Not every pick that you make in your draft has to be the flashy young star or a pick that will get rave reviews from your fellow owners. In fact, one idea you might want to capitalize on in your draft this year is considering grabbing players who fall to you a few rounds past where they were “supposed” to be drafted. While these guys might not be your favorite players of all time, if they’ve proven themselves over time, they have the potential to give you good value for where you can draft them.
This kind of pick can be referred to as a “value pick” or a “steal.” This year, there are several guys with average draft positions (ADPs) inconsistent with the value they have proven to possess in past years. Below are the players I’m looking at in 2017 throughout the early, middle, and late rounds with the potential of giving you a great return on your investment.
NOTE: Keep in mind that all stats I use are for 10-team PPR leagues. The composite ADP rankings used here were compiled by the creators of FantasyPros and can be found here.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans
Going back to the 2013 fantasy season, and discounting the awful Chip Kelly experiment
he underwent with the Eagles in 2015, Murray has consistently impressed. His totals of 258.4 points in 2013, 351.1 points in 2014, and 293.8 points in 2016 placed him as the #6, #2, and #5 running back in PPR leagues in those years, respectively. He is currently being drafted as the 8th running back off the board. Furthermore, over the past four seasons, Murray has missed only 3 games. While rumors continue to circulate amongst fantasy owners that Derrick Henry will take on a large role, these same feelings existed last season without hurting Murray’s production too much, and the Titans coaching staff is insisting that DeMarco is their guy. Draft him confidently as your team’s top running back.
ADP: 16th overall; 8th RB
My Take: Don’t be afraid to reach for him at the end of the 1st round or beginning of the 2nd if you’re looking for a solid running back option. That would place him as the 4th-6th RB in most leagues, a reasonable expectation for a RB who has proven more consistent than a guy like Melvin Gordon (ADP 10th overall).
Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders
Over the past two seasons, since joining the Oakland Raiders and playing alongside receiver Amari Cooper, the youngster Cooper has garnered most of the attention from fans and fantasy owners alike. However, over these two years, Crabtree has actually scored 27.5 points more than his teammate Cooper. Crabtree has earned 29 more targets and 16 more of those all-important red zone targets than Cooper over this same time frame. Crabtree’s performance led to a finish as the league’s #16 WR in 2015 and the #12 WR last year. Despite all this, Crabtree is currently being drafted an average of 26 picks behind Amari Cooper.
ADP: 43rd overall; 22nd WR
My Take: Due to his past consistency and durability (he has not missed a game in the past three years), Crabtree has fourth round value, and I would draft him before more inconsistent injury-riddled guys like Sammy Watkins (ADP 32) and Keenan Allen (ADP 35).
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
The perennial rumors of a Larry Fitzgerald slowdown are in full bloom once again this year. Now at the age of 34, Fitz has shaken off these comments year-after-year, increasing his amount of targets each year since 2014. Fitzgerald finished as the league’s 11th-highest scoring WR in 2016, capping off his 8th year as a Top 20 WR in the last 10 years. Just as impressively, in that same decade-long timespan, he has missed only 3 games. In your league this year, take advantage of the other owners who will fall yet again for the idea that Fitz is too old to be successful.
ADP: 55th overall; 26th WR
My Take: The 20th-ranked WR currently has an ADP of 38. Right around there, in the late 4th round, or anytime during the 5th round, would be a reasonable time to snag Fitzgerald, who has continued to prove that he is a durable, high-floor WR2 or flex play.
Danny Woodhead, RB, Baltimore Ravens
In my opinion, Danny Woodhead is one of the single most undervalued players in PPR fantasy football – when healthy. The last time he played a full season was 2015, only two years ago. He wasn’t just a decent running back, or a good running back, he was the THIRD-BEST running back in terms of PPR scoring in all of fantasy football. In 2013, the last time he had played a full season before then, he was the #12 RB. Of course, the danger here lies in injury risk. In 2014 he fractured his fibula, an injury which ended his season. Last year, he suffered a torn ACL. Of course, last year, in the one full game he did
play, he scored 23.1 fantasy points. But for where he’s being drafted, on average in the late 7th round, I believe that the reward is too good to pass up. With Kenneth Dixon out for the year, Woodhead is clearly in line for a lot of snaps in his new home of Baltimore. Terrance West may compete for some touches, but Woodhead will get the vast majority of the receptions out of the Baltimore backfield. While another Top-3 performance is unlikely for Danny Woodhead, a Top-15 season is not out of the question.
ADP: 68th overall; 26th RB
My Take: I’m willing to reach for him in the early-to-middle 5th round as my RB2, before guys who haven’t proven themselves as much like Ty Montgomery (ADP 44) and perhaps even Spencer Ware (ADP 52).
Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
There are three tight ends that have finished among the Top 8 fantasy tight ends for at least three consecutive seasons – Travis Kelce (ADP 33), Greg Olsen (ADP 47), and Titans TE Delanie Walker. While Tennessee’s offensive outlook isn’t clearly defined going into this season, that’s essentially the same way it’s been the past few years for the Titans. Delanie Walker is very likely to grab at least 100 targets for the fourth year in a row and remain in that Top 8 group of tight ends yet again.
