Fantasy Football Bargains
Whether you’re at the supermarket, a yard sale or drafting your fantasy football team, everyone loves a good deal. It is still June, and those that are putting in the work now are starting to see how average draft positions (ADPs) are rounding out or how they are trending. Typically this early in the season rookies’ ADPs rise because the unknown lures in those looking for a dynamic playmaker that can lead them to a championship.
If you have done multiple mock drafts and followed it all the way through, you have probably found some guys to round out the bottom of your rotation that you were pleased with. Some of this is due to owners avoiding injury prone players and/or owners simply holding grudges against guys. When I look at fantasy football calculator, five guys easily stand out as value picks at their current ADP.
RB | ADP: 9.02
Both major factors come into play when it comes to people shying away from drafting the Panthers lead back – injury and a high-pick rookie lurking on his heels. Christian McCaffrey impressed at Standford; there is no denying that, but in my opinion, he won’t come in year one and just walk away with J-Stew’s lead role. McCaffrey will undoubtedly be a major piece of the Panthers’ passing game, and he has the potential to lead all tailbacks in receptions. This makes him a great value for PPR leagues, but there are still owners out there who play standard leagues. If you fall into this category, this makes Stewart an even more valuable asset in the later rounds.
McCaffrey is being drafted in the fourth while Stewart’s stock has slipped all the way to nearly the ninth round. This seems illogical when you consider McCaffrey hasn’t played a snap at the professional level, while Stewart finished top 20 among running backs in fantasy points the past two seasons. He even finished eighth in total rushing yards in 2015. Stewart is entering his tenth season in the league, and Carolina is preparing for his time to run out on the gridiron. This explains the McCaffrey selection.
While the rookie may eat into Stewart’s workload, in the end, it could be a positive for the 30-year old. He needs a break, and the Panthers realized this last season after dropping his carries per game from 18.6 in 2015 to 16.8 last season. Overall Stewart went from averaging the third-most carries in the league to the 13th most in 2016. The last time Stewart played a complete 16-game season was in 2011. During that season he averaged 5.4 yards per tote for the best mark of his career, giving him the seventh best average in the NFL. He totaled 1,174 yards that season, also the best of his career, while recording the second-lowest carries per game of his career (8.9).
Let others assume McCaffrey’s addition will lead to Stewart’s demise. You know what assuming makes you.
RB | ADP: 10.11
Since 2012 only three running backs have managed to compile more receptions in a single season than Theo Riddick did in 2015. Those backs are Danny Woodhead, Le’Veon Bell, and David Johnson. Admittedly, Riddick did take a step back last season, but he also played in just ten games. Any back coming off an injury is going to have red flags, just like Stewart, but it doesn’t mean they can’t replicate their best seasons.Ameer Abdullah hype train, Riddick remains a sneaky option in PPR leagues. When you consider the difference in the price tag, Abdullah 6.01, Riddick 10.07, you would think there would be a wide difference in compiled stats. The truth is people want to believe in Abdullah like little kids want to believe in Santa Claus.
Abdullah had an uninspiring rookie season, rushing for 597 yards. Last season he was limited to just two games due to a Lisfranc tear. So why are people so quick to jump aboard a downhill train? There have been reports Abdullah will be a feature back in 2017, but the real question is can his body handle it? In week 15 of 2015 Abdullah tore his Labrum, and in college, he sprained his MCL. All of these injuries happened in three consecutive years, but yet people think the 5-09, 203 pound back can handle a full workload.
Picks going after Abdullah such as Donte Moncrief and Larry Fitzgerald offer far more upside in my eyes than the injury prone back. Moncrief has an injury history as well, but receivers don’t take the type of abuse backs do down after down. Riddick is set up in the perfect position to succeed. Even if Abdullah stays in for passing downs, it will only be a matter of time before Detroit’s coaching staff sees how badly their “feature back” is getting bruised and battered and decide to lower his workload.
QB | ADP: 12.06
Taylor had a break-out season in 2015 when he had the sixth-best quarterback rating (QBR) in the entire NFL, ranking him ahead of Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers to name a few. Fast Forward to 2016, and despite his struggles, Taylor still had a better QBR than Rivers and Jameis Winston, all quarterbacks that are currently being selected ahead of Taylor so far in 2017 fantasy drafts.
