2016 KUBIAK vs. ADP: The Overrated
by Vincent Verhei
If you're familiar with Football Outsiders, you know that every year we use our KUBIAK projections (available here for a mere $20!) to forecast the upcoming fantasy football season. It's an invaluable tool for fantasy football players, who get not just a list of players ranked by total point production, but a fully customizable spreadsheet that can be designed to sort players by almost any scoring system your league might use. The spreadsheet also lists where players have been taken in drafts on other web sites, so you can see where KUBIAK rankings differ from conventional wisdom. That knowledge can prove even more valuable than the rankings themselves, suggesting not only which players could be most valuable, but also when you're likely to find a steal in later rounds.
Today we'll look at the overrated players, those going higher in drafts than KUBIAK thinks they should. We'll look at underrated players in a separate article next week. Each player is listed with their rank in Fantasy Points Over Baseline (FPOB), which is the spot where KUBIAK says they should be drafted, along with their rank in Average Draft Position (ADP), which is where they have actually been going in fantasy drafts. These numbers will show where each player ranks at their position, not overall. Players at different positions can change in overall value greatly depending on league settings and waiver wire rules, but their rankings at their position shouldn't change much except in PPR (point per reception) leagues. Obviously, which players are underrated or overrated by ADP may change if your league has non-standard rules.
You can also go back and see who we thought was overrated in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
This year, we have partnered with FanDuel to bring our readers a very special offer to reduce the cost of the KUBIAK projections. If you have never played a daily fantasy contest at FanDuel.com before, just deposit $10 into a brand new account and you will get $20 off your KUBIAK purchase. You can take $20 off of package deals that feature KUBIAK along with FOA 2016, or you can get KUBIAK on its own absolutely free.
Click here to go to FanDuel so you can make your deposit! Make sure after making your deposit to wait 8-10 minutes before coming back here to use your e-mail address as your code to get KUBIAK for free. Please note that this offer is only available to those users who are making a first-time deposit at FanDuel.com.
FPOB Rank: 28
ADP Rank: 13
Romo first became a full-time starter in 2007. He has finished 12th or higher among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring every healthy season since then, a sure-thing fantasy starter aside from his injury-ridden campaigns of 2010 and 2015. So why does his KUBIAK projection say that he shouldn't even be your backup quarterback in 2016? The numbers here say much less about Romo himself than they do about the circumstances around him. The Cowboys still suffer from a dearth of quality receiving options behind Dez Bryant and ageless wonder Jason Witten. More importantly, the Cowboys used the fourth overall pick on Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. They also signed Alfred Morris away from Washington in free agency, and they still have Darren McFadden, who topped a thousand yards on the ground in Dallas last season With that trio of running backs behind what still looks like the NFL's best offensive line, it only figures that the Cowboys will run more (and thus, pass less) than they have in a very long time. We also forecast Dallas the favorites in the NFC East, which means an even heavier emphasis on the run game as Elliott and company look to kill clock with second-half leads. Romo had only 435 pass attempts in 2014, the fewest of any of his full seasons. And it must be said that Romo isn't getting any younger -- only Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Carson Palmer will be older among starting quarterbacks this season.
FPOB Rank: 20
ADP Rank: 14
In nine starts over his first three seasons, Cousins completed less than 60 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (18). And then came 2015, when he led the NFL in completion percentage with 29 touchdowns and only 11 picks. Cousins was eighth among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring last season, so why does our forecast put him in the range of a second-tier backup? It's mostly a case of not getting too excited about one season, when we have several years of evidence that says Cousins isn't as good as he played in 2015. The consensus agrees, as Cousins' ADP says he shouldn't be a starter in most leagues, but we still think he's being overrated. Even taking into account that he started nearly twice as many games last season as he ever had before, we still find that his good games only slightly outnumber his bad games. Ten of his 25 starts have produced an NFL passer rating of 80.0 or less, while 12 have produced a rating of 100.0 or better -- and seven of those 12 came after Halloween last season. If you're confident in Cousins this year, you're saying that those two months outweigh everything that happened in the prior three-and-a-half seasons -- and that's why we're not confident in Cousins.
