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Updated Overvalued Players: Wide Receivers

Footballguys staff members discuss wide receivers who are overvalued

The flip side of succeeding with value players is failing with overvalued players. These are players that will not put up stats commensurate to their draft spot, and avoiding them is another of the important keys to a successful fantasy team. In an attempt to point out these players, we asked our staff to look through the top 150 players and identify players that should underperform their draft position.

Player with 7 Votes

Wes Welker, Den

Sigmund Bloom: Welker is going this high on reputation, not reality. He isn’t going to be a focal point of the pass offense as he was in New England. 80-90 catches is certainly reasonable, but Welker doesn’t rack up yards and touchdowns like his outside receiver counterparts. There are better uses of a fourth round pick.

James Brimacombe: There is no denying Welker’s talent and skill set, but it just seems to be too many wide receivers for Manning to feed the ball to in 2013. The WR position is deep this year and letting someone else take a chance on Welker putting up the numbers he is accustomed to seems like a much better option.

Andy Hicks: Welker is one of the more intriguing fantasy options this year. Can he continue his high production from his Patriot days or will he play 3rd fiddle to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, or something in between? At his age and his initial lack of familiarity with his surroundings make it hard to have confidence in Welker getting near a WR1 ranking, especially given the fact that only once in his career has he finished higher than the 11th ranked receiver. Welker will be drafted on reputation. Don’t be the guy that does it.

Jeff Pasquino: Wes Welker moves from one future Hall of Fame quarterback to another, taking his talents to Mile High this offseason. Welker is wasting no time getting familiar with Peyton Manning, who has run a three wide receiver offense in the past and featured a slot receiver several times, most notably with Brandon Stokely while in Indianapolis. Even with those positives, expectations for Welker to perform like he did in New England is asking a bit too much. Denver is going to spread the ball around amongst Welker, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, which will keep Welker’s value down in PPR leagues, especially with him not collecting a ton of touchdowns. Welker is currently being drafted as a high WR2, which gives him next to no upside and a lot of room on the downside, which is not what you want to see in a Top 15 WR. I would much prefer Welker in the WR20-25 range.

Aaron Rudnicki: Welker’s current ADP seems to be in line with what he has done during his time in New England but I’m worried that the change of scenery will not be that great for him. Sure, he’ll provide another potent weapon for Peyton Manning, but they already have DeMaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside taking most of the targets. He’s also 32 years old with almost a RB-like workload history that is cause for concern, and may not have the same type of chemistry with his new QB that he had with Brady.

Kyle Wachtel: He was an absolute stud during his time with the Patriots. While he will still play with an elite quarterback, there is no way he is able to replicate the sheer volume of targets and receptions from his New England days. I went into greater detail about his impending fall in value in an article that compared him to Danny Amendola The chances that Welker is able to return value on his 4th round ADP are very slim.

Jason Wood: Fantasy owners need to come to terms with Wes Welker’s new role. He has always been a possession guy (11.2 career yards per reception) but has benefited from an ungodly target rate that’s fostered 100+ reception seasons as a rule. In Denver, he will share time with two other high quality receivers, and even Welker understands his role is going to decrease. Even if Welker manages 80-85 receptions as the team’s slot guy, that’s not enough to justify his ADP because it’ll equate to 800-900 yards.

Players with 4 Votes

Tavon Austin, StL

Jeff Haseley: The hype surrounding Austin is very well known, but is he worth the 26th WR off the board? Players like Steve Smith, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Mike Wallace and Cecil Shorts are more proven receiver options that have a similar ADP to Austin. Let someone else take the highly coveted rookie receiver, who likely will underperform his draft position.

Ryan Hester: While Austin could fill the void left by Danny Amendola and easily catch 85 passes or more, I don’t like him at this price. At his size (5’9” and 174 pounds), Austin isn’t the ideal red zone target. Combined with the acquisition of massive tight end Jared Cook and bruising running back Zac Stacy, and Austin will find himself pretty low on the red zone pecking order. While I don’t advocate trying to predict touchdowns as a measure of who to draft, I do suggest taking into account a player’s size and skills. Bigger, stronger perimeter receivers like Dez Bryant and Hakeem Nicks are among the best red zone weapons in the NFL, and touchdowns win fantasy games.

Andy Hicks: Austin is the latest undersized receiver to be drafted very high. Is he a future stud like Percy Harvin or will he be another disappointing receiver like Ted Ginn Jr? Highly drafted rookie receivers all appear to be sunshine and roses, until they face bigger and faster guys than they’ve ever seen before. At his current draft slot I wouldn’t want to be the one who needs to rely on him.

