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 RECEIVING 8 VOTES
Sigmund Bloom: The 2015 version of the Broncos offense won’t be as souped up as the 2013 and 2014 versions. The bigger question is how much the offense will lower Peyton Manning’s upside. Manning’s age seemed like a bigger deal once he was hurt, and while we should discount how much we hold the injury-affected stat lines against him, the injury could be partially a sign of age in and of itself. There are a handful of quarterbacks worth taking early this year, but Manning isn’t one of them.
James Brimacombe: Peyton Manning has put together an amazing career putting up incredible statistics over his 17 years in the league. Manning has been the 9th or best fantasy quarterback each and every year throughout his career and only finished outside the top 5 twice in that timeframe. The concern for Manning is his age and as the season goes on he seems to wear down and the Broncos like to focus more on their running game. When you invest such a high draft pick on your quarterback you need him in those crucial fantasy playoff weeks (13-16) and can't afford to have your star quarterback slowing down.
Jeff Haseley: I have some concerns with Peyton Manning's fading arm strength and sudden propensity to injuries like the quad injury that hindered him in the second half of last year. I have a feeling he'll be more susceptible to injuries that escaped him in his younger years. The Broncos offensive line is not a strength of the team, which could lead to increased pressure on Manning. I see a drop off in passing yardage as a result - and I haven't even factored in the new coaching staff with Gary Kubiak's two-WR offense. Call me skeptical on the Sheriff this year. I'm staying away unless the value is too high to ignore.
Ryan Hester: Manning fizzled out at the end of last season, disappointing many fantasy owners who had invested significant draft capital to acquire him. Setting aside the obvious age concerns, another key component of Manning’s outlook is the change in philosophies due to the head coaching change in Denver. Gary Kubiak is the new Head Coach, and he has always been a balanced – if not run-heavy – coach. The potential for wanting to save Manning’s body for another late-season run could mean less volume for Manning. Quarterback is a position worth waiting for in fantasy football, and there are a handful of quarterbacks ranked below Manning who could finish close enough to him to justify calling Manning overvalued.
Andy Hicks: Statistically Peyton Manning had another great season, but if we examine the direction the Broncos took once his arm was seemingly shot it does not point to a successful, for Peyton Manning, fantasy season. He has not finished outside the top 6 since his rookie season and in his likely final season we’ll probably come full circle. The running game of Denver will be prominent, the departure of Julius Thomas will not be filled and Manning’s arm will not return to its former glories. Manning is likely to finish as a bottom end QB1 who will struggle to last an entire season. 39 year old top end fantasy quarterbacks are rarer than Lions playoff successes.
Ari Ingel: Manning is quite possibly the greatest quarterback in NFL history, but at age 39 and with a gimpy arm, he absolutely scares me. He only had four touchdown passes in the last four weeks of the season last year. Let me repeat that: Manning had only four touchdown passes in the final four weeks of the season last year. That is not someone you spend a fourth round pick on. While I have no doubt he will start the season strong and will put up some monster numbers, one good hit and it could all unravel. The team is also moving towards a more run heavy offense and Emanuel Sanders has come out openly to state that his numbers are going to decline. At his current ADP, no thank you.
Chad Parsons: In addition to his alarming fall-off to close 2014, repeatedly betting on a quarterback in his twilight is a dangerous game. At QB3, Manning has no wiggle room for upside and opportunity cost of passing on running back and wide receiver in the top-50 is high. With the quarterback position going comfortably 14-15 options deep, Manning is a glaring overvalued option priced at his ultimate ceiling.
Daniel Simpkins: As amazing as Manning has been over the last few years with the Broncos, it’s clear when watching him play that his body (particularly, his arm) is betraying him. He compensates for aging with his massive football intelligence, but the physical limitations of his game continue to grow more apparent each year. Currently, owners in 12-team leagues must take Manning in the late third or early fourth round of drafts to acquire his services. Frankly, there will be many quarterbacks drafted well after Manning that have the potential to finish at or above the mark where he will finish the year.
PLAYER RECEIVING 6 VOTES
Sigmund Bloom: Goodbye Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, hello C.J. Spiller and Josh Hill? A yet to be determined third wide receiver will help Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston pick up the slack, but the reality that Brees has a very underwhelming set of downfield targets. He had moments that reminded us that Brees is past the peak of his career. Nothing in this situation is pointing in the right direction. Brees isn’t worth a pick when top 25-30 running backs and wide receivers are still on the board
Michael Brown: Brees is going off the board as the 5th quarterback being taken, and the 60th player overall (right at the end of Round 5). Yet we haven’t seen anything last season or during the offseason to suggest that Brees still belongs up there. There is no longer a “big four” fantasy quarterback ring of Manning, Brady, Rodgers, and Brees. Andrew Luck has taken over the top spot, Rodgers is still doing his thing, but with Brady’s suspension and the philosophical changes soon to come within the Denver and New Orleans offenses, we’re seeing a changing of the guard at the position. The Saints are committed to running the ball, they’ve got the personnel to do it, and they lost both Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham. If trading away their all-world TE doesn’t signify a significant change in how this offense is going to function, then I don’t know what does.
