The 25 Most Overrated Fantasy Football Players Heading into 2012 NFL Season

Vincent Frank@VincentFrankNFLCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2012

The 25 Most Overrated Fantasy Football Players Heading into 2012 NFL Season

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    These types of articles are definitely subjective by nature. Your fantasy rankings are all dependent on your philosophy as a fantasy owner.

    For example I don't buy into the philosophy that you must take a running back in the first round if an elite quarterback is still on the board.

    This is one of the primary reasons why I believe Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Ryan Mathews are overrated fantasy commodities.

    In the following slideshow I will focus on the 25 most overrated players in fantasy football heading into the 2012 season. I am utilizing this ranking system from ESPN as a barometer to see where the mainstream media has certain players ranked.

    Keep in mind this is in no way an indictment of the abilities of these players. Rather, it is all about how they'll perform in fantasy football.

25. Denarius Moore, Wide Receiver, Oakland Raiders

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    2011 Statistics: 33 receptions, 608 yards and five touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 98

    I understand that Danarius Moore is going to be a great receiver moving forward. He has the size and speed to dominate on the outside.

    However, there should be some major concerns here.

    First, the Oakland Raiders have a tremendous number of young receivers on their roster, including Moore. They just don't have that legit No. 1 guy yet. This means that you can expect Carson Palmer to share the ball in the passing game a great deal.

    Second, while Moore does have big-play ability, he doesn't give you that production on a consistent basis. He went six games with two catches or fewer, providing a total of two points in those six games.

    All the while players like Torrey Smith, Michael Crabtree and even teammate Darrius Heyward-Bey are rated below Moore on most major fantasy sites.

24. Santonio Holmes, Wide Receiver, New York Jets

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    2011 Statistics: 51 receptions, 654 yards and eight touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 93

    I am definitely not sold on Santonio Holmes being a productive fantasy receiver in 2012. He had only five games of double-digit fantasy points last season, which ranked him behind the aforementioned Michael Crabtree and Darrius Heyward-Bey, both of whom didn't make it on ESPN's top 100.

    The one thing you will get from Holmes is touchdowns, which is an indicator that he will go much higher than he should. The New York Jets receiver has recorded 32 touchdowns over the course of the last five seasons.

    That being said, it is all about a lack of consistent production from Holmes since he joined the Jets in 2010.

    It just makes sense to go with a higher-upside individual here. 

23. Matt Schaub, Quarterback, Houston Texans

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    2011 Statistics: 2,479 total yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 games

    ESPN Ranking: 91

    In what world is Matt Schaub a better fantasy quarterback option than Ben Roethlisberger?

    This makes absolutely no sense to me.

    Considering that the Houston Texans are a run-first team, it is hard to imagine Schaub putting up similar fantasy numbers as his Pittsburgh Steelers counterpart.

    In the 10 games that Schaub did play last season, he recorded 20 or more fantasy points just twice. Definitely not what you are looking for in a QB1.

    The most telling reason why Schaub is overrated is the decline in the number of passes he has thrown recently. The Houston Texans starting quarterback averaged less than 30 attempts in 2011, six fewer than the previous season.

    This number might not seem too great, but it definitely makes a difference.

22. Anquan Boldin, Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens

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    2011 Statistics: 57 receptions, 887 yards and three touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 89

    I would go as far to venture a relatively simple prediction that Torrey Smith will finish the 2012 season with more fantasy points than his Baltimore Ravens teammate Anquan Boldin.

    Why would I say that? Well, it is pretty simple at this point.

    Boldin has found the end zone a total of 14 times over the course of the last three seasons and finished 2011 with just three. Those are not numbers you are looking for from a contributor on your fantasy football team.

    Overall, Boldin recorded five fantasy points or fewer in nearly 43 percent of his outings last year.

    Simply put, avoid this guy at all cost.

21. James Starks, Running Back, Green Bay Packers

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    2011 Statistics: 578 rushing yards, 216 receiving yards, 794 total yards and one touchdown

    ESPN Ranking: 82

    I could care less that Ryan Grant won't be returning to the Green Bay Packers. Yes, this does mean that James Starks is going to get more attempts, but that aspect shouldn't matter too much.

    Starks tallied 10 rushes or more during an eight-game stretch in 2011 but was able to record a total of only 48 points during that span.

    Not something I am looking for in a RB2.

    For comparison's sake Ben Tate, who is right below Starks on ESPN's rankings, accumulated double-digit fantasy points six different times in 2011 and finished with 44 more points than the Packers running back.

20. Jermichael Finley, Tight End, Green Bay Packers

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    2011 Statistics: 55 receptions, 767 yards and eight touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 78

    I know, a second consecutive Green Bay Packers player. This has more to do with the weapons that Aaron Rodgers has at his disposal than anything else.

