is too much to ask. Yes, Calvin Johnson is a star and the Lions will pass often once again. Stafford's history of injuries is one concern. Another is that the absence of a running game last year led to the high number of passing attempts. I find it difficult to believe that - with Leshoure, Best, and Smith all healthy - Detroit will pass an average of 40 times per game and Stafford will throw 2.5 touchdowns per contest. Will he be good going forward? Yes, but not like 2011.
Garda: Cam Newton – I love Cam Newton. I hate where he's being ranked. He had a fantastic rookie season and long term I believe he will be very successful. However I can't buy into him as a top five quarterback in his second year. Defenses will adjust, teams will compensate. There's a reason why we talk about the sophomore slump. Newton's may not be as bad as some other player's second years but I wouldn't reach for him over guys like Rivers, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger.
Pasquino: Robert Griffin III – While Robert Griffin III will start from Day 1 for the Redskins, expecting him to be the next Cam Newton feels like a big stretch. Griffin has great arm strength and fantastic speed, a lethal combination which should give him great fantasy production as a dual threat on offense, but until the Redskins get a more consistent offense at both receiver and a ground game the NFL will be a tough learning curve for Griffin. Long term he may develop into a fantasy QB1 but for now he is only a strong QB2 with some upside.
Holloway: Peyton Manning – Manning has moved on to Denver and will attempt to be a comeback player of the year after missing all of 2011. However, questions remain as to whether he is fully healthy and even if he is, he enters 2012 at the age of 36. There is simply too much risk in drafting him as QB17, even in redrafts, let alone dynasty. Even if he does play well this year, how many years can he maintain effective production? I keep returning to the frequency of his neck surgeries.
Pasquino: Josh Freeman – Two years ago Freeman was the talk of the league with his impressive 25:6 touchdown to interception ratio. Those who understood that those numbers were highly unlikely to continue sold high on him, but now Freeman's moving up on the value chart again with Vincent Jackson signing in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are still not a strong offense and they will struggle to compete in a tough NFC South division, which includes good secondaries that will be looking to pick Freeman off all season long. Sell high on this QB2 with plenty of room to slip downwards as the Buccaneers and new head coach Greg Schiano look to build around a ground attack.
Holloway: Blaine Gabbert – Gabbert completed 50.8% of his passes in his rookie campaign for a paltry 5.4 YPA. On the year, Jaguar running backs accounted for 31% of the receptions for typically short gains. I have heard many explain that Gabbert's lack of success should at least be partially blamed on the missed workouts experienced by all NFL players a year ago, but Locker 8.2 YPA, Newton 7.8 YPA, Yates 7.1 YPA, Dalton 6.6 YPA, and Ponder 6.4 YPA all played better and completed a higher percentage of passes than Gabbert. More than any quarterback in a long time, his rookie season brought back memories of David Carr, who seemed to shrink in the pocket often without much pressure and never overcame difficult rookie season. I realize that Gabbert is ranked among the league's lowest starting quarterbacks, but my overvalued view is more that I do not anticipate him starting for long and likely will never produce fantasy starting quarterback production.
Undervalued Running Back
Garda: Adrian Peterson – As I see rankings of anywhere from 40th to not ranked at all. I get that Peterson is coming off a devastating knee injury and yes I worry a bit he might be pushing too hard but he looked very good, is ahead of schedule and is still Adrian Peterson, about the most determined man to strap pads on. I fully expect him to be ready near the start of the season and if owners in your league let him drop into the second, snap him up.
Pasquino: David Wilson – The New York Giants had a perfect gift fall into their laps at the end of Round 1 of the 2012 NFL Draft by the name of David Wilson. Wilson will hit the ground running and immediately push Ahmad Bradshaw for playing time. With Brandon Jacobs (San Francisco) gone, Wilson should get at least 35% of the production this year and guarantee that Bradshaw moves on from the Giants when they decide his salary is just too high for his production. Wilson was drafted in the first round for a reason, and that is he has a special skill set that will be put to good use with the Giants very soon.
Tefertiller: C.J. Spiller – Spiller is just 25 years old coming. Buffalo starter Fred Jackson went down to injury in week 11. Spiller stepped in and played very well. He was RB4 from weeks 11 through 17. This strong showing earned the speedy Spiller a larger role in the Bills' offense going forward. Jackson is 31 years old and will slow down soon. Spiller is the Buffalo back to own in dynasty.
