I took part in an online mock draft this week, just to see what players are going higher than I expected and what players are going lower than I expected. I’ve taken the results of this draft and made a list of players who were overvalued and undervalued. This list should help you see which players on your draft board are rated too high and which you may be able to draft later than you expected.
If you think this exercise is valuable, let me know, and we’ll do another round next week.
Mock 1 (8/26/09)
(12-team snake draft; numbers refer to draft position)
No. 6 – RB LaDanian Tomlinson – OVERVALUED – A lot of people like Tomlinson this season, but I’m a little more bearish. I think Tomlinson is a borderline first-round pick (No. 10-12 player overall), because you can get two solid backs drafting from that position. Drafting LDT higher makes you rely on him too much given his age and his decline last year. He’s no longer an elite fantasy back; just a very good one. Don’t draft him high based on history.
No. 17 – RB Clinton Portis – UNDERVALUED – Portis’ numbers over the past several years show that he remains a solid late first-rounder. I actually have Portis above Tomlinson on my personal draft board, but that’s a minority opinion. If you’re drafting late in a 10- or 12-team league, you can probably make Portis your No. 2 running back, which would be a great result. If you get Portis in the middle of the second round or later, count your blessings, because you got a steal.
No. 21 – RB Steve Slaton – UNDERVALUED – This strikes me as a little bit of an artifically low spot for Slaton, but even in the mid-teens Slaton is undervalued. He’s a legitimate first-round pick who should be able to repeat his numbers from last year in Houston’s potent offense. If you draft 9, 10, 11, or 12 in a snake draft and end up with Slaton and Portis as your top two running backs, you’ll be set.
No. 45 – WR Wes Welker – OVERVALUED – Lots of people have Welker rated as a second-level receiver, but I think that’s too high. Instead, I have him as a third-level receiver, much like Vincent Jackson, Braylon Edwards, Brandon Marshall, and Roy Williams. That’s the group between 15 and 20 at receiver on my draft board, which means they’re borderline starters in two-WR leagues. But in this league, Welker went as a No. 1 receiver. He will have consistent yardage numbers (and catch numbers if you’re in a point-per-catch league), but his lack of touchdowns last year wasn’t a coincidence. He’s probably a 6-to-8 touchdown guy, and that holds down his fantasy value. He should go in the 50s, not the 40s, in most leagues.
No. 51 – WR Roy Williams – OVERVALUED – Like Welker, Williams went too high in this draft. Williams becomes the Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver, but he’s not going to automatically match Terrell Owens’ numbers of recent years. The Cowboys have a depth of dangerous guys, from Jason Witten to Patrick Crayton to Miles Austin, and it’s hard for me to see Williams becoming an 80-catch guy. He’s a No. 2 fantasy wideout, but not a top-15 wideout, which is where he was drafted in this mock. My guess is that he’ll be drafted too early in your draft as well.
No. 58 – QB Matt Ryan – OVERVALUED – This is way too high for Ryan, who is a better player in real football than fantasy football at this point in his career. Even with the addition of Tony Gonzalez in the offseason, Ryan is still only about the 10th or 11th best fantasy quarterback. That makes him a borderline starter, not a 5th-round pick. Don’t get your head out over your skis with Ryan – at least not this year. He’s solid but not yet a fantasy stud.
No. 59 – WR Vincent Jackson – UNDERVALUED – Jackson, who broke out in a big way last year, should have gone ahead of Welker and Roy Williams instead of behind them. To me, he’s the best of the third group of receivers (which starts around No. 15 on the wide receiver board) because of his production last year and his upside. I’d be far more excited about taking a gamble with Jackson than with another upside guy like Williams.
No. 63 – RB Knowshon Moreno – UNDERVALUED – I always have rookie running backs higher on my personal draft board than most of the “fantasy experts” do, but most of the time the rookies come through. That trend of undervaluing rookies definitely happened in this draft, and I think it’s a mistake. Moreno should end up as the No. 1 back in Denver, and with his talent that should put him as a starting fantasy running back. But this draft position put Moreno outside the top 25 backs, and that’s simply a mistake.
No. 66 – RB Ahmad Bradshaw – OVERVALUED – Many fantasy observers are looking at Bradshaw and expecting his numbers to rise now that Derrick Ward is in Tampa Bay. But my feeling is that the Giants will keep Bradshaw as a change-of-pack back instead of giving him most of Ward’s work in addition to his own. So instead of making Bradshaw a No. 3 fantasy back, I consider him a No. 4 back (and his teammate Danny Ware a No. 5 or 6 back). So I wouldn’t start considering Bradshaw until about two rounds below where he went in this draft.
No. 73 – RB Ray Rice – UNDERVALUED – Rice has emerged in training camp and in preseason games as the Ravens’ best threat at running back. He’s an ideal No. 3 back and may even end up being a solid every-week starter. He’s got a good offensive line, and he has talent. The only question is opportunities to touch the ball, and it’s looking more and more like Rice will be getting far more of those than Willis McGahee or LeRon McClain will.
No. 74 – RB Donald Brown, Colts – Brown is another rookie who seems undervalued to me. I think he’s a solid pick in the sixth round of 12-team leagues as a No. 3 back with huge upside. If Brown can supplant Joseph Addai, he’ll have a ton of value. But even if Brown shares touches with Addai, my hunch is that he’ll be on the better end of the split, which will make him a terrific flex option or even RB starter. So if Brown falls into the 70s in your draft, grab him before someone else wises up.
No. 76 – WR Hines Ward – OVERVALUED – Ward went ahead of his teammate Santonio Holmes, but Holmes is the Steelers’ receiver I’d rather have this year. Holmes should end up with more yards, and based on his playoff performance last year, he should end up with more touchdowns as well. To me, Ward is a veteran receiver who I’d feel OK about as my No. 3 wideout but not in a more significant fantasy football role. So if you’re counting on Ward as one of your two starting receivers, you’re overstating his value.
No. 82 – RB Cedric Benson – UNDERVALUED – You might not like Benson’s off-field history, and you might have been let down on his performances in Chicago. But Benson looked good in the second half of the season for the Bengals last year, and as the unquestioned starter this year, he should be a quality No. 3 fantasy back and maybe even a dependable starter. He doesn’t have huge upside, but you should get some consistent performances from Benson, and that’s something valuable. It certainly makes Benson more than the No. 4 back he was drafted as in this mock.