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Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 15

Dec 15, 2017

In case it isn’t painfully obvious, there is no science to this process. I’m not just talking about making the selections, but in terms of how I determine whether a call was a win or a loss as well. Outside of one or two instances early on, I was lucky enough to not encounter cases where a player fell on my side of the ECR by an awkward amount. For example, if I think a player is overvalued at WR2, and he finishes as WR4, I still lose that prediction even though he technically performed below expectations. That player was still an elite option that week, after all. Sometimes I can break a tie using thresholds created by the average league’s roster spot. Say that a quarterback has an ECR of 10 but finishes QB14: four spots isn’t typically enough for me to make a decision either way, but QB10 starts in 10- and 12-player leagues, while QB14 doesn’t, which widens the gap and makes it easier to call it a win or a loss. This week had some very awkward placements.

Overvalued

Dak Prescott (DAL): ECR – 9 / Finished – QB3 / LOSS
Leonard Fournette (JAC): ECR – 7 / Finished – RB12 / LOSS
Jamison Crowder (WAS): ECR – 22 / Finished – WR49-T / WIN
Stephen Anderson (HOU): ECR – 13 / Finished – TE23-T / WIN

Undervalued

DeShone Kizer (CLE): ECR – 22 / Finished – QB12 / WIN
Giovani Bernard (CIN): ECR – 23 / Finished – RB19 / WIN
Amari Cooper (OAK): ECR – 42 / Finished – WR75-T / LOSS
Dwayne Allen (NE) ECR – 26 / Finished – TE29-T / LOSS

The case I’m most confident in is that of Amari Cooper, who left his game early after re-injuring his ankle. In some instances I call this a draw, but Cooper’s injury was predictable in that he had the issue going in and the possibility of him being taken out of the game should have been considered from the onset. A few weeks ago I warned against playing Greg Olsen in his first week back off of IR, and when he left his game with a scare, I called it a win, so it’s only fair to do the same here.

The two that gave me the most trouble were both running backs, and I basically ended up having them cancel each other out. Leonard Fournette was pretty clearly a bad call, because the gap between a low-end RB1 and high-end RB2 isn’t too significant when it comes to deciding whether to start or sit a player. Giovani Bernard‘s ranking, however, was such a difference maker. If he’s within the top 20 running backs, then he’s theoretically being started in all leagues. If he’s RB23, he’s suddenly competing with receivers and tight ends at the flex position. None of this is even close to perfect, since even the cases I just made hinge on the average league being 10 and not 12 players deep.

Please let next week’s outcomes be more decisive.

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Quarterback

Overvalued: Ben Roethlisberger (PIT): vs. NE; ECR – QB3
There isn’t a whole lot of logic to back this up. Ben just threw for 500 yards and the Patriots defense just made Jay Cutler look like a capable starting NFL quarterback. Most importantly, the Steelers are once again playing at home. I, for one, however, have been watching New England for too long to expect them to make the same mistakes twice in a row. And as crazy as it sounds, there might be an argument to be made that the Dolphins receiving corps is more dangerous (or at least well-rounded) than Pittsburgh’s. Even if the Steelers do end up trouncing the Pats, it will probably be done on the ground, as New England’s run defense is much weaker and far more decimated than the team’s secondary. Keep a lookout for the health status of linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive end Trey Flowers going into Sunday before making any gutsy calls on this one, and remember to expect the unexpected.

Undervalued: Joe Flacco (BAL): @ CLE; ECR – QB 22
It’s tough to tell whether Joe Flacco has picked up his game or if he’s merely had the benefit of facing off against slumping defenses in the past few weeks. Based on what I’ve seen, I’m leaning toward the former. He’s taking many more deep shots, Mike Wallace has risen from the dead, and Ben Watson has been seeing less involvement with each passing week (which is a good thing, in that it suggests Flacco is being less conservative). The Browns are the 6th-most generous defense to fantasy quarterbacks. Flacco will be able to surpass his ECR just by doing the same thing he did against the Browns in Week 2, which was a mediocre outing of 217 yards passing, two touchdowns, and one interception.