Cian Fahey: Even as the Saints appear to be looking to move more towards the running game, Drew Brees should still throw the ball a lot in 2015. However, the signs of his decline were evident last season. He isn't reacting to pressure as comfortably as in the past and his deep ball is an adventure every time he tries to push the ball downfield. With Jimmy Graham's departure and a seemingly limited group of receivers, this could be the season that Brees falls.
Ryan Hester: All of the tea leaves in New Orleans suggest that this offense will be much more balanced in 2015. Brees lost Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills from his group of playmakers; the team re-signed Mark Ingram and acquired C.J. Spiller; and the offensive line has been upgraded. Brees’ main wide receiver weapons are an aging Marques Colston and the diminutive Brandin Cooks. It is in this team’s best interest to run the ball more this season. Brees is likely being drafted this high due to reputation more than upside.
Jeff Pasquino: The times, they are a-changing in New Orleans. Two major contributors are elsewhere as tight end Jimmy Graham was traded to Seattle and Kenny Stills is now in Miami. There has been a great deal of discussion by the coaching staff this offseason as to how the Saints will be approaching their offense in 2015, and every indication points to more running and less passing. All of that adds up to lower expectations for Brees this year.
Daniel Simpkins: For the first time in the Sean Peyton era, all signs point to the Saints being a run-heavy offense. They traded Seattle for center Max Unger, they shipped off two of their top four receiving options, re-signed Mark Ingram, and used their first-round pick on OT Andrus Peat. It cannot be overstated how much Brees will miss Graham’s dominating physical presence, particularly in the red zone. With the downgrade in weaponry, the emphasis of the offense shifting toward the run, and Brees beginning to show his age, he will be hard pressed to put up the 4,500+ yard season to which owners are accustomed.
PLAYERS RECEIVING 4 VOTES
Michael Brown: At this point in the offseason, Bradford is still very much an injury quarterback. We don’t even know for sure that he’s going to start over Mark Sanchez. In fact, if I had to put money on it right now I would say Sanchez is my slight favorite prior to training camp. In fact, we don’t even know for sure that Bradford is even better than Sanchez. He has shown a bit more in his career, but two blown ACLs have a way of affecting a player’s ability, not to mention any hesitance or fear of re-injury is death to a quarterback’s decision-making skills. I do think whoever suits up for Philadelphia will be fantasy relevant; I just can’t say with any certainty that Bradford will be the guy, and he’s being drafted as if the job is his for sure.
Andy Hicks: Sam Bradford will not have played football for almost two years by the time the season starts. Consecutive knee injuries, a new team, timing and fitness are going to be tough for Bradford to handle, if he even gets to start the season. Should there be any doubt then Chip Kelly will start Mark Sanchez. Now the upside is obvious when considering Bradford but there are much better options considering the price you’ll have to pay to wrestle him from the guy only seeing upside.
Stephen Holloway: Sam Bradford has underperformed as the Rams first overall pick in the 2010 draft. He did throw for a career high completion percentage of 60.7% in 2013 before going on IR following knee surgery. Then he missed the entire season a year ago, after tearing the same ACL in the pre-season. He has not played since early in the 2013 season and will be learning an entire new system in Philadelphia. The combination of a possible slow return to health, the Eagles employing a heavy dose of running the ball, and his general injury history, prospects for Bradford to greatly improve his production this year seem rather remote.
Jason Wood: If you were surprised by the Eagles trade for Sam Bradford, you’re a rational NFL fan. To say the move was unorthodox is putting it mildly. Chip Kelly traded away a young starting quarterback (Nick Foles) who delivered an elite season in his system, in exchange for an older quarterback that’s had a litany of season-ending injuries, and has been below average as a passer in those rare instances when he was healthy. Sam Bradford is in the final season of his contract and there’s no reason to think he’ll be in the Eagles long-term plans. The only way Bradford is more than a one-year roster oddity is if he gets healthy – quickly – and plays the full season as the starter. Yet he’s been hobbling around OTAs and there’s no indication he’ll be 100% healthy much less 100% effective. Mark Sanchez is just as likely – if not more likely – to be the 2015 starter.
