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 and identify players that should underperform their draft position.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati
Holloway: Tyler Eifert has played 10 games over the past two NFL seasons and only 24 games over the last four. He displayed top-level talent in his third season catching 13 touchdown passes but has not been able to stay healthy. Even in that 2015 season, he missed three games. Finally, he plays for the Cincinnati offense which is not highly-regarded and features A.J. Green, who should again dominate targets.
Miglio: How many times are we going to get burned by Tyler Eifert before we learn? The walking M.A.S.H. unit has hit double-digit games-played in just two seasons thus far in his career. He has just as many seasons with two or fewer games played, including 2017. Because of Eifert's injuries, Tyler Kroft has emerged as a contender for playing time to boot. Eifert’s tantalizing career touchdown rate has given fantasy owners amnesia; he is not worth the fantasy-starter status he is being given in drafts today.
Pasquino: The case against Tyler Eifert is strong. Back injuries for the past two years have robbed him of 22 of a potential 32 games. Adding to the risk and uncertainty is the overall state of the Cincinnati offense – not very good. Eifert is the de facto second receiver for the Bengals when healthy, giving Andy Dalton a big target over the middle. But are you ready to invest in a tight end with a back injury history on a questionable offense with a subpar quarterback as either your starter or the top part of a committee approach to the position? That sounds like a weekly nightmare of a lineup decision all season long, and you should want no part of that.
Waldman: Back issues stink. Those that require surgery are even iffier. Eifert wasn’t practicing in OTAs, and it’s hard to believe that Cincinnati will lean on Eifert when it got quality play from Tyler Kroft last year. Eifert has played 10 games in two seasons, and he hasn’t played more than 13 games since 2013. His track record of availability based on health is not good enough for starter value on draft day—and mostly because of one issue that rarely improves once it’s operated on.
Wood: Why would anyone count on Tyler Eifert this year? He’s played 39 games in five years, less than 50% of the Bengals contests. He missed almost the entire season last year and has never recovered from the back injuries that robbed him of effectiveness the year before. When he was healthy, Eifert was a difference maker. The film from 2015 fully supports the dominant, 13-touchdown performance. Eifert is not that guy anymore. Not even close. I wouldn’t be surprised if Eifert opts to retire before the season gets underway, depending on how the preseason unfolds. When retirement is a legitimate part of a probability tree, it’s not wise to draft him as a top-12 player. Caveat Emptor.
Player Receiving 3 Votes
Evan Engram, NY Giants
Alexander: Tight end is the position being most properly valued by early drafters, making the selection of Engram here somewhat of a reach. Engram's year-one statistical output exceeded even the most optimistic expectations for a rookie tight end, but don't forget he played 11 games without Odell Beckham and four games without both Beckham and Sterling Shepard. Now that both Beckham and Shepard are healthy and Saquon Barkley has been added to the mix, you have to wonder if a significant dip in target volume is looming for Engram. An improved Giants offense and a solidified role in the red zone might be enough to offset fewer targets, but if you can wait two rounds and capture Engram's upside by drafting Jordan Reed, you'll end up with more running back and wide receiver depth and can protect against Reed's injury risk by taking a solid backup or streaming the position.
Haseley: It will be difficult to justify production that is the same or better than 2017 for Evan Engram this season. The return of Odell Beckham and the arrival of Saquon Barkley solidifies less of an opportunity for Engram to make plays. That's not to say he won't be a contributor on offense, but the week-to-week consistency that was more prevalent in 2017 will be difficult to duplicate.
Hindery: Engram was exceptionally productive in 2017 considering he was a rookie. Typically, we see players at the position take a big step forward at the position in their second season. Thus, the excitement surrounding Engram. However, even if Engram does improve (his drop rate of 14.7% on catchable passes was atrocious) his efficiency and overall play, he could still take a step back in fantasy production due to seeing fewer targets. Engram was the second-most targeted tight end in the NFL last season (his 115 ranked just 7 behind Travis Kelce) in large part due to the Giants losing Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall to injury early and Sterling Shepard drifting in and out of the lineup with injuries as well. With Beckham back and expected to see 160+ targets and potentially elite receiving back Saquon Barkley added to the mix, Engram is unlikely to see such a massive workload again in 2018.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Trey Burton, Chicago
Hicks: Expectations will be high for Trey Burton as he escapes from the shadow of Zach Ertz and lands in Chicago. According to his draft price, Burton is expected to become a starting fantasy tight end immediately, in a new offense that will be bedding in multiple new players and an inexperienced quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Last years second rounder, Adam Shaheen is a highly-promising prospect who had a solid rookie season and will eat into Burton’s targets.
Parsons: Trey Burton was a splash signing this offseason for the Bears. However, the formula for high-level tight end production is historically a strong quarterback and an offense void of a clear No. 1 receiver. Mitch Trubisky should be improved in Year 2 but is not in the strong category at present, and Allen Robinson's addition represents a true No. 1 receiver presence. Considering Burton's ADP, he is a risky bet to sport a profit in 2018.
