2013 Fantasy Football: Some players that are Undervalued, Overvalued
If you pay attention to the stock market, you know that a good company is not necessarily a good stock (to buy). And vice versa.
As the price of a sound company's stock is driven up, it's possible that it becomes overvalued. Or the opposite can happen.
The same is true of almost everything — including fantasy football players.
A player's average draft position (ADP) is not static. As fantasy owners are collectively buying into players (and their outlooks), they become more costly as their ADP drops by picks/rounds.
One of the things I have done over the past several weeks is post a spreadsheet with a weekly change in ADP from the previous week(s) so that you can how a player's perceived outlook is changing.
The key to winning your fantasy league(s) is your ability to uncover the greatest possible value with each of your picks. The cumulative impact of finding value with each successive pick will put you into position to contend for the title.
In this post, I will look at some players that I feel are not being valued properly and put them into their undervalued or overvalued category.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 178, My rank: 140)
Going into this season, the biggest concern I have about Tannehill is the team's downgrade at left tackle, but I still expect him to take a big step forward after a solid (but not spectacular) rookie season. So does his offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who was also his head coach at Texas A&M.
“This young man will be the most improved quarterback in the National Football League from year one to year two this year – I promise you that,” Sherman said (via the team's official website). “He’s working extremely hard.”
Tannehill, the eighth overall pick in 2012, has the big arm to push the ball downfield and he now has a big-play receiver in Mike Wallace to help stretch defenses. In addition, Tannehill, a former college receiver, has the athleticism to make plays with his feet. Only 10 quarterbacks had more rushing yards last year.
Unless you're in a deep league or 2-QB league, Tannehill won't be your starter, but he has more upside as a QB2 than his current ADP (QB25) suggests.
E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills (ADP: 188, My rank: 146)
As the only quarterback selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Manuel has the traits you'd want in a franchise quarterback: strong arm, athleticism, intelligence, etc. Through two preseason games, Manuel completed nearly 80 percent of his pass attempts (26-of-33) for 199 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Unfortunately, Manuel will miss the remainder of the preseason due to a "minor" knee procedure.
Once he is healthy to return to field, Manuel will (or should) become the team's starter. With Kevin Kolb dealing with a potentially career-threatening concussion, the Bills announced that Jeff Tuel will be its Week 1 starter.
With his dual-threat ability, Manuel has top-15 upside among fantasy quarterbacks once he becomes the starter and he currently has an ADP of QB26.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears (ADP: 14, My rank: 11)
Although he set his career highs as a rookie with 1,715 yards from scrimmage (YFS) and 12 total touchdowns, Forte has had five straight seasons with 1,400-plus YFS. He was on pace for nearly 2,000 YFS (1,983) in 2011, but he sustained a knee injury that forced him to miss the final four games that season.
Playing in Marc Trestman's offense, it's possible that Forte sets new career highs in YFS and/or receptions in 2013.
Trestman has a history of his running backs catching a lot of passes out of the backfield and Forte is one of the best receiving backs in the league. Some examples with Trestman as offensive coordinator include Charlie Garner (91 receptions in 2002 with the Raiders) and Derek Loville (87 catches in 1995 with the 49ers).
If the preseason is any indication of what is to come, Forte has thrived running in the team's zone-blocking scheme. He had only one carry in Week 1, but he has 150 rushing yards on 14 carries in the past two preseason games.
Although I have Forte as my 10th-ranked back (and 11th-ranked player) in standard-scoring leagues, he is my sixth-ranked running back in PPR formats.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 25, My rank: 15)
Things could not have gone much worse for Jones-Drew last year. Not only did he not get the new contract before/after ending his holdout, but he suffered a Lisfranc injury and missed the final 10 games of the season.
A player that selected his number (32) because of the number of teams that passed on him in the first round, Pocket Hercules enters his contract year and has his goal set high: 2,000 rushing yards.
While I don't expect MJD to rush for 2,000 yards, he is only two seasons removed from leading the NFL in rushing (1,606 yards).
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 48, My rank: 39)
Looking to improve upon the league's 20th-ranked rushing offense, the Packers got two bargains in the draft with Alabama's Eddie Lacy and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin in the second and fourth rounds, respectively. So far this offseason, however, it's only been Lacy that has appeared to be a bargain.
Without question, Lacy is going to be the team's lead back in an offense that finished in the top-five in scoring last year. With the league's best quarterback and a talented receiving corps, Lacy will face many seven-men fronts and get several opportunities near the goal line.
Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots (ADP: 79, My rank: 40)
Vereen has the potential to be a low-end RB2 in 12-team leagues if things go right for him in 2013. Now part of the Chargers backfield, Danny Woodhead finished as the 28th most productive fantasy running back last year. Much of his workload should find its way to Vereen, who had 162 yards from scrimmage, seven receptions and three touchdowns in two playoff games for the Patriots last year.
