A very important determinant of success in fantasy football is
the value one gets on draft day. While reaching for ďyour
guyĒ is sometimes necessary and can be fun, consistent success
is largely going to be based on finding the best value in your
drafts and the associated opportunity cost of drafting players
higher or lower than their optimal draft position.
Below I have highlighted 10 players that I believe are currently
going too high in PPR drafts, and therefore I recommend avoiding
them unless their average draft position (ADP) falls considerably.
Adams has been one of the very best wide receivers in the league
for several years now and is a household name, especially in the
fantasy community. When he signed with the Raiders, the narrative
became that he would not miss a beat because he played college
ball with Derek Carr. I get the excitement, but this ADP is too
high for me.
First, there is a history of many receivers switching teams and
failing to meet expectations in their first season with the new
Second, Adams will be 30 years old in December and while I do
not expect a fast and steep physical decline, itís hard
to argue with the history of players declining around age 30.
Finally, Adams will have more target competition than he has
ever had since becoming an elite fantasy WR. In Green Bay, he
was surrounded by role players and undeveloped young players who
were not ready to demand targets, especially from a veteran QB
like Aaron Rodgers.
In Las Vegas, Adams will have to compete with Darren
Waller who has averaged around 8 targets a game the past three
seasons. Also in the mix is Hunter
Renfrow, who hauled in 103 balls last year and plays mostly
in the slot, a position which new Head Coach Josh McDaniels, historically
While I realize Adams has the talent to overcome some of these
hurdles, the bottom line is there are too many red flags to justify
taking him in the first 2 rounds, as a top 5 fantasy WR. Adams
should be closer to an early 3rd round pick, behind the likes
of Stefon Diggs
and CeeDee Lamb.
In many ways Samuelís 2021 was a historic season, as he
not only excelled as a receiver (77/1405/6) but also had an impressive
59 rushes for 365 yards and 8 touchdowns. This offseason Samuel
got paid a large contract and is back with the niners to try to
duplicate that 2021 success.
Beware folks, regression is coming.
It is very likely 2021 will go down as Samuelís career
year, as 14 total touchdowns and nearly 1800 total yards is an
all-time season for any WR in fantasy. While a bit of this regression
is baked into his ADP, I still donít believe he is going
low enough. While fantasy owners drool over his potential dual
usage, the Niners drafted a third round running back (Tyrion Davis-Price)
and return last yearís breakout Elijah Mitchell, who may
take on an even larger role.
Samuel does have some incentives in his contract that trigger
with certain rushing goals, but the money behind these incentives
is fairly low, perhaps signaling the Niners do not plan to give
him nearly as many rushes as 2021. He averaged around 1 rush per
game in his previous two seasons, but in 2021 that average tripled,
which signals a statistical anomaly.
Finally, the elephant in the room is the QB change to Trey Lance.
While I am as excited as anyone on Lanceís fantasy potential,
reviews have been mixed out of camp and his raw talent will hinder
all Niners pass-catchers, at least for a big chunk of the season
while the quarterback adjusts to being a full-time starter. With
Lance looking to pull down and run rather than dump off to his
playmakers, I believe the Niners pass attempts in general will
go down as well as the overall completion rate to their receivers.
Samuel is not a top 10 WR this season and I am totally hands
off in the first 3 rounds in drafts this summer.
Allen making this list has nothing to do with my belief in his
talent or production and everything to do with the opportunity
cost of drafting him in the first 36 picks.
A general drafting rule for me is to never be the one that takes
the first QB. The QB position is fairly deep and in a traditional
1 QB league, it is easily the position that you can wait on the
longest and still get a quality starter. When you draft Allen
in the first three rounds you are missing out on potential studs
at shallow positions that are more difficult to fill. At the end
of the 2nd round, where Allen is currently going, players with
potential RB1 upside are still there (Fournette, Zeke), as well
as likely TE1 options (Andrews, Pitts), and WR1 candidates (Evans,
If Iím inclined to draft a quarterback early, a general
rule for me is to find the tier of players at other positions
that are more speculative and to rank my true stud QBís
right above them. This would be right around pick 40 this season,
where players like Travis Etienne, Breece Hall, and DK Metcalf
are all going. These players offer big upside but also have some
clear red flags that make drafting a stud QB in front of them
much more palatable. As with any position and player, a good strategy
going into your draft will make it easier to make these decisions
when you are on the clock.