ADP: 76th overall; 7th TE
My Take: You can confidently draft Walker in the 7th round to fill your TE slot with an option that is much more reliable than some of the injury-riddled guys being taken before him.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Yes, I am fully aware that a guy who rushed for 18 touchdowns last year (yes, 18!) is a prime candidate for statistical regression this season. However, even if LeGarrette Blount had rushed for 300 less yards last year AND scored only half as many touchdowns, he would STILL have been the #27-scoring running back. The 27th running back being selected is, on average, being taken with the 71st pick, 12 whole picks before Blount’s ADP. Blount, although in a new role, still remains primed for goal line touches, as he is the largest running back by far on Philadelphia’s depth chart.
ADP: 83rd overall; 33rd RB
My Take: You can comfortably take Blount where he is going, in the 9th round, or even reach into the 8th round to get him. There’s a chance he will completely bust, but it’s absolutely worth taking a shot at him if you have already drafted your starting running backs. If he has a season even close to his 2016 performance, drafting him around the midpoint in you draft will pay off for you.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is not a solid starting QB in a 10-team fantasy football league this year. However, he is an incredibly useful backup option to have on your team. Big Ben is currently, on average, being drafted as the 11th QB on the board. If you have already drafted one of the top 10 QBs, then Big Ben could be incredibly useful for you on a week-
to-week basis as a matchup play. On the road last year, Roethlisberger’s performance was abysmal, most memorably symbolized by an 8.7-point performance in Cleveland. However, at home, he averaged a total of 24.7 fantasy points per game. Projected over a 16-game season, that would have made him the top-scoring QB in all of fantasy. On weeks where your starting quarterback has a tough matchup and the Steelers are at Heinz Field, Roethlisberger is a phenomenal week-to-week option to put in your starting lineup. There is significant value in drafting him for this specific purpose.
ADP: 96th overall; 11th QB
My Take: This spot, in the middle of the 10th round, is about the right place in your draft to grab him. If you draft him, and judge your decisions on a weekly basis, this will be a strong value pick.
Tyrell Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Simply put, I am not willing to gamble that Keenan Allen will have an injury-free season in 2017. Allen has not proved fully capable of staying on the field, and rookie WR Mike Williams is already struggling to remain healthy himself. Last year, as the team’s #1 wide receiver following Allen’s season-ending injury, Tyrell Williams finished as fantasy’s #18 wideout. Even if Keenan Allen manages to stay on the field, Tyrell Williams is worth more than what you can get him for right now.
ADP: 107th overall; 45th WR
My Take: You could reach a round early or so to grab Williams, but honestly, you might not have to this year. As far as late-round picks go, Williams has one of the best shots of working his way into your starting lineup quickly.
Mike Wallace, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Mike Wallace flew under the radar last year, finishing as fantasy’s #22 wide receiver. Now, with Steve Smith Sr. having finally retired, and Breshad Perriman still dealing with injury issues, Wallace is poised to maintain and perhaps increase his role in the Ravens offense, competing with Jeremy Maclin to be Joe Flacco’s main target. While the Ravens might not have the most high-powered offensive lineup, Wallace is definitely worth more than where he’s going right now in fantasy drafts.
ADP: 114th overall; 48th WR
My Take: Don’t reach for him, but if you manage to get Wallace in a double-digit round, you can certainly be satisfied. Look for him to quietly have another Top 30 fantasy finish among wide receivers unless Maclin significantly outshines him quickly.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
So here’s the scenario: there’s a run on quarterbacks in the middle rounds of your draft, and you don’t feel like jumping into the fray and having to reach three rounds early to draft a guy like Kirk Cousins or Dak Prescott. You wait without a backup quarterback, until the last three rounds. Maybe for some reason you still need a starter, although if that was the case, the rest of your lineup better be stacked. Anyway, you are at your pick in the 14th round, you still need a defense, a kicker, and a quarterback, and most of the good QBs are already off the board. Well, Blake Bortles might be your guy. In Blake Bortles’ second season in 2015, he was the #5 fantasy QB. Last year, he was #8. Currently, his ADP would lead him to be undrafted in a 10-team league. That’s right, in the very last rounds of your draft, you could grab a guy who has been in the Top 8 tier of QBs for two years in a row. Sure, his offense isn’t the greatest, but he managed to be the #8 QB last year for a 3-13 team. And okay, the Jaguars are probably going to run a little bit more since they drafted Leonard Fournette; but even if Bortles regresses and winds up 7 spots lower than last year, he’d be ranked QB #15 – that’s still 8 quarterbacks above where he’s being drafted right now. Draft him and be glad that your crisis was averted in the garbage rounds of your draft.
ADP: 185th overall; 23rd QB
My Take: Somehow, Bortles’ ADP is later than Sam Bradford’s. It’s even later than Deshuan Watson’s ADP – and Watson’s not even the Texans’ starting quarterback yet. Grab Bortles in the final rounds of your draft, and if his regression is minimal, he could very well be a solid fantasy starter heading into your league’s playoffs.
Cover Photo Courtesy of Chargers Wire