Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 11
It doesn’t feel good to be right for the wrong reasons.
In last week’s column, I identified Eric Ebron as a tight end I ranked a few spots higher than the ECR. Despite the limited snap counts and targets, I saw enough red-zone potential to consider a fringe starter. I did not, however, foresee three touchdowns on four touches. And I certainly did not anticipate one of those stemming from the second rushing score of his career.
Technically, I was correct to rank him higher than everyone else. Yet I also placed the TE2 too low by 11 spots. After all, it would have been insane to envision a week-winning performance from someone granted three targets in 21 snaps. Don’t get fooled by the flashy outing. He’s still the same low-end starter who will eventually betray ecstatic investors with a painful dud or three.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, I can live with a sensible process not yielding the desired outcomes. My overvalued tight end, Austin Hooper, finished third behind Ebron and Zach Ertz behind an unexpected volume uptick. The regression gods gave Tyler Lockett another pass, and Matt Breida looked perfectly healthy while decimating the Giants on Monday night. One can only hope for the rationale producing anticipated results in Week 11.
Undervalued: Dak Prescott (DAL at ATL): ECR: QB16; My Rank: QB13
I keep moving Dak Prescott up throughout the week, and he may even infiltrate my top 12 before Sunday. Despite starting 2018 in rough fashion, the Dallas signal-caller has finished three of the past four contests as a top-10 QB. While three rushing touchdowns have supported his resurgence, he has also attempted more than 30 passes in each of the past three games. He accomplished that meager mark just once through Week 6. It’s nice to see him at least average 262 passing yards over that window, but this still isn’t a volume play. It’s almost entirely about the matchup. Every passer besides Nick Foles and Alex Smith-who surpassed his usual returns as the QB15 with a season-high 306 passing yards-has foisted a top-10 showing against the Falcons. That includes streamers such as Andy Dalton (QB9), Eli Manning (QB7), and Baker Mayfield (QB5). Prescott has outproduced all three of them with 16.5 points per game this season. As the cherry on top, only three teams (Giants, Jaguars, and Patriots) have forfeited more rushing yards to quarterbacks than Atlanta. Maybe QB13 is still too low.
Overvalued: Kirk Cousins (MIN at CHI): ECR: QB15; My Rank: QB17
Kirk Cousins has only once finished higher than QB15 in the last five games. It was a QB9 outcome with 20.7 points against the Saints, who have allowed an NFL-high 24.5 points per game to passers. Sunday night’s game is expected to take place amid a freezing temperature, but Mother Nature is hardly his biggest obstacle. The Bears, who rank first in defensive DVOA, have yielded 6.8 yards per pass attempt while accruing a league-leading 16 picks. They’ve only surrendered QB1 showings to all-time greats Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Brock Osweiler. OK, so even an elite defense is beatable in 2018. Yet streaming Prescott or Eli Manning against the atrocious Buccaneers is a better bet than testing this year’s QB13 in a rough road matchup.
Undervalued: Tarik Cohen (CHI vs. MIN): ECR: RB22; My Rank: RB19
The RB2 crop feels especially flimsy this week. Either the matchup is tough, or the player isn’t particularly trustworthy. Tarik Cohen arguably fulfills each category. He has followed a sizzling hot streak with 67 yards over his last two games, and the Vikings have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. Yet the 5’6″ back has created a genuine timeshare with Jordan Howard, who has handled one more snap over the past four games. He has procured eight red-zone rushes and receptions each this season, which have yielded three of his five touchdowns. The Vikings-who will likely be without Anthony Barr-have allowed 54.4 receiving yards per game to the position. Since they have also yielded just 3.6 yards per carry, this is a perfect spot for the Bears to utilize Cohen over Howard. His recent one-catch games came in decisive wins over the Jets and Bills, so expect much more receiving work in a close call.
