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The flip side of succeeding with value players is failing with overvalued players. These players will not put up stats commensurate to their draft spot, and avoiding them is another important key to a successful fantasy team. We asked our staff to look through the Top 150 and identify players who should underperform their draft position.
Here are the players who received the most votes:
And here are all of the payers mentioned and the reasons why.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Anthony Amico: If everything breaks right for Adams, he will be able to pay off his current first-round price tag, but the floor is far lower than is currently being indicated. Losing Aaron Rogers would be an absolute disaster for Adams in terms of overall volume and touchdowns. It would be difficult for him to even finish as a WR1 in this scenario, which is becoming more and more likely each day.
Sigmund Bloom: What are the odds that Aaron Rodgers is on the field for the Packers Week 1? Week 5? Week 10? It's not zero, but it's not 100 either. If everything was hunky-dory in Green Bay, then Adams would probably be a mid-first-round pick. However, his modest drop in ADP doesn't reflect the uncertainty of the situation. Right now, taking him at ADP is absorbing too much risk because the bottom will drop out of his value if it becomes apparent later this summer that Rodgers has played his last game for the Packers.
Matt Waldman: Adams is great and certainly an elite fantasy wide receiver when matched with Aaron Rodgers, but it's a huge question mark that this will happen again. I think it's unlikely and not only unlikely but a real possibility that the Packers wait until mid-to-late August to deal Rodgers. That could create additional disruption to rapport among old and new members of the Packers starting lineup. If the Packers get a veteran quarterback in return or a young starter I like, I will bump Adams up. If not, there's a real possibility that he's in WR2 territory for fantasy GMs this year.
Jason Wood: If you think Aaron Rodgers will suddenly reverse course and play in Green Bay this year, then Davante Adams is worth drafting. He's one of the few receivers capable of finishing No. 1 overall if Rodgers is throwing to him. But if you believe Rodgers won't be the Packers quarterback this year (at least without a lengthy hold-out), drafting Adams this high is absurd. Look at Adams' numbers without Rodgers. If Jordan Love is much better than we think, Adams is talented enough to be a top-20 receiver, but expecting another top-3 finish is foolhardy.
Sigmund Bloom: Jason Garrett and Daniel Jones teamed up for one of the most inefficient quarterback seasons of 2020, with only seven touchdowns on 54 red zone attempts. The team went out and signed Golladay to a big deal to boost the pass offense, but they didn't make any big changes to the offensive line to help Jones have more time to throw, and Garrett isn't exactly known for bold downfield passing game plans. The Giants cup runneth over with viable passing game targets, and Jones has no track record throwing to a contested-catch target who doesn't separate consistently like Golladay. After some receivers on new teams flourished in 2020, this is a situation to analyze through the conventional lens of avoiding receivers who have to adjust to new quarterbacks and systems, especially when Golladay's previous quarterback, Matthew Stafford, was perfect for his strengths.
Drew Davenport: Before the 2020 season, there were concerns about Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett's ability to run an offense after his difficulties in Dallas. This turned out to be a justified narrative as the Giants offense was inept, and Daniel Jones threw for an anemic 11 touchdowns. The return of Saquon Barkley is a step in the right direction, but Golladay's history says that he needs a more potent offensive situation to excel. As a receiver with no seasons over 70 catches, he needs to see red-zone work to meet his fantasy expectations. Counting on the Giants for that is a risky bet.
Jeff Haseley: The 2020 season was a wash for Kenny Golladay due to a hip injury that shelved him early. He signed with New York in the offseason and now finds himself surrounded by offensive weapons that will limit his production. In addition, he'll need to establish a rapport with a new quarterback and coaching staff that may take some time to develop. He'll have some decent games, but I don't see him being a consistent fantasy option week to week.
Jordan McNamara: Whenever I see a team let a player with an injury history walk into free agency without using the franchise tag, especially when they have a need at the position, I have great pause. Detroit, who projects to start Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams, let Golladay walk into free agency without using the tag in 2021. Coming off an injury, that spooks me. Golladay could play a year or two at a good level in New York. Still, he has been unable to separate in coverage in his career, and with athletic limitations coming off an injury, I'm skeptical in 2021. He is an easy fade at his cost.
Pat Fitzmaurice: He's not Minnesota's No. 1 receiver anymore -- that's Justin Jefferson's gig now -- and we know the Vikings prefer to be run-heavy on offense. Thielen has averaged just 53.7 receiving yards per game over the last two seasons. He's simply not a big catch and yardage collector anymore, and Thielen probably won't come close to equaling the 14 touchdowns he scored last season.