Jason Wood: The hype has gone way too far on the tiny (5’9”, 174 lbs.) receiver who is now creeping into the top 25 at his position. I just don’t see Austin reaching that level of play this year. He’s had an up and down camp and appears to be no better than third on the pecking order behind Chris Givens and Jared Cook. I just don’t feel comfortable drafting Austin as a WR3, which is happening in most drafts I’m seeing of late.

Randall Cobb, GB

Heath Cummings: Cobb was outstanding last year and finished right about where he belongs and a mid-level WR2. Don't think that the absence of Greg Jennings is going to have a great effect on Cobb because Jennings missed most of last season anyway. If anything, I'm more concerned about the team drafting two running backs than I am excited about the team losing Jennings. Cobb is a talented young playmaker, but I don't believe he's a WR1 in 2013.

Steve Holloway: Cobb took full advantage of the opportunities he had last season when Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson missed games and were slowed by injuries. He had a career high 104 targets and made 80 receptions for 954 yards and scored 8 TDs. Many expect that Cobb will be the top featured wide receiver, but realistically his targets could slip somewhat with Nelson, Jones, and Finley all being available as options for Rodgers. Green Bay also drafted two running backs (Lacy and Franklin), so the team could run a little more often and also use those running backs more often than a year ago as both are effective receiving backs.

Jeff Pasquino: Green Bay is a tough team to gauge this year. They drafted two running backs (Eddie Lacy, Jonathan Franklin) and let Greg Jennings leave in free agency to Minnesota. So the questions are these: will they run the ball more, or will the passing game continue to be the dominant part of the offense? If so, then who will get the bulk of the workload? Will it be Jordy Nelson, who racked up over 1,200 yards and 15 scores in 2011, but lost significant time to injury last year? Or will it be James Jones, who had 14 TDs last year despite only 64 catches? Or could it be Randall Cobb, the offseason favorite to emerge as the new Greg Jennings after Cobb pulled in 80 catches, eight scores and over 1,000 rushing and passing yards combined last year? At first I believed that the pecking order would be Nelson, then Cobb, and then Jones in a passing game that will see an overall slight downgrade as the Packers build a rushing attack with the two new rookies, but right now I have Cobb moving up to first in the receiver rankings because of Nelson’s recent surgery. That said, I still struggle to see upside for Cobb at his current WR1 ADP, and I can easily see a lot of downside risk to that pick with other options in that same tier (such as Victor Cruz or Vincent Jackson). If I could get Cobb as a WR2 I would be far more comfortable, but his ADP seems far too high at this point.

Aaron Rudnicki: Cobb enjoyed a breakout year in 2012 and looks like a versatile weapon in the Percy Harvin mold. I just get the sense that the Packers love to spread the ball around so much that it could make things difficult on Colb. He’s a smaller player who doesn’t figure to be much of a threat in the red zone and I think his current ADP likely represents a best case scenario for him.

Players with 3 Votes

Danny Amendola, NE

Will Grant: The New England passing game is going to look very different this season. With Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez out of the way, that’s 240 receptions that will be missing from the roster. Since Amendola is the top wide receiver on the team, it’s natural to expect that he’s going to see a ton of those receptions. If he makes it a full season, Amendola could post some of the best stats of his career. Yet that’s really the key with Amendola – can he stay healthy. He’s only done it once in his last four seasons, and he’s only appeared in 12 games over his last two years. Amendola represents a boom or bust kind of guy and I think people are forgetting just how quickly he can turn into a dead roster spot for weeks at a time.

Matt Waldman: His durability history concerns me. He’ll be productive while he’s healthy, but why would I make him an integral part of my roster as a high-end WR2 when he has rarely stayed on the field to earn it? Big risk if you’re looking at forsaking Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne, Antonio Brown, or Steve Smith for him. Now if you back Amendola with one of these four despite adding him as your second WR on the board then I might understand if Le’Veon Bell, David Wilson, Jason Witten, or Tony Gonzalezweren’t also available. Awfully risky, and that’s coming from a risk-taker like me.

Jason Wood: Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot. It’s just too trite a concept to think that a younger, undersized possession guy from Texas Tech could magically step into Wes Welker’s role and match his production. In fact, it’s fairly insulting to Welker and his legacy. Amendola has only managed to start 17 games in four seasons because of his checkered injury history, there’s no way I’m buying into the hype and drafting him as a WR2.

