Well, Week 1 is in the books and it’s finally time to use CURRENT performances to determine under and overvalued fantasy players, instead of speculation! Every week, I review the consensus fantasy rankings and dish out some players whose value may be inflated or too low. This helps when you set your lineups and decide those tough start or sit questions. Let’s do it!
Todd Gurley, RB Rams
I know fantasy owners won’t want to hear that he is overvalued after watching Gurley struggle in Week 1, but Week 2 doesn’t have a much better outlook. The Rams face the stout front seven of the Seattle Seahawks, who just held Arian Foster and Damien Williams to 15 carries for 47 yards. Miami RBs fared better through the air, nabbing 4 receptions for 91 yards, so there’s a chance that Gurley could earn some fantasy points there. However, he caught just one reception for negative 1 yards last week and wasn’t heavily involved in the receiving game last season (21 total catches).
If you caught the LA vs SF game last night (and didn’t fall asleep), you already know that the entire offense tanked. Gurley managed just 47 yards on 17 carries and finished with a 2.8 YPC and as the #47 fantasy RB for Week 1. Currently ranked at RB #7 on FantasyPro’s consensus rankings, Gurley falls squarely in the overvalued category for week 2.
Sammy Watkins, WR Bills
I get it. Really. We all rooted for him and his health, but I wouldn’t rank him at #29 for week 2 and let me tell you why. Already, his surgically repaired foot that caused him to miss time last season is “sore” and in need of attention. After initial reports stated that he may miss time, Watkins and staff insist that his foot is “fine” and that Sammy is good to go for Thursday Night Football. The short week is one of the main factors for my label of overvalued, due to Sammy not having ample time to rest. Even if he suits up against the Jets, how confident are you that his injury/pain won’t interfere with his performance? I’m not at all. He could prove me wrong and a part of me is rooting for that, but it is more likely that this injury continues to plague him.
Watkins caught just 4 passes for 43 yards last week, which is starkly different to the high-upside, 17.5 YPC (2015) expectations of his fantasy owners. Most likely you spent quality draft capital snagging him for your roster and the disappointment of him potentially missing time already is hard to take. The Jets gave up 366 yards through the air against the Bengals, but most of that was the AJ Green show and I don’t think will be repeated this week. At least Revis is hoping it won’t. Watkins represents a high-risk player and so if you want to swing for the fences, he may go off, but I would rather start someone with a higher floor this week.
Jeremy Langford, RB Bears
Jeremy Langford’s one-yard touchdown saved his fantasy owners in week 1 against a tough Texas defense. He rushed 17 times for 57 yards and a TD, worthy of an ugly 3.4 YPC. He faces a slightly easier journey this week against Philly, but they held the Cleveland offense to just one TD (I know, it’s Cleveland, but still) and looked decent as a unit. If Philly’s offense plays as well as they did in week 1, Cutler will look to throw to Alshon Jeffrey, Eddie Royal, and Kevin White and ease up on the run.
Long gone are the days of Matt Forte and using RBs in the running game. Langford received just 4 targets and caught 2 for 6 yards. Currently ranked at #20 RB by Fantasy Pros Consensus Rankings, I’m confident he is overvalued and his performance won’t hold up to those standards. Though he’s clearly Chicago’s 3 down back, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has single-digit fantasy points this week.
Mark Ingram, RB Saints
Yes, I’m doing it again. I said it last week and Mark Ingram finished as the #30 fantasy RB, though he was ranked in the top 10. This week, he’s ranked #8 and I’m even more convinced he is overvalued. Ingram carried the ball 12 times for 58 yards and caught two passes for 29 yards against the Raiders. Drew Brees threw the ball almost twice as often as the Saints rushed in week 1 due to having to keep up with the Raiders offense (and to negate their own weak defensive stand). What do you think will happen this week against Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz? That’s right. The same thing. Thinking he will be involved in receiving game? Unlikely there as well. Travaris Cadet received 7 targets compared to Ingram’s 2 last week against Detroit.
Ingram’s involvement in the passing game accounted for a large portion of his fantasy value in past seasons. This role decreased in the preseason and the pattern continued in week 1. Without that yardage, Ingram’s fantasy value decreases significantly, despite his clear talent. The Giants held Ezekiel Elliott to just 51 yards on 20 rushes last week, but he managed to score a TD for his owners. I’m not sure if Ingram will manage the same, but top 10 expectations are unrealistic.
Sterling Shepard, WR Giants
I can’t believe I’m already listing a rookie here, but Shepard impressed me in Week 1 by making the most of his three catches (100% completion rate) for 43 yards and a TD. This week, the Giants draw the Saints at home for what should be a showing of two strong offenses. The New Orleans defense earned no such accolades, as they gave up 319 yards and 1 TD to the Raiders receivers. I anticipate more red zone targets for the Giants WRs as well as plenty of targets to go around.
