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7 Players to Avoid Reaching For (2019 Fantasy Football)

Feb 14, 2019

James White’s 2018 production was mainly a product of injuries to New England’s other running backs

One key to drafting a winning fantasy roster is figuring out which solid performers from last season can attribute their production to being in a situation that was more conducive to their success. Odds are good that it will be tough for that athlete to match their numbers from yesteryear because their circumstances are less favorable. One example heading into last season of a player like this was LeSean McCoy. He accumulated over 1,500 all-purpose yards with eight scores in 2017 as a 29-year-old. However, having what many experts deemed was a worse quarterback situation going into 2018 and playing behind an offensive line that had lost some key pieces doomed his season.

Many of those who were fully aware of his worse supporting cast avoided him entirely, while others that spent a third-round pick on him were left with a huge draft bust that may have cost them a playoff spot. You don’t want to be picking up the pieces after selecting someone who may have overachieved last year thanks to their situation. With that being said, our featured pundits have come to help you avoid such disappointment by sharing their insight on which players will have a hard time replicating their 2018 numbers.

Q1. What RB overachieved in 2018 and will be overdrafted this year as a result?

James White (RB – NE)
“It shouldn’t be a shock to hear White’s name when mentioning overachievers from 2018. He finished as the RB7 in PPR formats and the RB11 in standard formats, a far cry from his previous career-highs when he finished as the RB26 in PPR and RB35 in standard. Many things contributed to his success, as Sony Michel missed all of training camp and the beginning of the season, Rex Burkhead missed eight full games, Julian Edelman missed four full games, and Rob Gronkowski wasn’t the same player. Over the last 10 years, there have been just four running backs who’ve finished as top-15 backs with less than 197 touches. Well, White had just 181 touches in 2018.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

James White will not repeat his top 10 PPR (RB8) finish in 2019. Numerous factors made for a perfect storm and White to his credit capitalized. After Week 12, White totaled at least 10 touches only once as the RB22 (PPR) over that span. With the continued emergence of Michel and a full season of Edelman, White is best viewed as a low-end RB2 or high-end flex for 2019.”
– Derek Brown (The Quant Edge)

Jordan Howard (RB – CHI) 
“Despite all of his ups and downs, Howard still rode a late burst to 935 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Yet his yards per carry dropped from 4.1 (down from his rookie season’s 5.2) to a mediocre 3.7. He vanished far too often to trust on a weekly basis and the Bears may not give a middling performer another 250 rushes. Maybe he’s too boring to get overdrafted, but he’s no longer particularly tempting as a volume RB2.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

James Conner (RB – PIT) 
“Nobody can deny that Conner had a spectacular season scoring 13 total TDs in only 13 games, but he was shy of the 1,000 rushing yards mark. For 2019, I am expecting an increase in his rushing yards, but a decrease in his scoring numbers. The future of Antonio Brown with the Steelers is uncertain, but it seems he will not return. His exit would make Conner the focal point of that offense and the defenses’ eyes will be on him, making me doubt him as a top-eight RB for 2019.”
– Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

Q2. What WR overachieved in 2018 and will be overdrafted this year as a result?

Tyler Lockett (WR – SEA) 
“I’d have to go with Lockett, as he scored a touchdown once every 7.1 targets, which was the fourth-lowest mark in the last 10 years among wide receivers who saw at least 50 targets. While Russell Wilson is a phenomenal quarterback and Lockett will have a better than normal touchdown rate because of that, he’s not going to be known as a touchdown-scorer for the remainder of his career, as it’s just not his game. Prior to scoring 10 touchdowns in 2018, he’d scored nine touchdowns in his previous 47 games in the NFL. It’s a blip on the radar and not one you should pay for in 2019.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Adam Thielen (WR – MIN) 
“My top WR candidate to be overdrafted in 2019 is Thielen. From Weeks 9-17, Thielen was the WR30 (standard scoring) while Diggs was WR19. The OC change prior to Week 15 affected Thielen, averaging only 4.63 fantasy points per game after John DeFilippo’s firing. With now full-time OC Kevin Stefanski, I am envisioning a more balanced offense with a fully recovered Dalvin Cook. I really like Thielen as a player, but is tough to rank him as a top-12 WR for 2019.”
– Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL) 
“After popping 10 touchdowns in his rookie campaign, Ridley will likely come at an inflated cost in 2019 drafts. He certainly boasts an immense ceiling in Atlanta’s offense, but he didn’t show enough consistency to trust as more than a touchdown-dependent matchup play. Ridley mustered 92 targets (two fewer than Mohamed Sanu) on the season while averaging just 3.0 catches for 30.1 yards in nine games in which he didn’t find paydirt. Save him for best ball unless he’s priced reasonably as a WR3.”
– Andrew Gould (FantasyPros)

Tyler Boyd (WR – CIN) 
“Boyd will not repeat his top-15 finish in PPR. With A.J. Green limited to only nine games in this past season and Tyler Eifert’s season-ending injury, Boyd was left as the top option in the passing game. While Zac Taylor heralds from a tree that can seemingly produce no bitter fruit, Taylor is unproven as a play caller. Any guesses as to how his offense will run or succeed are an attempt to connect dots that do not exist.”
– Derek Brown (The Quant Edge)

Thank you to the experts for taking the time to provide their thoughts on which players will disappoint this season. Please give them a follow on Twitter for more advice throughout the offseason.

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