Fantasy Football: Undervalued and Overvalued players

by Koski

The early rounds of a fantasy draft build your team’s foundation. The last rounds are for kickers, defenses and low-risk flyers on players with upside. The middle rounds are where you display your ability as a manager by selecting the players who will out perform their perceived value while avoiding the players propped up on a bale of hype. With that in mind, I present two QBs, RBs and WRs who are being under drafted along with two of each who are being over drafted. The round in parenthesis is when the players are currently being drafted.

Don’t Sleep on These Guys

Matt Hasselbeck QB, Seattle Seahawks (10-11th round) - The Seahawks were devastated by injuries last season including both Seahawks starting tackles missed games due to injury. Hasselbeck battled back problems and only played in seven games while his starting wide receivers all missed games with Nate Burleson going out for the season in the first game and Deion Branch playing only eight games. What’s in store for this season you ask? Everyone is healthy and the addition of TJ Houshmandzadeh to the receiving corps is another weapon for Hasselbeck to utilize. Since 2003, Hasselbeck has alternated between Pro Bowl caliber seasons and injury riddled years. Last year he was injured, so this year… expecting a Pro Bowl this season is probably a little too optimistic, Hasselbeck should have a bounce back season and, at the least, would make a solid backup QB choice before the 10th round.

David Garrard QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (11-12th round) - David Garrard may have been healthy all last season but his offensive line was not. The starting interior lineman missed 38 combined games. On top of that, it was another year of poor production from the wide receivers. The interior line is healthy coming into the season and the Jaguars added veteran tackle, Tra Thomas in free agency and rookie tackle, Eugene Monroe in the first round of the draft. The improved line performance should translate into better numbers for Garrard. The receiving corps finally has one dependable option in Torry Holt, who may be showing his age, but still capable of boosting Garrard’s numbers. Like Hasselbeck, Garrard will be a solid backup QB with upside who should be snatched up before the 11th round.

Earnest Graham RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-10th round) - Graham was unable to match his 10 touchdown 2007 season because of injury. On the surface, the arrival of Derrick Ward would seem to doom Graham to back up duty, but Graham is a big back who can stay on the field as a full back even when Ward is in the game. Also, Graham’s physical running style should earn him some goal line carries. He’s also more active in the passing game than you’d think, so he could top 800 combined yards and seven touchdowns.

Fred Jackson RB, Buffalo Bills (10th round) - Marshawn Lynch’s pension to go “Beast Mode” off the field has earned him a three game suspension to start 2009. That means Fred Jackson will receive the bulk of the carries in the first three games. Jackson averaged 4.4 ypc last season on 130 carries. Bumping up his carries because of Lynch’s suspension should bump Jackson over 800 rushing yards. Jackson is also effective in the passing game, where he could top 50 receptions and 300 yards receiving, yet for some reason Marshawn Lynch is being drafted in the 7th round while Jackson is being drafted in the 10th.

Devin Hester WR, Chicago Bears (9-10th round) - Pop quiz, hot shot. What does Devin Hester have that most other players in the NFL do not? Speed. What does Jay Cutler have that Kyle Orton does not? Arm strength. Hester’s speed and Cutler’s ability to throw downfield should have a profound effect on Hester’s numbers. Hester will not be returning kickoffs this season, but will still return punts. As a result, the Bears will continue to enjoy good field postion because punters are kicking the ball out of bounds to keep the ball out of Hester’s hands or Hester will make something out of nothing and get those few extra yards which can make a difference in a game.

Donald Driver WR, Green Bay Packers (9-10th round) - Driver is 34 years old, but he’s put up five straight 1,000+ yards seasons. His touchdown total has been all over the place from two to nine over that period, but his receptions have been no lower than 74 over that five year period. Greg Jennings gets the most attention as the number one guy in fantasy drafts, but Jennings will also generate the attention of opposing defenses opening up holes for Driver to keep doing what he’s been doing.

Hit the Snooze on These Guys

Tony Romo QB, Dallas Cowboys (3rd round) - Blasphemy, I know. Here’s the thing, the Cowboys are always overrated. T.O. has moved on, and Dallas still has weapons for Romo like Jason Witten and Roy Williams, but if you draft Romo in the third round, you will regret it when you can get similar stats from Donovan McNabb or Jay Cutler two round later.

Kurt Warner QB, Arizona Cardinals (3rd round) - Hello, Yo-yo effect. Last season, Warner was largely undrafted last season and then threw for 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns. This season the pendulum has swung back and Warner is being drafted too high. The problem is Kurt Warner is 38 years old and he’s not known for his durability. He has all the weapons to put up similar numbers, but the likelihood of Warner starting every game next season should keep anybody from gambling their third pick on him.

Beanie Wells RB, Arizona Cardinals (7-8th round) - Wells is an amazing talent with size and speed. However, the knock on him leading up to the draft was that he was too brittle to hold up to NFL punishment. Wells is already missing games because of injury as he sat out the preseason opener with a sore ankle. The Cardinals aren’t much of a running team and Tim Hightower is still around and he scored 10 touchdowns last year. Wells should not be drafted before the aforementioned Earnest Graham or Fred Jackson.

Marshawn Lynch RB, Buffalo Bills (4th round) - Marshawn Lynch is missing three games due to suspension, yet is still being drafted ahead of the man slated to carry the ball during his absence, Fred Jackson. Three games out of sixteen isn’t too bad, but not many fantasy leagues are still going in week 17. On the other hand, three games is probably a quarter of your fantasy season and if he’s rusty when he comes back - your team could already be in a hole where weeks 14, 15 & 16 won’t even matter for you. Lynch should not be going ahead of Jonathan Stewart and Joseph Addai.

Antonio Bryant WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6th round) - Bryant returned to the NFL in 2008 after missing 2007 because he faced league suspension for off field incidents. The Bucs took a shot on him and were rewarded. In turn the Bucs rewarded Bryant by slapping the franchise tag on him and booted the quarter back who was throwing him the ball. Bryant tore his meniscus in training camp and will likely miss the entire preseason. When Bryant returns, he will be at the mercy of an untested rookie quarterback, Josh Freeman or, gulp, a worse than replacement level quarterback, Luke McCown.

Roy Williams WR, Dallas Cowboys (4th round) - Another victim of the Dallas hype machine. A poor 2008 was written off to being unfamiliar with the offense after he was traded to Dallas midseason and not enough ball to go around between the Cowboys receivers once he got there. Despite his size, Williams isn’t much of a red zone threat, especially on a team with Marion Barber and Jason Witten. I’m sure he’ll end up with decent numbers, but they won’t be good enough to justify a fourth round pick. Houshmandzadeh, Hines Ward and Chad Ochocinco are all better options that are being drafted behind Williams.