2013 Fantasy Football: Undervalued and Overvalued Players (Donahue)
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When it comes to fantasy football, one of the keys to success is finding players that are undervalued and avoiding players that are overvalued.
Here are some players that are being undervalued:
Arizona Cardinals Passing Game: Yes, I think Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and Michael Floyd are all being undervalued as a unit right now. Last year, Carson Palmer was 10th in the league in passing yards with 4,018 with a much less talented group of receivers. Yes, Fitzgerald had a down year, but I chalk that up to the quarterback play. In his previous five seasons, he averaged 93 catches for 1,296 yards and 10 touchdowns. I fully expect him to approach those numbers now that he has a capable quarterback throwing to him again. Floyd showed some promise towards the end of last year and finished with 15 catches, 213 yards, and a touchdown in his final two games. He has been impressive early in camp so expect him to play a much bigger role in the Cardinals offense this year.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions: His current ADP per ESPN is 48.5, which is way too low for a clear starting running back, let alone one who ran for over 2,000 yards (combined) in his last two seasons with the Dolphins. He now comes over to a more explosive attacking offense where he can thrive both running and catching the ball. We have seen what Bush is capable of catching 88 balls in a season with the Saints, so I would target him earlier, especially in PPR formats.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins: His current ADP of 64.8 on ESPN is baffling to me. There are rookies like Montee Ball and Eddie Lacy going ahead of him along with another unproven running back in Chris Ivory. True Miller is unproven himself, but he did get some playing time last year and averaged 4.9 yards per rush on 51 carries. Now that he is going to be the featured back in Miami, he could be in for a big year as he has the size and speed to be an elite runner in this league and has a much higher ceiling than the other three running backs who I mentioned that are being drafted before him.
Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots: Vereen is definitely the overlooked running back in New England, but I expect him to now get many looks in their offense this season. Yes, I do think Stevan Ridley will have a better season in terms of fantasy numbers, but I don't think there should be a seven-round disparity in where these two are currently being drafted. The Patriots have lost a lot of their key players on offense in the offseason, so this is a perfect opportunity for Vereen to step in and assume not only the Danny Woodhead role (who was a top 25 fantasy back last year) but also maybe even pick up some of the Aaron Hernandez role. The Patriots love exploiting mismatches on offense so expect Vereen to line up all over the field and be a prominent target for Brady this year.
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Randle is one of the first backup running backs I would be targeting in the draft. First, he is behind an injury-prone back in Demarco Murray and secondly, he has the talent to excel once he gets the opportunity. Randle put up huge numbers in college rushing for 2,633 yards and 36 touchdowns in his two years as a starter for Oklahoma State. If Murray struggles to stay on the field, Randle could be a very viable fantasy back so look to take him especially if you have Murray on your team.
Ryan Broyles, WR, Detroit Lions: Broyles is coming off his second ACL surgery but from all reports, he is already 100 percent and looking great in camp. Broyles, who holds the NCAA FBS record of receptions with 349, was seen as such a talent coming out of Oklahoma that the Lions still used a second-round pick even though he was coming off of his first ACL tear and most thought he would be out for the entire season. With defenses keying on Calvin Johnson, the Lions are desperate for a No. 2 receiver to emerge to take some of the pressure off of him and Broyles will finally be that guy this year.
Here are some players that are overvalued:
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans: Johnson was the quintessential boom-or-bust running back last year. It took him until Week 7 to find the end zone and even though he played in all 16 games last season, he rushed for over 100 yards in only five of them. The fact that the Titans brought in Shonn Greene for $3 million a year signals that the Titans are worried about Johnson and therefore so am I. Johnson finished with only six touchdowns last year and even that number might be hard to replicate this year if Greene is now the goal-line back.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: DMC has been in the league for five years now and has yet to play in more than 13 games in a single season and that I think is a big enough sample size to safely say that McFadden WILL at some point miss time this year. Yes, he has the talent to be a beast when he is on the field. With his injury risk, however, I am not taking him as my RB2, who I would need to count on to consistently be in my lineup. Unless you can get him as a RB3/flex, I would avoid this year.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers: Another guy who can't seem to stay on the field, Mathews has yet to play in all 16 games in his three-year career. His numbers and production also seem to be on the decline as he ran for a whopping one touchdown last year and a 3.8 yard per carry average. With the signing of Danny Woodhead, who will at the very least be the 3rd-down back, I see Mathews having another disappointing fantasy season.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings: This pains me to put him on this list as I was a huge supporter of Rudolph last season and he was actually one of my sleepers, but this year I feel he is being overvalued. Rudolph is a great red-zone target as evidenced by his 9 touchdowns last year (all from passes within the red zone), but the fact that one out of every six of his catches were for a touchdown worries me a bit. That is a tough ratio to keep up and it is too inconsistent from week to week to have him be the sixth or seventh tight end off of the board.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: We have already heard that offensive coordinator Jay Gruden plans to split the carries 50/50 between Green-Ellis and rookie Gio Bernard, which is a bad sign this early in camp. The Law Firm did rush for over 1,000 yards last year, but only averaged 3.9 yards per carry after averaging only 3.7 the year before. The Bengals clearly wanted to upgrade the running back situation since they used a second-round pick on Bernard, who is more explosive and more talented than Green-Ellis. I expect to see that 50-50 split start to trend more in Bernard's favor as the year progresses and wouldn't be surprised if he becomes the featured back before season's end.