After what has been a turbulent and exhausting year for everyone, draft season is finally upon us.
It is time to review your board and find the guys you are looking to grab early and avoid at all costs. As we are searching for information and insight, one thing to always keep in mind during drafts is player value relative to average draft position (ADP). There is rarely a better feeling in fantasy football than being able to wait on someone you have a good feeling about and grabbing them at the last possible moment.
While each draft is different due to scoring rules, league sizes, and the one wild card team owner in every league; there are a few players out there who are great values at their current ADP and would be an excellent grab for your team in 2020. Here are seven players who are undervalued at their current ADP (based on FantasyPros ADP for PPR scoring).
ADP: QB16, 109th Overall
One of the NFL’s biggest disappointments last season was the Cleveland Browns, who had playoff aspirations after lots of flashy acquisitions before the 2019 season. One particular victim of this downfall was Baker Mayfield; who finished as the QB19 with 3827 yards, 22 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, and added three touchdowns on the ground. This disappointing performance has moved Mayfield down draft boards and has him well outside of QB1 consideration for most.
But those who are willing to give him another chance in 2020 will be in for a pleasant surprise. Mayfield has a lot of positive factors to look towards in 2020. The most obvious to point to is the ejection of Freddie Kitchens from Cleveland. Kitchens did a lot to hold the Browns offense back last season and there is nowhere else to go but up. Especially when you look at who was brought in to replace him in Kevin Stefanski and Alex Van Pelt. Both Stefanski and Van Pelt have worked with elite offensive talent and been a part of successful offenses throughout their careers. There is no reason their knowledge and success shouldn’t be able to translate to Mayfield and the rest of the Browns offense.
Another advantage Mayfield has going into 2020 is a strong schedule, especially to start the season. Cleveland opens the season in a tough spot against Baltimore (2nd best defense against quarterbacks in 2019), but then have a very easy slate against Cincinnati (25th), Washington (23rd), Dallas (12th before the loss of Byron Jones and Robert Quinn) and Indianapolis (21st). Overall, Mayfield and the Browns have the fourth weakest strength of schedule for fantasy quarterbacks in 2020 and he will be able to use this to his advantage this season for your roster.
ADP: TE12, 110th Overall
One of Mayfield’s newest teammates this season is also a value at his ADP. Cleveland went out and signed free agent Austin Hooper to a four year, $44 million deal and made him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the NFL. This kind of financial commit comes with a sort of philosophical commitment as well from the Brown’s staff. They wouldn’t go out and give nearly $23 million guaranteed to a player they aren’t expecting to use, no team would. It is unclear at this time where he will fit in an offense that already has plenty of enticing targets for Mayfield to throw to, but there is no doubt Hooper will exceed his current TE12 draft position.
Especially when you consider the monster season Hooper had last year. Despite finishing the season as the TE6, during Weeks 1-10 Hooper was the TE1 outscoring bigger names like Travis Kelce and George Kittle. If not for suffering a knee injury in Week 10, he would easily finish as the top tight end last season and would a highly sought after player going into 2020. Now Hooper is fully healed and will take his talent to Cleveland, where he will be expected to continue his productive ways and will do so this season.
ADP: RB33, 88th Overall
If there was one free agent signing that did more to cloud then clarify a situation, it was Melvin Gordon’s signing with the Denver Broncos. Denver already had a fairly solid running back tandem in Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman returning for 2020 so it was unexpected for many fans and fantasy players alike. The addition of Gordon gives their backfield a boost talent-wise but gives prospective fantasy owners a headache. Gordon has been presumed the starter and is going early in drafts (RB21 and 40th overall) but where does that leave the incumbent backs of Lindsay and Freeman?
For Lindsay, he is dropping far back on draft boards and is being looked over so far this draft season. He is currently being drafted among other guys who are in crowded backfields, such as Matt Breida (RB37, 92nd overall) and Ke’Shawn Vaughn (RB40, 120th overall). One advantage Lindsay will have over those players in 2020 is familiarity with the team and offensive system. While the NFL has been able to hold training camps and meetings a fairly regular fashion, COVID-19 cost teams a lot of the other offseason activities they rely on to get all of their players together and on the same page. This will give an advantage to veteran players who are familiar with their coaches and what they are expecting from their team. This knowledge should bode well for a player like Lindsay, especially with recent concerns regarding Gordon. Lindsay will still have to work to carve a role in Denver’s offense this season but there is no reason he can’t at least meet his current RB33 ADP and even exceed it.
ADP: WR32, 74th Overall
When CeeDee Lamb was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2020 NFL draft many thought this would be a great opportunity for them to build an elite offense for the future and would be a less-than-ideal situation for Cowboys wide receivers not named Amari Cooper. There was worry that guys like Michael Gallup would fall down the depth chart and it would become a Cooper-Lamb duo in Dallas.