Overvalued: Phillip Lindsay (DEN at LAC): ECR: RB15; My Rank: RB20
Maybe I just need to pay more respect to Phillip Lindsay, who occupied this same real estate in Week 9. Then again, he finished as the RB20, closer to my RB17 rank than the lofty RB12 ECR. After getting contained to 60 rushing yards on 17 carries against the Texans, he faces a more manageable Chargers defense that has leaked 4.5 per carry. Yet it’s now the volume rather than efficiency in question. The Broncos are seven-point road underdogs against a team that has allowed 93 points during a six-game winning streak. Royce Freeman is also on track to return from an ankle injury that cost him two games. Before tallying 40 touches in those bouts, Lindsay averaged a more subdued 12.9 touches when sharing snaps with his fellow rookie. They also each handled nine red-zone carries through Week 9, so Freeman could vulture a touchdown even if he returns to a limited role. Keep Lindsay in starting lineups, but lower expectations a tad if Freeman comes back.
Undervalued: Sterling Shepard (NYG vs. TB): ECR: WR30; My Rank: WR25
Sterling Shepard fell down the rankings after converting a season-low three targets into nine yards on Monday night. It would have been an especially disastrous outcome if not for his 27-yard run and game-winning touchdown grab. And yet the targets are concerning. Depending on the day, he’s the third or fourth option on a middling offense behind Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, and Evan Engram. But let’s not panic after one quiet game. Despite investing premium draft capital on a running back, the Giants have aired it out in 66.9 percent of their plays. If anything, they should up the ante against Tampa Bay’s 29th-ranked passing defense. Only the Saints have surrendered more fantasy points per game to wide receivers than the Buccaneers, who have let a wideout score in each contest. Slot receivers Nelson Agholor, Tyler Boyd, Jarvis Landry, and JuJu Smith-Schuster have each smoked them for at least eight catches and 88 yards. Low involvement also isn’t the norm for Shepard, who had received at least seven targets in each of the last six games. While he has fallen short of 40 yards in the last two bouts, he also displayed immense upside when stockpiling 167 yards in Engram’s return against Atlanta. He also slashed the Saints for 77 yards and a score in Week 4, so look for him to once again trounce a lackluster NFC South defense.
Overvalued: Christian Kirk (ARI vs. OAK): ECR: WR39; My Rank: WR48
Christian Kirk is one of those guys I typically rank below the ECR. There’s a stark gap this week that can easily make the difference between a viable WR3 and a scrub. There’s upside against the Raiders, who have relinquished an NFL-worst 9.1 yards per pass attempt. They’re bad at football, but that makes the Cardinals 5.5-point home favorites. If given the opportunity to run David Johnson against the league’s third-worst rushing defense or ride a middling rookie quarterback, which are they more likely to choose? With the game script working right in his favor, Kirk turned six targets into eight yards during Week 10’s 26-14 loss at Kansas City. His role could keep fading. While the newcomer has secured five catches in two games since the Cardinals fired Mike McCoy, Larry Fitzgerald has seen double-digit targets each time. Kirk is now an ancillary piece on the NFL’s worst passing offense, and this is a game where Arizona can get away with limiting Josh Rosen’s exposure.
Undervalued: Jack Doyle (IND vs. TEN): ECR: TE8; My Rank: TE7
It’s hard to find a tight end I like more than the experts, mostly because it’s hard to find a likable tight end. With George Kittle on a bye, they’re all mediocre and fairly touchdown-dependent beyond Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce. There’s nobody I had more than one spot above the ECR, and that’s just splitting hairs. So I’ll double down on Indianapolis tight ends. Although Ebron was a Week 10 money-maker, he played 21 snaps to Jack Doyle‘s 48. Doyle has received 10 targets to Ebron’s six in two games back from a hip injury, and the Titans haven’t allowed a touchdown to a tight end. Rather than hoping for Ebron to break that trend, chase the volume and play Doyle. He’s a rare non-elite choice who can appease investors without finding the end zone.
Overvalued: Trey Burton (CHI vs. MIN): ECR: TE5; My Rank: TE8
Gambling on a touchdown-dependent tight end paid off last week. Yet ranking one TE5 is too rich for me. Trey Burton has not cleared four catches or five targets in any game outside of Week 7’s nine-catch, 126-yard outlier. If he finds the end zone for the sixth time, cool. If not, you’re looking at a guy averaging 3.7 catches and 45.7 yards per game. It’s good enough at an already light position missing some big names in Week 11. Yet I’d rather bet on Engram against Tampa Bay or Doyle’s higher work rate winning out over Ebron-still my TE10 out of default-in Indianapolis. But yeah, this positions stinks.