Early Over/Undervalued Players (Fantasy Football)
In this article, I will identify under and overvalued players from our consensus average draft position or ADP. Success or failure in fantasy is often defined by which players you draft and when. An overvalued player is someone whose production will not match their average draft position. You can find similar results later in the draft. An undervalued player is someone whose production can meet or exceed players with a higher ADP. Knowledge is power. How will you leverage it in your fantasy football draft?
Overvalued: Deshaun Watson (HOU): ADP – QB2 / 42 Overall
Did you know that Watson averaged 26.3 fantasy points per game in seven games last season prior to his season-ending ACL injury? He was very effective on a per game basis with positive passing and rushing fantasy points over expectation.
Watson has been ahead of schedule on his rehab. The Texans do not plan to scale back his running this season. Watson was even spotted without a knee brace in a minicamp session earlier this month. He is on pace to be ready for training camp later this summer to follow up his impressive rookie campaign. The recent history of QBs returning from ACL injuries bodes well for Watson from a statistical perspective.
For as productive as he was other QBs are not far behind him when you look at fantasy points per game. The number of viable options, especially in one-QB leagues, this season is deep. If you select Watson at his current ADP ask yourself what is the opportunity cost of doing so that could negatively impact your fantasy football team.
Undervalued: Eli Manning (NYG): (NYG): ADP – QB24 / 156 Overall
Manning’s passing yards per attempt has declined in four consecutive seasons. His 6.1 passing yards per attempt last season was the lowest since his rookie season. The Giants offense averaged 314.2 total yards per game in 2017 with ranked 23rd in the NFL and ranked 31st in points per game with 15.4. Manning is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career with negative passing fantasy points over expectation.
New Giants head coach Pat Shurmur has been very vocal this offseason about their support of Manning as the starter. This belief was confirmed in the NFL Draft by the team’s decision to draft running back Saquon Barkley and offensive lineman Will Hernandez. The addition of these two players addresses two offensive positions the Giants desperately need to improve. The team ranked 23rd in rushing yards per game with 96.8 and allowed the fourth-most sacks (27) last season.
Shurmur’s West Coast offense incorporates spread concepts and provides his quarterback the flexibility to call a run or pass at the line of scrimmage based on the defensive formation. His Vikings offense used three-wide receiver sets 56 percent of the time last season and had the fourth-most rushing attempts. Vikings quarterback Case Keenum ran play-action on 28.7 percent of his passes in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus. Manning will be asked to get the football out quickly, but will also have opportunities to attack defenses vertically downfield. He only averaged 5.51 air yards per pass, according to Next Gen Stats, which was the fourth-lowest among quarterbacks. Manning also ranked in the bottom 10 in longest air distance (46.2) and longest air distance yards (35.07). The absence of wide receiver Odell Beckham only amplified the dysfunction of former Giants head coach Ben McAdoo’s offense.
Manning now has one of the best-supporting casts in the NFL that includes Beckham, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, Barkley, tight end Evan Engram, and a much improved offensive line. It will very difficult for him not to be successful given the situation Manning finds himself in this season.
Overvalued: Alvin Kamara (NO): ADP – RB5 / 6 Overall
The 2017 Rookie of the Year finished as the RB3 in PPR formats accumulating 1,554 total yards behind a very good offensive line. Kamara averaged 6.1 yards per carry and 10.1 yards per reception. The only other running back that scored more touchdowns was Todd Gurley (19). Kamara averaged 12.6 touches per game with positive rushing and receiving fantasy points over expectation. He only played 44.7 percent of the offensive snaps, but touched the football or was targeted on 47.4 percent of them while out-snapping Mark Ingram over the final eight games of the season. Kamara returns to a Saints offense which ranked second in total yards per game last season with 390.4. Ingram’s four-game suspension opens up the door even more for Kamara to be the featured back in 2018. All of these factors have resulted in his current ADP. Time to discuss the red flags.
Kamara is due for some regression. No other running back has had multiple NFL seasons with 100 or more carries averaging six or more yards per carry according to Pro Football Reference. Kamara’s touchdown rate is also not sustainable. He can potentially offset these red flags by seeing more volume, but Saints head coach Sean Payton’s offenses have always utilized a committee approach. The largest rushing share seen by a player in a Saints backfield during Payton’s tenure has been around 56 percent. Kamara’s current ADP represents his ceiling. Hope is not a viable winning strategy.
Undervalued: Lamar Miller (HOU): ADP – RB24 / 56 Overall
Miller has averaged 82.9 total yards per game with negative rushing fantasy points over expectation and positive receiving fantasy points over expectation in two seasons with the Texans. Last season he accumulated 888 rushing yards and only three touchdowns while averaging a career-low 3.7 yards per carry behind an atrocious Texans offensive line. Miller’s longest run was just 21 yards which was also a career-low. Miller will run behind an improved offensive line and work alongside Watson. Another factor that plays into his favor is the health of running back D’Onta Foreman who is recovering from an Achilles injury. His Week 1 availability is uncertain at this point in time. Miller is shaping up to be a solid pick in the middle rounds of drafts especially for fantasy players implementing a Zero RB strategy.
Overvalued: Josh Gordon (CLE): ADP – WR14 / 37 Overall
Gordon averaged 8.6 targets, 3.6 receptions, 67 receiving yards, and 0.2 touchdowns per game last season in five games. He produced negative receiving fantasy points over expectation in his first action since the 2014 season. Fantasy players are still mesmerized by Gordon’s magical 2013 season in which he averaged 11.4 targets, 6.2 receptions, 117.6 receiving yards, and 0.6 touchdowns per game in 14 games. He has not come close to those numbers in the two seasons that followed. Gordon’s outlook in 2018 is clouded by a number of risks.
The Browns have upgraded multiple positions including quarterback, wide receiver, running back, and the offensive line. This is great for the team but constrains Gordon’s ability to outperform his current ADP.
Jarvis Landry has commanded a sizable target share in his four-year career.
The trend continues when looking at Antonio Brown’s target share during Todd Haley’s tenure as the Steelers offensive coordinator.
Undervalued: Jamison Crowder (WAS): ADP – WR40 / 101 Overall
Crowder has the potential to finish as a top-20 fantasy wide receiver in PPR formats this season. He did see a decline in catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns last season from his breakout 2016.
The biggest area of opportunity that Crowder can improve is in the area of touchdowns. He also battled a hamstring injury all of last season which impacted his statistical production early in the season. Crowder accumulated 70 or more receiving yards per game (including 123 and 141-yard games) from Week 8 to 12. He also scored all three of his touchdowns the final six games of the season.
NBC Washington’s Rich Tandler reported that Crowder and quarterback Alex Smith built a great rapport during the team’s OTAs, especially near the goal line. He enters this season as the potential No. 1 receiver. His only competition for targets is Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, Jordan Reed, and Chris Thompson. Crowder excels at running short to intermediate routes. This connects well with Smith’s passing tendencies considering 85.2 percent of his passing attempts have targeted receivers less than 15 yards.
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Until next time!