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.
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Player Receiving 11 Votes
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville
Bloom: There's no doubt that Blake Bortles 2015 was impressive, but it wasn't quite as impressive as the numbers make it seem, as the Jaguars played poorly enough to put him in catchup situations more often than a typical passer. The Jaguars don't want games in his hands and have brought in Chris Ivory as a power back in addition to bolstering the defense. Bortles has a terrific set of weapons and could still grow as a passer, but if the Jaguars grow as a team, he won't be worth a pick in the top 12 quarterbacks or finish as a QB1.
Fahey: Blake Bortles threw 27 redzone touchdowns last year. He threw more touchdowns in the redzone than T.J. Yeldon had carries. The Jaguars didn't trust Yeldon or their running game in 2015 so they signed Chris Ivory. Ivory carried the ball 18 times within five yards of the endzone last year. He won't be the feature back in Jacksonville, so he will be fresh to take away a huge chunk of Bortles' production.
Haseley: No matter how I look at it, I don't see Blake Bortles as the 7th best QB, which is where he is being drafted. Yes, he had over 4,400 yards passing with 35 touchdown passes last year, but I don't want to risk him as my starting quarterback with only one year of elite experience. The Jaguars have an electric receiving corps with skills to keep the passing game among the best in the league, but I still can't pull the trigger on Bortles, especially not where he is being drafted.
Hester: Bortles had a fantasy season unlike many we've seen before in terms of his preseason ranking vs. where he finished. However, the factors that contributed to that are likely unrepeatable. First, Jacksonville passed in the red zone very often last season due to a very mediocre run game. They have beefed up their running back corps this season and plan to be improved. Also beefed up is their defense, which should provide the offense with fewer production-friendly game scripts. Bortles as QB7 seems like it might actually be above his best-case scenario. I'd rather have Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, or even Tom Brady backstopped by a streamer for four weeks if he's suspended.
Holloway: There are a lot of positives around Bortles as he enters his third season. He has abundant young weapons in the passing game, his YPA climbed from 6.12 as a rookie to 7.31 in 2015 and he threw 35 touchdown passes. He finished as QB4 in Footballguys.com scoring a year ago and has a current ADP of QB8. The big concern is that the Jaguars defense, which ranked 29th in points allowed and 24th in yards allowed should be greatly improved and they may actually get ahead on the scoreboard more often in 2016. Their addition of Chris Ivory also stabilizes their running game which should also reduce the number of passes thrown.
Kuczynski: Bortles put up very good numbers last year including 35 TDs, but even with another successful season, those numbers will be very difficult to reproduce. It's also concerning he threw for 18 interceptions and was sacked over 50 times. Add this to his average completion percentage and QB rating, and it shows that his ranking among elite signal callers like Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees seems premature. What must be considered is he accumulated much of his stats through garbage time. An overlooked change that will affect this is Jacksonville's huge spending spree and draft focus on defense, which will probably keep scores much closer, so he won't be throwing non stop in the 4th quarter against prevent defense. He may be a solid starter, but at his current ranking, equal or better value can be found later.
Parsons: Bortles, along with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, is a prime touchdown regression candidate for 2016. Also, Bortles led the NFL in garbage time yards and touchdowns. Jacksonville's defense is projected to improve, leading to fewer fourth quarter accumulation numbers from Bortles. At QB7, Bortles is closer to his ceiling than floor price.
Pasquino: I do like Blake Bortles this season, but not as a Top 7 quarterback. That feels like too much of a high valuation for me. I would much rather have Carson Palmer, Tony Romo or even Matt Ryan ahead of Bortles as my higher QB1. If I am able to get Bortles in the QB10-12 range, sure – but QB7? Give me two of the Top 15 quarterbacks (namely any two of the eight right after Bortles) and I would be happy with those pairings. Trusting Bortles as my fantasy starter every week is too much to ask at this point of his career.
Simpkins: He has an enviable receiving core in Robinson, Hurns, and Thomas, but there's a lot to dislike about his game. There were games in 2016 during which many an objective evaluator shook his head at the screen and thought, "Why would you throw that there?!" The Jaguars have also spent their Draft capital and free agency efforts bolstering a very leaky defense. If that unit improves half as much on the field as it did on paper, Bortles won't be in the position to pump up his stats in garbage time efforts the way he did last year. With touchdown regression almost certainly coming, Bortles is not worthy of being the seventh quarterback selected in your drafts when there are better quarterbacks going much later.
