It’s finally July! What that means for the fantasy football community is that we’re in the heart of the mock draft season and the research period. A key component to that is determining player values. Should I consider Jay Ajayi in the fourth round or should I not fall victim to his average draft position? To help you answer that question, the Redraft Roundtable team got together to give you our list of overvalued players for 2018. By overvalued, we mean guys that will be drafted above their ADP or players that will underperform next season. Anthony Zaragoza, Mitch Lawson, Aaron Larson, Michael Stephenson, and John DiBari give you their picks, at each position, and their reasons why.
Don’t forget, tweet your questions to @DFF_Redraft or at any of our Roundtable experts using #RedraftRoundtable throughout the season, to have your questions answered on this column.
Which Quarterback is Overvalued this season?
Anthony Zaragoza: Patrick Mahomes. As draft time nears, the hype on Patrick Mahomes is growing like crazy. I’ve seen the former Texas Tech gunslinger being drafted ahead of guys like Phillip Rivers and Jared Goff in mocks, I’ve done. Can Mahomes produce a top 12 season for fantasy owners this season? Sure he can. Mahomes has the tools. But to pass up on a proven quarterback like Rivers, who’s averaging 4,491 passing yards and nearly 31 touchdowns the last five seasons, is too risky for me.
Mitch Lawson: DeShaun Watson is the obvious and correct choice. But I want to also throw Jimmy Garoppolo out there. Garoppolo did some tremendous real-world things for the 49ers, but from a fantasy perspective I don’t like how high he’s being drafted (Usually the QB9). He managed just 6 TDs and 5 INTs in his five starts (He threw another TD in the game against Seattle that he entered late). He has next to zero impact when it comes to running the ball, he struggles passing deep, and his pass game weapons are decent, but far from elite. I think QB9 is far closer to his ceiling than it is his floor.
Michael Stephenson: Jimmy Garoppolo, it is important to remember that QB wins are not a fantasy relevant statistic. Jimmy G led the 49ers to 5 straight wins when he took over last season. During that win streak, Garoppolo was just the QB13 in fantasy. Garoppolo was exceptional when throwing the ball short distances. He averaged a passer rating of 111 when throwing less than 10 yards. This dropped to 76.3 when throwing 10-12 yards, and further again to 41.2 when passing 20+ yards. This meant a lot of moving the chains and possession for the 49ers, but with just 6 TDs and five interceptions, he did very little for your fantasy team.
Aaron Larson: Tom Brady is currently going as the third quarterback off the board in standard leagues and fourth in PPR. Yes, he finished last season as the overall QB3, but that was behind Russell Wilson and Cam Newton, both of whom are going behind Brady in standard leagues right now. Brady will be without Edelman for four games and has lost Amendola and Cooks. New England might even try to run more with the highly drafted Sony Michel. I know Brady always finds a way, but I can’t see him finishing ahead of a healthy Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton, and Russell Wilson. It won’t even shock me if Brady falls outside of the top ten quarterbacks in 2018.
John DiBari: DeShuan Watson, and it’s not particularly close. Watson set the world on fire in his seven games played last year. Roughly prorated over a full season, his totals would have equated to 334 fantasy points, what would have been good enough for QB No.2 last year. That’s great, and that is probably a realistic ceiling for him, but it’s just that, his ceiling. I’m not paying up for a quarterback based on his speculated ceiling after seven games in the NFL.
When you factor in Watson’s price, with an ADP of 3.11 as the second quarterback taken off the board, he is screaming fade outside of every format except best ball. This is Watson’s second significant knee injury, opposing teams will not be surprised by him in 2018, and we have a very small sample size of him at the NFL level. I’ve always been a fan of the late round QB strategy, and if I could get a Matt Stafford in the 9th round why take the risk on Watson in the 3rd? Or better yet, many think Pat Mahomes has similar upside to Watson. Well, you can get Mahomes at the end of the 10th round, and he’s arguably in a better offense with better weapons around him overall.
Which Running Back?
Anthony Zaragoza: Kenyan Drake. Similar to Jimmy Garoppolo last season, Drake had success in a small sample size. During the final five games of 2017, Drake averaged an impressive 118.8 total yards of offense and caught 17 passes as the lead back in Miami. Do you trust that Adam Gase will give Drake 16-20 carries a game all season? That’s what it takes to warrant that early fourth round price tag. Or will they ride the hot hand and mix in guys like Frank Gore and rookie Kalen Ballage during the season? At that ADP, I rather draft a more proven player for my team.
