Much like my mindset in avoiding certain players, “buying” a player largely revolves around the player’s relative value, based on my ranking, vs. general consensus or ADP. What I’m really looking for here is missed value, by more than a round or two in order to capture consistent production over the risk involved with a higher risk selection. It’s a big bonus if I can capture a relative degree of youth at the same time. This happens largely due to group think as drafts begin to unfold, ADP data is analyzed and positional runs alter draft strategies. Group think psychology plays a huge role in drafting and analysis of players and their roles can allow you to be well ahead of the curve when identifying and selecting players that have slipped through the cracks.
Another important factor for players slipping in drafts is off-season player movement that provides an increase in role over the statistics the player produced the year before. Read this as many coaches look at last year’s stats when ranking players, failing to accurately account for a trade or signing that could provide a significant boost to production. Another factor to remain mindful of is an event that has affected a players production, such as an injury or poor offensive line play that was likely an anomaly resulting in less production than expected.
It’s still early, but I’m finding some intriguing options appearing.
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
Dez Bryant, WR DAL
One exception to my desire to find later round players is Dez Bryant. With your first round selection, you don’t want to reach, you don’t want to guess. With that first selection, you need cold, hard, production. Bryant’s 2015 performance falls squarely in the anomaly category. He, himself, was injured as was quarterback Tony Romo. Both facts, together, wildly reduced his numbers across the board in targets, receptions and touchdowns. With an ADP outside the first round and other names such as AJ Green, Mike Evans and Amari Cooper going ahead of him, I’ll happily bank on a return to greatness from Bryant. In order for this to occur, I have to believe that both his injury and Tony Romo’s status are no longer question marks and I’m extremely comfortable with both.
Blake Bortles, QB JAX
Would you believe that Bortles was the third overall fantasy producer in 2015? All the talk surrounds Bortles regressing in 2016 and this is a safe assumption considering his stellar production, but another 4,200 yards and 35 touchdowns is not out of the realm of possibility. I’d bank more on the fact that there’s a good chance of a decrease in his interception total of 16. Either way, Bortles’ eighth round ADP is intriguing should he fall much below this level. One only need consider his returning receiving corps., the maturity and chemistry with Julius Thomas and now the addition of Chris Ivory to develop some level of confidence that a repeat performance is possible. I’m not about to say that Bortles needs to be over-drafted much before round eight, but I’m buying anywhere after this round.
Markus Wheaton, WR PIT
Wheaton makes for a perfect “change of situation” selection. Currently slotted at the WR57 behind other receivers such as Nelson Agholor, Phillip Dorsett, Josh Gordon, and Tavon Austin, Wheaton will be likely thrust into a starting role due to the suspension of Martavis Bryant. As a part-time player over the past two years, Wheaton averaged 82 targets and 700 yards. As a full-time player in 2016, targets will rise and fantasy production will rise accordingly. I’m comfortable with selecting Wheaton in the seventh to eighth round in start-up drafts meaning that his value gets very intriguing in round nine. Better yet for Wheaton is that Bryant’s return isn’t a sure thing which could provide for long term value beyond 2016.
Tom Brady, QB NE
Brady is currently a tenth round selection in many leagues and, much like Bortles, was the second ranked fantasy point producer in 2015. I believe coaches often overthink aspects of their drafts, thinking too long term in their approach or missing an opportunity to augment a young team with veteran production. A selection of Brady is the perfect complement to the addition of a young quarterback for the future, while getting you top production for a couple more years. I wouldn’t select Brady as a long term answer but in the tenth round, you can’t go wrong if you want a chance to compete out of the gate with your drafted team.
Julius Thomas, TE JAX
I’m well known (at least in my own mind) for saying that if you can’t get a top-ten tight end, then don’t reach for one after the first eight to ten are off the board. The great part about this is that there is a lot of opportunity to get a top-ten player without having to do so within the first nine rounds. Thomas is another situation where his 2015 performance has him off-the-radar, at least to a degree. Current ADP shows Thomas as the TE12. This even though his 2015 performance produced a TE17 ranking. Consider the fact that Thomas essentially missed six games, add his average production back into this total and you get an approximate TE3 performance. For a tenth round selection, but climbing, there’s significant value here. When drafting tight ends, also be sure to keep track of how many other coaches already have their primary tight end. This is an easy way to squeeze out another round or two should you be the last coach without a tight end with one such as Thomas still on the board.
DeMarco Murray, RB TEN
I’ve never been on the Murray bandwagon as I always felt his hype never truly equated to his ability. In one year with the Cowboys, he proved me very wrong before settling back into complete anonymity after signing in Philadelphia. Now I believe there’s been an over-correction in the other direction as Murray heads to Tennessee. Current ADP shows Murray as the RB31 and an eighth round selection. I wouldn’t select him as one of my top two running backs, but his value falls well ahead of this current ranking, at least in my book. Much like Doug Martin in 2015, Murray as the third back on your roster could very well produce as your RB1 for three years. That’value is hard to pass up. Yes, he will have competition for carries in Tennessee but he’s a lock for the lion’s share of touches and I like his chances to produce well in this young offense.
Eric Decker, WR NYJ
Decker has produced greater than 80 receptions and double digit touchdowns in three of his last four years. There’s a question mark at quarterback but all signs point to Ryan Fitzpatrick returning for at least one more season under center. He’s no spring chicken at 29 years of age, but as a sixth round ADP selection, he’s a steal. I’d be more than comfortable selecting Decker as my upside-WR3 or WR2 a round or two earlier. It’s tough to get his kind of production coupled with consistency at his current value and I’d certainly be adding him before some receivers that are going to be off the board ahead of him such as Emmanuel Sanders, Michael Thomas, John Brown and perhaps even Michael Floyd. He’s a great complementary piece that too many forget about.
Doug Baldwin, WR SEA
The sexy play here is to join all the talking heads that exclaim Baldwin’s 2015 campaign is unrepeatable and a complete anomaly. For some reason, there is almost no one that believes Baldwin can be anything similar to Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, yet many comparisons exist. In my article from earlier in the year, I suggest otherwise. I will agree that this is a bold play and I can’t pound my fist on the table in the sixth round, but should Baldwin remain on the board at/near his current ADP value, I’m likley buying for sheer upside, especially in PPR leagues. One side is correct here on Baldwin’s prospects and we won’t know which until later this year, but he has the stats and consistency over the last half of the season toward making a compelling argument for why he can be bought. He doesn’t need to produce at his 2015 level to be a very valuable receiver.
Agree? Disagree? I hope you enjoyed this piece and will chime in with your thoughts below!
Follow me on Twitter: @DLF_Jeff
- RealTime Fantasy Sports Partnership: Live Superflex Dynasty Startup Draft and Strategy - June 7, 2022
- 2022 Post-Combine Dynasty Rookie Draft Tiers - March 10, 2022
- 2022 Combine Risers & Fallers - March 6, 2022