Adam Levitan

Draft Analysis

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ADP First Look: Overvalued

Monday, July 15, 2013

It’s sexy to talk about undervalued players and sleepers. Finding an Alfred Morris in the rough, putting a saddle on his back and riding him to glory is the greatest way to win a fantasy title.

However, far less time is devoted to players that are going too high in drafts. Sometimes the inflation is due to name value, sometimes sites like ours create a hype train that spins out of control and other times owners make the mistake of drafting off last year’s stats.

With training camp just a couple weeks away, we have some initial Average Draft Position (ADP) data to comb through, courtesy of our friends at RealTime Fantasy Sports. The ADP report is part of our Draft Guide, which is loaded up with rankings, projections, tiers, columns, mocks and tons more. Click here to buy up.

Here are eight players’ ADPs to track because they’re overvalued right now.

1. Tavon Austin, WR, Rams – ADP: 71.4
Rookie wideouts are always going to be a major risk. Over the last five years, 15 receivers have been selected in the first round of the draft. Their first-year numbers:

Justin Blackmon: 64/865/5. Fantasy rank at WR: 29
Michael Floyd: 45/562/2. Fantasy rank at WR: 68
Kendall Wright: 64/626/4. Fantasy rank at WR: 55
A.J. Jenkins: 0/0/0. Fantasy rank at WR: N/A

A.J. Green: 65/1057/7. Fantasy rank at WR: 14
Julio Jones: 54/959/8. Fantasy rank at WR: 18
Jon Baldwin: 21/254/1. Fantasy rank at WR: 107

Demaryius Thomas: 22/283/2. Fantasy rank at WR: 95
Dez Bryant: 45/561/6. Fantasy rank at WR: 72

Darrius Heyward-Bey: 9/124/1. Fantasy rank at WR: 89
Michael Crabtree: 48/625/2. Fantasy rank at WR: 59
Jeremy Maclin: 55/762/4. Fantasy rank at WR: 34
Percy Harvin: 60/790/6. Fantasy rank at WR: 22
Hakeem Nicks: 47/790/6. Fantasy rank at WR: 25
Kenny Britt: 42/701/3. Fantasy rank at WR: 43


As you can see, first-round rookie wideouts haven’t exactly had a lot of success of late. Just one (Green) has gone over 1,000 yards and just four of the 15 (26.6 percent) have finished among the top-30 fantasy wideouts. Austin’s ADP puts him as the No. 28 wideout right now.

Austin will also have to compete for targets with the likes of Jared Cook, Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis. There are still plenty of question marks around Sam Bradford. Austin’s ADP puts him ahead guys like Shane Vereen, Cecil Shorts, Greg Jennings, T.Y. Hilton, Kenny Britt and Jonathan Stewart. It’s way too high.

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2. Drew Brees, QB, Saints – ADP: 28.0
It’s not that Brees isn’t going to have a great season. He will almost certainly throw for 4,800+ yards and 35-plus touchdowns once again. But at an ADP of 28.0, there’s just not a ton of value due to the depth at the quarterback spot.

Check out the current ADPs of the following quarterbacks: Cam Newton 54.9; Matt Ryan 58.1; Matthew Stafford 71.6; Tony Romo 79.6; Ben Roethlisberger 143.5; Joe Flacco 147.0. I could keep going on and on.

So the question isn’t if Brees will be the 28th-best fantasy player this year. It’s if there’s more value in using a third-round pick on Brees and a seventh-round pick on Giovani Bernard, or a third-rounder on Stevan Ridley and a seventh-rounder on Romo? That should be a very easy question to answer.

3. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals – ADP: 59.4
In four seasons with the Steelers before his ACL tear, Mendenhall averaged a pedestrian 4.14 yards per carry and proved to be a liability in the passing game. In six games after the tear, he showed sapped burst and fell behind the likes of Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer on the depth chart.

Mendenhall is still just 26 years old and will be roughly 20 months removed from his tear when Week 1 rolls around, but there’s little reason to believe he’ll be a difference-maker in Arizona. Their offensive line will be improved thanks to the addition of Jonathan Cooper, but it’s still one of the league’s worst units. Bruce Arians is a pass-first coach and Mendenhall will face competition from Ryan Williams as well as two rookies (Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington) the Cards drafted.

Despite being the heavy favorite to start Week 1, Mendenhall doesn’t have fifth-round upside.

4. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills – ADP: 100.6
This year’s top No. 2 backs are Bernard Pierce, Bryce Brown and Ben Tate. Each projects to get significant touches even if their starter stays healthy. They have ADPs of 105.9, 108.7 and 110.2 respectively. So why is Jackson’s higher?

It’s because the old regime in Buffalo treated F-Jax as the starter and C.J. Spiller as the change-of-pace option. Owners apparently still have those Chan Gailey thoughts in their head. Of course, that was a silly usage of personnel that new coach Doug Marrone has already pledged to correct.

"My philosophy's always been if someone starts off and they're running well, keep feeding them the ball," Marrone said.

The wildly explosive Spiller is a lock to “run well” as the clear-cut starter. Over the last two years, he’s averaged 5.74 yards per carry on 318 totes and 8.8 yards per catch on 82 receptions. Jackson is 32, coming off a season plagued by knee issues and averaged just 3.80 YPC last season. He’s a mere weak handcuff, in the same range as the likes of Shonn Greene, Michael Bush and Montario Hardesty.

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Adam Levitan is in his seventh season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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