Warning: If you don't read this article, you may embarrass yourself in your fantasy league.
Schmoes all over the world (myself included) love fantasy football. Of course, that doesn't mean they know what they're doing when draft time rolls around.
I have my own way of picking players, which includes targeting running backs intensely in the early rounds and taking the one good player on teams that often are bad in the regular season. Other people have their systems too, and there are a lot of ways to be successful in a fantasy league.
Of course, there are also a lot of ways to fail in your fantasy league. Over-drafting a player is the easiest one.
Thus, for your edification and delight, here are the 25 most overrated fantasy players.
I'm just going to get this out of the way now: Arian Foster is overrated. He is.
He's listed by several sites as the No. 1 overall player, and I can see why, but I just don't buy it. Yes, he rushed for more than 1,600 yards last year and caught 66 passes, but do people actually expect Foster to put up those kinds of numbers again?
For one thing, no player with almost 400 touches in a season comes back the next year fresh. The wear and tear from that much work is too hard for a player to recuperate from easily, and Foster is not the biggest guy at running back to begin with.
There's also the fact that Ben Tate, the Texans' second-year running back, has the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL this preseason, having only played in two of the games. It doesn't matter how good Foster is; a 10.6-yard rushing average in Tate's first preseason game makes him look like the kind of player that will see the field.
So what are we left with? Not the Arian Foster of last year, but an Arian Foster who will probably not be able to meet expectations from last year and will see a reduced number of touches as part of a split backfield.
The way I see it, it's not looking good for Foster as a top-three pick right now.
Peyton Hillis was thrust into the spotlight last year, as he managed more than 1,600 total yards in his first season as the Browns' starter. Don't get used to it.
Hillis is a good player and a guy that I personally like. But I just saw Peyton Hillis on Yahoo!'s top 100 players in front of Steven Jackson.
Are you kidding me?
Hillis was targeted on more than a third of the Browns' plays last year (331 total touches, 61 catches). Basically, that's why he was useful in fantasy situations—not because he'll be a No. 1 back, because he won't with Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson on the team as well.
Hillis is a risky pick, and who knows? He could work out on your team, but he could just as easily flop epically if you take him in the first two rounds.
Exercise caution when selecting Hillis.
It's hard for me to see Peyton Manning being worth a first-round pick in a fantasy draft right now. I'm not even sure I'd take Manning in the second as it is.
Manning is coming off an offseason surgery that has kept him from so much as practicing this preseason. With no practice, it'll take Manning a few weeks to shake off the rust.
The last time Manning missed the preseason, the Colts started 3-4, and Manning threw more interceptions than he had in any other seven-game stretch since his rookie year. Add to that how often people overrate quarterbacks in general, and Manning places himself high on this year's list of overrated players.
Did you notice that last year Tom Brady rarely threw deep at all?
The Patriots switched over to a more ball-control offense and played under a West Coast system. That cost Brady some fantasy points because in a West Coast system, you tend to get fewer yards per completion and throw a lot more passes. A lot more passes opens up a player to more interceptions, and the Patriots don't exactly have a sparkling wide receiver corps now anyway.
I never like taking QBs as high picks, even Tom Brady. He's probably a mid second-round pick because of the name recognition, but if you ask me, taking a quarterback that high is just missing out on another top-tier running back.
This is an easy one. Do you honestly think Brandon Lloyd will repeat the kind of performance he had last year, when he led the league in receiving yardage?
The Broncos have a lot of targets at wide receiver, and Lloyd has no kind of history to back up the idea that his performance is anything more than a fluke.
Fantasy sites take last year's performance into account a lot when deciding on a player's draft position. I checked, and Lloyd is ahead of Felix Jones, Brandon Marshall and Antonio Gates on Yahoo!'s top 100.
That's pretty optimistic if you ask me.
I'd rather have a starting running back or the No. 1 tight end over Lloyd any day.
Marques Colston is a Saints wide receiver. That should be all you need to know.
Drew Brees spreads the ball better than any quarterback in the league, even better than Aaron Rodgers and the Packers do. Any time you pick a Saints wide receiver, he has a one-in-three chance of doing absolutely nothing during the week. Someone on the Saints will have a good receiving day; there's just no way of predicting who it will be.
In that case, don't waste a pick on Marques Colston just because he's a flashy name on a passing team. His inconsistency should drop him more than it seems to in the fantasy ranks.
Shonn Greene was a great addition for your fantasy team late in 2009. Then he was a change-of-pace back and a substitute player. As a lead runner, however, Greene is not likely to be as effective.
Greene hasn't showed great strength or toughness in this preseason, and it's high time to start thinking about looking elsewhere for help at running back. He will be a team's No. 1 runner, but so will Joseph Addai. That doesn't mean you should draft either of them until the sixth round or so.
