Early Overvalued/Undervalued Players for 2018 (Fantasy Football)
We’ve gone nearly a month without football now, so this rendition of Early Overvalued/Undervalued should seem a little bit less premature than the last one, which dropped right before the final game of the season. The format will be the same as it was the last time, where we look a player’s rankings regarding both overall draft position and within the context of their positions on the field.
Once again we’ll be using Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP rankings, mostly for the sake of consistency at this point. Next month’s edition could see us shifting back to the accrued ADP data we gather from several different sites and average out right here on FantasyPros, but for now, it’s early enough that we can stick with a smaller sample size.
Overvalued: Deshaun Watson (HOU): ADP – QB1 / 23.7 Overall
When using ADP data this far out from drafts, it can be difficult to judge what rankings to take seriously. More likely than not, Deshaun Watson’s ADP is one such case of mock drafters being overly liberal with their selection process. But despite this, it’s a conversation worth having.
How good can Watson be in his sophomore season? Between the ACL injury and unsustainable nature of the numbers he was putting up in the first place, it would perhaps be wise to tread carefully ranking him.
But at the same time, anyone who thought his first monster performance in 2017 was a fluke missed out on several weeks of electric output, and those of us who made that mistake are undoubtedly afraid of doing so again. It’s a balancing act to be sure, but his current ADP should be too costly for even his most stalwart believers.
It’s one thing to take him as the top quarterback, but another to pick him over pass-catching options like Rob Gronkowski, Adam Thielen, or Jordy Nelson. Then there’s the ageless debate over just how valuable the fantasy quarterback position is in the first place. Would you rather take Watson in the third, or wait two full rounds to get your hands on someone more proven like Tom Brady or Drew Brees?
The risk of their decline is equal to if not lesser than the chance being taken on Watson returning to form. It’s a tremendous gamble to take on a player that young in that position coming off of that injury.
Undervalued: Alex Smith (WAS): ADP – QB23 / 132.5 Overall
Nobody was particularly impressed by the Redskins’ acquisition of Alex Smith, but that’s no reason to write him off completely. Don’t forget that Smith is coming off of his best year as a pro, where he marked career highs in passing yards (4,042), touchdowns (26), and passer rating (104.7). And if this past season was the result of being prodded by the Chiefs drafting Pat Mahomes, then you could wager that the same fire will be burning even hotter now that he’s been shipped off to another team despite his efforts.
Furthermore, one could argue that the Redskins are better equipped to make use of Alex Smith’s style of play. Last year Smith was forced out of his comfort zone by virtue of his limited receiving options. Typically a short and safe passer, Smith had to develop a deep ball since his only competent wideout was Tyreek Hill, who’s a pure burner.
In his place, Smith will be working with Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder, both of whom possess a more varied toolkit than the one-dimensional Hill. Crowder, in particular, can provide a slot presence that Smith didn’t have in KC if he can manage to bounce back from last season’s regression.
Losing Travis Kelce will hurt, but Jordan Reed isn’t much of a downgrade if he can manage to stay on the field. Finally, Chris Thompson should be able to fill the void left by Kareem Hunt’s pass-catching abilities.
You aren’t drafting Alex Smith as your starting quarterback by any means. But he’s worth rostering, especially if you’re taking a chance on someone like Carson Wentz or Deshaun Watson, who are young and coming off of tough injuries. His current ADP puts him behind the likes of Blake Bortles and even a few kickers, and the only QBs behind him are Eli Manning, whose career is all but over, and Case Keenum, who’s being hung out to dry by the Vikings.
Overvalued: Joe Mixon (CIN): ADP – RB16 / 32.7 Overall
Why should we expect 2018’s Cincinnati Bengals to be so much better than 2017’s? Mixon’s shortcomings during his rookie year were firmly rooted in the offense’s inability as a whole to move the ball, specifically thanks to the poor play of the offensive line. Even if we assume the line does improve, be that due to an upgrade in talent or the work of their new coach, Andy Dalton is still the quarterback and Marvin Lewis is still, somehow, the head coach.
Jeremy Hill might be out of the picture, but Mixon will still be yielding to Giovani Bernard in passing situations. How is it, then, that Joe Mixon can be in a situation so similar to the one he was in last year, but have an ADP in the top 20 when he couldn’t crack the top 30 in points per game last season? His ceiling is too low, even with any improvements he may add to his game, to take him as RB16.
