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Fantasy Football Players to Pass On, Later Alternatives, and Late-Round Fliers, Oh My!

@EmPoweredFF outlines three players to pass on with players to take as an alternative and then drops four late-round fliers to target.

Here are three overvalued players you should pass on in dynasty startups.  For each overvalued player, I will provide one to two later-round alternatives.  Finally, I will follow this all up with four late-round fliers with a path to relevance, one at each position.

PASS ON

George Kittle, TE SF (ADP 42.8)

Kittle is an overvalued commodity with durability concerns and will be the recipient of unproven quarterback play in Trey Lance, who lacks much in-game experience. Lance’s dual-threat capabilities mean more yardage on the ground through his legs than through the air to his playmakers. Kyle Shanahan remains an unpredictable coach. Until we see San Francisco in action, they remain tentative. Don’t forget the Niners have many mouths to feed. With Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Elijah Mitchell, and third-round rookie RB Tyrion Davis-Price competing for the backup role, Kittle will likely see a drop in his 24.9% target share.

Later-Round Alternatives

TJ Hockenson, TE DET (ADP 65.9)

Hockenson is likely to lead the Lions in targets this season. With a revamped offensive line graded by PFF as the third-best, Jared Goff has plenty of protection, allowing him more time for his reads. Detroit has a young and inexperienced WR core. Hocksenson will continue to be to veteran presence Goff needs. The addition of rookie WR Jameson Williams could open up more targets for Hockenson. Especially at the mid-level range where Goff prefers to throw, as defenses try to stop Williams’ speed and deep threat attack.

Albert Okwuegbunam, TE DEN (ADP 129.9)

You could almost hear the cheers when Mr. Unlimited touched down in Mile High. Russell Wilson brings efficiency and accuracy Denver desperately needs at center. Albert O saw an increase in targets and snap share (40 targets and 45.9%) from his rookie season (15 and 31.2%). Couple that with the fact the Broncos felt comfortable enough to send Noah Fant to Seattle in the trade for Wilson shows they plan to use Albert O as a main piece in the offense. He’s also a big-bodied TE that can use his size and speed to dominate in the red zone against contested catches. His abilities and Wilson’s arm could lead to a breakout this season for Albert O.

PASS ON

Javonte Williams, RB DEN (ADP 34.1)

We all waited in bated breath, eager to hear Melvin Gordon sign with a new team, only to be crushed when Denver re-signed him. Williams had an amazing rookie season finishing with over 1,200 total yards and seven touchdowns. Guess who was right behind him? Gordon’s season ended with over 1,100 total yards and ten touchdowns. Denver’s backfield is the definition of a “split backfield.” Williams’ opportunity share was 50.5% to Gordon’s 51.5%. This season, things don’t look to be changing in the RB room. Now with Wilson at QB and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett, the team is sure to be a more pass-friendly offense. At his ADP, Williams holds some risk.

Later-Round Alternatives

Travis Etienne, RB JAX (ADP 55.0)

Last off-season, the hype for Etienne was real, and for a good reason. His college production was prolific. In his three years at Clemson, he posted a total of 579 rushing attempts for 4,186 yards and 57 touchdowns. And he also had 97 receptions for 1,098 yards and eight touchdowns. Unfortunately, a Lisfranc injury prevented a rookie start. Now completely recovered, Etienne is making splashes in training camp.  He may be a secret weapon to be unleashed upon opposing defenses. His ability to be a great pass-catcher makes him a dual-threat in the backfield.

Cam Akers, RB LAR (ADP 50.8)

Akers finds himself on a powerhouse offense and has the upside to be a workhouse back with a solid season. Last off-season, Akers tore his Achilles and, in remarkable fashion, returned to the field in Week 18. He is reportedly 100% and should bounce back, barring injury. Backup Darrell Henderson is already hurt, and fifth-round Kyren Williams broke his leg, making Cam Akers the sole heir to the backfield then. His fourth-round ADP is a value right now. Expect Akers to lead the way as the top RB next season in Sean McVay’s consistent bell cow offense, where the team’s lead back averages 20+ touches per game.  If he stays healthy, he could have a great season. He should be a solid RB2.

