10 Overvalued Players to Avoid in Fantasy Drafts
Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals
DS Rank: QB7
ADP Rank: QB5
Burrow has been getting overdrafted since the earliest sites got going back at NFL playoffs time. His ADP has actually fallen nearly 2 full rounds in FFPC best-ball drafting … and it’s still a little high.
It’s not that we have a problem with Burrow the player. He sits 7th in our default QB rankings. And he’s fine if going there or later. But multiple ADP listings still have Burrow going ahead of Jalen Hurts. And now that the Bengals QB is back from his appendix surgery, that might start happening more frequently once again. That would be a mistake.
Burrow is terrific. He led the league in completion rate and yards per attempt in his 2nd season, despite coming off a torn ACL. It’s fair to ponder whether he and the Bengals will be even better this year.
But he also checked in a more modest 9th among QBs in points per game – despite the 2 monster outings to close the year. Burrow’s huge position-leading fantasy scores in weeks 16 and 17 combined to account for 22% of his scoring for the season. His scoring average outside of those 2 games would have ranked 13th.
Of course, we can’t just take away his 2 biggest games and say “that’s the real Burrow.” That would be ridiculous. The real issue with Burrow’s fantasy outlook is that he doesn’t run as much as many others at the position. We could easily blame last year’s low output on the return from knee surgery. But even as a healthy rookie behind a shaky O-line, Burrow ranked just 19th among QBs in rushing yards per game. His speed is only slightly above-average for an NFL QB.
So Burrow will need to be a much more efficient passer than the mobile QBs around him in the rankings to outperform his draft position. And although he does sit 7th in our current rankings, Burrow’s projected fantasy total sits closer to #11 Matthew Stafford than to #6 Jalen Hurts.
At his price and projections proximity to players such as Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, Stafford and Trey Lance, Burrow isn’t even a “must” grab if Hurts is gone.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
DS Rank: QB17
ADP Rank: QB12
We’re not all that concerned about Rodgers declining. He’s 38 — 39 in December — but finished last season as the league MVP. His completion rate, TD rate and yards per attempt all fell in line or exceeded career averages.
He ranked 4th in Pro Football Focus passing grade.
It’s the supporting cast that has us concerned heading into the 2022 campaign.
Consider this: Davante Adams’ departure takes away 29.7% of Rodgers’ passing TDs and 37.7% of his passing yardage from last season.
Green Bay added bodies to the position over the offseason, but there are more questions than answers with their arrival. Round 2 pick Christian Watson was just activated from the PUP list on Sunday following minor knee surgery. Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb haven’t been difference-makers in years.
Sure, we’ve witnessed a strong summer from rookie Romeo Doubs. But we’re still talking about a 4th-round rookie here. Productive WRs drafted in the 4th or later simply don’t grow on trees. Since 2010, only 2 such WRs have hit 750+ yards (Mike Williams in 2010 and Amon-Ra St. Brown in 2021).
Mix in questionable health at the tackle spots, and Rodgers becomes an easy fade at an ADP that has him ahead of Trey Lance, Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins, among others.
Javonte Williams, RB, Broncos
DS Rank: RB14
ADP Rank: RB9
The upside is clear on Williams. And if Melvin Gordon goes down with a season-ending injury tomorrow, then you could just strikethrough this whole entry. But that’s the problem.
You shouldn’t be spending your 2nd-round pick on a player who needs a teammate injury to unlock his ceiling. You should focus on guys who can get there without that level of help.
There are several unknowns at work here. First, we have yet to see Williams work as a true feature back for an extended period on any level beyond high school. At UNC, he topped out at 166 carries as a sophomore, and then led Michael Carter by just a single rushing attempt last year (and trailed him by 0.7 yards per rush).
Second, Denver sports a new coaching staff. We all watched a year of Williams splitting the backfield with Gordon in 2021, but we haven’t seen how Nathaniel Hackett’s staff wants to deploy them. The Broncos did let Gordon linger on the open market for a month and a half. But they did still re-sign him – a day ahead of the NFL Draft. They could have just as easily waited to see what the draft yielded before retaining the vet.
You can spin those facts into your own story either for Williams (He’s fresh! New staff doesn’t value Gordon!) or against him (He’s never been a workhorse! Gordon’s still there!). But the only thing we know for sure is that we just don’t know what’ll happen.
