Regardless of what format you play in, the name of the game when
it comes to drafting is maximizing value. I know we all have our
sleepers and “our guys” and that’s fine, but
generally speaking we don’t want to reach for players that
aren't going to return value.
In this piece I will examine 10 players being drafted in the first
10 rounds of 12-team leagues (full PPR) that I feel are going
too early. Many of these players I actually like but where they
are being drafted is just too rich and you will be missing out
on better value by reaching for them.
Maybe itís because Kamara put up 50+ points against me in
the championship last year that makes him number one on my list
this year, or maybe heís simply THE reach of the first round
in 2021 drafts.
Kamara is still in the prime of his career but things in New
Orleans are about to change drastically, likely to the detriment
of Kamaraís production. Drew
Brees is gone and while we donít know for sure if Taysom
Hill or Jameis
Winston will be under center, we know each is a big downgrade
in terms of throwing to running backs. In weeks 11-14 last year
Kamara had a total of 10 receptions. In contrast, the previous
four weeks Kamara had 29 receptions. Want to guess the main difference
in those two sets of weeks? You got it, change in Quarterbacks
from Hill (10 receptions) to Brees (29 receptions).
While Kamara can still produce solid numbers, there is no way
he will come close to repeating his overall numbers from the previous
two seasons, but he would need to justifying a top 5 overall draft
There is a scenario where Kamara falls out of the top 12 backs
if the quarterbacks struggle and the offense just canít get going.
Pass on Kamara in the first round this year and go for a RB with
similar upside but a safer floor.
Before you get all upset and tell me how good Patrick Mahomes
is let me stop you there. I love Mahomes. He is the best QB in
the game today and an awesome fantasy asset. The problem with
Mahomes is EVERYONE loves him and thus, his ADP has skyrocketed
into the late 2nd round.
The problem with taking Mahomes early in a single-QB league is
there are studs in this draft range at much shallower positions
than QB. My strategy with QB this season is to wait until at least
the 5th round where guys like Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Herbert, Russell Wilson, etc. are all likely available, or wait
even longer to grab Jalen Hurts who has rushing potential.
But taking a QB in the second or third round is really going
to handcuff what you can do with your roster on a week-to-week
basis. While watching Mahomes play every week is certainly fun,
watching value go down the drain in your draft is just the opposite;
just say no.
Pitts has been one of the most hyped players, both in real life
and fantasy football, for many months now. Of course, there is
reason to be excited, as he may very well be the best tight end
prospect of all time.
On paper, Pitts is in a great situation, with Julio Jones leaving
a healthy chunk of vacated targets and on a team that should throw
quite a bit. While I think it is very possible, even likely, that
Pitts has a great season, the fact that you are going to rely
on a rookie at a position that is historically hard to produce
in the first year, is simply playing with fire. Jeremy Shockey
(2002) had one of the best seasons ever for a rookie tight end
and he put up a 74/894/2 stat line. Very good numbers, rookie
or not, but not for a guy you draft in the early-to-mid 4th round.
With legit wide receivers still available as well as some upside
RBís and more proven tight ends in round 4/5, taking Pitts
is simply giving into the hype rather than doing what is smart.
In dynasty leagues and TE premium leagues I get the appeal, but
in standard redraft leagues it is silly to go against all that
we know historically by taking Pitts this early.
Two Falcons in a row, and I swear I donít have anything
personal against the team, it just happens to be they are a source
of poor value this season.
After filling in for Christian McCaffrey most of last season,
Davis finds himself at the top of the Falcons depth chart at RB
to start the season. While I canít argue that the situation
is in theory, a fairly juicy one, the biggest question mark is
Davis averaging just 3.7 yards per carry for his career. He offered
decent production last season but it was mostly built on volume
and receptions, two things we really canít be sure he gets
this year in Atlanta. The past three seasons combined, the leading
RB in targets on the Falcons averaged just under 50 targets per
season. Davis had over 50 receptions in Carolina last season.
Unless Atlanta completely bucks itís trend or Davis dramatically
increases his efficiency at age 28, the return on investment here
just does not add up. I think the odds are better that Atlanta
becomes a full blown RBBC or Davis loses his starting role rather
than fulfills his RB2 ADP.
The second rookie to make the list this season, Chase was the
first wide receiver taken in the draft and reconnects with his
college QB Joe Burrow. While I like Chase as a prospect I believe
there are enough red flags to make me pass on him in the first
7 rounds of redrafts this season.
First, Chase did not play football last season and has been rusty
in camp according to many reports. He recently had 3 drops in
a quarter in the Bengals second preseason game and has struggled
separating from defenders. While it is normal for rookies to go
through growing pains, it may take half the season or more before
Chase gets to where he wants to be and that is too long to wait
on someone that you are drafting as an every-week starter in Round
In addition, Burrow is coming off a major injury (ACL) and the
Bengals O-line has some serious question marks.
Add all this to the fact that Tee Higgins showed out as a rookie
last season, Tyler Boyd is still around to gobble up targets and
Joe Mixon is a good receiver in his own right, and you start to
build a ďtoo many mouths to feedĒ narrative that just
may have some truth to it.
Chase may eventually be a true stud at the position but counting
on him as a rookie, after a year off, with some other potential
challenges around him, is just too big a risk to take in the 6th
round of drafts this year.
