7 Overvalued + Undervalued Players (2021 Fantasy Football)
Summer is nearly here and before we know it NFL training camp will be underway. It’s the perfect time to begin familiarizing yourself with fantasy football rankings. Below our writers share some players who are overvalued and undervalued early on this year.
Note that readers can find our 0.5 PPR expert consensus rankings (ECR) by clicking here.
Q1. Which player do you think is most overvalued by the Expert Consensus?
Cam Akers (RB – LAR) Overall ECR: 17
The Los Angeles Rams targeted their running backs just 12.6 percent of the time in 2020, ranking third-lowest in the league. It’s fair to point out that the Rams replaced their former OC Shane Waldron with Kevin O’Connell. However, despite the coaching changes, it’s highly likely that Sean McVay continues to be the predominant play-caller, resulting in continued reliance upon a revamped Rams’ receiving corps that had the eighth-highest target share percentage among all offenses in 2020. This is bad news for Akers, who only earned five starts during his rookie season while being held to just 14 targets. We’ve seen elite running backs like Alvin Kamara finish as the fantasy RB1 with under 200 rushing attempts, which shows that his elite target share and involvement as a receiver within the offense far outweighs the value of being a running back that gets the lion’s share of carries. Akers eclipsed 20 carries in three separate games towards the end of last season, totaling just one touchdown while averaging 3.43 yards or less per attempt in two of the three outings. Let’s not forget third-year running back Darrell Henderson, who totaled 154 touches and six touchdowns across 11 starts in 2020. As the league shifts to more of an RBBC approach, I expect Akers’ ceiling to be a mid-range RB2 with a more realistic RB3 finish if he can stay healthy for the majority of the 17 game-season. I cannot justify using second-round draft capital on Akers when other proven, elite options like Calvin Ridley (WR5), Joe Mixon (RB12), Antonio Gibson (RB13), and Justin Jefferson (WR8) are available as much safer options. These are the known alpha weapons within their respective offenses, unlike Akers, who feels like more of an afterthought in McVay’s motion-heavy passing offense.
– Matt MacKay (@Matt_MacKay_)
I think one mistake that we make as fantasy players is that we assume every young player is going to evolve into a superstar in fantasy football. Anytime a rookie player shows flashes of brilliance, we are quick to assume that is going to translate into fantasy stardom the following year. We need to keep a few things in mind with Akers. While it is great that he had a bigger role at the end of the year and dominated New England with 29 carries for 171 yards, that game accounted for 20 percent of his carries and 27.36 percent of his rushing yards. He had only six games with double-digit carries and only five games with more than 60 yards rushing. Second, he was not a big touchdown scorer last year, he had only two rushing touchdowns on the year. Third, he is not much of a receiver and had only 69 receptions in 36 games at Florida State, and he had only 14 targets, 11 receptions, 123 yards, and one touchdown for the Rams last year. I am not saying that Akers is going to be a bust in 2021. He was a second-round pick by the Rams for a reason and Sean McVay has a very friendly offense for running backs, highlighted by Todd Gurley‘s insane production in 2017 and 2018. However, Akers is currently the 11th ranked running back and the 17th ranked overall player. That is pretty high for a running back that has never been a receiving threat and has not shown he can consistently handle 15-20 touches per game. I think Akers is tremendously overvalued as a a low-end RB1 who is worth using a second-round pick on when there are so many great wide receivers on the board at that point in fantasy drafts.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
Mike Evans (WR – TB) Overall ECR: 37
I was shocked when I saw Evans being drafted as the WR13. He had an incredible 2020 season catching 70 passes for 1,006 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s had over 1,000 receiving yards in each season of his career, which is very impressive. The 13 touchdowns is something that is unlikely to happen again, though. He was extremely TD dependent last season, and you were frustrated starting him a lot of games. He only had four games over 100 receiving yards while having less than 60 receiving yards on 10 different occasions. He’s also contending with Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown for targets, who are supremely talented in their own right. Brady loves to spread the ball around, and I could even see Godwin leading the team in targets. Evans is a great wide receiver, but last season was extremely TD dependent and you were not comfortable starting him. I’d much rather have Godwin, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb or Robert Woods at their ADP.
– Connor Rigg (@ConbonNFL)
Mark Andrews (TE – BAL) Overall ECR: 55
The key part of this question is the root word “value”. When drafting your leagues, you have to optimize the perceived reward of a certain player versus the accompanying risks and opportunity costs. So why is Andrews, who’s put up respectable back-to-back fantasy years, my most overvalued player currently? As we all know, the perennial TE1, Travis Kelce, crushed yet again in 2020. In fact, in 0.5 PPR leagues, Kelce outscored the TE2, Darren Waller, by 35.2 points, while Waller outscored the TE3, Robert Tonyan, by 74.6 points. So we already know there’s a massive tier break between the top fantasy TEs and all others (at least when George Kittle is injured). But let’s take this one step further: the TE3 and TE12 were only separated by just 32.3 points. That’s it. 32.3 points across a 16-game season. For this reason, I believe there’s absolutely zero reason to draft any TE not named Kelce, Waller, or Kittle, unless he falls significantly down your drafts. Andrews, the TE5 (T.J. Hockenson could find himself on this list, too, as the TE4) is a touchdown-dependent TE on a run-heavy team who probably won’t provide any significant value to your team above the TE12 or even later. Pass on a non-elite TE in your drafts this year; take value later on (e.g., Irv Smith, Jr., Tyler Higbee, Rob Gronkowski, or Blake Jarwin).
– Jared Lese (@JaredL_FF)
Q2. Which player do you think is most undervalued by the Expert Consensus?
Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN) Overall ECR: 74
One of the most slept on wide receivers heading into redraft season is none other than former Pro-Bowl wideout Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos. After suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season, the Broncos struggled to maintain a consistent passing attack, being forced to rely on a pair of rookies in Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler, while Tim Patrick emerged as a consistent presence. It’s a talented receiving corps but the chemistry QB Drew Lock established with Sutton across the last five games of the 2019 season shouldn’t be forgotten, as the two linked up for 40 targets, including two 10-target games. The SMU receiver enters his fourth season and should be ready to return to the Pro-Bowl caliber player he was prior to his ACL tear, regardless of whether it’s Lock or Teddy Bridgewater under center. The Broncos used a second-round pick on UNC rookie RB Javonte Williams, which could pay dividends for Sutton if the backfield improves its level of play in 2021, as it would keep second-level defenders honest at the line of scrimmage, opening up wider passing windows and allowing him to tap into the full-extent of his route tree. Jeudy is a phenomenal receiver that will demand special attention in coverage as well, creating easier one-on-one opportunities for the 6’4″ Sutton to win. As the current WR29 in half-PPR ECR, Sutton is woefully undervalued and can strengthen your lineup as a WR2 value with WR3 draft capital.
– Matt MacKay (@Matt_MacKay_)
Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF) Overall ECR: 62
Aiyuk didn’t have the flashiest rookie season. He had 825 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns, which is a good rookie year, but not a historic one. He only had two 100-yard receiving games. He is far from a proven player with only one season under his belt, but his 2020 was so much better than the statistics show. First, he did not have the benefit of a normal preseason with the pandemic. He suffered a hamstring injury in training camp and did not have much of a role to start the season. He spent two different stints on the 49ers’ COVID-19 list. He really did not have much time with starter Jimmy Garoppolo, because by the time Aiyuk was healthy and ready to contribute, Garoppolo was lost for the season. That led to Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard making 10 starts on the year, which meant Aiyuk had one of the worst quarterback combinations in the NFL throwing him the ball. Despite all those challenges, Aiyuk was the sixth ranked fantasy wide receiver from Week 7 to Week 16 in fantasy points per game with an average of 15.2. That was more than Keenan Allen (14.7), DeAndre Hopkins (14.4), and fellow rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson (13.9). Despite that strong finish to the season, Aiyuk is not receiving much love in early preseason rankings. Hopkins is 14th overall, Jefferson is 21st, and Allen is 28th among all fantasy players. Aiyuk is ranked 62nd and he’s being valued as a middle of the road WR3. While I am not advocating that Aiyuk be ranked ahead of those very good wide receivers, I do think he had a very impressive rookie season, he should be ready for a starting role in Week 1, and his quarterback situation is much better with a healthy Garoppolo or rookie Trey Lance. There are definite concerns about his role and target share with George Kittle and Deebo Samuel healthy, but Aiyuk’s production in the second half of the season was undeniable and he should be valued much higher than the 62nd overall player. I view him more as a WR2 worthy of a late fourth or early fifth round selection.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB – KC) Overall ECR: 27
Edwards-Helaire is one of the most undervalued players in fantasy. Look, I get it. He disappointed a lot of fantasy managers last season after sky-high expectations. He was being drafted as the RB5 and didn’t even finish inside the top-15. For the first 11 weeks, he was RB11 and this was despite only scoring one touchdown. If he would have scored just once more, he would’ve been RB6. He totaled 1,100 scrimmage yards while only playing in 13 games as a rookie. As you can see, he wasn’t as bad as many people remember. The Chiefs beefed up their offensive line with Kyle Long, Joe Thuney, and Orlando Brown Jr, while returning Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. This is a huge upgrade over what they put out last season, and this will benefit CEH exponentially. Andy Reid will also scheme touches for Edwards-Helaire in the passing game, which is his best skill. Edwards-Helaire is in a high-powered offense, with a good offensive line, and he is very talented. I know he burnt a lot of people last season, but he’s an absolute steal at his current ADP of RB15 (Half-PPR).
– Connor Rigg (@ConbonNFL)
David Montgomery (RB – CHI) Overall ECR: 36
Despite concluding the 2020 season on a tear on his way to an RB4 finish, Montgomery is currently ranked as the RB18. He’s behind players like Miles Sanders and Joe Mixon, and barely ahead of Chris Carson, D’Andre Swift, and Josh Jacobs. This is madness. Opponents will point to the favorable end-of-season schedule for Montgomery last year, along with Tarik Cohen missing the vast majority of the season with a torn ACL, as reasons for dismissing Montgomery’s 2020 season and fading him heading into 2021 drafts. But at what point, even if you do believe Montgomery won’t repeat in 2021, do you draft for value? First, even in the few games where Cohen was active (i.e., Weeks 1-3), Montgomery logged 16, 19, and 17 opportunities (i.e., rushes and targets), respectively. This is already more than adequate utilization for someone going as a mid-to-low RB2 in 2021 drafts. Second, Montgomery still plays in the NFC North, which features the “terrifying” run defenses of the Green Bay Packers (13th best run defense in 2020), Minnesota Vikings (27th), and Detroit Lions (28th). So, the schedule shouldn’t be that much of a detractor from his 2021 valuation. Third, even in his rookie season, which was largely viewed as a disappointing campaign, Montgomery still finished as the RB25 in 0.5 PPR. As such, his current ranking of RB18 is more closely aligned with his floor (RB25) and not his ceiling (RB4). At his current ranking, I will be grabbing a ton of Montgomery shares in 2021. It’s hard to pass on the guaranteed volume for someone being drafted as a mid-RB2 who also has league-winning upside with minimal risk.
– Jared Lese (@JaredL_FF)
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.