Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 4
Week 3 was as thrilling as they come, but with excitement comes unpredictability. According to the point spreads going into the week, there were six upsets, and a few more games that ended up with the favorites scraping by at the last second (see: Eagles, Packers, Patriots). Game flow is a massive part of what goes into any fantasy football projections, and as a result, I count myself extremely fortunate to come out of the week with the following results.
Tom Brady (NE vs. HOU): ECR – 2 / Finished – QB1 / LOSS
LeSean McCoy (BUF vs. DEN): ECR – 11 / Finished – RB29 / WIN
Amari Cooper (OAK @ WAS): ECR – 9 / Finished – WR81 / WIN
Martellus Bennett (GB vs. CIN): ECR – 7 / Finished – TE27 / WIN
Andy Dalton (CIN @ GB): ECR – 21 / Finished – QB19 / WIN
Theo Riddick (DET vs. ATL): ECR – 33 / Finished – RB38 / LOSS
Jermaine Kearse (NYJ vs. MIA): ECR – 40 / Finished – WR55 / LOSS
Jack Doyle (IND vs. CLE): ECR – 10 / Finished – TE40 / LOSS
One thing that needs to be cleared up: normally, an undervalued player finishing only two spots higher than the projection would not qualify as a win, but when these cases arise I try to look at a variety of other circumstances.
Andy Dalton’s 16.3 fantasy points were enough to leave the players who started him mostly content. His ranking was skewed towards the lower end because of unexpected performances from the likes of Blake Bortles, Jacoby Brissett, Case Keenum, and Brian Hoyer, who weren’t really in the conversation going into the week and hardly benefitted anyone.
Meanwhile, Dalton finished ahead of guys like Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Wentz, and Derek Carr, who were actually on rosters and being considered as starters. If Dalton had put up his 16.3 in Week 2, it would have been good enough to make him QB11. I’ll never use this as justification to call for a win when a player falls on the wrong side of a call – only when it’s as close as it was here.
There are plenty of other, actually bad, calls to fret over. Betting against Tom Brady is always foolish, and he proved so again last Sunday. Theo Riddick and Jermaine Kearse were more the victims of game flow, but it did seem like Kearse may not be such a clear cut #1 receiver, as was once thought.
He’s trending the wrong way in targets, starting with nine in Week 1, going to five in Week 2, and dropping down to just three in Week 3, behind both Robby Anderson and Jeremy Kerley. Jack Doyle was a horrendous pick – he finished with negative points in standard scoring. Part of this was because Jacoby Brissett finally found some chemistry with T.Y. Hilton, but Doyle needed to be a lot better in a high-scoring game against a bad defense that was especially weak against tight ends.
Here’s hoping to avoid some of the same mistakes this week.
Overvalued: Russell Wilson (SEA): @ TEN; ECR – QB 3
How quickly we forget. Russell Wilson was an active detriment to anyone who started him in the first two weeks of the season, but after one strong performance, he’s a consensus elite option? Wilson is typically a slow starter, so it was to be expected to some extent, and he usually figures it out, but last week’s offensive explosion feels like it came a bit too soon.
His offensive line is still paper-thin, and even last week his completion percentage was only 59.2%. Without the volume provided to QBs on a losing team, Wilson could easily regress back to what we saw in Weeks 1 and 2.
Undervalued: Tyrod Taylor (BUF): @ ATL; ECR – QB 18
Any quarterback going into Atlanta is a safe start due to game flow alone. The Falcons secondary is a lot better than it was last season thanks to the return of shutdown corner Desmond Trufant, but Taylor’s upside doesn’t lie in his arm anyways. If the team is in pass-first mode, Taylor can expect to be scrambling on a regular basis, which should often lead to him gaining nice chunks of yardage on his way to the nearest sideline.
The matchup with the Falcons isn’t entirely an assumption of game flow either. The Falcons defense is weakest underneath and in the middle, where Taylor has been targeting most of his passes. LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay lead the team in targets with 20 and 18 respectively, and that’s where they’ll be by virtue of the positions they play.
Overvalued: DeMarco Murray (TEN): @ HOU; ECR – RB 18
DeMarco Murray has not been good this year. His 75-yard touchdown against the Seahawks was impressive, of course, but it’s a lone highlight in what has thus far been a season of mediocrity. Take away that run, and Murray’s YPC is sitting at 3.2 right now. He’s still dealing with a bad hamstring, which is the type of injury known to flare back up at a moment’s notice, and Derrick Henry continues to breathe down his neck competing for touches. Houston’s front is the healthiest it’s been in years, which only adds to the unpredictability going into this week.
Undervalued: Bilal Powell (NYJ): vs. JAC; ECR – RB 32
This one almost seems too easy. Matt Forte is dealing with turf toe, and Powell was nothing short of a stud last year when he received the workload he deserved. He had no fewer than 130 scrimmage yards in three of the final four games of the 2016 season.
Jacksonville’s defense has been excellent, especially last week in London, but the Jets also showed last week that they have just enough to remain at least competitive. Josh McCown, in particular, has been much better than most anticipated. Powell is a guy who can succeed as a rusher and a pass-catcher, and he’s in line to have a whole lot of volume all to himself this Sunday.
Overvalued: DeAndre Hopkins (HOU): vs. TEN; ECR – WR 11
Two simple factors go into this pick. The first is the return of Will Fuller. While it’s hard to imagine that Deshaun Watson has any chemistry with Fuller, who has been injured since before the preseason, he’s still a talented receiver who’s joining a unit that’s devoid of talent outside of Hopkins.
Second, Hopkins has had his target share decrease steadily, from 16 to 13 to just eight last week against the Patriots. One could speculate that this is a result of Watson’s development as a player and that the young QB is learning to become comfortable utilizing the rest of the team instead of leaning on one crutch.
Undervalued: Alshon Jeffrey (PHI): @ LAC; ECR – WR 19
Alshon has dealt with a brutal gauntlet of elite cornerbacks thus far in the season. First, it was Josh Norman, then Marcus Peters, and just last week when it looked like he was going to catch a break, Janoris Jenkins ended up being healthy enough to play. The Chargers have an elite corner too in Jason Verrett, but he’s rarely healthy.
Verrett just recently underwent season-ending surgery, and while it’s sad to see such a talented player unable to escape the injury bug, it’s great news for Jeffery. Don’t be surprised to see Jeffrey finally strut his stuff and play up to his capabilities this week.
Overvalued: Kyle Rudolph (MIN): vs. DET; ECR – TE 6
Rudolph has yet to put it together this season, and while this week’s game against the Lions isn’t particularly difficult, but there isn’t any reason to think that he’ll somehow be better than he has been either. The rapport with Case Keenum just doesn’t seem to be there yet, and if it’s not there for a 300+ yard passing game, then it’s tough to imagine Rudolph as a top option this week.
Undervalued: Jared Cook (OAK): @ DEN; ECR – TE 11
Derek Carr has to throw the ball to someone. Between Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will be struggling in the no-fly zone for a large portion of this contest. Denver isn’t nearly as vulnerable to the run this year compared to last, which will make it tough for Oakland to bully their way to a victory like they did last season. Jared Cook is the last man left standing who has a chance to make anything happen, and that’s not to say that he hasn’t been productive up to this point either.
He’s been targeted by Carr 17 times, which is third-most on the team and 11th-best among tight ends so far this season. For the first time in many years, the Raiders are using their tight end as a consistent offensive weapon.