If that enticing uncertainty makes it into Round 3, then Williams makes a little more sense. That might seem nitpicky, but it’s the difference of weighing Williams in Round 2 vs. players such as Alvin Kamara, James Conner (at least by your Draft War Room), Tyreek Hill and Tee Higgins as opposed to the next tier of RBs and WRs.
That difference matters at that early stage of your draft.
David Montgomery, RB, Bears
DS Rank: RB20
ADP Rank: RB18
Montgomery’s 2021 tape probably won’t impress the new coaching staff, led by HC Matt Eberflus and OC Luke Getsy.
Among 19 RBs with 200+ attempts, he ranked 17th in yards per carry, 16th in both Pro Football Focus grade and Elusive Rating and 19th in yards after contact per attempt.
Sure, Chicago’s O-line stunk. (Spoiler: It still does.) But the PFF grade does isolate Montgomery’s play from his environment. After a breakout 2020 (83.9 rushing grade), that number sank to 67.7 last fall.
Perhaps an early-season knee injury impacted his play. But with a new staff in town, we’re not expecting Montgomery to repeat a fringe RB1 finish.
Getsy arrives from Green Bay, where he watched Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon split the work almost evenly. Jones is a better back than Montgomery, and with no ties to the new staff (or GM Ryan Poles), the Bear no longer has an automatic leg up on backups Khalil Herbert and rookie Trestan Ebner.
We’ve seen no indication that Chicago wants to lock Montgomery into a workhorse role. In fact, he curiously practiced on special teams last week, a development that ESPN insider Dan Graziano said was “a bit of an alarm bell” to him. Graziano also considers Herbert, who flashed as a rookie, and Ebner, a dynamic pass-catcher, potential threats to Montgomery’s touches.
When you zoom out, you see a Bears offense that projects to be one of the lowest-scoring league-wide. Their current Vegas win total is just 6.5, so trailing game scripts could be the norm here.
Antonio Gibson, RB, Commanders
DS Rank: RB23
ADP Rank: RB21
The Commanders have already sent us signals that they don’t want Gibson in a high-volume role.
First came the re-signing of passing-down back J.D. McKissic (after he verbally agreed to a deal in Buffalo). He’s totaled 123 catches over the past 2 seasons.
Soon thereafter, the front office invested a Round 3 pick in Alabama RB Brian Robinson. He’s generated plenty of offseason buzz. At 6’2, 225 pounds, he's a pro-ready back with the size to eat into Gibson’s goal-line opportunities.
As if that wasn’t enough — Gibson fumbled on his second carry of the preseason. That followed a 2021 with 5 fumbles, most among RBs.
He’s still young (24). And there’s theoretical upside in a guy that carried the rock only 44 times in college. We simply haven’t seen any indication that he’ll have the role to pay off a 4th-round price tag.
Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers
DS Rank: WR15
ADP Rank: WR7
We spent 1,700 words in our Early-Round Bust article explaining why we’re avoiding Samuel at his 2nd-round price tag. A quick recap:
- His 2021 efficiency metrics (18.2 yards per catch, 11.6 yards per target, 13.6% rushing TD rate) are bound for serious regression this year.
- The move to QB Trey Lance figures to mean less passing and less efficient passing in San Francisco.
- TE George Kittle and WR Brandon Aiyuk are stiff competition and will likely prevent Samuel from capturing a huge target share. Aiyuk, especially, has reportedly had an awesome training camp.
There are also concerns with this offensive line and how it’ll impact the offense as a whole. The ‘Niners lost C Alex Mack and LG Laken Tomlinson this offseason. And we’ve heard from multiple sources, including All49ers.com’s Grant Cohn, that the O-line has been a serious problem in camp.
Samuel projects as a higher-end WR2 this season but is being drafted as a mid-range WR1 in the middle of the 2nd round. We’d rather have Tyreek Hill, Tee Higgins and a few RBs than Samuel in that area of drafts.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals
DS Rank: WR38
ADP Rank: WR32
The case against Hopkins starts with his 6-game suspension to open the season. That’s nearly half of the regular season in most fantasy leagues. You can certainly argue, though, that the suspension is properly baked into Hopkins’ ADP.
Our bigger problem with his price is that Hopkins is unlikely to provide the WR1-level production you’re used to when he does return.