Wimer: Bortles is an ascending NFL talent and should finish the year as a top-12 fantasy quarterback, but I don't think he finishes in the top five. He is overpriced as of July 1 due to his gaudy 35 TD passes last week - he's overpriced as of July 1.
Wood: Bortles won a lot of fantasy leagues last year; he was easily the best value at the quarterback position. Entering 2015 most thought the Jaguars would struggle to put up points, yet when the dust settled Bortles threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns on his way to a Top 5 fantasy finish. So what's not to like? Bortles is a prime candidate for mean regression. Watch the film. Bortles played from behind so much of the season and did major damage against prevent defenses. His mechanics are erratic. Let's remember he led the league in interceptions (18) and didn't complete 60% of his passes. Most importantly, his TD rate (5.8%) is historically unsustainable – even for all-time NFL greats. Bortles is a productive NFL quarterback, but he's not an elite fantasy passer. Don't make the mistake of paying for last year's stats.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Tom Brady, New England
Holloway: Brady is overvalued due to his scheduled suspension for the first four games of the 2016 season. If the suspension again is overturned, Brady will demand a healthy bump. He could also be a sneaky later round pick if he drops too low because he will definitely again have something to prove when he returns to the field.
Simpkins: He got out of serving his suspension last year, but it doesn't appear he'll avoid it this year. While not impossible, it's incredibly improbable that a 39-year-old quarterback will continue producing at elite levels. The example of Peyton Manning should serve as warning to owners of how fast a quarterback's decline sometimes happens. A fact that's being overlooked by most owners is that the Patriots offensive line is one of the worst in football. They've been able to mitigate this by scheming and getting the ball out quickly in prior years, but it's not hard to imagine all that crumbling if Brady is even a step slower this year. In 2014, we saw what happened to Brady for a stretch of games when pressure was getting to him regularly. A late-seventh-round pick is just too risky of an investment, especially with the quarterback depth that exists later in drafts.
Tefertiller: If Brady misses the first four games due to suspension, as expected, his ADP of 81 overall and QB8 is too steep. He should put up big points when playing. But, drafting Brady with this pick means the owner has to select another quarterback relatively soon just to cover the first four weeks plus the bye. At most, the veteran will play two-thirds of the season for fantasy owners. Also, there are plenty of viable quarterback options this season. There is no need to spend a valuable seventh round pick on the Pro Bowl quarterback.
Wimer: As of July 1, the four-game ban of Tom Brady has been upheld by the courts. There is another appeal in process, but working from what we know now, Brady will only play in 12 games this upcoming season - and more importantly, will miss four weeks of reps with his receiving corps, which will take some time to address during the second quarter of the season. There are too many negatives to be considering Brady as a starter for your fantasy team - he is in the lower tier of backup fantasy quarterbacks this year due to his ongoing strife with the league and it's likely impact on Brady and the Patriots.
Wood: If Tom Brady plays all 16 games, I have no issue with his ADP. Yet, as we go to press Brady is set to miss the first four games of the season based on the NFL's successful appeal of last year's ruling. While the legal ramblings are far from over, I have to wonder whether Brady's legal team has a clear a case to win on subsequent appeal. For now, Brady is only set to play 12 games and it's simply unrealistic to think he can deliver Top 10 full-season numbers while missing 25% of his team's games.
Player Receiving 4 Votes
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis
Bloom: Quarterback has unprecedented depth this year. If you are going to take a quarterback in the first five rounds, the case for them should be watertight. The case for Andrew Luck is a bit shaky this year, as the offensive line problems that contributed to his ineffective play and injuries last year have only been addressed by first-round pick center Ryan Kelly, who may not level off at his expected level of play in year one. The offense skill players include an old Frank Gore at running back with no real depth behind him and a fragile Dwayne Allen at tight end with no real depth behind him. It's not difficult to envision another rocky ride for Luck this year.
Hicks: Andrew Luck looked like he would become the next elite fantasy quarterback replicating the man he replaced in Indianapolis, Peyton Manning, with top 3 fantasy production year in and year out. 2015 didn't work out like that though. He was a turnover machine with multiple interceptions in five of his seven games and Luck ended the season with a severe kidney injury. Others are keen to wipe 2015 from the slate and assume production will resume from 2014. I'm going to be a little more cautious when it comes to Luck. The Colts will struggle in their division with the other three teams expected to make massive improvement and Luck showed that with pressure he will turn the ball over. Add in his propensity to take unnecessary hits, and I'll let someone else take him.