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis
Brimacombe: Jack Doyle finished 2017 as the ninth-ranked fantasy tight end and that was with Andrew Luck not even playing. He finished the year with 80 catches for 690 yards and 4 touchdowns. Fast forward to this season, and the Colts have added Eric Ebron to the mix who should demand targets for himself as well. There are better options at the tight end position who have less competition to deal with than what Doyle has right now.
Wood: Jack Doyle has done everything the Colts have asked, and it’s turned into back-to-back fantasy TE1 seasons. Doyle caught 59 receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns in 2016 (TE12) and bettered his numbers last year with 80 receptions for 690 yards and four touchdowns (TE9). Considering Doyle caught passes from Jacoby Brissett for most of the season, the top-10 finish was particularly impressive. Yet, the Colts rewarded Doyle this offseason by bringing in Eric Ebron. Ebron never lived up to the hype in Detroit, but he’s hardly a non-factor. The combination of Doyle and Ebron is a positive for whoever lines up under center for the Colts, but it’s bad news for both veterans’ fantasy prospects. Doyle will have good games, but Ebron will commoditize him at times, too.
Jordan Reed, Washington
Pasquino: Kirk Cousins has left the building, leaving behind the injury-plagued Reed as the starting tight end for Washington until he inevitably gets hurt once again. They say that you cannot predict injuries, but you can certainly look at history to get a good idea of what might repeat itself. Reed has missed 16 games in three years, including 10 last season. The trend is not good – 14 games as a rookie, 12 in 2016 and just six last season. With so many other quality tight ends in the NFL right now, gladly let someone else take the risk on Reed.
Simpkins: Drafting Jordan Reed is the fulfillment of the maxim, “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” He has never played a full season of games in his four-year career. There is zero reason to believe this will suddenly be the year he doesn’t miss games. Having to hold Reed while he is hurt also wastes valuable roster space and prevents owners from picking up players who might make a difference to their fantasy season. Aside from the constant injury problems is the fact that the fantasy upside of options drafted behind Reed (Trey Burton, Jack Doyle, George Kittle, and David Njoku in particular) is better. Don’t get sucked in by what he can be when healthy. Let someone else blow themselves up on the landmine that is Jordan Reed this year.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia
Bloom: Ertz's reception and yardage totals looked about the same in 2015 and 2016 as they did last year, but his touchdowns spiked to eight, more than his previous two years combined. If Carson Wentz throws for 33 touchdowns again, perhaps Ertz could equal that, but the Eagles drafted Dallas Goedert in the second round - a tight end with a Jimmy Graham-style game at the catch point that should emphasize his value in the red zone. Ertz's ADP reflects a foundational player, but it is not far off of Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce, who have a much higher week-to-week value. Ertz doesn’t deliver nearly the same return and doesn’t deserve nearly the same investment.
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay
Howe: Landing spot aside, it’s hard to make much of a case for 2018 Jimmy Graham even sniffing his past efficiency numbers. He’ll be 32 this year, and though he hasn’t missed time since 2015, he’s been hounded by injuries for three years straight. We saw some of that regression last year: Graham hauled in 10 touchdowns for the Seahawks, but he posted the worst reception (59.4%) and yardage rates (a pitiful 9.1) of his career. He made hay around the goal line, and of course, there’s always a chance his touchdowns stay plentiful in Green Bay. But he’s the third explosive, seam-busting tight end the Packers have brought in in as many years, and the first two – Jared Cook (37.7 yards per game, 1 touchdown) and Martellus Bennett (33.3 and 0) – were abject flops. If this were 26-year-old Jimmy Graham, this ADP would make more sense. As it stands, he doesn’t bring the same floor/ceiling combination as ADP-mates Evan Engram and Greg Olsen.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay
Bloom: When Cameron Brate was brought back in free agency, Howard’s short- and long-term outlook took a big hit. He’ll be largely touchdown dependent, and that’s an area where Brate is equally strong. The passing game is also going to make room for the growth of Chris Godwin, which will make it difficult for Howard to have a much larger role than he had last year. Howard will be a fine matchup streamer, but his ADP reflects the value of a borderline starter, which is too rich for a committee tight end in a committee passing game.
Greg Olsen, Carolina
Hester: Tight end is not a premium position in fantasy football leagues with typical scoring. If choosing a tight end at this price, a high ceiling is a must. The player must have wide receiver upside, meaning his stats should compare to low-end WR1s - not to his peers at tight end. A top-five tight end should have Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski type of upside, and Olsen doesn't have that due to his age, his return from a foot injury, and a plethora of other playmakers on his team.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee
Hicks: When Tennessee drafted Jonnu Smith in the third round of the 2017 draft, the intention was to ease out veteran Delanie Walker. That plan will come to fruition in 2018. Walker has been a fantastic player for Tennessee with four consecutive 800-yard seasons, but at the age of 34, he cannot expect to continue at that pace. Walker will be drafted as a starter and depending on the progress of Smith, will still have a use, but not at his current asking price.