Fantasy Football Overvalued/Undervalued: Week 7 (2020)
It finally happened. My dream came true. I climbed to the top of the mountain. After placing eighth the previous week, I finished with the most accurate rankings of all 169 fantasy industry analysts who submitted their Week 6 rankings to FantasyPros.
And yet, the player who I hyped up the most, Mecole Hardman, put up a big fat goose egg on “Monday Afternoon Football.” It just goes to show that we’re all going to get some things wrong, even in (literally) our very best weeks.
Fantasy rankings are an imprecise science (if they’re even a science at all), but a lot goes into it. It’s like trying to set your lineup if you owned every player in the entire league!
At their most basic level, rankings are primarily about accounting for the player’s skill level, the player’s usage/team context, and the matchup. But one thing I find particularly challenging is managing the aspects that don’t translate neatly to linear rankings. For instance, how do you account for boom-or-bust players versus consistent, high-floor/low-ceiling guys? How do you handle backups who could put up huge numbers if the starter suffers an in-game injury? What do you do about banged-up players in the late games who are questionable to play or guys who are clearly going to play at less than 100 percent health?
For all these reasons and more, I have loads of respect for the analysts who rank among the most accurate year after year. I am going to keep grinding and aim to join that club this season.
Other than taking the L on “Mecoe Hardman,” my Week 6 overvalued/undervalued picks were pretty decent. I was completely on the nose in my rankings for Lamar Jackson (QB6), Kirk Cousins (QB8), and Robert Woods (WR24), and I also wisely faded Dalton Schultz, who isn’t going to be a reliable fantasy starter post-Dak. Jamaal Williams and Robert Tonyan flopped for me (along with the rest of the Packers’ offense), but Williams was a deep sleeper, and tight end is a disaster zone beyond the top-five, so I’m not going to beat myself up too much over those ones. Nyheim Hines only had 27 yards, but he still came closer to the expert consensus (RB32) than my ranking (RB39) because he caught five passes.
As always, my Week 7 picks come against FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings for 0.5 PPR formats. Thank you to all of you who have started following me on Twitter over the last couple of weeks — and those of you who have been there since the beginning! If you’re not among them, give me a follow @andrew_seifter and ask me whatever fantasy-related questions are on your mind.
Also, don’t forget to check out my fantasy sports TV show MFSN’s The Hub on YouTube. We do a full waiver wire analysis that airs every Tuesday, and our Saturday show features deep-dive strategy, weekly picks, and fun interviews. This week, we’ve got Howie Mandel and Lions kicker Matt Prater, who I got to talk to about my strategy of constantly dropping and picking up kickers in my fantasy leagues!
Overvalued: Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
My Rank: QB14
I’ve generally been a big Roethlisberger booster when it comes to fantasy football, but I think that we may have reached the point where he’s a tad overrated. Big Ben has tossed 11 touchdowns and just one interception through his first five games, erasing any lingering doubts about how he’d bounce back from last year’s season-ending elbow surgery. Yet he rates as just the QB19 in fantasy points per game for two reasons. First, he is averaging a meager 235.6 passing yards per game, which ranks 22nd among quarterbacks. That could continue as the Steelers’ top-three defense continues to create positive game scripts. Second, he offers virtually nothing as a rusher at a time when more and more signal-callers are providing sneaky value with their feet.
Roethlisberger’s Week 7 matchup with the Titans is a favorable one, though, and he’s a decent bet to throw a few touchdowns with the Steelers projected to score 27 points. But with zero finishes inside the top-eight fantasy quarterbacks so far this season, Big Ben’s QB10 ECR looks an awful lot like his ceiling to me.
Undervalued: Teddy Bridgewater (CAR)
My Rank: QB12
In this week’s edition of MFSN The Hub’s Waiver Wire show, I highlighted Teddy B as my streamer special of the week, and I’m sticking to it. To quote the great Simon and Garfunkel, Teddy Bridge-Over-Troubled-Water is “on your side, ohhhh, when times get rough.”
Bridgewater is just the QB22 in fantasy points per game, but he ranks among the top-12 quarterbacks in both passing yards (279.3) and rushing yards (20.2) per game. His downfall to this point has been a lack of touchdown passes — he has just one per game. But the good news is that he gets a matchup this week with a New Orleans Saints defense that has given up at least three touchdowns to every passer that they’ve faced this season. With the Panthers currently 7.5 point underdogs, expect Bridgewater to pile up passing numbers if the Panthers fall behind in the second half.
Overvalued: D’Andre Swift (DET)
My Rank: RB25
Swift is an incredibly exciting talent who is coming off a massive Week 6 performance (123 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns). But this hardly means the Lions are abandoning their messy three-man committee backfield.
