Overvalued Players in DRAFT Best Ball Leagues (2019 Fantasy Football)
Let me start by clearing up what could be a possible misunderstanding. I’m not saying I’d avoid the following players at all costs. In fact, I’d argue the first player addressed below is easily the best at his position. However, all of the highlighted players are being selected, on average, higher than I’m willing to pull the trigger. If some of them fell a round below their current ADP, would I consider them? In some cases, absolutely. However, a couple of players would have to fall much further than a round to be on my radar. They were the easiest to select for this piece.
Patrick Mahomes (KC) – 18 Overall, QB1
Mahomes is coming off of a historically great season that netted him the NFL’s MVP Award after playing just one game in his rookie season. He was electric, and he’s the top fantasy signal-caller. I have no argument against him topping the position. However, investing a top-25 pick on him isn’t something for which I’d advocate. There isn’t another quarterback who has an ADP inside the top 50. In a traditional re-draft league, there’s an easier case to make for spending the type of draft capital required to secure Mahomes’ services. In a Best Ball format, however, bypassing a stud running back or wide receiver for a quarterback is ill-advised.
Last year, Ben Roethlisberger joined Mahomes in passing for more than 5,000 yards, and a total of a dozen quarterbacks eclipsed 4,000 passing yards. Mahomes was way ahead of the pack with 50 touchdown passes, and Andrew Luck finished second with 39. Having said that, nine quarterbacks passed for at least 30 touchdowns. Eight of the nine who threw for at least 30 touchdowns also eclipsed the 4,000-yard plateau, and the only one who didn’t (Drew Brees) fell just eight yards shy of that threshold after sitting out a meaningless Week 17 game.
Furthermore, there are a handful of intriguing quarterbacks who fell short of the lofty passing benchmarks but added a ton of value with their legs. Lamar Jackson led all quarterbacks with 695 rushing yards and added five scores on the ground. Josh Allen joined him north of 600 rushing yards with 631 and eight scores. Deshaun Watson (551 yards and five touchdowns), Cam Newton (488 rushing yards and four touchdowns), and Mitchell Trubisky (421 rushing yards and three touchdowns) all cleared the 400-yard threshold on the ground, and Russell Wilson wasn’t too far off with 376. Mahomes’ 272 rushing yards and two touchdowns are nothing to sneeze at, but, suffice to say, there are quite a few high-ceiling quarterbacks spread across the NFL. Not spending a top-25 pick on Mahomes allows gamers to double-dip in a robust talent pool in the upper and middle tier behind Kansas City’s wunderkind.
Additionally, as talented as Mahomes is, expect regression from a historically great season to a merely excellent 2019. The biggest threat to his 2019 isn’t necessarily the league catching up to him, either. Mahomes was routinely forced to keep his foot on the accelerator to offset a dreadful defense. Football Outsiders (FO) ranked the Chiefs 26th in DVOA, and Kansas City’s defense coughed up the ninth-most points per game (26.3). After losing in the AFC Championship Game, the club canned defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. With a loaded offense and a franchise quarterback on the squad already, the organization will undoubtedly spend the offseason attempting to shore up the other side of the ball. In theory, an improved defense complementing Kansas City’s high-octane offense would allow the team to salt away more victories. Mahomes is a special talent, but the price is too rich to roster him this year.
Leonard Fournette (JAC) – 35.7, RB19
Fournette is one of the two players I alluded to in the intro who’d need to fall far below his ADP for me to consider selecting. Two years into his professional career, he’s averaging a paltry 3.7 yards per carry and has played in only 21 of a possible 32 regular-season games. His production and efficiency regressed substantially in his second season, and he played in only eight games. Out of 47 running backs who carried the ball at least 100 times last season, FO ranked Fournette 33rd in DYAR and 32nd in DVOA. Toss in his struggles staying on the field that, remarkably, didn’t include his troublesome ankle in 2018, and I’ll gladly let him be someone else’s headache this year.
Derrius Guice (WAS) – 41.3, RB22
Do I have something against LSU running backs? No, I swear I don’t. Guice is coming off of a lost year in which he was drafted, though. He suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the second preseason game, and then he suffered a post-surgery infection. He’s in the midst of rehabbing, but as ProFootballDoc discussed in The San Diego Union-Tribune, he’s still a ways away from being football ready. A healthy preseason, or perhaps even positive training camp news, could make this a more palatable cost for drafting Guice. Injury recovery aside, Guice is also knocked for his ties to what could be a total dumpster-fire offense. Alex Smith isn’t expected to play quarterback this year — or perhaps ever again — after suffering a gruesome leg injury late in 2018, and it’s unclear who will start under center. Most likely, whoever starts for Washington at quarterback this year will be below-average. Even bad football teams can produce fantasy gems, but if Washington struggles to score points, it lowers the weekly ceiling for all members of the offense, Guice included.
Jarvis Landry (CLE) – 52.5, WR21
Count me among those who are excited about Cleveland’s offense in 2019. Freddie Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator after the team cut ties with head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley following a Week 8 loss to the Steelers. Baker Mayfield and the offense thrived under Kitchens’ tutelage and playcalling, and he’ll remain the play-caller even with his promotion to head coach for the 2019 season. Adding to the excitement, the Browns hired former Bucs offensive coordinator and play-caller Todd Monken to serve as their OC this season. The Bucs ranked a respectable 12th in scoring offense (24.8 points per game), third in total offensive yards, and tied for third in yards per play last year, per Pro-Football-Reference. Even though Kitchens will remain the play-caller, the addition of Monken could help them take another step forward this year.
Having said that, Landry’s production wasn’t particularly exciting with Kitchens calling the plays last year. Landry never reached double-digit targets with Kitchens as the OC (he did hit nine targets in two contests). He bested 100 yards receiving in two of eight games, but he fell short of 60 receiving yards in the other six. In eight games with Kitchens as the OC, Landry had per-game averages of 6.88 targets, four receptions, and 56 receiving yards while catching only two touchdowns, according to RotoViz’s Game Splits App. I don’t hate Landry, because Cleveland’s offense could be among the most fantasy-friendly this year, but selecting him as WR21 requires him to take a sizable step forward while not baking in the potential for him performing at a similar level to what we saw in eight games played with Kitchens running Cleveland’s offense.
Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) – 75.4, WR31
Sanders’ 2018 season came to an end in early December when he suffered a torn Achilles in practice. He’s on the wrong side of 30. I’ll keep this short and sweet. No thanks to spending a top-100 pick on a soon-to-be 32-year-old receiver who suffered a significant injury at the tail end of the 2018 season and could conceivably require rehab time into the regular season.
Rob Gronkowski (NE) – 92.7, TE10
Gronk is the other highlighted player whom I alluded to in the intro who’d have to fall far beyond his current ADP to consider drafting. Even if he fell 30 spots beyond his ADP, though, I’d still be hard-pressed to pull the trigger. Gronk is mulling over the possibility of retiring after winning another Super Bowl, and he’s not coming off of a vintage Gronk season. His 2018 totals in targets (72), receptions (47), and receiving yards (682) are his lowest marks in a season in which he played 10 or more games since his rookie season in 2010. His three touchdown receptions last year tied for the lowest single-season mark of his career. The upside simply doesn’t justify the risk of him hanging up his cleats and leaving you with a dead roster spot.