WARNING: THIS ONLY APPLIES TO POINTS PER RECEPTION LEAGUES.
DeSean Jackson is an explosive, playmaking wide receiver. That said, he had fewer than 50 catches last year.
In a PPR league, 50 catches seriously hurts Jackson's value. There are at least five to 10 running backs who get more than 50 catches a year regularly.
If you find yourself in a PPR league, there's no point in taking a guy who will just get you yardage when there are players available who can get you yardage and catches, like a Wes Welker or a Percy Harvin.
If you're in a straight yardage league, personally I like Jackson, but his decreased value in PPR leagues has him rated higher than he should be.
Ryan Grant has been struggling through the preseason this year. Honestly, he just hasn't looked all that good. There were rumors out there that he might not even be a lock as the Packers' No. 1 back.
If any of that has even a hint of truth to it, then Grant is vastly overrated by the media machine. The Packers are anything but a running team. Aaron Rodgers slings the ball around more than most, and the Packers' running game was anemic even when they won the Super Bowl last year.
If you're looking for a mid-round running back, you'd be much better going with a Knowshon Moreno or Felix Jones.
Ironically, the same problem that haunts Saints wide receivers is going to give Mark Ingram trouble this year: The Saints have a very crowded backfield.
With Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and now Patrick Cobb, no one in the Saints backfield will emerge as a solid No. 1 running back. Ingram has a lot of skill, but in a timeshare as confusing as the Saints', he is by no means a sure thing.
Some drafters will take Ingram as high as the third round. Don't make that mistake on a rookie running back with an unclear touch total.
Fantasy football players must think Michael Vick possesses the magical amulet of whateversville to draft him as high as I've seen him go.
Seriously, people, no QB will ever be a top-five value. Even if you're going to draft a QB that high, don't take Vick. He had a career year last year, but it was a freak thing. He will get rushing yardage, but not a lot of TDs, and he doesn't throw for nearly as many yards as other big-name QBs like Manning, Ben Roethlisberger or even Philip Rivers.
You can expect Vick to be a good fantasy pickup, and you can hope that he will be a great fantasy choice, but you will always be wrong if you believe that Vick will be an elite addition to your fantasy football team.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is not the only horse in the Patriots' stable. Remember little Danny Woodhead? How about Kevin Faulk? By the way, the team's leading rusher in this preseason is Stevan Ridley, who has more than 140 yards playing in just the first two games.
Green-Ellis is ranked pretty darn high on some fantasy lists—higher than Marshawn Lynch in Yahoo! rankings. If you ask me, that's just crazy. There's no guarantee he's even going to get a third of the snaps at RB for the Patriots, much less enough touches to make him more valuable than Lynch.
If Jacob Tamme is anywhere on your mind at all as you approach your fantasy draft, you have him overrated.
Dallas Clark is back, and with Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, there's not really any need for Tamme in the Colts offense. He'll be in on some two-tight-end looks, but that won't get him more than 30 catches.
I know Tamme won't be a common pick, but there are absolutely some people out there who will think they're smarter than everyone else and try Tamme as a late-round pick. Don't do it.
Zach Miller was a great receiving threat for the Raiders last year. This year, he's with the Seahawks.
They don't have a quarterback.
There are two ways that could play out. One way is that the terrible quarterbacks in Seattle check down to Miller every chance they get and Miller winds up with 80 catches and 700-plus yards.
The more likely result is that Miller is forced to block for an ineffective line more often than he was in Oakland, the quarterbacks can't get him the ball and he winds up with a disappointing season.
He's a good option at tight end, but he's no longer a top-five option as a fantasy tight end.
There will be fantasy owners whose faces light up when they see Cedric Benson available for drafting. These owners won't know what they're getting themselves into.
Benson was never an overpowering back, just a capable one, and recently he's had more than a few run-ins with the fumble monster. Benson is a back with mediocre speed on a team with very little talent. Imagine a workhorse trying to drag a stone castle. That's Cedric Benson.
Most rankings have Benson ranked around the 50th spot. I think that's a little bit high, considering it's before Wes Welker, Dallas Clark and Marshawn Lynch. I just don't expect Benson to have that good of a season.
Remember last year, when Ryan Mathews was expected to be a top-20 player in fantasy leagues? Yeah, that one died off pretty quick.
My issue is not exactly that Mathews is overrated—he's actually rated pretty fairly (read: low). It's that fantasy owners will all try to be the smartest person in the room and reach for Mathews because he looks like a great value add.
If he can beat out Mike Tolbert and be the No. 1 back on the Chargers, he'd be worth a fourth-round pick easy. Of course, he couldn't beat out Tolbert last year and also suffered injuries and other setbacks that kept him from doing much of anything of value.
