The other day I was perusing the internet when I saw a list claiming to have every team’s most overrated player. It look me about five seconds before I realized just how lazy the list was. Firstly, the list included rookies. How can we possibly know if rookies are overrated if they haven’t even played preseason football yet? Secondly, some of the players weren’t even on the right teams. J.J. Nelson was the most overrated member of the Arizona Cardinals, but last I checked, he’s on the Oakland Raiders. And finally, some of the players on the list simply weren’t overrated.
So I thought to myself, I can do it better.
The Most Overrated Player on Every Team: NFC Edition
A brief disclaimer, because pieces like this inevitably hurt someone’s feelings. Overrated does not mean bad. Overrated doesn’t even mean “not good” as much as it means that a significant portion of the public overvalues someone’s position. You can be very good and still be overrated because people think you are the best. If you think “oh, not this guy! So-and-so is obviously much, much worse!” when I list your favorite player, understand that by thinking that, you have made the player you thought was overrated… underrated. Get it?
So! Without further ado…
Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky
Gifted with a quarterback guru as a head coach, people were expecting a Carson Wentzian rise from Mitch Trubisky in 2018. They looked at what Sean McVay did for Jared Goff and assumed something similar would happen for their young quarterback. He had a decent offensive line, solid receivers, and a deep backfield. Paired with a defense that would win most of his games for him, people assumed Mitch Trubisky would have a breakout year last season.
Instead, he was 20th in passing yards (3,223), 15th in passing touchdowns (24), and 12th in interceptions (12). Not a bad year by any means, but far from what someone who is going to demand 30 million dollars soon should produce. In eight of his wins, he threw the ball 30 times or less, and the team lost every game where he threw it more.
In fact, during the two games he missed with an injury, his back-up, Chase Daniel, played as well, if not better. So when I hear about how the Bears are Super Bowl favorites because of the breakout season Mitch Trubisky is going to have, I roll my eyes.
Detroit Lions- Matthew Stafford
You could basically copy and paste Philip Rivers’ explanation onto Matthew Stafford’s. What has Matt Stafford done in a post-Calvin Johnson NFL? Hell, what did Matt Stafford do when he had Calvin Johnson? He hasn’t had anything close to a remarkable season since 2011, he’s got a losing record, and he’s never won a playoff game.
If I described Matthew Stafford’s career as Derek Carr’s to a Lion’s fan, they’d have no problem calling him overrated. So until the Lions do anything significant, I’m gonna question why Stafford gets praise.
Green Bay Packers- Jimmy Graham
Remember way back when, when the Saints were trying to franchise tag Jimmy Graham, and he was fighting it because he thought he deserved to get paid like a wide receiver? You remember, when the NFL 100 said he was a better tight end than Rob Gronkowski!
He hasn’t sniffed 1,000 yards since then, and he averages five touchdown grabs a season, leading me to wonder, what exactly it is that the Packers tight end does? It’s not shortage of targets either, the guy gets near 100 targets every season. He’s one of the most heavily targeted tight ends in the NFL but the production simply doesn’t exist.
Minnesota Vikings- Stefon Diggs
Stefon Diggs is the best good-not-great receiver in the National Football League. He’s adequately fast, big enough, reliable enough, and a sharp enough route runner. There isn’t a team in the NFL that would say no to having a player like Stefon Diggs.
But at the end of the day, he’s not even the best receiver on his team. The guy consistently faces single coverage, and even then, unlike say, JuJu Smith-Schuster, he doesn’t take advantage. He was 20th in receiving yards this season, and didn’t break the top ten in catches or touchdowns.
The funny thing about the Vikings is that the good players are actually good (like Harrison Smith or Xavier Rhodes) or so talked down by everyone that they’ve actually become underrated (like Kirk Cousins).
Atlanta Falcons- Desmont Trufant
With a lot of the players on these lists, I feel like people are probably really offended by the pick, but I just know Falcons fans are feeling this one. I’m not stupid, I’m not going to say Matt Ryan or Julio Jones because those guys are great. I’m not even going to say Deion Jones because I think he’s really great too.
