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 8 Votes
Deshaun Watson, Houston
Phil Alexander: It was fun when Watson set the world on fire in limited action as a rookie. And it's undeniable his ability to produce fantasy points with his legs makes him more or less bust-proof (injuries notwithstanding). But how on earth are people considering drafting him in the same range as Aaron Rodgers when he's coming off his second ACL tear in three years (separate knees) and a season in which he posted an entirely unsustainable 9.3% touchdown rate? As long as he continues to prove his knee is healed in the preseason, Watson will be fine as an every-week fantasy starter. Just don't reach for him ahead of early-round running backs and wide receivers expecting the same once-in-a-lifetime results we saw last year.
Jeff Haseley: I'm a big fan of Deshaun Watson after what we saw last year in the NFL, however, I'm hesitant to rank him among the best in the league right now. It's possible that he may be the next great quarterback, but it's also possible that he will come back to earth in his second year. Defensive staffs won't be blindsided by his talents and tendencies, and they will scheme to minimize his effectiveness. To select him at his current ADP is to expect him to equal or exceed his rate of production last season. This is not admitting he won't be a good fantasy starting quarterback, but there is some risk selecting him as a high draft pick.
Ryan Hester: He was the most pleasant surprise of 2017, but his 2018 price assumes that what he did in less than half a season can be done for all of this year. Watson was incredibly efficient, but he also had game flow circumstances that are difficult to repeat as well. Against Kansas City, Watson had 181 passing yards and 3 touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone. The Chiefs scored very quickly twice to provide more possessions for Houston. Watson had another game flow-induced fourth quarter against Seattle (149 passing yards and 2 touchdowns). Houston’s defense should be improved if their line stays healthy, which could limit these types of shootouts.
Devin Knotts: Deshaun Watson was a tremendous spark for the Houston Texans team last season. While the future certainly looks bright for Watson, it is absolutely absurd that he is being drafted as the second quarterback this season. This is a player who relies on a lot of his value and production in the running game and with two ACL injuries in the last three years, the logical thing would be for the Texans to dial that back in order to keep him on the field.
Chad Parsons: Watson was a shooting star in his half-season-ish of rookie season production, logging numbers first-year quarterbacks only dream about. Watson's efficiency was off the charts in terms of touchdown rate and yards per attempt. Watson also added Cam Newton-like rushing production en route to his elite fantasy numbers. However, it is worth noting Watson did have the typical rookie growing pains in terms of interception rate and sack rate, both well above the NFL average. The biggest concern with Watson is his ADP represents having to 'shoot the needle' again on the perfect fantasy season to justify the cost of going quarterback early compared to other positions, where the drop off is more substantial by the later rounds.
Jeff Pasquino: Two ACL tears in three years should give anyone pause, but a top-five fantasy spot for Watson? That seems incredibly generous. Much of Watson’s value comes from his two-dimensional ability to put a defense on its heels with his rushing and passing ability. Asking Watson to be the same dynamic quarterback after another ligament tear is strike one for me. The other strikes come from looking at his supporting cast – and I use the word “supporting” liberally here. DeAndre Hopkins is an elite WR1, but after that can you really trust Will Fuller V or Ryan Griffin? Lamar Miller is just an average tailback who has never caught 50 passes in a season, so asking for a Top 5 fantasy season for Watson – or even consistent QB1 production in the weeks Watson is healthy – is asking far too much for me.
Daniel Simpkins: There is a growing consensus that Watson is due for regression in touchdown rate and that he is vastly overhyped when he is drafted in the same range as Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. Not only do you have to take Watson over these guys, but you also miss out on the chance to take exciting offensive options in the same range. For example, you could draft Corey Davis or Kerryon Johnson in this zone and then get similar or greater quarterback value out of someone selected in a later round. The opportunity cost of drafting Watson is just too high.
Jason Wood: Coming off a torn ACL, Watson is being drafted as the best quarterback not named Aaron Rodgers. Even if you don’t fear for his health, his play last year was unsustainable. Watson threw 19 touchdowns in 204 pass attempts; a jaw-dropping 9.3% touchdown rate. For historical context, that’s the second-best touchdown rate in the modern era, behind Peyton Manning’s record-setting 49-touchdown season in 2004. History tells us Watson will never come close to that rate again. Only ten quarterbacks since 1980 have had a season with an 8%+ touchdown rate. Peyton Manning’s career rate was 5.7%. Aaron Rodgers has a career 6.4% rate and only eclipsed 7% twice. Tom Brady’s career mark stands at 5.5%. He, like Rodgers, only had two seasons greater than 7%. What Watson did last year was exceedingly rare, and inflated by a tiny sample size.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Sigmund Bloom: Rodgers should be the first quarterback off of the board, but the depth and quality at quarterback means you don’t need to take one for a while in your draft. You might even be able to wait until everyone has a starter and a few teams have a backup and still do well for yourself. Rodgers lost Jordy Nelson in the offseason, and his likely No. 2 and No. 3 targets - Randall Cobb and Jimmy Graham - aren’t safe bets to stay healthy and effective. Even Davante Adams has the concussion cloud hanging over him. Rodgers also has the deepest backfield the Packers have enjoyed for a long time. Rodgers won’t lap the pack, and could even fall back to it. He’s not worth breaking the seal at quarterback.
