The Ultimate Guide to 2021’s Best Underdog Values

by Theo Gremminger, August 29, 2021

Draft season is at a fever pitch. Whether you are participating in The Puppy III, BBM, or the $250 an entry Big Dog, one thing everyone has in common is that they are looking to draft the very best values at ADP. Micro edges in each round can help, but you need to hit on some league winners to win significant cash prizes in a tournament setting like this.

As a reminder, this is best ball, and not redraft. The structure of your build matters a lot as there is no waiver wire to correct inefficiencies on your team. There are other edges you can gain in a tournament setting, such as stacking. Make sure and check out this fantastic piece by Josh Larky. But for this article, I will take a look at the very best values in each round.

Picks 1-12

Christian McCaffrey/Dalvin Cook (ADP: 1.0/2.2)

Do not get cute. When you have a top 2 pick, draft the chalk. CMC and Cook are the values here.

Davante Adams (6.0)

Adams is a no-brainer pick in the mid to late 1st round of Underdog Drafts. He is a lethal weapon in the passing game and unstoppable around the goal line. Few players offer his weekly Fantasy Point Per Game potential, and a 30-percent Target Share is not out of the question.

Tyreek Hill (8.3)

Hill being held out of practice for “knee tendonitis,” is nothing to worry about at this point. I will continue to bet on him receiving 150 targets this season attached to the best QB in football in Patrick Mahomes. He has had a WR2 overall and WR3 overall finish in his career. Look for a WR1 overall finish this season from one of the most explosive players in the league.

Aaron Jones (9.2)

Any worry about Jones was put to rest when Aaron Rodgers reported to camp. He is poised to have a potential career year. Jamaal Williams had a combined 70 catches the last two seasons, look for those catches to go Jones’ way. A.J. Dillon could take some carries, but Jones was never a dominant snap count player, rather an efficient one. He will see many high-calorie touches and set career highs in receptions and receiving yards to go along with his efficient rushing.

Austin Ekeler (12.1)

Ekeler is my favorite to lead all RBs in receptions this season. He displayed great chemistry with Justin Herbert in a limited sample size last season. He is also in a condensed target tree as the No. 2 option in the entire passing game behind Keenan Allen and ahead of mercurial WR2 Mike Williams and free agent TE Jared Cook. Allen and Ekeler look set to command nearly 50-percent of the combined targets. There is no clarity for the No. 2 RB in Los Angeles with Larry Rountree, Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley battling out at training camp. Woof. Whoever wins this competition may receive some carries, but the ever-important targets will ALL go Ekeler’s way.

Picks 13-24

Calvin Ridley (13.4)

Ridley is set for 2019 Michael Thomas type of volume. He should easily see over 150 targets, and he could surpass Stefon Diggs’ league-leading 166 from last season. Target Share wise, he could be set to see 30-percent of Atlanta’s targets. Look for Ridley to improve on a 2020 season in which he had 90 catches for 1,374 yards and 9 TDs.

Antonio Gibson (16.1)

If any RB in this range of the draft can challenge for RB1 overall, it is Gibson. He should smash his 170 carries from 2020 while seeing a bell-cow role on the ground. But what should get fantasy players even more excited would be building on his 44 targets. Expect a lot less J.D. McKissic and a lot more Gibson this season in Washington.

Darren Waller (22.1)

Waller is a lot closer to Travis Kelce than many realize. He is not only the focal point of the Raiders passing game, but their entire offense. Waller has a combined 107 catches the last two seasons with 1100-plus yards in each. He has the trust of the coaching staff as well as QB Derek Carr. Taking him in the second round makes for a potentially lethal build.

Picks 25-36

Allen Robinson (28.8)

Justin Fields is lighting up Bears camp. It seems only a matter of time before he takes over as the starter ahead of Andy Dalton. Robinson will be the focal point of an offense that is trending up. With 200 catches combined over the last two seasons, he is a very safe pick. Expect 150 targets and a chance of improving on his six touchdown receptions from last season.

Tyler Lockett (34.2)

Lockett had a career-high 100 catches and added ten TD receptions in 2020. He finished as WR8 overall and received a massive contract extension this offseason. Some drafters continue to underestimate his potential to smash because of the poor finish for Seattle’s offense to end last season. Take advantage of this fear and draft away.

Picks 37-48

D’Andre Swift (39.0)

The uber-talented Swift is one of the only running backs that could lead his team in receptions this season. In addition to the work as a receiver, he found the end zone eight times on the ground last season as a rookie on only 114 carries. Let other drafters fear the impact of Jamaal Williams and take Swift at a discount. A year from now, he may very well be going in the first round of drafts in all formats.

