As we are doing best ball drafts, one of the biggest keys is making sure we are taking players at or around where they will be end of the season rankings. If we are lucky we are finding guys who are outperforming their rankings and bringing us clear value. What we want to avoid most though is drafting players who don’t come close to meeting their ADP’s. That is where you will typically struggle to succeed. If you took guys like Michael Pittman last year in the 2nd or 3rd round, you were going to struggle as he didn’t finish as a top 20 WR. Here are some players in the top 100 who could really struggle to hit value for us in our drafts.
D.K. Metcalf – WR15, ADP 28.6 and Jaxon Smith-Njigba – WR 32, ADP 63.4
I touched on how the Seahawks receivers are mispriced in ADP when I looked at undervalued receivers and really shows up in both Metcalf and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba being overvalued. For as good as the Seahawks passing offense was a year ago, it would be very tough for them to have a top 15 WR in Metcalf and a pair of receivers in the low 30’s like JSN and Lockett are priced. Something has to be off here, and likely they are all a bit wrong. Metcalf has the skill set and track record to be a top 15 WR, but at the same time Lockett has outproduced him. So why isn’t adding a rookie first-round WR hurting Metcalf as well?
Even if you believe that Metcalf will be the better fantasy producer this season vs Lockett, you have to take into account the extra competition for targets. For Metcalf to hit or exceed this number, then that means Smith-Njigba’s rank has to be too high. There were just a total of 76 targets to receivers not named Metcalf or Lockett last season, so for JSN to hit this mark he would need every single one of those and pull from other sources. Likely that is from both Metcalf and Lockett, in addition to maybe some TE/RB targets. Metcalf actually led the team in targets, so if say JSN takes 15% of the combined Metcalf/Lockett targets, that is more coming from Metcalf. The idea that Lockett would be the only one to lose targets seems like a stretch.
Overall this whole team feels like a misprice when it comes receivers, my guess would be that Metcalf and Lockett both end up in the 20’s, and JSN is more like WR 45-50. All can find there way into being productive in fantasy, but that would point to both Metcalf and Smith-Njigba being overdrafted.
Christian Watson – WR 21, ADP 39.9
Considering everything that happened last season to Watson and the Packers passing offense, his 611 receiving yards and 7 TDs is pretty impressive for a rookie. Watson dealt with multiple injuries that not only took away valuable camp time, but he missed 3 games and only topped 70% of the snaps 6 times in his other 14 games. The Packers’ offense as a whole dealt with major OL injury issues, other receivers being out, and Aaron Rodgers dealing with a thumb injury. Watson showed his value in a best ball format with his 4-week run of spike weeks, where he topped 19 points and was a top 10 WR weeks 10-13. So generally with a 2nd-year guy, there would be a good case to push him up draft boards in hopes for a breakout, but this is a situation that I think has gotten a bit extreme.
While there are some positives for Watson, there are some major question marks for the Packers this season. Even though it was a down year for Aaron Rodgers last year, it’s still a pretty high bar for Jordan Love to meet this year. Green Bay was just middle of the league in passing stats like attempts (18th), yards (17th), yards per attempt (19th). The only area where they were near the top is TDs (11th), and you are now taking away Rodgers. The Packers could end up throwing less this season, or being in the same range, but less efficient. Either of those situations will make it tough for Watson to be a top-24 WR. Watson’s deep ball ability and spike week potential also takes a major hit in losing Rodgers, who is one of the best ever in that area.
The other big unknown is will Watson actually be a true Alpha receiver and dominate the targets on this team. That is the expectation of course going in, but it’s not as if that is a clear guarantee. This is a very young pass-catching group, made up primarily of 2nd-year guys and rookies. Romeo Doubs was drafted 2 rounds after Watson last season, and he himself played a similar number of snaps. He actually ended up with one more target than Watson last season. This year in the draft the Packers spent a pair of 2nd round picks on TE Luke Musgrave and WR Jayden Reed. So Watson doesn’t really have a major advantage in terms of experience or team investment in him. Simply put we don’t know how Jordan Love and this offense will look, they might feature the TE more now that they’ve invested in the position. Or maybe a slot receiver like Reed ends up being Love’s favorite target. You also have the situation where Watson still leads the team in targets/yards/TDs, but it is split so evenly, that he doesn’t come close to meeting value.
