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.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Josh Gordon, Cleveland
Will Grant: For a guy who hasn’t reported to camp, has a history of issues with the league and rumors that Dez Bryant may be joining Jarvis Landry and Antonio Calloway as potential threats to Gordon’s production, I see him as a big risk this season. His ADP reflects the hope that he returns, keeps his head screwed on straight and immediately steps into the No. 1 wide receiver spot for 16 games. I wish the best for him and hope he finally gets it together. But none of that makes him attractive for your fantasy team. Certainly not at his current draft slot.
Dan Hindery: The Browns may say their interest in Dez Bryant has nothing to do with their expectations for Josh Gordon this season, but that’s hard to buy. At some point, a player is either reliable or not. Whatever your feelings on Josh Gordon’s talent, it is a fact that he hasn’t finished as even a top-100 fantasy wide receiver since 2013. The risk factor in drafting Gordon anywhere near his current ADP is tremendous. We don’t have any guarantee he will even show up. At some point, it is also fair to start questioning just how high Gordon’s ceiling is as well. Every missed rep is a lost opportunity to build chemistry with the Browns new quarterbacks. Every missed practice, talented players like Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, and Antonio Callaway are earning larger roles in the offense. Plus, Bryant is seeming a more likely addition by the day.
Jeff Pasquino: There is always an inherent risk when taking a player coming off of a suspension or taking a wide receiver from Cleveland – but when those two players are the same person, well, I have to really throttle back on that decision. There is no question that when Gordon is playing and in top form, he can be a dominant force as a true WR1. The questions of whether he can check all those boxes are what keep me from looking at him as a true fantasy starter. More than likely, I am going to let someone else take the risk on him and look for safer options at wide receiver who have far less downside risk.
Jason Wood: Stop the insanity. Please. It's easy to root for Josh Gordon’s story to end well. But fantasy football is a game of probabilistic outcomes, and the likelihood Gordon matches his current ADP is minuscule. There is no analytical way the team can improve enough to support two top-25 fantasy receivers, so a bet on Gordon is a bet against Jarvis Landry; who broke the bank this offseason. Drafting Gordon like he’s a coin flip to reprise his 2013 form is foolhardy.
DeVante Parker, Miami
Clayton Gray: Back in the spring, I was willing to get on board with Parker. Ryan Tannehill, while certainly not an elite quarterback, was back, and it was acceptable to give Parker and the rest of the Miami offense a clean slate from the 2017 debacle. But the news since camp started has gone from terrible to worse. Parker was reportedly getting blanketed by Xavien Howard in practice. Parker will now miss a few weeks with a broken finger. His mental status might have needed the rest from Howard. But Parker is an easy avoid for me now.
Ryan Hester: Reports from Miami camp are that Parker is struggling once again. An eternal disappointment since he was draft, Parker might be too far down the road to execute a 180 and become a dynamic and reliable player. Kenny Stills is the best wide receiver in Miami for fantasy football purposes. Even Danny Amendola might out-produce Parker.
Dan Hindery: The overwhelming consensus from those following Dolphins training camp is that Parker has not been looking good. One beat writer went so far as to say Parker hasn’t had a single eye-opening practice. Parker was a risky pick at his ADP even before he broke his middle finger, an injury which will keep him out until at least Week 1. There was some reason for early optimism regarding Parker taking on an expanded role in the offense after Jarvis Landry was traded away. However, the Dolphins also added Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson in free agency and used an early draft pick on Mike Gesicki. Also, Kenny Stills is still around and has been a more consistent and impactful player than Parker. It’s hard to envision Parker seeing enough targets in this offense to produce at a level which would justify his current ADP.
Matt Waldman: Parker still struggles against press coverage and he’s not a complete route runner. He’s a fine athlete with awe-inspiring moments, but the best football players have the technical and tactical resources that help them deliver consistent production between those jaw-dropping plays – plays that get fans projecting greatness on players all too prematurely. Although the upside relative to his draft position is a positive, he’s still overvalued based on his production floor relative his peers in the same range.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Julian Edelman, New England
James Brimacombe: Any time a player will miss a chunk of the season with a suspension you have to take notice and adjust accordingly. With Edelman set to miss the teams first four games you are losing a lot of potential scoring that another player at the ADP could give you. I am not saying Edelman won't be good once he returns in Week 5 but rather than his current ADP doesn't give me enough of a discount to warrant using a valuable selection in the middle rounds.
