This is the first in a series of Underrated / Overrated articles. In this piece we look around the NFL and provide fantasy football analysis on underrated NFL players to target in your 2013 fantasy football drafts.
Just about every single NFL player is either underrated or overrated from the perspective of a fantasy manager. It's just the nature of the game that return on investment relative to draft position will determine winners and losers in fantasy football. It's never fun to look back during the season and that realize you made one or multiple bad picks during the draft. Likewise, there will always be some guys who slip to the later rounds though they will ultimately produce far better than their draft rounds would indicate. With that in mind, here are some players to think a little more about before your big draft.
Matt Ryan (QB, Atlanta)
: I have no idea why, but I'm seeing Matt Ryan fall all the way down to Round 7 or 8 in 10-man leagues. Remember that Ryan was top-five in completions, yards and touchdowns last season, and you should look for him to have another really solid season. His average draft position at the moment is 48.8, compared to Kaepernick's 38.9, RG3's 47.1 and Wilson's is 48.1, but I would take Matt Ryan over all of these QB. He has arguably the best WR and TE combo of weapons in the NFL. We all know that weather can have a substantial impact on some quarterbacks' performance, especially at the end of the season with all the snow and freezing rain. And for at least eight games a season, Matt Ryan doesn't have to worry about that. I also think the Falcons have a fairly favorable schedule this season. In 2012, Ryan went crazy during the most important time in fantasy weeks 14-17, averaging a 116.1 QB Rating, 282 yards passing per game and notching 10 TDs against just one interception. There is nothing worse than an elite QB who gets pulled or benched towards the end of the season to avoid injury, but since the Falcons will either be fighting for a playoff spot or trying to clinch home-field advantage during fantasy playoffs, Ryan will likely be in the mix down the stretch. Don't make the mistake of letting him go to someone else in the later rounds.
Ryan Mathews (RB, San Diego): Mathews has been more of a disappointment than a blessing since he came into the league three years ago. He's struggled to hold on to the football and has had trouble staying fully healthy. He' still yet to play a full 16-game season. But I think you can really get your money's worth out of him this season. He has an average draft position of 89, with fantasy leaguers drafting players like Le'Veon Bell and Lamar Miller in front of Mathews. I'm not ready to invest in either one of those players before I would the San Diego RB. You know he's got the talent to put up a great season this year-- just one year removed from 1,546 total yards and six touchdowns, Mathews also proved that year that he can catch the football, with 50 receptions and 9.1 yards per catch. I think Philip Rivers has lost a little arm strength, too, which leads me to believe that he will be checking down to Mathews all season long. The Chargers' offense won't struggle nearly as badly as they did in 2012, and they don't have a very tough schedule, so if Mathews can stay healthy and eliminate his fumbles, you'll get a solid return on your investment in 2013.
Anquan Boldin (WR, San Francisco): I have always thought that playoff performances affect the way we view a player's fantasy value the following season. That doesn't seem to be the case for the way people feel about Anquan so far. I'm still having issues believing Boldin's average draft position is 97.8. Even though he turns 33 this season, he is a better overall WR than Crabtree. Boldin showed last season that a big part of his game is his outstanding ability to get open deep down the field. He needs his QB to have a really strong arm (like Flacco) to maximize his potential. And to that end, I couldn't think of a better pairing than Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick grabbed everyone's attention with the way he ran the football last season. But his arm strength-- especially in the playoffs-- is what I noticed. Though Boldin hasn't had a season over 1,000 yards since he last played for the Cardinals in 2009, and though he's also only had double-digit touchdown numbers once in his 10-year career, I wouldn't let that scare you away. If you could get Boldin anywhere after Round 7, you'll get your money's worth.
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