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
Phil Alexander: People are drafting Todd Gurley in the fourth round, ahead of Jonathan Stewart and Andre Ellington, who have clear roles atop their respective team’s depth charts. Am I missing something? I’m all for inviting risk on my fantasy teams, but investing significant draft equity in Gurley seems absurd at this point. The chances Gurley begins the year on the PUP list are 50-50 at best, considering the Rams are on record as stating they’ll be conservative with their first round pick. If he can’t come back until Week 8 (the Rams are on bye in Week 6), he’s useless for over 50% of the fantasy regular season. And what will his workload look like when he comes back? It seems doubtful the Rams would be eager to feed him 20 carries per game right out of the gate. Drafting Gurley as your RB2 means you can’t afford to miss on your mid-late round RBs. Good luck with that strategy.
James Brimacombe: Gurley looks to have a bright future ahead being a 1st round draft pick and having all the tools to be a workhorse NFL running back. The problem with Gurley is that he is not fully healthy coming back from his ACL surgery. Long term Gurley is the guy in St Louis but for the short term it might be smart to not over draft him and select a running back that can help you out in the early week's.
Michael Brown: Gurley has a very promising career ahead of him, and there’s seemingly nothing he can’t do on the field. But let’s not forget, this is still a kid with zero NFL experience coming off a torn ACL. I know that Adrian Peterson has sort of raised the bar for ACL returns, but let’s keep in mind that he was the exception and not the rule. Gurley is being taken as RB17 despite coming off the serious injury as well as the fact that Tre Mason still remains. On top of that, there are some proven 1,000-yard rushers being taken right after him (Alfred Morris, Frank Gore) and others with just as much upside but with much less risk (Latavius Murray, Andre Ellington). It’s exciting to go get the next big thing, but it might be wise to wait until he actually shows something before expecting it.
Christopher Feery: The 10th overall pick in the draft, Gurley is a special talent that will assume lead back duties for the Rams when healthy. Gurley is still healing from November ACL surgery and it is unclear how soon he will be able to take the field. A lack of practice will further set the rookie back, tread cautiously until there’s some more clarity on when he may see the field.
Jeff Haseley: It's easy to assume Todd Gurley will be featured as the Rams lead back in the near future, but the question is - when? If the Rams are smart they will take things slow with their franchise back while he fully recovers from a late season ACL tear. I can't justify selecting Gurley in the third or fourth round of redrafts this year when it's not clear how often he'll be used or how effective he'll be. Let someone else take Gurley this year. There's too many questions to take him at his current ADP of RB19.
Ryan Hester: Gurley is supremely talented, but his injury outlook is still way too much in the air for him to be drafted this high. He’s “still a ways away” from practicing per beat writer Jim Thomas and is questionable for Week 1 of the NFL season. Even if Gurley can play without missing any regular season games, he will have missed a full offseason worth of activities. Aside from health, there are other concerns with Gurley’s outlook. St. Louis will be a below-average offense whose offensive line is far from elite. Let someone else take the bait on the Gurley hype at this point in drafts.
Jeff Pasquino: Every fantasy season, rookie running backs get over drafted in August and September in fantasy drafts across the country. Why? They are new, they are young, and they have name recognition from the NFL draft (and college). Plus, they also have a low barrier to entry – all they have to do is win the starting job, and they have a direct path towards fantasy production. That’s the working theory, at least. The reality often is in today’s NFL that rookie running backs get worked in slowly, usually as part of a committee, and maybe contribute more in the back half of their first year if they do not hit the rookie wall. Gurley faces that exact scenario in St. Louis with Tre Mason as the lead back for the Rams, and Gurley still has to recover from his injury that will likely keep him sidelined for weeks. I would love Gurley on my team, but not for a Top 20 running back pick.
