Overvalued Players in DRAFT Best Ball Leagues (Fantasy Football)
Last week, I discussed players who are undervalued in DRAFT Best Ball Leagues. This week, I turned my attention to players who gamers are overvaluing.
Unlike the players to avoid in DRAFT leagues who I wrote about here, the following players are draftable if their ADP slips a bit. Currently, however, I wouldn’t advise drafting the forthcoming players at their present cost.
* The number listed next to players is their current ADP.
Aaron Rodgers (GB) – 31.0
Rodgers is the first quarterback off the board, on average, in DRAFT Best Ball drafts. His inclusion here is partly due to my aversion to drafting quarterbacks that early in best-ball leagues, but it is also largely about Rodgers himself. The 34-year-old quarterback played in just seven games last year, missing more than half of the season due to a broken collarbone.
It’s the second time in the last five seasons he’s missed significant time with a fractured collarbone. With a full season’s worth of games missed during those two seasons (2013 and 2017) combined, it’s not unreasonable to think he’ll slightly tweak his game to avoid hits, thus, lowering his rushing potential.
Also, he did average just 18.0 yards rushing last year, and he’s in his mid-30s. In other words, even if he doesn’t tweak his improvisation to extend plays and scrambling in general to avoid serious injury, father time could prompt him to run less anyway.
Getting back to what we know, Rodgers is coming off of a disappointing season as a passerby his standards, too. The veteran quarterback’s 2.5% interception percentage was his highest as a full-time starter in his career, per Pro-Football-Reference. In addition to the picks, he also posted his second-lowest per pass attempt (7.0), adjusted yards per pass attempt (7.2), and yards passing per game (239.3) in his career.
In fairness, the passing yards per game were hampered by his injury-shortened Week 6 game. If you eliminate that game, though, his 276.17 passing yards per game would have ranked fifth among qualified quarterbacks. Sure, that’s a good mark, but he’s being drafted as the No. 1 quarterback, so good isn’t good enough.
Finally, it appears there’s a high probability he’ll lose either Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb as a cap casualty. Setting aside my aversion for spending a top-50 pick on a quarterback in best-ball leagues in general, Rodgers looks like a reach that’s not worth making.
Carlos Hyde (SF) – 37.1
Hyde’s an unrestricted free agent, and that alone makes him a risky pick with complete uncertainty surrounding his role and the quality of offense he’ll be playing in. He’s the 16th running back going off the board on average, and even if he lands in a favorable home with a feature-back role, there’s not much room for him exceed breaking even. Hyde played in 16 games last year for the first time in his four years in the NFL, and he set new single-season highs in rush attempts (240), rushing touchdowns (eight), targets (88), receptions (59), receiving yards (350), receptions per game (3.7), and receiving yards per game (21.9).
Not everything came up roses, though. Hyde failed to best four yards-per-carry (3.9 ypc) for the first time in his career, posted his lowest rushing yards per game total (58.6) since averaging just 23.8 as a rookie in 2014, and saw his catch percentage crater to 67.0% with his increased usage. Among the 59 backs who caught a minimum of 20 passes, Hyde’s 67.0% catch percentage ranked 52nd, according to Pro-Football-Reference. His inefficient work as a receiver helped earn him the lowest receiving grade among qualified backs at Pro Football Focus (PFF). He wasn’t any great shakes as a runner, either.
PFF ranked him 24th among qualified backs in run grade, and Football Outsiders (FO) ranked him 32nd out of 47 qualified running backs in DYAR and 35th in DVOA. The downside far outweighs the upside at Hyde’s current ADP.
Duke Johnson (CLE) – 68.5
Johnson is one of the game’s premier receiving backs. PFF tagged him with the second best receiving grade among running backs. Among backs who caught a minimum of 20 passes, he ranked fifth in receiving yards per game (43.3), 15th in catch percentage (79.6%), 14th in yards per reception (9.36), and 11th in yards per target (7.45), according to Pro-Football-Reference.
The volume checked out, too, with Johnson ranking fourth among backs in targets (93) and receptions (74), and third in receiving yards. DRAFT has 0.5 PPR scoring, so Johnson’s receiving exploits shouldn’t be ignored, but there isn’t enough beyond them to justify his top-70 ADP and standing as RB22 in ADP.
Johnson averaged only 5.1 carries per game, and last year’s seven rushing plus receiving touchdowns were a career high. Prior to 2017, Johnson scored only three touchdowns in 32 games. Yuck.
Based on last year’s numbers and his career work, Johnson is being overdrafted. Yet, there’s another significant reason for bypassing Johnson as a top-25 running back.