Andy Hicks: Julian Edelman not only has the four-game suspension hanging over him, he will also be 32 when he returns. As an interesting aside, that is the age that his predecessor in New England, Wes Welker declined noticeably. Bill Belichick is hardly the most sentimental of coaches and this could be Edelman’s last year in New England. He can be cut after this season with little damage to the cap and it must be noted that he hasn’t set foot onto the field since the dramatic Super Bowl win against the Falcons. Too risky to rely on.
Will Fuller V, Houston
Will Grant: With Deshaun Watson back under center for the Texans, the consensus is that Will Fuller V’s stats will certainly get a bump. He missed the first three games of the season, but put up some impressive stats once he started until Watson was lost for the season. Then he disappeared into the struggling offense and never recovered. The return of Watson has people grabbing Fuller early. Too early. At his current ADP, he’s going to need almost 800 yards receiving and five or more touchdowns to show value. What are the chances of that happening with DeAndre Hopkins on the other side of the field? I like Fuller but I doubt he’s going to hit that type of production unless Hopkins goes down to injury.
Jason Wood: Fuller may be the most overvalued player at any position this year. He caught seven touchdowns in 28 receptions last season, a statistical feat impossible to repeat. He’s got a pedestrian catch rate through two seasons, has missed eight games already, and is a one-dimensional route runner. He’ll run under a handful of Deshaun Watson vertical routes, but that won’t be enough to justify his ADP.
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia
Matt Waldman: There’s no question about Jeffery’s talent and skill. It’s the rotator cuff injury and the uncertainty of Carson Wentz’s rehabilitation timeline that have me questioning Jeffery’s value this year. Jeffery worked with a body alignment specialist last year and discovered that his hamstrings were tight due to some alignment issues with his upper body, but could he continue doing this work while recovering from the shoulder injury? Wentz’s lateral stability is also a question mark after his injury and the timeline of his recovery. This will be important when he moves around the pocket and if he lacks it, he won’t be generating big plays as an improviser at the rate he did in the past. Without that skill, he’s an average quarterback, at best. Unless the Eagles shut down Wentz for at least four to six weeks of the regular season, the only options I’m considering in Philadelphia are the tight ends.
Jason Wood: Jeffery was a key piece of the Eagles championship puzzle, but savvy fantasy players don’t draft for what happened, they draft for what’s going to happen. Jeffery stayed healthy last year, but that’s a rarity for him. And unfortunately, he’s on the PUP list recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. He was touchdown dependent last year and had the least separation of all qualified receivers, according to NFL.com’s NextGen stats. Last year was a perfect season, and investing on a repeat would be foolhardy.
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City
Phil Alexander: There's too much overlap between Hill and Sammy Watkins' games to draft Hill as if Watkins' signing doesn't matter. The 22 percent share of the Chiefs targets Hill enjoyed last year has nowhere to go but down, and at least a few of the home run plays Andy Reid drew up for Hill last year will now go to Watkins. Since he rarely gets targeted in the red zone, the only hope for Hill to justify his ADP is for the entire offensive pie to grow significantly for Kansas City's receivers due to Patrick Mahomes II II taking over for Alex Smith and/or their lousy defense landing them in shootouts. Both scenarios are plausible, but too much still has to go right for Hill to approximate his 2017 numbers. However great Mahomes is throwing downfield, he'll be hard-pressed to top Alex Smith's league-leading success rate on deep throws from last year.
Ari Ingel: Hill is an amazing talent, but it is going to be hard for him to repeat last year’s numbers. Despite what many people think of him, Alex Smith had a phenomenal season, one that Patrick Mahomes II would be lucky to replicate. Additionally, the Chiefs now have another talented receiver to gobble up targets in Sammy Watkins. Hill is not a bad pick, but he will probably be an unreliable week-to-week. He’s best drafted as your third receiver, but he’s going off the board as people's WR1.