Matt Waldman: The most talented rookie back in this loaded class of runners, Gurley has a style resembles a lot of what Eddie George did so well for Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher in Tennessee. The difference is Gurley’s top-end speed. Both Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead sat together in the post-draft press conference and told the media that they will be extra patient and conservative with Gurley’s ACL rehab. Tre Mason lacked consistency last year, but he flashed enough ability to pair with quality depth like Benny Cunningham to get the job done for the Rams this year. Gurley did not practice during OTAs and his activities have been limited to working out with trainers on the sideline. Fantasy owners have Gurley at an ADP of RB17. That’s not a bad valuation for Gurley if he begins playing in early October, but I’m projecting early November as his start date. He might post RB17 value from that point on, but selecting Gurley as a top-20 value in August is too much enthusiasm in a re-draft.
Player Receiving 7 Votes
Sigmund Bloom: EJ Manuel was reportedly the best quarterback this spring for the Bills, and that’s not a good thing for the offense. The offensive line is just as questionable as the Eagles line was last year when injuries destabilized it and frustrated McCoy and his owners. Despite over 300 carries last year, McCoy was merely adequate RB2 last year. Expecting more from him this year is expecting this offense to magically improve. Avoid in the second.
Michael Brown: Nobody wants to admit it when an exciting player has lost a step. As a Charger fan, LaDainian Tomlinson was given every benefit of the doubt when he began to lose it. He was injured. The offensive line was bad. But there has to be some explanation as to why McCoy’s YPC dropped by nearly a full yard, his touchdowns were halved, his receptions were nearly halved, and a guy who challenged for MVP a year ago was traded to Buffalo. With the Bills, there is some very shaky quarterback play, which means teams will be keying on the run game. And finally, six of his games are going to come against the Jets, Dolphins, and Patriots – no slouches in stuffing the run. McCoy will have a tough time living up to RB7 status.
Ryan Hester: McCoy has been one the elite running backs in football for the past five years, but 2014 was far from his best work. On just two fewer attempts than his 2013 total, McCoy had nearly 300 fewer rushing yards. In 2015, McCoy will join a new team in Buffalo whose current quarterback battle consists of Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor, and EJ Manuel. Regardless of who wins that “battle,” Buffalo’s offense projects to be one of the league’s least potent. This will lead to fewer chances for McCoy, who also had just five touchdowns last season. There are too many players on better offenses who will offer better and more consistent production at the position in drafts where McCoy is going right now.
Ari Ingel: McCoy has led the NFL in touches over the past five years and is expected to handle a big workload again this season. The problem with McCoy is that he needs to space to excel and last season in Philly we saw what happens when he doesn’t have room to work. He bounced far to many runs outside and killed many fantasy teams in the process. With horrible QB play in Buffalo, you can expect a lot of loaded boxes, and with an offensive line that this site grades out at a D+, I’m not very optimistic McCoy will turn things around. I also don’t really care what the coaches in Buffalo say, you can feed a guy the ball all you want, but if he can’t do anything with those carries, what’s the point. It’s also not a lock that he gets the goal line carries, as Fred Jackson is a bigger back that has proven to be great in the red zone. I’m simply not drafting McCoy regardless where he falls, and certainly not at his current ADP.
Chad Parsons: At RB7, McCoy is priced at his optimistic ceiling in 2015. McCoy is coming off an alarming drop in production from 2013 to 2014 and now faces a change of scenery. While above-average in space, McCoy is highly unlikely to see the same open field situations away from the friendly scheme of Philadelphia’s offense. No Buffalo offensive player is a comfortable investment in 2015 and McCoy, entering the downside of a running back’s historical career arc, is the most tenuous skill position acquisition of the bunch.
Jeff Pasquino: Everyone is going to be all over LeSean McCoy this year, and I totally understand that rationale. Rex Ryan traded for him, and Ryan wants to run the ball all day and all night in Buffalo. That screams “McCoy is a value” at first glance – but is anyone asking why the Eagles let him go? Sure, McCoy and Chip Kelly did not get along, but Kelly loves talent and can tolerate some friction if the player has enough to offer on game day. McCoy is 27 years old but has over 1,700 touches already in his career and may start to lose a step (if he has not already). Having watched many of his games throughout his NFL career, I do not see the top end speed that he once had, and for him to be selected as a Top 10 running back in drafts leaves virtually no room for upside but a lot for downside. Buffalo is a risky team that could be facing a lot of “eight in the box, stuff the run” defenses this year. I will likely be passing on McCoy in drafts this season.
