Fantasy Island: Kicking the tires and avoiding the overpriced

Every year, we want to talk ourselves into Joe Mixon being an RB1 and every year we get burned. (Eric Drost/Wikimedia Commons)

By MIKE HERNDON

Fantasy football draft season is upon us. Earlier this year, we looked at potential values to target. Today, we examine five players who may be overvalued at the current Average Draft Position.

Take note: This doesn’t mean I’m avoiding these players at all costs. There is a point at which any draftable player becomes a value, if they fall far enough. And remember: Value is what we’re looking for in fantasy football drafts. But these players are, in my opinion, getting more hype than they deserve and are getting drafted higher than their stats warrant.

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati: Every year, people want to talk themselves into Mixon being an RB1 and there’s plenty of reason to think he should be. He gets elite workload in an improving offense, and he’s a talented player. But every year, he seems to disappoint. In the six games he played last year before getting injured, he had over 70 yards in only one – a blowup performance against Jacksonville. In 2019, he had four 100-yard games but also had four games of less than 20 yards and scored only five touchdowns on the ground (adding three more receiving). The Bengals added tackle Reilly Reiff, but did little else to improve a porous line. His ADP is lower this year than last, but it’s still too high for me.

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit: Like Mixon, here’s a case of chasing volume. Big things were expected of Hockenson when he was drafted in the first round out of Iowa in 2019. With the departures of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, many are looking at the Lions’ depth chart and concluding he’ll be the Lions’ top target by process of elimination. But he topped 70 yards just twice last year and is getting a downgrade at quarterback in Jared Goff. Tyrell Williams has shown enough flashes in previous stops to conclude he’ll draw his share of targets as well, and this entire offense will likely be a dumpster fire to avoid. Hockenson is currently going as the fourth tight end off the board in many drafts, which is way too rich for my blood.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore: How can a quarterback who rushed for over 1,000 yards last year be overrated? It’s a valid question and I wouldn’t hate on you for gambling on his elite rushing ability again. But he took a step back with his passing last year, throwing for over 200 yards only five times and over 250 yards just once. He’s still an elite player, but at his ADP, I’d prefer Kyler Murray if running quarterbacks are your thing. He gives you the same kind of rushing threat with a far more dynamic arm. While many see him as the second or third QB off the board, Jackson is just outside the top 5 for me.

Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville: Yes, he’s talented. Yes, the Jaguars spent first-round draft capital on him. Yes, he’ll be playing with his college quarterback. But James Robinson is still a thing, and this is expected to be a two-man committee, with Robinson getting the early-down work and Etienne working third downs and passing situations. Yet, Etienne is going higher in most drafts than Robinson, who ran for 1,070 yards and seven TDs last year, tied for fifth in the league. If you’re a full PPR league, perhaps I can understand that, but in standard or .5 PPR, you’re overdrafting a player that will likely have little to no goal-line work and will be fighting Laviska Shenault for underneath targets.

Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona: He’s another third-down back who’s being drafted like he’s the 1A. Edmonds had plenty of opportunity last year to show us he could be the guy and largely underwhelmed. The only game in which he had over 11 carries saw him rush for only 70 yards on 25 attempts, a measly 2.8 YPC. He caught 53 passes, but had just two games in which he had more than 36 yards receiving. James Conner looked like he was running in cement behind a deteriorating Steelers line last year, but he’s not washed just yet. If I’m gambling on this backfield, I’d rather pass on Edmonds and gamble on Conner three rounds later.

At least, this is the way it looks to me right now. Watch the rest of the preseason. Judge for yourself. And know that situations change. Players can improve, regress or get injured. Many of the players I recommended as potential values at their ADPs in my previous fantasy post have seen significant changes in their situations. Julio Jones was traded to Tennessee, which already has a WR1 in AJ Brown and throws less frequently than Atlanta. Kenyan Drake signed with the Raiders, where he’ll likely be a third-down back. Courtland Sutton got hurt. CeeDee Lamb’s ADP has risen to the point where he’s now more appropriately valued. And James Robinson watched his team spend a first -round pick on Travis Etienne – although his ADP has now dropped to a point where I still think he’s a bargain.

That’s why you have to pay attention. That’s what makes fantasy football fun.



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