Players Receiving 1 Votes
Geronimo Allison, Green Bay
Matt Waldman: Allison is a smooth route runner with some skill at adjusting to the football. He’s not a top athlete at his position for the NFL and both Jake Kumerow and Deangelo Yancey offer more athletic upside as the Packers’ No. 3 receiver. Considering where Allison is available in drafts, his lack of upside makes him less attractive than receivers with a lower production floor.
Amari Cooper, Oakland
Ryan Hester: The Oakland offense is a big question mark. Jon Gruden has talked and acquired players as though he wants to play football in 1998 again. Another thing working against Cooper is that he added weight this offseason. It remains to be seen if that will impact his quickness and ability to get open. Cooper will also face the top cornerback from every opposing team. Will he be able to get open consistently enough? Will he be able to fix the drops that have plagued him to this point in his career? At this point in drafts, there shouldn’t be this many difficult-to-answer questions.
Stefon Diggs, Minnesota
Jason Wood: No disrespect to Stefon Diggs, but he’s the second-best receiver on his own team, and the Vikings cannot support two top-12 fantasy receivers. The Vikings will have a dynamic passing attack with Kirk Cousins under center, but they’ll still be balanced because Dalvin Cook can be a bellcow and the defense will keep them in advantageous game scripts. Diggs misses time and isn't as precise a route runner as his teammate Adam Thielen. He’s a very good receiver being drafted like an elite one. That makes him an easy player to avoid.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay
Matt Waldman: A lot of the blame for the Buccaneers’ red zone woes are pinned on Jameis Winston, but many of the routes where Winston has “missed” his receivers are fade routes to Mike Evans – routes that are about a quarterback throwing to a spot and the receiver reaching that spot. Evans has struggled to reach those spots more often than Winston struggled with his accuracy. Evans lacks a complete game as a route runner and with the skills of Cameron Brate and Chris Godwin in the red zone don’t expect Evans to earn double-digit scoring production. While he looks like a top-12 fantasy receiver, he doesn’t consistently play like one and it makes him more volatile than his value suggests.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
James Brimacombe: The numbers never lie for Larry Fitzgerald and neither does his role as the team's number one option in the passing game. In 14 seasons with the Cardinals, Fitzgerald has only missed a total of five games. The reason I feel that he is overvalued this year is where is ADP is and the players around him that I could see having a bigger breakout year. You can't always win at fantasy football playing it safe and to me, that is exactly what Fitzgerald is this year - a safe reliable wide receiver that is on the verge of having a regression type of season.
Devin Funchess, Carolina
Sigmund Bloom: Funchess produced consistent value last year, but that was without Greg Olsen for most of the year, and before the team drafted D.J. Moore and traded for Torrey Smith. This team will remain one of the least pass-heavy in the league, so it will be difficult for Funchess to get the consistent target share he’ll need to be a hit at ADP. Funchess could be a big part of the red zone offense, but there are wide receivers with higher season-long and weekly ceilings available where you can usually get him.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit
Andy Hicks: Breakout players need to be carefully considered before using a precious roster spot on them. Kenny Golladay is being drafted significantly on potential rather than likely production. He is going to struggle for targets behind the more proven Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr and his performances in his rookie season are overstated. His first and last game showed something, the rest weren't indicative of a future star. He is a nice swing for the fences upside pick, but nothing more.
