With all of the players that are going to be taken in fantasy drafts this year it’s only natural there are some values people are going to love and others people are going to hate. I’m going to try and find players that I love for based on where they are going in mock drafts and players that I hate for where they are being drafted in current ESPN mock drafts (special thanks to ESPN for supplying the mock drafts for me to analyze).
I’m going to re-state that last bit because it is extremely important. I love and hate these players based off of value, not performance. When I say that I love Danny Woodhead and hate Doug Martin that does not mean that I think Danny Woodhead will have a better year than Martin. All it means is that Martin is being drafted too high and Woodhead is being drafted too low.
With the love section out of the way, it’s time to move on to the hate section. These are players that are being drafted too high in mock drafts and should be avoided for where they are projected to go. These players should be drafted only if they slip below their respective projections.
I tie these two players into one category to make a point about draft strategy. Drafting a quarterback in the top two rounds that isn’t Peyton Manning is not smart. Manning gets a pass only because of the season he had last year, but Rodgers and Brees did not have seasons like he did. There is no reason to take Rodgers or Brees over a potentially game changing running back like Le’Veon Bell or an impact wide receiver like Dez Bryant who are both going below Rodgers and Brees in mock drafts. Wait on quarterbacks and you will not regret it. Load up on running backs and wide receivers early.
Matthew Stafford (Currently going in 4th/5th round, Should go in 6th)
ESPN has Matthew Stafford above Cam Newton and Andrew Luck (who was a narrow cut from the Love list) despite having scored fewer points than those two quarterbacks last year. Stafford’s performances in weeks 15 and 16 (7 points and 6 points) cost people fantasy championships and that person could be you if you take him over the likes of Newton and Luck. Stafford will have another good year and is definitely a QB1 in all formats but be weary of his ranking because he is not the fourth best quarterback in fantasy.
Eli Manning (Currently going in 13th, Should go in 16th/Not at all)
Eli Manning’s inconsistency makes him almost fantasy irrelevant. I know that no one was going to draft him as a starter anyway but I wanted to touch on him because his two super bowl rings can cloud people’s vision. He is not a fantasy quarterback. He had single digit points seven times last year (including a glorious -4 point performance against Seattle week 15). Unless you play in a league with fourteen teams or more league steer clear of Eli. There will almost always be a more productive quarterback on the waiver wire.
Doug Martin (Currently going in 1st/2nd, Should go in 3rd)
Many people say that if Doug Martin hadn’t gotten injured in week seven last year he would have been a good pick in the high first round and should not slip in this year’s draft due to an injury he is now fully recovered from. I would implore these people to look at the five games he played in full last year. I know it was only five games but they were an ugly five games. In those games Martin averaged 9.8 fantasy points per week. Pretty bad production from a consensus top four pick. What I find even more concerning than that was the fact his backup running backs played just as well as he did for the rest of the season after his injury. The Buccaneers averaged 101 rushing yards per game with the muscle hamster healthy. After his injury the Bucs averaged, again, 101 yards rushing per game. The likes of Bobby Rainey, Mike James, and Brian Leonard were able to mirror Doug Martin’s production. That doesn’t speak well about someone who could be a first round pick in many leagues. Also the Buccaneers spent a third round pick in the draft on standout West Virginia running back Charles Sims. Newly hired coach Lovie Smith always ran a running back by committee in Chicago and it could be more of the same this year in Tampa. Doug Martin could burn fantasy owners again this year and that risk is way too much in the first round.
Trent Richardson (Currently Going in 5th/6th, Should go in 7th/8th)
Trent Richardson hurt fantasy owners early last year with his poor play for the Browns. Things were looking up for him after a midseason trade to the Colts but more poor play ensued. After the whole season was done he posted double digit points twice. Redskins backup running back Roy Helu posted double digits twice despite getting the ball sixty-two times all season long. Richardson will still have to compete with Ahmad Bradshaw (who posted double digit points twice in the three games he was healthy for) for carries. Vick Ballard also figures to get some carries as well. There’s really no reason to be attracted to Trent Richardson at this point except that he was successful in 2012 with the Browns. That’s ancient history at this point for fantasy; don’t get caught up in it.
