Dynasty ADP Check: Overvalued Assets
Perhaps the best part of dynasty fantasy football is the fluidity of player valuation. It is nearly impossible to go over a rankings list—no matter how recently updated—and not make an adjustment. That doesn’t make you wishy-washy. It makes you aware of the constantly changing NFL landscape and how new information tends to reverberate on some level.
Making trades is the primary way to reshape a dynasty league roster, so having continual awareness of players’ worth is paramount. When doing rookie or start-up drafts, it is crucial to keep in mind resale value—even if you take a “win-now” stance. Successfully executing this is as much about sniffing out potential risks, as it is about forecasting who will move into favorable situations.
A recent look at our staff rankings showed that I’m a bit lower on a few big name players. When I consulted the May dynasty start-up league ADP data that the good folks at DLF compile, I realized that I’m a lot lower on some than drafters seem to be. It will be interesting if there are any changes once the June data is announced. Let’s take a look at four that really stood out.
Peyton Manning (No. 12 QB; 113.3 overall; 39 years old)
Manning is arguably the best quarterback of this era. “This” era, however, is clearly ending. Even if the Bronco had not looked like he was headed for the glue factory after Week 11, what type of asset do dynasty owners think they’re drafting? How many more seasons will he realistically play after 2015—if any—and at what level? He was the 26th-best fantasy quarterback after Week 11 last year.
Yes, an injured quad affected his mobility and throwing power. But he didn’t hurt it until Week 15. From Week 11 until he got hurt, Manning’s passing grade (-4.3) ranked 22nd out of 34 quarterbacks, below Derek Carr and Zach Mettenberger. Now he is running Gary Kubiak’s offense in OTAs, albeit from under center. While falling down and fumbling after taking a snap probably received too much attention, concern is warranted.
Denver was in the shotgun on 74.9 percent of snaps over the last two years, and Manning faces an adjustment. He will clean up his footwork, but this is not the Manning that used to extend handoffs to Edgerrin James on stretch plays. This Manning does not move much, runs the no-huddle, and piles up snaps and fantasy stats. Some of those things are changing, and what should concern his owners is all of them might.
This is a volume-enhanced short-term asset, and one who will be doing unfamiliar things behind an offensive line in turmoil. If his name was John Smith, that profile would earn an ADP double what it currently is. In fact, Carson Palmer’s is 220.2, and he’s four years younger. Palmer is (the last) of 21 quarterbacks I’d take higher than Manning in a start-up draft.
Matt Forte (No. 9 RB; 33.5 overall; 29 years old)
Forte is the only “old” running back being drafted in the top-10 at his position. There is a tier of three “old” backs going roughly a round later that includes Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, and Arian Foster. After that, no more “old” running backs are drafted for about five rounds, on average, until Justin Forsett and Frank Gore are picked. Why is Forte the preferred “old” running back?
Chicago has the misfortune of playing the NFC West this season. Their 27th-ranked run blocking was not appreciably upgraded. And saying the new coaching staff tends to distribute backfield touches more liberally than Marc Trestman is like saying Bill Maher is slightly to the left of Rush Limbaugh. Forte’s volume will almost certainly be dialed down.
Less volume means less opportunity, and on a point-per-opportunity basis, Forte was the 39th-“best” running back. Although the vast majority of his runs came against light defensive fronts, he ranked 47th in yards per carry. He was 35th out of 42 backs in Breakaway Percentage, and his 0.14 forced missed tackles per touch ranked 28th. He averaged 113 targets in two years under Trestman but only 68 the two years before that.
Like Manning, Forte is a short-term asset. But unlike Manning, his cost is a third round pick. He is being drafted before “old” and young running backs who stand an excellent chance of out-producing him this year. That doesn’t even take into account players at other positions who are better building blocks and offer immediate usefulness. Forte is my 20th-ranked dynasty running back.
T.Y. Hilton (No. 15 WR; 22.8 overall; 25 years old)
Hilton is different in that he is young and plays a position with a longer horizon of prime production. However, he is high-variance in both his play-making style and weekly fantasy finishes. Despite playing in an offense that produced the most passing yards, second-most snaps, and sixth-most points, he failed to post weekly top-24 fantasy totals (fantasy WR2) in half of the Colts’ games. Of course, he also had weekly first, fourth, fifth, and seventh-best wideout finishes.
That alone is not enough to doubt Hilton’s high-end WR2 dynasty status, especially since he plays with Andrew Luck. But we don’t know how long Hilton will be a Colt. He is a free agent after the 2015 season, and they spent a first round pick on Philip Dorsett—an arguable upgrade on Hilton. Luck will soon sign a monstrous deal. Both tight ends are free agents when Hilton is. Whether we believe the Colts will bring him back or not, uncertainty surrounds Hilton’s future.
This is where resale value comes into play. If he departs Indianapolis, his worth almost certainly decreases. If he stays after producing the same as in 2014—which is far from a lock considering Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief replace the ghosts of Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks—he is another year older and his value has crested. The “clearest” way he can gain value is to top his 2014 season, re-sign with the Colts, have Moncrief and Duron Carter bust, Johnson retire, and at least one tight end depart.
That is possible, but it’s more likely that his worth goes down or at least sideways. Either way, selecting him in the late-second round of a start-up draft, in front of several higher-upside and younger wideouts seems more like wishful thinking than reasoned projecting. I have Hilton as my 20th-ranked dynasty wideout but am more likely to adjust that downward than upward.
Sammy Watkins (No. 12 WR; 16.5 overall; 22 years old)
This one will be brief, as there have been repeated cases made about why Watkins is destined to disappoint (including in our Draft Guide). He is one of several receivers who will track SCUD missiles from an undetermined quarterback on the Rex Ryan and Greg Roman-coached, ground-based, defense-led 2015 Buffalo Bills. That’s the whole point. Other than Watkins Truthers, nearly everyone thinks his value will take a hit.
Why use a mid-second round pick when you will likely have to hold a declining asset? He is stuck with the Bills for (at least) two more seasons after this one. Hey, maybe they miraculously become pass-heavy. Maybe he competes for targets with fewer receivers. Maybe he is matched up with fewer top cornerbacks. Maybe they stumble onto a good quarterback. Maybe it never again snows in Buffalo.
Watkins is young and talented. Chances are things will click for him at some point. It probably won’t be this September. Let someone else draft him at this price. At some point they will get frustrated enough to sell him for less than a mid-second rounder. You have time. Free agency is still years away for Sammy.
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman