Fantasy Football Rankings Differences: Is Deebo Samuel being overvalued?

ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average ranks of the fantasy football industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site-to-site). This will be an ongoing positional series highlighting some big differences between ECR and my own ranks.

One analyst goes against consensus rankings: QBs | RBs who should go higher | RBs who should go lower | WRs who should go higher | WRs who should go lower | TEs

Wide Receivers I like less than consensus

Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers (ECR = WR7 vs DDD = WR13)

Samuel is being drafted as a borderline top-five fantasy receiver despite not ranking top-50 in routes run or top-25 in targets last season. While fewer carries aren’t necessarily a bad thing for his fantasy value, Samuel’s role in the passing game remains a bit of a question mark with San Francisco turning to Trey Lance, who worked exclusively with Brandon Aiyuk throughout summer while Samuel mostly held out for a new contract. San Francisco's new starting QB is going to attack an entirely different level of the field than Jimmy Garoppolo.

Samuel is a yards-after-the-catch beast who’ll be used all over the field, but last season was the first he didn’t miss a game. It also marked the first time he ever saw more than 81 targets. Samuel did run in eight scores last season on just 59 attempts, but the 49ers’ RB room enters 2022 much healthier and far deeper.

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Samuel simply isn’t projected to see nearly the same volume as other receivers being drafted around him, making him an extremely risky fantasy pick.

Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers (ECR = WR10 vs DDD = WR19)

Allen has a safe floor and a star quarterback throwing to him, but this is a 30-year-old whose yards per route run has dropped in every season since 2017, ranking just 30th among 90 qualified WRs last year. An aging Allen as a top-10 wideout in 0.5 PPR feels aggressive, especially given his targets and fantasy production declined sharply once Joshua Palmer took over as LA’s WR3 over the final five weeks last season.

Put differently, Allen saw his target per route run rate drop from 27 percent to 20 percent with Palmer on the field, and the sophomore wideout figures to see even more action in 2022. Draft Michael Pittman Jr. or DJ Moore instead.

DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks (ECR = WR21 vs DDD = WR29)

Metcalf is still being drafted as a borderline top-20 fantasy WR despite Seattle losing Russell Wilson during the offseason. Geno Smith is the favorite to take over QB duties, (and the alternative is hardly better), and Metcalf saw his air yards per game cut in half and his target share fall below teammate Tyler Lockett with Smith playing quarterback.

Other than that, the QB switch is great news for Metcalf’s fantasy value!

DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks has fantasy issues in 2022
There are a lot of things working against DK Metcalf's fantasy favor this season. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

In all seriousness, Metcalf is talented enough to overcome his suddenly shaky situation (Seattle also ran by far the fewest number of plays in the NFL last season), but realize he benefitted greatly from a Hall of Fame quarterback who perennially targeted him among the league leaders in the end zone. And we haven’t even started on Metcalf’s “nutrition” yet.

Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns (ECR = WR24 vs DDD = WR38)

Cooper’s PPR production has fallen nearly 20% when playing outdoors throughout his career, and 15 of Cleveland’s 17 2022 games are scheduled outside. He’ll also likely be catching passes from Jacoby Brissett for most of the season, perhaps even the entirety of it with Deshaun Watson’s status as cloudy as ever. While less competition for targets is nice, leaving Dallas and Dak Prescott for Cleveland and Brissett (6.4 career YPA) is a dramatic downgrade for Cooper, who’s somehow never exceeded a 22% target share during his seven years in the league.

Imagine drafting Cooper ahead of Jerry Jeudy, Rashod Bateman, Gabe Davis, Elijah Moore, Amon-Ra St. Brown and/or Brandon Aiyuk.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ECR = WR28 vs DDD = WR45)

Given his timeframe returning from ACL surgery, it appears the Bucs likely won’t allow Godwin to play until at least October. While it’s nice to see recent footage of him on the practice field, he was wearing a heavy brace still, and it’s clear his schedule is in no hurry. With Russell Gage and Julio Jones both signing in Tampa Bay, there’s no need to rush Godwin back.

Of course, the second half of the fantasy season matters most, but Godwin is being aggressively drafted as a top-30 fantasy receiver despite the very real chance he’s nowhere close to his old self anytime soon.

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