FPOB Rank: 11
ADP Rank: 9
The difference here is slight, but we like to list three players at each position in these articles, and there are plenty of reasons to see a drop in Bortles' numbers this fall. The Jacksonville defense should be better this year, potentially much better, and that should mean fewer shootouts for Bortles and his receivers. And with Chris Ivory around, the Jaguars won't be so reluctant to run around the goal line -- Jacksonville threw 97 passes in the red zone, tied with Green Bay for most in the league, but was tied for 20th with just 51 runs inside the 20. Ivory's presence means they should be more balanced in scoring range in 2016.
FPOB Rank: 27
ADP Rank: 18
The consensus fantasy draft has Murray as a low-end RB2 even though he'll be sharing a backfield with second-round draftee and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. (For the record, KUBIAK thinks Henry is also overrated by ADP, even though Henry isn't even an RB3 in most leagues.) We still think Tennessee will be a bad team, with a better than 70 percent chance to miss the playoffs, which means Murray and Henry (and Antonio Andrews, and maybe Bishop Sankey or Dexter McCluster) will be splitting a small number of carries as Marcus Mariota tries to lead some second-half rallies. And speaking of Mariota, the second overall pick in 2015 played well enough as a rookie to warrant more passes in 2016. That might not be Tennessee's game plan, but it will likely be the result when all is said and done.
FPOB Rank: 16
ADP Rank: 9
Here is the rare instance where most fantasy players are looking at long-term trends, while KUBIAK seems more focused on what happened last year. Lacy was sixth among running backs in fantasy points in both 2013 and 2014, but just 26th last year as he actually lost his starting job at one point to James Starks. Earlier, when discussing Kirk Cousins, we said not to get carried away by the results of one season, but history is full of big backs who dropped off a statistical cliff and never recovered. Only two of the ten running backs with three-year spans most similar to Eddie Lacy's 2013-2015 then ran for more than a thousand yards in Year 4. Two of the others ran for exactly zero yards the next season. Lacy is a hell of a lot more likely to run for a thousand yards than for zero -- officially, his forecast is for 1,030 yards on the ground -- but there's also potential here for a repeat of last year.
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FPOB Rank: 27
ADP Rank: 10
John Fox on Chicago's running backs earlier this offseason: "The biggest part is to settle in on two guys, typically, in the rotation, who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, then situationally use one. It could be even just, as far as whoever's got a hot hand. … I think it's hard to get through a season with one back, from a health standpoint, when you've got 11 guys that are chasing a guy around trying to wack him." And this is nothing new for Fox. In 14 years as a head coach in Carolina, Denver, and Chicago, Fox's offenses have produced only three top-ten fantasy running backs (DeAngelo Williams in 2008, Knowshon Moreno in 2013, and Matt Forte last year). Meanwhile, eight times his top running back has failed to make the top 20 in fantasy scoring. Meanwhile, Fox's secondary running back has only finished outside the top 50 one time, and finished in the top 40 eight times. Fox's top running back has an average rank of 18.9 in the fantasy rankings, while his secondary runner has an average ranking of 37.1 (out of 32 starters, mind you). In short, Langford is going to lose a lot of carries to whoever turns out to be Chicago's second running back, whether it be Ka'Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers, or Jordan Howard.
FPOB Rank: 40
ADP Rank: 25
In four NFL seasons, Floyd has never finished higher than 25th among wide receivers in fantasy scoring, so his ADP seems very optimistic. On the other hand, he has finished 33rd or better for three years in a row. We're down on him partly because we think Carson Palmer was playing a bit over his head in 2015, but also because we see Floyd's role in the offense shrinking -- it's not a coincidence that we think Larry Fitzgerald (FPOB rank of 23, ADP rank of 29) and John Brown (28, 33) are both being underrated in fantasy drafts. Floyd's appearance here is also something of a statistical fluke, because he is at the low end of a very tight cluster of receivers with forecasts between 120 and 140 points. If he gets just one more big game than we expect -- nothing earth-shattering, just 100 yards and a touchdown -- he'll shoot a dozen spots up in the rankings.
