Every year, players either surpass, meet or fall short of expectations, both on the football field and in the fantasy realm. For fantasy purposes, drafting the players who meet or exceed expectations is absolutely crucial. Once you hit the middle rounds, you’re looking to build depth and maybe add a prospective starter or two. These rounds are littered with both young, unproven guys and guys looking to prove they can still contribute. In order to be successful, you have to separate the ones who will prove themselves against the ones who either aren’t quite ready to be fantasy contributors or who are too far removed from their best days to be in your lineup. In order to make sure you do this, we’ll be rolling out one overrated player, one underrated player and one safe bet for every ten picks, based on our player rankings. This is part four of the series as we tackle players ranked in the 61-80 range.
NOTE: Player rankings as of 8/4
Overrated: Ameer Abdullah (No. 66 overall, No. 27 running back)
The Lions ran the fewest run plays in the league last year per Player Profiler, a ranking that’s unlikely to change much this year. Abdullah played in just two games last year, but even as a rookie, he didn’t do a ton to inspire fantasy confidence. In his debut year of 2015, Abdullah ranked 56th among running backs in yards per touch and 52nd in fantasy points per game. Even if Abdullah can remain healthy, he’ll be splitting time (at best) with Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington and maybe even Matt Asiata. Look for other options for your RB2/RB3 range.
Underrated: Jameis Winston (No. 68 overall, No. 7 quarterback)
There’s no reason Winston can’t make the jump to being one of the top fantasy quarterbacks this year — perhaps even a top-five option. The Bucs have surrounded him with speedy receivers DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin and standout tight end O.J. Howard, all expected to make an immediate impact. Per Player Profiler, Winston threw the third-most deep balls last year, but he only had the 26th-best completion percentage. More deep completions will vault Winston into one of the league’s top fantasy quarterbacks. It’s also worth noting that the Bucs have some uncertainty at the running back spot — Doug Martin is suspended the first three games — so Winston will be leaned on heavily.
Safest bet: Golden Tate (No. 67 overall, No. 28 wide receiver)
Tate has had at least 90 catches each of the past three seasons, and he’s passed 1,000 yards in two of them. But what makes Tate special is his abilities after the catch. He ranked first in yards after catch last year. Matthew Stafford is able to fit the ball into small spaces, and Tate can do the rest. You know exactly what you’re getting out of Tate. He won’t score much (14 TDs over past three seasons), but he’ll rarely contribute nothing. Five different weeks last season, he was a top-10 scorer among wide receivers. Only three times was he outside the top 60. At this point in the draft, you want dependable. Tate is just that.
Overrated: Donte Moncrief (No. 79 overall, No. 33 wide receiver)
Moncrief has started in just 19 of a possible 48 games. That’s never a good initial sign. But even when he is healthy, Moncrief hasn’t showed he can produce at the level that he’s ranked here. In 2015, when he played in all 16 games, Moncrief finished 46th in fantasy points per game. Last year he was 45th among those who qualified, and his snaps fell off significantly near the end of the season. There’s not much that points to him making a leap, especially with Andrew Luck’s health to start the season in doubt.
Underrated: Bilal Powell (No. 73 overall, No. 30 running back)
Powell is especially valuable in PPR leagues: His 75 targets last year ranked fourth among running backs, per Fantasy Pros. And with Quincy Enunwa done for the season, there are even more targets up for grabs. Powell’s value doesn’t end there, though. His 5.8 yards per touch ranked 13th among running backs who qualified, and he finished 21st in Yahoo scoring last year, per Fantasy Data. Powell is more a part of the Jets’ future plans than Matt Forte, and on a rebuilding team, that’s a good thing. Powell, who was far more effective than Forte, should see the field more this year.
Safest bet: Larry Fitzgerald (No. 71 overall, No. 30 wide receiver)
There’s a good chance that when “Larry Fitzgerald” has popped up on your screen, you’ve passed on him because he’s “too old.” And every year, he makes you eat your words. Last year he lead the league in receptions … at 33 years old! Much of his value comes from his red-zone acumen: He caught 13 balls in that area, fifth in the league. He finished ninth in total points in 2015 and 12th last year. There haven’t been any major changes to the Cardinals’ receiving corps, either. Fitzgerald is clearly Carson Palmer’s top option again. If Fitzgerald is around this late, pick him.