But Desmond Trufant has the fourth most guaranteed money for a cornerback in the entire NFL but he doesn’t play like a top five corner. He can’t press, so he gets torched off the line, and then he tries so hard to make up for lost ground that he ends up getting penalized. Throw in the fact that the guy has hands of stone and it’s a wonder the dirty birds haven’t tried to trade him.
Carolina Panthers- Cam Newton
First of all, Cam Newton refusing to go for his fumble in that Super Bowl because he didn’t want to get hurt should have him on everyone’s all-overrated team, especially Panthers fans. Throwing a temper tantrum and walking out of the post-game press conference should only compound that.
Secondly, he’s just not that great. If you take away that magical 2015 season, his statline starts resembling Dak Prescott’s. The guy has as many 4,000 yard passing seasons as Joe Flacco for crying out loud. He has every tool a quarterback could possibly ask for, but he spent the part of 2018 where he was healthy checking down to his runningback. Cam Newton is just athletic Derek Carr and you can’t change my mind about that.
New Orleans Saints- Alvin Kamara
Alvin Kamara is great. He’s one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL. Every single team in the league would kill to have an Alvin Kamara on their roster. That’s why he’s RB2 in most fantasy football leagues, and the NFL’s Top 100 list voted him as the 14th best player in the entire league. However…
28 spots earlier on that list, another tailback from the NFC south, Christian McCaffrey went. McCaffrey and Kamara are very similar backs. Neither guy is really considered as a three down player and is most lethal as a receiver out of the backfield. They had similar seasons too, with both guys having over 700 yards rushing and receiving, scoring double digit touchdowns.
However, McCaffrey’s season was just a little bit better. He had 215 more rushing yards, 26 more catches, and 158 more receiving yards. What’s more, McCaffrey doesn’t have a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback or a first team All-Pro wide receiver like Michael Thomas to help him out. He had a banged up Cam Newton and no other receiving threats to speak of, and he still outperformed Kamara.
However, people still pretend Kamara is better than McCaffrey, even though it’s pretty clear if the players switched teams, one would have significantly more success than the other.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Ndamukong Suh
Ndamukong Suh was an absolute monster… as a rookie… nine years ago. He’s never even approached that level of excellence or production, but he still manages to find himself a decent payday here in 2019. He’s guaranteed nearly ten million dollars for one season in Tampa Bay, and I’d be shocked if he had anywhere near as many sacks or even tackles for a loss.
Dallas Cowboys- Amari Cooper
I bet you thought I was going to say Dak Prescott. Everyone would say Dak Prescott, and that’s why the answer isn’t Dak Prescott. So who else could it be? Demarcus Lawrence? Coming off his second straight ten sack season. Ezekiel Elliott? One of the best tailbacks in football when he shows up! At the end of the day, it has to be 2018’s savior himself, Amari Cooper.
I know, I know, he turned the 2018 season around and he was misused in Oakland, but was he actually different? His issue in Oakland was that it was boom or bust, he either went off or was a non-factor. He had fewer than 60 yards in four of his six games with Oakland, paired with two games over 100 yards. In Dallas? He had fewer than 60 yards in five of his nine games, pared with two games over 100 yards.
He’s a boom or bust receiver with a history of drops, that didn’t change when his jersey did. He may have discovered a personality but he’s still a good-not-great receiver that’s about to get paid like he’s elite.
New York Giants- Janoris Jenkins
It’s hard to find an overrated player on the Giants because they’re just so bad. Nobody’s saying Eli Manning is great anymore, and it would be lazy to take a cheap shot at Daniel Jones at this point in his career. As for the best player on the team, Saquon Barkley, he might just be the best running back in football, it would be a straight up lie to say it’s him.
So instead it’s Janoris Jenkins, a corner that’s never really been all that good who somehow makes over ten million dollars a year. That’s ridiculous. I feel bad for Giants fans because they’re approaching Oakland Raider/Cleveland Brown levels of bad management.