Daniel Simpkins: He’s not the real McCoy anymore, folks. While the offensive line situation in Philly was pretty bad for most of 2014, McCoy did the team no favors with his east-to-west running. Apparently, Kelly didn't like what he saw on film either, because he cashed McCoy out as quickly as he could. McCoy will get plenty of usage in Buffalo, but it’s doubtful that the offense is potent enough to keep McCoy from facing eight-in-the-box on a frequent basis. If anything keeps him afloat, it will be volume. Owners who spend a late first or early second-round pick on McCoy will probably wish they had left him to someone else.
Player Receiving 6 Votes
Sigmund Bloom: The 49ers look like they will make great use of Reggie Bush in the passing game, and rookie fourth-round pick Mike Davis is no slouch. That is not going to leave much for Hyde in games San Francisco doesn’t control and that number could be very low. The defense, offensive line and coaching staffs were decimated in the offseason, and the team could be headed for a terrible season. Spending a third or fourth-round pick on the limited lead running back in a team going south isn’t a good plan.
Ryan Hester: Hyde projects to be the starting running back in San Francisco this season, which is obviously a plus for his fantasy outlook. However, San Francisco’s outlook appears bleak this season. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t proven to be an effective enough passer to sustain drives, and the defense lost a lot of talent as well. Hyde’s skill set suggests that his best fantasy environment would be on a team that possessed the ball a lot and was ahead in games so that Hyde could be used to run out clock. He isn’t an incredibly dynamic player, and he struggles to get more than what is blocked for him. There will be many game scripts that favor the usage of newly-acquired Reggie Bush over Hyde as the team plays “comeback mode.”
Stephen Holloway: Carlos Hyde had limited success as a rookie, but expectations are high for him with Frank Gore moving to Indianapolis. The 49ers defense has been decimated by players retiring and they also lost a key offensive lineman in free agency. They have been shifting their offensive focus to the passing game and expect that to continue this year, whether by choice or because they will be forced to try to score quicker to keep up.They also drafted Mike Davis in the 4th round and he should have an opportunity to play in his rookie season.
Jeff Pasquino: San Francisco is working on who they will use to replace Frank Gore, and Hyde is just one of a few candidates to take over that role. Reggie Bush is pushing hard for touches and carries, and Hyde has not yet stepped up to prove his worth as a feature tailback. Drafting him as a Top 20 tailback is far too expensive for me and I will be looking at other options for my RB2 – and even considering Reggie Bush as a value pick later in drafts.
Matt Waldman: The 49ers lost starting guard Mike Iupati to free agency and defenders Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Eric Reid and Chris Borland to retirement. Linebacker Navorro Bowman is rehabbing an injury. The departure of Iupati should be manageable, but the defense will likely suffer. This will force San Francisco into more high-scoring affairs or game scripts where they are playing from a deficit. Hyde has top-15 talent in a quality offense, but he’ll also be splitting time with Reggie Bush. If Kendall Hunter or Mike Davis performs well in camp, the 49ers backfield could become a committee. I doubt it gets that bad for Hyde owners, but RB15 as his pre-draft value is too rich for my blood. I see him in the bottom fifth of the top 25 at the position.
Jason Wood: Frank Gore now calls Indianapolis home, which should mean Carlos Hyde’s time is now. Unfortunately, the situation Hyde finds himself in is decidedly less appealing than the situation Gore left. Jim Harbaugh is now coaching the Michigan Wolverines. Greg Roman is calling plays elsewhere. RT Anthony Davis is taking the year off. All Pro guard Mike Iupati took free agent riches from a division rival. Oh, and the 49ers backfield is chock full of other viable runners. Simply put, Hyde is being drafted based on what he WOULD have been worth as the starter for the 2013 49ers – you should value him based on his role in the 2015 49ers; which means passing on him unless his ADP falls several rounds.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Phil Alexander: It’s rumored the Lions envision Bell as their primary back, but second round pick Ameer Abdullah is unquestionably the more skilled player, and he’s shining at OTAs while Bell recovers from off-season Achilles and knee surgeries. How is a player who has averaged under 4.0 YPA in each of the last two seasons going to respond to his third leg surgery in two years? And how is he going to hold off Abdullah, who measured as the most athletic running back in this year’s draft? Bell broke a 15+ yard run on 4.48% of his carries last year, third worst of any back with at least 200 attempts. The Lions need chunk plays from their running game, and Bell is clearly not the answer. Before the end of the season, I’m afraid fantasy owners will be relying on the fluky nature of goal line TDs to salvage any kind of value out of the 5th round pick they invested in Bell.