Pasquino: DeAngelo Williams – Williams was re-signed in Carolina last year, signifying that the organization believes in his long term value. It is Jonathan Stewart (free agent in 2013) that is more likely to move onward, leaving Williams as the top rusher for the Panthers long term. Williams averaged over five yards a carry last year and finished just outside of the top-25 rushers in both PPR and non-PPR formats even though he averaged fewer than 10 rushes a game. Imagine what he can do if that number moves to the 15-18 per game plateau? Snap up Williams as a nice value play wherever you can.
Holloway: Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall's low ranking is based on rumors that he might be done in Pittsburgh, as well as his season ending injury last year. He is likely to be placed on the PUP list and miss the first six weeks of the season, but he is still shy of his 25th birthday and has shown good running back skills finishing the last three seasons ranked as RB1, RB9, and RB19.
Tefertiller: Ryan Williams – Williams is finally healthy after his nasty Patella tendon injury. He is the superior back in the Arizona backfield. Word from Cardinal practice is that the second-year back will be back on the field by training camp which is a huge relief. He showed immense talent while at Virginia Tech and will be very difficult for Beanie Wells to beat out. Further, Wells is still recovering from his own knee injury which could open the door wide open for Williams.
Holloway: Shonn Greene – Shonn Greene has not met expectations in his first three seasons, but he has averaged 4.3 YPC. In 2011, he played the receiving role better and caught 30 passes. He should get an opportunity early this year to play a much greater role and is worth rostering at his current price to see if he can improve in his fourth season.
Pasquino: Ryan Williams – Ryan Williams lost all of his rookie season due to a knee injury, which opened the door for Chris Wells to dominate touches for Arizona last year. Now that Williams is back and ready to go, look for at least a split backfield and more likely a lot more for Williams than Wells from both a touch and production perspective. Williams was a top three running back in the NFL Draft last year so do not let one lost season due to injury cloud your judgment – Williams has a ton of upside and many seasons to go to produce out in Arizona.
Overvalued Running Back
Pasquino: Arian Foster – How could one of the top running backs in the NFL be considered overrated? Very easily. With nowhere to go but down, Foster is poised at the pinnacle and is a great sell high if you can get better pieces for the long term. Houston is going to look to throw more this year as they get Owen Daniels back and have some rookie candidates for a WR2 spot in the lineup. Add in that Ben Tate is one of the best backup running backs in the NFL and you have many reasons to sell high on Foster.
Holloway: Demarco Murray – Murray played well for Dallas a year ago rushing 163 times for 895 yards and 5.5 YPC. However, on closer inspection, he had two games against the Rams and the Bills, which ranked 31st and 32nd in the NFL against the run and he rushed for 388 yards. Other than those two games, Murray rushed for only 507 yards on 118 carries for a modest 4.3 YPC. It also should be recognized that Dallas has averaged a 60/40 pass/run split for the past five years in the Romo era. In addition to the reduced run opportunities, they have been an RBBC in the truest sense most of those years, with only one year having a running back (Mario Barber when Felix Jones only played in his six games rookie season) getting more than 55% of the rushing attempts. The best fantasy performance by a Cowboy running back in the last 10 years was a seventh-place finish by Marion Barber in 2007 and even he failed to reach 1,000 yards rushing that year.
Holloway: Mark Ingram – Mark Ingram is one of three productive current Saint running backs (Sproles, Ingram and P. Thomas). In the previous five seasons, the Saints have featured a 62/37 pass run offense and with their defense losing players to free agency and suspensions for 2012, you can expect similar passing focus in 2012. Additionally, the Saints have had only one running back in those same five seasons that had over 150 rushing attempts, Mike Bell with 172 carries in 2009. In 2011, Ingram averaged only 3.9 YPC, while Ivory, P. Thomas, and Sproles averaged 4.7, 5.1, and 6.9 respectively. Ingram also had minor knee surgery this Spring. Too many options and too few opportunities for Ingram to meet expectations.
Pasquino: Chris Wells – Arizona wants to have a good running game, and they had planned on using a committee approach last year with then rookie Ryan Williams from Virginia Tech. Once they lost Williams in the preseason they had to rely on Wells who had 245 rushes, by far the most for the Cardinals. Now Williams is back in the picture and will steal touches and production from Wells, as they originally had planned. Add to this that Wells is not the picture of health with a knee injury of his own and I think the back to own for Arizona long term is Williams, not Wells.
