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One of the most common pitfalls that fantasy football owners fall into is group think. Sure, you may not like someone, but if everyone else does than there has to be something there, right? Well no, no there doesn’t. Groups think will cause players who were over ranked early remain in high regard. So it can be a useful exercise to go through each round and find which players you think the fantasy consensus is wrong about.

This is exactly what I am setting out to do. I am going to go through and identify a player in each round who is going earlier than they should. I am using a 12 team league and ADP data to identify which rounds players are going in.

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Questionable Draft Value Returns on Current ADPs

1st Round – Le’Veon Bell

The market place may still be adjusting to his suspension, but as of now Le’Veon Bell is a first round pick. There is a common expression in fantasy football, “You can’t win your league with your first pick but you can lose it.” The reality of fantasy football dictates that you have to get a productive high scoring player with your first or even first two picks or else you won’t be able to compete for the playoffs. With a four game suspension, Bell will not be able to serve in that role. The first four weeks is particularly tough time to lose your first overall pick. Other teams won’t have anyone on bye and you likely will not have had enough time to build up through the waiver wire. Even if you squeak out a win and start 1-3, you would likely need to win 7 out of the remaining 9 games to make the playoffs. It’s just not a feasible strategy. Add to that some injury concerns and Le’Veon Bell is much closer to a third round pick.

2nd Round - Devonta Freeman

Looking at last year, if you take out the feverishly touchdown heavy weeks 3-5 (as well as his injury plagued weeks 11 and 12), Devonte Freeman averaged 11.6 points per game. Over the course of 16 games this would have put him right behind Lamar Miller and good for RB7. If he was able to perform that well he would easily be worth a second round pick. However, we have seen Freeman types in that past. The unheralded, not highly regarded RB who comes on during the season after an injury and tears the world up. And just like 2015’s example, CJ Anderson, they come crashing back to Earth the next year. I certainly do not think he will be able to repeat his performance from last year. And with Tevin Coleman, whom the Falcon’s staff started over Freeman last year, returning I think it’s even unlikely he returns above average performance at the RB position.

3rd Round – Sammy Watkins

This one is all about injuries. Watkins has the talent to be a number one WR. Last year he proved he can even perform at that level with only passable play from the QB position by Tyrod Taylor. But Watkins has had an almost perpetual string of injuries. He has only missed a handful of games, but as Will Carrol of FanDuel has pointed out he was clearly slowed down while playing injured. He’s already dealing with a broken foot and is likely going to miss the entire preseason. Do not be surprised if he misses more time. And do not be surprised if he reinjures himself early in the season. I would much rather have the (relative) safety of a Keenan Allen or Julian Edelman in the third round.

4th Round – Andrew Luck

I am concerned about how Luck is going to bounce back. The one great attribute he has had to start his NFL career was the size to sit in the pocket and throw as he was taking a hit. It’s not the most bankable skill in fantasy football. The injury last year also brought up concerns about how sustainable it is. I’d prefer more reliable QBs like Roethlisberger, who are going later in the draft.

5th Round – Jarvis Landry

Jarvis Landry has real talent. But he’s shown to be a very inconsistent fantasy performer. When looking at this batch of WRs who would all make a solid WR2, you should try and find consistency. Someone like Golden Tate and Jeremy Maclin are in situations where they are more likely to get consistent targets. Landry has to compete with an ascending DaVante Parker for targets from the mercurial Ryan Tannehill.

6th Round – Tyler Eifert

There is a lot of value in the 6th round, so it’s hard to pinpoint someone who has been going too high. But if there is one person who stands out it is Tyler Eifert. His injury situation is still very much up in the air as he has no clear time table to return. Any fantasy owner would have to count on him missing at least some games. If you take Eifert than you would likely have to grab another TE shortly after. A 6th round pick is close to the point where you start looking to bank upside. But if you have the opportunity to grab someone like Travis Kelce in the same spot there is just no need.

7th – Ameer Abdullah

RB is one of the easiest positions to make the transition from college to the NFL. But there is a flip side to that equation. RBs rarely improve on a per play basis each consecutive year in the NFL. Ameer showed some flashes, but he was also disappointing through most of last year. I don’t expect to see his play to dramatically improve. As long as Theo Riddick is healthy, don’t expect Abdullah to have a large fantasy football contribution. The 7th round slot he is currently being drafted in suggests an upside that is probably unrealistic.

8th Round – Seattle DST

I am going to have to depart from my colleague Jack Harris, who wrote a companion piece to this article you can find here. Do not draft a DST before your final rounds. Just don’t. Defenses can be valuable pieces that will help you win games. But no one ever has, nor likely ever will, be able to predict which DSTs will be the league leaders. The actual correlation between pre-draft rankings and year end results are almost perfectly random. In some years the correlation has been negative. So yes, in the past picking a DST’s name out of hat was a better way to pick a defense than pre-draft rankings. Seattle’s DST has been the first picked DST over the last 3 years. They have finished 2nd, 6th, and 5th amongst DSTs in these years. Another average DST season from Seattle is not worth an 8th round pick.

9th Round – Carolina DST

I promise to not keep harping on DSTs taken early. Or at the very least I will try. To give you an example of how random picking a defense can be; I compared previous year’s ADPs with year-end scoring. Over the past ten years the first DST taken has finished at around 6th (middle of the pack of start worthy DSTs) among all DSTs. Each year’s highest scoring DST was on average the 7th DST taken (15th round pick). Do not pick defenses until the second to last round. Being a good defense in real life does not translate to fantasy scoring. No one can predict who the good DSTs will be.

10th Round – Stephen Gostkowski

Do not draft a kicker before your last round. It doesn’t even matter how deep the draft is. The best kicker averages a little more than a point per game more than the tenth best historically. It’s not much of an advantage. That advantage isn’t meaningless but there is a bigger problem.

11th Round – Steven Hauschka

Kickers provide no upside. You should be using your late round draft picks to try and hit the lottery. Devonta Freeman was taken in the 10th-12th rounds last year and he was fantasy’s best player. Freeman averaged five points per game more than the 10th best RB. He scored nearly double what the 20th best RB scored. Every single year great value comes in the later rounds. When you take a Kicker you aren’t giving yourself a chance to get that value.

12th Round – Darren McFadden

McFadden has had a long injury history. So it’s no surprise that he is currently not healthy enough to practice. Even if he was practicing he would be the third RB in Dallas and likely to get less snaps than 3rd down back Lance Dunbar. It’s one thing to handcuff a running back, it’s a whole other thing to roster a player in the hopes of 2 or 3 injuries.

13th Round – Los Angeles Rams DST

Putting aside my disdain for the DST positions overall, this pick does not make much sense to me. The Rams finished 9th amongst DSTs last year and there is no reason they should improve. They lost their best CB, their best LB, safety Rodney McLeod, and former Defensive Linemen of the Year Chris Long. This defense will be worse this year than they were last year.

14th Round – Jermaine Kearse

Best case scenario is that he is what he has always been; waiver wire fodder for when you need someone to disappoint you at the flex. Worst case scenario is that he is completely overtaken by Tyler Lockett and becomes irrelevant in fantasy. I’ve been saying it a lot but late round picks need to have upside.

15th Round – Ronnie Hillman

I really can’t criticize anyone for being a 15th round pick, but I am going to pass on Hillman. He has been useful in fantasy in the past but many of the reports out of training camp suggest he may end up at 3rd on the depth chart behind Devontae Booker. At this point in the draft no one is a reach. But Hillman is just a guy who will not be on many of my rosters.

 

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