Mitch Lawson: I feel like LeSean McCoy is the obvious choice for overvalued RB, so I want to mix things up. Sony Michel is currently being taken as the 22nd RB off the board (4.11). This means spending a starter spot on a guy who joins the most unpredictable and unforgiving fantasy situations in the NFL. Michel is talented, and he has always been part of a committee. But he also fumbled 12 times in college, something Belichick is NOT going to tolerate. He may see some passing down work due to the lack of passing options in New England. But he is more than likely going to rotate with James White and Rex Burkhead. He will lose passing-down work to the former, and TD upside to the latter. Pass.
Michael Stephenson: Jay Ajayi. Ajayi averaged just 9.8 PPR points per game with the Eagles, which was just enough to be the RB32 across his time in Philly. At a glance his numbers did not look too bad, 70 rushes for 408 yards (5.8 YPC) and one touchdown with ten receptions for 91 yards and 1 TD. If you look closer, his game is massive inefficiency masked by one or two long runs per game. If you take away his longest run from each of his games in Philadelphia, his average YPC drops from 5.8 to 3.0. He could also find himself in a full RBBC with the Eagles talking up Darren Sproles’ involvement in 2018.
Aaron Larson: Devonta Freeman at the top of the second round is a bit too high for me. It isn’t that I don’t like Freeman, but there is a combination of factors that put him a bit lower for me. Freeman will lose touches to Tevin Coleman, and his concussions are starting to add up after suffering one in 2015 and two last season. Given the risk, I would rather draft somebody like Jordan Howard, Joe Mixon, or even old reliable Shady McCoy, all backs that I’m predicting to get more touches than Freeman.
John DiBari: LeSean McCoy is in for a long season. Currently being drafted at 2.07 as the 13th running back off the board, I don’t see him returning the cost of his draft slot. This is exacerbated by the fact that just behind him Jerick McKinnon and Christian McCaffery are being taken. Faced with terrible options at QB with either rookie Josh Allen or unproven veterans A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman under center, McCoy is going to be looking at stacked boxes all year. He’s also 30 years old and is nearing 2,200 carries and 2,700 touches. Shady has been remarkably durable over his career, but going into his 10th season, combined with age and workload, I’m not so sure he will hold up this year, and the uncertainty at quarterback certainly isn’t going to be of any help.
Which Wide Receiver?
Anthony Zaragoza: Marvin Jones. Marvin Jones had a career season last year and finished as the #12 WR in PPR formats. A huge win for fantasy owners last season but also the perfect recipe for a player to be over-drafted this year. What scares me about Jones is how he did it. Jones only caught 61 passes (29th among WR’s in 2017), averaged a crazy 18 yards per reception and had nine touchdowns (tied for 3rd) in 2017. I can’t imagine that Jones will repeat that TD production this season and his yards per catch should get closer to his career average of 15 yards. Not to mention, the buzz around camp for second-year WR Kenny Golladay hurts his value as well. I’m staying away from Jones this year.
Mitch Lawson: Drafting Josh Gordon as the WR12 at 3.06 is simply not a smart draft strategy. First of all, feel-good story or not, Gordon is the slightest of missteps away from not seeing the field at all this season. Second, I don’t think for a second that he’s going to be the WR1 on this team. That distinction goes to Landry, who you can get two full rounds later as the WR25. Third, he is set to start the season with Tyrod Taylor as his QB, whose sub-7 yards per attempt figure doesn’t gel with Gordon’s skill set. Lastly, you can pick Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs and JuJu Smith-Schuster after him, just to name a few. Legendary biceps does not an elite wide receiver make.
Michael Stephenson: Tyreek Hill was uber-efficient in 2017, managing to finish as the WR9 in PPR despite being 24th in the league in WR targets. This was largely due to the fact the shortest of his seven touchdowns was a 30-yard reception, with the remaining 6 TDs all being 40 yards or longer.
This was made possible by Alex Smith becoming the league’s best deep passer in 2017. Without consistent deep touchdowns Hill’s upside fades away, and not only does he enter 2018 with a Quarterback who has played just one NFL game, he now has a very well paid Sammy Watkins to contend with. Hill is going as the WR11 as it stands, which is his absolute ceiling, as he will need Pat Mahomes to have a monumental season to even come close to last year’s production.
Aaron Larson: I think Adam Thielen peaked in 2017, and I can’t see him going anywhere but down from here. He’s currently going as the WR11 early in the third round, ahead of big-play receivers like T.Y. Hilton, Tyreek Hill, and his teammate Stefon Diggs. I don’t think it would shock anybody if Diggs finished ahead of Thielen in 2018. New Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins tends to spread the ball around, and there is no guarantee that he builds the kind of chemistry with Thielen to make him the elite receiver. Thielen had a career year in 2017, but don’t overdraft him in 2018.
