The year was 1996. I was a young man of 16, who really wanted his own car. I had a job, saved up a bunch of money—$700 which was a huge amount to me at the time—and made it happen. The car was a 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciere, with a brand new, bright red paint job. I thought I was super cool in that ride, rolling around Flint, MI with the windows down blaring some Rage Against the Machine or Doctor Dre. The joy lasted for about two weeks before the thermostat went out. Not a hard fix, but as a 16 year old who just dropped $700 on a car, money was tight. I made the repair, and went about my young life. Shortly after that, the battery died on me. Side note: the battery died in a Taco Bell drive through. My buddy got out, pushed the car to the drive through window to get our food, then off into a parking spot where we ate our tacos while waiting for his dad to come get me with his tow dolly. A handful of days after what became known as the “taco debacle”, the brakes begin to grind. Another two weeks after the breaks were repaired, I blew a head gasket and decided that my first car should become someone else’s problem. I learned a hard but valuable lesson from that first car. The shiny, new, red paint job does not necessarily mean that the car is dependable.
In this exercise, I went through the average draft position (ADP) on fantasyfootballcalculator.com and made a fantasy team (1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE) of guys that I feel are being over-drafted at their current cost. These guys all have that glistening paint job, but could leave you stranded by the side of the fantasy freeway only wishing you had a taco to show for it.
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QB: Baker Mayield ADP: 6.03
Baker is a fantasy darling this year, and the hype is understandable. He finished as QB16 last year in a system that had Hue Jackson at the helm for eight games. The Cleveland signal caller has been gifted with new weapons during the offseason in the form of Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt, two of the best at their respective positions. They join what was already an impressive group in Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, and David Njoku. With this arsenal at Mayfield’s disposal, why would he be over-drafted?
First off, I don’t like picking QBs in earlier rounds to begin with. This stance has been beat into the ground lately, but with good reason. For this stat, we’re going to take Patrick Mahomes numbers out of the equation just because he was such an outlier. Do you know what the difference in scoring was per game between QB2 and QB10 was last year? 4.3 points per game. In comparison, the same calculation for running backs is 8.6 points per game and 9 points for tight ends. Wide receivers are the only position affected at a slower rate than QBs due to an abundance of them throughout the league. I’d much rather have the upside of a Derrius Guice, James White, or even Latavius Murray and try to get the bigger per game payout.
Speaking of running backs, the Browns have two pretty good ones in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. As you probably know, Hunt is suspended and will not return until after the week nine bye week. Chubb is more than capable of holding down the fort until then. This may be the best RB tandem in the league. If Cleveland can lean on that run game, it’s going to equal less pass attempts for Mayfield. I also believe that this defense is going to be a problem for teams which lends itself to lower scoring games.
Another potential problem is all the attitude in this locker room. Landry, OBJ, and Baker all have swagger for days. There is no way OBJ gets traded from the Giants if it wasn’t an issue behind the scenes. I almost lean towards the possibility that they hold it together for this first year saving the implosion for year two of the experiment, but it’s a less than zero probability outcome and deserves to be mentioned.
Finally, Tampa Bay had 5 sacks on Mayfield and 7 total in their preseason week three contest, coupled with a handful of QB rushes. This was a defense that was ranked 27th in the league last year in effectiveness. The Browns offensive line is playing horrendously. PFF ranks them at 20th in the league for 2019. If they can’t gel as a unit and keep Baker upright, he’s not going to have time to rack up the passing yards he needs to be worth his fantasy draft cost.
RB: Damien Williams ADP: 2.07
Williams has never had more than 50 rushes in a season in his career. He has always been just a depth guy wherever he has played. His career average yards per carry prior to last year was 3.57. His own coach, Andy Reid, has said it is going to be a “multi-player backfield”. Kansas City has an incredibly running-back-friendly offense that Williams thrived in due to lack of options towards the end of last year. It is my belief that Williams is just a guy who is going to be fine, probably an RB2 type, but with an RB1 asking price since he is currently being drafted as the 12th RB off the board.
The other main reason for casting doubt on Williams’ value, shares the backfield with him. His name is Darwin Thompson. It’s a small sample size, but Thompson is averaging 5 yards per carry this preseason and is already showing that he has legitimate vision, athleticism, and a grasp of the offense. At the very least, I think that Thompson works his way into a legitimate time share, and by year’s end will have more fantasy points than Damien Williams for a 6 round discount.
RB: Darrell Henderson ADP: 8.02
Todd Gurley was the #3 ranked RB in football and only that low because he missed 3 games. The Rams want him to be heavily involved. Henderson is a rookie who has had mixed results in preseason. Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic reports that Henderson is competing with John Kelly for the change of pace role. If it’s unclear if Henderson is beating out John Kelly, why do we think he’s worth a 7th round value? Furthermore, there are subtile hints that Malcolm Brown is the favorite amongst the coaches. LA matched an RFA offer from the Lions to keep Brown in house. Some might say that it was due to a lack of options at the time, but if you look closer, you’ll see that they haven’t wavered on how they feel about Brown.