As a prospect coming into the NFL I loved Gibson; fast, strong,
good hands, and although a bit raw, an exceptional athlete at
a position that often rewards dynamic players. Unfortunately for
Gibson and his owners, his first two seasons were filled with
as many let-downs as highlight reel plays. While Gibson has showed
flashes from time to time, he also has had fumbling issues and
multiple nagging injuries that have stopped him from reaching
his full potential.
Whatís worse is the coaching staff just does not seem to
envision him as anything close to a bell cow back, giving J.D. McKissic most of the 3rd down work over the past two seasons,
where he has racked up over 120 receptions. With McKissic back
for another year and 3rd round rookie Brian Robinson Jr. having
an excellent training camp, things are looking bleak for Gibson
this year as anything more than a late-round lotto ticket.
Gibson is too risky to rank inside the top 24 among running backs,
as he could be a part of an ugly three-headed committee approach,
and one which he may not even be the most valuable part of. As
much as I love Gibsonís raw talent, the situation and his
short two-year history in Washington suggests he is currently
being over-drafted by at least a full round or more.
Speaking of running backs that have fallen out of favor, Josh
Jacobs went from a draft day darling, to a doghouse darling the
past two seasons with the Raiders. Jacobs burst on the scene as
a rookie and rushed for 1150 yards in just 13 games, making fantasy
owners drool as the prospects looked bright for him to be an elite
RB for several years.
Unfortunately, this has not panned out and his last two seasons
have been a bit of a letdown, where both his total rushing yards
and yards per attempt have dropped since his breakout rookie season.
Last season the Raiders signed Kenyan Drake to a fairly lucrative
contract, and although he missed a good chunk of the season with
injury, he is back again and still in the prime of his career.
This past offseason the Raiders declined to pick up Jacobsí
5th-year option and went and drafted Zamir White in the 4th round.
Adding to the already messy backfield was a report just this past
week hinting that Ameer Abdullah, a former 2nd round pick of the
Lions, has seemingly carved out a significant role as a pass-catcher
out of the backfield. While most people expect Jacobs to be the
starter, it looks as though three other backs may get significant
play throughout the season, putting a cap on Jacobsí upside.
Much like Gibson, I simply believe the situation is too messy
in Las Vegas and this has not been priced into Jacobs ADP at this
point. If you want to gamble on a committee back, you might as
well do it with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, being taken almost two
rounds later, or even Chase Edmonds, being taken three rounds
later than Jacobs.
Johnson finished as a top 15 wide receiver in almost all fantasy
formats last year so you may think youíre getting a decent
deal with him going as the 15th WR off the board. However, there
are enough red flags around him to stay away at his current ADP
and rank him more as a high-end WR3 this year.
His situation the past two seasons was tailor made, with Big
Ben favoring Johnson as his go-to target on short and intermediate
routes. Despite the high fantasy finish, Johnson ranked 82nd in
yards per reception and 105th in yards per target.
This season the Steelers have brought in Mitchell Trubisky and
rookie Kenny Pickett, and while it was certainly time for Roethlisberger
to retire, the Steelers certainly could have planned for a more
proven and capable successor for a team with a win-now type roster.
While neither Trubisky nor Pickett has done enough to secure the
starting gig so far in camp, it is likely we see a mix of the
two, or even some occasional Mason Rudolph, meaning it may be
unlikely this offense ever really gets into a solid consistent
passing rhythm this season.
With a host of talented weapons (Claypool, Freiermuth, Harris,
Pickens), Itís not out of the question that a different Steeler
leads the team in receiving this season. Bottom line: The QB change
coupled with the increased target competition and uncertainty
really makes drafting Johnson in the first four rounds unbearable.
Back for his 3rd season with the Packers, Dillon gets a lot of
attention online and in the media thanks to his huge thighs and
chiseled physique. On the field, Dillon has been a great complement
to Aaron Jones and an important depth piece for the Packers offense.
However, this situation has not changed so drafting Dillon in
the first five rounds seems silly to me, as he is not much more
than a top handcuff whose standalone value is unpredictable.
