Avoiding overvalued players is just as important as pin-pointing the undervalued ones.
Last year, we helped you avoid pitfalls like Carlos Hyde, Tre Mason, Melvin Gordon, Davante Adams, Kevin White, Julius Thomas and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
A new season brings a new group of potential draft traps. So who made the cut this year? Here are the 8 most overvalued players in 2016 fantasy football drafts.
Note: We’re using our PPR Rankings and 12-team PPR ADP data from MyFantasyLeague.com
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
DS Rank: QB1
Newton could repeat as fantasy’s top scoring passer. But fantasy owners shouldn’t pay the price to land him.
Rushing regression is one reason why, as Newton’s coming off a season with his most TDs (10) since his rookie year (2011). Speaking on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, team reporter David Newton said he expects Cam’s 8.2 carries per game to drop. No surprise there: Newton posted 7.4 and 6.9 carries per game in 2014 and 2013.
The 27-year-old also enjoyed amazing passing efficiency in 2015. Pro Football Focus points to a key stat that signals why Newton’s passing numbers should drop. He recorded .73 fantasy points per drop-back, the highest mark since PFF’s inception (2007).
Instead of grabbing Newton early, add quality RBs and WRs to your roster. Then, in the mid to late rounds, target some of these QBs with top 10 upside.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
DS Rank: RB10
Bell’s slated to serve a 4-game suspension for missing at least 1 drug test. There have been whispers that an appeal — expected to happen by August 18 — could rule in Bell’s favor. So we’ll soon have clarity there.
But let’s assume Bell is sidelined for 4 weeks. We’ve suggested grabbing DeAngelo Williams in the Round 6 range if you do secure Bell, but that’s only if he comes at a reasonable price. And don’t discount the opportunity cost of spending such an early pick on a short-term asset. In Round 6, it’s quite possible you can find a high-end QB drop or a potential WR2 type.
Taking Bell at ADP also means you’ll take him ahead of some sturdier rushers. He’s going early in Round 2, ahead of guys like Devonta Freeman and Mark Ingram. We won’t pay that price for a suspended asset who also carries a lengthy injury history — most recently a tear of his ACL and MCL.
Consider the words of ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell.
"While an injury to one of the four primary stabilizing ligaments of the knee is never desirable, a multi-ligament injury is an entirely different dimension of concern."
Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots
DS Rank: RB27
Risk vs. reward is the key here.
We saw the reward last year, as Lewis blazed his way to 36 catches, 622 total yards and 4 total scores over 7 games. He dazzled with sharp cuts and ankle-breaking moves in space.
But a torn ACL adds risk to a guy who relies on quick movements. That injury has kept Lewis from practicing, although ace reporter Mike Reiss says the Pats are taking things slowly. Maybe so, but you can never tell for certain with the Patriots.
Clearly, though, there’s risk with Lewis. Can he return to pre-injury form? Can he excel without 4 games of Tom Brady? And can Lewis perform over a full season? Remember that he was out of football in 2014 and missed all of 2013 with a broken leg.
Arian Foster, RB, Dolphins
DS Rank: RB42
And the theme of injury-prone RBs continues…
Weeks ago, our own Jared Smola laid out the case against the 30-year-old. It’s a blend of age, past workload and an extensive injury history that most recently includes a torn Achilles last October.
Now, there’s clearly an opportunity to start in Miami. Jay Ajayi played through a knee injury early in camp and wasn’t impressive in limited preseason action. (He carried twice for 6 yards and nearly caused an INT with a drop.) But even if Foster carves out a fantasy friendly role, he’s almost a lock to miss time with injury. Mix in a shaky O-line — which hasn’t yet settled on a starting guard tandem — and we’re safely passing on the veteran at his current price.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
DS Rank: WR7
Talent and past production aren’t debatable with Dez.
But you should be leery of his past foot issues — and the health of his QB. Matt Schauf dug into why it’s best to avoid the risk of Bryant in Round 1. Positive camp reports and a TD in Week 1 of the preseason might even raise his ADP a spot or 2.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers
DS Rank: WR27
A discussion of Benjamin’s 2016 outlook has to start with last year’s torn ACL. The mid-August injury won’t keep him from playing Week 1, but it could hinder his early-season effectiveness.
HC Ron Rivera just recently said that Benjamin still gets winded “particularly after a deep pattern or two.” Rivera really raised eyebrows when putting a number to the amount of snaps he wants Benjamin ready for: 30-35. That’s roughly 50% of Carolina’s plays per game last year (66.6)
Lopsided 2014 production is another concern. Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis outlined Benjamin’s love of garbage time, defined as a lead of 11+ points. The study found that Benjamin notched 5 of his 9 total TDs in garbage time, the largest percentage league-wide. He also tallied 18% of his catches and 19% of his yardage late in games — both top-4 marks.
Benjamin’s size (6’5) makes him a weekly scoring threat. But the emergence of Devin Funchess and the return of Greg Olsen means he’s unlikely to become a target hog. Plus, Benjamin isn’t exactly a proven red zone threat. In 2014, his 26.7% catch rate in that area ranked last among 25 WRs with at least 15 targets.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
DS Rank: WR30
Baldwin — and the next guy on this list — are poised for major TD regression.
The veteran Seahawk recorded 12 of his 14 scores over the final 8 games of 2015. Of course, he finished as the top fantasy WR over that historic stretch.
Just how rare was Baldwin’s late-season run? Per Seahawks.com, Baldwin joined Cris Carter and Calvin Johnson as the only players since 1960 with 4 straight games of 2+ receiving scores. Baldwin also joined Jerry Rice as the only WRs to notch 10 TDs over a 4-game span.
The emergence of Tyler Lockett and the hopeful return of Jimmy Graham hurts Baldwin’s already slim chances at a repeat. So, too, does his career TD rate of 7.7% — about 10 percentage points below his 2015 total.
Even Baldwin understands that this offense will remain balanced. Under OC Darrell Bevell, Seattle’s ranked top 4 in run rate each year since Russell Wilson entered the league (2012).
"We're going to go back to the run game; we're not going to be throwing the ball as much as we did," Baldwin said via ESPN. “… I know everybody is going to talk about the raw numbers, but I'm not going to get the raw numbers. I'm not going to get 120 catches a season. That's not built into our offense.”
Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals
DS Rank: TE14
The word on Eifert’s surgically repaired ankle hasn’t provided much optimism. The injury — more specifically to his deltoid ligament — requires a recovery time of 5-6 months. That means he could be out for almost half of the season.
And let’s not forget his injury history beyond the ankle trouble. He landed on IR after suffering a dislocated elbow in Week 1 of 2014. Then last season, he missed 1 game with a neck stinger and 2 others with a concussion.
Finally, there’s the TD regression. Eifert scored 13 times last year, giving him 1 per game played. His red zone dominance isn’t repeatable, however, as he converted 15 targets into 12 grabs and 11 scores. In total, his 25% TD rate crushed all 23 TEs who caught 40+ balls.
Despite all this, Eifert’s ADP remains at TE7 — even in MFL drafts over the past week. That places him ahead of Zach Ertz, Julius Thomas, Gary Barnidge and several others we rank higher.