Victoria Geary: All of the stars aligned for Thielen's career-high 14 touchdown season in 2020. Thielen is on a run-first team alongside one of the NFL's hottest up-and-coming wideouts in Justin Jefferson, who should garner more looks this season in the red zone especially. Breakout candidate tight end Irv Smith Jr. will also command more targets in the endzone with the departure of Kyle Rudolph. Touchdown regression is coming, and we shouldn't bet on another top-10 season from Thielen.
Andy Hicks: Sometimes, in fantasy football, it is hard to see a player slide when they have overachieved their entire career. Adam Thielen is a player that is primed for a fall. He will be 31 this year. Justin Jefferson has emerged quickly as the clear No. 1 receiver, and Thielen’s role changed dramatically during last season. From being a player who caught a touchdown every 15 catches during the first six years of his career to one who caught one every five catches last year, Thielen was more a red zone threat than a consistent receiver. Those numbers are hard to maintain. Thielen has to be a risk in all but best-ball leagues with a drop in target share and being reliant on touchdowns.
Jordan McNamara: In 15 games last season, Adam Thielen had 108 targets and 14 touchdowns, or a touchdown on 12.9% of Thielen's targets. This is simply unrepeatable, which is evidenced by his 5.4% touchdown rate. Thielen is two years removed from his 153 targets in 2018, so the target drop is clouded out by a massive uptick in touchdown percentage. If Thielen regresses towards his typical touchdown rate, his fantasy production could quickly fall off without his target number increasing back to 2018 levels.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Drew Davenport: It looks like the Marquise Brown experiment is coming to a crossroads. He finished as the PPR WR36 last year, which is several spots ahead of where he's being drafted this year. But he was a paltry 47th in points per game, and before a stellar finishing stretch, Brown was the WR54 averaging less than 9 points per game through 11 weeks of the season. Perhaps the end of the season is a harbinger of things to come. Or maybe the body of work should be trusted over a six-game stretch last year. The further concern is the arrival of rookie Rashod Bateman to push for targets and playing time. Brown is overvalued in the Ravens' low-volume passing game.
Pat Fitzmaurice: It took six touchdowns over his final six games just for Brown to eke out a WR36 finish in PPR scoring last year. He averaged 48.1 yards per game and topped the 50-yard mark only six times. The Ravens spent a first-round pick on Rashod Bateman, who's bigger and better fits the profile of a lead receiver. The Baltimore offense isn't exactly a passing factory either; the Ravens are sure to be one of the run-heaviest teams in the league. So don't be lured in by the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
Ryan Hester: Brown entered 2020 with a hype train that was full steam ahead. He was a major flop as Baltimore continued to be a run-heavy team, and he didn’t show that he could get open enough to have a WR1 workload. And Baltimore’s offseason shows they don’t believe Brown is that player either. The team signed Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafted Rashod Bateman in the first round. Leave Brown and his low target projection for someone else to pick.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Samuel is a fun player, but he may be more flash than substance as a fantasy asset. He played only seven games last year, and his average depth of target was just 2.2 yards. That sort of gadgety usage doesn't bode well for his scoring potential. Samuel finished WR31 in PPR scoring two seasons ago, but that performance was buoyed by three rushing touchdowns (on just 14 carries). That was also the year before Brandon Aiyuk joined the 49ers. Aiyuk looked like the real deal as a rookie, and with him and tight end George Kittle commanding a big percentage of team targets, it's hard to see a path for Samuel to finish as a top-30 receiver.
Matt Waldman: Samuel is an excellent athlete and runner who can catch the football, but he's not yet an excellent receiver. He cannot win against press coverage with the consistency of a primary receiver, and it showed for the past two years. If Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk could provide the route-running value that Emmanuel Sanders offered, this passing offense would have been better in 2020. Trey Lance could expand the vertical game in a way that makes Samuel more efficient on a per-catch basis, but Samuel must still prove that he can get open in the intermediate ranges of the field and become more than a shallow-zone/vertical guy.
