Last week I wrote a piece covering players whose auction values are currently cheap relative to their fantasy value (aka 2014 Auction Draft Bargains), and therefore, they are who you should be targeting target in auction drafts. This week I’m going to give you the reverse of that – players who are being overvalued in fantasy auction drafts, whose price exceeds their value and risk. Bear in mind that a lot of players on this list are very hyped coming into this season. That means there’s a lot of positive talk being thrown around about them which, of course, is what drives their price up. Keep in mind that I’m not saying I don’t want these guys on my team – I’m saying I don’t want them on my team for what it’s going to cost me.
Note: Given values based on a $200 budget in a 12-team league. Check out our auction values here.
Matthew Stafford ($24)
Last week in the Bargains article, we saw several players whose values have been discounted because of the way they ended the season. Why hasn’t this happened with Stafford? He averaged a miserable 7.75 points per game from weeks 14 to 17, which comprise the fantasy playoffs in most leagues. If you started him, he probably killed you. Now we’re supposed to turn around and pay top five QB money for him? I don’t think so. On top of his terrible finish, he lost pass-happy offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to Dallas, and newly-acquired Lions WR Golden Tate has been out of camp with an undisclosed injury, which will hamper his ability to assimilate into the Lions offense. I think Stafford’s a good bet to return to top-ten QB status this year, but that’s not worth $22, given the wealth of good QB options going into 2014. Don’t pay this much for him.
Nick Foles ($19)
Foles’ story is the opposite of Stafford’s. He had an incredible year once he took the reins of the Eagles' offense, and if you had the guts to start him, he might have carried you to the playoffs or even a championship last year. A lot of fantasy analysts think he’s likely to give a repeat performance in 2014. But the loss of deep-threat WR DeSean Jackson to the Redskins certainly won’t help him. And even those highest on Foles have to acknowledge that he’s still somewhat of an unknown quantity. If you’re paying top dollar for a fantasy quarterback, he needs to be a pillar of your team, proven, virtually risk-free guy. That’s not Foles. To me, Foles is worth closer to $10 than $20. Beware the hype.
Robert Griffin III ($18)
Speaking of virtually risk-free guys – Griffin isn’t one of them. Yes, the ceiling is high. Some of the stuff he showed that rookie year, we haven’t seen in the NFL since Michael Vick’s heyday. But there are major dependability questions here. Because of his playing style, Griffin is far more vulnerable to injury that traditional pocket-passers. The qualities that give him such great upside are the same ones that make him such a risky pick. But that serious risk isn’t fully reflected at his current pricing. I think $10 to $12 is about where Griffin should be purchased. If you do draft him, make sure you have a solid number two option on your bench.
Johnny Manziel ($8)
After a short post-draft reprieve, the bad-news stories about Manziel have picked up right where they left off. At this point, it looks fairly certain that he won’t be the starting quarterback for the Browns going into the season. Like Griffin, he seems like a guy with a lot of upside, given the play-making ability he showed at Texas A&M. But he won’t be able to create any big plays from the bench. Take a flyer on Manziel for a dollar or two, but don’t spend starter-level money on him.
Giovani Bernard ($38)
This price is a tough one for me, because I love Bernard. I was lucky enough to draft him in two leagues last season, and he was a tremendous value pick. But the tables have turned now. To justify this kind of valuation, Bernard needs to make a huge statistical leap. To do that, he needs more touches. This valuation assumes that Bernard is the every-down workhorse in the Bengals rushing attack. But it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case, even with BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ relevance fading away. That’s because the Bengals spent a second round pick on RB Jeremy Hill, and it appears that Hill will get carries right away. Bernard’s not “the guy” in his offense the way more cheaply-valued backs Eddie Lacy and Adrian Peterson are in theirs. Promising as Bernard is, $37 is way too high a price. Snap him up in the mid-to-high $20s, and feel good about it.
Doug Martin ($28)
Martin’s 2012 season seems like a long, long time ago. After finishing his rookie season tied for 2nd among fantasy RBs, Martin came back in 2013 with a 3.6 YPC average in six games before injuring his shoulder and missing the rest of the season. Now there are well-justified concerns about both his effectiveness and his durability. And, the new Lovie Smith regime in Tampa spent a third-round pick on RB Charles Sims, who will likely wind up challenging Martin for carries along with RB Bobby Rainey. There’s a good chance this backfield ends up in a committee, and even if it doesn’t, Martin has a lot to prove to be considered a RB1 in fantasy. A lot of owners still remember that 250-yard, four-TD game from 2012, so you’ll have to pay up to get Martin. Just think long and hard before investing heavily. Anywhere in the low $20s would be pretty good value.
Marshawn Lynch ($26)
Even before the holdout announcement, there were concerns about Lynch’s status as the lead running back heading into the 2014 season. He slowed down tremendously at the end of 2013, averaging just 3.4 YPC over the final six regular season games. And Seahawks RB Christine Michael is set to take more carries this year and has a lot of analysts excited over his potential. Lynch is 28 years old and has a whole bunch of mileage on his body over the past three years. He may have another 1,000-yard season in him, but there’s an equal chance this is the year that the wear and tear catches up with him. You probably won’t be able to buy him for less than the current $25 valuation, but there are many other, less risky options available for similar money, including Broncos RB Montee Ball and Steelers RB LeVeon Bell.
