Dynasty Value Check: March 2019 Wide Receivers

As the confetti descends upon the field and the trophy is awkwardly presented to the victorious franchise by a random corporate spokesperson, the reality of what just happened sets in for everyone watching at home. Football is over. Well, at least real football is over.

For those of us that play in dynasty leagues, the competition has just begun. The offseason for the real NFL becomes start-up season for the fantasy obsessed, and what a season it is. If you don’t play in any dynasty leagues, I have to ask. What are you waiting for?!

A highly active dynasty league can cause something like NFL free agency to drip with the suspense of a Hitchcock thriller. The values of your favorite players can change by the hour. If you love fantasy football, I can assure you that joining a dynasty league will be one of the best choices you’ve ever made. If you have any questions about how they work, simply hit up the #DFFArmy on Twitter and ask away.

Those of you familiar with average draft position should have an idea of how quickly ADP changes. During the summer months, players don’t have a chance to see the field, so we have to speculate more than usual. Finding value in start-up drafts can depend on when you draft, so checking in on ADP is a must. Which players are overvalued? How long can you wait at QB? What’s your early round strategy? Every single one of these questions needs to be discussed BEFORE draft day, or you’ll end up panic drafting Tom Brady in round six. ADP research is crucial to dynasty success and taking advantage of common trends can help you dominate for years to come. It certainly takes time and effort to plan a draft strategy, but it’s worth it in the long run.

But as you know… giving effort is yucky.

Have no fear my lazy friends, Gator’s got your back. I combed through ADP data from multiple different sites (including our own DFF ADP) and identified as many patterns as possible. Some players were all over the map, others were consistently drafted too early or too late, and some weren’t drafted at all. I gathered all of this info and compiled a list of notable players that were either undervalued, overvalued, or total coin flips. I’ll present all of this information week by week, so do the right thing and throw me a Twitter follow and check our site as often as possible.

Keep in mind when I say overvalued, I don’t mean the player stinks. He can still have upside, and could even be a league winner. It simply means that the equity you have to spend to roster him isn’t worth his current production and you’re paying for what you hope will happen, not what already has.

In summation: pay for what already exists, find discounts on what doesn’t yet. Let’s check out the first three.

Overvalued: JuJu Smith-Schuster – WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

ADP: 1.12

I’ve been hammering this home for months now, and it has nothing to do with JuJu’s ability as a player. He’s an exceptional talent, and he has a bright future in the league. The primary argument for why he’s being overvalued boils down to three main points:

  1. The Antonio Brown effect: This is the discussion you will hear most during the offseason from the fantasy community. The fact that we haven’t seen JuJu as the primary target on his team matters, especially when AB was the other guy on the field. Guys like Brown and OBJ are so incredibly talented that they have raised the bar of what a true #1 receiver means to a team. JuJu played out of the slot all season, and from a scheme standpoint, he was able to see softer coverages while opposing secondaries cowered in fear of AB on the outside. There’s no way to guarantee he sees the same type of coverage, and the smart money says he will see double teams more times than not. This speaks to his talent as a player, but it also adds risk to his fantasy stock. I’m sure JuJu will produce at a high level but to expect any sort of bump in his fantasy output now that AB  is gone might not be the smartest bet to make with your first round pick.
  2. Uncertainty of QB future: This may not seem like a huge deal right now, but it’s always a factor in dynasty leagues since you have to project much further out. Big Ben has threatened retirement multiple times, and with all the drama in the Steelers organization, he may follow through on that threat sooner than we think. We’ve seen what poor QB play can do to a budding superstar, so the thought of an unproven draft pick replacing a Hall of Famer isn’t a pretty one. This is one of those instances where it could work out just fine, but any risk this early in drafts is a bad thing.
  3. Target total. Smith-Schuster saw the fourth highest target total in the entire league last season (166). The thought of him seeing more? Highly unlikely, even with the departure of AB. I wouldn’t plan on his target total growing in 2019 with defenses able to provide extra help underneath. If he repeats the same target totals he did last year, then there’s a good chance his production dips based on him seeing tougher matchups. Yet his ADP rose. Something has to break here, and trust me – it won’t be the data.

I’m a big fan of JuJu as a player, and I love the energy he brings to the league, but there are multiple reasons to pivot to more stable receivers in this range of the draft. He belongs in the back half of the second round alongside guys like Stefon Diggs and Amari Cooper, and his hype has outpaced his production. If you want to reach on a player because of a potential leap in fantasy output, you need it to be a situation that changes for the better. In JuJu’s case, the future has become bleak with the departure of AB and the uncertainty of Big Ben behind center. If you own him already, hold him. But I wouldn’t go near him in the first round of a start-up draft.

Realistic ADP: 2.08+ 

Overvalued: Courtland Sutton – WR, Denver Broncos

ADP: 5.05

The quarterback play in Denver has been uglier than Dave Gettleman’s roster decisions, and it doesn’t look like it will be improving any time soon. For some reason, John Elway thought the best way to reinvent their mediocre quarterback play was to trade for one of the perpetually mediocre veterans in the league. Joe Flacco has never been exciting, and frankly, he’s never been that good. His supporting cast, however…. truly defines “mediocre.” The WR corp in Denver was a mess at the end of 2018, and Courtland Sutton had every opportunity to take the leap – and he fell flat.

Despite being one of the most athletic weapons left on the team he squandered the opportunity from a statistical perspective. He was touted as a touchdown scorer coming into the league and only saw the end zone four times. A big bodied receiver should be the top dog in jump ball situations, but he ranked 102nd in the league in catch rate overall and 24th for contested catch rate. In terms of his ability as a route runner, things were even uglier. He was 90th in target separation, 55th in overall cushion, and an ugly 74th in fantasy points per target. If he wasn’t drafted highly in 2018 start-up drafts, we wouldn’t even be paying attention.

His team situation is brutal and from the looks of it his status as a ‘jump ball specialist’ might be in question. This is the classic case of an *athlete* being labeled as an elite receiver. Nothing besides his combine numbers indicate he’s anything special, at least not yet. Taking him in the fifth round of a startup draft is a dangerous game.

Keep these things in mind when you consider athletic specimens like D.K Metcalf in your rookie drafts. They typically take a LONG time to become top dogs if they don’t have elite route running ability. It also requires someone behind center that can do more than Joe Flacco.

Athletes win the combine; separation specialists win fantasy titles.

Realistic ADP: 8th round

Undervalued: Anthony Miller – WR, Chicago Bears

ADP: 9.03

I’ve been a Miller truther since the second he was drafted into Matt Nagy’s offense. He’s a phenomenal route runner, has great hands and a nose for the end zone. His ADP rose pretty quickly in the offseason last year, and some may tell you he underperformed in 2018. As I noted with Sutton, the WR position takes a lot longer to produce at a high level. The main difference here is that Miller has more specific indicators that show us how good he can be if his target totals increase. He may not jump off of the page when you look at his season-long totals, but if you dig deep enough, his efficiency starts to shine.

The other day I thought I’d administer a little experiment using two wide receivers that I feel passionate about for one reason or another:

A few interesting names popped up in response including Calvin Ridley and Kenny Golladay. As you can imagine based on the subheading of this paragraph, player B was Anthony Miller. He truly flew under the radar last season, and he ended the year on a damn high note. Going into 2019 he remains the primary slot receiver in a unique offense, and his talent flashed late enough to indicate an uptick in usage in 2019.  The fact that he can be snagged a full five rounds behind Sutton tells you a lot about perception vs. reality. It also gives you a window to trade for someone people aren’t talking about….  yet.

Realistic ADP: 7th round

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