In addition, the Patriots will look to move Vereen all over the formation to create mismatches and he's even better in PPR formats than he is in standard leagues.
Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers (ADP: 141, My rank: 94)
Speaking of Woodhead, who is on my list of fantasy football sleepers, he finished with 301 rushing yards, 446 receiving yards on 40 receptions and a total of seven touchdowns.
Playing behind the injury-prone Ryan Mathews means that Woodhead may (read: will) get an opportunity or two to play a much more prominent role within the offense for a few weeks.
Even if Mathews stays healthy, new coach Mike McCoy has suggested that the Chargers will employ a rotation at the position.
Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 211, My rank: 122)
Michael, the team's second-round pick, has been highly impressive this preseason. With 27 carries, he has a league-high 186 rushing yards, which gives him an average of 6.9 yards per carry.
In the event that Marshawn Lynch suffered an injury, Michael would most likely get the first shot at early-down work while teammate Robert Turbin should get the majority of work as the team's third-down back.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 72, My rank: 47)
After catching only two passes for 30 yards in 2011, Shorts broke out in a big way in 2012. He finished the season with 55 receptions, 979 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games.
Excluding the two games he missed after the bye, Shorts had at least 54 yards in all nine games he played during that stretch. From Week 7 until the end of the season, Shorts had 774 receiving yards, which ranked him 10th in the NFL, despite missing two games.
This offseason, Shorts was impressive at OTAs, participated in Larry Fitzgerald's offseason workouts and has added some weight to help him against press coverage.
With Justin Blackmon serving a four-game suspension to begin the season, Shorts will have an opportunity to take a big step forward in 2013 even if he's limited some by the team's mediocre (is that too kind?) quarterback play.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 98, My rank: 56)
A tremendous athlete with great size (6-3, 225) as a receiver, Gordon had a strong rookie season leading the Browns with 805 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 50 receptions. In Norv Turner's vertical passing offense, Gordon should have plenty of opportunities to make big plays.
Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer recently wrote, "The game comes outrageously easy for Josh Gordon, as he glides down the field. If Gordon keeps his concentration and work ethic at NFL caliber, he could have a breakout season in the new 'throw it downfield' offense. ..."
The suspension makes Gordon a bigger value than would otherwise be the case. Based on my full-season projections, I still have Gordon finishing with more than 1,000 yards in 14 games and as a top-20 receiver even though he will miss two games.
With an ADP of WR38, it almost feels like stealing.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 95, My rank: 66)
There is no denying that he has immense talent and he will be an extra year removed from the torn ACL he suffered early in 2011. Before the injury in 2011, he was on the verge of a breakout as he had 14 receptions for 271 yards and three touchdowns in two games before sustaining the injury. Believe it or not, Britt will be only 24 years old at the start of the 2013 season.
That said, Britt has never exceeded 775 yards in any of his four seasons. He has played in only 29 games over the past three seasons as he has missed games due to both injury and suspension. It's been difficult to keep up with his laundry list of off-the-field incidents.
Britt is entering the last season of his rookie deal and will likely be very motivated to perform on the field and (you would imagine) stay out of trouble off it.
As barely a third receiver in 12-team leagues at his ADP of WR36, Britt is worth the gamble on his upside.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears (ADP: 131, My rank: 91)
Before the start of last season, Jeffery generated some positive buzz as a guy that could flourish as a red-zone target within the Bears offense. The 6-foot-3 receiver battled injuries throughout the season, however, and played in a total of only 10 games as a rookie.
Going into the 2013 season, he has generated more buzz.
Provided he stays healthy in 2013, I think he finishes with double-digit touchdowns (or close to it).
Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 129, My rank: 92)
After being drafted, things did not go so well for Blackmon as he was arrested for DUI, held out longer than any other first-round pick and exceeded 50 receiving yards in only one of his first nine NFL games. During that nine-game stretch, Blackmon had a total of 250 yards.
Then things turned around for Blackmon, who had 38 receptions for 615 yards and four touchdowns in the team's final seven games of the season. Not only did he have a monster 236-yard game, but he had more than 50 yards in six of those seven games.
Despite the positive momentum that he built toward the end of last season, Blackmon will serve a four-game suspension to begin the 2013 season for the violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Once he's back, however, he's in a similar situation as Gordon in that he will be much more productive than his current ADP.
Assuming that you draft Blackmon late — and you can, you won't necessarily miss his production early but you will be able to take full advantage of it late.
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, New England Patriots (ADP: 127, My rank: 112)
With four of the team's top five leading receivers no longer on the roster and the fifth, Rob Gronkowski, unlikely to be recovered from his back surgery in time for the season opener, the Patriots will rely plenty on newcomers in the passing game.
