The feeling of striking gold on a late-round draft pick is euphoric, but the opposite can be said for selecting a bust with a high pick. Remember Christian McCaffrey last season?
The point of this piece is to weed out some players who are simply being drafted too high. That doesn’t mean these players are primed for miserable seasons. It just means they’re being selected a tad too high.
Let’s pinpoint five fantasy players who will underperform their current ADP. Rankings are reflective of full PPR, via Fantasy Pros.
Saquon Barkley (ADP: 7.3)
Saquon Barkley needs no introduction as the former second overall pick in the 2018 draft, but the former Penn State back has a lot working against him this season.
Barkley is coming off an ACL tear and questions surrounding his early-season availability, which makes the Giants running back a risky proposition. It's hard to imagine Barkley being a first-rounder with so much uncertainty.
To add to the chaos, there are multiple reports from Giants beat writers that the offense has looked less than stellar throughout camp. Daniel Jones doesn’t appear to be the type of quarterback who can elevate those around him, and Barkley could be seeing tons of eight-man boxes as he runs behind a poor offensive line.
This is still Barkley we’re talking about here, and he could make his current ADP look silly if he returns to full strength and has a career year. But in the first round, it’s more important to avoid losing your draft than swinging for a potential boom-or-bust prospect.
Nick Chubb (ADP: 9.2)
Nick Chubb is a fantastic running back, but he's more valuable in real life than he is in fantasy football.
The Browns back finished last season with an 87.2 PFF grade and averaged 5.6 yards per carry, but Chubb's lack of touches in the passing game along with sharing the backfield with Kareem Hunt makes his ADP way too high in PPR leagues.
While Chubb is arguably one of the top running backs in the NFL, he's a player to avoid in the middle of the first round because he simply doesn't offer the type of upside fantasy football managers are looking for with such a high selection.
With a current ADP of 9.2, Chubb would have to score a boatload of touchdowns to justify his current draft position.
Patrick Mahomes (ADP: 18.8)
Patrick Mahomes is a fantasy and real-life superstar. That’s undisputed. But for one-QB leagues, he’s being drafted far too high. While he can certainly be the QB1 this season, it's much smarter to wait on selecting a passer instead of drafting one in the second round.
Picking Mahomes would mean missing out on the opportunity to draft fantasy studs at more valuable positions such as Calvin Ridley, Joe Mixon, Antonio Gibson and CeeDee Lamb. Also, it’s important to note that the difference in points per game between Mahomes and QB10 last season is less than three.
Mahomes averaged 25.36 PPR points per game last season, while Lamar Jackson ranked 10th with 22.79. That’s not a big enough discrepancy to justify drafting Mahomes so far ahead of many other quality quarterbacks.
Mahomes is set to have another fantastic season, sure, but he's just too pricey at his current ADP.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ADP: 23)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire found himself in fantasy nirvana when the Chiefs drafted him with the last pick of the first round in the 2020 NFL Draft, but Kansas City's poor offensive line plus Mahomes lack of throwing to his check-down receiver meant that CEH lacked the necessary volume to be an impact fantasy player.
It’s entirely possible that with a revamped offensive line and less depth at the receiver position, coach Andy Reid schemes up some more outlet passes for CEH that will unleash him in the open field.
The argument for CEH is that with a lack of weapons, he'll be a bigger factor on offense but Mahomes would have to completely change how he attacks on offense if he's going to feed the former LSU running back.
The Chiefs pay Mahomes millions to pass the ball downfield, not throw dump off passes. That’s not saying Edwards-Helaire should never catch a screen pass, but it does question the credulity of whether Reid will ever fully commit to using CEH that much in the passing game.
Edwards-Helaire is still an explosive player who could have a fine fantasy season because the Chiefs’ offense is a machine. But his current ADP reflects a bell-cow back, and if you read the tea leaves, it doesn’t look like that will happen this season.
Josh Jacobs (ADP: 36.4)
Josh Jacobs’ ADP is one of the more inexplicable mysteries this fantasy preseason. The Raiders just spent big this offseason on Kenyan Drake, a player who will directly eat into his snaps. Las Vegas also blew up their sturdy offensive line for no apparent reason, getting rid of Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown and Gabe Jackson.
Jacobs has a low ceiling thanks to his modest reception numbers, and even those stats are expected to be slashed with Drake set to serve as the primary pass-catching back. The Raiders also are set up for a subpar season, meaning they’ll be playing from behind a lot. And everyone knows teams need to pass the ball more when trying to catch up. That bodes even worse for Jacobs’ fantasy outlook.
The Raiders are set to play the eighth toughest schedule this season. There are just too many factors working against Jacobs, who is also in line for some touchdown regression after scoring 12 times last season.
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