Tefertiller: DeAngelo Williams - We have a 29 year old tailback who is the lesser part of a committee and we are supposed to consider him a fantasy starter? I do not think so. Last year, the coaching staff gave Williams less than ten carries per game. This looks to continue into 2012. Also, the 4.1 yards per carry average tied for a career low. The Cam Newton-led offense does not look to the quick Williams to carry the load like Panther teams of old. Jonathan Stewart should receiver more touches this year before hitting free agency next offseason. Even then, Williams will be 30 years old ... and worth very little in dynasty leagues.
Tefertiller: Frank Gore – Gore is another 29 year old ball carrier who will likely be phased out as soon as this year. He has almost 2,000 career touches over the past seven seasons. There is a reason why the 49ers have selected running backs high in the last two NFL Drafts. Last year, it was Kendall Hunter. In 2012, it was LaMichael James. Both are very good prospects. Then, San Francisco signed Brandon Jacobs. The situation looks like a quagmire for the once-great Gore. With his age and career workload, dynasty owners should sell now while they can get something for Gore.
Pasquino: Roy Helu – Helu was a success for Washington last year mostly because he inherited the top back role with injuries all around him. Helu had three 100-yard games late in the year last season but it took him 23 or more carries to get there each time. Evan Royster did next to nothing as did Ryan Torain, so Helu easily passed both of them on the depth chart but now Hightower has re-signed with the Redskins for this coming year. Hightower and Helu will likely split time in the backfield for the Redskins, who now also have a rushing quarterback in rookie Robert Griffin III. Get rid of Helu as quickly as you can.
Undervalued Wide Receiver
Pasquino: Andre Johnson – Andre Johnson is at or near the top of all fantasy wide receiver lists, especially in a points per game perspective. The issue is always one of health, which is ironic because he is a very strong, tough player. Johnson plays so hard that he sometimes gets banged up and loses time, which is about the only downside to him and keeps him from being at the top of the wide receiver list. He is still only 31 years old, meaning he should have 4-5 more WR1 seasons to go.
Garda: Brandon Marshall – Cutler and Marshall: This time it's personal! I love reuniting these two guys , both of whom had some of their best seasons together in Denver. While this won't be an ‘air raid' style offense, Marshall was brought in to do one thing — give Cutler a good weapon. Marshall has been over 1100 yards the last three years with crappy quarterbacks. With Cutler? He's easily a top ten wide receiver.
Tefertiller: Brandon Marshall – Cutler and Marshall are finally re-united. The 28 year old Marshall finished as WR11 last season with Matt Moore and Chad Henne throwing him passes. Now re-united with Cutler, Marshall should expect a big jump in pass targets and production. Of the top tier receivers, Marshall is still young and has several more seasons with to production left. When both played in Denver, Marshall averaged almost ten Cutler pass targets per game. A repeat is possible.
Pasquino: Jeremy Maclin – Maclin is the quiet receiver in Philadelphia, much more soft spoken and less flashy than DeSean Jackson. All Maclin does is produce, and usually at a higher rate than Jackson. Maclin gets more consistent work, racking up catches, yardage and touchdowns for the Eagles. Maclin had 63 catches and five touchdowns last year, topping Jackson in both categories. Maclin struggled with health issues last year and has even more room to improve his production this year. Add to this that he is just 24 and there are many reasons to love Maclin going forward in Dynasty leagues.
Pasquino: Steve Johnson – Stevie Johnson brings big play potential to the Buffalo passing attack every week - but sometimes it does not show up in the end zone. Johnson needs someone to step up and compliment him as a viable second target for him to truly become a fantasy WR1, but even without a strong supporting cast he more than gets the job done for Buffalo. At age 26 the Bills should expect many more productive seasons and have lots of time to find the complimentary offensive pieces to build around him.
Holloway: Sidney Rice – Sidney Rice is an extremely talented wide receiver who has had an injury plagued career. He has had only one season out of five where he played all 16 games. But, in that year he finished as WR8. He has also been the victim of poor quarterback play, having been partnered several seasons with Tarvaris Jackson. Matt Flynn will undoubtedly improve the quarterback play for the Seahawks and both he and Rice could outperform expectations in 2012 and beyond.
