Early Overvalued Rookies (2022 Fantasy Football)
Rookies are a tricky thing when it comes to your redraft leagues. We have no professional history to draw from nor do we have any clue how a team will use them. It’s a guessing game all the way around. Yet it seems to be easier to tell if a rookie is being overdrafted rather than under. After all, claiming a player will be a league-winner is much riskier than claiming one will be just ok. Below are a few of those that should just be ‘ok’ but are being drafted to be much more than that.
Current ADP: RB36
We’ve seen this story before: The Seattle Seahawks take a running back fairly high in the draft and he becomes a highly touted pick in rookie drafts and redraft leagues. How did that — drafting Rashaad Penny — work out? Throughout Penny’s four-year career, he’s had a total of 280 carries. By comparison, one of last year’s first-round running backs, Najee Harris, totaled 307 carries in his rookie season alone (the other first-round back, Travis Etienne, missed the entire season).
Back to Penny and the Seahawks, it’s not as if he’s proven unable to produce in the NFL. He owns a career 5.6 yards-per-carry average and averaged more than six yards per carry last year alone. But Seattle does not like to put all their rushing eggs in one basket, which is why Kenneth Walker is too high.
Checking in as a low-end RB3, Walker still has to beat out both Penny (who came on strong to end 2021) and veteran Chris Carson, who held off the last rookie Seattle drafted (Penny). All three will be vying for carries and both Carson and Penny bring a positive track record to the running backs room. Walker doesn’t have that luxury and will need to hope for an injury or some other means for the opportunity.
Speaking of injuries, all three are dealing with them this offseason. Both Walker and Penny were dealing with hamstring issues while Carson is still healing from a major neck injury. If, and only if, Penny and Carson can’t go to start the season, taking Walker this early is justified. Otherwise, take another flier.
Current ADP: WR37
According to FantasyPros’ consensus ADP tool, Titans receiver Treylon Burks is the highest rookie receiver. But how he got there is a mystery. He wasn’t the first receiver taken in the actual draft. Or the second. Or the third. He was the sixth receiver taken, by the Titans at 18. Maybe it’s the situation he’s in that makes him the top receiver taken? That can’t be when you consider the Titans’ offense and what it does for pass catchers. Tennessee was just 26th in pass attempts last season. Of the five receivers taken ahead of Burks in the first round of the actual draft, only one (Chris Olave) was on a team that passed less last season.
All of this was known before training camp where we learned Burks has asthma, which was causing some breathing issues. Put it all together and it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that Burks should A) be the first rookie off the board in your fantasy drafts or B) should be taken as a WR3 for your team, which is a flex spot for most leagues. Some will see him as a plug-and-play replacement for former Titans/now-Eagles receiver A.J. Brown. But it’s not that easy.
Current ADP: QB25
Looking at Pittsburgh rookie Kenny Pickett’s ranking as the 25th quarterback taken off the board, you would think you were looking at dynasty rankings. But no, this is Pickett’s current ADP for 2022 redraft leagues. Why is this crazy? Because Pickett isn’t even the top quarterback on his team. Right now, veteran Mitchell Trubisky is well ahead of the rookie to start for Pittsburgh. Yet, Trubisky is currently ranked 31st when it comes to ADP right now.
To be clear, neither quarterback is good nor should they be starting in your 1-QB fantasy leagues. But to have Pickett ranked that high, and higher than Trubisky, is wrong. There were plenty of concerns about Pickett heading into the draft including the infamous hand size. He was also ‘only’ taken with the 20th pick, which suggests he doesn’t have the elite skill set a top-five pick would have. It pains me to say this, but I would rather take some quarterbacks currently behind Pickett in ADP — Jared Goff or Daniel Jones, for example.
Current ADP: RB39
Perhaps a more egregious rookie running back ADP ranking than Kenneth Walker is Chargers running back Isaiah Spiller. He’s just three spots behind Kenneth Walker despite being a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft. Also, unlike Walker, the veteran ahead of him on the depth chart — Austin Ekeler — isn’t dealing with an injury (at the moment) and is coming off a season in which he played 16 games.
So how did we get here? Spiller, admittedly, plays on what should be one of the best offenses in the league helmed by one of the best quarterbacks in Justin Herbert. He also does have pass-catching chops, which means he’s not just one-dimensional. Yet he still only has fourth-round draft capital, in some part, due to a 4.63 40-time before the draft. It’s also a concern that Spiller fell that far in a fairly weak draft, especially when it comes to running backs. Like Walker, an injury to the incumbent is the only way Spiller will justify his current ADP.
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.