With the off-season quickly coming to a close, I thought it would be a good time to look at some data collected by the DLF team over the past few weeks. I’m sure you’re aware that I collect monthly dynasty startup ADP, while Scott Fish mans the rookie ADP. As the final wave of dynasty drafts kick off, I polled the DLF team in an effort to bring you our collective thoughts on the best and worst picks you could potentially make in the early portion of your startup and rookie drafts.
This is the first in a 12-part series that will answer some simple questions, namely “who is the biggest risk?” and “who is the best value?” These are the types of questions dynasty owners ask themselves every time they are on the clock, so hopefully you’ll use this as a guide for the first three rounds of your upcoming drafts.
After addressing risky players in the first edition, this time we analyzed the players considered value picks. For reference, I’ll be using our latest August ADP data, which looks like this:
This time, we had 28 DLF writers participate, giving us a good look at players providing some value, even at this early portion of the draft. Let’s begin with the players receiving no votes, meaning they do not provide much value at their respective draft positions.
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DeAndre Hopkins, WR HOU
The Texans wideout wasn’t chosen by any of our writers as a value, but also only showed up on one list as a first round risk. This tells me our team is comfortable with his current average draft position, which typically finds him coming off the board in the first three or four picks. Hopkins has a new quarterback, but also some new teammates to draw some defensive attention, namely Lamar Miller and Will Fuller. I expect another huge year from the former Clemson Tiger.
Julio Jones, WR ATL
There was no mention of Jones as a value, but he also wasn’t discussed as a risk. Again, this shows his current price as a top four pick is both expected and fair. There’s little concern for Jones, who put up huge numbers even in a down year for the Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan. The only reason to consider bypassing Jones early in the draft is his age, when compared to some of the other top receivers available, but even this is not viewed as a negative.
Allen Robinson, WR JAX
The word most associated with Robinson this off-season is regression and it is a near certainty that he’ll struggle to match his production from a season ago. Maybe it is with that in mind that none of our staff writers chose him as their value pick for the first round. The inevitable dip in his stats could create a situation where fantasy owners over-correct and Robinson becomes a huge value a year from now, but at this point, his early to mid-first round price seems to be just right.
Todd Gurley, RB LA
Considering he was the most popular choice as the biggest risk of the first round in our last edition of this series, it should not be a surprise that Gurley did not get a single vote as a value. As many of our writers previously mentioned, the strategy of waiting on running backs until later in a draft has become so popular that seeing Gurley’s name among the wide receivers almost seems strange.
Rob Gronkowski, TE NE
For many of the same reasons, the Patriots tight end also was not mentioned by any writers as a value. This was a bit surprising to me since he essentially puts up wide receiver numbers and provided his owners with a huge positional advantage. Throw in the fact that he has a late first round ADP and I expected to see his name included on this list.
Antonio Brown, WR PIT
Even with an ADP consistently in the top two, Brown garnered a couple of mentions as a value pick. Both Mo Brewington and Mike MacGregor mentioned Brown’s consistency as an invaluable trait and that makes a lot of sense. Brown had six games as a WR1, or top 12 wide receiver, and another three games in the WR2 range. Those nine games were obviously among the league leaders, with Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham and Julio Jones with ten games each.
Amari Cooper, WR OAK
When recently discussing player dynasty value on Twitter, there were many surprised to see Cooper being mentioned in the same group as some of the other players chosen in the first round. While he may not have proven it yet, the majority of dynasty players are already placing elite level value on the Raiders receiver and two of our writers agree, tabbing him as a value in his current position in the mid-first round. George Kritikos projects Cooper will become a top two overall player by this time next season and considering how the dynasty community values young receivers, it’s easy to agree with him. Also, Dwayne Brown expects Cooper’s targets to maintain at a high level while a potential subpar running game for the Raiders could lead to even better numbers for their star pass catcher.
Odell Beckham, WR NYG
It’s not east to be viewed as both the top overall pick and a value pick at the same time, but Beckham is so good, so early in his career that it is happening. Both Jarrett Behar and Jaron Foster note that Beckham is already among the best receivers in the game and his age acts as a tie-breaker with Brown or Jones. Mike Valverde expects the arrival of Sterling Shepard to make things even better for Beckham while Brian Malone explains that he would be willing to make a big move to the top of a startup draft in order to select OBJ. Brian suggests that a late first round startup pick, along with a third round startup pick would be a potential steal for the 1.01 and the rights to Beckham.
Dez Bryant, WR DAL
Leading a trio of wideouts earning five votes as a value pick is Cowboys top option Bryant. Our writers, including Jacob Feldman, don’t see much of a difference between Bryant and some of the receivers being drafted earlier in the round, making the former a solid value. James Simpson, Kevin OBrien and Eric Olinger also mention how the injury riddled 2015 season has hurt Bryant’s value too much. Finally, Carla Gruse was leaning toward the Falcons star Jones, but opted for Bryant as a later pick in the round.
Mike Evans, WR TB
There are many things to like about the Bucs third-year receiver Evans and five of our writers were in sync when describing those. Bruce Matson, Steve Wyremski, Nathan Powell, Adam Tzikas and Austan Kas all pegged Evans as their value pick and most mentioned the same endearing characteristics, including Evans age, size, production through two season and the presence of quarterback Jameis Winston. Factor in that Evans is often falling to the mid-first or even later and he looks like a home run.
Sammy Watkins, WR BUF
I have to say, I was really surprised by my co-workers here. Not because I don’t like or value Watkins as a dynasty asset, but because the strong arguments made by other writers in the first edition of this series who convinced me that Watkins was a risk as a first round pick. He was the most popular choice in that poll and comes in tied for the second most popular here. The respondents siding with Watkins here note his age and late first round draft position as key reasons to choose him. The writers opting for Watkins included Eric Burtzlaff, Andrew Lightner, Dan Sainio, Jeff Miller and Eric Hardter.
AJ Green, WR CIN
The most popular choice as a value in the first round is the Bengals star, Green, who also received zero votes as a first round risk. Green is expected to see a huge amount of targets with the departure of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones and an injury to tight end Tyler Eifert. It would not be a surprise if he led the league in targets and that is a huge reason he was chosen by our six writers, including Alex Onuschco, Eric Dickens, Dan Meylor, Zach Bahner and Matt Price. Most of this group seem to think Green has fallen down in ADP due to age, but don’t see that as a deterrent for selecting him in the latter portion of the first round.
I really like what James Simpson said, noting that he would take whichever wide receiver is at the bottom of the list as the best value. With the previously mentioned game plan of targeting wideouts early and often, I would tab Sammy Watkins as my value pick. While Bryant is the last of the round, the age difference would push me towards the Bills star and despite concerns about injuries and the offense, I would take Watkins later in the first round every chance I got. With that said, if it were Evans or Cooper falling to that range, they would easily be my choice as well.
In the next installment of this series, we’ll look at some risky players being selected in the second round.
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