One of the players generating plenty of positive buzz is Thompkins, who is an undrafted rookie free agent from Cincinnati.
With more than his fair share of off-the-field baggage in the past, Thompkins was productive in college and he has been one of the most consistent targets for Brady all offseason and into training camp. He had eight receptions for 116 yards in the team's third preseason game.
Thompkins' ADP is quickly moving up, however, and he's unlikely to be undervalued for much longer.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 118, My rank: 89)
It's a win-win situation for Cameron fantasy owners. Not only does he have the athleticism to create mismatches from the tight end position, but he plays in arguably the most TE-friendly offense in the league.
For those hoping to get Cameron really late had those hopes dashed with his two-TD performance in Week 2, but he is still a bargain based on his ADP.
Here are some players that are overvalued (ADP and my overall rank in parenthesis):
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 12, My rank: 35)
Rodgers is my top-ranked fantasy quarterback. In other words, I project him to have more fantasy points than any other quarterback in the league.
So, what's the problem?
There are 12 quarterbacks that I project to score 300-plus fantasy points in 2013 (see my projections) and I'd be comfortable starting any one of those. Rodgers is currently going before backs like Matt Forte (see above). I'd prefer to take Forte and Robert Griffin III, as an example, with the 65th pick (his ADP) than Rodgers and Ryan Mathews (ADP: 60).
By doing numerous mock drafts this offseason — and you can do your own mocks here, the teams I've liked the most were the ones where I loaded up on running back early and waited on my quarterback.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins (ADP: 11, My rank: 17)
Morris finished second in the NFL in rushing with 1,613 yards, which set the franchise single-season rushing record. In addition, he finished second in the NFL in rushing touchdowns (13) behind Foster (15). Only Foster and Peterson had more carries than Morris (335).
While I expect Morris to remain as the team's featured back, I will always be a little skeptical of Mike Shanahan-coached running backs.
Roy Helu is healthy again and he figures to get considerable work on third downs. Not only did Helu set the franchise's single-game reception (14) record in 2011 as a rookie, but he also rushed for 100-plus yards in three consecutive games in December that season.
I'd feel more comfortable with Morris in the middle of the second round instead of the end of Round 1, where he is currently going.
Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos (ADP: 52, My rank: 73)
The Broncos have parted ways with Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno has struggled to stay healthy and Ronnie Hillman seems to be a change-of-pace back. Considering the Broncos used their second-round pick to draft Ball, it seems he is most likely to get the largest share of the workload this year (and going forward).
Although Hillman is no longer atop the team's depth chart, John Fox has had a history of using a committee approach at running back.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos (ADP: 111, My rank: 138)
Hillman is no longer listed as the team's starting running back, but it's possible/likely that he ends up third among the team's running backs in fantasy points behind Ball and Knowshon Moreno. Hillman's ADP will likely continue to drop, but he's currently going way ahead of Moreno (ADP: 205).
Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos (ADP: 42, My rank: 65)
Welker finished tied for second in the NFL with 118 receptions and had 1,354 receiving yards, the second-highest total of his career, last year. With the exception of the season following his ACL injury, Welker has 110-plus receptions in all five of his other seasons with the Patriots. No other player in the history of the NFL has more than two 110-reception seasons in their career.
Heading to Denver this offseason, however, Welker joins a team that already has two 1,000-yard receivers on its roster with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, which should mean (much) fewer targets for Welker in 2013.
Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots (ADP: 44, My rank: 57)
In his six seasons in New England, Wes Welker had 110 receptions or more five times. That is three more than any player in the history of the NFL—as noted above.
Provided he stays healthy for a full season, Amendola should come close to that total this season and in future years. That said, Amendola has struggled with durability and has played in only 12 games over the past two seasons.
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 80, My rank: 110)
Going from the Super Bowl winner to the Super Bowl runner-up, Boldin was traded this offseason for a late-round pick. Last season, Boldin led the Ravens in receiving with 65 receptions and 921 yards, both of which were three-year highs.
Considering the 49ers loss Michael Crabtree for at least much of the season to an Achilles injury, Boldin will have an opportunity to come close to his 2012 numbers with the 49ers.
Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers (ADP: 88, My rank: 108)
I think Olsen will have a solid season, but I'd prefer to wait longer on tight ends if I don't take one of my top five earlier. In fact, I have Cameron ranked higher than Olsen and Cameron is going 2-3 rounds later. And there are other TE values available late as well: Martellus Bennett (ADP: 122), Fred Davis (ADP: 138), Zach Sudfeld (ADP: 153) and Tyler Eifert (ADP: 174).
In other words, you can potentially take a running back like Andre Brown (ADP: 91), DeAngelo Williams (ADP: 93) or Mark Ingram (ADP: 94) or a wide receiver like Britt or Gordon instead of Olsen and then grab a tight end in Round 13 or so.
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