2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Overrated/Underrated Draft Targets for 2011
As we edge closer and closer to the 2011 NFL season, many of us are racing to ESPN and Yahoo! to set up our last minutes fantasy football leagues, and get our drafts started.
But many people strictly go off of the respected ratings of the website itself, rather than doing research and forming an opinion of their own.
Unfortunately, when you get past the first few rounds, it can appear to be a crapshoot as to who to select that can benefit your fantasy team. But every single pick you make could potentially make or break your season.
Let's evaluate some of the players that I've noticed being overdrafted compared to some players that can be had at later rounds and still potentially be just as valuable.
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Overdrafted Quarterbacks: Michael Vick
Don't get me wrong, Vick is an excellent talent, and top notch fantasy option. In just 12 games he mustered up enough points to outscore all quarterbacks in 2010.
The question isn't necessarily as to whether he can do it again or not, it's whether or not he's really worth a top five selection like many people have been giving him.
Now the average position for Vick has been around seven and eight, but even that seems to be a reach for a quarterback, when you could likely wait until round two or even three to grab a guy like Tom Brady, Philip Rivers or Drew Brees who will get you a comparable amount of fantasy points.
Not to mention, the Eagles offensive line has struggled quite a bit in the pre-season (I know it's just pre-season, but still).
Vick has been flushed out of the pocket more and more, not only by the Steelers and Ravens, but even the Browns had no problems forcing him to make bad decisions.
I'm not saying to forget about Vick, but consider a guy like Rashard Mendenhall over Vick and get your QB later.
Undervalued Quarterbacks: Colt McCoy
Colt McCoy isn't going to be leading your fantasy team to championships any time soon, and likely never will be a huge stat machine.
But when you're looking for a reliable backup, why not get a player who's shown the improvement that McCoy has?
His arm strength has clearly improved, his timing with his receivers is showing promise, and he's learning to read defenses.
Sanchez is a dink and dunk passer who misses on quite a bit of his passes (54.4 percent completion percentage first two seasons).
McNabb's fumbles and interceptions make him quite the gamble in an offense that will be heavily run-oriented.
So why not work in McCoy as your backup, and remember that he gets four games against the NFC West in 2011.
Overdrafted Quarterbacks: Cam Newton
This is a baffling one.
Cam Newton is being drafted over the likes of Matt Hasselbeck, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and even Andy Dalton.
Despite his ability to make plays with his feet, he's still a rookie quarterback with a lot flaws, mostly with his throwing mechanics.
Newton's No. 1 receiver is Steve Smith who has struggled with injuries and has lacked consistency over the past couple seasons.
Newton is also on a team who will be forced to run the ball in order to keep their defense honest with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
While I don't see Dalton, Hasselbeck or Fitzpatrick as anything better than fringe QB2's, I still see more value in each of them when compared to Cam Newton.
People hoping for him to be the next Michael Vick should remember that it even took Vick a few years before being a legit fantasy option.
Undervalued Quarterbacks: Andy Dalton
The only reason I'm considering Dalton as "undervalued" is because of the fact that guys like Jason Campbell and Cam Newton are being drafted before him.
Dalton actually has talented receivers in A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson, and Jordan Shipley. Don't forget that Jermaine Gresham is a young, up and coming tight end with a lot of potential.
On top of that, I see Cedric Benson having a resurgent year, with Bernard Scott proving his worth as a top notch fantasy handcuff.
The defenses will have to respect the run game, and the ability of A.J. Green.
Dalton will have his fair share of lumps, but over the course of the season we should see improvement from the young Bengals offense, making Dalton a better overall fantasy option than Newton or Campbell.
Better receiving options, with a healthy run game, and some time should only help Dalton.
Overvalued Runningbacks: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Fantasy owners loved Green-Ellis when they picked him up off the waiver wire in 2010.
His 13 touchdown finish was among the best in the league, and he even eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark.
But in a crowded backfield, he's going to struggle to put up those numbers again in 2011.
The Patriots have never had a problem finding a running back, and you know that Belichick is going to find ways to get carries to the back that he feels gives them the best chance to win.
Rookie Stevan Ridley has had a solid pre-season, and fellow rookie Shane Vereen should be able to get on the field at some point in the season.
The re-signing and health of Kevin Faulk adds another solid third down option with Danny Woodhead, which could also steal carries from Green-Ellis.
Overall, The Law Firm should still see goal line carries, but in a crowded backfield, it's best to wait on drafting him until the sixth or seventh round, if not later, compared to the fourth-fifth round pick he's received by fantasy owners in the pre-season.
