Fantasy football: Overvalued and bust players

by Cory J. Bonini on September 1, 2011 @ 13:30:46 PDT


Fantasy football owners like to throw around the term "bust" to a level that makes it overused. More often than not, players are simply overvalued and overhyped. This inflated cost makes a subpar performance or an injury even tougher to swallow, but owners need to learn to identify players that are potential pitfalls. We hardly ever suggest outright avoiding any player, because each one has fair value at some point in your draft.

James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers
Player Team Comments
Michael Vick Philadelphia Eagles It's hard not to like Vick this year, but some owners are going crazy over him. I've seen Vick go as early as the first overall pick, which is fantasy suicide. No quarterback is worth that much. Don't consider him until at least the middle of the second round.
Sam Bradford St. Louis Rams Bradford has been going, on average, in the 11th round, which isn't so bad. No one seems to be counting on him to break out, but you should temper your expectations with Josh McDaniels as the OC. Expecting a major jump in production from Bradford's rookie season is overly optimistic. He will be a stud in the NFL some day, but the lockout and a lack of elite weapons will keep him at bay at least for 2011. At best, he's a low-end No. 2 once all of the more stable options are off the board.
Peyton Hillis Cleveland Browns Hillis should be a fine addition to your fantasy team, but you shouldn't consider him more than a No. 3 back. His asking price is that of a high-end second RB. In PPR leagues, since he is moving to a West Coast offense, you can justify the risk in choosing him as a low-end No. 2. Hillis' numbers were largely inflated by one strong month, in which he averaged 31.0 fantasy points per game in PPR scoring. His season average was 17.9, and over the final month he posted just 10.5 per outing. Expect Montario Hardesty to have a notable role.
James Starks Green Bay Packers Starks is a north-south runner with little upside. Ryan Grant is healthy, and the Packers drafted Alex Green. Starks is a mediocre talent, partly displayed in his 3.5 yards-per-carry average, who runs far too upright. Green Bay prefers to pass, and Starks isn't much of a receiver. Fantasy owners are drafting Starks in the 10th round, on average. Spend that pick elsewhere, on a player with greater potential.
Brandon Lloyd Denver Broncos It took Lloyd eight NFL seasons before he broke out. Anomaly anyone? The Broncos have undergone changes in the coaching staff and have suffered several injuries at the receiver position that could impact Lloyd, who at least gets Kyle Orton back (but for how long?). Lloyd shouldn't be drafted in the fourth round, as his ADP suggests. He's a No. 3 receiver to remove most of the risk.
Jerome Simpson Cincinnati Bengals Two huge games put Simpson on the fantasy map. He roughed up a confused San Diego secondary and a miserable Ravens group to finish strong. Aside from a two-game stretch, Simpson has been a complete non-factor in his three-year career. Sure, he could be on the cusp of breaking out, but the odds are against him having to learn a new system (West Coast) with a rookie quarterback likely running the show. A late seventh- or early eighth-round pick isn't exactly a comfortable spot to take this kind of risk.
Steve E. Smith Philadelphia Eagles Microfracture knee surgery is no joke, but fantasy owners are taking Smith at a laughable placement of the early seventh round, on average. If he is ready for Week 1, Smith likely won't be himself for several weeks to months, and that's not encouraging for a player whose career yards-per-reception average is 10.8. Burn a midround pick on a healthier someone with better odds for success this season.
Arrelious Benn Tampa Bay Buccaneers Benn tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 16 last year. While he could be on the field for Week 1, it will be pushing it. Don't expect him to be ready to return to form until midseason. If you listen to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, Benn will be 100 percent in the very near future, but what do you expect a player's agent to say? Benn isn't being drafted until the tail end of standard drafts ... don't waste even that late of a pick on him.
Brandon Pettigrew Detroit Lions With Matthew Stafford at quarterback in 2010, Pettigrew caught a line of 6-32-2. The receptions made up only 8.3 percent of his season total, and the 32 yards represented just 4.4 percent of his overall yardage. Stafford and he connected for 50 percent of Pettigrew's scores, though. The third-year tight end could lose even more looks with a healthy Jahvid Best and the addition of Titus Young. Pettigrew should be fine as a low-end No. 1 or a strong backup, but his 72 receptions for 722 yards from a year ago will be tough to match.
Jermichael Finley Green Bay Packers Finley is coming back from a serious cartilage injury and could be rusty early on. The Packers have plenty of weapons and may want to see what they have in rookie DJ Williams if Finley struggles to recover, since the veteran is a free agent after this year. If healthy, Finley should be fine, but be aware you are taking a considerable risk and could find a comparable tight end at a lesser cost than his average placement of the sixth round.
Sebastian Janikowski Oakland Raiders The Raiders' offense could take a step back in 2011 with the loss of offensive guard Robert Gallery and the firing of O-line guru Tom Cable. Janikowski is coming off a career year and his track record suggests it was an aberration. He's still a starting kicker but doesn't deserve to be the top one chosen.
Baltimore Ravens Baltimore Ravens Baltimore's secondary is still a big liability, and their pass rush was very mediocre under Greg Mattison, who has been replaced by former Ravens secondary coach Chuck Pagano, which isn't encouraging. Pagano has no NFL experience as a defensive coordinator. Baltimore's personnel hasn't been bolstered, and this group is long in the tooth at key positions. The Ravens simply don't have what it takes to generate enough pressure and create an ample amount of turnovers to be a top-flight fantasy unit anymore.
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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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