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Overvalued Dynasty Players (Fantasy Football)

by Jordan McNamara | Featured Writer
May 25, 2018

O.J. Howard may struggle to get consistent targets in the coming years

With OTAs in full swing, here are four overvalued dynasty players you should avoid at their current costs.

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Deshaun Watson (HOU) – QB4 (46th overall)
Watson’s ranking as the fourth quarterback is at his ceiling. With Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Carson Wentz as the top three quarterbacks, it is unlikely Watson could vault above his current position. Yet, there is the significant downside.

Watson threw a total of 204 passes as a rookie before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. His rookie season production is unsustainable, particularly his touchdown rate of 9.3%. While the Houston offense was high scoring during the time Watson started, his volume was low.

Watson’s season-long pace was 466 attempts, which would have been fewer than the Chicago Bears (473) who finished with the least passing attempts in the NFL in 2017. The volume will likely rise with reduced efficiency, but the number represents an illusion about Watson’s hot stretch. While Watson started, Houston’s running backs were on pace for over 1,600 yards rushing and 16 rushing touchdowns, so the high scoring offense was not solely on Watson. The quarterback position is deep, and as the 46th player in our consensus rankings, the opportunity cost of selecting Watson is too high in a startup draft to return value.

Christian McCaffrey (CAR) – RB10 (20th overall)
McCaffrey had a productive rookie season. He produced a fantasy starter as a rookie on the back of 80 receptions and 1,086 total yards. McCaffrey projects as a long-term asset, but the question is his upside.

Giovani Bernard presents a similar historical comparison. Bernard is sub-optimally sized, but had difference making receiving ability coming out of college. He produced a solid rookie season and became a second-round startup pick, only to see Cincinnati draft Jeremy Hill in the second round to serve as the thumper in a tandem backfield. Bernard never returned that type of second-round valuation.

McCaffrey is similarly undersized with difference-making receiving ability. McCaffrey split touches with Jonathan Stewart in 2017, and Carolina added C.J. Anderson in the offseason to fill Stewart’s role in 2017. McCaffrey is likely to see this type of workshare into the foreseeable future given his skill set, which caps his weekly upside.

Despite finishing as a top 10 running back in 2018, McCaffrey never produced a top three weekly finish. His floor of weekly starts (12) is high, but he is not the type of player that will win you weeks. The word bust is strong for McCaffrey because he has a strong floor of production and is unlikely to disappear, but selecting McCaffrey in the second round of a startup caps your team’s upside.

McCaffrey is better owned on existing teams where he can operate as a stable second or third running back in your lineup. If you can return second-round value for him, it represents an excellent opportunity to cash out his limited upside in the trade market.

Sterling Shepard (NYG) – WR29 (57th overall)
Shepard is priced near his ceiling given his profile and his role with the New York Giants, with significant downside. Shepard is the clear fourth option in the offense behind Odell Beckham Jr., Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley. Shepard has averaged seven targets per game in his first 27 games, a solid number for his first two seasons.

The question is how will his role improve. Eli Manning is back in 2018 but is an eroding talent. He has the weapons to support his fantasy prospects but is not the type of quarterback that can elevate an offense. Of the wide receivers selected in the second round of the NFL Draft since 2008, only 30% become fantasy starters.

Shepard’s valuation is a dangerous one in dynasty. Ranked at 57th overall in our consensus ranking, Shepard is a late fifth-round pick, which should be a core asset for a dynasty team. However, with a lack of volume, his upside is hazy from a dynasty, season long and weekly projection.

Wide receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Michael Crabtree, and Robert Woods are all going after Shepard, but are projected to have stronger roles in the next year or two. Christian Kirk and Courtland Sutton are similarly drafted after Shepard, but have higher upside over the next three years. The surrounding talent all points to an “avoid” tag for Shepard at his current valuation.

O.J. Howard (TB) – TE6 (73rd overall)
Howard ranked as the sixth tight end is too costly for his profile. Cameron Brate was re-signed to a six-year deal, while Mike Evans leads the passing offense. Second-year receiver Chris Godwin is being projected to start opposite of Evans and DeSean Jackson is still on the roster.

The outlook for O.J. Howard is with him as a third or fourth option, at best, in a young offense. Howard was a poor college producer for a first round pick and does not project to be a high ceiling tight end, so the situation puts even more of a damper on his upside. The tight end position is mostly in flux, with the tight ends between six and 20, being a relatively flat tier.

However, the opportunity cost of selecting Howard toward the end of the sixth round or beginning of the seventh round in startup drafts is too high. Players like Nick Chubb, Mike Williams, Lamar Miller, and Christian Kirk are all more attractive options in the draft range.

Waiting on a tight end to address the position with a stable veteran like Delanie Walker (TE15) or Cameron Brate (TE20), or high upside, injury risks like Jordan Reed (TE 13) or Tyler Eifert (TE16) is attractive. Interestingly, Dallas Goedert (TE19), a player with a similar situation as Howard, can be acquired nearly 100 picks later.

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Jordan McNamara is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jordan, check out his archive and follow him @McNamaraDynasty.

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