Full disclosure: I am not a Fantasy Football expert (is there a degree for that sort of thing?). However, this is my 27th year playing the sport of faux kings and acting as commissioner among my friends. You would think that I would have more than one title to my name in all those years, but I digress. In this article, I used FantasyPros.Com, which takes an average of many of the popular fantasy site’s ADP (average draft position) rankings. I am also basing my suggestions on the assumption of a 12-team league.
While the draft isn’t always the be-all-end-all when it comes to fantasy football success, missing on too many picks in your draft will set you back quite a bit. So let’s take a look at what players are getting overdrafted, so you can avoid taking them too early on draft day.
Marcus Mariota (TEN, QB) 11th QB/80th Overall
If I was starting an NFL team, sure I’d love to have Marcus Mariota as my franchise quarterback. He’s poised, great in the red zone, and seems like a heck of a great fella. However, when it comes to fantasy, he seems a bit overvalued. Consider that last year Mariota only threw for over 300 yards once (while he was under 250 yards eight times). This is still an offense without a standout WR (though Eric Decker helps I suppose) and still relies heavily on the run.
Also, for a QB who prides himself on his mobility, he’s exited the last two seasons with lower body injuries, inconveniently during most league’s fantasy playoffs (week 15 and week 16 respectively). If Kirk Cousins, Phillip Rivers, or Dak Prescott are still available, I’d look in their direction. If you do take a flier on Mariota, make sure you have a reliable backup.
DeMarco Murray (TEN, RB) 6th RB/11th Overall
Wow, I guess I have some sort of weird bias against the Titans (though they are the chic pick to take a big leap forward this season). Admittedly, as an Eagles fan, I probably have a bias against Murray based on his headache-inducing season in Philadelphia. However, I will cop to the fact that Murray did have an excellent fantasy season last year. I won’t even dispute his status as the 6th best RB in fantasy. However, I’d be slightly nervous taking Murray in the first round.
The man is playing in his age 30 season, the age running backs typically start their decline. He also has a young, capable back up in Derrick Henry, who likely will see a few more touches this year. If Murray drops to you in the middle of the 2nd round though, you might have a steal.
Marshawn Lynch (OAK, RB) 12th RB/25th overall
I suppose there is a high ceiling in drafting Marshawn Lynch. Playing for a team with a top offensive line and dynamic offense, the opportunities are there. The Raiders former back, Latavius Murray (now no longer a sole feature back in Minnesota) managed to put up 12 TD’s in Oakland’s offense, despite his lesser pedigree. However, Lynch is coming off a year and half out of game action and enters the season at age 31. It’s easy to forget that Lynch’s last season in the NFL was actually one to forget. Lynch’s 2015 campaign saw him shed about a yard off his Rushing Yards Per Attempt (3.8, down from 4.7 in 2014) and drop his per game average to under 60 yards a game.
There’s no guarantee Lynch is going to make fantasy owners think its 2014 again. Besides, the early third round is not the place to be taking big risks, especially when safer picks the likes of Lamar Miller, Isaiah Crowell, Doug Baldwin, and Brandin Cooks will likely be available.
Allen Robinson (WR, JAX) 19th WR/44th Overall
At my fantasy draft last year I had Robinson targeted in the first round. I was going to outsmart my league and draft the Penn State product before anyone realized what happened. Fortunately for me, someone beat me to the punch, as Robinson would go on to have one of the most disappointing fantasy seasons of any player last year. While he’s no longer being projected as a late first or even early second round pick he is still being picked in the middle of the fourth round. For a guy who dropped 500 yards and eight TD’s off of his 2015 campaign, I’m not going to be too enthused to roll the dice with him again.
Adding to this is the unsettled QB situation. With Chad Henne getting the start in the Jaguars third pre season game and a new regime no longer married to Blake Bortles, the QB situation may very well be a revolving door leading to nowhere. I’m not ready to draft him this high, when safer picks like Ty Montgomery, Jordan Reed, and Martavis Bryant are still on the board. If you can wait until round five then maybe you have a good value pick.
Tyreek Hill (WR, KC) 20th WR/45th Overall
Tyreek Hill is a speedy young superstar entering his 2nd season with the Kansas City Chiefs and enters this season as the new de facto number one receiving option for quarterback Alex Smith. The problem is just that. His quarterback is Alex Smith. Jeremy Maclin is a talented receiver who struggled to maintain fantasy relevance last year. The Chiefs offense, despite their uncertainty at running back (since Jamaal Charles health issues and subsequent signing with AFC West rival Denver), is still reliant on the run. Alex Smith is never going to put up consistent 300 yard games. It’s easy to see Hill’s potential and want to project him up the rankings, but for a guy who put up less than 600 yards receiving in his lone NFL season, I don’t feel confident doing so. As with Allen Robinson, there are better options at this draft slot.
Martellus Bennett (TE, GB) 9th TE/68th Overall
Bennett goes from one great situation to another, leaving behind Tom Brady to team with Aaron Rodgers. With Rob Gronkowski injured throughout 2016, Bennett had a chance to step up and came through with a few big fantasy weeks (kudos to anyone who started him during week five’s three-touchdown performance). However, Green Bay’s offense is not New England’s offense. Last year’s Green Bay’s TEs produced a total of three TD’s all season. Bennett will likely be solid, if not spectacular. If you’re going to go TE in this spot, then why not take a flier on someone with more breakout potential like an OJ Howard, Zach Ertz, or Hunter Henry?
Dan Bailey (DAL, K) 4th K/136th Overall
Personally, my new strategy is that taking a kicker in any round other than the last round is a waste of a pick. But if you’re going to try to get one of the top kickers then don’t jump at Dan Bailey. Last year he scored the 11th highest fantasy points (based on leagues that award more points for longer kicks) and ranked 10th in 2015. His FG percentage actually dropped from 93.8% in 2015 to 84.4% last year. The league has had a year to figure out a Cowboys offense which now is down a few offensive lineman (Ronald Leary left in free agency and Doug Free retired) to boot. Yes, Bailey will still score, but he’s no lock to be in the top five or even top ten of available kickers. Take a kicker in the last round or take whoever’s left on the waiver wire. It’s all a crapshoot anyway.