Mathews, in my humble opinion, is best left for the waiver wire.
It's right there in the title: wide receiver for the Seahawks.
There's really not much that can be more dooming to a player's fantasy value than that. This is especially true when the Seahawks are starting Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.
Rice followed the money to Seattle, but coming off an injury-plagued season with nobody good to throw him the ball, he is bound to be a regrettable mistake for plenty of fantasy owners.
Matt Ryan is a winning quarterback, and he is a talented quarterback, but is he a great fantasy quarterback?
If you asked me that question, I think my answer would have to be no. Ryan has good receivers around him now with Roddy White and Julio Jones, but the Falcons are a run-first team. Michael Turner and Jason Snelling are strong runners, and even the lowly Jaguars managed to contain the Falcons' passing game early this preseason.
All in all, I doubt that Ryan makes it to 4,000 yards, and Turner will likely poach a good portion of the red-zone touchdowns because he is a very strong short-yardage runner.
Matt Ryan will have a good fantasy year, but don't expect a top-10 performance from him.
The Giants are predicted by many sites to be a top-10 defense for fantasy purposes. With the injuries in their secondary, in that division, I don't think they'll perform nearly that well.
The Giants have to face the Eagles and Cowboys twice each. Both of those teams have potent passing games, and the Giants have lost two starting-quality secondary players this preseason. They will have a strong pass rush, but that won't matter when they're giving up points.
Everyone is going to expect the Eagles to be God's gift to football this year, but there have been clear signs the Eagles defense will not be as strong as everyone thinks it will be.
Their run defense has been mediocre at best, and the team has thrown more interceptions than it has intercepted passes thus far. There's been no indication this team will be spectacular in this offseason except from looking at the names on the roster.
Defenses are overrated in fantasy no matter what, but projecting the Eagles as high as they are is vastly overrating the team.
My fantasy team currently does not have a kicker. That's how important I think a kicker is. I dropped my kicker to add Roy Helu. Roy Helu! He's not even a starting running back, and honestly, I'm not worried at all.
From week to week, there will be some kickers who do better than others. It doesn't matter. Ultimately, all kickers wind up within a span of 30 to 40 fantasy points. If you're thinking of using any pick higher than the 13th round on a kicker, don't.
Hakeem Nicks is a decent receiver. Probably, if you pushed me, I'd say he's a good receiver. However, I would never say he's a great receiver, and I would not expect much of him fantasy-wise. According to Yahoo! Sports, however, Nicks is the fifth-best wide receiver for fantasy purposes.
That put him ahead of Vincent Jackson, Greg Jennings and Reggie Wayne.
Nicks is a solid red-zone threat, but he will never perform to the level of a top-five fantasy wide receiver, no matter who is throwing to him. He certainly won't with Captain Turnover Eli Manning throwing to him.
Hakeem Nicks is another player bound to disappoint this year.
In the NFL, Marcedes Lewis would be a great player to add to your team. He is a valuable asset as a blocker and a pass-catcher. Just don't expect the same to be true of his fantasy value.
Here's a pretty damning statistic: Only once in the past decade has a tight end with double-digit touchdowns reached that level again the next year, and that was Antonio Gates in 2004-'05. Jason Witten hasn't done it, Jeremy Shockey hasn't done it and Tony Gonzalez hasn't done it.
What are the odds that Marcedes Lewis will with David Garrard throwing him the ball and Maurice Jones-Drew back to full speed after getting his knee fixed this offseason?
The odds are not very good. Not very good at all.
Roy Williams is a big, strong receiver. Now if only he could run or catch.
Williams has disappointed everywhere he's been in his career. He was a flop in Detroit, let down the Cowboys in Dallas and now has made his way to the Bears and can't beat out a converted corner for the No. 1 wide receiver spot.
Seriously, when Devin Hester is considered a better option than you in the passing game, you know you're doing something wrong.
Williams is considered the Bears' No. 1 wide receiver target, but likely the statistics won't bear that out as the season goes along. He's gotten along thus far with nothing but his potential. At some point, people are going to realize he'll never reach it.
Jared Cook is a player who is supposedly climbing the ranks of the fantasy world.
Cook is the third-year tight end for the Tennessee Titans. He has only 38 career receptions and one touchdown but is ranked higher than Brandon Pettigrew, Dustin Keller and both of the Patriots' tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) on some sites.
Matt Hasselbeck, the Titans QB, does not have a long history of throwing to his tight ends, the team is a run-first, run-second type of team and Cook has done little to prove that he is deserving of the bloated expectations that are being put on him.
That has to make him this year's most overrated fantasy player.