Avoiding dangerous pitfalls in fantasy football is virtually as important as finding the hidden gems. Suggesting someone is “overvalued” means gamers can find similar results from a later selection, or the standards have been set too high based on Average Draft Position data (ADP).
The dreaded “bust” label invokes the thought of a player being completely useless, but it can also cover when a first-rounder drastically disappoints. Missing by a round or two even slightly so early can be a costly mistake without making up ground later in a draft.
All ADP data comes from MyFantasyLeague.com.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Overvalued (ADP: 5:12)
This one may seem apparent, but early gamers are spending a fifth-rounder on Luck and will need a little bit of their own to get a sound return on investment. As of the middle of May, he has not thrown a pass yet. Luck has not thrown a live pass since Week 17 of the 2016 season. Entering an age-29 season, having played only 22 regular-season games since 2014’s conclusion, Luck even making it through a 16-contest slate is an optimistic bet. The Colts have major question marks in the running game and among receivers behind T.Y. Hilton. Per ADP figures, these quarterbacks are going after Luck: Kirk Cousins, Marcus Mariota, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Jameis Winston. Crazy.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Overvalued (ADP: 6:06)
Alex Smith’s successor has a lively arm and is promising, no doubt, but a high sixth-round pick on an inexperienced quarterback with questions around him is a bit rich. Tyreek Hill has been dynamic with Smith under center, though we have nothing substantial to go on when it comes to his chemistry with Mahomes. The same goes for tight end Travis Kelce. Both are premier players at their respective positions, yet some caution has to be exercised when considering Mahomes. Newcomer Sammy Watkins offers a limited skill set and has noted injury concerns. Finally, this should remain a run-centric offense. Mahomes has upside and will flash a few games, but making him the 10th quarterback taken, on average, leans on that potential too much.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys: Bust (ADP: 1:03)
Zeke is a fine example of how a player can be a bust in an unconventional sense. He is going, on average, No. 3 overall, which suggests gamers expect an elite performance to return on investment. For argument’s sake, let us pretend Elliott struggles to deliver and finishes with RB2 stats — roughly 1,100 yards and fewer than 10 total touchdowns. Such a performance would require owners to cover the difference in effective value elsewhere. It certainly is doable, but when spending a top-five pick, do you really want to require a midrounder to pick up some slack? At any rate, the main thought process here is the Cowboys have little to work with in the receiving corps to keep defenses honest, and the offensive like could take a small step backward. Furthermore, the blocking lost with Jason Witten’s retirement will be missed. The silver lining with Elliott is raw talent. He’s a gifted player who can post quality numbers, but it might not be pretty.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals: Overvalued (ADP: 2:09)
There’s little question about Mixon’s potential, and while he definitely was overvalued as a rookie, it’s not so obvious this time around. A second-round value should make him an RB2 for many gamers, which in and of itself is not a reach, but he’ll also be some teams’ No. 1. The fear is Cincinnati’s offensive line has been completely reworked, including a rookie center and two new starting bookends. Giovani Bernard is paid far too handsomely to sit idly by and watch. Mixon should be good but won’t be great, so this is more of a “temper your expectations” warning than an outright plea to avoid him. In all likelihood, gamers will be able to find similar production a few rounds later.
Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns: Overvalued (ADP: 5:06)
It feels like Chubb is one of a few rookies whose value is being pushed up the ADP charts because of the fresh proximity to the NFL draft. In the upcoming months, his placement should stabilize. The Browns signed Carlos Hyde to a three-year pact before drafting Chubb in the early second round in April. The deal offers Cleveland an easy out after 2018, which suggests Chubb will be worked in on a series-to-series basis. The old “hot hand” scenario could come into play, as well, making his value in flux. The Browns’ offensive line needs to prove itself on the outside, and Chubb will come off the field on third downs. Take a flier for an RB3 on a back with more stability and a higher ceiling.
C.J. Anderson, Carolina Panthers: Bust (ADP: 12:07)
Look for Anderson’s ADP to rise into the middle rounds over the next few weeks since he joined the Panthers. Some drafters may be encouraged by Anderson’s 1,007-yard season in 2017 with the Denver Broncos, though the bigger takeaway may be he started all 16 games for the first time in his career. While he isn’t a dangerous receiving threat, most any hope of him contributing in this are is removed by Christian McCaffrey’s presence. The Panthers lost guard Andrew Norwell in free agency, and additions in the passing game suggest a strong desire to open up the offense. CJA will need to be more explosive than last year’s 4.1 yards-per-tote average and find the end zone with greater frequency (once every 82 attempts last year) to be better than a roster-filler for fantasy.
Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants: Overvalued (ADP: 1:04)
This one is in the same vein as the Ezekiel Elliott inclusion: Beckham has to be special in 2018 to live up to a No. 4 overall placement. Coming off a season-ending injury, he returns to New York with a contract dispute looming and a new coaching staff. While a talent of OBJ’s caliber can adjust to most any system, it is a new offense nonetheless. Eli Manning is 37 years old and has visibly regressed the past two years. To help offset this, New York’s second overall selection in April’s draft was spent on running back Saquon Barkley, whose all-around contributions will take plays away from Beckham. Second-year tight end Evan Engram will do the same, and Sterling Shepard looks capable of being more than just a piece to the puzzle. Being an exceptional talent with acrobatic skills doesn’t automatically justify a top-five pick, but in a tight-rope walk, it prevents Beckham from being called a bust.
Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears: Bust (ADP: 3:05)
Even though Week 1 will mark a full year since Robinson’s ACL tear, he’s still coming back from knee reconstruction — never an easy task. Following a breakout 2015 effort, A-Rob basically disappeared in ’16. It wasn’t entirely his fault, though ignoring only two 100-yard games and no TDs over the final six weeks is difficult. He will catch passes from second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in a new offense with a freshman coach. This system relies on ground production. Historically, the Windy City hasn’t fostered many stud fantasy receivers, with Alshon Jeffery in 2014 being the last 1,000-yarder for the Bears, and no quarterback has thrown for 4,000 yards in team history. Robinson is hardly a sure bet to produce like a third-rounder. Or even a sixth-rounder.
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans: Overvalued (ADP: 4:03)
Admittedly, this one could go either way, but Year 1’s performance will require a massive leap in production to deserve fourth-round placement. Davis failed to secure a touchdown until the playoffs as a 6-foot-3 rookie. In 2018, Tennessee features a defensive-minded, rookie head coach turning over the offense to a first-year play-caller in Matt LaFleur, the token OC from the 2017 LA Rams. Provided he brings a similar system to Nashville, we’re looking at an offense that still relies heavily on the run (9th-highest percentage in ’17). Color me skeptical about Marcus Mariota’s development as a passer and ability to stay on the field. Add in Mariota favorites Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker, plus Dion Lewis and Jonnu Smith … this could become crowded fast.
D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers: Overvalued (ADP: 7:03)
Over the long trajectory of a rookie contract or even career, Moore should be anything but a fantasy disappointment. However, he must learn an NFL offense and live up to first-round expectations for a team reliant on controlling the clock. Even though this coaching staff wants to open it up, Cam Newton displays limitations as a passer and has two safety blankets in Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey to gobble up looks. Moore is an intermediate weapon whose ability to shake defenders will be his biggest asset in development. Moore isn’t without value, though it could take longer than many gamers can afford to wait before he returns on such an investment.
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos: Bust (ADP: 8:01)
This one will be brief: Sutton needs an injury to Demaryius Thomas and/or Emmanuel Sanders to see enough looks to matter. His eighth-round average figure is based on some of that previously mentioned post-draft hype factor. He won’t live up to even a 12th-round ADP without significant help, and all of this is assuming Case Keenum wasn’t a one-year wonder.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions: Bust (ADP: 11:10)
Golladay has a fine chance at being a quality fantasy contributor, but just how does he get there in 2018 to live up to anything earlier than a late flier. Per the ADP data, gamers have taken him as early as Round 7. The Lions retained Jim Bob Cooter as the offensive coordinator, Eric Ebron is out, and the offensive line was improved. Checks for Golladay’s case. However, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones also return. So does Theo Riddick. Not good. Finding consistent targets to provide Golladay enough action to deserve regular fantasy utility is unlikely. Don’t get caught up in his potential and 2017 hype.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns: Bust (ADP: 7:05)
There is a bust factor to consider here. Maybe disappointment is more apt. He shouldn’t be a total disaster, but gamers looking for a plug-n-play starter are considering the wrong player. Njoku profiles as a matchup play and will have to battle a bevy of mouths to feed in this offense. Jarvis Landry should hog most off the intermediate looks, and Josh Gordon figures to see his share all over the field. Corey Coleman has the wheels to be a primary deep threat, and three capable running backs will make their cases for touches, especially Duke Johnson on third down. Njoku is crazy talented, yet it may prove difficult for him to find regular looks. Expect similar stats to last year: low volume, high TD efficiency.
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers: Overvalued (ADP: 7:07)
Graham falls in between … he won’t be a total bust, and some gamers will overrate him, as evidenced by a high selection of 28th overall. Anything later than his ADP is perfectly fine, as long as one understands what they’re drafting. Entering his age-32 season, Graham, two years removed from a catastrophic knee injury, has flashed some of what had made him one of the most dangerous weapons in fantasy. He remains a scoring threat, which should keep his fantasy value afloat, but expectations have to be restricted. His days of 80-plus grabs are gone. Joe Philbin returns to Title Town to command the offense. Historically, tight ends have been involved but hardly were the focal point of his designs. Given the weaponry Green Bay fields, Graham could outright disappear several weeks. Don’t automatically assume because of Aaron Rodgers that Graham will return to his elite ways some four-plus seasons ago.