Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 13
A suboptimal Week 13 lineup can make the difference between reaching the playoffs or getting an early start on next season’s fantasy baseball rankings. (Or just playing DFS or focusing on another league where championship hopes remain undashed.)
With the fantasy postseason rapidly approaching, many managers face a must-win game. After conducting their own diligent research, the studious type will consult FantasyPros’ ECR to find dozens of informed opinions in one spot. Those rankings, of course, are far from gospel. That’s why I contrast them with my own every week to see why I value certain players more or less than the pack.
Last week’s piece featured one decisive win in Sony Michel–Devin Funchess doesn’t count since he didn’t play-but two wild misses in Deshaun Watson (Week 12’s top QB) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (three yards). This week, I’ve identified two forever intertwined passers, two reeling rushers facing New Jersey roommates, and teammates on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Undervalued: Andrew Luck (IND at JAC) – ECR: QB9; My Rank: QB5
I made the mistake of ranking Andrew Luck too low when he last encountered the Jaguars. He went 21-of-29 for 285 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick. He has tossed at least three scores in each of the last eight games and posted a quarterback rating above 109.0 in every triumph throughout the Colts’ ongoing five-game winning streak. He has also completed 75.8 percent of his passes during that stretch. The lower ECR likely says more about an outdated perception of the Jaguars. They spent most of last year and a good chunk of 2018 as a defense to avoid whenever possible. Yet they have relinquished at least 20 fantasy points to each of their last four opponents. Even Josh Allen. They have permitted as many fantasy points per game to quarterbacks (17.4) as the Packers, and Jalen Ramsey (knee) didn’t practice on Thursday. The matchup isn’t proper cause to shove Luck down the rankings.
Overvalued: Russell Wilson (SEA vs. SF) – ECR: QB7; My Rank: QB12
Luck’s 2012 draft cohort has also delivered a steady stream of touchdowns. Wilson has proffered two or three passing scores in all but one bout. He boasts a higher quarterback rating (112.0) than Luck and all but four signal-callers for a superbly efficient Seattle passing attack. He’s also 25th in pass attempts (309). He has thrown 31 times in each of Seattle’s consecutive three-point wins, but he might not even enjoy that mundane volume on Sunday. The Seahawks are 10-point home favorites against the 49ers, and Wilson has attempted 66 passes in three double-digit triumphs. There’s a strong chance he settles for around 225 passing yards in a low-dosage role, and he’s no longer a bankable bet to accrue points with his legs. While the precise passer is a safe option who shouldn’t turn the ball over against a defense that has absconded an NFL-low two interceptions, he’s going to need three touchdowns to finish as a top-10 quarterback. It’s doable, but far from a lock.
Undervalued: Jordan Howard (CHI vs. NYG) – ECR: RB30; My Rank: RB25
I know. I don’t like this either. Jordan Howard has totaled 112 yards over the last three games, and he saw a season-low eight touches in Thanksgiving’s 23-16 win over the Lions. Some onlookers will especially express dismay over him twice faltering to a defense yielding 4.7 yards per carry. Yet they have surrendered just 3.8 yards per rush in five games since acquiring Damon Harrison. The real test of whether anyone can ever trust Howard comes when facing the Giants, who have allowed over 120 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in every game since dealing “Snacks” to Detroit. Each of the last four opposing starters (Adrian Peterson, Matt Breida, Peyton Barber, Josh Adams) has finished as a top-12 rusher. Howard comes with more workload concerns, but betting on the matchup worked for a banged-up Breida, mediocre Barber, and a previously committee-bound Adams. With Chase Daniel instead starting for Mitchell Trubisky, the beleaguered rusher is given the perfect opportunity to again handle 15-20 touches. He could at least become the seventh rusher in as many games to find the end zone against the G-Men, so hold your nose and keep him in starting lineups.