Undervalued: Chris Thompson (WAS): ADP – RB41 / 1o4.3 Overall
Another breakout performer sidelined by injuries in 2017, Chris Thompson was racking up fantasy points at an alarming rate before his season was ended with a broken leg. This season he’ll have the king of checkdowns throwing the ball his way, which should mean an opportunity equal to if not greater than the one he had last year. The Redskins seem stuck when it comes to bellcows, and it remains unlikely that whoever is pounding the rock for them in ’18 (probably Samaje Perine or Rob Kelley) will be much of a receiving threat.
Thompson finished 2017 as the 11th-best running back in points per game, which would be difficult to replicate, but he won’t need to be that good to still surpass his current ADP, which is comically low at the moment. Minnesota and Jacksonville’s defenses are projected ahead of him, which is silly even for a top-tier bench RB, never mind a guy who could find his way onto weekly lineups with ease.
Overvalued: Corey Davis (TEN): ADP – WR27 / 59.7 Overall
Corey Davis was 2017’s breakout star who forgot to break out. Safe to say that there should be at least one person in every league who outright refuses to touch Davis after waiting for weeks on end for the rookie to make him or her look like a genius for rostering the high draft pick.
To be fair, Davis’ inaugural campaign was injury-ridden, and the regression of Marcus Mariota did him no favors either. Yet his current place as a WR3 assumes that both of these issues will be rectified next year, and that simply can’t be known at this point.
It is worth noting that the addition of new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur could be one that pays massive dividends. LaFleur’s last two seasons were with the Rams and Falcons as each franchise experienced their best offensive seasons in years.
His role in those successes is impossible to completely ascertain, as he worked under the shadow of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan respectively. Suffice to say there’s a good chance he can put Mariota back on the right track.
All of that being said, the cost is just too high for Davis right now. His current ADP puts him only just barely ahead of Dez Bryant. Bryant, who’s coming off of one of his worst professional seasons, still finished this last one as WR24, and with nowhere left to go but back up as the Cowboys pray for Ezekiel Elliott to remedy their entire offense single-handedly. Davis’ ADP also places him ahead of Devin Funchess, another #1 wideout on his team, and proven commodities like Chris Hogan and Kyle Rudolph.
Undervalued: Robert Woods (LAR): ADP – WR39 / 83.3 Overall
Robert Woods was a legitimate star when he played for the Rams last year, but somehow that’s all been forgotten. He missed four games, which hurt his visibility a bit, but anyone who watched the Rams’ offense knows that Woods was the undisputed top pass-catcher – and on a team featuring Sammy Watkins and an up-and-coming Cooper Kupp. And Woods is currently signed for four more years.
He’s a major part of this offense, now and in the future. Last year, Woods finished in the top 20 among receivers in fantasy points per game, and the Rams have most of the same pieces they did last year to replicate their offensive success.
Somehow Woods’ current ADP places him behind both Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp, despite those two playing second and third fiddle (assuming the Rams re-sign Watkins). There are backup running backs well ahead of him, like Tevin Coleman and Tarik Cohen. This placement is inexplicable and inexcusable, and if he somehow stays here come August, we’re probably looking at the biggest and easiest steal of the draft.
Overvalued: Hunter Henry (LAC): ADP – TE7 / 70.6 Overall
Hunter Henry’s problem is the same it’s always been: he’s on a team with too many mouths to feed. The Chargers have a trio of wideouts in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Travis Benjamin who are all capable of doing damage. Melvin Gordon needs to be fed, and Antonio Gates could very well be back in the fold too.
Even backup running back Austin Ekeler caught nearly 30 passes. Obviously tight ends are touchdown dependent, but Henry will be so to such an extreme degree that goose eggs will still be a regular problem from week to week. Both Kyle Rudolph and Jordan Reed are ranked behind Henry, with the former being a much safer and reliable option and the latter having higher upside if I’m looking to take my chances.
Undervalued: Evan Engram (NYG): ADP – TE11 / 96.0 Overall
New York’s football future isn’t looking particularly bright, the Giants might be even worse off than the Jets. Evan Engram has been a bright spot for the boys in blue, but he’s being slightly disrespected as a fantasy option. Engram was one of the most consistent players at the position in the first half of the season, garnering at least eight PPR fantasy points in eight of his first nine starts as a pro.
That might not sound so glamorous, but eight points is a fantastic floor for a tight end. He fell off towards the second half of the season, likely due to some combination of a rookie wall, injuries to the team around him, and general disarray within the organization. Even if he has to put up with Eli Manning as his quarterback for all of 2018, his value will be retained, which is saying a lot.
Odell Beckham Jr. should open up the offense upon his return, which will be a much-needed load off of Engram. New Giants head coach Pat Shurmur made Case Keenum and Kyle Rudolph into a borderline deadly red zone connection, and he should be able to make Engram work with just about anyone the Giants put under center.