The 8 Riskiest Players at the Top of Fantasy Drafts
When drafting your fantasy team, it’s important to think in ranges of outcomes. While many fantasy managers often apply this to a player’s upside, few consider a player’s risk, especially for those being picked near the top of draft boards.
The following will look at some of the riskiest players going into the 2020 season, based on their price. This isn’t to say that these players should be completely avoided but rather point out that the forces at work emphasize their low range of outcomes rather than the chance to outperform ADP.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (ADP: QB2, 16th Overall)
Feel free to include Patrick Mahomes (ADP: QB1, 11th overall) here also, as this is far too much to pay for any quarterback in a 1-QB league. We know that quarterback scoring is largely replaceable—in 2019, Chris Allen’s quarterback streamers averaged 19.1 fantasy points per game or QB10 numbers on the season. Besides Jackson, the top fantasy passers only outscored Chris’s hand-picked players from the waiver wire by 2.7 points per game.
Last season, Jackson became the 32nd player since the merger to throw for over 35 touchdowns and he did so on just 401 attempts, by far the fewest in the 36+ club—the previous low was 492 by Tom Brady in 2010. The Ravens quarterback will not maintain his 9% touchdown rate from last season—the question is how much it will fall. Had Jackson scored as expected through the air last year, he would have outscored Dak Prescott by just 14.9 fantasy points last season. That’s simply not a big enough margin to spend such capital on a quarterback.
The top six or seven quarterbacks of the board all have 30 passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns in their range of outcomes. If multiple players hit that number, it will be as much of an outlier as Jackson’s 2019 but quarterback is stacked at the top and there’s no reason to pay up for Jackson or Mahomes.
Tom Brady, Buccaneers (ADP: QB9, 79th Overall)
You won’t have to break the bank to roster Brady this year but there is no reason to pay a starter price tag that leaves virtually no room for upside. The argument for Brady’s down 2019 was that he lacked weapons in New England—it may just be that Brady fell off a cliff. Consider Brady’s ranks in overall on-target percentage since 2015: 12th>10th>15th>17th>29th. On-target rate doesn’t adjust for depth but it’s not as if Brady was throwing a ton of high-variance passes—he was tied for 25th in deep-ball rate last season.
Even if we think Brady still has something left in the tank, this Tampa Bay offense won’t be the one we saw in 2019. Brady is far more conservative than Jameis Winston, not just because he throws fewer deep balls but far fewer interceptions. The Buccaneers won’t be in as many high-scoring games which will mean fewer fantasy points to go around. With so many mobile passers available this year, if Brady outperforms his positional ADP, it will be by a spot or two at the most.
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