Swift has not played more than 44 percent of the snaps in any game this season (that was in Week 1), and prior to last week, he was averaging a mere 6.25 touches per game. In a piece aptly titled, “Why Detroit Lions’ D’Andre Swift got a ton of carries against Jacksonville Jaguars,” the Detroit Free Press asked just that question to Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. His answer essentially boiled down to the fact that Detroit goes into each game with “specific plays” assigned to Swift, Adrian Peterson, and Kerryon Johnson, and that the team opted to play the hot hand after Swift broke off a 54-yard run late in the first quarter. Even so, Peterson ended up with one more carry than Swift did.
Swift has a beautiful matchup with the Falcons this week, so he absolutely belongs on the RB2/3 borderline. But given the lack of evidence that the Lions are going to suddenly start featuring him, I can’t justify ranking the rookie inside my top-20.
Undervalued: Melvin Gordon (DEN)
My Rank: RB20
There’s been a lot of drama for Gordon owners of late. First, he was charged with a DUI while driving well over the speed limit, then he returned to practice, only to ultimately miss last week’s game with strep throat. But he’ll be back this week, although a potential suspension looms somewhere down the line.
Gordon was coming off a 118 yard, two-touchdown performance against the Jets, but Phillip Lindsay put up a 100-yard game of his own against New England in his absence. Lindsay and Gordon have both been healthy and active for a grand total of one half of football this year (Lindsay had a slight edge in snaps), so it’s hard to know how the workload will be divvied up this week. The good news is that they can both pay off at their current ECR against a Chiefs defense that is allowing 145.3 rushing yards per game, the third-most in the league. While you might think the game script would be a concern — Denver is a 9.5 point underdog — it simply hasn’t played out that way for the Chiefs’ opponents. Look for the Broncos to run the ball as much as humanly possible to keep Patrick Mahomes and Co. off the field.
Overvalued: Allen Robinson (CHI)
My Rank: WR18
Robinson enters Week 7 with a league-leading 66 targets on the season, but despite the positive switch from Mitch Trubisky to Nick Foles, he ranks just 16th in receiving yardage per game and has scored only two touchdowns. This week, he gets a truly awful matchup against Jalen Ramsey and the Rams. Los Angeles allows the fewest points to wide receivers in the entire league, and they’ve allowed only one wideout to surpass 81 receiving yards all year (Bills’ slot man Cole Beasley). In particular, Ramsey is allowing only 2.0 yards per target and a 37.5 percent catch rate over the last five weeks, and he completely shut Robinson down when the two faced off last season. The likelihood that Robinson once again reaches double-digit targets keeps him solidly on the WR2 radar, but he is well outside of WR1 territory for me this week.
Undervalued: Robby Anderson (CAR)
My Rank: WR12
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially recommending a Bridgewater-Anderson stack. Anderson enters Week 7 ranked in the top-12 among wide receivers in targets (8.7), receptions (6.7), and receiving yards (94.3) per game. Like his quarterback, the only thing that’s been missing is touchdowns (he’s only got one). But that could change this week against a Saints D that is allowing 3.0 passing scores per week, tied with Atlanta for most in the league. The Panthers’ low projected point total is mildly concerning — as it is for Bridgewater — but I expect most of that scoring to occur through the air, as it has for the Saints’ past opponents.
Overvalued: Dalton Schultz (DAL)
My Rank: TE19
Much like I did a couple of weeks ago with Tyler Higbee, I ‘m likely to continue slotting Schultz in as my overvalued tight end until the ECR starts to account for what I consider his new reality. Schultz was never a special talent to begin with — he’s more known for his blocking than his receiving ability. Schultz had a grand total of 555 receiving yards over three years at Stanford and 122 receiving yards in two seasons with the Cowboys entering 2020. Then Blake Jarwin tore his ACL, and Dak Prescott emerged as a likely candidate to set the NFL record for passing yardage, thrusting Schultz into every-week TE1 territory. But with Prescott now lost for the season, too, all the appeal of starting Schultz has gone down the drain. Andy Dalton is a poor bet to support four fantasy-viable pass-catchers, and Schultz is well below the team’s top three wideouts in the pecking order. He has just five catches for 41 yards over the last two games, and his fortunes are unlikely to change against a Washington defense that allows the second-fewest passing yards per game.
Undervalued: Jared Cook (NO)
My Rank: TE6
Cook has amassed 80 yards or a touchdown in all three games he’s made it through entirely this year, a continuation of last season when he was the overall TE3 over the final 10 games. Simply put, the Saints have a narrow target tree, and Cook is a key component of it. That’s more than you can say for most of today’s tight ends. Cook is even more important to the offense when Michael Thomas is absent, which could be the case again this week. Even if MT manages to suit up, Cook has done enough over the last calendar year to be a weekly top-10 player at a position where good options are hard to come by, and supposedly “safe” starters like Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, and Hayden Hurst have disappointed.
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