Value. In drafts and auctions, it really is the whole ball game. Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Every owner in the league assigns a value to each player on the board. Without knowing how much your competition values the players you covet, you must decide how long you can afford to let your target sit on the market before you pounce. The longer you wait, the more his value goes up. Wait too long, and he’ll get snatched by the next guy. Jump too early, and you could waste value, picking a player who would have sat on the board another few rounds.
The catch with this whole value thing is that – You really have no idea just how much value, you may have squandered or extracted, at draft time. The final tabulation of value can’t be completed until sometime in December, when you’re either making room on the mantle for a championship trophy, or holding that most dreaded end of season ritual…the“Pipe Dream Draft”… Reading over the picks from five months ago, wondering what possessed you to take that guy– with that pick– when that other guy went in the next round, and had a career year.
The following is a short list of players I feel could be that guy. Not the career year guy… The guy you wish you had passed on, in that spot. The guy you overvalued.
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Carson Palmer – QB, Cardinals
Finishing top five in many scoring systems, Palmer was a tremendous value at the position. Finding a top-flight passer near or after round 10 is a massive boost to your odds. Palmer’s current ADP lands him in the 14th round, which is fantastic…IF… you select another viable starter to fill in should he falter. The risk of injury and/or regression are simply too high to rely on him the way you might other top quarterbacks. While his own age and injury history are no revelation, owners must also consider the age – (Larry Fitzgerald and Chris Johnson), and injury history – ( Michael Floyd, Andre Ellington), and a daily double for the artist formerly known as CJ2K), of his supporting cast. The complete lack of a threat at tight end is troublesome. As is his schedule, with two games against Seattle, and road match-ups against the Patriots, Packers, Vikings, Rams and Jets, all weeks you’d want to at least consider another option for your line-up.
Ultimately, I’d be thrilled with Palmer as my QB2, or QB1-A, but I’m not willing to bet my season on him managing this level of uncertainty, and turning in a second straight top five fantasy campaign without hedging my bets. Young passers like Marcus Mariotta and Jameis Winston make good sense for Palmer’s dynasty owners.
Devonta Freeman – RB, Falcons
2015 was a tale of two halves for Freeman. The first half of the year, he was on fire! There was a four-game stretch in which he scored nine of his season total 14 touchdowns. During the same time frame he posted 100 yards rushing in four out five weeks… then someone put a thumb tack in his tires. From weeks seven through 14, he failed to reach the century mark as either a rusher or receiver, managing just one touchdown over this stretch. Eliminate the five-game tear from weeks three through seven, and whats left is a average of 48 yards on the ground and 34 yards in the passing game, with half a touchdown per game. While these numbers aren’t terrible for a RB2 or flex option, they’re not what I need from a player I’d have to select in the mid to late second round. Catching the ball out of the backfield is where Freeman buttered his bread in 2015. There’s no doubt Atlanta will still utilize him in this capacity, but there’s also a host of players in the mix now who will eat into Freeman’s targets.
Reports indicate former Bengal, Muhammad Sanu, has impressed Matt Ryan in camp. Second year man, Justin Hardy, is a player coaches hope can chisel out a role in the slot. And a very pedestrian tight end group got a bit more interesting with the addition of rookie Austin Hooper, easily the most exciting prospect the Falcons have had at the position since the loss of Tony Gonzalez.
None of this factors in an increase in Tevin Coleman’s share of the workload, which is certain to come off of Freeman’s plate. Should Coleman establish himself as the more dangerous choice on run downs, Freeman’s 337 to 87 touch advantage over Coleman could shift into more of a 250 to 175 touch split. Turning the incumbent into an RB2, with an RB1 price tag.
Brandin Cooks – WR, Saints
Round Two. You’re telling me that in both dynasty and redraft formats, that if I want Brandin Cooks, I have to select him in round freakin’ two! Yikes! Entering the 2014 draft, you’d have had a tough time finding a bigger Cooks supporter than myself. I thought the kid was a stronger, tougher version of Desean Jackson. I still do. You have to love his quarterback’s willingness and ability to push the ball downfield, along with Cooks position as the top threat on a Saints team that will need to score to compete. Sure, they’ve added Mike Thomas and Coby Fleener, but neither of those two should scare anyone off of their positive outlook on Cooks. So why has Cooks been included on this list?
For dynasty purposes, what is Drew Brees future in New Orleans beyond 2015? Even if Cooks emerges as a legitimate WR1 this season, he must be handled with the same degree of reservation going forward that many have placed on Demaryius Thomas this year. Certainly a talented player will find a way to get his, but without the elite quarterback to extract the best of his skills, there must be an adjustment to his value. For those focused more on this year, one could find a number of wideouts in the rounds following Cooks slated top 24 draft position, who could likely average just a point or two less per week.
Passing on Cooks in the late second/early third might give you a shot a landing a Top Three quarterback, a position where the difference in weekly points per game will be a bit higher, and still find a solid WR2 with upside after Cooks is off the board. Names like Emmanuel Sanders and Jordan Matthews strike me as players with huge PPR upside, whom you can pick up in the rounds following Cooks selection, and get similar WR2 production at a discount- closer to round five. Each with strong odds of maintaining their production for years to come.
Jordan Reed – TE, Redskins
By most accounts, Jordan Reed is the second tight end coming off the board in drafts, usually somewhere near the fourth round. Nobody will argue his athleticism. An argument could, in fact, be made that he is the best pass catching option on Washington’s roster. Where I take issue is with his selection,(ADP 45.5) , so far in advance of Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce and the other stalwarts at the position, not named Rob Gronkowski.
Compare the seventh round ADP of both Kelce and Walker, to Reed’s position in the top 48 selections. Factor in that each of these players, like Reed, are among, if not the best receiving option on their respective teams. Research the “year-end point totals” for tight ends in your leagues, and take note of how insanely close the final tally is among the top five or six players, (In my league a mere 13 points separated TE1 from TE5, that’s one point per week). Lastly, do not talk yourself into believing Reed will stay healthy for an entire 16-game season. It’s certainly possible, but not likely. At least, not to the point that you should commit major draft capital to acquire him.
It should absolutely be your goal to acquire one of the top six names at the tight end position, and avoid the waiver wire carousel. If you’re looking to take a risk in hopes of landing a high upside player who could outperform his draft position, look at names like Zach Ertz, playing in a tight-end friendly system, on a team with a very suspect receiving corp. A discount is likely to be found with Tyler Eiffert, with recent reports stating he could miss the first month or so of the season. And despite being 31-years-old, Delanie Walker was sorely underused the first half of his career. It’s a rather safe assumption he has at least two more good seasons ahead of him as Marcus Mariotta’s security blanket.