Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 3
I am dubbing this week’s Overvalued/Undervalued column as “The Battle of the Samuels,” Deebo vs. Curtis. Read on to see which one I’m trusting and which one I’m fading as compared to FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings. Plus, you’ll learn why I’m down on a couple of Packers this week and high on a couple of Lions.
But before we begin, I want to acknowledge that I was wrong to doubt the powers of Lamar Jackson last week. As it turned out, his ECR ranking of QB2 was just right, and that’s where I’ll have him for this week’s epic contest between the Ravens and Chiefs. Thankfully, last week’s picks weren’t all bad. If you’re willing to give me a pass on Lamar, I’m happy to answer any start/sit questions you may have on Twitter @andrew_seifter.
Undervalued: Kyler Murray (ARI)
My Rank: QB8
Murray has yet to have a huge fantasy performance, but it’s only a matter of time given the Cardinals’ massive play volume. He does have 300+ passing yards in each of his first two career starts, so all he really needs is for some of the team’s field goals to turn into TDs. He’s also capable of doing much more damage as a runner than he has thus far. The Panthers aren’t an easy matchup — they’ve held Jared Goff and Jameis Winston in check to begin the year — but even if Murray struggles at times, it’s ultimately a numbers game with Kliff Kingsbury’s revolutionary up-tempo offense.
Overvalued: Aaron Rodgers (GB)
My Rank: QB11
My QB rankings are mostly chalk this week, but I’ll take this opportunity to make the case against Rodgers. Through the first two weeks, Rodgers is the QB21 with less than 210 yards passing in both games. Granted, the matchups with Chicago and Minnesota were tough, but that’s not something that would have mattered much in the past. The bottom line is that Rodgers’ statistical production has dropped markedly since the beginning of the 2017 season, and at this point, we can no longer consider him a matchup-proof QB1. This week he faces a Broncos defense that has been very strong against the pass so far, albeit against Derek Carr and Mitchell Trubisky. With all of the injuries and inconsistency at quarterback these days, Rodgers slides into the back-end of my top-12 almost by default, but I’m not nearly as confidence in him as I once was.
Undervalued: Kerryon Johnson (DET)
My Rank: RB14
It’s oversimplifying things to say the Lions are going to “free” Kerryon now that C.J. Anderson has been cut loose, but I’m confident it improves his fantasy outlook more than his ECR reflects. Last week, Kerryon was on the field for just 54 percent of the snaps, while Anderson and Ty Johnson each played around 20 percent. J.D. McKissic probably isn’t going to play as much as Anderson was playing, which means there is now one less mouth to feed in this backfield. The guess here is that Anderson’s snaps get split up relatively evenly between Kerryon and Ty, pushing Kerryon into the 60-70 percent snap range. Kerryon should also hog the most high-value touches: he’s the favorite to inherit Anderson’s goal-line carries, and he was already being used as the Lions’ primary third-down back. This week’s matchup with Philadelphia isn’t great, but their defensive numbers are inflated by facing two of the league’s tamest running games (Washington and Atlanta).
Overvalued: Aaron Jones (GB)
My Rank: RB17
Here we go again. I was initially optimistic after Jones’ huge Week 2 performance that Packers coach Matt LaFleur was ready to begin leaning more heavily on his best runner, but LaFleur was quick to throw cold water on that idea, saying he wants to “even up” touches between Jones and Jamaal Williams going forward. Jones has played between 50 and 60 percent of the snaps in each of Green Bay’s first two games, while Williams has been in the 40-50 percent range. So we have more than just LaFleur’s words to go on as evidence that Jones getting more than twice as many touches as Williams last week was an anomaly. Jones is a talented player who is going to have some more big games, but I can’t sign off on him as a top-10 RB in a matchup against a Broncos DST that held both Josh Jacobs and David Montgomery below 3.7 yards per carry.
Undervalued: Deebo Samuel (SF)
My Rank: WR37
Samuel was a popular waiver wire add this week, but I’m apparently a lot more bullish on him as a plug-and-play flex option than the fantasy industry as a whole. Samuel played just 40 percent of the snaps last week, but that was almost certainly because of the lopsided scoreline. He played 88 percent of the snaps in Week 1, started in Week 2, and was heavily involved while the game was still competitive. His two rushing attempts are further evidence the 49ers want to manufacture touches for him. As the best bet for targets in San Francisco other than George Kittle, Samuel could be set up for a nice game against a Steelers secondary that has allowed at least 300 passing yards and three passing touchdowns to the Patriots and Seahawks over the first two weeks.
Overvalued: Curtis Samuel (CAR)
My Rank: WR40
I certainly understand the appeal with this Samuel, a full-time player who had a whopping 13 targets and 234 air yards in Week 2 and who faces a very leaky Cardinals defense this week. But even with a solid Week 2 performance, Samuel’s value is still more about projection than box score production to this point in his career. More importantly, it’s now looking highly unlikely that Cam Newton will suit up in Week 3, and whether you believe that is a good or bad thing for the Panthers’ offense based on Newton’s recent form, expectations need to be kept in check for undrafted second-year backup Kyle Allen. Allen has some long-term intrigue — I’m stashing him in a deep dynasty Superflex league I’m in with some of my fellow FantasyPros writers — but he has made one career start, and it came in a meaningless late-season game against a Saints squad that was resting some of its starters. I just have trouble trusting the number two receiver for a quarterback who is traveling across the country to make his second career start.
Undervalued: T.J. Hockenson (DET)
My Rank: TE7
Hockenson posted just one catch for seven yards last week, so I’ll take the “L” on recommending him in last week’s column. Why am I going back to the well this week, you ask? Because the thrust of my argument still applies. Once you get past the first handful of tight ends, you’re going to be dealing with boom-or-bust options, so why not go for the upside play? Hockenson has the talent to succeed and a capable QB who’s playing at a high level right now. Playing time isn’t an issue, either — he just needs the targets. He didn’t get them in a slog of a game against the Chargers last week, but he’s got a better shot against the Eagles, who have allowed the second-most passing yards in the league through the first two weeks.
Overvalued: Kyle Rudolph (MIN)
My Rank: TE25
My TE1 rankings pretty much line up with ECR, so I’ll use this opportunity to kick some dirt on Rudolph, who is somehow still owned in more than half of Yahoo leagues. With just nine receiving yards through the first two games combined, this guy still seems to be living off of name recognition at this point. The Vikings drafted Rudolph’s successor Irv Smith in April’s draft, and the contract extension that Rudolph signed in June was a salary cap maneuver that provides no guarantees beyond this season. In the meantime, the Vikings are getting plenty of use out of him as a blocker, but he’s not even a serviceable second tight end unless you play in a points-per-block (PPB) league.