With the NFL preseason progressing rather quickly, fantasy football drafts are heating up. I want to go round-by-round and look at players’ value depending on where they’re projected to get drafted. I will look at players in accordance to their average draft position (ADP) provided by Fantasy Football Calculator projections for a 10-team, standard fantasy league.
The first round of fantasy football is pretty much a toss up; these are 10 guys who are expected to have big years. There’s not much “value” for any player here, but I do want to say I expect AJ Green to have a monster year. He’s projected to go in the later half of round one, and the 5th WR off the board. I really like him this year; he hasn’t had one bad year in the league, and he’ll be the clear no. 1 target going into 2016 in an offense that will be without Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones (and Tyler Eifert to start the year).
Jamaal Charles: Overvalued
Let’s not get it mixed up – I really like Charles. But he’s coming off his second major knee surgery, he’s turning 30 in December, and he has two formidable running backs waiting behind him who produced big time in his absence in 2015.
His current ADP is the 4th pick in the 2nd round, and he’s before guys with higher floors like Eddie Lacy and Devonta Freeman. I think Charles can bounce back, he’s done it before; but be cautious. That’s a really high pick to use on a guy who Andy Reid and Co. will likely ease back into his starting role.
LeSean McCoy: Undervalued
McCoy is poised for a big year in Buffalo, a team that led the league with 152 rushing yards per game last year. The contributions of rookie Karlos Williams helped boost those numbers last year, but he’s been released and Reggie Bush is set to be the no. 2 back in Buffalo.
McCoy missed four games last year, but still managed nearly 900 yards rushing, 300 yards receiving and five total touchdowns. Buffalo will be a run-first team, but second-year QB Tyrod Taylor won’t allow defenses to really stack the box. McCoy should have a great year, and he’s a steal in the third round, where he’s projected behind guys like Charles, Eddie Lacy and Devonta Freeman.
Demaryius Thomas: Undervalued
Thomas is being completely forgot about this year in fantasy football. I understand he’ll be without an elite QB, but his numbers speak volumes. He’s played in all 16 games and tallied over 1,300 receiving yards in four straight seasons.
There’s 15 receivers projected to be drafted ahead of Thomas, who has caught 41 touchdowns in the past four seasons. He’ll give you consistent numbers, and he’s constantly on the field. It’ll be hard to pass him up in the fourth round.
Jeremy Hill: Good Value
Hill certainly took a step back in 2015, considering he was ranked way higher going into last season than he is this year. Looking at his numbers, his decline in projection makes total sense. Hill ran for over 1,100 yards on 222 carries (5.1 y/a) in his rookie year, but only 794 yards on 223 carries (3.6) last year.
Even with his decline in production on the ground last year, Hill still found the end zone 12 times in his second season with the Bengals. Fumbles are what has held him back – he’s put the ball on the ground eight times in his two seasons in Cincinnati, a concern that’s caused him to sit on the bench too frequently for fantasy owners likeness.
Regardless of his down year, Hill is still only going into his third year, and he is still going to be the Bengals’ no. 1 running back. Gio Bernard will see time like he always does, so nothing should change in that aspect. Look for the Bengals to run the ball even more now that they’re missing some big passing targets, and you can take the chance on Hill for a pretty good price (5th round, RB19).
Melvin Gordon: Decent Value
Gordon had an underwhelming rookie year, one in which he had NO touchdowns and only 800 yards from scrimmage. But he’s still on a team that will move the ball, and he’s still going to get a decent amount of carries. Danny Woodhead is clearly the Charger’s favorite receiving running back, but you can bet they want Gordon to solidify the bell cow role.
He was on pace for over 1,000 yards from scrimmage last year. He’s worth a look where he’s projected – the last pick in the sixth round.
Chris Ivory: Good Value
There’s a reason Jacksonville acquired Chris Ivory from the Jets and is immediately their no. 1 running back. The guy is coming off his best season yet, and he’ll be the red zone guy for a team that gets there quite often.
Ivory ran for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns with the Jets in 2015, both career highs. He also tallied a career-high 217 receiving yards. I love the Jags offense this year, and I love Chris Ivory being the no. 1 guy. He’s a good pickup in the seventh round.