The Browns own the first and fourth pick in the NFL Draft, and do-it-all back Saquon Barkley is considered the top prospect in the draft by many folks. Of course, just because he’s the best player doesn’t mean he’ll be the top pick, but he is projected to go first overall at WalterFootball.com. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated also projects the Browns to select Barkley, but he projects them to do so at pick four.
Over at NFL.com, all six experts project the Browns to take Sam Darnold with the top pick, but one of them, Lance Zierlein, projects Barkley to slip to the Browns at pick four. Mock drafts are far from the be all end all, but the risk of the Browns selecting Barkley to be their workhorse back is real, and it threatens Johnson’s fantasy value.
Marquise Goodwin (SF) – 60.5
Two pass catchers from the 49ers appeared in the Undervalued Players in DRAFT Best Ball Leagues piece from last week. As much as I love the upward trajectory of San Francisco’s offense led by Jimmy Garoppolo, there’s still only one football to go around.
Goodwin’s coming off of a career year in his fifth as a pro and first in San Francisco. For the first time in his career, the diminutive burner played in all 16 games.
He parlayed the playing time into career highs in seemingly every important receiving category with the exception of touchdown receptions (two). Among receivers, he ranked tied for 22nd in targets (105), tied for 38th in receptions (56), and 17th in receiving yards (966).
The optimist notes that he only played in five games with Jimmy GQ as his quarterback and ripped off averages of 8.6 targets, 5.8 receptions, and 76.8 yards receiving per game with one of his two touchdown grabs in that five-game stretch to conclude the year. The pessimist points out the cupboards were mostly bare, and there are other blemishes on Goodwin’s profile.
Circling back to last year being Goodwin’s first playing in 16 games, he’s struggled to stay healthy. Here’s his lengthy injuries page at FOX Sports. Alarmingly, Goodwin has a concussion listed on his injury page in 2014, 2016, and 2017.
In a strong, breakout season, Goodwin ranked 24th in DYAR and 34th in DVOA among qualified receivers, per FO. He also earned the 26th highest grade among qualified wide receivers at PFF. His ADP is 24th highest at receiver.
Gamers seem to be banking on him building on last year’s numbers. I’m bearish and suspect he’ll have more competition for touches this year. I love Goodwin’s game-changing, home-run ability, so I’ll be keeping tabs on his ADP leading up to the season, but he’s a bit too pricey for my liking currently.
Robby Anderson (NYJ) – 83.2
Anderson probably belonged with the players to avoid, but I’ll highlight him here instead. The wideout was arrested in January and charged with nine crimes. Anderson’s also not a stranger of running afoul of the law, as Rich Cimini detailed for ESPN.
The 24-year-old receiver appears to be a shoo-in for a suspension under the NFL’s code of conduct regardless of the outcome of his forthcoming trial in March. The NFL is wildly inconsistent with the length of their suspensions, but Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension last season for violating the code of conduct policy provides at least one possible outcome. Former Jet Sheldon Richardson was suspended for just one game to start the 2016 season, so that’s a possibility, too.
I don’t have any inside information regarding the potential length of Anderson’s possible suspension, but I’ll hazard a guess his suspension is closer in length to Zeke’s than Richardson’s for two reasons. The first reason is Anderson’s previous run-ins with the law, and the second is that Zeke’s suspension is the most recent to use for comparison’s sake. The risk of Anderson missing a handful of games is far too great to spend a top-100 pick on him.
Kyle Rudolph (MIN) – 75.8
Rudolph is a touchdown-dependent tight end who has bested 550 yards receiving in a season just one time in his career with 840 in 2016. He has a nose for the end zone with 15 touchdowns in 32 games played over the last two years, but his 3.6 receptions per game and 33.3 yards receiving per game last year don’t do much to justify spending a top-80 pick on him. Among tight ends in 2017, Rudolph ranked tied for ninth in receptions (57), 14th in receiving yards (532), 16th in receiving yards per game (33.3), and tied with three others for second in touchdown receptions (eight).
His ranks in those categories support his position as the ninth tight end off the board by ADP, but they don’t support him commanding a top-80 pick on average. There were six tight ends who were less than 10 receptions behind Rudolph last year, seven within five yards receiving per game of his total, and that balloons to 17 tight ends who were only 10.0 yards per game or less behind him in receiving yards per game. Gamers should either pony up for one of the higher-ceiling tight ends being selected before Rudolph and add a second cheap tight end, or they should double dip in the bargain bin of post-100 pick options with upside that includes Eric Ebron (102.1, TE11), O.J. Howard (104.8, TE12), and George Kittle (125.6, TE15), among others.