Chris Hogan, New England
Andy Hicks: Chris Hogan has never been a top-50 fantasy receiver, turns 30 during the season and his position in the New England pecking order is unclear. Using a high pick on him is madness. The Patriots have many options at their disposal and even assuming that he plays heavily while Julian Edelman is suspended, he has shown durability issues previously. Hogan is likely to have a good game every now and then, but he has always been well down the pecking order for Tom Brady. Last year he saw the fifth most targets and it is hard to see that rising too much.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Daniel Simpkins: Like his quarterback, Hopkins is due for regression after catching 13 touchdowns last year, second highest in the league. It’s easy to forget when looking at Hopkins’ totals that many of the Texans’ ancillary targets got hurt and Hopkins was targeted at the highest rate in the NFL-- nearly 34 percent of the team’s passes were directed to him. With Will Fuller V, Bruce Ellington, and the tight end group healthy, and deep speedster Keke Coutee added, Hopkins won’t get the volume that propelled him to finish as the top receiver in fantasy football. If you want to read a more detailed breakdown about why Hopkins is overvalued, see this Spotlight.
Allen Hurns, Dallas
Sigmund Bloom: The Cowboys don’t have a No. 1 receiver right now, which is bad news for Hurns, who they have paid more than any receiver on their roster. Tavon Austin, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley will play roles in the passing game, and rookie Michael Gallup has been the most impressive wide receiver in camp by most observer accounts. Chances are, no Cowboys wide receiver will have consistent value, and if you had to put a chip on one at this point, Hurns probably wouldn’t be the answer.
Jordy Nelson, Oakland
Phil Alexander: Nelson owed his early-season fantasy success in 2017 to years of trust built with Aaron Rodgers in the red zone. Even in Rodgers’ six starts last season, Nelson had zero games with more than 75 receiving yards. Things predictably got worse when Rodgers broke his collarbone, as Nelson failed to eclipse 35 yards in a game with Brett Hundley at quarterback. Oakland’s offense may be poised for a relative bounce back this year, but we can say with certainty they won't be visiting their opponent's red zone as frequently as Green Bay traditionally does. It's also far from guaranteed Nelson instantly builds rapport with Carr when the Raiders get within striking distance. Michael Crabtree's 2017 numbers (WR31) represent the top of Nelson's range of possible outcomes in Oakland. Even in a best-case scenario, there is little-to-no profit potential in choosing Nelson at his current ADP.
Allen Robinson, Chicago
Dan Hindery: The risk factors surrounding Robinson’s 2018 season are not fully priced into his ADP. There are safer options with similar or greater upside available in the early rounds. In four seasons, Robinson has finished as a WR2 or better just one time. It is easy to write off the three unproductive seasons due to injuries and shaky play from a young quarterback. But aren’t those risk factors still just as present in Chicago as they were in Jacksonville? Robinson has been limited in camp as he tries to return from a torn ACL and is no guarantee to be healthy for 16 games. Mitch Trubisky is every bit as unproven as Blake Bortles was in the seasons Robinson struggled in Jacksonville. Plus, missing most of the training camp reps is not doing anything to ease Robinson’s transition into a new offense or to build chemistry with Trubisky.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver
Andy Hicks: Denver didn’t spend a second and fourth-round pick at wide receiver this year, not to mention a third rounder last year because they are confident Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas can beat father time. Both Thomas and Sanders are over 30 and essentially in the last year of their contracts. Their 2019 cap numbers are exorbitant, to put it mildly, and Denver has to play them this year due to their 2018 cap hits. One or both will be eased out of the mix and Sanders has to be the clear favorite to lose a starting role sooner rather than later.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh
Ryan Hester: His 2017 season was one of the most successful rookie seasons in NFL history. But he made that happen more on efficiency than volume. In a Pittsburgh offense that runs through Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, it’s difficult to project Smith-Schuster seeing enough volume to justify his current price tag.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota
Jeff Pasquino: This may be an unpopular stance, but I have a feeling that we may have seen the peak of Thielen’s fantasy production last season. While his season-long numbers were strong, looking harder at the last six games of the regular season (and two postseason games), Thielen had just one touchdown and one game with over 100 yards receiving. The NFL learns fast, and defensive coordinators adjusted quickly to Thielen’s emergence as a very capable wideout. Add in the return of Dalvin Cook to rekindle the Minnesota ground game and the change at quarterback to Kirk Cousins, and I see several possible paths to lower production for Thielen this season. For those reasons, he is falling down my wide receiver draft list.
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