FPOB Rank: 41
ADP Rank: 31
It will be easy to spot the compulsive gambler in your fantasy league -- he'll be the guy who drafts Gordon in the fourth or fifth round and laughs about what a steal he'll be. And you know what? He could be right. Even though he will still be suspended for the first four games of the year, it's quite possible Gordon will finish in the top 30 or maybe even top 20 wide receivers this season. In terms of pure physical talent, he is one of the very best receivers in the league. In 2013, he was second among all wideouts in fantasy scoring despite missing two games, on a team with Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer splitting time at quarterback. Of course, it was December of that year when he caught his last touchdown pass, and November of 2014 when he had his last 100-yard game. Now he is back in Cleveland, where Hue Jackson has said he is fat and out of shape, and a quad injury is keeping him out of practice, on a team that is filled to the brim with receiving options, with a starting quarterback in Robert Griffin who is a giant neon question mark himself. And really, we all hope Gordon has turned his life around, but how much faith do you have in a man who was suspended twice in college and four more times in the NFL in only five years? If everything goes right, Gordon could be the deciding factor in some fantasy playoff games, but man, there is a lot that could go wrong here.
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FPOB Rank: 9
ADP Rank: 4
Hopkins was a non-factor in fantasy as a rookie in 2013, then ranked 15th in his breakout sophomore season and sixth last year. The consensus is that he'll continue his upward trend, but we're forecasting a slight regression, mainly because it appears the running game has returned to Houston. Really, it never left; it just got very bad. The Texans were fifth in running plays last season, even though top runners Alfred Blue, Chris Polk, and Arian Foster had a combined average of just 3.46 yards per carry. In Bill O'Brien's first season in 2014, when Foster was running for 1,246 yards and averaging 4.79 yards per carry, the Texans were first in the league in running plays. Now they have Lamar Miller, who was very effective in Miami (18th in DVOA last season, third in 2014) even though his efforts were often wasted by a Dolphins coaching staff that didn't seem to realize what they had. O'Brien knows how to feed a player like Miller, which means fewer opportunities in the passing game for Hopkins.
FPOB Rank: 26
ADP Rank: 16
In three years in St. Louis, Cook ranked 10th, 15th, and 34th among tight ends in fantasy scoring … while playing on a team whose leading wide receivers were Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and Brian Quick. Now he goes to a team with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, not to mention another tight end in Richard Rodgers, and people are expecting his production to essentially hold steady? Granted, Aaron Rodgers is worlds better than any Rams quarterback who ever threw a pass to Cook, but the tight end figures to get lost in the shuffle here. And at 29 years of age, Cook isn't a young football player, either.
FPOB Rank: 13
ADP Rank: 8
The entire fantasy football world has been forecasting a breakout for Green ever since he led all tight ends in DVOA in 2013. In four NFL seasons, though, Green has never ranked higher than 19th among tight ends in fantasy scoring. Now starting in Pittsburgh instead of backing up Antonio Gates in San Diego, Green is very likely to set career highs in most numbers, but we are sick of predicting a breakout that just hasn't come. He's also a very high risk because of his current health and headache problems.
FPOB Rank: 7
ADP Rank: 5
Two touchdowns, zero touchdowns, 13 touchdowns. Which one looks like the fluke to you? If you guessed the 13 scores that Eifert had last season, you're with us, and you're a little cautious about taking Eifert too early in the draft. Eifert is also expected to miss part of the regular season after offseason ankle surgery, and who knows how long it will take him to get back into playing shape? Eifert is a 26-year-old former first-rounder with a very bright long-term future, but his short-term future isn't quite as bright as most fantasy football players think it is.
FPOB Rank: 27
ADP Rank: 12
Aguayo is overrated most of all by Jason Licht and his staff at 1 Buccaneer Place, but fantasy players seem pretty optimistic about his chances this year too. Apparently they've forgotten that the Bucs were tied for 23rd in touchdowns last year, and though they were tied for second in field goal attempts, that figures to go down this year with a kicker like Aguayo who lacks the leg to hit 50-yarders. Our forecast says the Bucs will have the 23rd-best offense in 2016, and that's the biggest indicator of kicker fantasy success. Even if you're the last player in your league to take kicker, you'd be wise to find another option besides Aguayo -- and for god's sake, don't trade up for him.
