With the third week of preseason action about to get underway, we’ve finally reached the heart of draft season. Not that people haven’t already been drafting...and making questionable decisions. That means it's time to take a look at 10 of this summer’s most overdrafted players by average draft position. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a rundown of 10 of the most egregious examples. ADP numbers are based on the Rotoworld Draft Guide. Remember, ADP is constantly changing, so the listed ADPs could find themselves (slightly) out of date in relatively short order. Without further ado.
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Off The Board: 19th amongst running backs
The only thing I can think of? Fantasy players are gluttons for punishment. This website has a sordid history when it comes to McFadden. That’s because anyone who’s ever played fantasy football does. DMC’s talent has always been special, a cut above. But the results? Let’s just say McFadden has never let a good deed go unpunished.
Forget McFadden’s history. Forget that whenever there’s been a fork in the road, he’s stepped on it, gotten an infection and missed five games. Forget that for every botched breakout, there’s been a convenient excuse (Greg Knapp’s zone-blocking scheme).
Focus on the fact that McFadden is a 26-year-old running back coming off a season where he averaged 3.3 yards on his 216 carries. That he’s running behind a historically bad — and we do mean historically — offensive line. That he’s lining up next to a quarterback who’s made two career starts, has no one to throw to and can’t challenge farther than 25 yards downfield.
McFadden would be in a world of trouble even if he was coming off five straight Pro Bowl seasons. The fact that he’s being drafted ahead of the likes of Frank Gore, Le’Veon Bell and Lamar Miller is staggering. Forget McFadden’s infuriating past. Every reason you need not to draft him is staring you right in the face.
Off The Board: Third amongst quarterbacks.
This has nothing to do with Manning’s diminishing arm strength or alarming performance in Denver’s Divisional Round loss to the Ravens, and everything to do with the fact that 39.2 is simply too early to snag a quarterback who isn’t Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers.
There are 12-13 signal callers with a legitimate shot at top-three value. So why take Manning so early when you could nab an RB2 or WR2 with WR1 upside? And you might as well at least consider Manning’s mitigating circumstances, like his rapidly advancing age, injury history and banged up offensive line. I do not expect Manning to be a fantasy bust this season. I just don’t think you’re getting the most bang for your buck taking him at 39.2.
Off The Board: 13th amongst receivers.
Let me start by saying that I believe Welker is one of the most underrated players of his generation. You don’t average 112 catches over six seasons by the grace of a higher being or virtue of your team’s “system.” You do it by getting open at will.
But for as talented and underrated as Welker has always been, No. 13 is a WR1 price, and that’s not a check he’s going to cash with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in the fold. Even if Welker catches 90 balls, it’s not going to translate to WR1ish value for a player who’s averaged 11.2 yards per catch for his career. There’s no reason to think Welker is going to be a force in the red zone.
Yes, Welker spent his entire Patriots career in a crowded offense, but there simply aren’t 67 new catches to be had in Denver’s receiver corps. 67 is the difference between Welker’s six-year average and the number of balls No. 3 Broncos WR Brandon Stokley snagged last season. Drafting Welker 40th overall is paying for past production, and not seeing the forest for the trees.
Off The Board: 28th amongst receivers.
Rotoworld’s pumping of the brakes on the man better known as Tavon Awesome has been met by general bafflement. Haven’t we seen the guy play? Don’t we know that the Rams traded up to get him? That Danny Amendola is now a Patriot?
There’s no denying that Austin is a special talent. There’s also no denying that his role in the Rams offense is unclear, and that he’s a 5-foot-8, 174-pound receiver who’s never played a down of NFL football. In Saturday’s preseason game against the Packers, Austin displayed the No. 1 telltale sign of “young playmaker syndrome”: Trying to make something out of every nothing. Austin danced and then danced some more, turning his nothings into...bigger nothings.
In other words, the man isn’t being born into this world as an every-week WR3. Austin is going to be valuable this season. He’s probably going to have some big games, make some highlight plays.
But there’s zero reason he should be getting drafted ahead of the likes of Cecil Shorts, T.Y. Hilton, Stevie Johnson and Josh Gordon, just to name a few. Austin’s a big name, but the big game doesn’t appear poised to follow right off the bat.
