Every owner wants to know which players will outperform their draft slots or be the sleeper that wows their leaguemates and carries them to the title. Often, however, those same owners don't think as deeply about the players they need to avoid. If you've decided to wait as long as possible before drafting your IDPs, you need to spend just as much time considering who you'll avoid with those later picks.
There aren't any glaring busts as I look at the ADP data to date. But there are a handful of players who are seeing more hype than they should. If you're high on anyone below, give their situations a second look before paying a market price that's out of proportion to their most likely stat line.
(ADP DATA KEY: I'm comparing my rankings to three sources. One is the current Footballguys consensus staff rankings with my rankings excluded -- FBG. Another is the Expert Consensus Ranking at FantasyPros -- FP ECR. Third is the ADP calcluated from redraft leagues this season at MyFantasy League -- MFL ADP. The ECR and MFL ADP will become more robust as the sample size increases, but they are valuable early data points. All data is as of July 5.)
Osi Umenyiora Bramel DL23 ||| FBG DL14 | FP ECR DL18 | MFL ADP DL30
The MFL ADP figure here is an outlier. Based on the rankings trends, you can expect Umenyiora's ADP to trend toward the mid-teens soon, if it's not there already. That trend is based on the expectation that Umenyiora will see a significant statistical bump in Atlanta. It's easy to project an increase in snaps for Umenyiora, as the depth chart is thinner in Atlanta than it was in New York and the Falcons don't use the same rotation that the Giants have in recent years. But it's really not that simple. It isn't like Umenyiora was a part time player in New York. He played over 650 snaps in 2012, averaging over 40 per game. That's a sizable amount of playing time. Though he played 16 games last year, durability has been an issue for Umenyiora and there's reason to worry that he won't hold up over a 700-800+ snap workload. Umenyiora also won't be surrounded by pass rushing talent and fresh bodies rotating into an aggressive front seven philosophy in Atlanta. And it's been a long time since Umenyiora was a consistent tackler against the run. Drafting Umenyiora at the top of the DL2 tier is drafting him near his ceiling expectation. I'd much rather take a shot on Carlos Dunlap, Justin Tuck or Robert Quinn a round or three later.
Jason Babin Bramel DL38 ||| FBG DL27 | FP ECR DL29 | MFL ADP DL36
There are three major red flags for me on Babin this year. First, he's a pass rusher on the wrong side of 30. When their skills start to deteriorate, i.e. they become a fraction of a step slower off the ball, they show signs that they can no longer convert pressures into sacks, it's extremely rare to see them bounce back with a double digit sack season. Second, he had offseason groin surgery. Older pass rushers with soft tissue injuries or back problems are serious durability concerns. Finally, though I generally like the upside of the Leo role and think Gus Bradley is a creative mind who will put his pieces in a place to succeed, there will be very few coverage sacks in Jacksonville. The Jaguars won't be forcing 50 passing attempts a game and don't have the secondary to force coverage sacks. Given Babin's lack of solo tackle upside, he's a matchup DL3 at best. In the late 20s, you can get find better upside in Adrian Clayborn, Mathias Kiwanuka, Da'Quan Bowers, Kamerion Wimbley and others.
Dion Jordan Bramel DL45 ||| FBG DL34 | FP ECR DL31 | MFL ADP DL21
I like Jordan's long term prospects. But he's likely to be used as a situational pass rusher this year and may not see more than 500 snaps. He's not a good bet in redraft leagues unless that changes. There's a caveat here, though. I think Jordan can fit into this defense as a Von Miller like strong side linebacker / defensive end hybrid. If the Dolphins feel the same and Jordan begins seeing base defensive linebacker snaps but remains classified as a defensive lineman, he will have DL2 upside. Let your leaguemates draft him and release him, then be prepared to grab him if his situaiton changes.
Sean Weatherspoon Bramel LB34 ||| FBG LB15 | FP ECR LB20 | MFL ADP LB15
I'm confused. Last year, I highlighted Weatherspoon as a undervalued player who was a potential LB2 going at LB3 ADP. After an inconsistent first half, Weatherspoon battled through injury down the stretch to put up a relatively lackluster statistical line. Now, his ADP slots him as a front line LB2 prospect and strongly suggests that he has LB1 upside. I don't see it. Don't read too much into my mid-30s ranking for Weatherspoon. He's in a very deep tier of strong LB3 prospects. But I don't see the 90 solo tackle ceiling his current ADP suggests. I'll be targeting Bruce Carter, Mychal Kendricks, Wesley Woodyard and others 2-3 rounds (or more) later.
Arthur Brown Bramel LB33 ||| FBG LB25 | FP ECR LB26 | MFL ADP LB30
There's not much difference in the ADP line above. This is more of a pre-emptive strike at what I think will be a spike in Brown's ADP when training camp starts. I liked Brown before the draft, but I liked him more as a flow-and-chase linebacker with downhill tendencies. I'm not sure he's a great fit as a hybrid inside linebacker. He may be in time, but he needs coaching and on-field reps. Unfortunately he missed many of those opportunities due to sports hernia surgery that cost him all of OTAs and minicamp. The Ravens smartly hedged with veteran Daryl Smith and have two veterans in Jameel McClain and Josh Bynes who have been in the system. I think Brown is a smart risk as a LB3 if you can get him late, but the missed snaps and transition to playing inside linebacker on Sundays will likely lead to a slow start. I anticipate his ADP moving into the high 20s / low 10s by August, but he's not likely to move into my LB2 tiers unless he proves himself in preseason action.
Vontaze Burfict Bramel LB35 ||| FBG LB32 | FP ECR LB28 | MFL ADP LB22
I'm in agreement with my FBG colleagues: Burfict looks like one of the riskier LB2 prospects on the board. But that's not what the masses think. Many of those included in the ECR and the MFL mock draft data have him as a solid LB2. Be careful with Burfict. There's no guarantee that the Bengals will move him inside and any improvement in tackling in the back seven will take away some of the pursuit opportunities he cashed in on last year. The Cincinnati stat crew also severely depresses solo tackle counts, putting him at risk of a 1-7 line as many as eight times a year.
Honorable Mention: Be careful with Desmond Bishop. It's too early to jump him back into the LB2+ tier. He needs to prove that his range and power have returned after last season's hamstring injury. Karlos Dansby and DeMeco Ryans offer little upside if you must pay a LB3 price to roster them. And don't draft Manti Te'o in redraft leagues. He's going to rotate and be surrounded by strong competition for tackles.
Roman Harper Bramel DB21 ||| FBG DB8 | FP ECR DB8 | MFL ADP DB27
The MFL ADP is a significant outlier from consensus and likely reflects data from many drafts done in May, shortly after Kenny Vaccaro was drafted and Harper was rumored to be a potential roster casualty. Since that time, Harper took a serious pay cut in a contract restructure and the local media has written glowingly of Harper's fit in Rob Ryan's defense. I believe those factors have driven the industry consensus ranking of Harper back into the top ten. But I think that's an overreaction. I have always led the charge defending Harper's fantasy value. Over the past five years, I've consistently had Harper in my top five. But this is a coverage league. The Saints drafted Vaccaro for a reason and now have two safeties (with Malcolm Jenkins) capable of playing man coverage over the slot. Harper is all or nothing in coverage. While Ryan often finds room for a run-stopping defensive back in subpackages, there's no guarantee that Harper will remain in an every-down role all season. There's too much risk to tier and draft Harper as an elite fantasy defensive back. Let someone else take the risk.
Patrick Chung Bramel DB42 ||| FBG DB17 | FP ECR DB21 | MFL ADP DB32
Chung has been a tantalizingly attractive IDP prospect for years. Bill Belichick seemingly drafted him to fill a Rodney Harrison like role in New England only to grow increasingly weary of his missed assignments and durability issues. Since working his way to the top of the Patriots' depth chart in 2010, Chung has missed 14 regular season games. And he's managed just 107 total tackles over the past two seasons. The group of safeties in Philadelphia isn't impressive but there are players that could challenge for rotational playing time and the durability questions remain. Chung belongs in the large cloud of matchup quality DB3s with upside, but I'm very reluctant to pay what looks to be a DB2 price to roster him.
Follow and ask questions on Twitter @JeneBramel or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More from Jene Bramel:
Reading The Defense: Camp News and Notes - August 11
Reading the Defense: Defensive Line Tiers (Early Camp Update) - August 2
Reading the Defense: Linebacker Tiers (Early Camp Update) - August 2
Reading the Defense: Combined Draft Board 2.0 - July 26
PUPdates: Who's Ready to Practice? - July 24
Training Camp Injury Storylines - July 18
Reading the Defense: Defensive Line Tiers (Post-OTA Update) - July 5
Reading the Defense: Linebacker Tiers (Post-OTA Update) - July 5
Reading the Defense: Defensive Back Tiers (Post-OTA Update) - July 5
2014 Rookie Review: IDP - June 25