James Brimacombe: Early in the offseason Joique Bell looked to be a great value pick as Reggie Bush left town and Bell was ready to get a full load of carries based on opportunity alone. Fast forward through the NFL Draft and the Lions added Ameer Abdullah in the 2nd round who looks ready to compete for a healthy chunk of carries right from the start of the season. The Lions will also have Theo Riddick looking for his touches and the Lions backfield is one that is a full blown timeshare. Bell did do a nice job of finding the endzone 8 times in 15 games in the 2014 season but still his 3.9 yards per carry may prevent him from being the go to RB in the offense throughout the season.
Christopher Feery: Bell is recovering from offseason surgeries and has not participated in OTAs, there is no guarantee that he will be ready for training camp. Although projected to be the Lions featured back, the team spent a 2nd-round pick on Ameer Abdullah who possesses elite-level talent and has earned praise from coaches during OTAs. Abdullah could further impress in training camp and be in line for significant playing time this season, relegating Bell to splitting carries or assuming a complementary role.
Ari Ingel: I think Greg Rosenthal from Around the NFL said it best when he called Bell a “try hard guy;” one those players that works hard but is not naturally gifted. Unfortunately for Bell I think we have seen the best he has to offer and at 29 years old, coming off both achilles and knee injuries, he is another player I’m not drafting at all this year, no matter his ADP. Last season he averaged a measly 3.9 yards per carry along with a poor 64% catch rate. It won’t take long for dynamic rookie Ameer Abdullah to take over in this backfield with Theo Riddick spelling him at times. Look elsewhere and certainly don’t use a fourth round pick on him.
Matt Waldman: With the news of Bell’s slow recovery from offseason surgeries recently hitting the wire, I anticipate his value will drop to a more appropriate level than RB25. Bell is capable of top-15 production and was RB17 a couple of years ago with Reggie Bush as RB10. There has been turnover with the Lions coaching staff since then, but the selection of Ameer Abdullah and addition of a big back like Zach Zenner hints at the notion that Detroit still sees a Bush-Bell or Jahvid Best-Mikel Leshoure backfield as a viable aim. I’m skeptical that the Lions will achieve that RB10-RB17 production with Abdullah-Bell this year. They’ve only done it once and Abdullah has every-down potential. Bell as RB30-RB35 seems like a better value, and only if he’s clearly ready to perform in training camp.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Michael Brown: When a player publicly offers up sharing the rushing workload, you can be sure that the ”committee” thought process is already well underway with the coaching staff. Ellington was injured early on last year and is a bit undersized, so Arizona was likely going to find a complementary back anyway. But the fact that they added David Johnson in the third round suggests a higher priority on finding someone to work in tandem with Ellington. Johnson should at least be the short yardage runner, and could see a larger share of the workload if Ellington misses time with injury (he has missed five of the first 32 games of his career). Add in the fact that Ellington is coming off a season in which he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, and I think you can find a much safer pick right around the same spot in the draft.
Daniel Simpkins: Ellington has struggled to stay healthy in both years of his pro career and has a history of being dinged in college as well. It may start as a committee, but David Johnson is going to wow the coaching staff and win the lead role before the season is over. Johnson is a bigger, better version of Ellington, particularly when it comes to receiving acumen. To have a crack at him in 12-team drafts, owners need to take Ellington in the late third round. There are much better running back options around that range (Yeldon in particular) that have higher upside and are lower risk propositions. Take those guys instead.