The Rams have broken the mold when it comes to preseason roster management. They keep the guys that they deem as most important to their success on the bench for fear of injury. For example, Todd Gurley has zero carries this preseason. In comparison, guess how many Brown has. Go on, guess. Zero. Henderson has 23. They are trying to figure out what they have in Henderson. The problem with that for Henderson is that they know what they have in Brown and that’s a dependable back who can shoulder the load when Gurley needs a break.
WR: Tyreek Hill ADP: 2.02
This is tough because Tyreek Hill is an elite talent. This pick either looks incredibly smart or insanely stupid. There is no in-between. Hill is someone who has had legal trouble a handful of times in his short time in the spotlight going back to college. Back in June, Hill’s fiancé Crystal Espinal felt that Hill had become too controlling and abusive which foolishly caused her to convince a friend to phone in the report of Hill breaking his son’s arm. At this time, both Hill and Espinal admitted to spanking and using a belt on the child. The NFL has chosen to ignore this. However, there are still factors that could affect Hill’s season. The criminal case is inactive, but that doesn’t rule out any new evidence that could come forward. It’s also part of the family court documents that Hill is being clinically evaluated and that therapy is still ongoing. There is also the pending custody battle over Hill and Espinal’s newborn twins. All of this reeks to me of raw, emotional times ahead for Hill. We are talking about the guy who strangled and punched Espinal when he was playing college football at Oklahoma State. I never want to gamble on players doing horrible things, but the old adage goes, “You can’t win your draft in the first couple rounds, but you can lose it.” Hill is someone who can return WR1 fantasy points but carries with him potential season ending baggage.
WR: Amari Cooper ADP: 3.10
First off, Amari Cooper is dealing with some kind of foot issue. I saw the term “strained heel” and “plantar fasciitis” thrown about, and if those are going to limit his ability to cut and get in and out of breaks, that’s a problem.
That talent around him also has the ability to limit Cooper’s fantasy output. Does Michael Gallup take another step? He has looked sharp this preseason netting 4 receptions for 62 yards and a TD in his three games worth of preseason action. If he’s going to get a bump this year, those targets would have to come from somewhere and we’re already talking about an offense that doesn’t throw the ball much. Is Zeke going to miss time? If he isn’t in the backfield, the passing game is going to see tighter coverage. Everyone loves Tony Pollard right now and for good reason. The 22 year old 4th round draft pick from Memphis has relished the spotlight he found himself in with Zeke hanging out south of the border. The Cowboys have been looking for a utility type, change-of-pace back for years with no success. Pollard has more than likely earned himself a backfield share even if Zeke comes back. With all these new players trying to stake a claim for targets, I want to see another year of Cooper before I go all in on him, and at the back end of the third round, I can easily grab a player I have far fewer questions about.
WR: D.K. Metcalf ADP: 11.09
Ever since DK Metcalf took his shirt off and posed for a picture with a room full of guys, he’s been an internet sensation. Then he showed up to the combine and went all Mike Gesicki by posting some numbers that no one thought he should at his size. Unfortunately, if you watched Metcalf in college, you would know that the things he excelled at in the combine are precisely what he did well at Ole Miss. People have been comparing him to Julio Jones, based on combine results, physique, and stature. The comparison is justified when we are talking purely about size and a one day measure of feats performed while wearing tight shorts. The college numbers tell a different tale entirely. Julio posted better number across the board than Metcalf, aside from average yards per reception. When you take into consideration that most of Metcalf’s designed plays were fly routes, that makes sense. Metcalf posted 67 receptions for 1228 yards with 14 TDs. Over his four year career at Ole Miss, he wasn’t even the best WR on his team, as A. J. Brown posted almost triple the amount of receptions, double the receiving yards, and 4 more touchdowns. Metcalf runs fast in a straight line which works at the college level. Does that skill have a place in the NFL? Sure. Do I think it will translate to redraft success as the WR2 on a Seattle team that ranked as the 27th passing offense in the NFL? No. With an ADP of 11.07, his cost is relatively cheap. Yet in a redraft format I have trouble believing Metcalf gets the volume needed to put up flex worthy fantasy numbers. Even if he did, good luck guessing which weeks it would happen.
TE: Evan Engram ADP: 5.11
This New York Giants team looks bad. Really bad. Sterling Shepard is their #1 WR. He has always played second fiddle to OBJ and we just don’t know if he has the talent to be the guy. Golden Tate is suspended for the first four games of the season. Even when he does come back, he is on the wrong side of 30 and has only played 15 games in the last two seasons due to various injuries. Behind Shepard and Tate is a whole lot of nothing. As the far and away most dangerous weapon on this Giants team, Engram should be the main focus of the opposing team’s defense. Despite how talented Engram is, NFL double teams are hard to beat. He plays tight end, and therefore has a realistic shot at finishing as a TE1, but for a fifth round asking price, I just don’t see the upside.