While we know that nailing some mid-round sleepers can win you a fantasy championship, air-balling on players too early in your draft will surely lead your squad to inevitable doom. Last season, owners who selected early-round prospects such as Eddie Lacy, C.J. Anderson, or Demarco Murray were undeniably dejected when they found themselves fighting for a playoff spot in their season-long leagues. Sure, there will be unforeseen injuries that derail a few of fantasy's top players, but as made apparent by the aforementioned options, a sluggish season after being drafted too soon will crush fantasy owners' hopes of hoisting their league hardware.
A few days back, I pinpointed 5 potential bargains for the upcoming season, so be sure to check that out. However, I'd like to use this article to identify 5 fantasy football players that I feel are being overvalued based on current ADP trends. I'd steer clear of these guys at their present-day asking price, but keep in mind, I wouldn't be completely opposed to snatching them up if they fell to a more reasonable draft position.
Average Draft Position (ADP) values in this article were extracted from FantasyFootballCalculator.com's 12-team, 15-round standard format drafts.
Derek Carr - QB, Oakland Raiders
ADP: 105 (QB12)
After a big sophomore campaign in 2015, Derek Carr heads into his third season with lofty expectations in both real life and fantasy football alike. Carr has the ability to be a solid franchise quarterback in Oakland for several years, but I find myself pumping the brakes on his fantasy value in 2016. Last season, it's crystal clear that Carr was a crucial reason for the Raiders' newfound success. However, from a statistical standpoint, I'm not confident that he'll be able to match his production, let alone exceed it. Based on his current ADP of QB12, the majority of fantasy owners are banking on at least a slight improvement this year. While I'm not saying he can't do it, I'm having trouble believing he will do it. In 2015 standard leagues, Carr was the 15th-best QB, but this can mainly be attributed to a mid-season hot streak (specifically Weeks 7-9). From Week 13 on, when our fantasy teams were (hopefully) in the postseason, Carr averaged a mediocre 14.2 points per game. In 2016, he'll have a quality slate of pass catchers, but the Raiders will also have their best defense and offensive line personnel in recent memory. This leads me to believe defensive-minded HC Jack Del Rio and his run-oriented OC Bill Musgrave will prefer to lean on the ground game behind their revamped defense in 2016. Additionally, only six fantasy QBs have a tougher strength of schedule this season. For all these reasons, Carr's 32 TDs and 3987 passing yards will both be difficult to improve upon in 2016. Just to reiterate, I think Carr is a fine NFL signal-caller, but there are more than 11 QBs I'd rather have in fantasy football.
Jeremy Langford - RB, Chicago Bears
ADP: 47 (RB20)
One of last year's most sluggish running backs, Jeremy Langford finds himself being selected inside the top-50 of most fantasy drafts this summer. His price tag of RB20 firmly places him in RB2 territory, but I can't trust him as anything more than a sketchy flex in 2016. Although Langford filled in efficiently for Matt Forte when he was injured for three weeks, the bigger picture reveals a relatively underwhelming talent. A fourth-round pick in last year's NFL draft from Michigan State, Langford averaged a measly 3.6 YPC, struggled with drops and pass protection, as well as posting PFF's league-worst yards after contact stat. If you looked at his skill set alone, Langford definitely wouldn't be drafted anywhere close to his current ADP. But when opportunity knocks, fantasy owners always seem to answer the door. With the Bears drafting Jordan Howard this offseason, the rookie could immediately siphon carries from Langford, specifically in short-yardage situations. Even little Jacquizz Rodgers has received praise this offseason for his third-down abilities. Lastly, a less noteworthy name to remember is Ka'Deem Carey, but this simply serves as a reminder that the Bears have a plethora of unproven RBs who are all looking to contribute. This list of names, paired with the fact that multiple Chicago beat writers have reported that the Bears plan to employ a backfield committee in 2016, makes Langford a severely hazardous draft pick at his current ADP. I wouldn't take him unless he slid to at least the 60th pick in any of my drafts.
