Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 8
Coaches are rarely caught on the record as being fans of fantasy football. It’s probably for the best because the amount of influence they already have over our lives as players is frightening. At the same time, some of the decisions being made have to make you wonder (at least jokingly) who’s playing against members of their own team in a league.
When Steve Sarkisian refuses to let either of his two talented running backs punch it in at the goal line, Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman aren’t really out of line in taking it personally. Obviously, it’s not personal, but some levels of stupidity that play out on the field can’t help but make us feel like we’re witnessing a specific sequence of events crafted to ruin our day.
On the other end of the spectrum, it sure seemed like Anthony Lynn was throwing a bone to LeSean McCoy owners last week. He’d never admit it, and fantasy football is probably the furthest thing from his mind, but sometimes you can’t help but wonder.
It’s these oddities that are making our process here much more difficult than it should be.
Brett Hundley (GB): ECR – 16 / Finished – QB19 / WIN
LeSean McCoy (BUF): ECR – 7 / Finished – RB2 / LOSS
Brandin Cooks (NE): ECR – 8 / Finished – WR9-T / LOSS
Evan Engram (NYG): ECR – 6 / Finished – TE4 / LOSS
Blake Bortles (JAC): ECR – 19 / Finished – QB15 / WIN
Tevin Coleman (ATL): ECR – 21 / Finished – RB52 / LOSS
Marqise Lee (JAC): ECR – 31 / Finished – WR27 / WIN
Jack Doyle (IND) ECR – 17 / Finished – TE20 / LOSS
Before we get to the blatant misfires, I would like to mention a couple of instances where I don’t feel too guilty. The first of these is in regards to Brandin Cooks, who managed to make Sunday night only the second game in which he’s found the end zone this season, and on a gadget play no less. To be fair, he’s got superstar talent and these guys tend to get special plays drawn up for them specifically, so perhaps it should be baked into his ranking in the first place.
LeSean McCoy’s situation was similar. The Bills’ staff went out of their way to get him into the end zone after he was held scoreless all year, and as unnatural and forced as it seemed, it’s also logical to keep your stars happy if you’re managing a group of egos on the NFL level.
Then there are the calls for which I can offer no excuse. I underestimated Evan Engram as the No. 1 pass-catcher on the Giants.
I vastly overestimated the Falcons, not just on Sunday but all season. I was right about Jack Doyle being heavily featured in the Colts’ passing attack, but the whole team struggled to the point that he was the best option out of a terrible selection.
Let’s see if we can’t get back above .500 with this week’s picks.
Overvalued: Deshaun Watson (HOU): @ SEA; ECR – QB13
Russell Wilson has never lost to an AFC team at home. Seattle’s defense is the third-best in the league against opposing fantasy QBs. Watson has proved capable of overcoming dire circumstances, but this one should be difficult even for him, despite all the success he’s had so far. Coming off a bye week might help, but it could just as well have cooled him off.
His completion rate has been under 60% in each of his last two games, and he hasn’t rushed for more than 31 yards since the Week 3 loss to the Patriots, which was also the only game in which he surpassed 300 yards passing. He’s as touchdown-dependent as they come, and TDs are at a premium in Seattle.
Undervalued: Alex Smith (KC): vs. DEN; ECR – QB14
Kansas City as a team might be cooling off, but Alex Smith is still red-hot. He has 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions so far, and he’s leading the league in completion percentage with a mark of 72.9. Of course, Smith has always been good in both of those metrics because he was always a very careful and conservative player, but this year he’s managed to maintain those numbers while also frequently testing defenses with deep balls.
Denver’s “No-Fly Zone” has lived up to its name in terms of passing yards allowed – they’re second-best in the league – but they’re allowing quarterbacks to average 1.8 passing touchdowns a game, which is the 10th-most generous. They’re the fifth-kindest to opposing tight ends, and Smith’s favorite target happens to play the very same position.
Overvalued: C.J. Anderson (DEN): @ KC; ECR – RB7
Before Denver’s Week 5 bye, Anderson was averaging 49.25 snaps per game. Since the bye, he’s played two more games, and in each, he’s been on the field for exactly 38 snaps. Not only are the Broncos’ coaches trying to get Jamaal Charles more involved, but for some reason, they’ve shown significant interest in giving Devontae Booker significant playing time.
