Fantasy Football Overvalued Undervalued: Week 12
My memory isn’t perfect, but Week 11 might have been the ugliest slate of games we’ve had all season. Nearly all of the close games were low-scoring and featured one or two teams with nothing to play for, and the high scoring games were blowouts. There are always gems, like Washington-New Orleans, but on the whole it was a pretty boring weekend. Luckily the action starts early this week, so hopefully we’ll be able to discard this taste in our mouths sooner rather than later.
Derek Carr (OAK): ECR – 7 / Finished – QB19 / WIN
Jay Ajayi (PHI): ECR – 11 / Finished – RB12 / WIN
Sterling Shepard (NYG): ECR – 13 / Finished – DNP / NO CONTEST
Jared Cook (OAK): ECR – 6 / Finished – TE14-T / WIN
Matt Ryan (ATL): ECR – 13 / Finished – QB14 / LOSS
Alex Collins (BAL): ECR – 29 / Finished – RB20 / WIN
Marqise Lee (JAC): ECR – 27 / Finished – WR37 / LOSS
David Njoku (CLE) ECR – 24 / Finished – TE27-T / LOSS
I’ve been trying to be extra careful about picking injured players after settling for a few draws early in the season, but Sterling Shepard truly came out of nowhere, which is a shame. Otherwise, I’m satisfied with these results. Everything I said about Derek Carr, Jay Ajayi, Jared Cook, and Alex Collins went pretty much according to plan. I underestimated how much help Matt Ryan would receive from his defense, which put a hard cap on his output. Marqise Lee and David Njoku‘s duds can be attributed to weather conditions, which is something I’ll need to keep a better eye on as winter rolls in.
With the holiday this week, this article will be out a bit early, which could lead to more misfires than usual due to a lack of information, but hey, that’s part of the job. Let’s save the excuses for after everything goes wrong and just dive right in to Week 12.
Overvalued: Cam Newton (CAR): @ NYJ; ECR – QB5
The Jets have been surprisingly efficient against quarterbacks this season. They’re the 11th-most generous in terms of fantasy, but they’ve held every QB to under 300 yards passing, and only Derek Carr has been able to throw for even three touchdowns on them. Even with his rushing ability, it’s going to be an uphill battle for Cam to hit his current ECR if his ceiling is 250 yards and two touchdowns, and frankly most of the quarterbacks who were able to hit that mark were far superior passers. Newton isn’t a bad start by any means, but it’s tough to envision him finishing in the top five.
Undervalued: Blake Bortles (JAC): @ ARI; ECR – QB29
Both Denver and Miami have two options at quarterback this week. All four of these players are ranked higher than Blake Bortles. So is C.J. Beathard, who could end up on the bench as well. That’s silly. Bortles hasn’t been the fantasy stud he once was, but he hasn’t been awful either. Added stability in Jacksonville’s offense has lowered his ceiling but raised his floor. Arizona is allowing the 4th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. More importantly, they’re surrendering the 6th-fewest to opposing running backs. That’s bad news for the Jags’ game plan, which is already leaning perhaps too heavily upon Leonard Fournette, who is dealing with a nagging ankle injury. It won’t take a whole lot for Bortles to surpass his current ECR, and the situation is ripe for doing so.
Overvalued: Jordan Howard (CHI): @ PHI; ECR – RB10
Jordan Howard may be the most perplexing player in fantasy, specifically in regards to his opportunity. He’s received fewer than 15 carries just once this season, but has surpassed 23 only once. He’s on a terrible offense, which prevents him from being on the field much at all in the second half of games, but this hasn’t really shown up in the box scores. He’s almost impossible to predict, which is why his name doesn’t come up in these articles too often. But this week’s situation is especially dire. The Bears are playing in Philly, home of the league’s best offense, which means they won’t have many opportunities to waste time running the ball. Next, the Eagles have the second-stingiest fantasy run defense in the league. Howard has no business putting up good numbers on Sunday, but at the same time, nobody should be surprised if he does, because that’s the type of season he’s had.
Undervalued: Orleans Darkwa (NYG): @ WAS; ECR – RB19
Orleans Darkwa may quite literally be the only thing this Giants offense has going for it. The receiving corps is decimated, the line is a sieve, and Eli Manning is on his last legs. But somehow through all of this, Darkwa has been efficient, if not downright good. Even after he emerged as the clear talent among the team’s backs, Ben McAdoo and company insisted on involving rookie Wayne Gallman. After Gallman lost a fumble in the team’s blowout loss to the Rams, he’s been less featured, which is good for Darkwa and fantasy players everywhere. He’s gotten the job done whenever he’s gotten the carries, and last week was his second 20-carry game this season, his first since obliterating the Broncos back in Week 6. The Redskins defense is tied for 9th place in terms of allowed touchdowns per game this season, making Darkwa a prime scoring candidate.
Overvalued: Adam Thielen (MIN): @ DET; ECR – WR6
Adam Thielen is having a phenomenal season; no one can deny that. But he’s been much, much better with Stefon Diggs on the field, forcing one to question just how much he benefits from not having to fight off the best of opposing secondaries. That will be put to the test this week as he faces off against Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs, who has been excellent defending slot receivers such as Thielen. That’s really all there is to this pick – I’m not sold on Thielen’s talent as it stacks up to the league’s best defensive backs. And between Quandre Diggs, Darius Slay, and Glover Quinn, Thielen won’t be able to find many particularly favorable matchups.
Undervalued: Corey Davis (TEN): @ IND; ECR – WR42
The targets are there; every week they’re there. If you only factor in the four full games Corey Davis has played, he’s seeing eight targets per game, which would be the highest on the team. Regardless, his production has been disappointing, and that falls largely on the shoulders of Marcus Mariota, who has yet to take that next step as a passer. But you know who makes every quarterback look good? That would of course be the Indianapolis Colts defense, which is allowing the 9th-most and 7th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers, respectively. This will be Davis’ first opportunity since Week 1 to play against a bad secondary, and it could mean big things for the rookie.
Overvalued: Greg Olsen (CAR): @ NYJ; ECR – TE10
It’s far, far too early to place Greg Olsen back into his usual position as a top-10 tight end. This will be his first week back since Week 2, and even during his limited playing time this season, he wasn’t getting very much done. We don’t know what he’ll look like in this offense, which in itself isn’t reason to doubt he can be effective, but it should invite caution. What’s really troubling is the matchup. I’ve talked about the Jets being better against tight ends than the numbers indicate thanks largely to their rookie safety tandem. Said safeties will be able to spend more time and energy shutting down Olsen as a result of Carolina’s unimpressive depth at the receiver position. Olsen will be touchdown-dependent, and much more so than the average TE.
Undervalued: Eric Ebron (DET): vs. MIN; ECR – TE20
At the trade deadline, the relationship between Ebron and the Lions looked irreparable. Just a few weeks later, and Ebron might be more involved in the offense than he’s been in years. Comparing his stats before and after his bye week is like night and day, and last week he matched his season high in targets with seven. More importantly, he’s catching almost everything that comes his way, which was his biggest weakness up to this point. The Vikings are right in the middle of the pack when it comes to defending fantasy tight ends, and one could argue that they haven’t faced off against a single top-10 tight end all season. The only exception to that claim would be Vernon Davis, who has admittedly slid into that echelon with the injury to Jordan Reed. Davis caught seven passes for 76 yards against the Vikings. Both Marvin Jones and Golden Tate will have their hands full with Minnesota’s secondary, which could leave a large workload for Ebron.