It should go without saying, but Tyrod Taylor is a better quarterback when he has a healthy Sammy Watkins. Coming into 2017, Watkins needs to prove himself if he wants a chance at a long-term contract next season. Should he stay on the field and serve as one of Taylor’s best targets, both signal caller and receiver could have their best season to date. Last season Watkins played weeks one through three before getting bit by the injury bug again. He came back to finish the season, playing in weeks 12 through 17. In the games Watkins played, Taylor’s QBR rose from 88.07 to 92.34.
Along with Taylor’s QBR, his average yards per reception by a receiver went from 6.43 to 7.4 and he added to his average yards per game, but not by as much as expected. With the Buffalo Bills returning a healthy Watkins, LeSean McCoy and with the addition of Zay Jones, it isn’t hard to see Taylor as one of the league’s best bounce back candidates for 2017.
WR | ADP: 13.09
The people who still believe in Britt remember what he did in a Titans uniform in in weeks 15 through 17 in 2010 and the first three weeks of 2011. During the three weeks of 2010, Britt went off for 302 receiving yards to go with two scores. That’s not to mention he also posted a career-best game of 225 yards with three touchdowns in week seven the same season. He carried his breakout into 2011, lighting up the league for the first two weeks. In week one Britt racked up 136 yards and two scores. Week two the wide out went for 135 yards and a score and in week three he tore his ACL and MCL. That would be the end of the Britt hype train, until now.
The 28-year old receiver isn’t in the most appealing of destinations in Cleveland, but he will again be a starting receiver opposite talented youngster Corey Coleman. Per usual, the Browns don’t have the best quarterback in the NFL. We have all seen the jersey with the ridiculously long list of names that have attempted to man the position. What Britt does have going for him is something that may surprise many, his health.
Up until 2014, the last time Britt played a full 16-game season was his rookie year. The vet has found ways to help his body stay on the field for the past three seasons, as he played in 16 games in 2014, 16 games in 2015 and 15 games last season. On top of the medical renewal, Britt recorded his first 1,000-yard receiving season last year with mediocre quarterback play, to say the least. It appears Cody Kessler will again line up behind center for the Browns, so Britt’s quarterback situation seems to be similar in 2017. The good thing about this coming season compared to the last is the fact Clevland has one of the better offensive lines in the game and their running game figures to be much improved as well.
Coleman has already been injured this offseason and there is no telling if he will stay healthy the full season in 2017 after missing six of 16 games in 2016. Should the sophomore go down, the veteran Britt will have a commanding role in the Clevland pass game.
TE | ADP: 13.06
Tight ends were disappointing last season. Everyone looked at the plethora of weapons on paper and thought it would be one of the best years for the position in recent memory. Well, paper players don’t turn into real football players and that may have owners buying in on tight ends earlier in drafts this year. If you are an owner who doesn’t believe in drafting a tight end early, I recommend the Saints Coby Fleener.
He was among the tight ends that didn’t have the year they were expected to in 2016, but he still had the 15th-best fantasy season among tight ends and had the 13th-most receiving yards at the position. Let’s face it, he’s not Jimmy Graham, but that’s why he is being selected in the 13th round while Jimmy goes in the 6th. Last season was the first year Fleener played with Drew Brees. In Graham’s first season with the future Hall of Famer, he had just 356 receiving yards. Yes, Graham was just a rookie that season, while 2016 was Fleener’s fifth year in the league, but if the stats tell any type of story, it’s a good one for Fleener.
After the pedestrian 356-yard season, Graham exploded for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. Is Fleener going to turn the corner and be Jimmy Graham? It would be ludicrous to expect Fleener to replicate Graham’s 2011 season, but with Brandin Cooks now out of town, now is as good a time as any for Fleener to make his mark. With Cooks 117 targets gone from last year, along with his 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns, the 6’6″ tight end is ready to make his mark. He will be the perfect red zone target for Brees, and now that the two have developed a connection, I will take a possible 1,000-yard eight touchdown tight end in the back end of the draft.