Players to Fade in Drafts: The Fantasy Footballers Rankings vs. ADP
Last month, I released an article looking at The Fantasy Footballers rankings vs. ADP (average draft position) in order to help early drafters find value. The goal of that article was to identify players who are ranked higher in Andy, Mike, and Jason’s consensus rankings and compare those rankings to current ADP to find players who are a value in drafts. For the second article in this series, I identified players who ranked lower in the Ballers’ rankings relative to ADP to highlight players who might be over-drafted – players who fantasy gamers may want to fade. Assume ADP and rankings for full PPR formats.
Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
Ballers Rank: QB28
Listen, I get it. Drew Lock is fun to cheer for and he’s extremely intriguing in dynasty formats, but the hype is out of control with the young QB in Denver. The narrative that exists surrounding Drew Lock has everything to do with the weapons at his disposal – Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, Noah Fant, and now, Melvin Gordon. Is it intriguing? Sure. But, there are still concerns. Drew Lock, still a young player in his own right, is surrounded by skill position players who are in their third year or less (not including Melvin Gordon). In a strange offseason, it’ll be difficult to trust Lock’s on-field chemistry with two of his three starting WRs being rookies. Additionally, in Lock’s five 2019 starts, he topped 14 fantasy points once and topped 208 passing yards just once. At QB16 ADP, it appears the hype train has left the station.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Ballers Rank: QB12
There isn’t a major discrepancy between the ranking and the ADP for Rodgers, but it’s worth mentioning that if you’re drafting Rodgers to be a bonafide plug and play every week starter (which at QB10, you are), it’s likely you’ll be disappointed off and on throughout the year. Rogers enters 2020 with arguably the worst pass-catching group of his career after the team inexplicably decided to pass on WR in the NFL Draft. After posting the worst passer rating and fewest yards/attempt of his career since 2015, Rodgers is also taking less risky throws and isn’t rushing the football. He’s failed to top 270 rush yards for three straight years, providing little value with his legs. Moreover, Matt LaFleur is putting his stamp on this offense in a negative way for the passing game. The team ran fewer total plays in 2019 and passed the ball at a lower rate compared to 2018 prior to LaFleur’s hire. Will Rodgers have some boom games? Yes, but he’s not the same player he was a few years ago.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Ballers Rank: RB9
There isn’t a massive gap between these ranks and ADP, but it’s worth mentioning that in PPR formats Henry would need everything, and I mean, everything to go right in 2020. 2019 was absolutely fantastic for Henry. He set career highs in the following categories: rush attempts, rushing yards, yards per carry, TD, receiving yards, receiving TD, and yards per touch. Even with all of these career highs and winning the rushing crown last year, Henry finished as the RB7 in PPR formats (Weeks 1-16). It’s difficult to see a scenario where the exact same outcome is likely, indicating regression in at least some of these categories. In PPR formats specifically, RB5-7 seems like Henry’s ceiling and that’s where he’s being drafted. Worth noting, Tennessee also lost Pro Football Focus’ 7th best-graded tackle in the entire NFL in run blocking.
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
Ballers Rank: RB28
For a more detailed scouting report on Jonathan Taylor, the rookie RB out of Wisconsin, click here. Taylor is excellent – probably the best pure runner of the football in this class. Plus he plays behind one of the best offensive lines in football, so why is he so low in the rankings? This coaching staff has been adamant all offseason that they will use a “1A and 1B” approach with Taylor and Marlon Mack leading the way. Frank Reich and company have also described Nyheim Hines as being useful in the passing game. It’s possible this RB group is a full-on committee early in the season, limiting Taylor’s season-long upside. Fantasy gamers may have to wait to see Taylor take control of the backfield until halfway through the season.
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
Ballers Rank: WR28
The concern regarding Keenan Allen in 2020 is for one reason and one reason only: QB play. Allen played the entirety of his career with Philip Rivers under center for the Chargers and while Rivers’ arm talent is probably on the decline, he had fantastic chemistry with Allen that is now gone. Over the last three seasons, Allen has averaged 148 targets. Will he get the same volume from journeyman Tyrod Taylor or rookie QB, Justin Herbert? Probably not. If Tyrod starts the majority of the year, there is a concern for all pass-catchers, as Taylor has never surpassed 3,050 passing yards or 20 passing TD in any season of his pro career. Justin Herbert, while talented, is a rookie in a strange offseason with major accuracy concerns. Regardless of who is delivering the football, it’s fair to wonder if the QB can sustain Allen in 2020. The Chargers threw the ball at the 6th highest clip in 2019 with Rivers. If that volume comes down, and you add in questionable QB play, Allen and other pass catchers could disappoint fantasy gamers.
Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos
Ballers Rank: WR57
Jerry Jeudy is a fantastic WR, but there’s one major issue. He’s a rookie WR (those typically don’t produce a ton in year one) who enters training camp with tons of uncertainty. As discussed above, the hype around Drew Lock is out of control and along those same lines, Jerry Jeudy appears to be overvalued in fantasy drafts. At best, Jeudy is second in line for targets behind Courtland Sutton who with Lock last year finished as WR56, WR41, WR51, and WR45 over the final four weeks of the season. It’s likely that Sutton remains first in line for targets, but as we saw from Lock last year, it remains to be seen if he can support two top 40 WRs, especially with Noah Fant taking a step forward in year two and the addition of Melvin Gordon in the backfield.
Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ballers Rank: TE15
Gronk is back! Well, he’s at least on an NFL roster, but is he back in the sense that he’s the same old Gronk? When we last saw Gronk play in 2018, he only played 13 games, missing time due to an ankle injury. On tape, he looked slower and a shell of his former self and the numbers back it up. He posted just 3 receiving TD and his lowest yards per reception mark since 2014. Certainly, the year off should help, but Gronk’s injury history is concerning, he’s joining a new team, and historically speaking, Bruce Arians hasn’t utilized the TE in his offense. He’ll also be competing for targets with 2019’s breakout WR, Chris Godwin, and the always underrated TD machine, Mike Evans.
Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns
Ballers Rank: TE19
Austin Hooper exploded onto the scene in 2018 and 2019 when he finished as the TE6 and TE3 in fantasy points per game, respectively. But, he finds himself moving away from one of the most pass-happy offenses in football in Atlanta and goes to Cleveland. The passing volume is likely to be reduced for Hooper with this move, and historically, data supports pass-catchers can struggle when moving teams in the offseason. I personally think Hooper is fine as a later round TE dart throw this year given the TD upside, but fantasy players hoping for Austin Hooper’s production in Atlanta to be replicated are likely to be disappointed in 2020.