But, Gallup appears to be keeping his stable. He has seemingly made an impression on his new coaching staff, namely head coach Mike McCarthy. While this is mainly a collection of coach speak and flattery, it is worth noting that Gallup is on his coach’s mind for positive reasons and not negative ones. It shows there is some level of commitment to him in this offense and he should be expected to continue building on his 2019 success.
One thing that will help Gallup and the rest of his receiving group is their schedule. Dallas ranks as the fifth weakest strength of schedule for wide receivers and they should be able to capitalize on the weak secondaries they face in 2020. In particular, their stretch from Week 5-8 is especially enticing with matchups versus the New York Giants (27th), Arizona (23rd), Washington (19th) and Philadelphia (29th). This schedule should give the Cowboys’ offense a boost and make guys like Gallup a value at their current ADP.
ADP: WR41, 96th Overall
It’s not very often that you are able to find the top wide receiver for a team so late in drafts, but that seems to be were New York Jets’ wide receiver Jamison Crowder is falling to. Crowder lead the team last season in every major statistical category such as targets (122), receptions (78), yards (833), and touchdowns (6). These numbers led Crowder to finish as the WR26 in 2019 and there is little doubt that he can match that production in 2020.
A major variable in Crowder’s production this season is the progression of young quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold has yet to post consistent numbers in his short career but there is hope Darnold can put it together this season. He will have another year under his belt in the Gase system and has had time to heal from the injuries that plagued him in 2019. Even if Darnold does not step into the elite category of quarterback, Crowder will still have a solid floor of production and should be relied on for fantasy production in 2020.
ADP: TE15, 126th Overall
When news broke that Dolphins wide receivers Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson were going to opt-out of the 2020 season, many wondered where those potential targets (109 combined targets in 2019) and where their offensive production would shift to. While it will surely be spread amongst the remaining players in the offense, one player to not overlook for filling that vacuum is Mike Gesicki.
Gesicki is a very versatile athlete and can be used all over the field to create great matchups. This will help make things easier for both veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tua Tagovailoa. Both players have enjoyed throwing to tight ends in years past, even in normal non-COVID circumstances. Gesicki was second on the team in all major statistical categories last season with Fitzpatrick behind center, showing that there is a solid relationship going into 2020. Tagovailoa used his former teammate, and now a member of the Minnesota Vikings, Irv Smith Jr. a lot in Alabama’s offense when he last started a full season for the Crimson Tide in 2018. Smith Jr. had 44 receptions, 710 yards, and seven touchdowns that season, solid numbers for a 15 game season. If Gesicki can maintain his role in Miami’s offense from last season and continue to progress with the now available targets, he is a great value at his ADP and will be a difference-maker at an important position in fantasy football.
ADP: RB31, 80th Overall
Each year, one of the most confounding situations to figure out in fantasy football is the New England backfield. Making the correct selection can be golden, but making the wrong choice almost always leads to season failure. This year is especially unclear with health concerns for Sony Michel, the emergence of Damien Harris, the recent signing of Lamar Miller, and the departure of Tom Brady. But, there is one running back for the Patriots who can bring some consistency to the backfield in 2020 and be a value for your team.
Despite not being a primary rusher in New England’s offense, James White still has a distinct role that has been consistent for years. Over the past four seasons, White has finished in the top four in both targets and receptions, including leading the team in both categories in 2018. This gives White a noticeable advantage at the running back position, especially in PPR leagues. That is especially true when you consider that other running backs around his ADP (Ronald Jones II 76th overall, Matt Breida 92nd overall, Kerryon Johnson 95th overall) who combined had fewer targets in 2019 (77) than White did (95).
Now there is one large variable that has not been worked out yet: how will the addition of Cam Newton change the Patriot’s scheme on offense? Will they rely on Newton’s mobility to spread the field and create better matchups or will they try to preserve his health and keep him in the pocket more often? While both answers are probably true and we will see what New England has in store soon, one aspect Josh McDaniels will take advantage of is using Newton to get White in open space. McDaniels has already shown he can scheme around White’s strengths when the team had a statuesque Brady under center. Now imagine what he will be able to do someone with the agility of Newton. Having a quarterback who can make any sort of impact with his legs creates disadvantages for the defense, giving players like White room to find the gaps in the field and make plays. While there are still many questions to answer about how exactly New England’s offense is going to run in 2020, one player to consider at their current ADP is James White.
Brandon Sysak is an staff writer for Gridiron Experts. I have been covering different aspects of the NFL, fantasy football and the NFL Draft since 2017. I am originally from Midland, MI but now reside in the Cincinnati, OH area. I began my career with Gridiron Experts covering the 2017 College Football National Championship.