Holloway: Alshon Jeffery – Jeffery is a talented rookie wide receiver entering the league, but has fallen lower than he should based on a perception that he is lazy and undisciplined. He has a great opportunity to play opposite Brandon Marshall and be the second option for Jay Cutler. Recent rookie wide receiver performances by Julio Jones and A.J. Green bolster my confidence in Jeffery's chances to be productive immediately with the Bears.
Overvalued Wide Receiver
Tefertiller: Andre Johnson – Johnson is very talented, but age and history of injuries should give dynasty owners pause. While this may surprise many, the Texan receiver only has three seasons with at least 87 receptions out of his nine years as a professional. Even when playing, Johnson is often playing hurt. This was the case last year when fantasy owners did not know whether to start Johnson late in the season when he played. For this reason, Johnson finished as WR25 in points per game in 2012. He soon turns 31 years old and becomes an even bigger injury risk with each passing year.
Holloway: Dez Bryant – Bryant is an extremely talented wide receiver, but his apparent lack of discipline and drive convince me that he is a huge risk at such an elevated ranking. In his two seasons, he has averaged four catches and 55 yards per game with 0.55 touchdowns. The number of touchdowns is promising, but he is capable of much better production and has yet to deliver. With Romo having plentiful talented options in Witten, Austin, Murray and Jones, the Dallas quarterback has the opportunity to seek the open receiver rather than locking in on one receiver. Another factor to consider is that Bryant already has missed five games in his short career.
Pasquino: Kenny Britt – Kenny Britt is a special talent, but he just cannot seem to stay on the field and be productive. Whether it is his repeated injury woes with his knee or his off the field issues, it is hard to invest in Britt as a WR1 prospect. He does have upside but even his quarterback is an issue as the future performance of Jake Locker is very much a question for Tennessee.
Pasquino: Victor Cruz – Cruz came out of virtually nowhere to be a stud wide receiver for 2011, which screams for a "sell high" candidate from a Dynasty perspective. The Giants were pass-happy last year with a minimal ground game and next to no contributions at tight end. With Mario Manningham gone and a rookie (Reuben Randle) likely to take over outside of Cruz in the slot, Cruz will sneak up on no one this year. Move him for another Top 10 wide receiver you like.
Garda: Victor Cruz – I get that Cruz had a great 2011, but seeing him ranked as a top ten wide receiver is a bit much. Even with Hakeem Nicks going down, I have questions about how Cruz will deal with double teams and the increase in attention he's going to get. Let's see how Cruz does with a full season before we anoint him a top ten anything. He's a good receiver — let's not walk him into the Hall of Fame yet. I like him but at the price he's going-and it's getting worse with Nicks hurt-it's just too much for too many questions.
Pasquino: Percy Harvin – Harvin has excellent skill but his quarterback (Christian Ponder) is far from the top few tiers of passers, and the Vikings are one of the worst offenses in the league right now. Adrian Peterson is the key player for Minnesota, while no one really knows if and when the Vikings will find a second wide receiver to start opposite of Harvin. Harvin will have to fight double teams until Minnesota improves. Also do not forget Harvin's issues with migraine headaches which could resurface any given week.
Tefertiller: Vincent Jackson – When we look back over the last few seasons, recent history has not been kind to high profile receivers changing teams. Yes, there are some outliers, but the odds are not in the favor of Vincent Jackson repeating the numbers he had in San Diego. He will see a big step down in quarterback play from Philip Rivers to Josh Freeman. While Freeman is young, he has yet to develop and improve off his rookie year. The new Buccaneer coaching staff wants to run the ball well, and will not abandon the running game like last season. It will be difficult to rely on a high-end WR2 on a running team with Freeman under center. Jackson will make some big plays, but not in a consistent manner.
Holloway: Antonio Brown – In the recently completed Footballguys.com SSL Survivor drafts, Brown was drafted on average as the WR23, so I may be swimming against the current on this selection. Brown had a very productive 2011 season with 69 receptions for 1,108 yards with only two touchdowns, but seems to be better suited as Roethlisberger's second receiving option. Brown had only 11 of 62 red zone targets to wide receivers and tight ends. In fact, the Steelers had four receivers with as many touchdown receptions last year (Ward, Sanders, Cotchery, and H. Miller). Even though the Steelers seem to be moving toward a more passing focused offense, they have only had one year in the previous five when a wide receiver had over 130 targets. With Mike Wallace remaining with the team, it appears that Brown's opportunities for improved production are limited.