FPOB Rank: 26
ADP Rank: 10
NY Jets D
FPOB Rank: 22
ADP Rank: 9
FPOB Rank: 16
ADP Rank: 5
The common theme here is that "individual stars do not a great fantasy defense make." The Raiders' defense was 19th in fantasy scoring last year, but people know Khalil Mack, so they project a jump ahead of one-third of the league. The Jets' defense was 16th (and 29th the year before that, and 27th the year before that), but hey, Leonard Williams! Sheldon Richardson! Revis Island! As for Houston, they were sixth last year, and second in 2014, but now J.J. Watt is coming off back surgery and will probably miss the start of the regular season. If he can't get better in a hurry, this could be like 2013, when Houston was last in fantasy D.
33 comments, Last at 27 Sep 2017, 4:11am
#5 by cdybdahl // Aug 16, 2016 - 4:16pm
Oh, I didn't know I was only supposed to not like new things. My mistake.
It may be that last year at this time DFS wasn't so oversaturated or, you know, under investigation by multiple attorneys general and the FBI.
#8 by Aaron Brooks G… // Aug 16, 2016 - 6:04pm
Oh, it was. Remember that insufferable douche from Southie on the DraftKings (owned by Bob Kraft) ads?
Listen -- I would pay you to cut ties with DFS. Like a mariachi bands -- I would put up money to have them go away.
#6 by fb29 // Aug 16, 2016 - 4:47pm
I gotta say, I hope you guys are taking as many opportunities as possible to earn money off your awesome content.
Barnwell has a podcast where he talks for like a minute about Stamps.com. I'm fine with this.
I hope that readers as smart as the FO audience appears to be know those DFS league are a sucker's bet with small capital.
#10 by rpwong // Aug 16, 2016 - 6:36pm
I'm split down the middle on this. I also have a distaste for DFS, but I appreciate the need to pay the bills.
I'd personally feel better if DFS-related articles came with a "gamble responsibly" preamble. While I don't think it would actually have much impact, it at least establishes an FO position on the DFS product.
#11 by Aaron Schatz // Aug 16, 2016 - 7:15pm
For Gordon, Bell, and Brady, value is based on a 12-game projection plus 4 games of "replacement-level" performance at those positions, representing that if you draft Gordon, you'll plug in a bench WR for four weeks and won't get zero points from the position.
#12 by jwkelly // Aug 16, 2016 - 7:24pm
Kudos to Kubiak on 2015 Overrated... that's uncanny. I concur with 2016, except for Jared Cook. I like him as a late-round upside flier, cuz...
1) The Ted Thompson Seal of Approval. Comets return faster than Ted pulls out his checkbook.
2) Last year, the Packers' glaring weakness was lack of receivers. Outside of signing Cook, they have done nothing to upgrade from (yeesh!) Adams. Richard Rogers is a blocking TE. The corpse of James Jones is gone. There are gobs of Aaron Rogers passes to be caught. Why not Cook as de facto WR3?
3) If Jordy or Cobb go down... make that WR2.
#13 by bobsacamano // Aug 16, 2016 - 8:33pm
I have the 4th pick in a 1 pt. PPR league. With your stated overvalue of Bortles, and the potential for more running/less passing, I'm confused as to why KUBIAK has me taking Robinson 4th. Maybe you can help me understand the difference.
Also, David Johnson and Jarvis Landry, should we be concerend with their elevated rankings based of such a small sample size?
#17 by roguerouge // Aug 17, 2016 - 1:30pm
For me, the goal of first round picks is to have as high a floor as possible, which small sample size players don't provide. The proverb is that you can't win the league in the first round, but you can definitely lose it. Draft conservatively in the top round, grab lottery ticket players late.
#19 by bobsacamano // Aug 17, 2016 - 4:29pm
I feel like your response makes the idea of having Allen Robinson ranked higher than Deandre Hopkins even more confusing.
Deandre Hopkins has 2 1000+ yard seasons out of his 3 year career, while Robinson has 1 out of 2 year career.
Hopkins provides the larger, more reliable sample size. So again I ask, KUBIAK in a 1 pt. PPR league has Robinson as the #4 guy to take. And above clearly states that Blake Bortles is expecting to see some regression. Help me make sense of this.
#16 by ItsBristolBaby // Aug 17, 2016 - 1:09pm
Love your site and love DFS. Only play for fun, but it is a lot of fun. Haven't watched a commercial in over 5 years (why does anyone?) so I could careless how many they run. Only play single entry or heads up contests and for very little money. If someone has a gambling problem, the existence of DFS is of little consequence.