Jordy Nelson - WR, Green Bay Packers
ADP: 17 (WR9)
This is obviously a tough sell, but hear me out: Green Bay's entire offense struggled last season without their top vertical playmaker in Jordy Nelson. Aaron Rodgers sorely missed Jordy and Green Bay's other wideouts were unable to step up in place of the injured wideout, who tore his ACL in the 2015 preseason. Now, Nelson has had more than enough time to rehab and recover for the 2016 campaign, and has declared himself fully healed for the past few months. Annually slotted in as a fantasy WR1 before his injury, Nelson is currently being drafted earlier than I would take him. In fact, a few weeks ago, his ADP crept all the way up to WR7, but his WR9 price tag is still too rich for my taste. I know, it's easy to look at his stats from 2013-2014 and expect another sure-fire WR1 performance in 2016, but there are a few red flags that make me hesitant. Although Nelson's surgically repaired certainly ACL doesn't help his cause, I'm not overly concerned about that. But Jordy has also been on the PUP list thus far in training camp because of tendonitis in his left knee, the opposite one he tore the ACL in. This new injury was supposedly the result of overcompensating his previously injured knee, and whether you like it or not, it's now apparent that either of Nelson's knees are completely worry-free. Add in the fact that Nelson is no spring chicken (entering his age-31 NFL season), and there is a substantial amount of risk in selecting him in the top-17 of your fantasy draft, especially ahead of younger options with much more room to grow. While I still classify him as a borderline WR1, I think Jordy Nelson is being overvalued in 2016 when taken in the mid-to-late second round of standard leagues. Call me crazy, but I'd rather roll the dice on A-Rob, B-Marsh, Alshon, Mike Evans and even Keenan Allen.
Josh Gordon - WR, Cleveland Browns
ADP: 67 (WR30)
678 days: That will be how many times our Earth has rotated since Josh Gordon has played an NFL game once he (presumably) steps onto the field in Week 5. I know, that seems like a mind-boggling number, but don't worry, I used the help of the world wide web to ensure that was the correct answer. Gordon's last 100-yard game was in Week 12 of the 2014 season, but fantasy owners have already pegged him as a solid WR3 in terms of 2016 ADP. I'm not simply forgetting what a mega-talented wideout Gordon was in his short-lived prime, but expecting him to jump into game action this season, without any noticeable rust, is a pretty foolish thing to do. Since his reinstatement, which also suspends him for the first four games of the season, Gordon is being picked ahead of receivers such as Jordan Matthews, John Brown, DeVante Parker, and Tyler Lockett. Not only are those youthful, ascending wideouts who will be playing Week 1, they also aren't painted with serious off-field concerns like Gordon is. Fantasy owners who are grabbing Josh Gordon in the in the first 70 or so picks of their draft are not only confident he's turned his life around, but they're expecting him to quickly return to his elite form from 2013 and 2014. While his ceiling is probably a high-end WR2 in Cleveland this season, Gordon's floor is literally never playing in the NFL again. That might be a drastic approach, but I can't help but consider it a real possibility. With the Browns selecting an equally (if not more) talented wideout in Corey Coleman this April, plus other above-average receiving options like Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson emerging, Cleveland isn't starved for weapons like they were at Gordon's peak. Although I do expect him to get better as the season goes on, Gordon's target total and overall range of outcomes are too volatile for me to burn a top-80 pick on. Instead, give me a young, talented wideout who is probably more reliable both on and off the field -- Perhaps his teammate, another ex-Baylor Bear, who I think is a massive bargain in 2016 drafts.
Jimmy Graham - TE, Seattle Seahawks
ADP: 113 (TE11)
Jimmy Graham's fantasy football stock has been in a steady decline ever since leaving New Orleans, and his future isn't looking bright after his recent knee injury. Patellar tendon ruptures, like the one Graham suffered in Week 12 of the 2015 season, are without a doubt the most difficult injury for an athlete to return to their top form and fully recover from. Studies released just this year have proven that to be true, with Victor Cruz, Cadillac Williams, and Ryan Williams as just a few of the sad examples from the past. While it remains possible that Graham returns as a quality tight end at some point this season, his chances of doing so are slim to none. When healthy, Graham was a dominant pass-catching tight end who could have offered TE1 value in his second year as a Seahawk. Presently, there is no way I could justify selecting the seriously-overvalued Graham as the 11th TE off the board in any fantasy draft. Even with Seattle claiming he's close to returning, Graham is completely off my personal draft board this summer and I don't plan to roster him unless he proves to have made a miraculous recovery. Still don't agree with my reasoning? Below, I have included a snippet from ESPN's Stephania Bell in regard to Graham's injury as well as an interesting (but despairing) chart that displays an NFL player's performance following some daunting injuries, including a ruptured patellar tendon.