Philadelphia Eagles- Brandon Graham
Yes, Brandon Graham stripped Tom Brady at the end of the Super Bowl, I know, I know. It’s an important moment in Eagles history, but it was just a moment. Graham played on a defensive line with Chris Long, Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, and Timmy Jernigan and he played well. In 2018, he only managed four sacks, despite being arguably the third best player on their defensive line, and he’s set to make $33,250,000 over the next three seasons with a big chunk being guaranteed.
And no, it’s not Carson Wentz. He’s been injured a lot, but he’s been great when he’s played. A healthy Carson Wentz should dispose of Nick Foles’ shadow pretty early in 2019.
Washington Redskins- Josh Norman
Remember when Josh Norman was on the Carolina Panthers and people were saying he belonged in the top ten conversation? Then he held out during the franchise tag phase so they straight up cut him? Probably because they knew something the Washington Redskins didn’t. He’s just okay.
But if you google Josh Norman, names like Jalen Ramsey, Richard Sherman, and Xavier Rhodes still show up, as if he’s in that league. During his time with the Redskins, he’s been the highest paid cornerback in NFL history, but he hasn’t even kinda played like it. He averages two interceptions a season as a Redskins, and as for his run support skills…
Arizona Cardinals- David Johnson
The year is 2016, and David Johnson is a fantasy football goldmine. He rushes for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground and catches 80 passes for an additional 879 yards and four touchdowns. His 2,118 all-purpose yards and 20 total touchdowns were the most in the NFL.
Since then, he’s accomplished absolutely nothing. Injuries limited him to one rush in 2017, and he was nowhere near as effective on the ground or through the air in 2018. The Cardinals dealt with injuries on the offensive line and they didn’t have a great passing game, but that doesn’t change the fact that Johnson will turn 28 this season and he only has one productive year under his belt.
He might end up helping Kyler Murray and the air raid offense this season, but to this point, Johnson’s potential vastly dwarfs his actual production, and as someone with a Darren McFadden jersey, I can tell you that’s a dark dream to follow.
Los Angeles Rams- Brandin Cooks
Brandin Cooks has had a very productive young career in the NFL. In all but one of his seasons, he’s had at least 1,000 yards, and he’s done it for a few teams. He spent the first three years of his career as the big play target for the New Orleans Saints before heading over to New England, where he averaged a career-high 16.6 yards per catch. The following year, he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, where he helped the team reach the Super Bowl.
He’s a pretty good receiver with really great speed, and every offense would be happy to have a guy like them. But that’s just it, while every offense is happy to have a guy like him, nobody’s seemed interest in keeping him. Mostly because they realize that means paying him, and they don’t want to empty the bank on a one-trick pony.
The Rams are a genuinely talented team, and picking on corners Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib (like Tom Brady did) felt like low hanging fruit. So instead, I went with the receiver that I’d bet good money will leave the team before fellow receivers Robert Woods or Cooper Kupp do.
San Francisco 49ers- Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo is the biggest reason that fans are optimistic about the San Francisco 49ers this season, but I’m not sure I get the hype. He has ten career starts. That’s fewer than the majority of last year’s quarterback class and he’s been in the league since 2014. Sure, he spent a chunk of that as Tom Brady’s backup and he’s had injuries, but c’mon man, what has he actually done in this league? Oh right, he was captain checkdown on a five game winning streak two years ago. The 49ers have definitely seen a positive return on investment since they made him the highest paid player in NFL history.
Potential is meaningless until it becomes production, and regardless of whether or not it’s been his fault, he hasn’t produced yet in his five year career.
Seattle Seahawks- Tyler Lockett
If I had a dollar for every time I heard about how Russell Wilson had a perfect quarterback rating when he targeted Tyler Lockett, I could buy the Seattle Seahawks and sign an actual receiver to put opposite D.K. Metcalf. Yes, when Wilson targeted Lockett, he wasn’t intercepted and yes, he caught ten touchdowns this year. But he was also the 84th most targeted player in the NFL last year. The Seahawks didn’t throw the ball a whole lot and with Doug Baldwin injured, Lockett still didn’t get as many targets as Josh Gordon, who didn’t even play for the whole season.
Lockett is a solid piece, and his speed can’t be questioned. But the Seahawks went out and drafted Metcalf for a reason.
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