Golladay was one of or perhaps the best wide receiver available
this offseason and decided to take his talents to the Big Apple.
There are a few issues that I see with Golladay and while none
of them may be glaring red flags, I believe they add up enough
to warrant avoiding him where he is currently being drafted.
First, receivers going to new teams is always tricky, as they
need to adjust not only to a new playbook and scheme but to a
new quarterback as well. For Golladay, he is downgrading from
Matthew Stafford to Daniel Jones, which is a significant downgrade
as Golladay is not a separator or a route technician, he needs
someone to throw it up so he can go up and get it. Jones, to this
point, does not fit that mold.
Second, Golladay has missed a good chunk of training camp with
a hamstring issue, missing valuable time to get into rhythm with
his new quarterback.
Finally, the Giants have a plethora of pass-catchers including
Sterling Sheperd, Evan
Slayton, and Saquan Barkley. The Giants were in the bottom
half of the league in pass attempts last year, meaning Golladay
needs to be hyper-efficient and catch 8+ touchdowns if he wants
to produce top 30 WR numbers this season. With so much going against
him itís simply not worth taking Golladay at his current ADP.
Lenny had a decent bounce back season last year, especially in
the playoffs but I would not touch him in the first 8 rounds in
First, Bruce Arians isnít exactly fantasy friendly to running
backs. Based on the past two seasons, Arians might start Fournette
one week and run him 20 times then give him two touches the next
week with seemingly no rhyme or reason.
Second, the backfield has some real competition and Fournette,
at this point in his career, is no guarantee to be the lead back
on a consistent basis. Ronald Jones had a career year last season
and is still just entering his prime and newly signed Giovani Bernard, one of my favorite sleepers, has been getting a lot of
praise in training camp. Gio fits what Tom Brady likely wants
in this offense, and letís face it, if Brady wants it heís
gonna get it.
While I think Fournette is likely to have a few good games, youíre
going to need an injury to one of the other backs to trust starting
Fournette with any sort of consistency or predictability.
RB is a relatively thin position, but there are simply bigger
and more exciting names at other positions in the 7th/8th round
that I would choose over Fournette (TE Logan Thomas, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster).
Plan accordingly and make sure your RB position is stable before
you get to this point so you donít have to rely on olí
Speaking of running backs that used to be good (ouch), David
Johnson makes this yearís list of guys to avoid in the top
10 rounds of your draft.
I loved Johnson the first few years of his career and if he would
have avoided injury we may still be talking about him as one of
the games great all-time RBís. Unfortunately, the injury
bug stung several times and Johnson looked like a shell of his
former self this last time we saw him.
To make matters worse, Houston is an early favorite to be the
worst team in the league especially (likely) if Deshaun Watson
isn't under center.
Given what weíve seen in camp Johnson canít be tagged
with a starterís designation and it seems likely this will
be a RBBC, with Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram, and potentially
even Rex Burkhead, all joining in on the fun.
With a porous defense, an average offensive line and a very likely
below average QB under center, the running lanes and game script
simply do not set up for success for whoever totes the rock for
the Texans this season. This team is in major disarray and you
are more or less wasting a pick if you are taking Johnson anywhere
near single digit rounds in your fantasy draft.
Chark has had some bright moments in his career and is still
young enough to break out, but this is not the year. Getting a
new franchise QB is a great thing for a young wide receiver, but
surrounding issues make it a tough pill to swallow for Chark fans.
First, the team went out and signed veteran Marvin Jones, a player
similar to Chark who has speed, size, plays mostly outside, and
has big-play ability.
Second, the team expressed disappointment in missing out on Kadarius Toney (NYG) in the first round of the draft and then instead took
a running back with receiver-type skills in Travis Etienne.
Third, the coach publicly called out Chark as a big player who
did not play big last season. Ouch.
Finally, Chark has missed valuable training camp time with a finger
injury that needed surgery. Not only is he missing valuable bonding
time with his new QB but this could be an injury that lingers
or gets re-injured during the season.
Chark looks like a guy that will fall down the depth chart and
emerge somewhere new next season. This makes him a fine buy-low
candidate for dynasty leagues but in redrafts, where he is going
in the 8th/9th round he is simply a wasted pick. Chark should
be off your radar anywhere near where the masses are taking him.
The final name on the list, Hardman has been getting some buzz
the past month or two and has seen his ADP rise quite a bit. With
blazing speed and the NFLís best QB under center you would
think there was a lot to like here but you would be wrong.
Under Mahomes the last three years, the WR2 in Kansas City has
struggled to break into the top 50 (FPTs/G) with Sammy Watkins
(WR38) the only receiver to do so in 2018. In 32 games, Hardman
has one single WR1 performance. In addition, Hardman was top 10
worst in drop percentage in 2020 despite having a relatively low
ADOT. Simply put, Hardman is foolís gold.
For best ball leagues, Hardman is a great late-round player because
chances are he will blow up a few times this season. The problem
is, we won't know when that is going to happen and the majority
of the season he will underperform his ADP.
While you may be tempted to join the Hardman hype train, I encourage
you to dig deeper and realize Hardman in a single-digit round
is a reach that you should not be willing to make.