It’s sexy to talk about undervalued players and sleepers. Finding an Alfred Morris in the rough, putting a saddle on his back and riding him to glory is the greatest way to win a fantasy title.
However, far less time is devoted to players that are going too high in drafts. Sometimes the inflation is due to name value, sometimes sites like ours create a hype train that spins out of control and other times owners make the mistake of drafting off last year’s stats.
With training camp just a couple weeks away, we have some initial Average Draft Position (ADP) data to comb through, courtesy of our friends at RealTime Fantasy Sports. The ADP report is part of our Draft Guide, which is loaded up with rankings, projections, tiers, columns, mocks and tons more. Click here to buy up.
Here are eight players’ ADPs to track because they’re overvalued right now.
1. Tavon Austin, WR, Rams – ADP: 71.4
Rookie wideouts are always going to be a major risk. Over the last five years, 15 receivers have been selected in the first round of the draft. Their first-year numbers:
Justin Blackmon: 64/865/5. Fantasy rank at WR: 29
Michael Floyd: 45/562/2. Fantasy rank at WR: 68
Kendall Wright: 64/626/4. Fantasy rank at WR: 55
A.J. Jenkins: 0/0/0. Fantasy rank at WR: N/A
A.J. Green: 65/1057/7. Fantasy rank at WR: 14
Julio Jones: 54/959/8. Fantasy rank at WR: 18
Jon Baldwin: 21/254/1. Fantasy rank at WR: 107
Demaryius Thomas: 22/283/2. Fantasy rank at WR: 95
Dez Bryant: 45/561/6. Fantasy rank at WR: 72
Darrius Heyward-Bey: 9/124/1. Fantasy rank at WR: 89
Michael Crabtree: 48/625/2. Fantasy rank at WR: 59
Jeremy Maclin: 55/762/4. Fantasy rank at WR: 34
Percy Harvin: 60/790/6. Fantasy rank at WR: 22
Hakeem Nicks: 47/790/6. Fantasy rank at WR: 25
Kenny Britt: 42/701/3. Fantasy rank at WR: 43
As you can see, first-round rookie wideouts haven’t exactly had a lot of success of late. Just one (Green) has gone over 1,000 yards and just four of the 15 (26.6 percent) have finished among the top-30 fantasy wideouts. Austin’s ADP puts him as the No. 28 wideout right now.
Austin will also have to compete for targets with the likes of Jared Cook, Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis. There are still plenty of question marks around Sam Bradford. Austin’s ADP puts him ahead guys like Shane Vereen, Cecil Shorts, Greg Jennings, T.Y. Hilton, Kenny Britt and Jonathan Stewart. It’s way too high.
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2. Drew Brees, QB, Saints – ADP: 28.0
It’s not that Brees isn’t going to have a great season. He will almost certainly throw for 4,800+ yards and 35-plus touchdowns once again. But at an ADP of 28.0, there’s just not a ton of value due to the depth at the quarterback spot.
Check out the current ADPs of the following quarterbacks: Cam Newton 54.9; Matt Ryan 58.1; Matthew Stafford71.6; Tony Romo 79.6; Ben Roethlisberger 143.5; Joe Flacco 147.0. I could keep going on and on.
So the question isn’t if Brees will be the 28th-best fantasy player this year. It’s if there’s more value in using a third-round pick on Brees and a seventh-round pick on Giovani Bernard, or a third-rounder on Stevan Ridley and a seventh-rounder on Romo? That should be a very easy question to answer.
3. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals – ADP: 59.4
In four seasons with the Steelers before his ACL tear, Mendenhall averaged a pedestrian 4.14 yards per carry and proved to be a liability in the passing game. In six games after the tear, he showed sapped burst and fell behind the likes of Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer on the depth chart.
Mendenhall is still just 26 years old and will be roughly 20 months removed from his tear when Week 1 rolls around, but there’s little reason to believe he’ll be a difference-maker in Arizona. Their offensive line will be improved thanks to the addition of Jonathan Cooper, but it’s still one of the league’s worst units. Bruce Arians is a pass-first coach and Mendenhall will face competition from Ryan Williams as well as two rookies (Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington) the Cards drafted.
Despite being the heavy favorite to start Week 1, Mendenhall doesn’t have fifth-round upside.
4. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills – ADP: 100.6
This year’s top No. 2 backs are Bernard Pierce, Bryce Brown and Ben Tate. Each projects to get significant touches even if their starter stays healthy. They have ADPs of 105.9, 108.7 and 110.2 respectively. So why is Jackson’s higher?
It’s because the old regime in Buffalo treated F-Jax as the starter and C.J. Spiller as the change-of-pace option. Owners apparently still have those Chan Gailey thoughts in their head. Of course, that was a silly usage of personnel that new coach Doug Marrone has already pledged to correct.
"My philosophy's always been if someone starts off and they're running well, keep feeding them the ball," Marrone said.
The wildly explosive Spiller is a lock to “run well” as the clear-cut starter. Over the last two years, he’s averaged 5.74 yards per carry on 318 totes and 8.8 yards per catch on 82 receptions. Jackson is 32, coming off a season plagued by knee issues and averaged just 3.80 YPC last season. He’s a mere weak handcuff, in the same range as the likes of Shonn Greene, Michael Bush and Montario Hardesty.
The Patriots run an unbalanced offense that features the slot receiver heavily. That led to 112.0 catches per season for Welker during his six-year run of dominance in New England. Video-game numbers like that just not going to happen in Denver.
The Broncos execute a more balanced run/pass ratio and will also highlight their dynamic outside receivers,Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Welker is now 32 and perhaps losing a touch of his quicks. He won’t be a real factor in the red zone. Even Welker himself has admitted that he expects his reception total to drop significantly. Look for something closer to 80 catches.
6. Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams – ADP: 85.3
The Rams have been adamant that they will fill Steven Jackson’s shoes with a true committee. They’ll let Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacey battle in August and see what shakes out.
“You need multiple backs in this league,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “We’re going to try to play to their strengths. With [Jackson] last year, it was a little different. It was harder to do the committee because every time you took him out, you knew you were missing his leadership and his toughness. This year I think we’ve got nice pieces to try and blend in and differently attack people.”
As our Evan Silva described in his second-year running backs series, Richardson is certainly explosive. He might even be capable of being a feature back despite a 5’10/192 frame. But for now, it looks like the coaches see him as an outside runner.
“Any time we can get Daryl the ball in space, it’s going to put added pressure on the other team,” coach Jeff Fishersaid.
Pead somehow has an ADP of 123.0 and Stacy is at 127.8. Richardson is being drafted as the true lead back, sapping his relative value.
7. Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins – ADP 59.3
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley tried to push Wallace into his dink-and-dunk offense last year. It didn’t work. He ended up with just 64 catches for 836 yards in 15 games, setting a career-low in YPC (13.1) in the process.
Now Wallace has inked a $60 million contract and is going to a strict West coast scheme in Miami. He’ll be trying to prove he’s more than just a speed-burning deep threat while simultaneously dealing with a downgrade in quarterback play. It’s a lot of question marks for a player that just got paid and is going in the fifth round.
8. Reggie Bush, RB, Lions – ADP 20.0
This ADP report is for standard scoring, not point-per-reception (PPR). Therefore, it’s hard to understand why Bush would be a second-round pick, the 13th running back off the board.
The Lions led the league in pass attempts last season and project to be among the league leaders in that category again. The goal-line back will likely be Mikel Leshoure. Underrated Joique Bell is going to get some burn. And Bush is just two years removed from a deserved injury prone label. Add it all up and we have a low-end RB2 in standard formats.