While the upside is clearly there for Watson, this is just a very high price to pay given all the uncertainty in how he will be used and what this offense will look like. There are a number of receivers going behind him, with some combination of a better track record, situation, or upside. We are talking about guys like Terry McLaurin, Drake London, Mike Williams, Dionte Johnson, and Chrisitan Kirk. It’s a big opportunity cost, and the chances that he meets or exceeds this spot are smaller than people are giving him credit for.
DJ Moore – WR 26, ADP 46.9
The last four seasons DJ Moore has finished as the WR 22, 18, 22, and 18 (missing one game apiece in 2020 and 2019). So on the surface, you can see how that can make Moore look like a value as WR 26 this year. If you dig deeper though, there are some more concerns. Over the last three seasons, Christian McCaffrey wasn’t in the Panthers line-up for the majority of the games either due to being traded or injury. So Moore was a focal point with little competition in the passing game. This was especially true last season when Robbie Anderson also got traded. Moore’s best games were after CMC and Anderson left the Panthers’ line-up. In 2019 when McCaffrey was the focal point of the offense, the Panthers were actually 2nd in the league in passing attempts. There was still plenty of targets to go around for Moore.
With the Bears Moore is clearly the top receiver, but there is competition on the roster that he could struggle to get a higher percentage of targets. Both Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney have shown the ability to be productive NFL receivers, and if they are healthy they will get their share of targets. Tight end Cole Kmet was Fields, top weapon last season, so it’s likely he remains involved as well in the offense.
In terms of Best Ball one of the concerns that Moore has had, is he’s been a strong stat compiler, but hasn’t shown the ceiling we’d like to see. In .5 point PPR, Moore has just 5 games over the last four seasons of 20 or more points. That is especially concerning if his move to the Bears isn’t the positive people are expecting. The Bears were dead last in passing attempts last season with 377. That is extremely low, and you have to go back to 2009, and Mark Sanchez’s rookie year with the Jets to find a team with fewer than 400 passing attempts (393). That was in a 16-game season, so from a per-game perspective, Chicago was clearly worse, averaging just 22.17 pass attempts a game. That is almost the league average of 21.4 completions a game. On top of the lack of passing attempts, the Bears were just inefficient in passing the ball, with a low completion rate and yards per attempt.
So for Moore to not only meet this range, but prove himself to be a valuable best ball receiver, Chicago will need to significantly increase their passing attempts, and become more efficient. He will also need to find some way to have an outsized share of what limited targets there are in this offense.
Treylon Burks – WR 35, ADP 67.8
This ADP now looks far worse with DeAndre Hopkins signing with the Titans. Burks will see his ADP drop, but it was bad even at this level as the “top WR”, even if he falls into WR 50 range that is probably too high. The Titans have finished 30th, 25th, 30th, and 31st in passing attempts in the past four seasons. Their passing yardage and TDs outpaced those numbers in 2019-2021, but that was due to Ryan Tannehill‘s efficiency, and some elite playmaking from A.J. Brown and Corey Davis (2019-2020).
Last season Tannehill remained decently efficient (though a step back from the overall previous production), but between his injuries and the lack of a true playmaker, the passing offense crumbled. Burks was brought in to be that playmaker to pick up big yards after the catch, but it just didn’t materialize as a rookie. There is still plenty of upside to his long-term future, but he came in as a raw talent and that is what we saw in his rookie season. He would have to make a significant leap in year two, and that just seems unlikely given the situation.