Will Grant: I’m not saying that Aaron Rodgers is going to have a bad season. I’m not even saying he won’t be one of the top fantasy quarterbacks this year. But the reality is that this is one of the best years for potential talent at quarterback and the difference between the No. 1 guy and the No. 6 guy is only going to be a point or two a game. Spending a high draft pick to have Rodgers on your team this year simply doesn’t make sense. Let someone else make that play and focus on building out your running back and wide receiver positions for a few rounds and then look to add a quarterback a round or two after Rodgers is gone. You’ll still end up with one of the top quarterbacks, but you’ll have a much more valuable upgrade at another position as well.
Clayton Gray: Rodgers should be the top quarterback on your board. But you shouldn't draft him. There are just too many excellent options (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and Russell Wilson) to make Rodgers a value at his current ADP. Then you have guys like Kirk Cousins, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan available even later. Getting one of those guys is more than fine in most leagues. Let someone else take Rodgers seven or eight rounds before you take your high-quality quarterback.
Justin Howe: Sacrilege, I know. I do have Rodgers pegged as my top overall quarterback, and I do expect a top-five finish, at worst. I have no inside reasoning to expect some massive drop-off. But I rarely find myself paying the premium for his services. He's the top option on the board - especially with Doug Baldwin's injury complicating Russell Wilson's outlook - but that's nowhere near enough to call for a quarterback pick in Round 3 or 4. The top 18-22 names are so clustered and packed with ADP value that shrewd drafters will fill the tougher positions first, waiting until Round 9 or later to address quarterback. Obviously, if you walk away from your draft with Rodgers, you walk away with the top name. But you almost certainly fell behind the pack in terms of draft value. To put it another way: I like a roster that features Kenyan Drake and Matthew Stafford from Rounds 4 and 9 far, far more than one boasting Rodgers and, say, Nick Chubb.
Jeff Pasquino: I could dig into the numbers and deep analysis on Aaron Rodgers, but the basic question one has to answer is this – Why would you spend a top-50 pick on a quarterback? Time and time again, this is not a sound strategy. Jordy Nelson is gone, and Rodgers is yet another year older, which will lead to fewer running opportunities and a higher risk of injury. His supporting cast beyond Davante Adams and Randall Cobb is very limited, as is the running game. Jimmy Graham is a strong addition, but I believe that the net difference of adding Graham and losing Nelson (plus the passage of time) has me believing Rodgers is not going to be the fantasy QB1 this season. Even if he contends for that spot, it will not be a runaway – and thus Rodgers does not justify a Top 50 fantasy pick.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco
Sigmund Bloom: While he was one of the stories of December, Garoppolo’s fantasy performances were still middle of the road on average. He will have a full offseason to absorb Kyle Shanahan’s system, and Pierre Garcon is back, but there are quarterbacks with higher floors and just as high ceilings available around the same point of your draft as Garoppolo. He doesn’t add much as a runner will still have some “welcome to starting at quarterback in the NFL” moments. There are at least five quarterbacks going after him that are more attractive at ADP.
Ryan Hester: Sometimes, a player’s price tag can look logical in a vacuum. But part of evaluating when to draft players is looking at who is still available at the same position. Garoppolo is in a tier with proven fantasy successes such as Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, and Matt Ryan. While San Francisco was one of the more entertaining teams to watch in 2017 after Garoppolo’s arrival, that shouldn’t make fantasy players reach to draft him. There are plenty of high floor players and as much – if not more – upside players available after Garoppolo.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee
Devin Knotts: As a backup fantasy quarterback you want two things. The first is consistency if you need the quarterback to step in during a bye week or if your starter gets injured. The second is upside in case you have a fringe top-12 quarterback where your backup can out-perform your starter. The reality is, Marcus Mariota has not shown either throughout his career as he has never finished as a top-12 quarterback, and has finished as a top-12 quarterback in just 43% of his games including just 26% of his games last season. While there is a new coaching staff in Tennessee, this will be offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur's first time calling plays in his career so expect that there will be some bumps in the road.