Duke Johnson: Good Value
Johnson quietly had a nice rookie campaign in Cleveland, but no one’s talking about it because… it’s the Browns. But they should be an exciting (and completely different) team this year, and they should be able to put up a ton of more points under new head coach Hue Jackson.
Johnson caught 61 of his 74 targets last year – and tallied over 530 yards and two touchdowns with them.
The Browns 2016 offense: RG3, Terrelle Pryor, Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon, Duke Johnson. Don’t sleep on the Browns. They may not win a lot of football games, but they could be an exciting offense at the very least. Johnson will be a big reason why, and he’s worth consideration with your eighth-round pick.
There’s a good amount of value in these later rounds, but it’s pretty difficult to choose one guy with confidence. Three names stick out to me: Derrick Henry, Marvin Jones and Sterling Shepard.
Henry has had a promising preseason, and the Titans have made it clear they want to run the ball. He can easily be their red zone guy, and he’ll get a ton of work regardless of DeMarco Murray’s performance.
Jones enters Detroit as pretty much the clear cut no. 2 option. Calvin’s gone, and Stafford has to throw to somebody besides Golden Tate.
Shepard’s a rookie, but the hype is real. This kid can play and will be the Giants no. 2 receiver unless Victor Cruz pulls off a miracle.
Stefon Diggs: Undervalued
Diggs came on the scene in a big way last year, but nobody seems to want to pay any attention. He’s only entering year two in the NFL, and he’s in an offense that is transitioning from a run-heavy approach to a more balanced one. QB Teddy Bridgewater will begin to throw the ball more and more as his career progresses, and Diggs will be his favorite target until rookie Laquon Treadwell takes over the role.
Diggs has been “the most impressive offensive player” during the Vikings training camp. Don’t sleep on him, draft boards are.
Nobody really jumps out to me in round 11 besides two names: Bilal Powell and Travis Benjamin.
Powell came on strong for the Jets last year when Ivory went down, and the same could happen to Forte. Considering Forte’s age, I imagine the Jets won’t run him to the ground – Powell should see action regardless of Forte’s status, and he’ll jump into the no. 1 spot if the veteran goes down with an injury.
Benjamin is a big time deep threat, something the Chargers lack. Keenan Allen will see most of the intermediate work, but Benjamin could find himself a nice role as Philip Rivers’ deep-threat target.
Both guys are worth consideration if you’re weak at either position.
Michael Thomas: Good Value
The rookie out of New Orleans has made a ton of noise this preseason, and he’ll be in an offense that loves to throw. The Saints will be without Marques Colston for the first time in a while, and Thomas has a chance to jump right in and become one of Drew Brees favorite targets.
He’s worth a really good look in the 12th round.
Quite a few names jump out to me in the 13th round: Deandre Washington, Devin Funchess, Dwayne Allen, Christine Michael, Ladarius Green and Spencer Ware.
Washington already climbed the ladder in Oakland – he looks to have the no. 2 running back spot locked up in a presumed explosive offense.
Funchess has made a ton of noise in camp, too, and most notably from his QB. Cam Newton warned us early – don’t be surprised if Funchess leads the team in receiving categories.
Allen is now the no. 1 guy in Luck’s offense. Fleener held him back in prior years, as Allen only saw around 53 percent of action. He should see a lot more with Fleener in New Orleans this season.
Michael has apparently turned a corner, and the Seahawks still love running the ball. Skills always been there, head hasn’t. If he woke up, you should be careful to sleep on him.
Green would have been my favorite here if not for the headache concerns. Concussions aren’t anything to mess around with, but Green is the no. 1 tight end in arguably the most explosive offense in the game.
Ware filled in nicely for the vacant Charles last year, and he’ll see a ton of work regardless of Charles availability. It will be wise to ease Charles back into heavy production, so Ware is a good look here.
Devontae Booker, Terrance West and Laquon Treadwell pose good value in the 14th round.
Booker looks to be locking in the no. 2 spot in Denver, where Ronnie Hillman could be on the way out.
West is in an offense that loves to run the football, and the Ravens still have a good offensive line despite losing one of their best guards to Oakland.
Treadwell is coming around slowly, but he’s still a monster red zone target in a Vikings offense that lacks such options.