We all have our favorite flag plants of this newly minted best ball season, whether it’s taking our favorite Red Stallion Bijan Robinson as the first running back off the board, searching for value with perennial producer Tyler Lockett, or trusting in a rookie tight end like Dalton Kincaid to carry us to a championship. But with the diamonds come the land mines, and there are plenty of them out there this season. This article isn’t designed to trash anyone, but in this economy, sometimes we have to be frugal. Do you really need that salad from Erowhon when your corner deli gets the job done and then some? That’s the premise behind ADP fades; although these targets may be good players and fantasy producers, sometimes their positioning in drafts gets a little too high. Let’s cut the coupons and get to budgeting and find out which players you should avoid at their current Underdog Fantasy ADPs.
*Due to positional scarcity of quarterbacks in best ball, I’m not covering them in this article. Depending on your build, you may need three. ADPs are current as of May 15th, 2023. Use promo code FANTASYALARM on www.fantasyalarm.com/underdogfantasy for a 100% deposit match up to $100 on your first deposit.*
Best Ball Wide Receiver
Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers: ADP 34 WR16
Let’s get this one started off REAL hot, folks! “But, Deebo helped me win a championship in 2021.” You’re right, he did, but unfortunately, that season was an outlier due to his ability and opportunity to run the ball. Now that they have CMC, it’s very hard to think that they’re going to utilize him in that role again. The highest he has finished aside from that 2021 season was WR29 in 2019, and with uncertainty at quarterback, this season will likely be more of the same. Last year, despite finishing 19th in target share, he finished with an average depth of target of only 4.2, ranking 102nd. If the 49ers don’t get their quarterback situation figured out (and, yes, that means Sam Darnold isn’t the answer), Deebo has a long way to climb to even match value at his current ADP.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders: ADP 49.8 WR26
Look, don’t get me wrong; I’d love to be all in on “Scary Terry,” but the fact is, last year was his highest finish at WR18, finishing as WR25, WR21, and WR29 in 2021, 2020, and 2019, respectively. Now he’s entering the season with Sam Howell at the helm? Howell didn’t play much last season, but what we saw from him was…uninspiring, to say the least. In his only appearance, he finished completing 11 of 19 for just 169 yards and a quarterback rating of 46.9. That grade would flunk you out of elementary school, let alone the NFL. Washington’s schedule is tough, and despite McLaurin’s talent, there are plenty of other receivers in this range that offer far more upside.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks: ADP 58.4 WR29
Rookie hype has developed into full-on Dengue Fever with this one. There’s no denying Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s talent, but going nearly a full round before Tyler Lockett? That’s just madness. Unless you’re banking on Lockett or Metcalf to get hurt, JSN is going to be the odd man out on two receiver sets in Seattle, and last year, they ran 12-personnel on 26% of their plays. I don’t doubt that he will take over in the future, but it’s really unlikely he pays off at his current ADP.
Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals: ADP 76.2 WR37
Yes, I know he was injured last year and managed to finish as WR26, but had it not been for double-digit targets in four of the first six games of the season, he wouldn’t have sniffed that ranking. After DeAndre Hopkins came back, he was pretty much non-existent, finishing with 24 receptions in the final six games. Arizona is throwing in the towel this year, and everyone knows it; they have the lowest points over expectation in the league and a season win total projection of only 4.5. With Kyler Murray out for realistically the first half of the season and Clayton Tune at the helm, this could be a dumpster fire of Defcon 2 status. I’d be very wary of him in this shell of an offense, even as a best ball option.
Best Ball Running Backs
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts: ADP 13.9 RB4
Now before you go getting scorched Earth on me, hold your horses (and your applause for yet another shameless Colts pun). Yes, Jonathan Taylor is hashtag good, and if it wasn’t for his injury last season, he still very well could have finished at the top of the running back leaderboard. My issue with Taylor at his ADP is the addition of Shane Steichen as Indianapolis’ new head coach. He is a HUGE fan of utilizing RPOs, and I believe they drafted rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson for this very reason. While in Philadelphia, Steichen worked his magic on another perceived “developmental” quarterback, one you may have heard of…Jalen Hurts. With Richardson’s rushing ability, the Colts will likely run a good amount of quarterback fakes, limiting Taylor’s touches and capping his fantasy production.
Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans: ADP 61.4 RB19
Dameon Pierce was a fantasy darling for several of us last year, until he wasn’t. When he was on the field, he was a juggernaut, ranking fifth in broken tackles forced through 13 games. Unfortunately, running behind that offensive line and then suffering an ankle injury took him out for the last part of the season. While his injury shouldn’t sideline him in the upcoming season, new head coach DeMeco Ryans appears to be a subscriber to the committee running back approach out of San Francisco, bringing in Devin Singletary and Mike Boone. Even if the Texans don’t use a committee approach and keep Pierce as the feature back, he only finished as RB23 in points per game last year, so I don’t think he pays off his ADP in 2023.
Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos: ADP 90.5 RB28
Does this really need to be said? All the way back in Week 4 last season, Javonte Williams suffered a catastrophic knee injury, resulting in a torn ACL, LCL, and PLC. Newly unretired head coach Sean Peyton says he’s “hopeful” that Williams will be ready to go by training camp and avoid the PUP list, but last I heard, hope doesn’t win you fantasy championships. J.K. Dobbins had the same optimism last season, but after only four games, he opted to have a knee scope that found more damage, and he ended up on injured reserve until Week 13, resulting in a finish of RB48 in half-PPR leagues. I know the discount in ADP is enticing on a former first-round fantasy pick, but it really seems like you’re drafting Williams at his absolute ceiling here. Complicated knee injuries are nothing to play around with, and I only play to win.
Best Ball Tight Ends
Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons: ADP 63.3 TE5
Look, I’m as big a Kyle Pitts truther as anyone, but until Arthur Smith decides to pull Excalibur out of its stone, I can’t buy at his current ADP. Pitts was injured last year, limiting his fantasy production, but he still only averaged 5.9 targets per game in those 10 games. If you’re new here, check out Andrew Cooper’s guide to being a successful fantasy tight end, and Pitts’ current numbers aren’t going to get you the elite production you need out of a top five positional pick. The selection of Bijan Robinson during the NFL Draft only further complicates things, as he’s said to be lining up “everywhere,” potentially drawing away a few of the limited targets Pitts has. Factor in Desmond Ridder’s rushing ability, and I don’t see any way Pitts meets value, at least at this ADP.