Sigmund Bloom: Stafford’s development has stalled out in a troubling way for both his fantasy owners and the Lions. He could benefit from a second year under offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, but the Detroit offense isn’t going to return to Scott Linehan pass-happy ways. Stafford will remain a low QB1 or even better a matchup QB2 as the defense will keep game scripts more conservative.
Michael Brown: The marriage is finally over. For years, I’ve sung the praises of Stafford. Not necessarily as a real life quarterback, but for fantasy he always seemed to be able to put up just huge stats. I blamed the lack of touchdowns on bad luck and small sample sizes, certain that as he piled up 5,000 yard campaigns and threw 700 passes, the scores would soon follow. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, with last year representing a low point. He cut down on his intereptions and improved his completion percentage, but his touchdowns tumbled from 29 to 22 despite the addition of Golden Tate. At this point, it’s simply too frustrating to own Stafford and watch him leave fantasy point after fantasy point on the field. Especially when I can grab Romo, Tannehill, Manning, or Rivers several rounds later.
Jeff Haseley: Matthew Stafford's fantasy success has come primarily as a result of the high number of passes that the Lions would consistently throw on a weekly basis. The passing game reigned supreme, especially without a running game that has seen it's share of failures (Kevin Jones, Kevin Smith, Jahvid Best, Mikel Leshoure, even Reggie Bush to some extent). The presence of Calvin Johnson will still make Stafford a fantasy option, but the increase in the running game this year, particularly rookie Ameer Abdullah will be enough to keep Stafford from being a QB1 option.
Daniel Simpkins: Stafford hasn’t played like a top-ten quarterback since 2011 and it’s time for us to stop treating him like one. The team spent its most valuable pieces of draft capital on an offensive lineman, a running back who has a real chance to be a star in this league, and on building the defense. They found success last season when they went with a more balanced offensive attack that was backed by a strong defensive unit. There is no doubt they will want to continue to build on this model going forward. Megatron is also entering the downside of his career, which does not bode well for Stafford’s chances at rebounding. Many of the quarterbacks taken much later than Stafford will finish ahead of him.
PLAYER RECEIVING 3 VOTES
Andy Hicks: Tom Brady is likely to miss a significant part of the season, if the 4 game suspension is upheld. Not only that, he will begin the season in week 5 without game fitness. As we saw last year it took Brady 4 regular season games to get going. At age 38 and with a likely rocky start to the season he is not going to be worth considering as a starter for your fantasy league. At his current price he needs to be considered very carefully as the need to use someone else will be too important for the first half of the season.
Jeff Pasquino: I am going to take the first objection to calling Brady “overvalued” away by saying that I think Brady is not even worth a Top 10 quarterback rating for 2015 even if he played every single game, so this has nothing to do with the suspension. Brady’s numbers have steadily declined since 2011, when he threw for over 5,000 yards and 39 touchdowns. The next season he was still a Top 3 quarterback, but the yards (4,827) and touchdowns (34) were down. The numbers further declined in 2013 (4,343 / 25) and Brady threw for even fewer yards last year, barely topping 4,000. For the past two years he has been only a Top 10-13 quarterback, and now we have to factor in the suspension. Brady is a solid QB2, not a QB1.
Mark Wimer: I have him 11th - Brady is still surrounded with a sub-par group of receivers (aside from Rob Gronkowski), and he has thrown for a decreasing amount of yardage each season over the last four years, falling below 600 passing attempts during 2014 for the first time in four years (374/583 for 4,109 yards, 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions thrown). He is becoming less explosive as a fantasy starter and thus I rank him below his current ADP of ninth quarterback off the board.
PLAYERS RECEIVING 2 VOTES
Christopher Feery: New head coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan are expected to implement a more balanced offensive attack in 2015 and as a result, Ryan’s numbers could take a dip. The running back duo of Devonta Freeman and third-round draft choice Tevin Coleman should receive plenty of reps out of the backfield as the Falcons rely less on the passing game. Ryan can produce like a top 5 quarterback with opportunity and protection, but for 2015 he looks like he will be at the bottom of the top 10 and possibly just outside of it.
Jason Wood: Kyle Shanahan takes over an offense that lost its identify in the last two season. The Falcons won just 10 games over two seasons, and Falcons management brought in a play-caller that understands the importance of offensive balance. Gone are the days when Atlanta finishes 3rd in passing attempts and 27th in rushing attempts. Atlanta will leverage Devonta Freeman, rookie Tevin Coleman and the other running backs to help keep opposing defenses off balance. In real NFL terms, that means great things for Matt Ryan; he’ll have a chance to win more games. But fantasy owners used to Ryan having 600+ attempts are going to need to re-set the baseline. He’ll remain a highly productive passer on a per-attempt basis, but viewing Ryan as a fringe Top 5 quarterback simply doesn’t fit with the new offensive game plan.
