It may sound strange to suggest players who are fairly valued could somehow hurt your team. The Fantasy Douche and I are often in almost perfect lockstep on player evaluation, and we try to dampen the echo chamber effect by at least disagreeing on how to implement our rankings. Frank’s take is that ideas about ultimate upside are hopelessly narrative-infused and he’d prefer to put together a team that is deep and resilient. I believe the draft is a relatively efficient market that nevertheless makes some huge mistakes. I want to grab those very few guys who project to have value over draft position. I’d prefer to avoid everyone else and target these players even if it means reaching.
This belief runs smack into a couple of big issues, namely psychological overconfidence and the myth of the expert. The flip side is that both scouting-based and simple regression projection systems are systematically flawed. If you have a better system – and since you’re here at RotoViz that’s an awfully good start – you want to take full advantage of it by making sure you get one of your guys in each round.
Anyway, these guys aren’t overvalued in the true sense of the word. They’re just guys you don’t want on your team anyway. (For the purpose of this exercise, I’ve selected one player from each of the first 10 rounds.)
For overvalued/undervalued, check out Stevie Johnson, Cecil Shorts, and the 10 Most Undervalued Players , and Wes Welker, Kyle Rudoph and the 10 Most Overvalued.
The 2013 Banana Stand All-Trap Team
1. LeSean McCoy
McCoy was my No. 2 rated running back last year, which shows you how easy it is to overvalue the previous season. McCoy averaged more fantasy points a game in 2011 than Adrian Peterson did in 2012. He’s a very good player. But a lot of McCoy’s value stems from catching the ball and scoring touchdowns. Chip Kelly’s arrival brings uncertainty and uncertainty in the first round is bad. I’m not optimistic about McCoy’s reception totals in the new system, and he could lose a substantial number of goal line touches to Bryce Brown.
Ridley carried 290 times last year, scored 12 touchdowns, and still only finished as RB15 in ppr leagues. That’s the epitome of low ceiling. He averaged fewer points per game last season than Mikel Leshoure and projects to a full blown committee with Shane Vereen.
3. Roddy White
Drafters are taking White in almost the exact same spot as Andre Johnson. I feel like I’m missing something here. Last season Johnson caught 20 more passes for almost 250 more yards. Except for Johnson’s injury issues, both players have been relatively immune to regression. Andre1500 hits 1,550 yards like clockwork in healthy seasons. White hits 1,350 like clockwork.
Johnson’s 2012 was something of a fluke in the touchdown department, but he caught between 8 and 9 from 2007 to 2010. Roddy White has never eclipsed 11, so he’s not exactly a touchdown machine himself. Both players are going to be 32 at some point this season, and age starts to become a factor. Unfortunately for White, it’s likely to be a much bigger factor for him since he’s the far less rare player.
The point of the Height-adjusted Speed Score is to find rare players. Johnson’s was 123. This year’s rarest prospect, Cordarrelle Patterson, posted a 113. The difference between Johnson and Patterson is roughly the same gap as the difference between Patterson and average.
Two other quick things: Johnson went for 250 more yards last year despite his quarterback throwing 70 fewer passes. I expect that gap to close in 2013. Finally, I’d be shocked if White and Julio Jones don’t switch yardage lines this season.
If you want an early round quarterback this year, you should just select Aaron Rodgers. His projection dwarfs that of Manning, and the difference in ADP is negligible in most formats. It’s tempting to just expect an encore performance of Manning’s 2012, but keep in mind how badly he struggled down the stretch of his Colts tenure and how awful he looked in last year’s playoffs. Age and injury remain a factor. Brett Favre imploded one year after leading Minnesota within one ill-advised throw of a Super Bowl.
There are plenty of overvalued players in Round 5, but Gonzalez is the fairly valued one you want to avoid. The former Chief has now played four years in Atlanta. That he turned in his best season with the Falcons at age 36 is both a testament to his incredible talent and revered work ethic, but it’s also a total fluke. Age is a factor here, not to mention the presence of Steven Jackson and the further emergence of Julio Jones.
6. Steve Smith
The competition here was between Antonio Brown and Steve Smith. Many will have read my thoughts on Randall Cobb and Wes Welker and assumed I’m down on all possession receivers, but this isn’t the case. In fact, I like them a lot more than vertical receivers. Steve Smith is a truly rare player in that he’s a short, speed receiver who was an incredible reality player. Nothing overrated about him. Unfortunately, his fantasy profile is no longer strong enough to feel good about his ceiling here. Brown and Smith have similar projections. In such a case, I’ll take the guy who is younger and plays in a more refined passing offense.
Boldin’s ADP has steadily risen since the Michael Crabtree injury and will jump even more so as we continue to read reports about his mind meld with Colin Kaepernick. He’s fairly valued here based on his probable usage, but I’d avoid the obvious 49ers like Boldin and Vernon Davis. The excess value in the 49ers passing game is going to come from a relative unknown like A.J. Jenkins, Kyle Williams, or Vance McDonald.
8. Isaiah Pead
Round 8 is a fair value for Pead. He showed signs of coming around at the end of last year. Moreover, he’s the guy the Rams have invested in heavily. His competition comes only from a couple of late round prospects and the starting job in St. Louis should be quite valuable. Pead still doesn’t fit my philosophy. I prefer drafting backups who are superior to the starter and taking that discount. Unfortunately, Daryl Richardson is coming at a premium, and the rarest player of the group, Zac Stacy, has to dispatch two guys for fantasy value.
9. Greg Olsen
Olsen is the first of the low end TE1 candidates to have a safe projection and fair ADP. But Olsen is a very replaceable player. His reputation as a great pass-catching tight end hasn’t really held. He did have a mild upswing in 2012, but his yards per route numbers have traditionally been very disappointing. Olsen is an example of a guy who performs well when actually targeted but doesn’t get open as frequently as his reputation suggests. Moreover, the tight end position is loaded with even later round sleepers. Olsen would be a fair value in a vacuum but not when you examine all 16 rounds.
10. Emmanuel Sanders
Sanders is Antonio Brown-lite. A good bet for a mini-breakout, Sanders is nonetheless a very replaceable player of the sort you should be grinding waivers to acquire. Sanders isn’t flashing a bright red Avoid or anything like that, but in this range of the draft you’d be better taking a couple of shots at boom/bust candidates and simply cutting the bust guys later.
So there’s your not-overvalued-but-don’t-draft-anyway list. It may not be as flashy as an undervalued list or an overvalued list, but it’s probably more important. Very few competitive players have any questions about the overvalued or undervalued guys, but it can be tempting to take the Fair Value All-Stars when they have the potential to destroy your team just the same.