I was wondering about your Kirk Cousins analysis. I would think that last year was exactly what you would like to see in a quarterback getting his first year of starting and getting the reps with the first team. He looked like a quarterback who gained a ton of confidence and who had the "light go on". His work with Gruden really seemed to be paying off. You hear of how the game really starts to slow down for quarterbacks who are progressing. It seems the last half of last season would be a much more important indicator of future success than the turmoil of his first few years. I hope I am wrong (I'm a Giants fan), but you seem to put as much value on his backup years with a team in constant turmoil than to his performance as a starter in a much more stable environment.
#21 by peepshowmopguy // Aug 17, 2016 - 5:51pm
I support you guys making money to keep you around (especially having purchased kubiak/foa every year for better part of a decade), but count me in as not being a fan of DFL ads either.
I wasn't a fan last year and considering the controversy around the inside betting that was going on between FanDuel and DraftKings, I'm even less so now. I consider both companies hands unclean because one is rotten from the core and the other is rigged to loose. Perhaps they have fixed these issues (perhaps not since the industry remains vulnerable due to lack of oversight), but for me that bridge has been burned.
I didn't complain last year because I'd rather support you guys and give you the benefit of the doubt than to complain. I am disappointed Vince with how dismissive you were because the commenter hadn't complained last year about the add. I likely would have continued remained silent, but felt your pithy attitude demonstrates that you may not understand that there are long standing supporters of this site (just like me) who have remained silent despite our unease with your endorsement of DFL, and those companies in particular.
So consider this my formal complaint. It is my opinion that last year you partnered with a company who was found to have employees who were cheating on DFL, and this year you are working with a company that is know to have been compromised by said cheaters. I'm sure you can understand my lack of enthusiasm for putting money into a rigged DFL system.
Ill continue to support you guys because your content is great, but you (and Draft Kings) should be aware that that I will never intentionally click their add or contribute a single dollar that would be funneled through their company.
#26 by peepshowmopguy // Aug 18, 2016 - 1:53am
Totally understandable. You guys (and you in particular Vince) do great work, which is why I keep coming back. I think one of the more under appreciated aspects of being a content provider is having to take on criticism, especially when it's not actually connected to the content. You guys work hard to cultivate an informed and civilized community here at FO, and your willingness for self reflection is a big part of that.
And I could probably do a better job of sticking to my principle of not complaining about free stuff on the internet. Even add supported content.
Keep up the good work!
#24 by kckolbe // Aug 17, 2016 - 5:57pm
I think you guys may be too low on Oakland defense. With their additions on offense and especially defense, their D should spend a lot less time on the field. Granted, I don't see them leading the league in forced turnovers or anything like that, just being a lot more stingy.
#25 by alan frankel // Aug 17, 2016 - 7:23pm
best way to play DFS is to just take advantage of all the free offers and use that cash to bankroll your account. their are so many promotions that its super easy. Also as good as fantasy football is nothing is as exciting as having a free ticket into the best DFS contests its like gambling in Vegas with monopoly money if you have free entries.
#28 by MC2 // Aug 21, 2016 - 7:41am
I'm actually more likely to spend money on DFS, knowing that it will piss off the incessantly judgmental whiners who frequent this site. Then again, it will also benefit the silly "Redskin" boycotting owners of FO... Quite a dilemma!
#29 by condor654 // Aug 23, 2016 - 1:37pm
I'm shocked that Lamar Miller isn't addressed in this article other than the Deandre Hopkin's paragraph. That paragraph actually says they know how to feed a player like Miller, but his rankings on Kubiak are signifactnly lower than other places I've seen.
#30 by Vincent Verhei // Aug 23, 2016 - 3:05pm
The latest version of KUBIAK lists Miller with an ADP of fourth among running backs, while he is eighth at the position in KUBIAK's rankings. So yes, he's over-rated, but not nearly as over-rated as the players we talked about in the article.
#31 by itblumenfeld // Sep 01, 2016 - 1:03pm
Wait there are DFL articles here?! Sweet! I only do free-ones with my friends (bc as we all know those things are basically rigged by the insiders) but hey I'll take the info just like for my normal fantasy league