Ryan Weisse: In 2019, Samuel looked decent as a rookie but was the second target on the team behind George Kittle. Last season, with Samuel hurt, Brandon Aiyuk stepped into that 2nd-look role and did better than Samuel did a year prior. That means Deebo is coming back to a system that does not pass a lot and will now be the 3rd option, at best. Over the last three seasons with Kyle Shanahan, the WR2 on this team averages about eight fantasy points per game. Samuel will not finish in the top-40 with that kind of production.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
James Brimacombe: After two seasons in Buffalo, Beasley has finished as the WR36 and WR31 for the two best seasons of his career. With the arrival of Emmanuel Sanders and Gabriel Davis's emergence in Year 2, I don't want to be the one betting on Beasley to stay in that WR30-40 range.
Andy Hicks: Cole Beasley has enjoyed his time in Buffalo, ranking as a bottom-end WR3 for his two years there. The key problem with drafting him is there is no upside. He will be 32 years old and has been in the news this offseason, unrelated to his performance. There is a chance this could end quickly and get ugly. Or he can continue to be a boom-or-bust player on a week-to-week basis. Last year was as good as it will get for Beasley. Emmanuel Sanders arrives, and Gabriel Davis is an improving young player. Jump off now before you end up disappointed.
Andy Hicks: Drafting Ja'Marr Chase with pick five in the 2021 draft, the Cincinnati wide receiver room changed dramatically. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins looked like excellent fantasy prospects before that. Something has to give in 2021. Chase has an established rapport with Joe Burrow. He will get a significant share. Tee Higgins had a great rookie season in 2020, leaving Tyler Boyd as most likely to suffer. Over the last six games, his form indicates how bad things could get—10 receptions for 131 yards from 175 snaps. There isn’t much upside here.
Jason Wood: Joe Burrow is an exciting young quarterback with the potential to be one of the league's most prolific passers. He was on a torrid pace as a rookie starter before his season-ending injury. A pass-happy play-caller with a bad defense sets the table for an enticing fantasy backdrop. Yet, the hype is overdone. It's exceedingly hard for any NFL team to field three top-30 fantasy receivers, so you'll excuse me if I'm not banking on one of the NFL's worst franchises joining that club. Unless Ja'Marr Chase or Tee Higgins get hurt, Boyd's role will throttle back. He'll be a contributor, but not consistently.
Phil Alexander: Landry had a single top-12 weekly finish in 2020. And that was with Odell Beckham Jr out for most of the year. His cumulative stats might give the impression he's a solid WR3, but Landry's complete lack of a ceiling makes him a player to avoid at his current ADP.
Ryan Hester: Landry is a classic example of why counting stats can be misleading. He plays every week and ends up with stats that make him look like a WR3. But his ceiling is so low. He’s not going to finish as a WR1 in very many weeks. And with Odell Beckham Jr returning, Landry’s outlook is even worse.
Chad Parsons: Historically, it's a much better bet on the already-been-there-and-done-that producers as a WR1 for even one season than newcomers in their career. McLaurin has a quarterback upgrade, but Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, and Adam Humphries are significant upgrades over the WR2-3-4 setting in 2020. McLaurin is priced at his ceiling.
Ryan Weisse: This one hurts to write but drafting Terry McLaurin in the Top 12 feels like a trap. To this point in his career, he has a WR29 finish as a rookie and a WR19 finish last year. Now, we are paying up for him and expecting a full-tier jump. Why? Because he has Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback? I love both of these guys, but it will take some real FitzMagic for McLaurin to finish at his ADP.
Drew Davenport: Smith-Schuster's final 2020 stat line was a bit absurd. He racked up 128 targets, 97 catches, and nine touchdowns which were good for a PPR WR16 finish. Those numbers sound strong at first, except that his points-per-game average was WR24, and he could only manage 831 yards on those 97 grabs. The Steelers threw him a whopping 94 targets within nine yards of the line of scrimmage, but Ben Roethlisberger fed him with the third-most pass attempts in the league and had a healthy 5.4% touchdown rate. It would be another outlier for Smith-Schuster to repeat his 2020 fantasy finish considering the other two wide receivers he's competing against and the Steelers' selection of Najee Harris, who they want to use to resurrect the running game. So don't count on Smith-Schuster to have much value at his current ADP.
Pat Fitzmaurice: It's such a shame that Smith-Schuster didn't go somewhere else in free agency. After signing a one-year deal to stay in Pittsburgh, he'll spend another season sharing targets with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool -- and Smith-Schuster gets the lowest-value targets of the three by far. His average depth of target last season was only 5.5 yards, and he averaged 8.6 yards per catch. Those numbers aren't even respectable for a tight end. It's hard to see how Smith-Schuster could earn a profit on a sixth-round ADP.
