We all know that each fantasy football season brings with it the
obligatory Hype Machine, where certain players are touted to one
degree or another as ‘Must Have’ options for our team.
But like everything else about fantasy football, that ‘Must
Have’ list is a hit-or-miss proposition. Some players pan
out the way most so-called experts predicted, while others disappoint
their fantasy owners with performances that don’t match their
Before going any further, though, I’d like to be clear
about something. “Overhyped” in this context should
not be misconstrued necessarily as a “bust.” The players
listed below, I believe, will give their owners some level of
production; I am simply of the belief that the preseason buzz
and analyses about their production level for 2014 probably won’t
match where they will be drafted.
With that clarification, here are my five overhyped players heading
Toby Gerhart's ADP has skyrocketed since
Gerhart, RB JAC – I’m sure Toby Gerhart is a fine,
upstanding, law-abiding American—not to mention a fairly solid
NFL running back. But I have seen cheat sheets recently (specifically,
on this site) that have the fifth year Stanford product ranked
as high as the 10th fantasy RB heading into 2014. Going from a
back-up role in Minnesota to being the main man in Jacksonville
certainly has a lot to do with that. I get it. But his ranking
as a low-end RB1 in some people’s mind is absurd.
I wonder if those that think so highly of Gerhart have taken
a gander at the supporting cast in Jacksonville. The stable of
quarterbacks is populated by youth (Blake Bortles) and average,
never-has-beens (Chad Henne). And while Cecil Shorts has been
a relative surprise at WR (10 TD catches the last two years),
the other receivers aren’t going to induce shivers from
opposing defenses. As a result, can you imagine the defensive
fronts Gerhart will face? Eight, nine in the box? He’s not
the fleetest of foot, so maneuvering around that congestion near
the line of scrimmage will prove a daunting task indeed. No way
I’m jumping on the Gerhart bandwagon at his suggested retail
price. No way.
Bernard, RB CIN – By any measure, Giovanni Bernard
had a pretty solid rookie season. Used as a complementary piece
Green-Ellis, Bernard showed tremendous burst at times, and
even displayed a solid skill set as a pass-catching option out
of the backfield. Those usually translate into stellar fantasy
production, especially when coupled with another year of experience.
Here’s my apprehension with using a mid second-round pick
on the youngster (currently a 2.07 ADP). As long as he shares
time with BJGE, Bernard’s stock will suffer. The Law Firm
is a beast around the goaline, having scored 42 rushing TDs in
his six-year career. It’s a fairly safe bet that Bernard
will lose those valuable scoring chances to Green-Ellis. And further
clouding Bernard’s chances of building on what he did in
his rookie season is Cincy selecting LSU’s Jeremy Hill in
the second-round of this year’s draft. Hill is no slouch.
He ran for 1,401 yards and 16 TDs in the rugged SEC last year.
So while Bernard demonstrated a skill set last year that’s
suited for fantasy stardom, his opportunities to do so will be
limited based on the potential of a three-headed attack in Cincinnati.
That’s too big a risk for a second-round pick.
Woodhead, RB SD – The price paid for Danny Woodhead
going into the 2014 season is not a steep one. His current 9.11
ADP is proof of that. But those selecting the diminutive running
back with expectations of him mirroring his production from 2013
may be in for a bit of disappointment. Woodhead was a waiver wire
gem last year, helping solidify many fantasy teams. His damage
was done primarily through the passing game. Woodhead’s 76 receptions
in 2013 was one less than Antonio
Gates for the team lead. And to put his catches in perspective,
Woodhead had only 92 receptions the previous three seasons combined.
Last year’s offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt left for
the head coaching post in Tennessee. Replacing Whisenhunt is first-time
offensive coordinator Frank Reich. No one knows how the offense
will look in 2014 under Reich, or what role Woodhead will have
in it. One thing is certain: expecting an otherwise marginal NFL
player to repeat a career-best performance is asking a lot. Sure,
draft him. But be careful about where you do so, and temper those
Gronkowski, TE NE – Rob Gronkowski’s brilliance is
undisputed. He’s arguably been the league’s best tight end since
his debut in 2010. Over his four-year career, he’s scored 42 TDs
and has made life miserable for defenses in the process. After
missing the first half of last season, he immediately paid dividends—catching
eight passes for 114 yards against the New York Jets in Week 7.
The operative phrase in the preceding sentence is ‘after missing
the first half of last season…’ That’s been Gronk’s issue. His
presence on this list has zero to do with his ability. It is strictly
about his recent proneness to injury.
Gronk has missed 14 games over the last two seasons, and has
racked up eight surgeries during his first four years in the league.
Playing such a physically demanding position, those bumps, bruises,
aches and pains will at some point begin robbing the two-time
Pro Bowler of his natural ability. There’s also little question
that Tom Brady will once again rely on Gronk as a result of the
team lacking a consistent threat on the outside. Can Gronk hold
up? Can he delay the inevitable erosion to his skill set courtesy
of the mounting physical challenges he’s had over the years?
For those of you interested in adhering to Gronk’s 3.07
ADP, these questions—and more—must be asked.
Newton, QB CAR – Having played fantasy football since
1996, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about which players
play for what team. But honestly, I had to look up Carolina’s
roster to see whom they currently had as wide receivers. It’s
as if the front office is playing a practical joke on Newton,
stripping away his receiving options while replacing them with
fringe players. “Okay, Cam,” they seem to be saying. “Let’s see
what you can do with THIS.”
The most intriguing aspect of Cam’s potential tumble down
the fantasy relevance meter is NOT his almost universal ranking
as a top-15 fantasy QB. That may or may not be accurate. Here’s
what’s interesting. While fantasy experts—based on
his preseason ranking—seem to expect Newton to have a productive
season, the most ironic component of that mindset is those same
experts don’t have any of his receiving options ranked in
the top 50 of their wide receiver rankings. Who is Newton going
to throw to, himself? And while he remains a running threat, he
could be less inclined to do so, considering his offseason ankle
surgery. So it’s difficult to assume he can—or will—supplement
his passing numbers with production on the ground. Cam is ultra
talented, we know that. But with a roster that’s devoid
of any discernable and predictable receiving threat, Cam may be
in for a season that’s not so Cam-like.