Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 5
Based on last week’s results, I can’t blame anyone who actively fades my undervalued picks.
Not only was I overconfident in all four highlighted players, it turns out everyone else was as well. They all finished below their standard (non-PPR) Week 4 ECR at the time of the article’s publication:
- Eli Manning – ECR: QB18; My Rank: QB14; Result: QB21
- Jamaal Williams – ECR: RB34; My Rank: RB26; Result: RB42
- Mike Williams – ECR: WR36; My Rank: WR30; Result: WR75
- O.J. Howard – ECR: TE9; My Rank: TE7; Result: TE40 (zero points, left early with an injury)
By the way, I was also down on Andrew Luck (QB3) and Jared Cok (TE1). Why am I sharing this before trying to persuade you to take my advice? Maybe I just lack self-esteem and am using this introduction to work through my imposter syndrome. Or maybe I had a bad week, and the other analysts happen to be smart people. There’s nothing left to do now but to dust myself off, get back up, and try again. And never trust Jamaal Williams again. Aaron Jones is better.
Undervalued: Kirk Cousins (MIN at PHI) – ECR: QB12; My Rank: QB10
Note that the ECR spiked from 14 to 12 on Thursday, but even two spots from 10 to 12 could make a difference between starting Kirk Cousins or locating a replacement streamer. Blake Bortles (at Kansas City) and Andy Dalton (vs. Miami) were momentarily higher in the ECR, but I’d rather take my chances on Minnesota’s quarterback. I expect the location has frightened some experts. Before returning to 2016 MVP mode, Matt Ryan incited panic with a subpar Week 1 performance (21-of-43, 251 yards, one interception) at Philadelphia. In their second home game of the year, the Eagles stymied Andrew Luck to 164 yards and a touchdown. That seems like a convenient data manipulation for a defense that also allowed 746 passing yards to Ryan Fitzpatrick and Marcus Mariota on the road. Put the small sample size together, and they have permitted the 11th-most fantasy points per game (20.8) to opposing passers. And Cousins, for what it’s worth, cleared 400 passing yards in each of his road matchups, including a Thursday-night tilt against the Rams that also looked like a poor spot. With Dalvin Cook’s health still in question, expect another pass-heavy game from Cousins, who leads the NFL with 189 pass attempts. Even if Cook plays, Minnesota should let its quarterback throw another 45 times against the league’s premier run-prevention unit.
Overvalued: Andy Dalton (CIN vs. MIA) – ECR: QB14; My Rank: QB16
Blake Bortles (JAC at KC) – ECR: QB13; My Rank: QB15
This spot could go Dalton or Bortles, both of whom I rank two spots below the ECR. In Dalton’s case, I worried about the matchup. While the Red Rifle already conquered a tough adversary when tossing four touchdowns against the Ravens, the Dolphins have captured an NFL-high nine interceptions while allowing five passing touchdowns (three to Tom Brady). Xavien Howard should cover A.J. Green, and Dalton’s days of attempting over 40 passes a game could be numbered if Joe Mixon returns. Bortles, on the other hand, gets a sensational matchup against the Chiefs, who have ceded 328.5 passing yards per game. This is just a case of fearing an erratic player with maddening weekly passing-yard tallies of 176, 376, 155, and 388. Last year, he threw six touchdowns and eight picks on the road with a 55.4 completion percentage and 6.35 yards per pass attempt. I’d rather stream Alex Smith at New Orleans than either frequently maligned AFC quarterback.
Undervalued: Aaron Jones (GB at DET) – ECR: RB21; My Rank: RB17
I’ve always been an ardent member of Team Aaron Jones, and you can’t prove otherwise. Unless you read last week’s article. Some will say the ECR is generous to someone who logged one more snap (29) and touch (12) each than Jamaal Williams last week. He also made far more of his opportunities by engineering 82 yards and a touchdown. There’s simply too much working in his favor to consider sitting Green Bay’s best running back against the Lions, who have allowed an NFL-high 157.8 rushing yards and 5.3 carries per game. Davante Adams (calf), Randall Cobb (hamstring), and Geronimo Allison (concussion) all missed practice on Thursday and are uncertain to suit up against Detroit’s third-ranked passing defense. That could create plenty of opportunities for Jones and Williams, as well as a possible PPR bonanza for Ty Montgomery. There’s a lot of health uncertainty (Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Devonta Freeman, Jay Ajayi, Dalvin Cook) at running back, so the position’s rankings will likely receive a noticeable facelift by Sunday. This top-20 placement, however, is not a direct reaction to Green Bay’s receiving injuries. Jones could climb another spot or two if Adams is inactive.
