2019 Best-Ball Players to Avoid (MFL10 and DRAFT)
Everyone talks about the players that fantasy players should draft, but we don’t want to pass over the players they shouldn’t be drafting, right? In fact, they may be even more important, as they can set you back in the early rounds.
Let me be clear that when I say to avoid these players, it means to avoid them at their current ADP (average draft position). I just want to make that clear, because some of these players are going to have solid year-end totals, but I’ll do my best to explain why they’re being overvalued in the early going.
Andrew Luck (QB – IND) Current ADP: 53 overall (QB2)
You won’t find much of an argument from me when it comes to drafting Luck as a top-five quarterback this year, but he shouldn’t be going near the top 50 picks in best-ball formats. Here’s a fun-fact about his 2018 season: On average, it took 25.2 points to finish as a top-five quarterback in 2018. Luck hit that number once. Here’s a few quarterbacks who did it more than him: Derek Carr, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston, Dak Prescott… The Colts are a well-oiled machine on offense, but their defense improved a ton, leaving Luck with a limited ceiling. I love him as a player, but he’s not the greatest best-ball pick.
Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE) Current ADP: 69 overall (QB5)
You won’t find someone who was higher than me on Mayfield last year, as he was my No. 1 overall player in the draft and I had him ranked as a top-12 dynasty quarterback before the season started. However, it’s gotten a bit out of control. He’s not on a team with a bad defense. In fact, his defense is good enough to where it’s going to hurt his overall potential, as they won’t need to throw a ton. When drafting someone as the No. 5 quarterback, you want to know that he has upside for more. Unless the defense is horrible and Mayfield starts running the ball more, it’s unlikely he’s going to offer massive games. There were 27 quarterbacks who posted at least one game with 26.0 or more fantasy points in 2018, though Mayfield was not one of them. He’s really good, but you’re drafting him at his ceiling here.
Philip Rivers (QB – LAC) Current ADP: 102 overall (QB14)
Here’s the example of a player who’s top-five at his position in real-life, but not when it comes to fantasy. You’ve probably heard it a million times – Rivers has been a top-14 quarterback in 11-of-13 seasons, so you’re drafting him at his floor if he’s being taken as the QB14. Well, no. Rivers is a very consistent quarterback, but he’s not going to help lead your best-ball team to a championship. There was just one game in 2018 where he totaled more than 24 fantasy points, and it’s because his defense has continually gotten better. He also doesn’t offer anything rushing, so unless his defense takes a step back in 2019, he’s not going to have much of a chance to deliver much better numbers in 2019.
Devonta Freeman (RB – ATL) Current ADP: 31 overall (RB16)
Remember when Freeman played horribly as a rookie and everyone wanted to write him off, similar to Ronald Jones this year? I remember it clearly because I landed him around the RB30-35 area in most drafts the next year. We all know he turned into what was the fantasy MVP that year. What was wrong his rookie season? Dirk Koetter. He was the coordinator that year and has unfortunately returned to Atlanta this offseason. During his time in Tampa Bay, every running back struggled throughout their time under him. Is it a coincidence or does Koetter hamper his team’s run-game? When investing a third-round pick, you’d better be sure that running back is practically can’t-miss. I like Freeman the player, but hate the scheme, and the Falcons will likely be a pass-heavy team in 2019.
Jordan Howard (RB – PHI) Current ADP: 73 overall (RB30)
We purposely waited to do this article until ADP settled down after the NFL Draft, so to see Howard still sitting there as the 30th running back off the board makes little sense. Miles Sanders was drafted in the second-round, highlighting how much they valued him, while trading away a sixth-round pick for Howard, who is a two-down back and makes your offense predictable. Think about it, Matt Nagy just traded him away for a sixth-round pick because he doesn’t suit the shotgun-style offense, yet he goes to the Eagles who run a very similar scheme. Despite scoring nine touchdowns, Howard didn’t tally a single game with 25 PPR points in 2018, something 34 other running backs were able to accomplish at least once (none of them were Eagles). In fact, he had just one game with more than 16.7 PPR points.
LeSean McCoy (RB – BUF) Current ADP: 97 overall (RB37)
Not only was McCoy brutal in 2018, finishing as an RB2 or better just 21.4 percent of the time (48th among running backs), but the Bills signed Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon, then drafted Devin Singletary in the third-round. It might be a better possibility that McCoy is cut than it is as him finishing as a top-30 running back in a Bills uniform. The best-case scenario for McCoy is that he’s traded or cut and signs with another team, though best-ball players can’t assume that.
Kareem Hunt (RB – CLE) Current ADP: 103 overall (RB39)
He may be better in best-ball than he is in redraft, but that’s not saying much, as I’ve said he’s undraftable in redraft. He’s suspended for a full eight games and is playing behind a guy who just rushed for 996 yards and eight touchdowns despite not starting until Week 7. Did I mention the fact that the Browns drafted Nick Chubb at the start of the second-round? He hasn’t done anything to lose the job and unless there’s an injury, Hunt has little/no best-ball value. Knowing he’s out half the season, it should knock him well out of high-end handcuff territory, but he’s being drafted as a top-five handcuff for whatever reason.
Robert Woods (WR – LAR) Current ADP: 46 overall (WR18)
This is a case of a player who’s perfectly valued in redraft but overvalued in best-ball formats. Even with Cooper Kupp missing over half the season, Woods finished with WR1-type numbers in just 18.8 percent of his games, which ranked 27th among wide receivers. He doesn’t offer the upside of most receivers being drafted in his range, though he is consistently offering WR3 or better value. His mark of 87.5 percent tied for fourth among wide receivers, so if you’re able to land him as your WR3, that’s fine, but his price suggests he should offer much more upside.
Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE) Current ADP: 54 overall (WR23)
Over the last few years, you’ve been able to rely on somewhat steady, consistent production from Landry. You always knew what you were getting in a sense, though you also knew you were foregoing upside by selecting him over some others in his range. Now that Odell Beckham is in town, his targets are going to take a massive dip and he’s going to lose a lot of what made him attractive in the first place – consistency. It’s also not as if he offers tremendous upside if Beckham were to go down with an injury, either, as we’ve already seen what that looks like – the WR19 in 2018. Being drafted as the WR23 makes little sense when you think about the risk/reward with him. His “boom” percentage for his career is just 5.0 percent, which is lower than the career marks of Pierre Garcon, Jordan Matthews, Allen Hurns, and others.
Robby Anderson (WR – NYJ) Current ADP: 78 overall (WR30)
I understand why some want to try and ‘project’ a breakout season for Anderson, as they’re hoping/expecting Sam Darnold to take a step forward in his development. The issue with that is it’s already built into his price at WR30. Some will point to his finish on the season as a reason to get excited, but we’ve had a change to the coaching staff, and the team has added Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder as target-stealers. It’s odd because I thought Anderson would be a good value in best-ball, as his WR1 percentage stood at 21.4, which ranked 23rd among wide receivers, but again, his price already reflects a jump from where he finished last year (WR36). For those curious, his WR2 or better percentage was just 28.6 percent, which ranked 37th.
Golden Tate (WR – NYG) Current ADP: 91 overall (WR36)
When going over the numbers last year, it was shocking to see Tate finish as a WR2 or better just 26.7 percent of the time. In fact, he was a WR3 or better just 40 percent of the time, which ranked 43rd among receivers. Did it hurt that he went to a new team? Sure, but he also went to a new team this offseason. He’s likely going to get enough targets to offer a relatively high floor, but he’s not going to offer much in best-ball leagues. I’d much rather take my chances on someone who offers a higher weekly ceiling.
Dede Westbrook (WR – JAX) Current ADP: 119 overall (WR43)
I’m not sure when the lovefest with Westbrook began, but I’m not sure why it did. Here’s his marks from the 2018 season and where he ranked among wide receivers: 12.5 percent WR1 or better (41st), 25.0 percent WR2 or better (46th), 43.8 percent WR3 or better (37th). What about that screams breakout to them? The addition of Nick Foles? Many thought Westbrook could/would be a field-stretcher in the NFL, but judging by his 8.5-yard average depth of target, the Jaguars don’t think so. D.J. Chark is filling that role, while Marqise Lee is still the most talented receiver on the team, though he can’t seem to stay healthy. The Jaguars passing game isn’t one that’s likely to produce a whole lot of big performances.
Tyrell Williams (WR – OAK) Current ADP: 134 overall (WR48)
When selecting a wide receiver inside the top-48, it suggests you believe he’s better than at least half of the other WR2s in the league. Do you really believe Derek Carr is going to support a top-10 receiver and then another one who’s better than the league average among WR2s? Williams posted WR3 or better numbers with Philip Rivers just 20 percent of the time in 2018 (ranked 88th among receivers), so what makes you believe that playing with Carr will be any better?
Donte Moncrief (WR – PIT) Current ADP: 155 overall (WR53)
He’s become somewhat of a journeyman at this point, looking for a home. Those type of receivers don’t have ‘breakout’ years in year-six of their career. He’ll battle with James Washington and rookie Diontae Johnson for snaps, though I believe Moncrief will be on the field for three-wide sets with Washington and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Still, he’s being drafted as if he’s a starter as the 53rd wide receiver off the board. Did you know Moncrief has just one 100-yard game over his last three seasons? He may catch touchdowns from time-to-time, but chemistry with a new quarterback isn’t built overnight. There are much better options in his range.
Eric Ebron (TE – IND) Current ADP: 63 overall (TE6)
Here’s a stat I posted on Ebron earlier this offseason: He scored 14 touchdowns in 2018, which ranks as the third-most all-time by a tight end. While his targets (110) ranked 13th all-time, his yardage (750) ranked 132nd all-time. Regression is coming, particularly in the touchdown department. Prior to 2018, Ebron was looked at as someone who was allergic to the end zone, scoring 11 touchdowns in 56 games, but after 14 touchdowns in 16 games with Andrew Luck, everyone is buying in. While tight ends with Luck do offer plenty of value, some of it was lost this offseason when they signed Devin Funchess and then again when they drafted Parris Campbell. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that Jack Doyle is healthy, which will severely carve into Ebron’s target-share. He averaged 8.8 targets with Doyle out of the lineup, but just 4.4 targets with him in the lineup.
Chris Herndon (TE – NYJ) Current ADP: 128 overall (TE14)
I can’t explain why everyone is high on Jets skill-position players, but it helps us identify overvalued players that much easier. In 2018, without Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder on the roster, Herndon finished with 10.2 or more PPR points four times. Why is that number significant? Because that’s what it took on average to finish as a top-12 tight end in 2018. For tight ends, I consider it a “bust” performance if they score less than 7.0 PPR points. Well, Herndon busted seven times, and that was without Bell and Crowder. Do you think Adam Gase is a positive for a tight end’s production? I don’t.
T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET) Current ADP: 131 overall (TE15)
How about some trivia to help understand why Hockenson shouldn’t be drafted anywhere near the TE1 conversation. There have been 70 tight ends who’ve been drafted inside the top six rounds of the NFL Draft over the last six years. How many of them have finished as a top-12 option? One. It was Evan Engram, who walked into tons of opportunity due to injuries to Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard. You may love Hockenson more than anyone, but he’d have to be a generational outlier to justify a pick in that range, unless, of course, something happens to both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, because then I’d be buying.