Fantasy: Beware the Preseason Hype

| 5 years ago

Fantasy: Beware the Preseason Hype

It is 2 A.M. You have just left the theater muttering to yourself, “Why did I pay good money to wait in line for two hours to watch this movie on opening night?” In your gut you knew G.I. Joe was going to be a terrible movie, but you could not resist. Driving home bleary-eyed, you realize that you could have saved the money and time had you watched it via rental, but your childhood American heroes were calling and the previews looked pretty sweet — that and your friends have poor taste in film. The hype got you.

Every preseason there is a group of players that climbs draft boards faster than Michael Bay’s checking account balance after a movie release. This year is no different. Many of these players are not bad draft picks, but rather bad values. You might be able to grab them where they should be drafted — most of the time as fliers toward the end of your draft — but the hype has caused your fellow fantasy owner to grab one of them four rounds too early. Here are some of the guys I think fit that bill in redraft formats:

Tim Hightower

Perhaps conducting the biggest hype train this preseason, the former Arizona Cardinal suddenly finds himself being drafted in the fifth round or earlier.

Wait. What?

I understand, he is having a monster preseason. Folks are saying he is finally in a good, one-cut system that plays to his strengths. That is all fine and dandy, but we are talking about Tim Flipping Hightower. He ranked dead last among qualifying running backs last season with a -7.5 rating. In fact, over the past three seasons he has always fallen within the bottom ten running backs with terrible ratings. He is a fumble waiting to happen no matter what team he plays for.

Setting aside Hightower’s skills, it is important to remember who he plays for: Mike Shanahan. Along with Bill Belichick, Shanny has been a bane to fantasy football owners over the past decade, particularly at running back. He is capricious, and the second Hightower puts one on the ground he may be in Shanahan’s doghouse — and the likelihood of Hightower fumbling often is quite high based on his history.

Hightower may well have a breakout season, and more power to him and his fantasy owners if he does. Is he worth the risk as your RB2 in the fourth round? No, he is not. The cost-benefit analysis just screams “too risky” on Hightower, at least in that range. If he falls to you later in the draft, though, then gamble away!

Brent Celek

Since when should you trust a Philadelphia Eagles tight end? L.J. Smith was always a tease, never delivering on the promise. Brent Celek has been L.J. 2.0 in recent years — aside from a good 2009 campaign — and there is little reason to believe that will change this year. The Philly tight end saw just 73 targets last year with Vick at quarterback, so this preseason is not a great barometer for what will happen down the line.

Celek was not a good fantasy play last year, and I doubt he will be again this year. His preseason play has elevated his draft stock quite a bit, but keep in mind that the Eagles have been without receivers Jeremy Maclin and Steve Smith all preseason. At some point they figure to have both, and history shows Celek will wind out the odd man out in that passing game.

Dezmon Briscoe

What is it with Tampa Bay rookie wide receivers? Last year it was Arrelious Benn. This year, Briscoe takes up the mantle of overhyped preseason wide receiver from the state of Florida. Briscoe has had a good preseason for sure, but the receivers to draft on the Bucs are Mike Williams and the aforementioned Benn. Briscoe is not supplanting Benn on the depth chart, and he is likely not going to make a big fantasy impact unless there is an injury to one of the starters.

Stevan Ridley

Rookies can be difficult to project, but taking a stab at a rookie in Bill Belichick’s crowded backfield is quite the craps shoot. Stevan Ridley has impressed all preseason, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead figure to get the bulk of the playing time, and fellow rookie Shane Vereen still lurks despite being injured all preseason.

Ridley is worth a late-round flier or Law Firm handcuff. He is being drafted much too early for my blood, though, even before Woodhead on many occasions.

Lance Kendricks

Rookie tight ends: don’t draft ‘em. Kendricks is a huge upgrade at the tight end position for the Rams, but we must take the preseason with a grain of salt. For one, as I mentioned, rookie tight ends rarely pan out as good fantasy draft picks — set aside the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez arguments, they are the exception to the rule. More importantly, when was the last time a Josh McDaniels tight end had a big fantasy year? Kendricks is worth a look as a TE2, but not before guys like Kevin Boss, Gronkowski, Hernandez, or even Marcedes Lewis, as I have seen happen in recent drafts.

Jamie Harper

For all intents and purposes, Harper is a handcuff of a handcuff, only worth a draft pick in deep leagues with deep benches. Now that Chris Johnson has signed with the team, Harper should be treated as the third-string running back on his team. He may be having a great preseason, but Javon Ringer is the man behind CJ2K until we hear something different. If you are taking him anywhere in your draft, you are overpaying unless you have a 12-man bench.

Antonio Brown

Brown is the toast of the fantasy community right now as he has been outstanding this preseason. It is important to note a couple of things about Brown’s situation: Hines Ward saw a pretty fair share of targets last season, and there is a good chance that Brown falls back to the fourth receiver on the team when Emmanuel Sanders returns from injury. Brown is a decent late-round flier, but do not waste a mid-late-round pick on a guy who is likely going to be the WR4 on his own team, even if he is a good touchdown dancer.

Questions and comments are always welcome via Twitter – @PFF_Alex.

Hailing from Miami, Alessandro is naturally a Dolphins fan. He has been an avid fantasy football player since the turn of the century and is naturally talented in most things. Especially fantasy football.

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