NFL Best Ball: Players to Avoid
Evaluating talent and opportunity is a major aspect of fantasy drafts, but cost comes into play as well. Here are a handful of players who are unlikely to return value on their ADPs this season.
Patrick Mahomes – Bold strategy to fade 2018’s top quarterback, right? Well, after Mahomes’ standout 2018 season, his ADP has soared to 38.5 in early best ball leagues. In comparison, 2018’s QB3 Ben Roethlisberger comes off the board at pick 124.7, providing immense value in the double-digit rounds of drafts.
While Mahomes may finish 2019 as the top quarterback again, the nature of best ball leagues work against a third-round quarterback in general. Only able to start one signal-caller per week, Mahomes’ value can be captured by drafting 2-3 high-upside quarterbacksin the later rounds, while spending the third-round capital on an elite running back or receiver.
This all goes without factoring in Tyreek Hill’s potential suspension, adding questions to Mahomes’ profile. Overall, the young superstar remains a top talent in the league, but an ADP in the third round remains too rich.
Jared Goff – QB7 last season, Goff enters this year with an ADP of 115.7 (QB 3). However, he looks like a quarterback with limited upside in the middle rounds. Unlike many other quarterbacks in this range, Goff brings little athleticism with his legs. He only recorded 108 rushing yards in 2018 and sharply regressed as a passer in the back half of the season.
After averaging 303 passing yards per game in the first half of the season, Goff recorded only 282 per game in the final half, eclipsing 300 yards passing just once in his final five games. Potentially regressing as a passer, Goff simply doesn’t bring enough rushing upside to mitigate his risk. Cam Newton looks like a superior play with a similar ADP at 110.4.
Drew Brees – Another quarterback who finished 2018 strong, Brees finished as the QB8 with 3,992 passing yards and 32 scores. Currently the sixth quarterback off the board, Brees’ 103.1 ADP remains too costly with viable players available far later.
Brees led the NFL in a number of metrics last season including completion percentage (74.4%) and quarterback rating (115.7). However, New Orleans ranked 21st in pass plays per game and had the fifth-highest run rate (46%) in all of football last season. This creates a potential volume problem for Brees in 2019.
Sony Michel – Locked into New England’s early-down role, Michel’s ADP has settled at 52.1 in recent weeks. He’s already competing with James White for snaps, and the Patriots selected Damien Harris in the third round of the NFL Draft to add to their backfield mix.
Michel’s snap share never crested 50% in the final seven games of the season. While averaging 19.4 carries per game in these contests, he only received three total targets. Unlike other backs in this range, Michel does not have three-down ability. With Chris Carson, Tevin Coleman, and Lamar Miller coming off the board later, Michel is a risky proposition at the round 4/5 turn.
Tarik Cohen – After breaking out for 725 receiving yards on 71 catches in 2018, Cohen finds himself just outside the top 60 picks with an ADP of 60.3. Similar to Michel above, Cohen is too expensive in drafts due to a limited role in the Chicago offense. He’s been shoehorned into a pass-catching role, and the Bears added David Montgomery and Mike Davis to further cut into Cohen’s workload.
Carrying the ball 99 times in 2018, Cohen should cede more work in this area of the field in 2019. Overall, targeting an elite wide receiver in rounds five and six looks like the superior moves once the bell cow running backs are gone.
Phillip Lindsay – Entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent, Lindsay broke out in a major way for the Broncos last season, finishing with 1,037 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. However, recovering from a severe wrist injury and competing with Royce Freeman for touches, Lindsay could struggle to pay off his fourth round ADP (48.7).
Standing 5-feet-7-inches tall and weighing 184 pounds, Lindsay’s lack of feature back size makes his 2018 stats even more amazing. Conversely, Freeman stands 6-feet, 229 pounds and brings three-down capability. On top of the prototypical size that should give him the edge in the red zone, Freeman caught 79 passes in his college career at Oregon. This should allow him to stay on the field for third downs as well.
Either way, the Broncos are project to struggle in 2019 with either Joe Flacco or rookie Drew Lock playing quarterback. Currently, Vegas has the Broncos projected for seven wins, meaning the running back position could struggle outright in Denver. In this range, pivoting to wide receiver and tight end looks like the better play.
