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 7 Votes
Trey Burton, Jacksonville
Will Grant: I like Trey Burton and I think he’s going to have a decent role in the Chicago offense this season. I just don’t think it will be enough to make him a top-10 fantasy tight end. Between his Super Bowl performance and a head coach that made Travis Kelce a fantasy stud, a lot of guys think Burton’s going to be a beast this season. But Chicago is still struggling to find their rhythm and Burton is a part of that struggle. I see him as a backup tight end with a little upside rather than a definite starter who you can count on every week.
Andy 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 that had a solid rookie season and will eat into Burton’s targets.
Dan Hindery: Burton has gone from a trendy sleeper to a player with a top-100 ADP. The hype has gone too far in this case. Perhaps Chicago makes a miraculous offensive turnaround like the Rams did last season, but it doesn’t make sense to simply assume it will happen. Looking at ADP, the Bears have Burton being drafted as a top-10 tight end, two top-30 running backs, and a top-20 wide receiver. Plus, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, and Adam Shaheen. There are suddenly a lot of mouths to feed in this passing game and we don’t know if it will even be a large pie. Give me Jack Doyle, with Andrew Luck and far less competition for targets, two rounds after Burton goes off the board.
Ari Ingel: The Bears have two talented tight ends in Burton and Adam Shaheen, who form a poor man's version of the old Patriots tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Burton stands 6-foot-2, 224 pounds, and is a 47% SPARQ athlete; while Shaheen stands 6-foot-6, 278 pounds, and is a 77% SPARQ athlete. In his four career games as the Eagles starting tight end, Burton averaged 3.5 receptions, 45 yards, and 1 touchdown per game. That is okay, although not spectacular, since touchdowns can be fluky. Additionally, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has had major accuracy issues in camp, making Burton a risky pick inside the top 10, while Shaheen can be had for next to nothing at the end of drafts.
Chad 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. Also, Adam Shaheen was a high draft pick a year ago and projects as a more all-around tight end than Burton on the same depth chart. Considering Burton's ADP, he is a risky bet to sport a profit in 2018.
Matt Waldman: Burton has the skills to deliver top-12 fantasy production at the position, but does he have the quarterback or the role? Adam Shaheen has a lot of physical similarities to Rob Gronkowski and he's a fluid receiver. Matt Nagy has already stated this week that Shaheen will have a significant role in the offense. This could reduce Burton's fantasy footprint in the scheme, especially with such a large casting call of receiver and running back talent that could push Burton to the sideline in several offensive packages.
Jason Wood: Excitement abounded when Burton left the Eagles for the Bears on a sizeable free agent contract. Comparisons to Travis Kelce were understandable given the financial commitment and the Bears implementation of the Chiefs offense under new head coach Matt Nagy. But the initial euphoria is wearing off, and Burton is overvalued. Adam Shaheen is as good, if not better than Burton and is more of a two-way player thus guaranteeing more snaps (unless you think Burton is going to morph into an excellent pass protector). Burton will get plenty of looks, but Shaheen is going to demand attention, too. No tight end that’s splitting touches should be a consensus top-10 selection.
Player Receiving 3 Votes
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati
James Brimacombe: The back injuries that Eifert has had to deal with over the last couple of seasons have really derailed his career. His health seems to always be a concern and with where he his ADP is currently the risk simply isn't worth the price you have to pay. The fact that he has only played in 39 total games over his five-year career has to sound the alarm even though back in 2015 he showed the upside of scoring 13 touchdowns in the same amount of games.
Jeff 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 I want no part of that.
Matt Waldman: His back issues tell a grim story that isn't one worth trusting. This spring he couldn't seem to bend into an athletic position for any length of time without leaving the field. Fantasy players are wiser to take a chance on backup Tyler Kroft.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Jordan Reed, Washington
Jeff 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 I say 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, I will gladly let someone else take the risk on Reed.
Daniel 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.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee
Ryan Hester: Walker isn’t the worst pick in the world, but the other tight ends in the same tier all over fewer warts. Evan Engram has target competition, but he’s an elite athlete who will be used to run routes from all over the field. Greg Olsen has a better quarterback than Walker’s and looked rejuvenated in the playoffs last season after coming back from injury. Kyle Rudolph has Kirk Cousins, who is accurate in short-to-intermediate throws and used his tight ends frequently in Washington. Lastly, Walker has a younger, more athletic tight end on his team in Jonnu Smith to decrease Walker’s share of the tight end targets.
Andy 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 servant 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.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis
Jason 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.
Evan Engram, NY Giants
Phil Alexander: Tight ends seem fairly valued this season, 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, 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 you can typically wait for two rounds and capture Engram's upside by drafting Jordan Reed instead.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia
Ryan Hester: The Eagles were one of the league’s biggest surprises last season, which has led to most of their offensive players being drafted at their ceiling, Ertz included. First of all, due to positional scarcity (starting just one in most leagues compared to multiple running backs and wide receivers), tight end isn’t a premium position in fantasy football. Second, Philadelphia drafted Dallas Goedert in the second round and plans to use him as a redzone specialist, which makes sense given that Ertz has 21 touchdowns in 75 career games.