Andy Hicks: Fantasy owners appear to have learnt nothing from the Steven Jackson move to Atlanta. Aging backs with lots of carries, moving teams, have very poor records in the NFL. Only 23 players have more carries than Frank Gore in the last 55 years. There are 15 instances of a player moving teams after the age of 30. Only 4 finished as an RB2 or better in the first year at a new club. There are only 2 cases of a 32 year old or older moving teams and finishing as an RB2 in their first year. Marcus Allen and Thomas Jones. Jones finished 24th. Of course Gore will be different say the defenders, but I feel that 2443 carries, on a new offense, is too much for a player you’ll need to draft in the first 40 picks.
Stephen Holloway: Gore moves to Indianapolis, where there are four talented wide receivers, two talented tight ends and one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The Colts have averaged over 600 passes per season since Andrew Luck arrived and with their off-season additions of Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett, those numbers should not decrease. Gore has been Mr. Dependable, playing all 16 games for the past four seasons and also topping 1,100 yards. However, he is 32 years old and has 2,443 rushes in his career. Time is not on his side and although most think the Colts have no other running backs, both Vick Ballard and Josh Robinson, two Mississippi State players are better than people think.
Cian Fahey: At one time in his career, Darren McFadden was an explosive and dangerous running back. Unfortunately, injuries do appear to have sapped his explosiveness from his play. Expecting Murray to be anything more than a backup in Dallas feels uncomfortable when Joseph Randle is simply a much better player at this point of his career. Even if Randle isn't the starter coming out of training camp, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Cowboys add a back from elsewhere who could supplant him as the starter.
Jason Wood: Darren McFadden shouldn’t be drafted in 12-team (or smaller) leagues. The ONLY thing going for him is the Dallas Cowboys’ stellar offensive line. Unfortunately that’s being given far too much weight by fantasy owners. Did you realize that McFadden has less guaranteed money than Ryan Williams? It’s no guarantee McFadden even makes the final 53-man roster. Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar are good bets to be higher on the depth chart, as is Williams (in the off chance he can stay healthy). People still view McFadden as an elite talent held back only by injury. Yet, he’s averaged 3.3, 3.3 and 3.4 yards per rush in his last three years! And we can’t blame that on the Raiders offensive line, because Latavius Murray, Rashad Jennings, and Marcel Reece fared better. McFadden is a has-been (or a never was), let someone else chase his failed potential.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Andy Hicks: C.J. Anderson rode to the Broncos rescue after injuries and poor form fromMontee Ball and Ronnie Hillman allowed Anderson to take and keep the lead job. That was under coach John Fox. Now we have Gary Kubiak and while Anderson definitely should have the first shot at the lead role, is he the best back for this system? At his asking price I wouldn’t want to find out that he’s not. Of course he has insane upside, but this Broncos team is very close to the end of its successful cycle and it may have already past it.
Mark Wimer: As things stand right now, Bell will miss three games of the 2015 schedule (over 20% of a standard 14-game fantasy football regular season) - taking him with an early pick will also cost you another pick during the draft to acquire either DeAngelo Williams or another running back to cover that three-week gap, which raises the costs of acquiring Bell higher than I prefer to pay (I want my first-round draft pick to be available all season long, not starting off at -20% of the season). Also, he missed practice sessions in April due to his lingering (mysterious) knee injury that hampered him at the end of regular season. Put all the above together and it means I'm letting somebody else roll the dice on Bell this season. He is vastly overvalued as the first running back selected according to ADP.
Jeff Haseley: In the four years before Marc Trestman joined the Bears, Matt Forte averaged a fantasy rank of RB14. The change from Trestman to John Fox/Adam Gase won't be catastrophic for Forte, but I strongly doubt he eclipses 75 receptions. I'm thinking he'll have a respectable 50 and 60 catches, but the reduction in receptions will take a toll on his ranking. Forte isn't a strong rusher at the goal line which also hinders his ability to reach productive fantasy numbers on a weekly basis. He's still a good fantasy option, but I don't see him as an elite RB1 this year.
