Early Overvalued Players (2019 Fantasy Football)
Last week, I looked at some players who are undervalued in fantasy football drafts right now. This week, I’ll flip it around and look at players who are being picked too high based on their early consensus ADP.
Patrick Mahomes (KC)
Coming off an MVP season, Patrick Mahomes’ ADP sits at the end of the second round (23rd overall). To justify picking a quarterback that high, he would need to repeat what he did last year. Here’s the problem: He’s not going to. According to Pro Football Focus’ Daniel Kelley, 12 quarterbacks have thrown at least 40 passing touchdowns in a season in NFL history. The 11 who played the following season — Tom Brady suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 after his historic 2007 — threw an average of 28.7 touchdowns.
If the NFL suspends Tyreek Hill, Mahomes would have to play without his WR1 (and 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns) for at least part of 2019. Between the diminished value of the quarterback position in fantasy, impending regression, and Hill’s legal issues, Mahomes is an easy fade at his current ADP.
Todd Gurley (LAR)
It’s a simple argument against drafting Todd Gurley: In the first round of fantasy drafts, you want to minimize risk. It’s possible Gurley finishes as the RB1 by PPG for a third consecutive season, but the concerns surrounding his knee are too great to ignore at this point. He could turn into a value as the summer goes on and injury worries drop his ADP further, but he’s too risky at his current RB7 (eighth overall) ADP.
Kerryon Johnson (DET)
I like Kerryon Johnson as a player. It’s hard not to. After all, he was extremely productive in his final season at Auburn and averaged 5.4 yards per carry in his rookie season. But it’s hard to get excited about him as a fantasy asset at his current 39 ADP. Lions general manager Bob Quinn said at the NFL Combine that he believes it’s necessary to use multiple running backs instead of relying on just one, and head coach Matt Patricia reiterated that philosophy as well. Theo Riddick is still in town to take some passing-down work, and C.J. Anderson could slide into the role LeGarrette Blount played last year. Furthermore, it’s likely Johnson’s efficiency will fall off in 2019, as yards per carry is not stable year-over-year. Johnson is currently overvalued in the early-fourth round of fantasy drafts.
Kareem Hunt (CLE)
Kareem Hunt is suspended for eight games to start the season, and it’s no guarantee he will have a role once he is eligible. Over the final 11 weeks of 2018 (i.e. after becoming the starter), Nick Chubb was third in the NFL in rushing attempts, fourth in rushing yards, and eighth among RBs in PPR fantasy points. With an ADP of RB37, Hunt is an obvious fade. It’s just not worth picking a guy who might have a role in the second half and sitting him on your bench for eight weeks.
Jordan Howard (PHI)
The Eagles drafted Miles Sanders in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft after trading for Howard, demonstrating that they don’t view Howard as a lead back. The former Bear has never been a good receiver — he ranked 50th out of 53 running backs with minimum 25 targets in receiving DVOA in 2018, 61st of 62 in 2017, and 36th of 53 in 2016 — so you’re pretty much only picking him for his rushing production. Sanders, a 77th percentile SPARQ-x athlete who averaged 5.8 yards per carry at Penn State last year, is the favorite to open the season as the starter on account of the draft capital the Eagles invested in him. That could change, however, is an offseason hamstring issue lingers beyond summer. A one-dimensional running back with an unclear path to volume, there are better options than Howard in the seventh round of fantasy drafts.
Calvin Ridley (ATL)
Calvin Ridley broke out early in his rookie campaign, totaling 15 receptions for 264 yards and six touchdowns between Weeks 2-4 last year. Thirty-eight percent of Ridley’s 2018 fantasy production came from those three weeks. The Alabama product ended his first NFL season as the WR19 in PPR formats despite seeing just 92 targets. According to airyards.com, Ridley’s Weighted Opportunity Rating ranked 76th (no, that’s not a typo) among wide receivers. He simply didn’t get enough volume last year to justify his WR22 ADP.
Ridley isn’t even a lock to finish second on the Falcons in targets. Mohamed Sanu quietly had a career year in 2018 and out-targeted Ridley 94 to 92. Austin Hooper also came into his own with 88 targets.
Furthermore, Ridley caught touchdowns at an unsustainable rate last season. His touchdown rate ranked 11th among wide receivers with at least 30 targets. Touchdown rate is highly variable on a year-over-year basis, so you can expect that number to plummet in 2019.
Mecole Hardman (KC)
Speculation that Mecole Hardman could operate in the Hill role if Hill is suspended has pushed his ADP up into the single-digit rounds. Even if Hill is suspended, Hardman would have to beat out Demarcus Robinson for the WR2 job, which isn’t a guarantee considering he was a non-factor at Georgia (19th percentile College Dominator). Yes, Hardman is fast, but that doesn’t mean he’s the next Hill.
Eric Ebron (IND)
Eric Ebron made the most of a second chance in Indianapolis last year, catching 13 touchdowns — second-most in the NFL — en route to a TE4 finish. He benefitted from Jack Doyle‘s absence, but Doyle is back in preparation for the 2019 season. In five full games the duo played together in 2018, Doyle out-targeted Ebron 29-15 and ran an average of 27.4 routes per game compared to only 11.4 for Ebron. Last year, Ebron was the clear #2 option behind T.Y. Hilton in the Colts’ passing game. This year, with Doyle’s return and the additions of Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell, he’ll have more competition for targets. Last year’s 110 targets is unlikely to repeat itself considering the weapons the Colts have added this offseason.
Ebron’s 11.8% touchdown rate — ninth among the 202 pass-catchers with at least 30 targets — is sure to fall, and his fantasy production is going to fall with it. If you need to have a mid-round tight end, O.J. Howard, Hunter Henry, and Evan Engram are much safer bets because they are in line for more volume in 2019.