Brandon Aiyuk (44.2)

Few players finished the season as well as Aiyuk did in 2020. From Week 7 on, he averaged a sizzling 18.4 Fantasy Points Per Game. A healthy George Kittle and Deebo Samuel have kept Aiyuk at a reasonable cost this offseason. If you want a very high upside pick at this point in the draft, he could crush volume projections if he continues to take strides in his second year in San Francisco. Even if the volume does not improve, he could be incredibly efficient on a per touch basis in what should be an excellent offense.

Kyle Pitts (47.0)

Throw the historical rookie numbers away when analyzing Pitts. How many TEs are the first non QB drafted? The Falcons viewed him as the best non QB in this entire draft. Add to that, with the offseason trade of Julio Jones to Tennessee, Pitts could realistically see 125 targets this year. He will be moved around all over the field to set up mismatches, and besides Calvin Ridley, there is no one on the roster that should command a large Target Share.

Picks 49-60

Odell Beckham (56.9)

This is the lowest ADP for Beckham since his rookie season. Fantasy players should have some trepidation, but the risk is baked in when he is drafted at this part of the draft. The talent and athleticism and ability to absolutely dominate a game are still there (watch the highlights against Dallas last season as a reminder). He is the clear cut No. 1 target in Cleveland and could be lethal in their play action passing game. A vintage OBJ season is in play in 2021.

Lamar Jackson (57.8)

A year after fantasy gamers pushed Jackson into the late second/early third round of drafts, he is now available at a price where he could pay off in a big way. To draft him in the fifth round is a great way to compliment any build on Underdog. With a QB1 overall finish in 2019, he has already displayed league-winning ability. The Ravens did a lot to add better weapons for him in the passing game this offseason. Expect him to pass for well over 30 TDs after a disappointing 26 in 2020. Draft with confidence.

Kyler Murray (54.0)

Much like Lamar Jackson, Murray allows you to add a QB that can finish No. 1 overall at his position in the fifth round. He should take major leaps forward in the passing game this season. Last year, he had no preseason or minicamps due to Covid. This year The Cardinals added dynamic rookie Rondale Moore, and veteran A.J. Green to compliment WR DeAndre Hopkins in a strong receiving core. Murray provided fantasy managers 800-plus yards rushing and 11 rushing TDs in 2020. With Kenyan Drake and his 10 rushing TDs headed to Las Vegas, expect Murray to be even more aggressive around the goal line.

Picks 61-72

T.J. Hockenson (61.9)

Hockenson is in a perfect storm of opportunity, talent and potential Target Share. When a TE is the highest-drafted receiver on the team, it usually leads to fantasy success. Darren Waller in 2020 is an excellent recent example. No Lions WR is close to being drafted in the first 120 picks. The 24-year-old Hockenson could jump from around 100 targets in 2020, to a Waller-esque 140 in 2021. He represents a ceiling and floor play combo and is one of the last potential elite TEs available.

Dak Prescott (69.1)

Prescott has slipped recently in drafts due to some injury concerns, but Dallas fully expects him to play an entire season. He has displayed elite talent and production and is attached to the NFL’s best trio of WRs in CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. A healthy Blake Jarwin and the presence of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard at RB should allow this offense to go nuclear. And unlike 2020, we could see high-scoring outputs for an entire season.

Trey Sermon (70.3)

Sermon is starting to move up draft boards and for a good reason. He looks to be the most intriguing RB in San Francisco. The rookie’s usage in the first preseason game was promising. He played 10 of 12 snaps with the first-team offense. Raheem Mostert will threaten Sermon truly taking off, but he has Nick Chubb rookie year type vibes and feels like a player whose role will grow throughout the season.

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Picks 73-84

JuJu Smith Schuster (76.6)

Drafting Juju does not feel exciting anymore, but he has such a high floor at this point in the draft that he should return value. He finished as the WR16 in 2020 and now is being drafted as WR37 overall on Underdog. Profit off of this type of disconnect. Expect 85-plus catches with the potential for even more.

Chase Edmonds (77.2)

This is an unexciting tier for RBs, but Edmonds should have a nice role this season in a big time Cardinals offense. Depending on the structure of your build, he could fit in as a nice RB3 or low RB2. Last year, he finished as RB25 despite Kenyan Drake’s RB16 finish. Now with Drake departed, Edmonds can expect to see even more work despite the presence of free agent signing James Conner. He will not see work inside the five-yard line (one career carry), but should do enough as a receiver and rusher to provide a solid weekly floor.

Picks 85-96

Logan Thomas (88.3)

Thomas is coming off of a career year. Early drafters had apprehension of him maintaining the same role as 2020, but it looks like he will be very much in the mix for valuable targets in what should be a much improved Washington offense. Thomas is one of the more athletic TEs in the league and a matchup nightmare for defenses despite his age.

Picks 97-108

Michael Carter (98.8)

Carter is the most appealing of the Jets RBs and slots in nicely in this draft range. He lacks draft capital (fourth round pick), but is a versatile back that should see a solid amount of targets as a receiver and was highly productive as a rusher at UNC. We seem to see an Adam Gase discount on all Jets, but this is a new coaching staff with an improved offensive line. I am willing to bet on Carter in this range.