Chad Parsons: While Sutton is a quality player, the situation is vastly different than when he had his rising season in 2019, which his finish was around this 2021 draft price point, by the way. Sutton is coming off an injury. Also, Denver has Noah Fant (Round 1) and Jerry Jeudy (Round 1) with more pedigree and now with production in their back pocket. KJ Hamer has a similar Round 2 pedigree and flashed as a rookie. Also, Denver has quarterback questions-limitations with some combination of Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater (unless the dart throw odds of Aaron Rodgers landing there hit home). The team is strong everywhere (including running back) and yet held back at quarterback. This is not the spot to overdraft a returning-from-injury mid-career wide receiver with more pedigree around him for a ceiling-ish price.
Ryan Weisse: Sutton had a decent rookie season, a breakout 2nd year, and then tore his ACL. Now he's being drafted as a top-30 wide receiver from a team that produced no top-40 wide receivers last season. His WR19 finish in 2019 is being treated like hard evidence that he will be great, but half of those games were with Joe Flacco. If Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater can't provide competent quarterback play, it won't matter how talented Sutton might be. He isn't going to live up to his draft capital.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Matt Waldman: If Trey Lance starts early and starts hot, he'll be winning as a vertical thrower, and that means Aiyuk will be a big factor. Aiyuk's vertical game with double-moves set up with strong play-action was a strength of his college tape that we didn't see implemented into the 49ers' plans last year. Until we see signs this may happen, Aiyuk will remain a short-range weapon who, along with Deebo Samuel, are unofficial members of the running back depth chart. Aiyuk will likely earn a bump in yardage and catches from me as the summer progresses, but he clearly didn't replace Emmanuel Sanders' versatile route running that was sorely missed in this offense in 2020.
Ryan Hester: This price tag suggests Brown is the clear alpha WR1 on his team, but with Julio Jones now in town, Brown’s workload should go down considerably from what it would have been had the Jones trade never happened. Brown is still a dominant player, particularly with the ball in his hands after the catch, but receivers selected this high need to have a shot at 150+ targets.
James Brimacombe: There is no denying the skillset of Brown and what he has accomplished throughout his career. Despite playing in only eight games last season, he recorded a 45/483/4 stat line in Tampa Bay. My issues with Brown are that he is on the downhill spiral and that the Buccaneers are loaded with offensive talent and will spread the yards and touchdowns out to everyone on the roster, especially Evans and Godwin in front of him on the depth chart.
Jason Wood: D.J. Chark Jr was a top-20 receiver in 2019, leading many to project greatness in Year Three (2020). Unfortunately, injuries derailed the season and left Chark with two forgettable seasons in a three-year career. With a new head coach, new play-caller, new quarterback, and a new front office, it's hard if not impossible to feel good about Chark being force-fed a lead role again. With reports of Laviska Shenault Jr standing head and shoulders above everyone in OTAs and Chark's questionable durability, drafting Chark as an every-week fantasy starter is risky.
James Brimacombe: This is a name I don't want to put in the overvalued column, but with the rising ADP price and the potential that we are just chasing Justin Jefferson's 2020 season, I want not to get overly aggressive. The Bengals suddenly have an incredible amount of talent at all the skill positions, so banking on Chase, Higgins, or Boyd to better than each other is tough for me right now. I prefer to go with Higgins over Chase in 2021.
Phil Alexander: Cooper is expected to miss the start of training camp while resting an ankle injury that dates back to last season. He irritated the injury as soon as he began running at OTAs, making it easy to envision the problem popping up again during the season. "Don't draft players you already know are hurt" is a fantasy football axiom for a reason.
Sigmund Bloom: It's difficult to pan any player going as late as Davis is as overvalued, but if you want to take a Jets receiver, he shouldn't be your first choice even though he's the first in ADP. Davis had everything come together last year in a perfect situation. But as the No. 1 outside receiver for the Jets, he'll be facing top corners (Stephon Gilmore, TreDavious White, and Xavien Howard make up more than 1/3 of his schedule) and he's already a little banged up this spring with a shoulder issue while Elijah Moore is stealing headlines.
James Brimacombe: Fuller is already going to miss Week 1 due to a suspension, but on top of that, in his five-year career, he averages 10.6 games played per season. If you draft Fuller, you are in for a ride with injury status and with game-day consistency. On the other hand, if you believe Fuller can play a full 17-game (16 in his case) season, he is probably worth the headache.
