Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 3
After using last week’s intro to explain how much simpler this gets after Week 1, it’s not easy breaking down the following results. Most of my picks weren’t just wrong, but extremely wrong. There’s some explaining to be done.
Drew Brees (NO): ECR – 3 / Finished – QB4 / LOSS
Kareem Hunt (KC): ECR – 6 / Finished – RB4 / LOSS
Michael Thomas (NO): ECR – 8 / Finished – WR19 / WIN
Jimmy Graham (SEA): ECR – 4 / Finished – TE44 / WIN
Sam Bradford (MIN): ECR – 16 / Finished – DNP / NO CONTEST
Christian McCaffrey (CAR): ECR – 18 / Finished – RB38 / LOSS
Tyrell Williams (SD): ECR – 39 / Finished – WR37 / LOSS
Zach Miller (CHI) ECR – 20 / Finished – TE21 / LOSS
Sam Bradford tested his knee before the game, and ultimately ended up sitting out. That was just the beginning of what can only be described as an unmitigated disaster of a week for these picks. A few players, like Drew Brees and Tyrell Williams, fell on my side of the rankings, but not far enough from their projections to be deemed a good call.
One of my two correct predictions is hardly worth celebrating; Jimmy Graham left the game early with an injury, and while he did return, he was obviously not at his best. That leaves Michael Thomas as the only good call from last week, but catching five balls for 89 yards isn’t exactly putting on a show.
I’m still not sold on Kareem Hunt, who was pedestrian save for one huge play, but it’s not fair to just pretend like these big plays aren’t potentially a part of his game. Christian McCaffrey was bad because the entire Panthers offense was bad – much worse than I (or anyone else for that matter) had anticipated.
That was about as bad as it can get. Let’s try this again.
Overvalued: Tom Brady (NE): ECR – QB2
Belichick’s Patriots have had the Texans’ number for years now, and the outcome will probably be similar on Sunday. That’s not to say that it will be easy for Brady, who had one of his worst games last season in the divisional round against this team. Houston has the best pass rush that the Patriots will have faced thus far, especially considering that Kansas City played very conservative defensively.
The Texans don’t have the same talent in their secondary as the Chiefs do, and as a result, will have to send pressure more frequently. This will also be the healthiest J.J. Watt has been when facing the Patriots in years, and he’s going to be matched up against Marcus Cannon at right tackle, who, if he plays, is coming off of a concussion and an ankle injury. Throw in New England’s woes at the receiver position, and this shapes up to be a tough day at the office for Brady.
Undervalued: Andy Dalton (CIN): ECR – QB21
Dalton has never looked as bad in his career as he has this season. But he knows it, and he’s in a situation this week where it would be difficult not to rack up some fantasy points. Green Bay doesn’t have the secondary to cover A.J. Green, who just last week uncharacteristically spoke out about the team’s offensive woes.
The Bengals also just replaced their offensive coordinator, and this type of shakeup works out for the team more often than not in situations like these. This pick is almost entirely narrative driven, but I’m buying in. At the very least, the team should be in a position where Dalton is forced to throw in a game where they’re trailing early and often.
Overvalued: LeSean McCoy (BUF): ECR – RB11
This is more than an overreaction to McCoy’s subpar performance last week. Denver’s defense had one weakness last year: teams could run the ball against them with relative ease. But the Broncos made a statement last week by holding Ezekiel Elliott to just eight total yards rushing in an all-around dominant performance.
Even if it was just a result of stacking the box, there’s no reason they can’t do the same this week against a passing game that’s done virtually nothing through two games. Cordy Glenn’s health status is just icing on the cake, as the starting left tackle’s availability seems up in the air.
Undervalued: Theo Riddick (DET): ECR – RB33
Theo Riddick’s stats are as dependent on game flow as they are for anyone in the league. He’s a receiver in all but name, though he did run the ball nine times in an uncharacteristic outing against the Giants. Atlanta’s secondary is extremely quick and athletic, which will make it difficult for Stafford to find his usual receivers.
Riddick is a great threat out of the backfield, and especially so when his team is trailing. As impressive as Detroit’s defense has been so far this season, they haven’t faced an offense anything like Atlanta’s. He’ll need to be a key component of Detroit’s game plan if they hope to keep up with the reigning NFC champs.
Overvalued: Amari Cooper (OAK): ECR – WR9
Week 1 showed us a Raiders team forcing the ball to Amari Cooper in the red zone. They were conscious of his predictable lack of usage in the area in seasons’ past. Whether they were wholeheartedly making an effort to change things or simply trying to put something different on film, the results were questionable.
Cooper only caught five out of 13 targets, and even though he did score at one point, there was another instance where the team had to settle for a field goal after wasting a goal-line opportunity with three straight incompletions targeting the wideout. Last week, they went back to what they were doing for most of the past two years and decided to lean on Michael Crabtree in the red zone.
The result? Crabtree ends the day with three TDs, two of which were thrown when the team was within two yards of the goal line. It’s obvious at this point what works and what doesn’t, even if it’s not what Cooper’s owners want to hear.
Furthermore, as the more explosive player outside of the red zone, Cooper will likely draw more coverage from Josh Norman. Also note that we’ve yet to see Marshawn Lynch get any extensive usage, especially in the red zone, as the team tries to slowly re-acclimate him to the game. Cooper’s opportunities to score are too far and few between to put him inside the top 10.
Undervalued: Jermaine Kearse (NYJ): ECR – WR40
The experts seem far too reluctant to give Kearse any credit. Is he going to catch two touchdowns every week, or even again for the rest of the regular season? No, maybe not.
But he’s the number one target on a terrible team with a somewhat competent quarterback. The usage, situation, and game flow are all there.
It’s entirely possible that Kearse has been underrated his entire career after being relegated to a wildly inconsistent offense for the entirety of his career up to this point. Garbage time is fantasy time, and while the Jets are going to have some to spare this season, Kearse is one of the only outlets to benefit from it.
Overvalued: Martellus Bennett (GB): ECR – TE7
If Bennett were ever going to get it done, it would have been last week in Atlanta. The team lost Jordy Nelson almost immediately, and Randall Cobb was injured later on, making him one of the primary remaining options for Aaron Rodgers. The result, unfortunately, was five catches on 11 targets for just 47 yards.
11 targets is phenomenal for a tight end, but when you catch less than half of them, due in part to some bad drops, then it becomes hard to get excited – regardless of volume. Nelson should be back this week, and Cobb could return as well. The team shouldn’t need to throw nearly as much either; the Packers should expect to be leading in this game throughout.
Undervalued: Jack Doyle (IND): ECR – TE10
He’s already being ranked in the top 10, but I like Doyle even better than that this week. The Browns have proven to be completely inept at guarding the position through just two weeks this season. First, they let Jesse James catch two touchdowns, and then they allow themselves to be abused by Ben Watson to the tune of eight receptions for 91 yards.
Jacoby Brissett seems to have good chemistry with Doyle, as is often the case with TEs playing for QBs who are young, inexperienced, or just unfamiliar with the offense (Brissett checks all three of those boxes). Doyle was excellent last year, and that was when he was competing with Dwayne Allen for looks. He’s a premier player at the position with a golden opportunity this week.