Early Overvalued/Undervalued Players for 2018 (Fantasy Football)
Free agency has about wrapped up as the NFL’s 32 teams turn their focus towards the upcoming draft, but that doesn’t mean the dust has necessarily settled. For some clubs, there are perhaps more question marks than there were before all of these new contracts were signed.
Other squads have more pieces than they may even know what to do with. That makes this the perfect time to take a look at everyone’s ADP and get a grasp on how the average fantasy player views the current climate.
As usual, we’re using ADP data from Fantasy Football Calculator. Bear in mind that this information is continually updated and that the rankings used for reference in this article are from a specific snapshot in time. Now for one last look at the league’s vets before a new crop of rookies enters the fray.
Overvalued: Russell Wilson (SEA): ADP – QB4 / 45.3 Overall
It’s been a disturbingly quiet offseason for the Seahawks, with the only news ever relating to departures. Perhaps they have a big draft day in mind, but as the roster is in a sad state as it currently stands, especially on the offensive end. Jimmy Graham’s departure might not seem like anything for Russell Wilson to fret over, considering he finished his final year on the team with only 520 yards receiving, but Seattle’s present receiving corps won’t easily replace his 10 touchdowns.
In fact, after Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks might have to single worst group of pass-catchers in the entire league. Factor in Wilson’s typical slow starts and a putrid offensive line, and the top QB’s prospects seem dismal. He’s too much of a gamer to suggest passing on him altogether, but taking him at QB4 means forfeiting a chance at an important RB2 or WR2.
Undervalued: Philip Rivers (LAC): ADP – QB16 / 101.1 Overall
Every year the Chargers seem to be the best team not in the playoffs, and Rivers isn’t completely blameless: he’s been a turnover machine these past few seasons. He finished eighth among quarterbacks in total fantasy points, but that was partially the product of QB injuries around the league (he was 12th in points per game). However, that durability is part of his appeal: Rivers hasn’t missed a game since becoming a starter in 2006. Sure, it’s not a position that you have to plan around injury-wise like RB, but most of us remember a Carson Wentz, Aaron Rodgers, or Deshaun Watson owner who was left flailing at some point last year.
LA’s receiving corps is the polar opposite of Seattle’s, featuring a healthy mix of solid veterans (Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams) and promising youth (Hunter Henry and Mike Williams). While their front office has been less successful protecting Rivers, they’ve at least been consistent with providing him targets. He’s more of an option for fantasy players looking to play it safe, but Rivers should be someone’s starting quarterback in every standard-sized league.
Overvalued: Carlos Hyde (CLE): ADP – RB15 / 27.3 Overall
Hyde is an extremely talented player who can thrive wherever he goes…except maybe here. No, the problem isn’t simply “because they’re the Browns,” either. Hyde’s current ADP seems to rely on the assumption that the Browns will not draft another running back, and to be fair, we can only do our mock drafts with the information we have at hand.
But this is a draft said to feature a strong class of running backs, and the Browns have plenty of picks. Even if Cleveland passes on Saquon Barkley, they’re probably going to be looking for someone else to work alongside Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr.
Speaking of the latter, it’s important to note how much Hyde’s receiving skills aided him in San Francisco. In 2017, he caught 59 passes – Hyde caught 60 total balls in his first three years. It’s become an important part of his game, and Duke Johnson Jr. will eat into that.
Fortunately, DJJ has been lining up more as a receiver, but that’s still one of only 11 available spots on any given snap. Hyde has shown he can succeed in a lousy offense, and he still has that potential, but the risk is a bit high at this ADP.
Undervalued: D’Onta Foreman (HOU): ADP – RB55 / 124.1 Overall
Just skimming the list of running back handcuffs, D’Onta Foreman immediately jumps out as having the most upside out of the bunch. He’s the rare backup that’s worth targeting even if you don’t own the starter (Lamar Miller, in this case). Foreman’s 4.19 YPC outpaced Lamar Miller’s 3.73 considerably, as the latter struggled to maintain a strong start after losing Deshaun Watson.
Unfortunately, Foreman never got a chance to ultimately take over the role. In a November game against the Cardinals in which he was averaging 6.5 YPC with two touchdowns, the rookie went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. On the bright side, despite this occurring in the latter half of the season it would appear that Foreman is on track to make a Week 1 return.