Drew Davenport: It's not like Hardman is being selected really high in drafts, but it is worth asking the question at this point - why are people so hung up on Hardman's chances? Chasing the big-play potential in Kansas City sounds nice, but Hardman topped 12.7 PPR points exactly twice and had 11 games in single digits last year. He averaged less than four targets per game and topped three catches only three times. Further, the recent reports out of Kansas City are praising the strides Byron Pringle has made this offseason, not Hardman. And despite the departure of Sammy Watkins (55 targets), Demarcus Robinson and Pringle aren't going anywhere. It would be great if Hardman would play more, but there is no indication this is about to happen, and until there is, he is a platoon player whose draft price is too high.
Jeff Haseley: DeAndre Hopkins has back-to-back top-10 finishes, but he has not topped double-digit touchdowns in the last two years and only had six touchdowns in 16 games in his first season with Arizona. He's still a talented wide receiver, but others have overtaken him in fantasy rankings compared to the years past.
Jason Wood: The adage, "It's better to be a year early than a year late," has never been truer than in the case of Julio Jones' 2021 fantasy outlook. Ask yourself how many receivers over 30 years old end up being top-20 fantasy assets when they change teams? It's a concise list. Meanwhile, Jones shows disturbing signs of breaking down, another condition of older football players that rarely reverses course. He missed seven games last year and was a decoy playing less than 50% of snaps in another handful. As if that weren't enough, he lands on a team that will be in the bottom 10 of the league in pass attempts.
Victoria Geary: Seeing that Lockett finished his 2020 season as the PPR WR8 looks good on the surface, but his game log will show that he was a weekly boom-or-bust player. Lockett finished outside of the top-45 receivers nine times last season compared to having only five top-24 performances. Lockett's extremely low-floor games have the potential to derail your entire fantasy matchup for the week. Will head coach Pete Carroll ever give Russell Wilson a full season to "cook?" With the draft capital needed to invest in him, you're better off letting your leaguemates deal with the start-or-sit Lockett headache this season.
Matt Waldman: Metcalf may be the most misunderstood receiver of the past three years, and his current ranking may be a reflection of this as an ongoing issue. Draftniks and fantasy GMs overreacted to his metrics and route workouts without assessing the value of team fit. Now that he produced at a high level, fantasy GMs expect him to produce like Randy Moss, Julio Jones, or Calvin Johnson. These receivers were elite route runners that Metcalf will never become. The best all-around receiver on Seattle is Tyler Lockett, whose production in 2019 opened the field for Metcalf in 2020. The addition of D'Wayne Eskridge is to allow Seattle to move Lockett around for better matchups because Metcalf can't reciprocate for Lockett. Look for Lockett to rebound to fantasy WR1 value and Metcalf to decline slightly to WR2 value.
Chad Parsons: How much production will Tua Tagovailoa and this passing game distribute? Already there is a "How big is the pie?" question for this unit. Add Will Fuller V (starting in Week 2), Jaylen Waddle being added, Preston Williams returning from injury, and Myles Gaskin. Parker's peak season from a few seasons ago is a distant memory. Seek upside elsewhere.
Andy Hicks: Addition by subtraction does not always occur in fantasy football. Sure Julio Jones has been traded, but Calvin Ridley will face more attention this year than ever before. He is one of the most promising wide receivers in the NFL, but with a new coaching staff and Matt Ryan at the end of his career, I would be cautious. Additionally, the lack of a strong running game is highly likely. I want to see this coaching group perform before my high draft picks touch this team. Ridley’s touchdown numbers have been phenomenal to date, but any deterioration here and his fantasy numbers dive significantly. Ridley is a player that is highly likely to have a drop in production. His upside is non-existent at his current draft price.
Chad Parsons: Selecting any wide receiver attached to Jalen Hurts is already a gamble considering Hurts' up-and-down passing season in 2020 and his panache for running. Add Smith being a rookie and Jalen Reagor being the undervalued one of the depth chart if there is one, and Smith is priced near his reasonable Year 1 ceiling with minimal profit potential.
Sigmund Bloom: Maybe it was just the ankle injury that made Thomas's 2020 such a disappointment. We shouldn't overlook the rumblings of a disconnection between him and the team - enough so to arouse trade rumors - and of course, there's the issue of the Saints quarterback play. Jameis Winston is the favorite. While he has created strong wide receiver value in Tampa Bay, we have no real sample to judge how Thomas will do with Winston, although Taysom Hill fed him the Drew Brees diet of targets. There are too many changing variables here with the trendlines pointing down to invest in Thomas, even at a discount from his 2020 cost.