PASS ON

Jaylen Waddle, WR MIA (ADP 52.0)

Last season Waddle finished with 140 targets with 104 receptions for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 7.25 yards per target (YPT) and 9.6 yards per catch (YPC). Managers looking for Waddle to outperform an impressive rookie season will be sadly disappointed. With the addition of Tyreek Hill to the offense, Waddle moves from a fringe WR1 to a mid-range WR2. With Tua Tagovailoa’s need for improvement in his passing accuracy and Waddle losing targets to Hill, the team’s undoubted WR1, Waddle is more risk than reward at such a high ADP. He should be a WR2 with upside.

Later-Round Alternatives

Courtland Sutton, WR DEN (ADP 75.2)

Sutton’s 2021 season had some of the worst QB play, yet he finished his season with 98 targets, 50 receptions, 706 yards, and two touchdowns. A far cry from his 2019 season of 124 targets, 72 receptions, 1112 yards, and six touchdowns. Now with Wilson in town, Sutton has the opportunity to benefit the most from the quarterback upgrade. With Jerry Jeudy lined up in the slot, Sutton will be the clear X-receiver and should see the most snaps. This is an offense that will explode this year, and at his current ADP, Sutton could be a significant value.

Gabe Davis, WR BUF (ADP 98.6)

We all watched as Davis caught his fourth record-breaking touchdown in the Divisional Round. He broke loose, also finishing the game with eight receptions for 201 yards. During the season, he had 63 targets with 35 receptions for 549 yards and six touchdowns. His average yards per target (YPT) was 8.71, and his yards per catch (YPC) was 15.69.  With fewer targets and fewer yards, he produced a better YPT and YPC than Waddle. Now he’s going to be a featured target in the offense based on his performance last season. He’s a solid WR2 in a high-powered offense with the QB1, Josh Allen, throwing him the ball. Managers should expect a breakout season for Davis.

Late-Fliers with Path to Relevance

Mac Jones, QB NEP (ADP 82.4)

In a class of stud QBs, Jones turned out to be the most impressive, leading the Patriots to a 10-7 season and a playoff appearance. With an entire season as a starter behind him, he has the potential to be a breakout. Jones has even received praise from Belichick for his work ethic and improvements in his fundamentals. With WR DeVante Parker’s off-season signing and WR Tyquan Thornton’s drafting, the Patriots could be trying for a more passing offense.

Khalil Herbert, RB CHI (ADP 168.3)

Herbert was impressive when he stepped in for David Montgomery after an injury last season. He remains the clear #2 behind Montgomery this season. Herbert’s path to relevance rests in Montgomery’s ability to stay on the field. However, he remains a potential sneaky riser as his special teams role allows for more play time to showcase his talent.

Christian Kirk, WR JAX (ADP 121.0)

After shoveling out a big bag of cash for Kirk, the Jaguars will use him as much as possible in the offense. His price tag leaves him as the team’s clear WR1. The Urban Meyer experiment last season left the team in shambles and their star rookie QB looking like a bust. With a new regime in town, Trevor Lawrence can shake off last season and start anew with his new WR. In fact, the two have already begun creating a rapport.

Brevin Jordan, TE HOU (ADP 196.5)

Houston’s 2021 season was pretty dismal. But rookie QB Mills Davis shocked the world when he turned out to be a competent quarterback. Last season Jordan Akins led the TE room in routes run, receptions, and yards. Jordan has a shot at taking over the role with Akins out of Houston. The likelihood of a breakout season isn’t there, but the opportunity is.

About the Author:

Emily H. Lefco (Twitter: @EmPoweredFF) graduated with high honors in a dual degree program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has been a die-hard fantasy football manager and commissioner for 15 years now. Emily has been known to manage up to 63 winning teams out of 69 leagues – redraft, dynasty, keeper, IDP, TE-Premium, Superflex – while serving as commissioner of over 15 dynasty leagues.

Her love for fantasy football derives from it being NFL-focused, data-driven, and research-based. As a fantasy football analyst and Super Flex ranker, Emily writes original fantasy football content for @yardsper fantasy and @dynastynerds. She will soon be co-hosting her own fantasy football podcast (Please follow @HustlersFF). Stay tuned for the podcast, future NFL polls, and new articles!!

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