Judging the proper place to draft a backup can be difficult, so for reference let’s look at some other guys in the same boat. Perennial disappointment Doug Martin is going as RB31, and Detroit’s anemic duo of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are RB36 and RB37, respectively. Foreman should probably be ahead of those players, not 20 spots behind them.
Overvalued: Brandin Cooks (LAR): ADP – WR15 / 35.2 Overall
The Rams offense should, at least in theory, be better for Brandin Cooks than New England’s was. LA features a QB nearly half Tom Brady’s age who has the arm to hit Cooks in stride the way Brady could not. Sean McVay’s style of coaching is far less conservative than that of Belichick and McDaniels. But that doesn’t mean Cooks’s time on the west coast will be quite so easy.
The competition for targets will be much steeper than it was with the Patriots. Jared Goff has a well-established rapport with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, to the extent that breaching the circle of trust could be a surprisingly tricky process for Cooks. If we assume that Cooks will be sliding into Sammy Watkins’ role – a strong assumption, perhaps, but still – it would mean going from his 116 targets last year to somewhere in the neighborhood of Watkins’ 70.
And while it’s certainly too early to be determining strength of schedule, it’s not too much of a leap to say that Brandin Cooks will be tested more with the Rams than he was with the Patriots. For starters, as a team in the NFC West, it will mean facing off against the likes of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Patrick Peterson twice. The NFC West is matched up with the NFC North and AFC West this year, with the former featuring Xavier Rhodes and Darius Slay and the latter Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr. It’s an unfortunate season to have a contract year.
Undervalued: Marqise Lee (JAX): ADP – WR57 / 132.1 Overall
Just two years ago it looked like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns were poised to become one of the league’s deadliest receiving duos. Alas, time moves quickly in the NFL and this past offseason the Jags let them go with little hesitation. This would indicate that they have some respectable degree of confidence in their current corps, young and inexperienced as they may be.
This spot could realistically go to Dede Westbrook or even Donte Moncrief, but I’m going with Lee because he showed last season that he has the highest floor by far, where he averaged four receptions and 50 yards per game. That might not sound too exciting, and that’s because it’s not, but that’s a tremendous safety net for anyone’s bench that can be used for tough bye weeks and inevitable injuries.
Overvalued: Hunter Henry (LAC): ADP – TE7 / 72.3 Overall
Hunter Henry finished 2017 as TE14. Even with Antonio Gates out of the picture, Henry will be starving for a consistent workload, never mind consistent output. As detailed above in the Rivers discussion, the Chargers have three consistent wideouts already, a fourth who should be looking to make a big impact in Mike Williams, and a strong run game that demands snaps. Henry will have good games, as he always does, but they’ll be inevitably proceeded by long dry spells.
Of course, tight end isn’t the place to be looking for a solid floor, but with just four touchdowns all of last year, Henry isn’t making a case for a very high ceiling either. At this ADP Henry is being drafted ahead of players with much higher upside, many of which are at least top two options in their team’s passing games, like Marvin Jones and DeVante Parker. Also in this range are some promising quarterbacks, namely Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins. It takes tremendous faith in Henry’s advancement as a player to take him as high as he’s going, when in reality he’ll probably be the fourth, fifth, or even sixth offensive weapon on his team.
Undervalued: Trey Burton (CHI): ADP – TE19 / 132.0 Overall
It’s Week 14 of the 2017 season, and Zach Ertz, the hottest tight end in the league, has been ruled out with a concussion. His owners are debating who to replace him with on the Eagles roster.
Brent Celek is next on the depth chart, but Trey Burton might fill the role better once called up. Most agreed that Burton had the higher upside, but enough doubt remained that some of Ertz’s owners simply looked elsewhere for a fill-in. By the end of that Eagles game, Burton had five receptions for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
2018’s Bears aren’t going to be 2017’s Eagles barring the most drastic second-year improvement ever made by a quarterback from Mitch Trubisky. At the same time, it’s not fair to expect 2018’s Bears offense to be as bad as 2017’s. If Jared Goff can make his second year leap with Sean McVay, then there’s no reason Trubisky, a similarly high draft pick, can’t do the same with new head coach Matt Nagy. That, in turn, could mean big things for the offense, and in turn Burton, who we should expect to be the go-to tight end (sorry Dion Sims, but 12.9 yards per game isn’t going to cut it).