Eric Decker, Den

Adam Harstad: With the addition of Wes Welker, something has to give in Denver. My money is on Eric Decker seeing the biggest hit to his value. His production last year was heavily dependent on touchdowns, which are always prime candidates for regression, and I think he's the least talented (and therefore likely the least targeted) of Denver's three receivers.

Ryan Hester: Despite having a breakout season receiving passes from Peyton Manning (13 touchdowns in 2012), Decker could see himself being the forgotten man in Denver’s passing game in 2013. Demaryius Thomas will still be the team’s big-play threat and go-to guy on the perimeter of the field, and newly acquired Wes Welker will get a large share of targets and catches on the interior part of the field. Decker made plays both inside and out in 2012, but he’ll lose targets both inside and out in 2013. I believe Decker will be the third-most effective Denver receiver in 2013. I’d rather take my chances with guys who are their teams’ number one options like Pierre Garcon, Mike Wallace, and Antonio Brown.

Kyle Wachtel: Decker experienced a tremendous 2012 season, recording an 85-1064-13 line and finishing as the #7 receiver in total fantasy points. With Welker in town, he will be hard pressed to near any of those totals. The emergence of Julius Thomas at tight end may also sap the reliance on Decker in the red zone. He’s currently being drafted as a mid-end WR2, but I place him on the WR2-WR3 border.

Pierre Garcon, Was

Mike Brown: Call me crazy, but I'm a little bit scared when a receiver suffers a fairly serious foot injury that knocks him out of action multiple times during a season, then doesn't get it fixed in the offseason, and then claims it is still bothering him prior to the season starting. Garcon just screams "danger" to me this season. You've got QB Robert Griffin III returning from a serious injury of his own, TE Fred Davis returning from a serious injury of his own, and the Redskins in general are an offense in a little bit of trouble in my opinion.

Steve Holloway: Garcon has had only one year where he played in all 16 games in his five years in the NFL. He is still healing from a foot injury early last season and had shoulder surgery in the off-season. He could be the favorite receiver of second year quarterback Robert Griffin III, but Griffin is also recovering from a knee surgery after the playoff loss in January. I just don’t expect sustained success out of Garcon this year.

Jeff Pasquino: Pierre Garcon is in the classic model of what I call the "Alvin Harper Syndrome" - which is where a former second receiver on a good passing team moves to another team and tries to be the top target. That usually does not work well for a player who needs that other receiver on the team to take pressure (and coverage) away, plus the typical drop in quarterback play with the move to the new team lowers his fantasy value. Garcon does get more value with Robert Griffin III, but until Garcon gets himself 100% healthy his upside is limited and he remains just an average fantasy WR3.

James Jones, GB

Mike Brown: Almost all of Jones' value last season was based on his touchdown receptions. That touchdown total is an inordinate amount of scores, and not something that is reliable or sustainable year over year. If anything, the Packers' willingness to run the ball more frequently this year will automatically reduce Jones' targets. Then consider the emergence of Randall Cobb as further evidence that Jones won't approach double digit scores. Granted, the assumption of a regression is also somewhat built into his current ADP, but in my opinion it isn't built in enough.

Andy Hicks: Jones is being drafted based on his phenomenal season in 2012 where he recorded 14 touchdowns from only 64 receptions. There are quite a few mouths to feed in Green Bay and a likely resurgence in the running game, so someone is going to miss out. When a player has an outlier year like James Jones you need to move on until it is repeated.

Jason Wood: Jones caught a league-leading 14 touchdowns last year on 64 receptions, which allowed him to finish as the 16th best fantasy receiver. In five other seasons, he’s never ranked higher than 38th, and yet fantasy owners are drafting Jones as though he’s a quality fantasy WR2. Makes no sense, especially when his “breakout” season was tied entirely to a statistically shocking number of TD catches; and TDs are the most volatile and unpredictable aspect of a receiver’s fantasy value year to year.

Jordy Nelson, GB

Jeff Haseley: Nelson's knee issues and recovery from surgery is enough for me to want to take caution this year. Who knows if his knee will respond properly after surgery, plus the red zone efficiency of James Jones leads me to believe that Jordy Nelson is someone that you should let someone else draft.

Aaron Rudnicki: I think Nelson is a high-risk, high-reward player this year. I could see him blowing up and returning back to clear WR1 status, but I’m concerned the recent surgery and fact he’ll miss the entire preseason could move the momentum back towards risky. His health looks like the biggest concern to me and I think there are players that offer similar upside with less risk at this point in the draft.

