Fantasy football draft season is right around the corner and avoiding overvalued players in drafts is one of the best ways to ensure fantasy success.
Note: All top-12 quarterbacks in addition to top-24 wide receivers and running backs were considered.
1. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brady is coming off of a stellar 2021 season in which he put up a 92.0 PFF grade and a fantasy QB3 finish. Now entering his 23rd season and turning 45 years old, Brady has lost Rob Gronkowski while Chris Godwin will most likely start the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he recovers from his torn ACL. Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette are Brady’s only top-five returning receivers from last season.
Offensive minded coach Bruce Arians has stepped down and defensive-guru Todd Bowles has stepped in his place, although Byron Leftwich is retaining his play-calling duties. The Bucs led the league in pass rate last season under Arians/Leftwich (69.1%) and although they were in completely different situations, the New York Jets under Todd Bowles averaged a 61.2% pass rate over his four years there. Even though he will not be the primary play caller, Bowles should still have some impact on how the offense operates.
The Bucs did bring in wide reciever Russell Gage, who has put together a solid career 69.05 PFF grade, but they need him to fill a large role in order to keep up their offensive production. It might be time to question when to draft the GOAT due to the introduction of a new defensive-minded coach, another year of age and fewer weapons surrounding him.
Brady has placed a huge amount of faith in Gage, and this season, his QB9 ADP is just too expensive to take the plunge. Instead of drafting Brady, Trey Lance and Dak Prescott are right behind him and have equal, or greater, upside for a cheaper price. Lance has all of the physical tools to be a great fantasy QB, and his rushing upside alone gives him an extremely safe floor. Dak is coming off of a QB7 finish and is still just 29 years old, and alongside his safe rushing floor, he is another year removed from his devastating ankle injury in 2020.
2. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Barkley is one of the league’s most talented running backs, but his career has been marred by injuries. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3 of his 2019 season, which hampered him the rest of the season, and in the following season, he tore his right ACL. That injury knocked him out for the entire 2020 and slowed his start of the 2021 season. He was finally getting his season going with back-to-back top-10 fantasy performances before stepping on a Dallas Cowboys defender’s foot in Week 5 and proceeded to miss the next four games.
After finishing as the RB34 last season, Barkley is the healthiest he’s been since his rookie year. The Giants invested in the offensive line this past season with Evan Neal and Mark Glowinski additions. Even with their new additions, the Giants still find themselves in the middle of the pack at 18th in recent offensive line rankings.
Barkley is surrounded by Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell in New York’s backfield, and the Giants backup from last season, Devontae Booker, has yet to sign with a new team. He will receive massive volume numbers, but his low efficiency numbers will keep him on the low-end of the RB1 spectrum. Last year, he finished with 0.74 fantasy points per touch — 143rd among all flex players. Barkley also ranked 43rd among all running backs with a 65.7 rushing grade. On top of that, he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry, placing him 47th among RBs. Finally, he has just 10 runs for 10-plus-yards over the last two seasons (he posted 61 over his first years). Barkley has struggled to regain the burst that made him a home-run type player from his first two years in the league, and the lack of success on a huge number of carries just does not equal positive dividends for his ADP.
Coming off of yet another disappointing season, Saquon still has some tantalizing potential that is attracting fantasy managers, and as the NFL season approaches, his ADP appears to keep rising, pushing him out of value territory and into being overpriced.
Javonte Williams and Nick Chubb both provide safer floors and relatively equal ceilings at nearly the same price. Williams was a far more efficient runner then Barkley and sported a 76.0 rushing grade along with a nearly league-leading 64 missed tackles. Chubb is almost on a different planet from Barkley when dissecting their efficiency. Chubb hit 5.5 yards per carry (second among starting RBs) and held an 80.6 rushing grade (13th among RBs).
3. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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