Welcome to Overvalued or Undervalued where I highlight one player whose ADP is too low and one player whose ADP is too high. In this edition, I’ll be taking a look at the new WR in the room for the Bengals and the supposed lead back of the Eagles.
UNDERVALUED - Ja’Marr Chase (WR - CIN)
WR over OL
To the shock of many, myself included, the Cincinnati Bengals selected WR Ja’Marr Chase with the 5th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft instead of going with, I don’t know, OT Penei Sewell to protect their QB Joe Burrow!? It was a head scratcher of a move that confused plenty of fans, but its been a couple of weeks since the draft so I’m starting to understand the move more and more each day.
The Bengals did actually address their offensive line, even though they didn’t draft a lineman in the 1st round. They selected OG Jackson Carman from Clemson in the 2nd round, OT D’Ante Smith from East Carolina in the 4th round and C Trey Hill from Georgia in the 6th round. Cincinnati also signed Riley Reiff, one of the top offensive lineman in free agency, to a 1-year, $7.5 million contract. Despite passing on Sewell in Round 1, the Bengals’ offensive line should be much improved this season, which is good news for Burrow and, in turn, Ja’Marr Chase.
Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow go way back. Well, as far back as 2019. That LSU team was one of the best I’ve ever seen in college football. The Tigers were consistently putting up 50+ points every single game and that was largely because of Joe Brady’s offense. Burrow had an embarrassment of riches at WR, being able to throw balls to not only Ja’Marr Chase but Justin Jefferson as well. While Jefferson caught significantly more passes than Chase, Ja’Marr still had an incredible season, finishing with 84 receptions for 1780 yards and 20 TDs, averaging 21.2 yards per reception! Chase would decide to opt out of the 2020 season, but that didn’t affect his draft stock one bit.
Of course, I don’t expect Chase to replicate these ridiculous numbers at the pro level, but I do believe he will immediately slot in as the Bengals WR1 while Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd become the WR2a and WR2b. I fully expect Chase to make a Justin Jefferson-esque impact with the Bengals and have an exceptional rookie season as long as Burrow remains healthy.
As of writing this article, according to FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings, Ja’Marr Chase is ranked 41st in standard, 33rd in Half PPR and 42nd in Full PPR. That is way too low in each of those scoring systems. In my personal Half PPR rankings, I view Chase as a low-end WR2 and have him ranked 23rd, which I think is completely fair. Most experts have Tee Higgins ranked ahead of him and I have to disagree. In 12 team half PPR mock drafts, Chase is getting drafted between Round 5 to Round 7, the same time as other WRs such as Will Fuller (MIA), JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) and Deebo Samuel (SF). While I’m also high on Deebo this season, Chase’s ceiling is through the roof compared to these other options. I wouldn’t hesitate to grab Chase as my WR3 in Round 6 or 7 of fantasy drafts.
I know its risky to bet on rookies, but I believe Chase is as sure of a bet as you can get. The Bengals called the 3rd most passing plays in the league before Burrow was lost for the season due to a knee injury. I expect Chase to be Burrow’s favorite WR this season so he should lead the team in targets, receiving yards and TDs. I project Chase to catch 75 of his 110 targets for 1125 yards and 8 TDs, which would’ve been good enough to make him the WR13 in standard, the WR9 in Half PPR and the WR16 in Full PPR last season. Ja’Marr Chase should have a stellar rookie season and is a steal at his current ADP.
OVERVALUED - Miles Sanders (RB - PHI)
Miles Sanders only played in 12 games last season, but when he was on the field, he was electric. The Philadelphia Eagles running back ended the year with 164 rushing attempts for 867 yards and 6 TDs, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Through the air, he caught 28 of his 52 targets for 197 yards and 0 TDs, averaging 7 yards per reception. Overall, that’s 192 touches for 1064 yards and 6 TDs. It was a solid campaign for the 2nd year back, but an RB23 finish in Half PPR was not what you were expecting when you drafted Sanders within the first 2 rounds.
Making matters worse is that the Philly backfield is as crowded as it’s ever been. Right now, the Eagles RB room is made up of 5 backs. Of course, you have Miles Sanders, but you also have Boston Scott, Jordan Howard, Kerryon Johnson - who the Eagles recently picked up off waivers - and rookie Kenneth Gainwell from Memphis, who they drafted in the 5th Round. That’s a whole lot of mouths to feed.
On top of all that, you even have QB Jalen Hurts, who averaged over 10 rushing attempts per game over the 4 games he started last season. With 5 viable RBs and a rushing QB, it looks like the Philadelphia Eagles will be taking a page out of the Baltimore Ravens’ book and going with a run-centric offense in 2021. This means we may be looking at a RBBC backfield with Philly and those are the worst 4 letters in all of fantasy.
A RBBC combined with a rushing QB not only means less carries for Miles Sanders, it also means less targets. Sanders averaged 4.3 targets per game in 2020. If he played a full 16 game schedule last year, that would’ve been good enough for the 6th most targets for a RB. It’s safe to say that those numbers would take a significant hit if his snap share were to go down, which would make Sanders much less appealing in Half PPR and Full PPR leagues.
A lower snap share also means less opportunities for Sanders. Throughout his career, we’ve seen that, similar to his former college teammate Saquon Barkley, Sanders has the ability to break off a big run at any time. Last season, there were so many games where Sanders was running into brick wall after brick wall and eventually broke through with a long run of 25+ yards. But if the Eagles RB room does indeed become a committee, then that means these big plays will be few and far between and, with lower target numbers expected this season, Sanders’ 2021 outlook isn’t as good as I initially thought.
As of writing this article, according to FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings, Miles Sanders is ranked 14th in standard, 15th in Half PPR and 15th in Full PPR. Funny enough, in my personal Half PPR rankings, I have Sanders ranked as my 14th RB, but I expect him to fall down to the 20-24 range once I release my June rankings. In 12 team half PPR mock drafts, Sanders is getting drafted in the late 2nd round to early 3rd round, the same time as other RBs such as D’Andre Swift (DET), Josh Jacobs (LV) and Joe Mixon (CIN). While I think Jacobs is in a similar spot to Sanders this year, Swift and Mixon are much better options in this range. I just can’t see myself drafting Sanders in the second round. He’s going much too early for my liking.
I project Sanders to have 170 rushing attempts for 800 yards and 5 TDs. Through the air, Sanders will catch 30 of his 45 targets for 210 yards and 1 TD. Overall, that’s 200 touches for 1010 yards and 6 TD, which would’ve been good enough to make him the RB24 in standard, the RB24 in Half PPR and the RB26 in Full PPR last season. Things are looking murky for Miles Sanders entering 2021 and, for that reason, I don’t plan on having any shares of him this year.