Mark Wimer: Jordy Nelson is overvalued this year. There's this guy named James Jones who caught a league-best 14 receiving TDs from Aaron Rodgers during 2012, and Jones hasn't left town. With a renewed emphasis on running the football by Eddie Lacy and/or Johnathan Franklin and a three-way worksharing arrangement between Cobb, Nelson and Jones, I don't see Nelson among the top-20 at theposition. I think Nelson loses out to Cobb and Jones now that Nelson's knee has required surgery and Nelson is missing reps in training camp while Cobb and Jones continue to work on their chemistry with Rodgers.

Reggie Wayne, Ind

Mike Brown: Very few receivers are able to sustain a 1,000-yard pace at Wayne's age, and I'm not willing to bet that he will be the one to buck the trend. The Colts plan to have a much more conservative offense this season, and that will likely mean across-the-board decreases for the skill guys. Wayne put up excellent stats a year ago based largely on volume, as his peripherals were similar to 2011 in many ways. That volume may not be there this time around, due to the emergence of T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, and addition of Ahmad Bradshaw to a suddenly-crowded passing game.

David Dodds: Wayne will be 35 this season. He has not topped 13 yards per catch in any of his last 4 seasons. He finished as the 15th best WR last season, but on a ridiculously high 213 targets. Despite all these targets, he only managed 5 TDs. Let someone else draft the old guy.

Adam Harstad: Wayne finished as WR15 last year at age 34. It's hard to see him improving on that at age 35. His current ADP, to me, represents all downside with no upside.

Players with 2 Votes

Percy Harvin, Sea

David Dodds: If he does end up playing, I suspect it will be more to get some reps under his belt before the likely Seattle playoff run. Let someone else hold this roster spot all season long only to bench him in week 16 because he will only play a handful of plays.

Mark Wimer: Percy Harvin continues to be drafted in redrafts that I am participating in despite the fact that he won't be back in action until late November/early December (best case scenario in his recovery from hip surgery). Picking Harvin in redraft leagues is a wasted fantasy pick, friends.

Mike Wallace, Mia

Sigmund Bloom: We used to ding receivers in their first year on a new team because of the potential for chemistry issues and a general trend of reduced production. While we don’t take that as a risk any longer, there are good reasons to think that it is a reason to avoid Wallace at his sixth-round ADP in this case. He and Ryan Tannehill are having trouble getting on the same page in camp, and Wallace’s production had already fallen below expectations for the last season and a half.

David Dodds: Call me crazy, but I like my WRs caring about my football team. He was run out of Pittsburgh for lack of commitment and showing no desire to improve. And these things appear to be happening all over again in Miami where he shows little chemistry with Ryan Tannehill. I smell bust.

Player with 1 Votes

Justin Blackmon, Jac

Aaron Rudnicki: Blackmon came on late last year as the Jaguars passing game showed signs of life, but I just don’t think he provides that much upside with a 4-game suspension looming to start the season. While I understand the theory that you can plug in a replacement player during those 4 weeks and then hopefully get WR3 type production from Blackmon the rest of the year, I’m just not convinced that he’s a safe bet.

Dwayne Bowe, KC

Jeff Pasquino: I just cannot get behind Dwayne Bowe as a Top 20 wide receiver. Bowe's game is to get deep and make big plays, and Kansas City is just not built now for him to perform like that. New quarterback Alex Smith does not have a big arm, and there is no other reliable receiver to make defenses not double-team Bowe in the secondary. The Chiefs' offense will run through Jamaal Charles as both a runner and a receiver, with Bowe struggling to get more than 6-7 targets a game. Bowe is a boom-bust type receiver and will not get enough catches this year to justify a high WR2 ranking.

Kenny Britt, Ten

James Brimacombe: Britt has been in the league for 4 years now, and I feel like he has been given his share of chances to succeed but yet he continues to disappoint. It is hard to justify drafting Britt right now at his current ADP, but he also offers for a nice WR4 if you can take him in that spot. I personally would rather go the Kendall Wright route as I view him having much more upside.

Antonio Brown, Pit

Steve Holloway: Brown caught a career high 69 passes in 2011 for 1,108 yards, averaging 16.1 ypc. However, last year he slipped considerably catching only 66 passes for 787 yards. The Steelers lost Mike Wallace in free agency to the Dolphins, so Brown should get more targets, but he has never been expected to be the top wide receiver and therefore will see more coverage in 2013.