Joique Bell (Currently Going in 6th, Should go in 7th)
If you draft Reggie Bush, make sure to get Joique Bell because he becomes a top fifteen fantasy back if Bush ever gets hurt. If you don’t have Bush, drafting Bell isn’t a bad idea but expectations have to be hampered. ESPN has him as a Flex caliber player when Bush is healthy but I’m not ready to make that statement. He posted five double digit weeks with two of them coming on the weeks Reggie Bush was injured. Essentially he is a fine fantasy bench back when Bush is healthy but Bush will need to get hurt in order for him to have real fantasy value and the sixth round is too high to be drafting players with that much downside.
Alshon Jeffery (Currently Going in 3rd, Should go in 4th)
Alshon Jeffery did have a large role in the Bears’ offense last year and did end up as the ninth highest scoring fantasy receiver but I’m low on him based on his current ranking. He should put up good numbers but being on the same team as Brandon Marshall is never good for fantasy value. I know he did well in that situation last year but Antonio Brown and Andre Johnson are both number one receivers on their respective teams that are being drafted lower than Jeffery in mock drafts. I understand the buzz around Jeffery, but Brown and Johnson are better picks in the third round.
I pair these two together because they are both here for the same reason: inconsistency. They will help you win some weeks but they will force you to lose others. As a fantasy owner this drives me crazy. I know that wide receivers are generally inconsistent but look at these stats: Vincent Jackson had ten single point weeks last year while Fitzgerald had six weeks where he put up four or less points. Four or less! That means six weeks out of sixteen you are practically starting someone on a bye week. These players’ inconsistency makes them undeserving of high picks and should strip them of WR1 status in almost any format. Draft a more consistent player over these guys in the fourth round.
Percy Harvin (Currently Going in 5th/6th, Should go in 7th)
The Seahawks’ offense is not kind to individual receivers. Last year no one ever knew which Seahawk receiver was going to be the one to have the big week. Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse were all virtually unplayable because of their inconsistency. Although Golden Tate was technically regarded as the number one option they rarely ever leaned on him. I’d expect the same to go for Harvin this year. He will get the most looks out of the three but that doesn’t make him a fantasy WR2. This is a run first team and Harvin has nothing more than Flex status. If you can get him early in round seven go for it because there is a chance he has a big year but don’t put yourself in a situation where you are depending on him for points week one.
Julius Thomas (Currently Going in 3rd, Should go in 5th)
Julius Thomas simply isn’t a big enough part of the Broncos’ offensive plans to warrant a fantasy position in the third round. Julius Thomas was fourth on the team last year in receptions and Knowshon Moreno was not far behind in fifth (sixty-five receptions for Thomas, sixty for Moreno). Thomas was the fourth option last year and he figures to be fourth again this year with Emmanuel Sanders replacing Eric Decker in the third wide receiver position. Even if Thomas has the exact same production as last year he won’t warrant being a third round fantasy selection so anyone who picks him there is betting on him to exceed what he did last year. I find that scenario highly unlikely and would urge anyone who doesn’t get Jimmy Graham to wait until at least round five before selecting a tight end.
Rob Gronkowski (Currently Going in 4th, Should go in 5th)
Gronk is a beast when he is on the field but he’s simply not on the field enough to warrant drafting in the fourth. If you draft Gronk you have to draft a good backup plan. There’s no reason to draft a tight end that you know you have to get a good backup for because there aren’t enough tight ends to go around. You don’t want to waste a pick in the ninth or tenth round drafting another tight end unless you can steal a Kyle Rudolph or Jason Witten. You’d be better off drafting a high upside player like DeAndre Hopkins or a handcuff running back for one of your higher picks. The backup planning that comes with Gronk simply isn’t worth a fourth round pick although if you can get him in the fifth or sixth round it then becomes worth it.