    You also have to take into account the inability of Finley to make consistent catches throughout games. In short Rodgers will not continue looking in his direction unless Finley lowers the number of drops that he has.

    In reality there is absolutely no reason that Finley should be ranked ahead of the likes of Vernon Davis, who is the 49ers' No. 1 go-to guy on offense. At best Finley is a third option for Green Bay.

    Moreover, Finley went a total of five games with three fantasy points or fewer last season.

    Yeah, definitely not a true TE1 in my book.

19. Shonn Greene, Running Back, New York Jets

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    2011 Statistics: 1,054 rushing yards, 211 receiving yards, 1,265 total yards and six touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 76

    This is where it gets interesting.

    Shonn Greene is ranked at a point where you are going to run into numerous issues finding a RB2 or flex player. In reality he is among the only starting running backs remaining on the board at 76.

    That alone should make the New York Jets running back more valuable than his counterparts.

    Then I took a look at the other running backs, Stevan Ridley and Ben Tate among them, that are ranked below Greene. Needless to say, I don't understand why ESPN had the inconsistent back ranked so high.

    He accumulated fewer than 60 rushing yards a whopping seven times, and over 33 percent of his total fantasy output came in two games, against the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs.

18. Pierre Garçon, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins

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    2011 Statistics: 70 receptions, 947 yards and six touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 75

    This isn't an indication that I don't like Pierre Garçon as a player. Rather, his presence in this article is all about the situation that the talented receiver finds himself in after signing a free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins in March.

    Young quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III rely a great deal on assets between the hashes. This is only magnified when they have nice amounts of weapons at their disposals in that area of the field.

    Both Fred Davis and Josh Morgan are going to be great safety-valve targets for the young quarterback until he understands the nuances of the National Football League.

    Washington is also going to focus on running the ball more in order to get RGIII comfortable on a consistent basis.

    These three factors lead me to believe that Garcon will not be able to duplicate his 2011 numbers.

    Simply put, Davis, who is ranked 86 by ESPN, should go ahead of Garcon. It's just the nature of the beast at this point.

17. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals

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    2011 Statistics: 667 rushing yards, 159 receiving yards, 826 total yards and 11 touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 68

    BenJarvus Green-Ellis has given fantasy owners a reason to celebrate in each of the last two seasons, scoring a total of 24 touchdowns since the start of 2010.

    That alone could make the new Cincinnati Bengals running back a tremendous value here.

    In reality this is just on the surface, though, as Green-Ellis is going to struggle matching that production with his new team.

    The New England Patriots have ample red-zone threats in the passing game, which took some heat off of Green-Ellis in terms of defenses scheming to stop him. This will not be the case in Cincinnati, where he joins an offense that doesn't have nearly the same level of talent.

    Moreover, Green-Ellis was a fantasy dud toward the end of the 2011 season. He recorded just 82 rushing yards on 31 attempts during the Patriots' final five games.

16. Jahvid Best, Running Back, Detroit Lions

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    2011 Statistics: 390 rushing yards, 287 receiving yards, 677 total yards and three touchdowns in six games

    ESPN Ranking: 62

    This is all about injuries. As a fantasy-team owner you simply cannot rely on Jahvid Best for consistent performances, due to his history with concussions. The talented young running back missed the final 10 games of the 2011 season and is going to be closely monitored as this year begins in September.

    Another traumatic blow to the head, and Best could see his career come to a premature end.

    When on the football field, Best is a fantasy stud. He recorded over 100 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per outing last season.

    It is all about risk and reward here.

    If Best is able to say on the field—a huge "if"—he will reward you by being one of the most productive backup running backs in fantasy football.

    If not, he will set you back a great deal. 

    You would be safer going with Michael Bush or Stevan Ridley here.

15. DeAngelo Williams, Running Back, Carolina Panthers

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    2011 Statistics: 836 rushing yards, 135 receiving yards, 971 total yards and seven touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 53

    Anyone that has to share a backfield with Cam Newton isn't going to be relied on a great deal in fantasy football. This is the situation that DeAngelo Williams found himself in last season and will continue to find himself in moving forward.

    While nearly 1,000 total yards and seven touchdowns is solid for a RB2, I actually expect his statistics to decline to an extent this season. The Carolina Panthers are not all of a sudden going to revert back to their 2010 offensive strategy after having so much success with the offense they employed last year.

    This is going to take carries away from Williams and continue to make him an inconsistent fantasy performer.

    After all, he recorded five fantasy points or fewer eight different times in 2011. That isn't the production I am looking for from a RB2.

14. Jonathan Stewart, Running Back, Carolina Panthers

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    2011 Statistics: 761 rushing yards, 413 receiving yards, 1,174 total yards and five touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 52

    Much like with his teammate DeAngelo Williams on the slide before, Jonathan Stewart was held back last season due to the continued progression of Cam Newton as one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the NFL

    To put into perspective just how much Stewart has dropped in regard to fantasy football, he recorded as many touchdowns in the last two seasons combined as he did in each of his first two years in the league.