Overvalued: Lamar Miller (HOU vs. DAL) – ECR: RB22; My Rank: RB28
This is coming from someone who pounded the Lamar Miller drum throughout the preseason. As expected, the volume is there. Only seven running backs — it would probably be eight or nine if Adrian Peterson and Christian McCaffrey didn’t draw an early bye — have received more than his 58 carries. The problem? He’s averaging just 3.9 yards per run this season without a single 20-yard gain since Week 1. Despite Houston’s offensive line woes, he’s largely a receiving non-factor with eight catches. From a rest-of-season perspective, there’s hope built behind his touchdown tally (one) rising if he keeps averaging three red-zone rushes per game. Yet a chest injury has limited him in practice after playing just six snaps more than Alfred Blue in Week 4. The Cowboys have relinquished 3.6 yards per run, so the RB21 ECR may even be a drop optimistic assuming he’s 100 percent. I’d rather take my chances with Jones or Phillip Lindsay.
Undervalued: Demaryius Thomas (DEN at NYJ) – ECR: WR33; My Rank: WR28
I’m going to level with you: There’s no particularly compelling case to make for Demaryius Thomas beyond “Maybe Case Keenum won’t cost him a game-winning touchdown by overthrowing the wide-open receiver.” His stat lines look atrocious (104 combined yards, no scores) since Week 1’s 63-yard and one-touchdown misleader. Yet he’s still averaging 5.0 catches and 8.25 targets per game with three red-zone targets, three more than Emmanuel Sanders. It’s possible the former stud is once again doomed to mediocrity because of bad quarterback play, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the funk proved a false alarm. The Jets got trounced for 239 combined yards from Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief, so it’s a winnable matchup for Thomas.
Overvalued: Corey Davis (TEN at BUF) – ECR: WR20; My Rank: WR27
I initially slotted Corey Davis closer to his WR20 ECR before getting cold feet. He has received a whopping 31.5 percent (39-of-124) of Tennessee’s targets, so backers will eventually get rewarded for their patience. But let’s not entirely dismiss the 151 yards compiled in three games before securing 161 yards and a game-winning touchdown in overtime’s closing seconds against the Eagles. It’s also hard to forget Marcus Mariota’s atrocious start when the Titans still rank 26th in passing offense. Most importantly, Davis — who has already had the misfortune of facing Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey — should see plenty of Tre’Davious White. The volume makes Davis a startable option and better PPR bet, but he’s more of a risky WR3 in non-PPR formats against Buffalo’s shutdown cornerback.
Undervalued: Nick Vannett (SEA vs. LAR) – ECR: TE18; My Rank: TE14
Let’s start with the usual disclaimers. Tight end is a tire fire. There are barely a dozen guys to recommend starting in good conscience. When the options are so meh, I’d rather take a chance on an unproven commodity with upside over a known touchdown-or-bust lottery ticket. Russell Wilson, who connected with Jimmy Graham for 10 touchdowns last season, has directed 23.1 percent of his targets (28-of-121) to tight ends. Those were split between Will Dissly and Nick Vannett, but the former went on the injured reserve with a torn patellar tendon. Ed Dickson won’t return until Week 8, so Vannett has no competition for the leading role. The opportunity comes just in time to face the Rams, who have relinquished 25 receptions for 324 yards to the position this season. I’d take a last-ditch flier on him before hoping Antonio Gates or Austin Seferian-Jenkins gets his number called in the end zone.
Overvalued: Benjamin Watson (NO vs. WAS) – ECR: TE13; My Rank: TE16
I have Jordan Reed three spots lower than his TE4 consensus, but just about every season-long investor has no choice but to start one of the few tight ends still standing (Didn’t see that coming, did you?). So let’s look to the same game for someone in the streamer mix. Benjamin Watson plays with Drew Brees. That’s essentially the only nice thing you can say about his fantasy outlook. Last week, he caught one of three targets for 23 yards while playing six fewer snaps (37) than Josh Hill, who turned his three targets into three catches for 63 yards. While Watson still runs more routes than his teammate, he has also registered just 13 catches for 157 yards and zero touchdowns this season. Washington has limited a relatively strong group of tight ends (Ricky Seals-Jones, Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, and Jimmy Graham) to 110 yards and one score in three games, so I’d rather take a chance on Vannett, Austin Hooper, or even Seferian-Jenkins if desperate.