Jason Wood: Marcus Mariota isn’t a bad quarterback. In three seasons, Mariota has a respectable 61.7% completion rate, 7.43 yards per attempt average, and a 4.5% touchdown rate. As a fantasy commodity, not being “bad” isn’t good enough. The former Oregon Duck has ranked 22nd, 13th, and 17th in three seasons and is coming off his worst of three campaigns. From an outside perspective, the Titans do not lack for offensive playmakers. The receiving corps is deep, and Delanie Walker is a Pro Bowler. Yet, Mariota struggles in mediocrity. He’s never played a full season, and one has to question whether he ever will. Check the annals of NFL history and find a starting quarterback who missed games in each of his first three seasons, and then became a reliable fantasy commodity. It never happens.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia
Andy Hicks: It is a common perception that Carson Wentz will be the future face of the NFL if he isn't already. He displayed star qualities in 2017 and had fantasy stats to go with it. Then he tore his ACL. Then the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl without him. Onto 2018 and it is hard to see him starting early in the season. His injury was late in the year, and it was more than one ligament, meaning the recovery will be harder. The Eagles have no need to rush Wentz back onto the field with Super Bowl-winning Nick Foles in reserve. For the long-term future of the franchise, he will not play until he is medically cleared and fit. At this stage, when you take Wentz, you have to take Foles as well which negates your draft price even further. If Wentz is 100% clear to start in Week 1, his current asking price is fair.
Jason Wood: Wentz was having an MVP-season before tearing multiple ligaments last year, and the Eagles were talented enough to win the Super Bowl without him. Fantasy managers have been quick to assume Wentz picks up right where he left off, but that’s a risky proposition. Not only did he tear multiple ligaments, but his play relies on his mobility. Even if you assume he’s 100% healthy, last year’s offensive efficiency was unsustainable. The Eagles had the third-best red zone offense in the last 30 years. Wentz touchdown rate is among the best of the modern era. He’s a promising, perhaps elite, young passer but regression is in order.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Tom Brady, New England
Sigmund Bloom: Brady’s fantasy playoff swoon is on the verge of becoming an annual tradition, and his pass offense is more precarious than ever. The Patriots will be without Julian Edelman for the first four games, and after trading Brandin Cooks, they simply can’t afford to lose Rob Gronkowski if they want to maintain a large tactical advantage on opposing defense. First-round running back Sony Michel’s knee is already acting up. It’s possible that the Patriots offense will be underwhelming by its typical standard this year, and Brady didn’t exactly earn his ADP in a better situation last year.
Dak Prescott, Dallas
James Brimacombe: Prescott is a guy I want to like this year based on his price alone, but I can't stop thinking about the lack of receiving options around him. He has no playmakers on this team outside of Ezekiel Elliott at running back and that is not much of a help to him in the passing game. I can't buy in on Prescott right now as the Cowboys offense is one of the biggest question marks in the league. On the flip side, Prescott has had back to back seasons with six rushing touchdowns which are often an overlooked angle in fantasy.
Philip Rivers, LA Chargers
Andy Hicks: Philip Rivers consistently reaches the level of play to be a starting fantasy quarterback. In ten of the last 12 years, he has been worth starting on a week to week basis. What he lacks, however, is an upside. It has been five years since he ranked higher than seventh and although his consistency is impressive with nine consecutive years of between 26 and 33 touchdowns and it is almost a sure thing that he throws at least a dozen interceptions. Such consistency is laudable, but other options present a much higher upside and at age 37 and with no reliable weapon at Tight End, a position Rivers has utilized better than almost any other quarterback, he presents a little downside as well.
Russell Wilson, Seattle
Ari Ingel: Wilson had a great season last year. Per Rich Hribar of Rotoworld, nearly 90% of the Seahawks touchdowns came via the pass, which was the highest rate in the past ten years. Wilson threw for 3,983 yards, a league-leading 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a solid 61% completion rate. He also added 586 yards on the ground with another 3 scores, averaging nearly 26 fantasy points per game, which was second best on the year only to Deshaun Watson. While Wilson won’t be a bust, he probably won’t reach those heights again this year. The Seahawks are determined to get their run game going and used a first-round draft pick on Rashaad Penny to go along with incumbent starter, Chris Carson. They want to run the ball more this year and Wilson won’t account for nearly all of their touchdowns again. The Seahawks also lost Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson Jr, and Doug Baldwin is now hurt. Wilson needs Baldwin to get healthy fast.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay
Andy Hicks: A three-week suspension to start the 2018 season is a serious warning to the long-term future of Jameis Winston in the league. If there are any more off-field incidents, then he would need to play to a Pro Bowl level to be worth the franchise’s time. Once he returns he will need to win back the fans and the entire team in Tampa. This is an extremely crucial year for Winston to prove he is a franchise quarterback. Anything less and he may be out of the league very quickly.