    Those are alarming statistics right there.

    It is also important to note that Stewart put up single-digit fantasy points in half of his 16 appearances last season.

13. Michael Turner, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons

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    2011 Statistics: 1,340 rushing yards, 168 receiving yards, 1,508 total yards and 11 touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 41

    According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta Falcons are fully prepared to reduce Michael Turner's workload heading into the 2012 season.

    This makes a lot of sense for a multitude of different reasons.

    Turner, at the age of 30, isn't exactly in the prime of his career anymore. The former Pro Bowl running back has also struggled to get it going late in the season over the course of the last couple years.

    Additionally, Atlanta possesses the necessary weapons to become a pass-first offense.

    All this leads me to believe that Turner will not come close to matching his 2011 output of over 1,500 total yards.

    In fact you could see that number cut in a third.

12. Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys

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    2011 Statistics: 63 receptions, 928 yards and nine touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 38

    Okay, so these rankings came out prior to Dez Bryant's recent arrest for domestic violence against his mother. While it is hard to project exactly what the NFL is going to do in terms of a suspension, you can expect Bryant to miss the early part of the season. That doesn't even take into account possible criminal charges and jail time for the troubled young receiver

    Even if this incident had not occurred, I would say that Bryant is overrated.

    The simple fact that ESPN has him ranked ahead of Victor Cruz is astonishing. Moreover, Bryant has struggled to make consistent fantasy impacts throughout seasons. 2011 saw him record single-digit-fantasy-point games in over half of his appearances.

    In short there was no way Bryant was a WR1 prior to this arrest. It is now even hard to imagine him as a WR2.

11. Roy Helu, Running Back, Washington Redskins

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    2011 Statistics: 640 rushing yards, 379 receiving yards, 1,019 total yards and three touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 34

    How can you have a running back that scored a total of three touchdowns this high on your list? This is a question that I asked myself when I saw ESPN had Roy Helu No. 34 on their big board. Makes absolutely no sense to me.

    Listen, I fully understand that the young running back had a really solid rookie campaign for the Washington Redskins and will probably be their "featured 'back" heading into 2012.

    This doesn't mean that Helu is going to become a breakout performer and all of a sudden give you consistent RB1 performances.

    The Redskins added a ton of talent to the passing game in the form of rookie Robert Griffin III as well as wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. You can fully expect them to throw the ball more in 2012 than they did last season.

    Moreover, the running ability of RGIII will have a Cam Newton-like effect for the rest of the Skins' backfield.

    In short I just don't see a 1,000-yard rushing campaign from Helu in 2012.

10. Wes Welker, Wide Receiver, New England Patriots

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    2011 Statistics: 122 receptions, 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 29

    Hmm, I can already hear the cries coming from New England. How the hell can I put a receiver that has dominated the NFL in terms of catches and yards on a list like this?

    Well, it is definitely not an indictment on Wes Welker.

    Rather, his inclusion in this list is due to the fact that the Patriots have so many offensive weapons that one person cannot put up WR1-types of numbers, specifically as it relates to touchdowns.

    In fact it could be said that Welker will see his touchdown numbers drop in 2012. Tom Brady threw 24 of his 39 touchdowns to tight ends in 2011, and the Patriots added Brandon Lloyd to the mix at wide receiver.

9. Michael Vick, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles

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    2011 Statistics: 3,303 passing yards, 589 rushing yards, 3,892 total yards, 19 total touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 13 games

    ESPN Ranking: 27

    Wait, what? How in the hell is Michael Vick ranked so high?

    ESPN has him ahead of six wide receivers that I project to be No. 1 performers in fantasy football.

    It makes absolutely no sense for you to select Vick in the beginning of the third round in 12-team leagues when you can apparently get Eli Manning, Philip Rivers or Tony Romo a few rounds later.

    No rhyme or reason for this.

    Vick struggled punching the ball in on the ground, scoring a total of one touchdown; had a total of four more touchdowns than interceptions; and recorded just 3,300 passing yards in 13 games.

    In short, he belongs nowhere near this ranking.

8. Frank Gore, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers

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    2011 Statistics: 1,211 rushing yards, 114 receiving yards, 1,325 total yards and eight touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 26

    This makes absolutely no sense.

    First, Frank Gore had his worst receiving season in a stellar career last year as the San Francisco 49ers made the transition to a different type of hybrid West Coast offense.

    Secondly, the 49ers have added a tremendous amount of talent at running back in the forms of Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James. 

    In short Gore isn't going to get the necessary carries to be considered a starting running back in fantasy football. You can also expect Jacobs, who has 36 rushing touchdowns over the course of the last four seasons, to take red-zone touches away from Gore.

