Boredom, Value And 10 Fantasy Football Picks I Hate To Make
If you have been reading my work for some amount of time, you know that a large part of my fantasy football strategy is about embracing risk. Younger players, players in volatile playing time situations and with massive upside are my specialty. I love to take stances across many drafts and accumulate players whose upside I value. However, that is not always the best way to win leagues. In fact, one of the best ways to generate anti-fragile rosters that can withstand the rigors of the NFL season without crumbling is to accept the boring value when it gets to you. What follows are ten players that I just cannot get excited about who I will still find myself drafting because their median projection is not accounted for in their ADP.
Michael Thomas, ADP: 13.0
I am not quite sure how this happened, but Drew Brees’ #1 wide receiver who set records for the highest average depth of target with over an 80% catch rate in NFL history has slipped outside of the first round… and I cannot say it is wrong. The wide receiver talent pool is so deep in the NFL right now that Thomas’ 147 target, 1,405 yards and 9 touchdown season did not lead him to being one of the 12 best players in fantasy football in 2019. In drafts where I have started with one of the five elite running backs or Travis Kelce in the first round, Thomas makes an excellent WR1 and is a perfect pairing to DeAndre Hopkins or DaVante Adams in a Zero RB draft. While many takes will fly about who is THE WR1 will fly (myself included), Thomas’ sustained greatness is perhaps going a little underappreciated.
Mike Evans, ADP: 20.3
In the same division as Michael Thomas, Evans’ dominance has now stretched for five seasons. Evans is on a string of five straight years with over 1,000 receiving yards and has scored 40 touchdowns in those five seasons. He is also coming off his highest career yards per target (11 yards flat per target) and will be playing in a vertical passing offense that lead Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown to career years. With an opportunity to play more snaps per game and receive targets deeper down the field, I will gladly click submit on Mike Evans in the second round in every draft this year if presented with the opportunity.
Keenan Allen, ADP: 29.3
In a healthy season for his career, Allen has never averaged less than 55 yards per game or 4.7 catches per game. The last two seasons, he has been over 6 catches and 80 yards per game over a 32 game sample. Philip Rivers is still his quarterback, Melvin Gordon is still the primary running back, Tyrell Williams is gone and Ken Whisenhunt is still the offensive coordinator. Mike Williams removes a little bit of Allen’s touchdown upside (that he never had to begin with ) but you know exactly what you are getting with Allen. Right around 150 targets, 1,100 yards, and five touchdowns are Allen’s healthy floor.
A.J Green, ADP: 33.3
Much like Allen, fantasy drafters have just gotten bored of drafting the same season over and over. For his career, Green has been between 1,078 yards and 1,426 yards in all of his fully healthy seasons. Green has been above eight yards per target in 7 of his 8 professional seasons and caught in between 6 and 11 touchdowns in all of those seasons as well. He has only been worse than 77 yards per game twice, last season and in his rookie year and has never had less than 4 receptions per game in any year of his career. Green as rock-solid as it gets as WR2 yet he can be had as late as the fourth round in most leagues.
Julian Edelman, ADP: 43.0
At this point you are probably wondering “Why are all of these guys wide receivers?” and it is a fair question. As illustrated in our Zero RB Drafting guide, running backs are mostly overvalued and wide receivers are undervalued. So many teams are passing more frequently that more players have become exciting and valuable to fantasy drafters. Edelman is the classic case of a guy who is getting left behind. Julian Edelman has had over six catches per game every year since 2013 and is playing in an offense devoid of a real WR1. While he might not project as easily for 1,000 yards as Chris Godwin, Brandin Cooks or Kenny Golladay who he is being drafted next to, he does have a much safer target floor per game than any of those guys. There might not be a player I hate clicking “draft” on more than Edelman but he presents such a safe value at his ADP that I can’t avoid him.
Lamar Miller, ADP: 69.3
You’ve drafted Lamar Miller and hated it; so has everyone else in your league. He has now reached a Frank Gore-esque state of zen where he has always been a starting running back in the NFL. Miller has had over 200 touches in every NFL season since 2014, has never scored more than 10 touchdowns (once in 2015) and hasn’t topped 45 targets in his three years in Houston. All of that said, Miller is one of the only running backs going after the fifth round of most drafts that projects comfortably for over 200 interactions, goalline work, and some pass-catching role. No one likes to draft Lamar Miller but you’ll do it because he is being drafted at his 30th percentile outcome instead of his median.
Allen Robinson, ADP: 76.7
Despite the shock to the system that this brings, the Bears actually have an intriguing offense. I hesitate to say “good” because they were not tremendous on a per play basis (20th in the NFL last season) but they finished ninth in the NFL in points scored which is certainly better than the team could have hoped for. Robinson lead the team in targets coming off of a knee injury with 94 in 13 games. His touchdown production was lower than it had been in Jacksonville but that was to be expected given the framework of the team. We have his touchdown projection a touch higher than it was last season and with that, he should be a great value as your third or fourth wide receiver.
Golden Tate, ADP: 103.3
Excuse me a moment while I throw up in my mouth. The fact of the Giants offense is that yes, it is going to be terrible and run heavy but they are still going to have around 450 targets up for grabs after Saquon Barkley. Splitting those passes between Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram means that all three players can be fantasy relevant, even if they don’t have high ceilings. This offense won’t have many touchdowns to go around but their offensive concentration is really going to be split between these four players. They don’t have a gadget back or secondary wide receivers or backup tight ends that are going to demand any meaningful target share. As such, Tate is almost free in drafts, often going after the ninth round and can offer weeks of decent-to-good WR3 production.
Cam Newton, ADP: 107.3
There are probably five quarterbacks that could have made this list but 1) drafting quarterbacks is not all that important and 2) the goal of drafting quarterbacks in weekly management leagues is to find a guy who is good enough to be better than a streamer. Newton has proven that he can be better than a streamer numerous times yet is being drafted after Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Drew Brees and other players whose projections have decent-sized question marks. Newton has only finished outside the top-12 of quarterbacks in fantasy twice and has only been under 100 rush attempts once. The fact that 3,500 passing yards/400 rushing yards and 28 total touchdowns are close to Newton’s median projection really shouldn’t go underlooked later on in drafts yet it does.
Dion Lewis, ADP: 117.3
The fact that Derrick Henry only salvaged his fantasy football season in the last month of the year is not lost on me. It took until Week 13 for Henry to have a 100+ rushing game, he had only five multi-target games and really only saved his season with touchdowns. For 3/4th of the year, Henry was borderline-unusable in fantasy football leagues. Meanwhile, Lewis had nine games with four or more targets and eight games with 10 or more carries. Lewis ran exceedingly bad on touchdowns with only 2 total scores on 214 touches (far below the league average) and therefore was deemed a fantasy football flop. However, Derrick Henry has been in the NFL for three years and has only 50 targets. Lewis is going to remain the primary passing-down back in Tennessee and that role has value especially as late as Lewis is going.
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