The presence of Victor Cruz muddies the water a bit, but there was only a one target difference between them in overall and red zone targets. Cruz makes fantasy owners nervous, but Shepard’s current rank of #34 in week 2 is just too low. Cruz’s fantasy production is highly unpredictable and though his involvement may cap Sterling’s ceiling just a bit, I would start him with confidence against the Saints. Side note: it was pretty great to see Victor Cruz back in action and even doing a little salsa dancing. Try not to let Cruz’s week 1 performance scare you away from a fantasy asset like Shepard. Cruz hasn’t played a full season since 2012.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR Broncos
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. Jen, Sanders only had 49 yards in Week 1! That is correct, but he received 8 targets (including one in the red zone) which was actually more than Demaryius Thomas (6 targets). DT suffered a hip injury early on in the game against Carolina and battled through it, but was a reduced presence. He rested early this week and reports out of Denver state that they expect DT to return to practice Wednesday and play on Sunday. DT didn’t sound as convincing when asked about his status: “I don’t know. Taking it day by day”. That doesn’t make me happy as a DT owner, what about you?
If Thomas misses time or is less than 100%, Sanders stands to benefit greatly against a leaky Colts secondary. In week 1, the Colts gave up 340 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air to Stafford and his Lions. Currently ranked as WR #31, Sanders possess a high likelihood of outperforming expectations. Keep an eye on the injury report and news out of practice, but either way, I’m starting him. In week 1, the Colts gave up 340 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air to Stafford and his Lions. Currently ranked as WR #31, Sanders possess a high likelihood of outperforming expectations. Keep an eye on the injury report and news out of practice, but either way, I’m starting him. Remember that Sanders represents a strong fantasy asset with or without DT and ended 2015 as the #18 WR.
Gary Barnidge, TE Browns
Why, oh why, would I include a Cleveland player in my undervalued?! Well, because unfortunate circumstances for the Browns may actually be fortunate ones for Barnidge. The Browns placed RGIII on the injured reserve, which means Josh McCown gets the start on Sunday. Last season, Barnidge averaged 6 receptions and 86 yards with McCown at QB and also scored 6 of his 9 touchdowns during these games. After seeing Barnidge drop both his targets this week, we may overlook his #3 fantasy TE finish in 2015 which was mostly due to his chemistry with Josh McCown. Obviously, other factors will be involved and the Ravens defense showed they are no slouch against the Bills. But, the TE position is already a difficult one to predict outside of the top tier, so I’m confident that Barnidge and McCown connect and Barnidge outperforms his #8 ranking this week.
Thomas Rawls, RB Seahawks
Though Christine Michael received the “start” last week, he only touched the ball two more times than Thomas Rawls. Pete Carroll stated that Rawls is ready to increase his workload in week 2, but provided no more clarity regarding the backfield. These are the situations that drive fantasy owners crazy, I know. The Seahawks insisted all off-season that Rawls is undoubtedly their starter when fully healthy but did not want to rush him back from a fractured ankle injury. As of August 21st, Rawls returned to practice without limitations and Seahawks announced he would be on a snap count for week 1. Rawls rushed for 42 yards on 12 carries and gained 26 yards on 3 receptions against the Dolphins. Most importantly, he experienced no setbacks regarding his injury. Michael represented the most effective runner of the two last week, ending with 4.4 YPC on 15 carries for 66 yards (plus 2 receptions for 5 yards).
Rawls showed his talent last season after taking over for Marshawn Lynch, ending as the #26 fantasy RB on only 147 carries and with a 5.6 YPC. When given 16 or more carries (6 games last season), Rawls averaged 119 yards and .67 TDs. This may be a case of allowing him more touches so that he can get a rhythm. Week 1 represented a situation similar to a preseason game when players shake off the rust and adjust back to game-time situations. Seattle faces the LA Rams this week. They gave up 129 all-purpose yards and 3 TDS to 49ers running backs Carlos Hyde and Shaun Draughn. The Seahawks offense and Russell Wilson are much better than SF and Blaine Gabbert, so I’m looking forward to both backs having opportunities to shine.
Neither Seattle back is a bad play this week, given Russell Wilson’s ankle injury and probability that this reduces his mobility. I prefer Rawls due to Seattle’s commitment to him as the starter and his past performances but could see Michael having flex consideration. The backs are ranked back-to-back at #30 and #31 and I anticipate them having little difficulty besting these lowered expectations given the situation.
Matt Ryan, QB Falcons
I won’t belabor the point, but he was featured in last’s week’s undervalued and now is ranked #18 QB on FantasyPros. Oakland defense that just gave up the most fantasy points to an opposing QB (Drew Brees) in week 1 and Ryan draws this juicy matchup in week 2. If you hadn’t looked, they gave up 424 yards and 4 TDs to Saints receivers. What am I missing here? He finished as the #7 fantasy QB last week. Just look here for my take on Ryan this season and here for last week’s take. Start him. Pick him up. Stream him. Do it.
Marvin Jones, WR Lions
Jones is clearly a focus of the offense, getting 11 targets (28% of target share). The Lions face a beatable Tennessee secondary this week.
Carlos Hyde, RB 49ers
If we learned anything from week 1, it’s that you can rush against Carolina. Thank you CJ Anderson. Hyde is one of the most elusive backs in the league and he builds on his momentum this week.