Waldman: There's little question that Luck is one of the most skilled young quarterbacks to enter the NFL in recent years. There's even less doubt that the Colts offensive line allows more punishment to its quarterback than any unit since Luck was drafted. The Colts must shore up its pass protection and Luck must do a better job protecting himself when buying time and breaking the pocket. If neither situation improves, Luck could go down the path of Archie Manning and David Carr, promising players lacking the support to deliver sustained production. The Colts won't make significant gains with its line this year because the unit is young and lacking much rapport. The scheme also hasn't been the most diverse and most of the receivers are young and still learning the pro game. Expecting near-elite production from Luck in these circumstances when Luck isn't as elusive as Russell Wilson seems unrealistic. He'll do enough to deliver starter production but drafting him as a top-five option is buying his brand, not his realistic situation.
Wood: Don't get me wrong, I'm an Andrew Luck fan and expect him to bounce back this year after posting a massively disappointing 2015 campaign (1,881 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 7 games). Luck is healthy, which was the major issue last season. Yet, I can't help thinking that Luck is being overdrafted presently given the question marks surrounding him. The offensive line remains a major question mark, he lost his best friend and 1st-down safety valve (Coby Fleener) in free agency, and two of his projected top targets are injury risks (Moncrief and Allen). While I think a case can be made for Cam Newton at his current ADP, I think the smart move is passing on the likes of Rodgers and Luck and waiting for a reasonably comparable passer many rounds later.
Player Receiving 3 Votes
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay
Alexander: Winston proved he has star potential by joining Cam Newton and Andrew Luck as the only quarterbacks in history to throw for more than 4,000 yards as rookies, but his cumulative QB13 finish disguised inconsistent play that was often bailed out by hard to sustain rushing touchdowns. 20.75% of Winston's passes were deemed uncatchable last season -- the worst rate in the entire league. Unsurprisingly he finished 32nd in both completion percentage (58.3%) and TD:INT ratio (1.5). Tampa Bay ranked in the bottom third of the league in pass play percentage last season despite having the seventh-lowest average scoring margin, which further explains why Winston topped 300 passing yards in only two games. It's fair to expect Winston to take a step forward as a passer in year two, but why pay for it sight unseen with reliable veterans like Philip Rivers and Tony Romo being drafted in the same territory?
Feery: Jameis Winston is expected to take a solid leap forward in 2016, and his current draft position reflects that optimism. While a jump in efficiency and productivity is certainly on the table, the risk of a sophomore slump is also very real. There's a full season of tape on Winston at the disposal of opposing defensive coordinators, and it would be perfectly normal for him to experience some serious growing pains in the first half of 2016. Winston is currently being viewed as a borderline QB1, but he's actually better served as a later round QB2. As a later round QB, Winston becomes much more intriguing as his production will likely increase in the latter part of 2016, making him a potential difference maker for patient owners as the fantasy season winds down.
Holloway: Winston played very well in his rookie season, averaging 7.56 YPA and passing for over 4,000 yards. He is also a running threat, adding 213 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. There is no doubt that his off-field issues and struggles with maturity impact his potential production. In a season where there is an abundance of fantasy quarterback options, Winston most likely will not be chosen in any of my drafts.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Carson Palmer, Arizona
Hicks: Carson Palmer turns 37 this year and is coming off a season in which he posted career highs in touchdowns and yardage. There is every chance he could replicate the numbers from last year given his supporting cast, but Palmer has rarely maintained high fantasy value throughout his career and I would rather jump off before he has that inevitable bad final season. Maybe I'm one or even two years too early, but only five of his 14 seasons have been as a QB1, with just three inside the Top 6. Unlike Drew Brees or Tom Brady, Palmer doesn't project as a safe option.
Howe: Palmer posted a fine 2015, but regression seems destined here. Palmer blew away his career adjusted yards per attempt mark, which strongly points to a slide back toward the mean, and the Cardinals offense is simply unlikely to again score 489 points. (They averaged 345 over Bruce Arians' first two seasons.) Throw in Palmer's age and injury history, and you have a likely overvaluation at QB9.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Bloom: Roethlisberger was on pace for a top five all-time passing yardage season last year, which portended even bigger things this year - until deep threat Martavis Bryant was suspended and the team lost him for at least one year. Now Roethlisberger will rely on Antonio Brown and a lot of unproven downfield targets. Free agent signing Tight end Ladarius Green and second-year wideout Sammie Coates Jr might fill the void, but they are not sure things by any measure. All-world running back Le'Veon Bell might not be ready for Week 1 and still hasn't had a season that saw him avoid injuries. Roethlisberger himself is a constant injury risk and the team is breaking in a new left tackle, not to mention center Maurkice Pouncey's numerous offseason surgeries could make his full recovery a question mark. Quarterback is too deep this year to take Roethlisberger at a draft spot that assumes a finish closes to his ceiling than his floor.