Tom Brady (100.3)

Brady is an attractive option in this range. The Bucs return every starter on both sides of the ball. The addition of Giovani Bernard gives him the pass-catching RB he prefers to help them sustain even more drives. With Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown, Brady has some of the best weapons collectively he has ever played with. While he lacks the rushing upside of many other QBs, Brady should pass for a very high number of TDs, and he is an easy player to form stacks with.

Zack Moss (107.8)

Moss is an unexciting pick but should see the most work of any RB in what should be one of the best offenses in football. Depending on your team structure, he could fit in nicely and provide a weekly floor.

Jalen Hurts (108.1)

My favorite QB option in this range. Hurts has immense upside as a rusher and should see designed runs as part of the weekly game plan. His floor should be a low-end QB1, and his ceiling is much larger. If he outperforms as a passer, he could finish in the top 5. His receiving weapons may be unproven, but they are not lacking talent.

109-120

Gus Edwards (109.3)

In the wake of J.K. Dobbins‘ season-ending injury, it’s safe to say Edwards should now comfortably start being taken in the single digit rounds. How high he should be drafted will ultimately depend on whether the Ravens bring in another body, and his pass-catching upside remains limited by his offense and his skill-set. But a starting RB in a high-powered offense should be prioritized while the price is right.

Terrace Marshall (118.3)

Marshall tore up Carolina camp and looks like a potential steal in this draft class. He displayed his big play ability in his first preseason game, catching three passes for 88 yards. Looking to see work in the slot, Marshall is an excellent combination of talent and reasonable ADP, and the sort of risk-reward pick that can help you win a tournament.

Dallas Goedert (119.0)

Goedert has slipped in recent drafts due to the presence of Zach Ertz. At this point after pick No. 100, few TEs offer his potential. Ertz could still be traded, and even if he remains, Goedert should still see a nice Target Share and is a potential red zone weapon. I will bet on the talent at a discounted price.

Picks 121-132

Bryan Edwards (125.7)

Edwards was disappointing as a rookie, but if there is a 2019 D.J. Chark in this class, then the former third round pick could be it. He has received glowing reports from camp, and Derek Carr has spoken on his progress. Edwards broke out at age 17 in the SEC at South Carolina and has tremendous size at 6-3 and 215-pounds. He could be a reliable complementary target to Darren Waller.

Picks 133-144

Sony Michel (136.1)

Michel’s ADP has risen steadily since he was traded to the Rams, but there’s no world in which he should still be selected over 80 spots on average after Darrell Henderson. The Rams have never trusted Henderson in a lead back role, and Michel has been better than people think. Even if they split work relatively evenly, you can take advantage of what is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest value plays if his ADP continues to rest in the double digit rounds.

Tua Tagovailoa (140.9)

Tagavailoa is a potential breakout QB and has several receiving options being drafted at a reasonable price, making the Dolphins one of the easier teams to stack. He can be a very solid QB2 in a two QB build. Pick two receiving options to go with him and you have built a promising potentially high upside stack at a reasonable cost.

 

Players After Pick 150

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ADP 157.6)

MVS looks locked into the WR2 job in Green Bay. He can be frustrating at times, but has big play ability and could fit in well as a late WR for most builds. He is also an easy way to add on to a Green Bay stack.

Giovani Bernard (ADP 160.2)

Bernard still looks too cheap ADP-wise based on his potential role as the pass-catching back in Tampa. If he is the last RB on your roster, his weekly usage should not be a concern to your build, but his potential spike weeks in a loaded offense could be very helpful to your total scoring. He is also a sneaky way to add onto a Tom Brady stack.

Parris Campbell (163.2)

Groundhog day for drafters. Once again, I am excited about the oft-injured Campbell as a late-round flier. He flashed in preseason game one with a 37-yard reception. He looks fully healthy after 2020 surgery for an MCL and PCL.

Byron Pringle (179.9)

Pringle will be part of the Chiefs passing attack. He is a great way to add to a Patrick Mahomes stack, or you can add him onto a Tyreek Hill without Mahomes. He could potentially be the last WR on your roster and would only need a few usable weeks to pay off at this price.

Ty Johnson (205.5)

Taking advantage of ambiguous backfields where a starter could emerge with a last-round ADP is a good way to round out a Robust RB core with an upside flier at the end.

Jerick McKinnon (209.4)

With Clyde Edwards-Helaire already suffering an ankle injury scare this preseason, and having missed games last year to a high ankle sprain, it makes sense to spend a pick in the last two or three rounds on an explosive backup with pass-catching ability in arguably the league’s most explosive offense. It’s worth noting that McKinnon scored a career-high six touchdowns in a more limited capacity last year than most of the Underworld would have liked to see him in. The perfect exclamation point RB to an Underdog draft.