Undervalued Runningbacks: Cedric Benson
I see a resurgence coming in 2011 for Cedric Benson. So far in training camp and pre-season games, he's shown more burst to the hole, and toughness between the tackles.
I'm more optimistic about Benson than some mainly because he is clear of off-field drama unlike prior to 2010 (in regards to his disagreements with Marvin Lewis), and he seems ready get the ball rolling on 2011.
Benson also has to worry about the talented, more versatile Bernard Scott taking some carries away from him, which should only motivate him to perform well.
The Bengals schedule is a bit more friendly in terms of run defenses faced in 2011 as well, and I think some owners will be rewarded for drafting Benson in the sixth-seventh round like he currently is.
Depending on who's available, I would take Benson over a running back like BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ryan Mathews, Ryan Grant, and backup Jonathan Stewart, who are all being drafted ahead of him.
Overdrafted Runningbacks: Marshawn Lynch
I can't help but to think that people are overvaluing Marshawn Lynch partially thanks to his super-human touchdown run against the Saints in the playoffs.
Lynch is currently being drafted near the eighth round, which is too high for a career 3.9 yards per rush runner.
Despite having moderate success in his first two seasons, he's taken a step back. Despite being the starter, I think that a healthy Justin Forsett is a better option for the Seahawks than Lynch, and they'll find out in time.
Overall, I like Daniel Thomas, Tim Hightower, Reggie Bush, C.J. Spiller, and Michael Bush more than Lynch.
Call me crazy, but there are a few backup options that should finish with more fantasy points in 2011 than Marshawn Lynch.
Undervalued Runningbacks: Tim Hightower
Hightower is officially the Redskins starting running back, and while I've never been a huge fan, I like Hightower's odds in 2011.
First off, what running back doesn't succeed in Mike Shanahan's coveted zone blocking scheme?
Second off, Hightower has managed 4.2 yards per carry, and 4.8 yards per carry in his last two seasons, respectively.
Hightower also provides as a legit weapon catching out of the backfield, and will be relied on by Rex Grossman (or John Beck) heavily to make those plays.
I don't think he'll be a game changer in Washington, but a 1,000 yard season for Hightower isn't unrealistic, assuming he sees around 210+ carries in 2011.
Right now Hightower is being drafted behind names like Mike Tolbert, Marshawn Lynch, Mark Ingram, and former teammate Beanie Wells.
I think he will easily out perform all of these runners.
Overdrafted Wide Receivers: Mike Wallace
I'm extremely skeptical of Mike Wallace.
I think that he's very talented, and one of the most dangerous down field targets in the NFL, but I don't think he can repeat his 2010 performance.
His 10 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards was a surprise for many fantasy owners who had no complaints.
But I just can't help but wonder if there wasn't a bit more luck in 2010.
At least two of Wallace's 10 touchdown passes came with him catching the pass after it was batted in the air by a cornerback in the end zone, both of which came within the first two-three weeks of the season.
Teams were unsuspecting of his speed, and he burned them.
I see an emergence of either Emmanuel Sanders or Antonio Brown, if not both, coming in 2011, while teams game plan around Wallace a bit more by using added help over the top.
Wallace is being drafted in the second-third round on average, ahead of names like Miles Austin, Reggie Wayne, and DeSean Jackson, all of which have proven to be consistent play makers over the course of a couple seasons.
I'm not comfortable with Wallace, personally.
Undervalued Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin
Many fantasy owners in 2010 were disappointed with two-thirds of Boldin's season. After coming out on fire, he finished up poorly, and was a player that you didn't want to bench, but had to because of his slump.
2011 should be different for Boldin who should have a bit more freedom in the secondary with the addition of Lee Evans to help stretch the defense, and even speedster Torrey Smith.
I'm looking for more consistency from the veteran receiver, and another year under Joe Flacco's belt surely doesn't hurt a thing.
Look for closer to 80 receptions from Boldin as he hits the 1,000 yard mark for the fifth time in his career.
I'm taking him over receivers like Brandon Lloyd, Santonio Holmes, and Percy Harvin.
Overdrafted Wide Receivers: Dwayne Bowe
Dwayne Bowe's 2010 campaign was huge for unsuspecting fantasy owners.
He had a seven game touchdown streak, and five 100+ yard performances with the Chiefs.
His 15 touchdowns led the NFL, with Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson tied for second with 12 (or 13 according to some Lions fans).
Don't look for another 15 touchdown performance to be in the cards, especially with the addition of Steve Breaston opposite Bowe.
Bowe is a solid WR2 and should be drafted in the fourth-fifth round range at the highest, as he has a better chance of scoring zero touchdowns in 2011, than getting another 15.
