The middle of June is the point in time when we start to enter a bit of a fantasy wasteland for those who draft shortly after the NFL Draft. At this point in time a lot of rookie drafts are over and we are looking back and reflecting on how we did. If you’ve been a devout follower of DLF, chances are you did a pretty nice job with your draft. Trusting your gut and getting quality advice will go a long way.
For those of you who are yet to draft and those of you who are in the process of making some post draft trades, I wanted to take some time to highlight a handful of players who I feel are being underdrafted and undervalued by the community at large. Figuring out which players fit this bill is a little bit tougher than I originally expected because it is tough to accurately gauge the value the whole community is putting on a player. I did the same thing with the overdrafted not long ago.
In order to get the most complete picture I possibly could, I went over to myfantasyleague.com and pulled up their ADP data for rookie only drafts from the NFL Draft forward. This resulted in data from roughly 350 drafts over the last month. I’ll use that data as my baseline for how the community values a player.
These are players whom I’m trying to target in trades if they slipped in my draft or if I haven’t drafted yet, players I’m trying to move up to grab if they start sliding. I think they will outperform their draft position within a few years. I’ll of course miss on a few of these since most rookies do bust, but there could easily be a Jordan Reed in this group as well.
For the record, I’m assuming PPR scoring and a 12 team league. So when I say the late second round, I’m talking about picks 22-24. Adjust accordingly for different sized leagues.
Allen Robinson, WR JAX
MFL ADP – Middle second round
My Value – Late first round
Let me start by saying Robinson isn’t a unique player and that is part of the issue. From a talent perspective, he falls squarely into the mix with players like Jordan Matthews, Marqise Lee, Davante Adams and others. His team isn’t nearly as good as Matthews and Adams. Combine that with him be drafted by the Jaguars 22 picks after Lee and he is sliding a little bit in drafts. Personally, I think it is a mistake if he gets out of the first round.
For my money, Robinson is the superior player to Lee. He’s two inches and almost thirty pounds bigger than Lee and is simply a more complete receiver. He also doesn’t have the injury history. I fully expect Robinson to beat out Lee this year and for years to come. While this might not be a terribly valuable role this year, it will pay dividends down the road. Cecil Shorts has a concussion history and is on the last year of his contract, Justin Blackmon is still suspended and there isn’t anyone else of note on the team. The winner of the Robinson-Lee battle could be a WR4 this year and a WR2 in the future as Blake Bortles develops. I think Robinson is the winner and that’s a nice value in the late first.
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Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE TB
MFL ADP – Late second round
My Value – Early second round
There are a lot of different opinions on ASJ out there and for very good reason. On one side of the coin, he had a terrible 2013 by most standards filled with a mix of injuries and lackluster effort. On the other side of the coin is the athletic ability packed into the 6’5”, 262 pound frame. If he gets serious and puts his mind to it, he has the ability and the talent to separate himself from the pack of low end TE1s and high end TE2s that seems to be about 10-12 tight ends large.
I have ASJ ranked 15th on my rookie board, so I’m going to start looking for him in the early parts of the second round. If it is a tight end premium league of any kind, I could be looking for him as early as the first or second pick in the round. With so many tight ends in that tier, you are trying to find a player with the upside to separate himself. Other than Eric Ebron and the headcase that is Colt Lyerla, ASJ has the most upside of this rookie group.
Donte Moncrief, WR IND
MFL ADP – Late second round
My Value – Late first or very early second round
Speaking of upside, it is hard to find a player in this year’s draft with the potential upside of Moncrief. At 6’2” and 220 pounds, Moncrief has the size for the position. He also has very good speed and leaping ability to go with very nice explosiveness. He needs to refine his game though and work on being a complete receiver. With Reggie Wayne still on roster, it is hard to find a better teacher for the young but raw receiver. If Wayne can help him refine his route running and learn the finer points of the position, we could see a fantasy beast within a few years.
You couldn’t ask for anything better when it comes to his situation. He has the best young quarterback in the league throwing to him and the depth chart on his team is uncertain at best. TY Hilton is better suited to be the complimentary receiver, Wayne is pretty much done and Hakeem Nicks is far from a sure thing. The door is wide open for someone with talent to grab a hold of the number one receiver role for the Colts and be a fantasy star. Moncrief has that talent and I’m very willing to take a shot on him starting as soon as the tenth pick in the draft.