He’s coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him miss 7 games, most of an 8th and rank 16th among WRs in PPR points per game across 9 healthy outings. That production was largely fueled by an unsustainable 19.0% TD rate – 11 percentage points higher than his career average coming into the season. Hopkins 4.2 catches and 57.2 yards per game were his fewest since his 2013 rookie campaign. And he registered the 3rd worst Pro Football Focus receiving grade of his career. Now 30, Hopkins’ best days are behind him – and further decline is possible in 2022.
Hopkins’ volume was also down last year, from 10.0 targets per game on a 27.8% target share in 2020 to 6.9 targets on a 21.6% share in his 9 healthy games in 2021. Last year’s target share ranked just 30th among WRs.
That number might decline further this season with the arrival of WR Marquise Brown, a potentially expanded role for WR Rondale Moore and a full season of TE Zach Ertz.
We’d be more interested in taking the suspension discount on Hopkins if we were confident he’d still be an elite fantasy producer over the final 11 games. But the suspension plus risk of further decline has us shying away at his early-7th-round price tag.
Allen Lazard, WR, Packers
DS Rank: WR46
ADP Rank: WR43
Is it crazy to take a shot on Lazard in WR4 territory? No. But doing so might mean drafting him above guys with much higher ceilings.
Looking at Underdog ADP, you’ll have to take Lazard ahead of 1st-round talents Drake London, Brandon Aiyuk, DeVonta Smith and Kadarius Toney if you want him. You’ll also need to weigh Lazard vs. DeAndre Hopkins on a points-per-game basis, accounting for how each will impact your roster once Hopkins returns from suspension.
Sure, QB Aaron Rodgers has referred to Lazard as the team’s new lead WR. But what’s the reasonable target-share upside here? Lazard ranked 91st among WRs in that category a year ago. Granted, that was with Davante Adams around. But it also put him behind players such as Mecole Hardman, Zay Jones, Jalen Reagor … and Sammy Watkins.
The veteran import will challenge Lazard’s share, as will buzzy rookie Romeo Doubs (who you might remember from yesterday’s Sleepers article). There’s also WR Christian Watson and TE Robert Tonyan, who both just came off PUP, and the talented backfield.
Our biggest issue with drafting Lazard in this range is not whether he can pay off a WR4 price tag. It’s whether he has a shot at outperforming it.
You shouldn’t be drafting the 43rd WR in hopes that he’ll finish 32nd. You should be targeting players with ceilings that reach much higher, whether because of talent, situation or – ideally – both.
Mike Gesicki, TE, Dolphins
DS Rank: TE17
ADP Rank: TE12
We knew Gesicki would take on a larger blocking role under new HC Mike McDaniel. But it’s nice to get confirmation from the player.
So don’t pencil in the Penn State product for another 112 targets. Not with Tyreek Hill now running alongside Jaylen Waddle. Remember, too, that Miami handed Cedrick Wilson a 3-year deal with nearly $13 million guaranteed.
Bad contract? Maybe. But for now, it signals that they expect him to be a sizable part of this passing game. And he’s a clear upgrade on this team’s #3 WR from last year (Albert Wilson/Mack Hollins).
Gesicki will also play this season under the franchise tag, as both sides couldn’t agree on an extension prior to the July deadline. McDaniel might not see him as part of the long-term plan. Regardless, for this season, we’re out on the Dolphin as a reliable TE1.
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Steelers
DS Rank: TE16
ADP Rank: TE11
Freiermuth turned in a really nice rookie season. His 9.5 PPR points per game ranked 17th among TEs last year and were the 4th most by a rookie TE over the past 10 seasons.
Our issue is more with the situation than the player.
It starts with the volume projection. Freiermuth ranked 17th among TEs with 4.9 targets per game last season. That was with JuJu Smith-Schuster missing 12 games and parts of 2 others and the Steelers finishing 2nd in pass rate.
Freiermuth figures to face tougher target competition this year with stud rookie George Pickens joining Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. And we’re expecting the Steelers to throw significantly less with Ben Roethlisberger no longer essentially running the offense.
Speaking of Roethlisberger, it’s tough to imagine Pittsburgh’s QB play being worse this season. But we’re also not expecting it to be significantly better. Mason Rudolph has reportedly been the Steelers’ best QB in training camp – which speaks volumes to how Mitchell Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett have fared.Ultimately, Freiermuth is part of a big tier of TEs right outside our top 10. But he tends to be 1 of the first guys off the board among that tier. We’d much rather wait a couple of rounds for Irv Smith, 4 rounds for David Njoku or 6 rounds for Evan Engram.
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