Ari Ingel: I like Wilson a lot in fantasy this year, but with an ADP of 58, he is just too rich for my blood. For starters, he only threw 20 touchdowns last season and while the addition of Jimmy Graham helps a ton (especially in the red zone) they still don’t have a great wide receiver core. In fact, not one of the receivers playing for them in last years Super Bowel was even drafted. But more importantly, they are a run based offense and given the teams success with that approach, that’s not going to change any time soon. Wilson will always get his, especially on the ground, but when you can get quarterbacks such as Ben Rothlisberger, Matt Stafford, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, and Phillip Rivers 14 to 50 picks later, there is no need to draft Wilson here.
Jeff Pasquino: There are certain things that I look for when selecting a top tier quarterback: the likelihood of throwing for 300 yards or three scores in a game, the need to throw (for lack of a good ground game) and also a bad defense on his team which would lead towards shootouts. I see virtually none of these elements when I look at Russell Wilson. He is a solid quarterback and can post respectable scores (and yes, on occasion, a bigger score) – but he only passed for 300 yards twice last year and never threw for more than two touchdowns in the regular season. I do not see him as worth a Top 5-7 quarterback selection.
PLAYERS RECEIVING 1 VOTE
Stephen Holloway: Bridgewater played very well as a rookie a year ago for the Vikings, but without Adrian Peterson in 15 games, the Vikings had only 336 running back carries compared to 517 passes. Expect the running game to be a higher priority with Peterson returning this year with fresh legs. Bridgewater could improve his game quite a bit in his second season and still wind up with reduced statistics.
James Brimacombe: Flacco has showed flashes of greatness for the Ravens but most of those times have been when his team is playing in do or die type of games in the playoffs. During the regular season his stats are very lack luster and is no more than a QB2 that will sit on your bench in pretty much any matchup. In 7 seasons in the league he has only broke the top 15 fantasy quarterback twice (12th and 14th), and when you are playing to win your draft you don't want to own guys that have little upside.
Jason Wood: At his current ADP, I understand why some would view Kaepernick as a low risk, high reward option. After all, he finished as QB15 last year in what most viewed as a worst-case outcome. I would caution against that line of thinking; last year was NOT as bad as things can get. Atop the concerns is the loss of Jim Harbaugh. A second worry (no less concerning) are the losses of Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis; two stalwarts on the offensive line. Finally, an almost inexplicable number of retirements from the defense put the 49ers in a position where Kaepernick is not going to be able to be a conservative game manager; he’ll have to win games and that means more decision-making while the bullets are flying. Based on what we’ve seen of Kaepernick’s inability to read defenses, more decision-making is a bad thing, a potentially VERY bad thing.
Matt Waldman: The Panthers quarterback has an ADP of QB7. It’s a reasonable value if looking at Newton’s production through an optimistic lens. Newton’s talent has top-3 potential, but it’s the surrounding talent that’s the question mark. The greatest skepticism surrounding this offense is the offensive line. How much will the arrival of Michael Oher, Jonathan Martin, and rookie Daryl Williams help an offensive line that struggled mightily last year? Rookie receiver Devin Funchess has talent, but he doesn’t offer as much of a contrast in style to last year’s rookie starter Kelvin Benjamin, who struggled as a route runner and showed up to camp overweight. The best hope to offer Newton a true vertical threat in the receiving corps to help Newton might be Jets washout Stephen Hill, but it’s still a dicey proposition. Newton was QB17 last year. I’m leery of valuing him 10 spots higher without more tangible offseason gains.
Mark Wimer: Rivers is a fine quarterback, but he is limited by a relative derth of quality targets around him - Eddie Royal is gone, and neither Malcom Floyd nor Keenan Allen were even close to 1,000 yards receiving last sesaon (Floyd led the team in receiving with 856 yards to his credit last year along with six touchdown catches). This is a pedestrian passing attack that will struggle to deliver fantasy quarterback #2 numbers from Rivers - he is overvalued at his current ADP of 14th quarterback off the board.
Mark Wimer: DeMarco Murray is gone, degrading the Cowboy's running game, and Dez Bryant is in a contract squabble that will keep him away from reps with Romo during preseason. Jason Witten is aging gracefully, but he isn't the playmaker he once was - in short, the Cowboy's offense is not as strong this year as it was last year. I think Romo will check in among the #2 fantasy quarterbacks at the end of the year - he's too pricey at his current ADP of 11th quarterback off the board.