LOS ANGELES, August 27, 2013 — Every year you read about a must-have player and every year you end up drafting him. You may draft him earlier than you should have or you may choose a certain player that was hyped up over a comparable player and end up regretting it. The fantasy hype machine has a tendency to feed off of itself. Here is a list of the top five players that have been overrated by the fantasy machine.
Andre Johnson, wide receiver, Houston Texans — Over the years, Andre Johnson, 32, has built a reputation as a legitimate top five receiver when healthy. An argument could be made that he is a top three receiver. Health being the keyword there, of course, as it has been an issue in recent years. In 2012, he battled a strained groin for almost half of the season. In 2011, he was sidelined for a total of nine games due to a hamstring injury. Simply looking on paper at his production, 112 catches, 1598 yards, 4 touchdowns, can mislead a lot of people into drafting him high as a top 10 player, but this is really a statistical fallacy.
If you look at the game by game production last season, he got off to very slow start, and did not really start putting up decent numbers until the second half. There are also some concerns as to whether or not he has lost a step given his age entering his 10th season. Another interesting fact is that he has yet to produce a season with double digit touchdowns in his career. If he is not having a great receiving game in yards, it is less than likely he will make up for it with touchdowns. Lastly, not having a legitimate second option at receiver really hurts him as good defensive teams are able to focus more on just him and usually take him out of the game.
Colin Kaepernick, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers — Colin Kaepernick took fantasy football by storm last year with his stellar play, and production. In just eight games he passed for more than 1700 yards and 10 touchdowns. Couple that with fact that he also rushed for an additional 415 yards and another 3 touchdowns and it is easy to see why people are hyped about him going into this season. However, it should be noted that out of the eight games he started, only three of those teams had winning records, and just two actually made the playoffs.
Losing Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham should be a major blow to the 49er’s passing attack. Last year they accounted for over 43% of the total receiving yards and touchdowns, which totaled 1544 yards and 10 touchdowns between the two of them. While his potential may be off the charts, quarterbacks in the NFL have a history of slumping in their sophomore season, as teams start to figure out their tendencies and weaknesses. Kaepernick’s weakness was exposed by the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, and will undoubtedly be further exploited by opposing defenses this year.
DeMarco Murray, running back, Dallas Cowboys — Murray is a player that definitely passes the eyeball test when evaluating a prototypical star running back. He has size, quickness and speed, all of which are desirable qualities you would want your every down back to possess. The problem is, although has the capability, he has yet to actually meet expectations in production on the field.
Most of his hype has come from potential with a few flashes of brilliance here and there, but injuries have mainly been his problem. Murray, much like Adrian Peterson, has a high running style, yet lacks the same ferociousness Peterson possesses when running between the tackles. He is basically a big back with a finesse game mentality. There are a lot of Cowboy fans and they will more than likely draft him too early based on hype, rather than actual production. At the end of the day, Murray is still a high injury risk player that has yet to last more than ten games or rush for a 1000 yards in any season.
Rob Gronkowski, tight end, New England Patriots — It is no question that Rob Gronkowski is one the best tight ends in the game and is usually the first tight end taken off the draft board. Fans often reach on drafting him with high hopes and expectations for their respective fantasy teams. A string of recent injuries though has caused some concern as to whether or not his body may be breaking down.
In the last two years, he has had multiple hip and forearm injuries, and will already miss week 1 this season while recovering from back surgery. With his timetable for return in question, the Patriots may have no choice but to place him on their Physically Unable to Perform list, which would make him inactive for the first six games of the season. Fans may still reach on taking him in the 1st round, but this is really taking a huge risk given the circumstances. Losing Aaron Hernandez will also impact his production as teams can now focus solely on taking away Brady’s top receiving threat.
Jamaal Charles, running back, Kansas City Chiefs — Jamaal Charles had a terrific season last year rushing for over 1500 yards, and scoring a combined total of 8 touchdowns (rushing/receiving). Based on the numbers, he is in the conversation for top ten on most draft boards ranking as high as fourth overall. However, when taking a closer look at his production, you will find that more than 50% of it came from teams that ranked near the bottom of the league in rushing defense. Also, with Romeo Crennel as the coach last year, he was featured as their main weapon, offensively, as their philosophy relied more heavily upon the run. That philosophy is now reversed with new coach Andy Reid.
It should not be ignored that playing for one of the more pass happy coaches in the league will reduce his opportunities in the run game. People think that Reid will use Charles in the same way he used LeSean McCoy with the Eagles, and while there may be some truth to that, they definitely are not the same type of running back. His effectiveness in this offense still remains an unknown. With Reid’s love for screens and dump off passes, Dexter McCluster could further vulture those opportunities as he is expected to be utilized more this season.
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