Overvalued: Dion Lewis (TEN vs. NYJ) – ECR: RB22; My Rank: RB29
The consensus is higher on another struggling running back facing another vulnerable opponent from the Meadowlands. Dion Lewis has recorded 141 yards over the past three games. Unlike Howard, he has handled double-digit touches in each of the last five contests. The Jets rank one spot below the Giants in rushing defense (27th) while permitting the 12th-most fantasy points per game (21.0) to running backs. Yet Lewis is averaging 3.3 yards per run and 38.9 rushing yards per game this season. He’s most valuable when locked in as a pass-catcher, but that’s not necessary to beat the Jets. Against his former team last week, they allowed one catch to James White and 21 carries for 133 yards to Michel. Lewis, who has scored two touchdowns all season, must do more on the ground than usual. Derrick Henry, who earned three touchdowns in Tennessee’s last two wins, is a strong candidate to again vulture goal-line looks in a low-scoring win.
Undervalued: Adam Humphries (TB vs. CAR) – ECR: WR36; My Rank: WR31
Every time I move Adam Humphries up my rankings, I can’t help but feel he should rise even higher. He’s the WR35 this season and the WR15 since the start of Week 6, so WR31 doesn’t seem particularly bold. Narrowing the sample size more, he has registered just three fewer fantasy points than Mike Evans as the WR8 over his last five games. Four touchdowns have fueled his ascent, but he has also caught 26 of 32 targets for 325 yards. Topping 50 yards in each contest, he has developed a far sturdier floor than Chris Godwin and DeSean Jackson, who could miss Sunday’s game with an injured thumb. When last facing the Panthers, Humphries caught all eight targets for 82 yards and two touchdowns. They have since acquiesced at least 90 yards and a touchdown to five wide receivers (Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kenny Golladay, Tyler Lockett, and David Moore) in three games. O.J. Howard, now on the IR, also found the end zone twice in Week 9. There’s plenty of room for the slot wideout to again flourish even if Evans redeems his 16-yard blunder.
Overvalued: Calvin Ridley (ATL vs. BAL) – ECR: WR29; My Rank: WR37 / Mohamed Sanu – ECR: WR49; My Rank: WR55
The weird thing about these discrepancies is that I’m higher on Matt Ryan (QB13) than the ECR (QB17). Having tallied 285 passing yards in every game since Week 3, Atlanta’s quarterback should survive a brutal matchup against Baltimore with respectable numbers. Yet there’s little reason to place that same trust in any wide receiver besides Julio Jones. Like most WR3 types, Calvin Ridley is an erratic choice with a wide range of outcomes. When presented a favorable matchup such as the Saints, whom he scored four times against in a pair of division showdowns, he’s a superb play. Yet he goes from facing the team last in points allowed to wideouts (32.2) to the team yielding the least (16.9). The rookie has fallen short of 50 yards six times this season, so this is an ill-advised time to chase his intermittent upside. Mohamed Sanu, meanwhile, has exceeded 75 receiving yards just once this season. He has averaged 35.9 yards in seven games where the Falcons have allowed below 30 points, a mark the Ravens have only hit against the Bills and Raiders. He’s a nice floor play when anticipating a shootout but not someone to trust in a highly unfavorable spot.
Undervalued: Austin Hooper (ATL vs. BAL) – ECR: TE12; My Rank: TE10
Those matchup problems don’t extend to Austin Hooper. While lethal on wideouts, the Ravens have relinquished 64.5 yards per game to tight ends. Nearly a quarter (25.6%) of all completions against the AFC North squad have gone to the position, and Ryan has completed 28.2 of 39.5 pass attempts per game. Four tight ends have found pay dirt against them in the last five games, so red-zone work could also accompany steady volume. Hooper has received 53 targets in the last seven games. That’s as many as Trey Burton-ranked one spot higher as the ECR’s TE11-has seen all season. While I was skeptical at first, he has emerged as a decent TE1 even in a full slate.
Overvalued: Cameron Brate (TB vs. CAR) – ECR: TE7; My Rank: TE9
I initially had Cameron Brate right alongside his TE7 ECR. Howard is hurt. Jameis Winston is under center, and no team has ceded more fantasy points per game to tight ends than Carolina’s 11.6. Everything aligns perfectly for Brate to score his fifth touchdown. Yet there’s no consolation prize if he doesn’t. The 27-year-old has yet to tally more than three catches, four targets, or 35 yards in a game. It’s essentially the Eric Ebron conundrum before Jack Doyle got hurt. We might all be downplaying the touchdown dependency because “Winston loves him!”