Larry Fitzgerald, Ari

Mark Wimer: Larry Fitzgerald is seriously overvalued right now (#7 receiver being drafted according to ADP). Once we see IF the rebuilt Arizona offensive line can pass block well enough to keep Carson Palmer vertical this year, then I may revisit my feelings about Fitzgerald. If Palmer has to absorb the sort of punishment that Kevin Kolb got over the past two years, though, all bets are off and Fitzgerald will be stuck with another parade of backup-caliber quarterbacks while Palmer is injured and on the sidelines (or in the hospital). Fitzgerald's team situation is too cloudy to spend a premium pick (or premium amount of auction cap) on him this year.

Michael Floyd, Ari

James Brimacombe: Floyd definitely has appeal when you are talking dynasty leagues but in redraft I feel he is being over drafted at his current ADP. It is going to be hard to find the endzone in that Cardinals offense even with the upgrade at QB in Carson Palmer. Andre Roberts is still in town as well and is very underrated, plus add in Rob Housler as an emerging TE and it might be harder than you think to find targets in Arizona.

T.Y. Hilton, Ind

James Brimacombe: I get it that Wayne is getting up there in age and that Hilton had a very good rookie campaign. It is just hard for me to justify Hilton’s draft position at this point, as both the TE’s in Fleener and Allen are going to headed into their second season as well and demanding more targets.

DeSean Jackson, Phi

Andy Hicks: Jackson is almost the last man standing in Philadelphia with injuries to Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn, while Riley Cooper is dealing with controversial and divisive comments. Jackson however has to put 2 disappointing seasons behind him, justify a huge contract and manage an entirely new offense from the one that showcased his talent for his first 5 years in the NFL. Until I see how Chip Kelly’s offense can use Desean Jackson I’d rather stay away.

Greg Jennings, Min

Ryan Hester: Receivers that change teams aren’t players I typically go out of my way to get. Receivers who experience a quarterback downgrade from Aaron Rodgers to Christian Ponder are players that I avoid at almost any cost. Jennings is also an aging player who has experienced injury issues in recent years. I’d rather take my chances with a player who has yet to break out than one who already has in past years and is in the tail end of his career. Guys like T.Y. Hilton, Mike Williams, and Kenny Britt are all intriguing young players going after Jennings.

Steve Johnson, Buf

Sigmund Bloom: Johnson is sidelined with a hamstring injury, which is exactly what you don’t want to hear about a wide receiver in August. We might not see him on the field at all in the preseason, which is not reassuring. Johnson already had a limited ceiling with the likelihood of a rookie quarterback in an offense with a variety of talents to highlight in the passing game. Aim higher at wide receiver in the seventh round.

Julio Jones, Atl

Matt Waldman: The Falcons receiver was a top-10 fantasy player last year and ranked one spot behind Roddy White in PPR leagues last year. I think those projecting Jones as the No.5 receiver overall is the product of several points of ignorance about the way the Falcons play offense. First and foremost, as long as White continues plays as he has, Jones will not be the primary option to move the chains on short play action passes and third-down targets that require the precision with routes and great boundary awareness that he lacks but White has in abundance. Second, Tony Gonzalez was the top tight end in PPR leagues last year. I don’t expect him to drop off a cliff. Third, Steven Jackson is an upgrade to Michael Turner. Where are all the new targets for Jones going to come from? I don’t see it.

Brandon Marshall, Chi

Sigmund Bloom: If new head coach Marc Trestman can “tame” Jay Cutler, Marshall should get fewer targets this year, and Marshall himself has basically granted him. Maybe 95-100 receptions is more reasonable, assuming Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery are good supporting targets in the pass offense. Marshall shouldn’t taken as a premium WR1 with that strong possibility in mind.

Hakeem Nicks, NYG

David Dodds: Last year injuries slowed Nicks considerably. And as he taken most of the summer to heal, talented Reuben Randle has been playing with the 1st team offense. Nicks is in the last year of his contract and probably won't be resigned by the Giants. People are drafting him expecting something close to the 161 targets he received in 2011. I just don't see the opportunity this year.

Cecil Shorts, Jac

Heath Cummings: People are assuming that Justin Blackmon's absence is a positive for Shorts and I just don't see it that way. Shorts came on strong in his sophomore season after Justin Blackmon established himself as a true #1. Don't be surprised at all if the third year receiver struggles out of the gate with all of the attention on him.