Daniel Simpkins: Recent comments by the Texans coaching staff indicate that they will ride the run game as they struggle to find the answer at the quarterback position. This makes owners salivate at the thought of drafting Foster in the mid-to-late second round. However, Foster is clearly a buyer beware player. An offense that did not have much to lose is smarting with the loss of Andre Johnson. The attention of defenses will now be squarely upon Arian. Also, Foster has a lot of mileage, and at 29 years old, he's nearing the end of his career. He's not been the healthiest back throughout his time in the league either. Even as well as he performed last year, Foster did miss three games and failed to put up double digit touchdowns for the second year running. Minor injuries could keep him missing games and frustrating owners. One big injury could spell the end of a very prolific career.
Mark Wimer: Gordon had a fine collegiate career, but he hasn't proven anything at this level yet. I think he'll be a respectable fantasy running back #2 (I rank him 21st among all available running backs), but his current ADP of 12th running back selected is too rich for my taste.
Stephen Holloway: Mark Ingram II had an outstanding season a year ago for the Saints setting career highs for carries (226) rushing yards (964), receptions (29) receiving yards (145) and TDs (9). The Saints then awarded him with a four-year $16 Million contract and seem set to increase their focus on the running game. Yet, the Saints also signed C. J. Spiller and game him a similar contract, except with more guaranteed money. Spiller should be involved in the running game and be the primary receiver out of the backfield. The Saints also still have Khiry Robinson, who has been productive in limited touches.
Cian Fahey: If the Green Bay Packers had allowed Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga to leave in free agency, it might make sense that they would feature Eddie Lacy more prominently in 2015. However, the status quo appears set to remain in Green Bay. Lacy wasn't a top back last year and little has changed to see any reason why he would be this year. James Starks and John Kuhn remain to take touches away from him, while Lacy's talent as an individual isn't that of Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster, Le'Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray or Jamaal Charles.
Sigmund Bloom: Morris is a fine running back and it’s difficult to recommend against his hard-charging style, but you are betting on the Washington team and offense to be competitive more often than not when you take Morris in the first four rounds. Robert Griffin III is the starting quarterback and the situation can probably only get worse from there. Third-round pick Matt Jones could get some early-down work and cut into the slim margin that Morris’s up and down profile gives over the next tier of backs. Chances are, you won’t really want to meddle with this offense this year.
Jeff Haseley: Call me skeptical, but I just don't see the same type of production from DeMarco Murray in the Eagles offense this season. The toll his body took last year is also a reason to be concerned. The shear number of touches (450) he had with Dallas in 2014 is enough for me to use caution. Add the fact that he's changing teams and offensive styles makes me skeptical. Murray ran for over 1,000 yards before contact last year, which is a huge testament to the Cowboys stacked offensive line. He won't have that in Philadelphia and with Darren Sproles around to steal targets, his reception totals will drop. He's a questionable RB1 in my book and if he falls out of the Top 10, I won't be surprised.
Jason Wood: Fantasy owners LOVE to project the RB position, and no one evidences that more in 2015 drafts than Latavius Murray. The 3rd year runner is being drafted as an RB2 in spite of a frighteningly limited sample size. Yes, it’s true that Darren McFadden is now in Dallas. But who cares? McFadden wasn’t keeping Murray off the field last year, McFadden was ineffective for years in Oakland. Meanwhile why are we excited by Murray? He had one memorable game…in Week 11 he ran for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Chiefs. But that game was a fluke (112 yards on FOUR carries) and Murray was woeful in the final four games as the starter. In four games, Murray had 68 carries for 258 yards (3.8 yards per rush) and ZERO touchdowns. Unless you expect the Raiders to take a huge leap offensively, Murray simply isn’t worth the risk at his current ADP.
Mark Wimer: I'm concerned about Peterson's level of commitment to the Vikings after last year's switching/suspension incidents. He wasn't thrilled with the way the team handled the aftermath of the PR disaster that was Peterson's 2014 season, and reportedly isn't happy there. Peterson played through some very painful injuries earlier in his career, making him a fantasy favorite/star, but I don't know if he'll be willing to pay the price in pain this season if he is injured AND stuck in a place he doesn't want to be. Also, the team has been saying that they will limit Peterson's touches during 2015 in view of his advancing age. He is overvalued at fifth running back taken according to ADP.