Off The Board: 35th amongst receivers.
It’s hard to call this one a reach, both because somewhere inside Britt’s body is an exceptionally talented football player, and No. 35 receiver seems perfectly reasonable on paper.
But the evidence suggests it’s a status Britt is going to have major trouble achieving. He’s still dealing with swelling in his surgically-repaired right knee, and is playing in an offense that’s gone full Ground-N-Pound. When the Titans do throw the ball, it will be with Jake Locker’s incredibly erratic arm. For targets, Britt will be contending with promising second-year pro Kendall Wright, underrated veteran Nate Washington and talented rookie Justin Hunter.
In theory, Britt’s upside is high, but that can be said for all manner of players going behind him (Josh Gordon, Chris Givens, Michael Floyd, etc.). Coming back from a torn ACL, Britt wasn’t the same player last season. His circumstances make it difficult to envision a return to the form he flashed before going down in 2011.
Off The Board: Seventh amongst tight ends.
It pays to be famous. That’s the only explanation for Gates — who appeared in his most games since 2009 last season, but had his worst year since his rookie campaign — coming off the board where he is.
Gates appeared to lose multiple steps in 2012, and San Diego’s dreadful offensive line and Philip Rivers’ deteriorating play aren’t going to bring them back. Gates will likely remain a feared target in the red zone, but no longer separates or offers much of anything after the catch. Once the unquestioned No. 1 tight end, he’s now a quintessential TE2. Cast your lot with higher-upside plays like Jordan Cameron, Jared Cook and Jermichael Finley.
Off The Board: 27th amongst running backs.
Things to like about Mendenhall: He’s entering the year with a starting job. Beyond that? Not much else. A McFadden-esque underachiever, Mendenhall is reuniting with one of his biggest boosters in Bruce Arians, but running behind a bottom-three run-blocking line.
Combine that with Arians’ pass-obsessed tendencies and the two draft picks Arizona spent on young runners, and you have a low-upside flex play. But that’s not what Mendenhall is being drafted as. He’s going in the sixth round of fantasy drafts, the land of Chris Ivory, Shane Vereen and Giovani Bernard. Why gamble on an underachieving health risk in a pass-first offense when there are high-upside talents like Vereen to be found? Owners taking Mendenhall at his current ADP are sentencing themselves to a year of grinding mediocrity.
Off The Board: 39th amongst running backs.
This one is pretty straightforward. Barring injury to C.J. Spiller, Jackson simply isn’t going to play. He’s a strict handcuff, and not a particularly high-ceiling one at that. There’s a place to draft those kinds of players, but it’s in the final rounds, not the 8-9 round territory. Old ghosts are hard to shake for fantasy football lifers, but as far as you should be concerned, F-Jax’s impressive 2011 was another lifetime ago. He’s a waste of a pick in the mid-section of your draft.
Off The Board: 14th amongst quarterbacks.
Dalton was as bad as any quarterback down the stretch last season, surpassing 211 yards just twice over his final nine games, and averaging only 198.5 yards per game after Week 10. That doesn’t include Week 17, where he passed for 78 yards in an abbreviated start. So why is he being drafted ahead of the likes of Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, etc.? Do people think his arm will get stronger? His athleticism more robust? Dalton is where he is because of the talent around him. He’s not getting any better. Is he a serviceable QB2 with the right matchup? Yes. Can he serve as a QB1 in a pinch? Mayyybe. Does he have any real upside whatsoever? No.
Off The Board: 50th amongst running backs.
This one’s completely baffling. Stacy was the subject of some hype earlier this summer, but he simply doesn’t have a role to begin the year. That doesn’t mean he won’t come into one before it’s all said and done, but 143.9 isn’t the time to be taking those kinds of fliers. Stacy is coming off the board before players who have a legitimate chance to make an impact this season, i.e., Ryan Broyles, Kenbrell Thompkins and Christine Michael/Robert Turbin. You don’t draft the No. 3 running back in an offense that’s looking to get more wide open before the No. 2/3 backs in the league’s reigning run-heaviest offense (Seattle). There’s also the matter of Stacy simply not being that dynamic of a talent. He’s pure waiver-wire fodder.