C.J. Spiller ($24)
Danny Woodhead, Pierre Thomas, LeGarrette Blount. These are some backs that finished ahead of Spiller in fantasy points last year. Shocking, right? Unfortunately, the Bills seem determined to use Spiller as a between-the-20s threat, which severely limits his scoring opportunities and caps his value. Even with Bills RB Fred Jackson going down to injury, don’t expect the Bill’s game-planning to change much – RB Bryce Brown will benefit much more from Jackson’s injury than Spiller. Spiller’s upside notwithstanding, there are better, cheaper options available for less than what’s being asked here. He’s worth the risk in the high teens, but not the middle twenties.
Keenan Allen ($28)
A rookie season as good as Allen’s is a rare thing among NFL receivers. Whereas new WRs typically take two or three seasons to reach their potential, Allen burst onto the scene his first year to become QB Phillip Rivers’ top receiving option. This year, though, things may get harder for Allen. He’ll no longer be able to fly under opposing defenses’ radar, and will likely bear the brunt of coverage attention. A repeat of last year will be difficult enough, but at this price Allen is valued as a top ten WR. At $27, he’s valued higher than Packers WR Jordy Nelson, Cardinals WR Michael Floyd, and nearly twice as high as 49ers WR Michael Crabtree and Texans WR Andre Johnson. Even in a perfect world, it’s hard to see Allen justifying his valuation. You don’t want him as your WR1, and you shouldn’t pay $27 for him. He’s worth in the $17 to $21 range, and not much over that.
Cordarrelle Patterson ($24)
I’ll say it very plainly; Patterson is the most over-drafted player in fantasy this year. The listed value is too high as it is, but I’ve seen Patterson go for more than $30 in drafts. This overvaluation is groupthink happening before our eyes. Everybody wants to own the newest, hottest player, and this year that’s Patterson. But, without major improvements, he’s going to deliver a lot of owners a big disappointment. With 45 catches for 469 yards, Patterson was the 32nd fantasy wideout last year. Now he’s being drafted as a top-12 WR. This valuation assumes a best-case, breakout scenario, at a time when Patterson’s coaches are saying things like, “He’s got a lot of work to do to become an elite threat.” Jump on the hype train if you want, but don’t say you weren’t warned. About $15 or $16 is a reasonable price for this type of player, but don’t expect to get him for that.
Sammy Watkins ($20)
Re-read what I wrote about Allen and Patterson. Now add to it the fact that Watkins is a rookie WR this year – one in a bad offense with a bad quarterback, no less. His combine was tremendous, and he has plenty of potential to be a top-level WR someday, but unless you’re looking at him in a dynasty league draft, there’s no reason you should be shelling out this kind of money for Watkins. The risks and the unknowns are just too great. You can buy Ravens WR Torrey Smith, Falcons WR Roddy White, or Redskins WR DeSean Jackson for less than Watkins, and still have money to spend on another one of the high-potential rookie WRs (like, for example, Eagles WR Jordan Matthews or Packers WR Davante Adams).
Percy Harvin ($18)
In five seasons, Percy Harvin has never been a 1,000-yard receiver. Not once. Also, in the last two seasons he’s played a total of ten games. Who knows, maybe he’ll stay healthy this year and finally live up to his potential. Or, maybe he’ll play six games and then get hurt. At $17, he’s not one of the worst deals on this list. But I’d feel a lot better buying him for $12 or $13, and taking any production over 750 yards as a bonus. In Harvin’s same $17 price range, you can draft Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson, who are much safer picks.
DeAndre Hopkins ($13)
I’ve played fantasy for a lot of years, and for a lot of years I’ve watched the Texans No. 2 WR being hyped by fantasy analysts in the preseason. Last year, Hopkins was the first to live up to that hype. He went for 800 yards, the most the guy behind Andre Johnson has ever had when Johnson’s been healthy in his prime. But when you go back and look at Hopkins game-by-game stats, the picture’s less rosy. There were just five games in 2013 in which Hopkins caught more than three balls. In total, he caught just 52 passes the whole season. He was a home-run hitter, who more often than not did not produce in a meaningful way. That type of production is extremely unreliable. For similar money, you can buy more proven quantities like White, DeSean Jackson, or even Patriots WR Julian Edelman. I like Hopkins, but not for $13.
Vernon Davis ($10)
Davis had a big uptick in production last year, thanks in part to the absence of 49ers WR Michael Crabtree in the lineup for most of the year. However, looking at Davis’ historic stat lines, there’s a good shot that he won’t repeat the 13 touchdowns he scored in 2013 in the coming year. He’ll net you between 700 and 900 yards and six to eight touchdowns. There’s a good case to be made for that production being worth $9. Personally though, I’d rather grab one of the elite TEs for $20 to $30, or two of the long-shot sleepers for $1.
Ladarius Green ($8)
Speaking of long-shot sleepers worth $1… well, Green isn’t necessarily a long shot, or a sleeper, but he should be drafted for about $1. Remember the hype around Patriots TE Zach Sudfeld during the preseason last year? Well, Green’s a candidate for that same type of treatment this year. He’s a big guy, and he’s looking to fill a role being vacated by a formerly elite TE – much as Sudfeld was in 2013. But NFL offenses don’t work in a plug-and-play fashion as Sudfeld showed with his season-total five catches. Green is a guy you should spend a dollar or two on, not draft as your starter. He’s got a career total of 21 catches in two years. He’s not proven, so don’t draft him like he is.