Jarvis Landry – Landry’s sixth round ADP (72.3) fell slightly since Odell Beckham Jr. came over from New York, but it’s still too high. Before even looking at Landry’s efficiency, his overall target share must be examined. In 2017, Landry recorded a 26% target share, while Beckham came in at 28%. In 2018, only five pairs of receivers combined for 50% of their respective team’s target share.
Aside from the potential decrease in volume, Landry brings a number of production concerns. Despite ranking 11th in targets in 2018, he failed to post a 1,000 receiving yard season (958 yards), even while ranking 14th in ADOT (11.9) among 61 players to receive at least 80 targets.
Heading into 2018, Landry will likely move back to his true position in the slot, decreasing his average depth of target. Seeing fewer targets at a shallower depth makes Landry quite hard to stomach at his current price.
Devin Funchess – One of the biggest winners in NFL free agency, Funchess signed a one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts, and his ADP jumped to 128.7.
With T.Y. Hilton already locked into the starting lineup, the Colts went out and secured Parris Campbell with a second-round pick. Indy already uses tight ends at one of the highest clips in the league (25.7%), potentially squeezing snaps from Funchess, bad news considering he posted some of the worst efficiency metrics in all of football last season.
According to PlayerProfiler, Funchess ranked 102nd in QB rating when targeted (68.0) and 91st in separation (1.14) at the point of target. Playing with Andrew Luck provides a multitude of upside, but Campbell provides more at a fraction of the cost.
Mike Williams – Last year’s WR32, Williams looks like a candidate to take a step forward in 2019. However, he comes with a number of risk factors and an ever-increasing ADP currently at 52.4.
Though Tyrell Williams departed in free agency, the remaining Williams still must compete with Keenan Allen and a healthy Hunter Henry for targets. In the second half of the season, Allen commanded a target share north of 30% overall and in the red zone. On the season Allen actually earned more red zone targets (15) than Williams (14), but the latter scored 10 touchdowns to Allen’s six.
Likely to remain the team’s secondary pass catcher, Williams could see further targets siphoned away by Melvin Gordon, who has at least 57 targets each of the past three seasons. With D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Allen Robinson going later in drafts, Williams is a tough buy at his current ADP.
Eric Ebron – For similar reasons to Funchess, Ebron has the potential to play a limited compliment of snaps, and currently comes off the board as TE8 with a costly ADP of 81.7.
The main concern regarding Ebron is the return of Jack Doyle. Expected back sometime in training camp after offseason hip surgery, Doyle actually out-snapped and ran more pass routes than Ebron when healthy.
Ebron also remains a prime touchdown regression candidate, adding further risk to his profile. The former Detroit Lion led the position in touchdowns (12) in 2018, but the Colts added Campbell and Funchess to join Hilton. With Vance McDonald and David Njoku being selecting a little later, Ebron looks like a mid-round landmine.
Trey Burton – After posting 604 yards and six scores in his first year in Chicago, Burton leaves best ball drafts at pick 126.3 (TE13). While the cost is low, Burton has shown a fairly low ceiling, averaging 4.75 targets per game.
The Bears preferred to use Adam Shaheen as an inline blocker, cutting into Burton’s snaps. He also suffered what was reported to be a serious groin injury at the end of 2018, further complicating his profile. With Jordan Reed, Noah Fant, and Doyle being taken far later, Burton’s risks make him an uneasy choice in the 11th round.
Dallas Goedert – In a productive rookie campaign, Goedert finished as the TE20 and behind only Chris Herndon and Mark Andrews in his rookie class. Heading into 2019, his ADP has climbed to 135.0 (TE15).
Despite the promising rookie campaign, Goedert remains parked behind Zach Ertz for the foreseeable future. The Eagles ran 12-personnel at the second-highest rate in the league in 2018 (35%), but that only allowed Goedert to accumulate 33 catches for 334 yards and four touchdowns.
With a slew of starting tight ends available after Goedert, he’s difficult to draft considering he’s currently a backup player.