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Overvalued NFL Wide Receivers & ADPs 

Overall, the ADP for many receivers this year seems relatively fair.  But when formulating your draft strategy, you always have to look out for players who are undervalued (sleepers) or overvalued (potential busts) at their current ADP.  There are some player’s I’d certainly shuffle around, but inside the top 50 wide receiver rankings, these are the player’s that I would suggest avoiding at the ADP they are currently being selected at in both mock drafts and real fantasy football drafts that have already taken place.

 

Victor Cruz - New York Giants

Current ADP: 42 (WR16)

Victor CruzVictor Cruz is being taken as the 16th receiver overall in fantasy drafts this year.  That makes him a projected low high WR2 this year.  I’m having a very hard time believing he can manage to give you that value when the year is finished, for a multitude of reasons, most of them concerning what is surrounding Cruz.

The offensive line was disappointing last year, and so far in the preseason, it hasn’t been any better.  Eli Manning is going to be under pressure just about every play, which is going to severely limit the potential for his receivers to get downfield, something Cruz has been pretty good at his entire career.  The touchdowns also probably won’t be there for Cruz either, as Rueben Randle may turn into the heavy favorite to be the main red zone receiver, while Rashad Jennings and Andre WIlliams will probably be the main goal line weapons.

Cruz has been on a steady decline ever since his dominant rookie season, going from 1500 receiving yards, to 1000, to under 1000. His targets and catches have remained steady, but his yards per catch have severely declined, mostly due to his quarterback not having time to get the ball downfield.  His yards after the catch last year was also the 6th worst among the top 40 targeted wide receivers, a surprising figure considering how much of a gamebreaker Cruz was just 2 years prior.  I expect Bob McAdoo to help, and having Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham should help open up opportunities and keep Cruz in the slot, so there is some reason for optimism.

Bottom line: Don’t expect the offense to give him the opportunities he needs to get downfield and into the endzone.  Cruz ranked 24th in points per game for a wide receiver last year, and while it’s fair to expect an increase, I wouldn’t expect too much.  I’d expect a line close to 1100 yards and 5 touchdowns, which would put him at around #20 in points last year. Michael Crabtree and Pierre Garcon are both being drafted right near Cruz, and both are good bets to return more value than Cruz.

 

Emmanuel Sanders - Denver Broncos

Current ADP: 83 (WR29)

I understand why people love Sanders this year. It’s quite simple.  Peyton Manning is throwing him the ball, and 3rd wide receivers, no matter the talent level, thrive in Manning's offenses.  The best example is Brandon Stokely.  He was absolutely irrelevant in his fantasy career except when he was the 3rd wide receiver in Peyton Manning’s offense.  The difference between Stokely and Sanders is where they were being drafted. I would love Sanders as someone to take near the end of the draft, but can you justify drafting him as borderline fantasy starter?

Sanders is more talented than Stokely, although not by much.  He has pretty good speed, but below average hands, strength, and cuts.  Among wide receivers that were heavily targeted last year, he was among the worst in catch percentage and also yards per catch, a somewhat surprising stat considering he was opposite one of the most dominant wide receivers in the league last year in Antonio Brown.

How will Sanders fare in the Peyton Manning offense, and is it worth gambling on him as a starting wide receiver in fantasy, and someone you need to rely on to win the championship? Nope.  Sanders is not a fringe NFL talent, but he is certainly not a rising star either.  He first has to outperform the dynamic Cody Latimer in practice and also throughout the entire season just to retain his job, a red flag for fantasy.  He’s also fourth in line for touches behind Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker, and he could be 5th by years end. Although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this offense, it caps his ceiling.

Bottom Line: The price you have to pay for Sanders is too high to return a profit.  Higher potential receivers such as Michael Floyd, Jeremy Maclin, Torrey Smith, Brandon Cooks, and Kelvin Benjamin are being taken in his range.  All of these guys possess much higher ceilings and floors than Sanders.

 

Larry Fitzgerald - Arizona Cardinals

Current ADP: 37 (WR12) 

rotoballer-fantasy-football-advice-larry-fitzgerald (1)Well, I never thought I would be listing Larry Fitzgerald as an overvalued receiver in the fourth round.  Normally that would be a bargain for one of the best receivers in league history.  I hate to see receivers this good begin to slowly deteriorate in front of your eyes.  However, that’s slowly becoming the case for Fitz.

What made Fitzgerald so good his entire career was not his physical tools, but his instincts, superb route running and magical hands.  It was awesome watching him pluck a ball from midair that he had no business trying to get. He’s only 30, and still has plenty of strong years left, but I don’t think we’re going to be seeing the matchup nightmare that has been haunting defensive backs for the past decade.  Even though Fitzgerald was injured last year with a few different ailments, you could tell he was being utilized in a completely different way in order to maintain his effectiveness.

Michael Floyd, and now John Brown are being utilized as downfield receivers while Fitz will primarily focus on moving the chains as an over the middle receiver who can still get downfield.  The stats back this up, as he’s had under 1000 yards in two straight seasons, while his target rate and yards per catch have also dropped.  In fact, in four of the past five years, he’s topped 1,137 yards just once.  Not quite what we’d like to call elite.  I still expect a heavy role for Fitz like last year, but the days of him leading his offense seem to be over as the Cardinals will be involving every one of the weapons this year.  His touchdowns should remain high because of his presence in the red zone, although I don’t think he’ll reach the 10 he had last year because Michael Floyd is sure to take some of those TDs.

Bottom Line: Fitzgerald ranked 21st in fantasy points for receivers last year, so 12th this year may be pushing it a lot.  I’d rather draft a high upside receiver like Pierre Garcon in that spot or wait a couple rounds and draft T.Y Hilton.

 

Other Notable Receivers Being Drafted Too High

Jeffrey Beall - Own workKeenan Allen - San Diego Chargers, ADP 39 (WR14) - This is a tough one as I love Allen.  His only issue is his speed, which apparently been improved this offseason.

I just don’t see the leap from 23rd overall receiver in points per game to 14th this year, as the offense is still going to remain run heavy (I know he barely played the first 2 games).

I expect a top 20 finish, but many people are drafting him as their top wide receiver.  Let someone else grab him this early, as his targets probably won’t increase, especially with the return of Malcolm Floyd, addition of Donald Brown, and emergence of Ladarius Green.

 

Sammy Watkins - Buffalo Bills, ADP 91 (WR33) - Another receiver that would be great as a stash, but is being drafted as a starter.  Do you really expect EJ Manuel to hit Watkins on a 50 yard deep bomb more than once this season? I don’t, as he’s horribly inaccurate and timid.

Robert Woods had a nice rookie year for his expectations, but he did have just 587 yards.  I can’t see Watkins putting up 1000 yards this year, even with all the talent in the world.  The offense is extremely run heavy and Watkins just won’t have the necessary opportunity to unleash himself.

 

Don’t like one of my suggestions, or want to discuss another? Drop a comment or hit me on twitter @rotoballer_evan