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Overvalued Dynasty Players (Fantasy Football)

Feb 18, 2018

David Johnson’s age may make him an overvalued dynasty selection

Numerous factors contribute to a player being overvalued in dynasty fantasy football. At the forefront of the discussion, ADP, and recency bias need to be considered. Other reasons could include personal opinion or even pure speculation based on a player’s track record, injury history or perceived role with a team.

Since player valuation is subjective, objective data needs to be utilized to make a case for an asset being improperly valued in fantasy. To be clear, I do not find the skill position players mentioned in this article to be inferior talents to their peers in the NFL. I simply believe that each is being assessed incorrectly in the dynasty stock market due to their current situation or pedigree.

While an argument can easily be made in favor of drafting or trading for all of the fantasy commodities listed below at cost in redraft leagues, it is crucial to determine their respective value differences in dynasty circles. After all, longevity is perhaps the most important trait that needs to be measured when it comes to determining a player’s long-term value.

If a short shelf life is a concern for an individual’s playing career, then it is possible that their expensive price tag is not warranted. That premise is the exact root of this article, as it can help pinpoint three players to lower expectations on this offseason.

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David Johnson (ARI – RB)
The case for David Johnson being an elite asset in the dynasty realm is easy to make. The Northern Iowa product emerged as a premier fantasy weapon as a sophomore in 2016 with 1,239 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns, as well as 80 receptions for 879 yards receiving and four trips to the end zone. Based on his incredible output as a rusher and receiver out of the backfield, Johnson finished as the RB1 overall in PPR formats in his second NFL campaign.

He then entered 2017 as a building block for all dynasty rosters. A wrist injury, unfortunately, limited him to merely one regular season game this past year, which derailed Johnson’s fantasy stock in the process. It has since catapulted back into elite territory, as the running back claims that his surgically-repaired wrist is back to full health.

The issue is, the superstar tailback is already 26 years old and will turn 27 during Arizona’s 2018 season. From a dynasty perspective, Johnson’s age is a legitimate concern. Sure, he is one of the most talented dual threats in the entire NFL.

At the same time, his first-round startup draft cost is difficult to justify when other elite names such as Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and Alvin Kamara are also available at a similar cost with perhaps longer shelf lives.

Another factor working against Johnson is the current status of his supporting staff in Arizona. The Cardinals lost Carson Palmer to retirement this offseason, and the future of Larry Fitzgerald is entirely up in the air beyond this upcoming season in which he has confirmed a return for. Couple that with the fact that offensive-guru Bruce Arians is no longer the head coach, and it becomes clear that Johnson very well could be overvalued in dynasty.

Sure, the newfound presence of Steve Wilks could rejuvenate a struggling franchise. The question remains, how will the entire offense be impacted?

Despite Johnson’s immense talent, there are simply too many variables out of his control that inherently need to be calculated into his cost and long-term value. Does he belong in the first-round conversation in redraft formats for next season? Absolutely. Dynasty? I tend to believe the answer is no provided the other assets available near him in ADP.

Keenan Allen (LAC – WR)
For the first time in his professional career, Keenan Allen managed to participate in an entire regular season for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017. Considering the wide receiver has been in the NFL for five seasons, it is somewhat alarming how his durability has fared to this point. While his Comeback Player of the Year award will help silence most critics, it is imperative to evaluate Allen’s entire sample of work outside of his recent success to provide an accurate picture of his value.

Before asserting Allen is a perennial WR1, consider that he set a career-high in receptions (102), yards receiving (1,393), and targets (159) this past season. It is entirely possible that each of those respective totals represents the California product’s statistical ceiling. If that’s the case, then to acquire his services at the present time owners need to be willing to pay for numbers that he might not be able to replicate in future seasons.

If Allen’s previous NFL campaigns are any indication, then his current second-round dynasty startup value will prove to be a difficult pill to swallow. After all, the wide receiver has never eclipsed 77 catches or 1,046 yards receiving in a single season before 2017. He also has averaged 10.8 yards per catch or less in three of his five professional seasons.

Even more, Allen’s career PPR finishes reside as the WR18 (2013), WR37 (2014), WR41 (2015), WR163 (2016), and WR3 (2017). See a trend? At best, Allen has performed as a high-end WR2 for most of his fantasy career.

At worst, he has delivered low-end WR3 numbers when on the field. Injuries are an obvious outlier in his case, but also need to be considered with a player of Allen’s durability history.

Based on his breakout campaign in 2017, the 25-year-old is an obvious candidate to be overvalued moving forward. While he is arguably entering the prime of his career, Allen’s current draft capital solely reflects his performance from last season. That kind of valuation should be viewed as a red flag for savvy dynasty owners, making him an ideal player to sell shares of for a profit this offseason.

Kenyan Drake (MIA – RB)
Based on his emergence late in 2017, Kenyan Drake is viewed as a popular breakout candidate for next season in fantasy circles. Before jumping to this conclusion, proactive owners need to recognize that the running back’s success stems from a small sample size of production.

Yes, Drake ranked as the PPR RB6 from Weeks 9-17 this past season after taking over as the starter for the Miami Dolphins. Over that span, he boasted an impressive 4.9 yard per carry average and established himself as a versatile weapon out of the backfield with 883 yards from scrimmage over his entire sophomore campaign. Drake is now being valued as a borderline top-50 selection in startup dynasty drafts this offseason.

Keep in mind, his spike in ADP is a direct reflection of output from merely nine regular-season contests. Hence, there is a legitimate reason to proceed with caution before claiming Drake is a surefire asset.

A potential red flag that is often overlooked for the 24-year-old tailback is his usage rate in college. In fact, he never earned more than 92 rushing attempts in a single campaign across four seasons at Alabama. While an ample workload in college is not a prerequisite for success in the NFL, it at least indicates a player’s durability at the next level.

Since Drake was used sparingly as a running back in school, it is irrational to assume that he should be viewed as a featured back in Miami for the foreseeable future. Is it probable? Sure. It is also possible that Drake regresses from an efficiency standpoint in 2018, which in turn would make him an overvalued commodity in dynasty structures.

Cory Evans is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Cory, check out his archive and follow him @CoryEvansNFL

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