For Burks to finish significantly better than WR 50, he will need Ryan Tannehill to stay healthy and be as efficient as he was in 2019 and 2020. Burks will also need to show clear improvement, and if the team wanted to throw a bit more that wouldn’t hurt either. Unfortunately, all those seem less likely. Tannehill is a year older, and the team is likely grooming his replacement in 2nd round rookie Will Levis. If the Titans start out poorly, Tannehill could end up benched/cut/traded, and Levis could end up playing a number of games (including those highly important playoff weeks), that outcome would crush any chance of Burks returning value. The Titans’ offense as a whole is in question as they will rely on a very risky offensive line this season. So it’s tough to imagine the days of this offense being so efficient returning this year.
Quentin Johnston- WR 42, ADP 79.5
I love the idea of adding weapons who could be playing in this Kellen Moore offense with Justin Herbert at the helm. We’ve seen Herbert be a major fantasy producer in 2020 and 2021, and had the volume in 2022 as well. Now with Kellen Moore coming in, there is reason to believe this can not only be a top 5 passing offense, but maybe 1st in the league. So why the concern with Johnston?
I think Johnston is similar to how the fantasy community viewed Treylon Burks and Skyy Moore last season. Burks was a 1st round rookie, who had skill traits to put up big fantasy points, while Moore went to a situation attached to an elite QB. For these reasons, people ignored a lot of clear concerns and overdrafted them. With Burks he was very raw as a route-runner and relied on manufactured touches to produce in college. Moore similarly was raw coming out, and the bigger concern was his role was undefined with the Chiefs. This is the combination we have with Johnston. He has the size and speed you want, but he really relied on manufactured or broken plays in college. He’s clearly behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams at receiver, and Austin Ekler will continue to have a major role in this offense. Kellen Moore’s offenses in Dallas heavily relied upon the Tight End, so we could see Gerald Everett take on a bigger workload. That could all still be fine if Johnston is the clear cut number 3 WR, but it appears that Josh Palmer still will have a role in this offense.
It makes it really tough to take Johnston this high as a top 80 pick, when it feels like he’s threading a needle to even crack the top 50 WRs. Even if you want to just hope for the late season upside, it feels like a risky selection given the type of starting RBs, WRs, and TEs going around this area.
Zay Flowers- WR 46, ADP 90.1
The upside case for Flowers is he’s a first-round rookie, with good speed and route-running ability. He’s going to an offense that figures to increase their pace and passing volume, while the depth chart has multiple injury concerns. If all those reasons hit he absolutely can be a top 50 WR and maybe even top 30 if some of his competition continues to deal with injury.
On the other hand, though, Flowers likely wouldn’t have been a first-round WR any of the past few years, as he’s a smaller receiver who showcased good but not elite athleticism. The expectation that the Ravens increase their play/pass volume is legitimate, but what does that mean? Do they go into the top 5 or 10 teams in these areas, or are they just the middle of the pack? That becomes a factor when you may end up the 4th best option in the offense. That is a big concern, as we know that Mark Andrews is going to be a major part of the passing attack. If Rashod Bateman and O’dell Beckham are healthy I’d imagine they are the 1-2 of this offense. The last question is how condensed is this offense going to end up being. If Flowers ends up as the 4th option, that isn’t great, but might not be too bad if the volume is increased and the passing is condensed around 4 guys. If the Ravens start mixing in guys like Isaiah Likely in 2 TE sets and holdover Devin Duvernay, it could eat into the upside case for Flowers.
For me it’s tough to take Flowers here as he’s going ahead of WR3’s in higher volume/more condensed offenses like Tyler Boyd, Zay Jones, Michael Gallup, and even K.J. Osborn. In addition there are a number of other receivers who seem likely to be the 1 or 2 on their teams, like Michael Thomas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Courtland Sutton, and Nico Collins. Even Beckham is going after Flowers, and I’d much rather bet on him than the rookie.