He's being drafted before Dez Bryant, Mike Williams, Jeremy Maclin, and Marques Colston, and he simply doesn't have the same value.
Undervalued Wide Receivers: Mario Manningham
Manningham was one of my favorite late round sleepers in 2010, and he filled in well when Steve Smith went down for the Giants.
His 60 receptions amassed 944 receiving yards and nine touchdowns over the course of the season.
With Steve Smith completely out of the picture in Philadelphia, Manningham will see an increase in receptions, and should maintain similar production around 14-15 yards per catch.
With Hakeem Nicks opposite him, defenses will have to respect both receivers, as well as the run game for the Giants potent offense.
Currently, Manningham is being selected towards the seventh round, behind receivers like Stevie Johnson, Kenny Britt, Brandon Lloyd and Percy Harvin.
Take advantage of that, and grab Manningham as your WR2 a round earlier.
Overdrafted Tight Ends: Owen Daniels
Look, I really love Owen Daniels' ability to catch the football.
But the guy hasn't had a full season in since 2008, and he's being drafted in the seventh round of fantasy drafts in favor of guys like Marcedes Lewis, Jimmy Graham, Ben Watson, Rob Gronkowski, and many others.
I like to take risks, but injuries scare the crap out of me. I'm not ready to invest a seventh round fantasy pick to grab tight end with injury concerns, no matter how good he looks in the pre-season.
Undervalued Tight Ends: Ben Watson
Watson is quite under-appreciated in fantasy football. In 2010, Watson finished fifth in both receptions, and yardage.
His downfall was his lack of scoring, but he's still a top 15 fantasy tight end, despite the fact that he's often not even being drafted in standard leagues.
In PPR leagues, he is a top 10 option and I don't see him slowing down with Colt McCoy improving.
Not to mention, McCoy loves his tight ends, and Watson is the most reliable pass catcher on the Browns field not named Peyton Hillis.
Don't be afraid to take Watson over Greg Olsen or even Owen Daniels, if you're a risk taker like myself.
Overdrafted Tight Ends: Greg Olsen
I loved Olsen's potential coming out of The "U." He's had some success with the Chicago Bears, but right now, I think he's being over-drafted.
Olsen is being drafted as a top 10 tight end, above guys like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Pettigrew and Ben Watson.
Add in Jeremy Shockey, another "U" product, and it lowers the value of a guy like Olsen, who should still get the bulk of any tight end receptions courtesy of rookie Cam Newton.
Cam Newton will likely have to check down to his tight ends quite a bit, but I still don't see Olsen having any more than four or five touchdowns with a little over 500 yards.
I'm just not drafting Olsen as a top 10 tight end without Jay Cutler or a quarterback that's proven he can throw effectively.
Undervalued Tight Ends: Lance Kendricks
Kendricks is one of my ultimate sleepers at tight end, and just isn't getting any respect.
Despite being pre-season games, Kendricks has two touchdowns from Sam Bradford already, and he may have the best hands on the team, despite the plethora of wide receivers in St. Louis.
Kendricks has a good size/speed combination to go along with his strong hands in the red zone.
I don't think five to six touchdowns is unrealistic, as he should get the bulk of red zone work with Sam Bradford.
I have more confidence in Kendrick than I do Heath Miller, Todd Heap, Greg Olsen, and even Brent Celek.
But again, it's a risky pick.
Honorable Mention: Overdrafted
QB | Mark Sanchez- Dink and dunker and turnover prone. Being drafted before Colt McCoy and Kyle Orton.
RB | Jonathan Stewart- Very talented, but oft-injured and DeAngelo Williams' backup. Being drafted before Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant, and Shonn Greene.
WR | Brandon Lloyd- Lloyd won't repeat 2010 performance, being drafted before Wes Welker, Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham.
WR | Stevie Johnson- Likely not to repeat 2010 performance as well. Being drafted before Brandon Marshall, Mario Manningham and Austin Collie.
TE | Kellen Winslow- Very hit or miss tight end who gets into slumps. Being drafted before Jimmy Graham, Brandon Pettigrew, Rob Gronkowski.
Honorable Mention: Undervalued
QB | Joe Flacco- Has legit play makers around him, entering his third year. Being drafted behind Eli Manning (turnover prone), and Josh Freeman.
WR | Brandon Marshall- Still a reception machine and catches everything. Being drafted behind Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, and Santonio Holmes.
WR | Santana Moss- Won't repeat 2010, but still should have respectable numbers. Being drafted behind Chad Ochocinco, Kenny Britt, and Sidney Rice.
TE | Jared Cook- Not drafted in most leagues, and is very athletic. Will be a great check down option for Hasselbeck.