Overvalued NFL Draft Targets: WR (Fantasy Football)

Feb 24, 2017

R.C. Fischer takes a look the early 2017 NFL Draft valuations ahead of the NFL Combine.

This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from R.C. head to Fantasy Football Metrics.

It’s only February, and we’ve yet to hit the NFL Combine, so a lot is going to change on NFL Draft prospect rankings, mock drafts, and dynasty rookie draft projections over the next two months, but we’re taking a look at the NFL Draft ‘market’ as it stands today and some potential fantasy impacts.

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In the offseason, my career surrounds studying all the incoming college talent and sharing my findings/evaluations with NFL and CFL teams and a growing subscriber base among dynasty and fantasy football owners. I’ve watched several games’ worth of tape on these prospects and analyzed their performance through a statistical, Moneyball-like scouting computer model. I update the prospects after we get the key measurables from the NFL Combine and at Pro Days. At this stage of my evaluations and after talking with other personnel people in the league, here’s a look at a couple of 2017 wide receiver prospects I believe are running overvalued at this juncture…

Mike Williams (Clemson)
Current 2017 NFL Draft projection: Top 10–15 overall pick

Here is a list of the wide receivers drafted in the first round in the last two NFL Drafts…

Corey Coleman
Will Fuller
Josh Doctson
Laquon Treadwell
Amari Cooper
Kevin White
Nelson Agholor
Breshad Perriman
Phillip Dorsett

10 wide receivers. Would any of their respective teams make this same pick again? The Raiders with Amari Cooper, probably…and that’s it. Some of these guys you could want to see if another year is the key – maybe Josh Doctson, Breshad Perriman, or Kevin White will push past injury issues and excel. Maybe. You can already write off Treadwell, Agholor, and Dorsett as ridiculous picks. Corey Coleman looks like a possible head case, and Will Fuller becomes another Notre Dame hype pick gone wrong.

So why in the world would an NFL team want to draft Mike Williams (or any WR) in the top 10–15 overall in this draft? It’s ludicrous. It’s debatable that Williams is the best WR prospect in this draft to begin with. I could name three other guys who should be in that discussion…so why burn a top draft pick on a ‘good’ wide receiver? Recent history says the odds are against a first-round wide receiver. Given the amount of talent available, the economics of this draft would say Williams is not worth a first-round pick.

I like Williams ‘OK’, and I’m sure he’ll get picked too high by a team desperate for offense…not realizing or admitting the issue is the quarterback and/or head coach. The odds are Williams lands at a place where he’ll be expected to produce right away, and to do so with a weak offense…potentially. If that’s the case, then his fantasy value is going to take a huge hit because he gets overdrafted. The NFL teams that have their act together aren’t making this pick top 10–15…the desperate and confused will and that will not help Williams’s fantasy projections.

WR John Ross (Washington)
Current 2017 NFL Draft projection: middle-to-late first round

You’ll keep hearing ‘DeSean Jackson’ as a comp for John Ross, and there is logic in that, but I don’t see where ‘DeSean Jackson-like’ gets you in as a first-round draft pick. I also would not evaluate Ross on the level of Jackson as a receiver. I never was blown away from watching any tape on Ross. I didn’t see special hands or shocking moves…just a very good college wide receiver. Ross is very fast for college and just ‘fast’ for the NFL. He’s likely going to be a 5′10″/180+ WR prospect with one good season (2016) and is a 4.4+ 40-time runner. There are a million of these types of wide receivers hitting the NFL.

I’d say Ross is somewhere between DeSean Jackson and Will Fuller with a touch of T.Y. Hilton. They make their living with speed, but when Ross hits the NFL, I don’t know if he has much more than speed. His speed will make him an asset, but not a star and not a first-round draft pick.

Every reason I listed on why Mike Williams being a first-round pick is wrong and bad for his fantasy value – it goes double-triple-quadruple for John Ross.

WR Curtis Samuel (Ohio State)
Current 2017 NFL Draft projection: second-round pick

This guy was a semi-boring role player for two seasons for the Buckeyes in 2014 and 2015, and then he is used more in 2016…used as a gadget player to nice success – 8 rushing TDs and 7 receiving TDs in 2016. Seems like a wonderful projection for a Tyreek Hill type role, no? The quintessential rusher-receiver? I see no examples of Tyreek Hill in Curtis Samuel.

Watching Samuel’s tape is interesting – a lot of sweet touchdown runs/catch-and-runs, but most all of them no one lays a finger on him. You’ll never/rarely see Samuel fighting for extra yards or shaking a defender out of his socks or making a catch in traffic. His highlight reel is like watching a guy playing with a cone of protection around him. Wide open holes blown up by a great O-Line and misdirection plays for Samuel…and he just runs into the open and off to the races. On his big passing plays, it’s like teams forgot to cover him. There’s so much to account for with OSU that Samuel popped loose 1–2 times a game and ‘pow’, a lightning strike big play…and then that was about it.

He is not a #1 or #2 wide receiver. He’s not a legit running back. He’s a weak kick and punt returner. He’s a version of the Arizona Cardinals’ John Brown. He belongs in the NFL, but don’t ask him to be a workhorse or make plays when things are muddy. Every once in a while you get the lightning strike play, and everyone thinks John Brown is great; but then you look back after a while and wonder, “What happened to John Brown?” Samuel is not a sustainable, every-down option, and I’m not sure he’s all that great a surprise-play weapon.

Samuel is not a Percy Harvin or Tyreek Hill type weapon. He’s not a game-changer. He’s good for a play here or there but will be forgettable in the NFL. Great college weapon, and so-so for the pros. He’s going to be a fantasy disappointment because people will look at his 2016 college season and go “He’s this draft’s Tyreek Hill!” It’s not true.

If I see Samuel run in the 4.2’s or 4.3’s at the NFL Combine, I’ll reconsider. But I think he’s more of a 4.4+ runner.

Look for more of my team’s NFL Draft scouting reports, measurables, mock drafts, and dynasty rookie rankings before and after the NFL Draft, right up to the beginning of the new NFL season at CollegeFootballMetrics.com. See our NFL/fantasy analysis all year round at FantasyFootballMetrics.com.

Overvalued NFL Draft Targets: QB
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Undervalued NFL Draft Targets: QB
Undervalued NFL Draft Targets: RB
Undervalued NFL Draft Targets: WR
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