It is hard to believe, but we’re already halfway through the 2017 NFL season. Dynasty owners speculate and prepare all offseason with the information that is available, but now we have a half season of actual game data to help evaluate some of the talent. We now have an idea of which players the community may have overvalued or undervalued. Today I’m going to look at one player from each position that we overvalued in preseason ADP based on actual production this season. I’ll also look at one player from each position that is outperforming their preseason ADP (based on DFF August 2017 ADP). Obviously, injuries and suspensions can affect player values and performance, so we’ll look at players that have been relatively healthy and unimpacted by discipline from the league.
Overvalued – Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Mariota was the QB4 in DFF August ADP and went at pick 56 overall. Mariota had a fantastic sophomore campaign that saw him throw for 3,426 yards and 26 touchdowns while adding 349 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. It was easy to see him taking another leap forward and becoming a superstar quarterback. So far this season, however, Mariota has not lived up to his ADP. He is the QB19, averaging just shy of 18 fantasy points per game.
Behind one of the better offensive lines in football, you’d expect Mariota’s numbers to be a lot better than they have been to this point. It doesn’t help that Eric Decker has underperformed, and Corey Davis has been out multiple games with a hamstring injury. Mariota is very talented, however, so I would expect him to bounce back in the second half of the season.
Honorable Mention – Jameis Winston
Undervalued – Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
This one should be pretty obvious to everyone. Smith was our QB27 in DFF August ADP, going at pick 202. If you saw this one coming, pat yourself on the back. Smith has spent almost his entire career being fantasy irrelevant. A backup or bye week fill in for the last few years, Smith has even spent time on a lot of waiver wires throughout his career (including the beginning of this year in more than a few leagues).
He’s been serviceable in the NFL for the Chiefs. As for fantasy, Smith has never really been a factor. That has all changed so far in 2017. Smith is currently the QB4, averaging 24.31 fantasy points per game. He’s been remarkable so far this season and is on pace to throw for 4,362 yards, 32 touchdowns, and ZERO interceptions. While these numbers may not come to fruition, Smith has certainly exceeded all expectations of him as a fantasy quarterback in 2017.
Honorable Mention – Carson Wentz/Deshaun Watson
Overvalued – Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Ajayi was the RB10 in DFF August ADP, going at pick 22 overall. In the first half of the 2017 season, Ajayi has been pretty awful, albeit the Miami offensive line certainly hasn’t helped him out a whole lot. He is currently the RB35, averaging 9.6 fantasy points per game.
There is reason, for optimism, however, as Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles just this week. Certainly, this could change his outlook for the second half of the season, as the Eagles are a much better offense. As @DFF_Shane mentioned in his article about the Ajayi trade, Football Outsiders ranks the Eagles 21st Adjusted Line yards, while the Dolphins rank 28th. They also have a solid passing game, which should open things up inside for Ajayi. He could share carries with LeGarrette Blount, especially around the goal line, but should see an uptick in his efficiency and also his passing game stats.
Honorable Mention – Isaiah Crowell
Undervalued – Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins
This one shows how the definition of a running back in the NFL is continuing to change. Thompson was barely even on the radar screen in the offseason. Washington had Rob Kelley and added Samaje Perine to their backfield. Thompson was RB61 in DFF August ADP, at pick 199. Thompson obviously does most of his damage catching the ball.
While his rushing statistics leave something to be desired, Thompson is a beast in the Washington passing game, and he is currently the RB9, averaging 18.33 fantasy points per game. I highly doubt that Thompson will continue this pace, and in my opinion, this is a great time to look to sell him in your league. Having said that, so far, he’s undoubtedly outperformed his preseason ADP, and has probably helped a lot of fantasy owners shoot to the top of their respective leagues.
Honorable Mention – Mark Ingram
Overvalued – Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Another pretty obvious choice. Amari Cooper has severely underperformed this season. He was the WR6 in DFF August ADP, going at pick 9 overall. He is currently the WR30, averaging 11.6 fantasy points per game, although that number is skewed based on his monster game in week 7. As good as Cooper was in year one and halfway through year two, he’s been equally as bad since, especially in 2017.
He’s been plagued by drops, and because he doesn’t score a lot of touchdowns, the downward trend of his receptions and yardage totals has negatively impacted his fantasy value. I believe that Cooper is a borderline elite level talent and can get back on track, but he and Derek Carr need to get on the same page, and I’m not overly optimistic about the rest of this season for Cooper’s fantasy owners.
Honorable Mention – TY Hilton
Undervalued – Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
In the offseason, I remember multiple conversations with friends and colleagues regarding Thielen. Many voiced concerns that the bulk of his production came in a couple of big games. In my opinion, Thielen has proven this season that he can be a solid fantasy contributor. The WR46 in DFF August ADP, Thielen currently sits as the WR11, averaging 14.73 fantasy points per game.
While Thielen is averaging about a point fewer on a per game basis than his teammate Stefon Diggs, he seems to be the more consistent option of the two. Diggs is a more talented receiver, but can’t seem to stay healthy. Thielen continues to produce, and he has been able to stay healthy, making him the more reliable option in Minnesota. I’d expect him to maintain a similar output during the second half of the season.
Honorable Mention – Larry Fitzgerald
Overvalued – Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
The up-and-comer in San Dieg….ahem…Los Angeles showed plenty of promise in his limited opportunities during the 2016 season. While we knew that Antonio Gates would still be hanging around, we expected Henry to take over most of the workload at tight end in 2017. Henry was the TE7 in DFF August ADP. Currently, he sits as the TE18, averaging 8.28 fantasy points per game. While Henry has gotten off to a slower than expected start this season, he is slowly taking over the majority of snaps at tight end in L.A. as shown by PlayerProfiler.com, and it is only a matter of time before he becomes one of Philip Rivers more dangerous weapons and favorite targets.
Honorable Mention – Eric Ebron
Undervalued – Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cameron Bratehas well outplayed his August TE19 ADP, and is currently the TE4, averaging 13.64 fantasy points per game. He’s remained a reliable target for Jameis Winston and is getting a lot of red zone looks. The question with Brate is how much will 2017 1st round pick O.J. Howard eats into his playing time. For now, Brate is a reliable chain mover and red zone target, while Howard is a big play threat. As Howard develops, however, he should cut into Brate’s value moving forward.
Honorable Mention – Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Thank you for reading and as always. Feel free to leave comments and/or give me a follow on Twitter @DFF_Brian.