PLAYERS BEING DRAFTED AT THEIR CEILING
These players have little chance of outperforming their ADP and giving you an above market return on investment. All ADP’s are from August 1st to August 28th in MFL10’s.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons (Current ADP: RB12)
In the last three seasons, Devonta Freeman has finished as an RB1 (2015), RB6 (2016) and RB14 (2017) respectively. He is trending in the wrong direction yet is still being drafted as an RB1. It’s more realistic to expect Freeman to finish as an RB2 in 2018 than it is to expect him to finish as an RB1. When Freeman finished as a Top-6 running back in 2015 and 2016, he was carrying the ball at least 225 times and seeing at least 65 targets out of the backfield. In 2017, he had under 200 rushing attempts and less than 50 targets; that type of workload will not translate to RB1 numbers. While I want to be optimistic that year two of the Steve Sarkisian era will be better than year one, I can’t justify spending a 2nd round pick on a player whose ceiling is limited due to the timeshare in the Atlanta Falcons backfield.
Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (Current ADP: RB13)
In his rookie season in 2017, Joe Mixon was underwhelming at best to the point where he is now being drafted purely at his absolute ceiling. Mixon’s 3.5 yards per carry on 178 rushing attempts is not something to write home about. Sure, we can chalk it up to the Bengals having a poor offensive line or Andy Dalton having a down year. Ultimately, even if the 2018 version of Mixon improves his YPC to 4.0, he will need to have at least 250 rushing attempts, hit pay-dirt nine times and have 35-plus receptions to return RB1 numbers.
Considering Mixon caught 30 passes on 34 targets in 2017, it’s unlikely he’ll suddenly see 50-plus targets in year two, especially since Giovani Bernard is still there to spell Mixon in passing situations. Plus, an 88% catch rate does not seem like a sustainable number for any running back. Will Joe Mixon be a disappointment in his second season? No, but don’t expect him to suddenly light the world on fire and finish as a Top-12 running back, specifically seeing as how the running back position in today’s NFL is ripe with top-end talent.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (Current ADP: WR8)
I’m lower on the Bengals offense than most analysts. There’s still a sense in the fantasy community that A.J. Green can be an elite fantasy wide receiver but I don’t see it that way. Since 2014, Green has finished as a Top-10 wide receiver just twice. He finished as WR9 in 2015 and WR10 last season.
From 2014-2016, Green’s yards per target number was well above 9.0 in all three seasons. Last season, that number dipped down to a paltry 7.6 yards per target, which ranked 18th out of 27 players that saw over 100 targets.
We can squabble about how the Bengals upgraded their offensive line this offseason by acquiring LT Cordy Glenn and drafting Center Billy Price, which in theory will give Andy Dalton more time to throw. But Green is past his prime and has no shot of outperforming his current ADP of WR8. Will he still finish as a Top-20 receiver? Probably, but it will likely end up being closer to a WR15-WR20 than a WR8-WR10.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings (Current ADP: WR12)
What’s not to like about Adam Thielen? He followed up his breakout 2016 season (69 receptions, 967 receiving yards, five touchdowns) with an even better 2017 season (91 receptions, 1,276 receiving yards, four touchdowns) and finished as the 9th best fantasy wide receiver last year. It seems that he’s trending in the right direction and solidifying himself as one of the league’s elite wide receivers. Or does it?
Call me a skeptic all you want, but after his phenomenal 2017 campaign, I have doubts that Thielen will once again reach WR1 numbers with his new quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Even though Thielen had success with the likes of Sam Bradford and Case Keenum, having to build a rapport with a third quarterback in three seasons is not going to come easy.
Furthermore, new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo (formerly the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles) was fond of targeting the tight end position in the red zone last season, as evidenced by all eight of Zach Ertz’s touchdowns coming in the red zone. Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings starting tight end, is sixth in red zone targets among tight ends the last three seasons. I expect Thielen’s red zone targets (he had 16 red zone targets in 2017) to go down in 2018 and for those targets to go to Rudolph, Stefon Diggs, or Dalvin Cook, who is returning from missing the bulk of his rookie season due to injury and will undoubtedly command a high volume of rushing attempts and targets out of the backfield.