Underrated/Overrated: Davis name carrying more value than game
Vernon Davis has been targeted only 38 times this season by QB Alex Smith
Matt Hasselbeck doesn't offer upside but has produced at a consisten rate this year
Ben Tate has a 47 percent run success rate, better than Arian Foster's 40 percent
Can you believe the season is almost half over? Can you remember when we were all worried that there might not even be a season at all? Frankly, I don't know what I would have done with my Sundays, other than watch It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia on DVD and eat Thai food out of depression. On second thought, that's actually a solid day, but it's far from the greatness that is the NFL, where everything changes in a week. The Redskins can't sue their way to a victory, while the Chiefs are Battle-ing their way to the top of the AFC West. Enough horrible puns, the playoff push is here so let's get right to it -- we'll help you determine who is underrated and overrated in the fantasy world.
We'll start off out West, where Vernon Davis has under-delivered and then move East, making stops in Indianapolis before finishing off under the bright lights of New York City. We'll pick it up again over some barbecue in Nashville, even more barbecue in Houston, before sleeping off all of that delicious, delicious grub under the desert skies of Phoenix.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts (92 percent owned)
Garcon is the prototypical big-play guy, which is a nice way of saying that he's an inconsistent and frustrating mess. He has only caught 53 percent of passes thrown his way -- a pair of bricks for hands does not help -- and while he may be Curtis Painter's new favorite target, that's sort of like saying he's the star of a sitcom on the WB. Bottom line, he's averaging less than four points/game in the past month, and the Colts offense doesn't look like it's going to be even remotely competent anytime soon. Consider the drop.
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers (96 percent owned)
Like Garcon, Davis has struggled as of late, despite the emergence of Michael "Holdout" Crabtree as a viable secondary option to draw coverage away from the seam. In his last three games, he is averaging less than two points, atrocious even for the lax standards of tight ends. Sure, he has an impressive 82 percent catch rate, but Alex Smith has only targeted Davis 38 times this year. That may be why his TE counterpart on the 49ers, Delanie Walker, is actually twice as efficient as Davis on a per reception basis. Sell the name while you can.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets (96 percent owned)
LaDainian Tomlinson pulled a Winona Ryder this week, stealing a TD from Shonn Greene in the surprisingly one-sided affaire du Bills. Let's be charitable and simply say that Greene's owners were not pleased. Greene has yet to break 16 points in any single week and has scored less than four points on two separate occasions. Both Greene and Tomlinson have similar (read: poor) rushing efficiencies, but Tomlinson has added tremendous value through his receiving game. Don't be surprised if Tomlinson continues to steal touches from Greene, and don't be surprised if Greene owners subsequently panic like they're holding shares of Groupon.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Titans (56 percent owned)
The Titans have flown somewhat under the radar, mostly because everyone assumed that Methuselah Hasselback could no longer play QB effectively. Everyone knows Chris Johnson has been underwhelming this year, so by process of elimination, the Titans must be doing at least one thing correctly -- passing the ball. Hasselbeck ranks 13th among QBs in total efficiency added. The ageless wonder has 12-plus points in all but one week this year, and boasts a 13:6 TD to interception ratio. While Hasselbeck doesn't have tremendous upside, when you play him, you know what you're getting; you can almost guarantee he'll score you a decent amount of points while avoiding the occasional Cassel-ish disaster.
Ben Tate, RB, Texans (57 percent owned)
Tate is still playing behind Arian Foster, but he's getting significant action as the Texans implement a highly appropriate and alliterative two-step approach to rushing. They're mixing him in for good reason: Tate ranks fourth in the league in efficiency added at the running back position, adding almost eight points to the Texans' offense on his carries. While it's clearly not an apples to oranges comparison, it's also worth nothing that Tate has 109 carries and is averaging 5.7 yards a carry, a full 1.4 yards per carry more than Foster. Digging even deeper -- like an oil well in the heart of the Texas basin -- in every game that Tate has gotten at least 12 touches, he has broken 80 rushing yards. Compare his 47 percent run success rate to Arian Foster's 40 percent and you've got a running back poised for success. Just don't forget where you first heard it, OK?
Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals (34 percent owned)
Like Hasselbeck, Doucet has been consistent but that consistency is not going to fly off the stat sheet. The clear No. 2 guy in Arizona, Doucet has scored less than four points only once and scored eight-plus in the majority of his games. His 54 targets is well ahead of the No. 3 option in Arizona. It's also notable that Doucet has the highest catch rate among Arizona receivers at 63 percent. Now if he could only convince Kurt Warner to come out of retirement.
Nik Bonaddio is the CEO of numberFire, a sports analytics platform that provides algorithmic modeling for sports. You can follow him @numberfire. Keith Goldner is the Chief Analyst at numberFire. You can follow him @drivebyfootball. Visit numberFire on Facebook.