A simple look at last yearís game log tells the story;
Dillon played in 17 games and had rushing attempts range from
3 to 21. In the receiving game half of his targets came in just
four games, and he only managed to reach 100 or more total yards
in once, where he touched the ball 23 times, including a 50-yard
reception. In the touchdown department, where you would think
a player of Dillonís stature would dominate, he ranked 21st
in the NFL, tied with other powerhouse backs like Myles Gaskin
and Boston Scott.
Dillon has great potential in dynasty circles but he is still
a year away from being anything more than a high-end handcuff.
With his current ADP putting him ahead of surefire fantasy starters
like Brandin Cooks, Jerry Jeudy, and Kyler Murray, just to name
a few, Dillon is way overpriced
based on a lot of speculation but realistically, little substance.
There are some players on this list that I like this year but
just think they are bad values at current ADP. Then there is a
guy like Amari Cooper, who I am just avoiding totally.
For starters, Cooper is changing teams, which rarely works out
in the first season. Second, he is moving from a friendly indoor
environment in Dallas to the harsh outdoor climate of Cleveland.
Third, he is moving from Dak Prescott, a better than average QB,
to a half-season plus of Jacoby Brissett. Fourth, the Browns were
bottom five in pass attempts last year and this is unlikely to
change until DeShaun Watson comes back from suspension. For comparison,
the Cowboys had the 6th most pass attempts last year and Cooper
still barely managed to top 100 targets.
Cooper still gets by on his name value and the immense talent
he came into the league with. On a team in a good situation maybe
there would be something to get excited for, but this is certainly
not the year. I highly doubt you will feel confident starting
him with Brissett at QB, and so you are basically drafting a half-year
or more bench player with one of your first seven picks. Around
the range Cooper is going Iím aiming higher, even looking
at boom/bust players before Cooper who has bust written all over
him for 2022.
Stafford has always been fun to watch, tough guy, big arm, above
average fantasy success, but just canít seem to break into
that next tier up for fantasy. This sums up why Iím not
taking Stafford this year at ADP, because heís the first
quarterback going after a fairly clear top 10. Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow,
Jalen Hurts, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and Tom Brady in some
order, make up the upper echelon of fantasy QB starters this season.
Each of these players has extreme upside thanks to their running
ability, their passing volume, and/or their explosive weapons.
Stafford, while being an excellent NFL, real life QB, is a more
pedestrian fantasy QB. While his 2021 season may have been a fantasy
success, he will be without OL Andrew Whitworth, WR Robert Woods
and WR Odell Beckham Jr., all which he had at his disposal last
season. Add this up and I believe Stafford reverts somewhere closer to the mean of
his career averages. This is not to say Stafford wonít be
a solid fantasy starter, but it is to say he will not be elite
so spending a top 100 pick on him isnít wise when you can
get a very similar, maybe even better QB, several rounds later.
Staffordís ADP represents the point where some drafters
panic and realize most teams have their starters, so they better
get theirs fast. This is the wrong approach as it is just a sign
that you should be waiting even longer, as most teams are unlikely
to take a 2nd QB for at least several more rounds.
Itís all about value in fantasy drafts and this year Stafford
falls into that ďno manís landĒ for QBís
where you really should just avoid the position entirely.
While Schultz and Stafford are very different players at very
different positions and ADPís, they have one big thing in common
and that is both are bad values in relation to others at their
Shultz is normally the first tight end taken in ďno manís
landĒ after the top five are taken, and thus represents
very poor value, much like Stafford at QB. While Shultz had a
nice per game fantasy output last season in a breakout 4th year,
he had been relatively quiet in his first three seasons so call
me skeptical for now that last year wasnít a bit of a fluke.
Even if you do like the upside of Shultz, the area that heís
being drafted in is just dripping with upside at more important
positions like QB (Kyler, Hurts) and WR (Jeudy, Mooney, St. Brown).
Shultz is no more of a safe bet nor upside play than players like
Dallas Goedert or Zach Ertz, who are going 20-plus picks after
Shultz on average.
While Shultz may very well finish this season as TE6, the return
on value you will get by drafting him in his current range is
just not going to be there. Be ready to pounce on a top five TE
in the first four rounds of the draft or simply wait till after
6th round (or later) in order to fully maximize the value at this
complicated and often over-looked position in fantasy.