Booker was hurt coming into the season, but after a dismal 2016 campaign, few thought he’d be an issue for Anderson even when healthy. Well, he’s getting the snaps, and Anderson’s only three games this year with over 50 yards rushing all featured him carrying the ball 20 or more times.
Undervalued: James White (NE): vs. LAC; ECR – RB30
Mike Gillislee fumbled the ball against the Jets in Week 6, and in hilariously predictable fashion, he’s had a hard time acquiring playing time ever since. New England has seemingly made the switch to Dion Lewis, who’s been with the team for three years now and has only ever been held back by injury. He’s averaging 5.7 yards per carry over the past three weeks and has received more touches in each subsequent game. This does not mean, however, that James White is out of the picture. White is still the second-most targeted RB in the league through 2017 and has received fewer than five targets only once this season. The Chargers may very well boast the fiercest pass rush that the Patriots will have faced all season, which should mean plenty of quick dump-offs to White.
Overvalued: Dez Bryant (DAL): @ WAS; ECR – WR5
Dez has been extremely touchdown-dependent this year. He’s on pace for a 10+ TD season, which we all know he’s capable of, but he’s also on pace for under 900 yards receiving. That would be a career-low for any season in which he’s played more than 12 games. Washington is allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers, and this week they’re expected to have Josh Norman back, who will be spending at least some time matched up with Dez. Bryant is WR15 in terms of fantasy points per game in 2017, so it’s tough to imagine him as WR5 in a disadvantageous situation.
Undervalued: Adam Thielen (MIN): @ CLE; ECR – WR17
Thielen hasn’t quite exploded like some might have hoped he would with Stefon Diggs dealing with a nagging groin injury. Some of his mediocrity can probably be explained by his quarterback situation, but by now it’s plainly evident that he’s best as a team’s #2 receiver. Diggs’ status this week remains up in the air, but what’s nice is that this can be spun either way for Thielen depending on the outcome. If Diggs sits again to take advantage of the Vikings’ Week 9 bye, then Thielen will be top dog against a defense that got was exploited by top receivers earlier in the year, but if Diggs plays, he’ll be even more open against a secondary that’s been surprisingly effective in these past few weeks. Bear in mind that this game is being played in London during the early time slot, so if Diggs’ availability will need to be closely monitored early to make the call corresponding with your respective take on the situation.
Overvalued: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NYJ): vs. ATL; ECR – TE8
ASJ is for all intents and purposes the top pass-catcher on the Jets. I once thought that this wouldn’t be the case, but seeing him lead the team in looks with 24 over the past three weeks has convinced me otherwise. That being said, Atlanta’s defense is extremely well-built for taking on tight ends, which is why they’re the 5th-stingiest in the league in terms of fantasy. Before last week one could point to the level of competition they’ve faced at the position as the determining factor, but after bottling up Rob Gronkowski in a game in which the Patriots moved the ball at will, maybe it’s time to start recognizing the talent. They have two very young and extremely aggressive players in Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, at strong safety and linebacker respectively, who can make life hell for opposing tight ends. Atlanta embarrassed themselves plenty last week, but their defense was extremely respectable, and perhaps deserves more recognition.
Undervalued: Vernon Davis (WAS): vs. DAL; ECR – TE22
He’s too old. He doesn’t get enough targets. He hasn’t scored any touchdowns. He’s not even the best player at his position on the team. But Vernon Davis racks up yards each and every week. It’s somewhat inexplicable, and as a result seemingly unsustainable, but 50+ yards for four straight weeks is a feat that demands respect, especially at tight end. Kirk Cousins has chemistry with Vernon Davis in a time where the entire WR corps is struggling. Jordan Reed can play or not; Vernon Davis is getting his 50 yards a game.
Dallas is the eighth-toughest fantasy TE defense, but one glance at who they’ve played completely mitigates that accomplishment. The only team they’ve played that even features a tight end in the passing game is the Giants, and that was Evan Engram’s first game in the league (where he managed to catch four passes for 44 yards regardless). Davis probably won’t win you your league, but he’s surprisingly explosive for his age and is less likely to lay an egg than a lot of the players being ranked ahead of him.