If you’re like me, then by this point you’re counting down the days until this year’s fantasy football season finally gets under way. Hopefully by now you’ve taken some time and done your research, which in turn should help you craft your strategy and find a nice sleeper in the draft.
Once the research has begun, the anticipation builds and builds until you’re so excited that the fantasy compartment of your brain nearly bursts. Then, finally, the sun rises on draft day, and it’s now time to put all your hard-earned knowledge to the test. Unfortunately, though, in the excitement and pressure of drafting, we often lose sight of our goals and get blinded by certain big name (and overhyped) players magically “falling” into our laps. Last year’s Montee Ball owners know exactly what I’m taking about.
So with that said, I thought I’d share with you several potential draft busts who are overhyped, over-valued or both. I’m not saying to completely avoid these players at all costs, but to reconsider their draft spots due to being over-valued. The Average Draft Position (ADP) comes from fantasypros.com, which averages Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS, FFC, and NFL.com’s rankings.
QB Drew Brees (ADP: 5th QB; 41st overall)
A fantasy monster and elite quarterback for many years, Brees has always been seen as someone who can lead a fantasy team to glory, just like he did with the Saints back in 2009. This year, however, Brees is 36 and he’s on a much different Saints team. With Jimmy Graham traded away and Marques Colston steadily declining, the Saints figure to be a more balanced offensive team this year, especially with Mark Ingram coming off his best year as a pro. Brees’ numbers also regressed across the board this past year, and if the defense improves like it plans to, then there will also be less shootouts in NOLA. Don’t get me wrong, Brees is still one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but his production this year should fall well out of the top five like he’s projected.
QB Peyton Manning (ADP: 4th QB; 28th overall)
Oh how the mighty have “fallen.” Manning has fallen into a situation very similar to that of Brees; he’s now 39, lost his redzone monster tight end and he has a new offensive coordinator known for running the ball. Though it has since come out that Manning was playing through the end of last season while injured, it’s apparent that the Hall of Famer has lost a step or two. He’ll still be good, because he’s Peyton, but it’s hard for me to also see him finish in the top five like most expect. The Manning and Brees names alone guarantee that someone will bite on them in your league. But, don’t let their status trick you that they’re still in their respective primes. I’d prefer someone like Matt Ryan who can be had a couple rounds later, plays in a dome and is still in his prime.
RB DeMarco Murray (ADP: 9th RB; 16th overall)
If you’re like me and you had Murray on your team last year, my guess is your trigger finger is itching to click draft on his name again this season. Not so fast. Murray was the best back in fantasy last year, but it was also the first time he stayed healthy for a full season, and he was running behind easily the best offensive line in football. Not to mention he had guys like Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to help take off some of the defense’s attention. He’s now in a much different place in Philadelphia; neither of his potential starting quarterbacks scare anyone, his offensive line is worse and just lost its best and longest tenured member in Evan Mathis and his backup Ryan Matthews would be starting on half the teams in the NFL. Even with his upright style and slightly inflated numbers, Murray is an elite runner in this league. But, in a vastly different situation and a history of getting hurt, owners could be regretting using one of their top two picks on him.
RB Melvin Gordon III (ADP: 15th RB; 34th overall)
As a fellow Badger, this is hard for me to say. I, of course, wish Gordon the best in his career and I feel pretty strongly that he’ll be at least a solid starting running back in the league. But, it’s best to temper expectations for now, especially considering he ran behind an always excellent offensive line at Wisconsin against much lesser competition. Now he’s in a division with Justin Houston, Von Miller, Dontari Poe, DeMarcus Ware and Kahlil Mack, and his offensive line is pretty average. Another knock on his game is that he has struggled so far with pass protection, which means he’ll probably lose the majority of third down and two-minute snaps to Danny Woodhead. In Yahoo! standard leagues Gordon is ranked the 12th overall running back, and 16th in PPR, which has him firmly entrenched in RB2 status. But, until he adjusts to the physicality of the NFL and proves he can play all three downs, I would look elsewhere for my second running back.
WR Sammy Watkins (ADP: 22nd WR; 53rd overall)
Watkins was the biggest name of last year’s historic rookie wideout class, and yet he actually finished as the fifth best rookie in terms of fantasy points scored. Watkins is clearly loaded with talent and should improve upon his solid rookie season in terms of skill and understanding of the game, but that’s not what I’m worried about here. This all boils down to Buffalo’s miserable quarterback situation; you know things are bad when you wish that Kyle Orton hadn’t retired. Whether it’s EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel or Tyrod Taylor, the quarterback options in Buffalo are uninspiring, to put it nicely. It just doesn’t seem like any of those three will able to find Watkins enough to validate his fringe wr2 status. Although the additions of Percy Harvin, LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay are supposed to rejuvenate the offense, they will also take a lot of targets away from Watkins. Combine that with the lack of shootouts the Bills’ excellent defense should ensure, and there just aren’t a lot of positive signs here.
WR Emmanuel Sanders (ADP: 13th WR; 29th overall)
Sanders was a fantasy darling last year, posting career highs across the board, including over 1400 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns in the Mile High City. He’s no surprise anymore though, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see defenses give him added attention now that Julius Thomas is down in Jacksonville. This also goes along with my thinking above; now that Gary Kubiak is in town, the Broncos should have a much more balanced offensive attack. This doesn’t mean players like Manning and Sanders will have bad seasons, because they won’t, but to me this situation screams overvalued.
TE Travis Kelce (ADP: 4th TE; 54th overall)
Young and stocked with talent, Kelce is another frustrating name to see on this list, again due to the circumstances of the offensive situation he’s stuck in. Off the bat, any passing game lead by Alex Smith is one to be very weary of when drafting your team. I don’t expect this to happen again this year, but Chiefs wide receivers didn’t catch a touchdown pass last year, which is pretty insane. Smith simply doesn’t look downfield, preferring to throw short, safer passes while also relying on Jamaal Charles’ elite ability. On top of that, it’s pretty rare to see an Andy Reid offense feature receivers with gaudy numbers. Kelce will be better this year and he’s clearly going to be a starting fantasy tight end, but he’s currently projected as a top-three tight end which feels incredibly bold. Even with a thin tight end class this year, he feels more like a 5-8 producer than an elite one, which means owners could be very disappointed spending a high pick on him.