John DiBari: Why is Chris Hogan being drafted at 6.05 as the WR27? Two years ago he put together his best season, and he tallied 130 fantasy points. Last season that would have grouped Hogan in with the Travis Benjamin’s, Adam Humphries and Ryan Grants’ of the world. All of whom are currently going undrafted in 15 round leagues. I’m assuming a lot of the hype is coming from the Julian Edelman four-game suspension.
Don’t forget, Edelman missed the entire year last year, and Hogan only racked up 109 fantasy points in nine games. Factor in a stacked depth chart where Hogan will be competing with Edelman, Jordan Matthews, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Britt, Braxton Berrios, and of course Rob Gronkowski and I don’t see where the targets and touches will come from. Don’t get me wrong, I like Hogan, I wrote about him here last March, but I don’t see him returning equal value of his current draft slot.
Which Tight End?
Anthony Zaragoza: Travis Kelce. Currently being drafted in the early part of the third round, Travis Kelce’s price tag is way too high for me to take him this season. There is also a question mark at quarterback in Kansas City that influences my feelings towards Kelce. If Alex Smith were still a Chief, it would be an entirely different story. But with the uncertainty of second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes (my pick for overvalued QB), trusting Kelce is my big concern. Especially when I can get great value on tight ends later in the draft like Delanie Walker in the 6th/7th.
Mitch Lawson: Well, thanks to Gronk’s position outside of the first two rounds for the first time since 2014, that award finally goes to someone else. For me, that’s Greg Olsen as the TE5 and being taken around pick 5.12. That’s just nine total selections behind where he was being taken in 2017 when he was coming off a third-consecutive 1,000-yard season. His foot injury made his 2017 a dismal affair, and Olsen says he is fully healed. But the Panthers also said that after his huge Week 15 game coming off the IR last season, where he was left uncovered.
In Olsen’s three other healthy games in 2017 (Weeks 1, 16 and 17), he averaged two catches for 18 yards per game. Olsen is 35, almost retired to work in TV, but is somehow going to be worth taking before you’ve filled your WR and RB slots? No thanks, I’ll wait and take Evan Engram a full round later.
Michael Stephenson: Trey Burton. This hype train is tough for me to jump on, Burton has never seen more than 60 targets in a single season, with just 31 targets in 2017. While it is true he was stuck behind one of the league’s best TEs in Zach Ertz, and he did shine whenever called upon, this was in a team which showed remarkable efficiency in all facets of its offense. Burton himself was particularly efficient, scoring five touchdowns on just 23 receptions. Adam Shaheen, who himself was very efficient (3 TDs on 12 receptions), is still with the Bears and has shown good rapport with Mitch Trubisky. Veteran Dion Sims also remains on the roster.
Nagy utilised TEs in Kansas City heavily, targeting TEs 158 times in 2017, with 122 going to Travis Kelce. Burton has no history of handling that sort of workload, has more competition at the position than Kelce does in Kansas and is not as talented as Kelce. Assuming Burton will step into Kelce-level production is a stretch for me, making the 7th round far too high a price.
Aaron Larson: Zach Ertz finished as the TE6 in 2016 and then the TE3 in 2017. Ertz’s targets, catches, and yardage were nearly identical in each of the past two seasons. But he caught only four touchdowns in 2016 compared to eight in 2017. It’s incredibly tough to rely on touchdowns from season to season, and where Ertz in currently being drafted, at pick 4.02, you need to bank on those touchdowns again.
If I don’t get Gronk or Kelce, I would rather wait on tight ends and possibly stream the position than reach for Ertz. Some running backs or receivers going after Ertz include JuJu Smith-Schuster, Demaryius Thomas, Jay Ajayi, and Kenyan Drake, all players I would rather have than Ertz at that point in the draft.
John DiBari: One player I’ll have none of this year is Green Bays Jimmy Graham. All the hype and hyperbole that has been cast upon him and his role in this offense sound eerily similar to what we heard from everyone exactly one year ago when the Packers signed Martellus Bennett. Yes, Graham is way more talented than Bennett, but that’s not enough to sell me. The Packers under Mike McCarthy, with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, have never prominently featured the tight end position in their offense.
I have no reason to believe that is suddenly going to change. I could see Graham seeing a little bump in red zone work with the departure of Jordy Nelson, but I’m not paying his average 5.04 ADP and crossing my fingers that this is the year the Packers focus on a tight end. Much like quarterbacks, I try to wait as long as possible on a tight end and have no problem streaming all year if I miss out on any of my late targets.