Undervalued Tight End
Pasquino: Jason Witten – Witten is only 30 years old and is a favorite target for Tony Romo. He has been a top-eight tight end for the past five years and shows little signs of slowing down. While everyone seems concerned about the Cowboys either having too many targets with three wide receivers or that the departure of Laurent Robinson will make it tougher for Witten to get open, I don't see the big tight end having any issues getting open over the middle for Romo like he does every season.
Pasquino: Owen Daniels – Owen Daniels comes back to Houston after an injury last year, and he will once again be the unquestioned starter. Matt Schaub loves his big target over the middle, especially in the Red Zone, and the Texans do not have a legit WR2. That means plenty of targets, catches, yards and touchdowns for Daniels who is undervalued right now in both PPR and non-PPR Dynasty formats.
Tefertiller: Jacob Tamme – Peyton Manning pined and begged the Broncos to bring in Tamme. Manning has always thrown to the tight end and should continue to do so as Denver wide receivers are far from proven. Tamme is still just 27 years old and improving. If Manning can stay healthy, the new ex-Colt tight end could top 80 receptions.
Holloway: Dustin Keller – Dustin Keller has finished the past two seasons as TE9 and was the most targeted receiver for the Jets a year ago. I think that his decreased ranking is more about the Jets' quarterback position than his talents and I expect him to continue his success this season, regardless of who is playing quarterback. He has never missed a game and his targets have increased each year.
Holloway: Zach Miller – Similar to my confidence in Sidney Rice, I project improved production for Miller with the quarterback change to Matt Flynn. Miller previously finished as TE11, TE12, and TE10 with the Raiders, but saw his targets reduced from an average of 93 down to 45 last year. I expect Miller to get many more opportunities this year and take advantage with much better production.
Overvalued Tight End
Tefertiller: Vernon Davis - Davis is as athletically gifted as any tight end ever to play the game. He is a very good player. The issue comes in that the 28 year old finished as TE8 last season and the 49ers upgraded the wide receivers. If TE8 was the best Davis could do last year when there were no viable targets many games, what will happen now that the 49ers have Mario Manningham, a focused Randy Moss, and first round rookie A.J. Jenkins? It would be different if he was young, but there are several better fantasy tight ends under 25 years of age.
Holloway: Fred Davis – Fred Davis had a career year in 2011 with 59 catches for 796 yards and three touchdowns in only 12 games as the primary weapon for the Redskins. Davis missed the final four games, suspended for allegedly using marijuana. He has signed his one year tender for $5.45 million. In 2012, Chris Cooley should return and the team is also shifting Niles Paul, previously a wide receiver to the tight end position. The combination of the growing use of speedier receiving only type tight ends across the league, the increasing number of talented young tight ends, and the fact that Davis has already been suspended cause doubt on this high ranking for me.
Pasquino: Jermaine Gresham – Gresham had solid numbers in 2011 (56 catches, 596 yards and six touchdowns) but you have to wonder if the Bengals used him more because of limited wide receiver options. Gresham had 98 targets last year, one of only three Cincinnati players to top 70 targets (AJ Green had 115, Jerome Simpson 105). With two rookie wide receivers (Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones) added to the team, Gresham may see fewer targets from Andy Dalton who will look for bigger gains down the field.
Holloway: Jared Cook – Cook is entering his fourth season and caught a career high 49 passes for 759 yards and three touchdowns last season. The Titans have been adding receiving options the past few years and for 2012 have Britt, Washington, D. Williams and rookie Kendall Wright. This group of receivers may shift the offensive to more passing attempts, but the Titans have been more balanced than most NFL teams recently. The combination of a continued focus on the run game and the improved Titan receivers limits the individual opportunities and I don't see a production jump for Cook going forward.
Pasquino: Tony Gonzalez - Gonzalez does not have a ton left in the tank, and offers little yards after the catch. Sure he is a solid tight end and a future Hall of Famer but he is too old to heavily invest in for Dynasty purposes. Odds are he has one, maybe two years left to go.