    Fred Jackson and Michael Turner, both of whom are ranked lower than Gore, would be better picks this high.

7. Darren McFadden, Running Back, Oakland Raiders

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    2011 Statistics: 614 rushing yards, 154 receiving yards, 768 total yards and five touchdowns in seven games

    ESPN Ranking: 19

    If Darren McFadden could actually stay healthy, he would be a top-five overall fantasy player. This is a running back that was on pace for 229 fantasy points before being lost for the season in October.

    That would have put right on pace with Arian Foster.

    The issues, as I indicated above, are injuries. McFadden has missed a total of 19 games over the course of the last four seasons. You just cannot rely on him to stay healthy for the duration of a season.

    The simple fact that ESPN has McFadden ranked ahead of Jimmy Graham and Cam Newton is absolutely astonishing.

6. Greg Jennings, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers

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    2011 Statistics: 67 receptions, 949 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games

    ESPN Ranking: 14

    I have been guilty of over-valuing what Greg Jennings brings to fantasy football. The Green Bay Packers receiver has never recorded more than 80 receptions or 1,300 yards in a single season.

    Those statistics are reserved for the truly elite fantasy receivers.

    Moreover, Jennings is the victim of a tremendous amount of talent on the Packers offense. They literally have four wide receiver who could come up with huge days on consistent bases this season. That doesn't even take into account enigmatic tight end Jermichael Finley.

    Positional importance aside, isn't Rob Gronkowski a better bet here?

5. Maurice Jones-Drew, Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    2011 Statistics: 1,606 rushing yards, 374 receiving yards, 1,980 total yards and 11 touchdowns

    ESPN Fantasy Ranking: 6

    I would steer clear of Maurice Jones-Drew early in your fantasy draft only if he has not reported to camp at that point. This is the primary reason that the reigning NFL rushing leader is on this list. We saw first-hand what an extensive holdout can do to the fantasy production of a running back when Chris Johnson failed to report to Tennessee Titans camp on time.

    In reality that is the only reason Jones-Drew finds himself on this list. If the Pro Bowl running back reports to camp next week, then discount this slide completely.

4. Ryan Mathews, Running Back, San Diego Chargers

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    2011 Statistics: 1,091 rushing yards, 455 receiving yards, 1,546 total yards and six touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 13

    This is where my subjectivity comes into play. I would rather have a quarterback like Cam Newton or a receiving threat like Rob Gronkowski here than a running back that has scored 13 total touchdowns in two seasons.

    Of course the common response to this will be that Ryan Mathews didn't get a great deal of red-zone attempts with Mike Tolbert on the San Diego Chargers roster. Tolbert has since joined the Carolina Panthers, which opens up touchdown opportunities for Mathews.

    That being said, I want to see that consistent performance in the red zone prior to making Mathews a borderline first-round pick.

3. Matt Forte, Running Back, Chicago Bears

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    2011 Statistics: 997 rushing yards, 490 receiving yards, 1,487 total yards and four touchdowns in 12 games

    ESPN Ranking: 17

    Last time I checked, touchdowns still meant something in fantasy football. If that is still the case, which I am assuming it is, you simply cannot rank a running back with 17 touchdowns in the last three seasons this high.

    While Matt Forte is going to put up a solid combination of rushing and receiving points, he isn't going to give you that extra oomph you look for from a RB1. The addition of Michael Bush, who has scored 16 touchdowns in the last two seasons, isn't going to help matters for Forte's fantasy value.

2. Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans

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    2011 Statistics: 33 receptions, 492 yards and two touchdowns in seven games

    ESPN Ranking: 9

    There is absolutely no way I am going to select Andre Johnson with my first-round pick when Drew Brees is on the board. That is plain idiocy, if you ask me.

    However, ESPN seems to believe that Johnson will be a more productive fantasy player than Brees after taking into account the position each plays.

    How is this?

    Johnson has failed to record double-digit touchdowns in any of his nine NFL seasons and has missed a total of 12 games since the start of the 2010 season.

    He is also going to be marginalized due to the Houston Texans' switch to more of a run-first offense.

    While you can expect Johnson to put up over 1,200 receiving yards, you simply cannot justify his selection here.

1. Chris Johnson, Running Back, Tennessee Titans

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    2011 Statistics: 1,047 rushing yards, 418 receiving yards and four touchdowns

    ESPN Ranking: 7

    Chris Johnson has seen pretty much every single major fantasy statistic drop since the start of the 2010 season, bottoming out with a total of just four touchdowns in 2012.

    This is the primary reason that I have the talented running back No. 2 on this list. I simply cannot justify selecting him over Tom Brady or Drew Brees.

    In all seriousness, can you?

    After all, this is a running back that let a lot of fantasy owners down after accumulating a total of 17 fantasy points in his first three games last season.

    All statistical information provided by Pro Football Reference

    Rankings provided by ESPN