Starting in the second round, optimistic owners begin drafting players higher than their projected production warrants.
Here are four players, one at each skill position, that are going higher than they should. Average draft position, based on 12-team, point-per-reception (PPR) leagues, are courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions (2.10 ADP)
Johnson was solid in his rookie season, carrying the ball 118 times for 641 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games before a knee injury ended his year. Johnson obviously wants the lion’s share of the touches for Detroit, but with veteran C.J. Anderson, rookie Ty Johnson and potential short-yardage specialist Mark Thompson also in the mix, the coaching staff will ride the hot hand rather than feed just one guy.
“Whoever the best running back is that comes out of this thing will be getting the touches, whoever’s hot will be getting the touches,” running backs coach Kyle Caskey told the Detroit News. “And I don’t know who that is right now, but it’s going to be one of those things where they’re pushing each other right now and it’s good because there’s competition.”
The worst-case scenario for Kerryon Johnson is splitting carries with Anderson the way he did with LeGarrette Blount last season and losing short-yardage touchdown chances to Thompson. Johnson and Blount virtually split red-zone opportunities in 2018 (15 to 13) before Johnson’s injury. For that reason, he very nearly made our list of riskiest fantasy picks by round.
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (6.10 ADP)
Kirk suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 13 last year, finishing his rookie campaign with 43 receptions for 590 yards and three touchdowns. In Year 2 he will be joined by rookie coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, who targeted five different receivers — none being Kirk — on the Cardinals’ first drive in their first preseason game. And that’s the issue. Arizona figures to spread the field and throw early and often, but with pass catchers such as Larry Fitzgerald, running back David Johnson and tight end Charles Clay, among others, opportunities might be tough to come by.
Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts (7.12 ADP)
Since 2002, the year the NFL expanded to 32 teams, there have been 13 tight ends to catch 10 or more touchdown passes in a season. Of the 11 tight ends that had another season to audit (Ebron and Travis Kelce joined the club in 2018) just four scored 10 or more touchdowns the following year (Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas and Rob Gronkowski). None of the 11 improved their touchdown total the following year, and the average drop among this group was six fewer touchdowns scored.
With fellow tight end Jack Doyle back after a hip injury cut his 2018 season short, and with 6-foot-4, 225-pound wide receiver Devin Funchess signed as a potential red zone target, Ebron’s TDs are likely to decrease. That was true even before Andrew Luck retired, significantly diminishing the Colts’ offensive prospects.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints (7.12 ADP)
There is one reason to be skeptical of Brees’s fantasy value in 2019: passing volume. From 2006 to 2016, the New Orleans Saints ranked in the top five for passing volume in 10 of those 11 seasons, averaging 643 passes per year. Over the last two years, the Saints have ranked 19th (2017) and 23rd (2018). That has caused Brees to drop from a top-six fantasy QB to No. 10 and No. 8 in the past two years. He’s currently the seventh quarterback taken despite a point projection on par with Kyler Murray (8.04 ADP) and Jameis Winston (10.04 ADP). That’s why our last-minute fantasy advice advocates waiting to get a later quarterback rather than reaching for Brees.