Charles Sims, RB TB
MFL ADP – Middle third round
My Value – Middle second round
Heading into the NFL Draft, I had three running backs in my top tier, all clustered very closely to each other. Carlos Hyde was my top running back, Bishop Sankey was third on my list and nestled between the two of them was Sims. Obviously after the draft that changed as Hyde and Sankey landed in much, much better situations than Sims did, but he still has a ton of talent. He isn’t the same pure runner some of the others, but his ability to play the position at a complete level pushes him up my board. With the NFL transition to more and more of a passing league, a running back with the pass catching ability of Sims is going to see the field.
When it comes to his situation, there are a few different ways to look at things. First of all, an NFL team doesn’t spend an early third round pick on a guy they see as a pure backup. He’s going to be used this year and I think once they see what he can do his role will grow. Second, he is a fairly close comparison though slightly less powerful Matt Forte, whom Lovie Smith loves. Third, Doug Martin just isn’t the superstar many want him to be. He only has six 100 yard rushing games in his two seasons with a whole lot of fantasy clunkers. I’m not saying Martin is terrible, just that he isn’t a sure fire stud. There’s room for Sims to step in and show what he can do. His upside is going to be limited to a low end RB2 role if Martin stays healthy, but Sims has the ability to be the guy if Martin gets hurt.
James White, RB NE
MFL ADP – Late third or early fourth round
My Value – Early third round
Over the years there are certain coaches who I watch very, very closely for many different reasons. Bill Belichick is one of those coaches. Belichick has shown time and time again that he has no loyalty to anyone other than Tom Brady. If you can help the team win, you’re going to play. If you’re hurting the team, you’re going to find your butt on the bench. With all of the other running backs on roster either injury prone, fumble prone or both as well as having their contracts expire after 2014, White has the opportunity to step in as soon as this year and to be the guy going forward.
From a talent perspective, White isn’t anyone that is going to blow you away. He isn’t the fastest, the strongest or the most athletic. He is a complete back though and he doesn’t fumble the ball. He’ll get the job done and do what he is supposed to do. Those are exactly the characteristics the Patriots look for in their running backs. It is the ideal team for him.
Those of you who follow my work know I do a lot of looks back at the statistics of who is and isn’t successful. The vast majority (about 85%) of running backs who are RB2s or better are drafted in the first three rounds. That’s a pretty strong correlation. Strong enough that I barely look at running backs drafted later unless there are extreme circumstances. So why do I like White if he was a fourth round pick? There are two coaches who account for the majority of late round running backs who have been successful. One is Mike Shanahan. The other is Bill Belichick. He gets the most out of slightly inferior talents by picking players who are fits in his system and putting them in a position to be successful.
CJ Fiedorowicz, TE HOU
MFL ADP – Middle fourth round
My Value – Late third round
This winter I felt there was one tight end who was consistently being overlooked in a lot of draft circles. A lot of people felt there was a big three at the tight end position and then a massive cliff before the rest come along. I agree there is a big three, but there is a fourth player who isn’t quite like the rest, Fiedorowicz.
There is a reason he was drafted with the first pick in the third round. He is a very big body at 6’5” and 265 pounds and he wasn’t used to his fullest potential at Iowa. He was asked to block more and catch fewer passes due to their offensive system. Some will site his lack of exceptional athletic ability, but there are a lot of top tier tight ends who aren’t overly athletic. He is more than athletic enough to find himself as a solid TE1 for a very long time.
I could go on for a long time singing the praises of Fiedorowicz and his situation, but our own Ty Miller did a great job of doing all of that right here.
Bruce Ellington, WR SF
MFL ADP – Very late fourth round
My Value – Late third round
Ellington is probably my favorite of the late third round sleeper crowd. Let me start by saying his short term outlook is terrible. The 49ers have been one of if not the worst passing offenses in the NFL over the last three years. They just don’t throw the ball enough to support multiple receivers at this point in time. With Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin in the mix right now, Ellington isn’t going to produce this year.
Long term, I think San Francisco is a great place for Ellington to be. Boldin and Davis are nearing the end of their productive years. Colin Kaepernick was just handed a big time contract. With a big contract is going to come more responsibility. I definitely expect the 49ers to improve on their passing numbers going forward. Ellington’s skill set fits perfectly into the skill set of the strong armed Kaepernick. If Kaepernick continues to grow, Ellington could develop into one of his top weapons going deep down the field and tearing the top off defenses.
From a skill perspective, it is important to realize while Ellington is only 5’9”, he is extremely solidly built. People talk about how strong Steve Smith is at that height. Ellington is even stronger according to the numbers. When it comes to speed, quickness and explosiveness, he is actually right on par and even a little bit better than Roddy White in most areas. I’ll gladly take that in the late third round let alone in the fourth round. Don’t sleep on him.
Who else do you see being under-drafted right now?