Running Back

Overvalued: Samaje Perine (WAS): vs. ARI; ECR – RB18
Once upon a time, fantasy football mavens preached opportunity over all else as the determining factor for players’ success. Those days are over. Two of the best fantasy running backs are currently splitting carries on the same team down in New Orleans. On the other end of the spectrum you have guys like Perine, who receives every opportunity as a result of injuries around him and manages to meet expectations about half of the time. When it comes to players like this, you have to decide based on the matchup, and the Cardinals boast the league’s 7th-stingiest fantasy run defense (after playing Todd Gurley twice, mind you). He’s not a bad option this week, but top-20 is too rich for my blood.

Undervalued: Tarik Cohen (CHI): @ DET; ECR – RB45
Just because Tarik Cohen wasn’t the waiver-wire lottery ticket everyone wanted him to be doesn’t mean he should be dismissed altogether. Last week he was the beneficiary of unexpected domination on the part of his team, and he might not be so fortunate against this Lions team with their backs against the wall. Like Perine, he’s boom or bust, but to a greater extreme. Luckily the Lions defense allows opposing fantasy running backs to score the 5th-most fantasy points. Cohen isn’t a great option overall, but his current ECR has the bar set far too low.

Wide Receiver

Overvalued: A.J. Green (CIN): @ MIN; ECR – WR7
Cincinnati has struggled to get their offense going all year, leading to a bevy of inconsistent performances out of A.J. Green. It’s always difficult to bet against a player of Green’s caliber, but even though he’s my selection it’s not him I’m worried about so much as it is Andy Dalton and the Bengals offensive line. The Vikings have one of the league’s most complete defenses, highlighted by one of the league’s best corners in Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes has a tendency to utterly erase the opposing team’s top receiving option, and he’ll be doing his best to continue that trend against Green. I’m not completely convinced Rhodes can shut down Green consistently, but the problem is that when A.J. does get open, there are too many factors that have to go right. Namely, the O-line has to hold out and Dalton has to somehow deliver the pass. It’s a lot to ask from this Bengals team.

Undervalued: Chris Hogan (NE): @ PIT; ECR – WR34
Of all the things that went wrong in the Patriots’ Monday night divisional loss, Hogan’s disappearance has to be the strangest. Hogan was one of the best receivers in all of fantasy, and if he was really healthy enough to play, then one reception for five yards is almost literally unbelievable. But whatever the explanation may be – Rob Gronkowski‘s absence, Tom Brady‘s bad night, Hogan’s own rust – all of those things should be rectified come this Sunday. Monday’s performance is one of those games that as an evaluator you simply need to erase from your memory banks, because it is in no way indicative of things yet to come. Hogan won’t need to play the type of game he did in his last appearance against the Steelers in the AFCCG to beat his ECR.

Tight End

Overvalued: Zach Ertz (PHI): @ NYG; ECR – TE4
Ertz was the primary benefactor of the team’s trust in Carson Wentz. Whenever the Eagles reached the red zone, they were pretty much always running a pass-first offense. First-and-goal from the one-yard line? Let Wentz air it out. Second-and-seven at the 15? Throw it. And this strategy worked because Wentz was playing so well. Sure, they had one of the league’s best short-yardage backs in LeGarrette Blount, but they deferred to the passing game time and time again.

It should be obvious at this point where I’m going with this. Doug Pederson and company will likely be less apt to throw the ball in the red zone, or in general, with Nick Foles under center. Philly is surprisingly well-stocked at RB, which went a bit under the radar thanks to the now-injured MVP candidate. The team is very fortunate to have this matchup against one of the league’s worst teams with which it can experiment with a new offense. Ertz has been plagued by injuries to boot, and while he will play this week, he hasn’t been nearly as consistent as he was in the first half of the season. The odds are stacked against him for now.

Undervalued: Ricky Seals-Jones (ARI): @ WAS; ECR – TE17
Seals-Jones has been one of the more popular late-season sleepers, and it’s not too difficult to see why. Sure, he’s on a bad team with a bad QB at the helm, but he’s being used in a way that’s exciting. In the past four weeks since breaking out, he’s caught three touchdowns and always finished with at least 18 yards per reception. He’s getting looks in the red zone and looks down the field. Tight ends outside of the top five or so players are pretty much all-or-nothing anyway, so you might as well take a chance on a guy who’s being used in a commiserate fashion by his team.



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Shane McCormack is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive and follow him @ShaneMcCormack_.