Pasquino: The Steelers have been becoming more and more of a passing team, and Ben Roethlisberger has benefited from that change in offensive scope. The problem I have with Roethlisberger at QB5 is that he has lost Martavis Bryant (suspension) for the season and Heath Miller has finally retired. Those two now force Pittsburgh to elevate former WR3's and TE2's on the squad to starting roles, and expecting Roethlisberger to throw 35+ times a game and survive in a pocket without Miller blocking for him or being a quick dump off target over the middle frightens me at this point. Throw in that Pittsburgh has one of the best feature running backs (Le'Veon Bell) and backup rushers (DeAngelo Williams) and the Steelers may be a little more focused on the ground game and less on throwing a ton every week.
Tony Romo, Dallas
Simpkins: The Cowboys understand that the offense can't run through Romo any more due to durability concerns. That's why they took Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth-overall pick in the NFL Draft. He will become the focus of their offense and we won't see Romo asked to pass in high volume as in years past. Add to that the fact that Romo lacks high quality targets outside of Dez Bryant and you have no real incentive to take him as your fantasy starter, even at his seemingly cheap 10th-round price point.
Wimer: Romo has been increasingly fragile over the past few years, and his team is geared towards running the ball first (partly in order to protect Romo from taking a lot of hits). His number one wide receiver, Dez Bryant, has a serious foot issue and was very limited in OTA's/mini-camp. I'm not committing a premium pick to Bryant or Romo until I know they are fully healthy/good to go... and even if those two things happen during preseason I think Romo is a long shot to finish as a starting fantasy quarterback (among the top 12) at year's end. There are too many negatives militating against him being a fantasy superstar this year.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit
Hicks: Matthew Stafford has been a hot and cold fantasy option throughout his career, but the retirement of Calvin Johnson is going to hurt Stafford significantly. Fantasy owners need to ask themselves if Detroit have WR1, 2 & 3 receivers in Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr and Jeremy Kerley. I need to see if Stafford can operate on a long term basis without Calvin before I can trust him on my fantasy roster. Doubts about whether Stafford is a genuine quality starter in the NFL need to be answered in 2016.
Pasquino: The Detroit Lions are going to be a mess this year. With Calvin Johnson's surprising retirement, the entire offense is going to take a major hit in 2016. Golden Tate is not ready to be a WR1, and TE Eric Ebron is not going to be a top tight end in the passing game yet either. Couple that with a shaky line and a modest at best rushing game and I see Stafford under duress and scrambling for his life every week. Stafford will likely have to throw often, but that does not guarantee success or fantasy production this season. I will be avoiding most of the Lions this year, especially Stafford.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Cam Newton, Carolina
Hester: This is more anti-taking-the-QB1 than anti-Newton. Seldom does the returning "champ" among quarterbacks repeat his performance. Aside from that, it's a position that's not a premium in fantasy football (especially not in one-quarterback leagues). More specific to Newton is his seemingly unsustainable touchdown rate from 2015. He's not likely finish second in passing touchdowns and 16th in attempts again. In fact, the more likely of those to repeat is the attempts ranking. Of all 35+ passing touchdown seasons since 2000, Newton's 2016 had the second-fewest attempts (only Tom Brady's 2010 with 492 attempts and 36 touchdowns was lower). The return of Kelvin Benjamin is nice, but Benjamin isn't exactly in-his-prime Randy Moss, so it shouldn't be enough to overcome the likely regression.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Haseley: Rodgers is coming off a disappointing season that saw him finish 10th while playing all 16 games. His current ADP has him as the second quarterback and that is a little too high for where I would take him. He had a career-low in completion percentage (60.7%) and yards per game (239). It's possible that the return of Jordy Nelson will shift things back to normal in the Rodgers fantasy cycle, but then again maybe it won't, at least maybe it won't catapult him to a Top 2 ranking. If I'm going to pull the trigger on a quarterback fairly early in a draft, it will have to be at a great value. I don't anticipate Rodgers falling to the fifth quarterback off the board.