Russell Gage: The Most Undervalued WR in Best Ball Drafts

by Jackson Sparks · Sleepers

Remember Russell Gage‘s late-season breakout in the putrid 2021 Falcons’ offense? His three WR1 performances through the final six weeks of the season weren’t enough to get fantasy gamers excited about Tom Brady‘s newest weapon in Tampa Bay. When you dive into his advanced stats and metrics in the context of the lifeless Atlanta offense, the excitement level should pick up.

Underdog ADP

Russell Gage is going off the board at the WR47 spot according to Underdog Fantasy’s best ball ADP. Frankly, his ADP is asinine considering he finished as the WR31 in Fantasy Points Per Game a season ago and his situation has dramatically improved. With Chris Godwin‘s injury situation and Tyler Johnson‘s aversion to earning Tom Brady‘s trust, we have an early-season ADP smash candidate on our hands.

To put the ADP into context, he’s being drafted right in the area of Chase Claypool, Jameson Williams, Christian Watson, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

In summary, the players in this range are: a receiver who announced his replacement on draft night, a player coming off a significant injury and catching passes from Jared Goff, an FCS rookie with a mediocre breakout age, and a field stretcher with a career-best 14.6-percent Target Share.

Russell Gage Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Are we sure the shiny new rookies Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave will outscore him? Sure, fans of PlayerProfiler know we love to lean into the uncertainty and chase ceiling outcomes. But there is no Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson in this 2022 receiver class. Let’s embrace certainty here and take the guy catching passes from the GOAT.

Keep the receipts. Gage will outscore all of the guys mentioned, and it won’t be close.

The Case for Russell Gage in 2022

There is nothing impressive about Russell Gage‘s prospect profile. But his 2021 resume checks boxes the guys being drafted around him cannot.

Can He Command Targets?

Check. Russell Gage ranked No. 25 among qualified wide receivers with a 22.0-percent Target Share. Yes, the Falcons receiving corps was a disaster post-Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, but he exceeded that coveted 20-percent figure. He also posted a 16.6-percent (No. 19) Hog Rate.

Is He In a Top-Tier Offense?

Check. Last season, Tom Brady and the Bucs ranked No. 1 in Pass Attempts, Deep Ball Attempts, Red Zone Attempts, Pace of Play, Air Yards, and of course, Passing Touchdowns. The Buccaneers proved last year the passing game won’t slow down in a positive Game Script situation, either. The trio of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown combined for 12 WR1 weeks despite the flurry of missed games.

Will He Win Weeks For Your Fantasy Team?

Check. Russell Gage will take Chris Godwin‘s place in the slot while he’s inactive. Savvy fantasy gamers know the value of Brady’s slot-flanker. Gage had a 47.3-percent (No. 12) Route Win Rate in 2021, and will win Tom Brady‘s trust. Can’t you see it now?

Two years in a row, we’ve seen the “too many mouths to feed in Tampa Bay” argument flame out. Let’s not even go there. He’ll see plenty of action operating next to Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski (assuming he’s coming back). When Brady cooks, everybody eats.

Are there people out there thinking Tyler Johnson, Cyril Grayson, Scott Miller, or Breshad Perriman will relegate Gage to the bench when Godwin does return? Brady and the Bucs undoubtedly wouldn’t have targeted Gage if that were the case.

Final Word

It’s prudent to dive into the numbers and key metrics to project a player’s prospects in fantasy. But if you want to keep it simple, Russell Gage is locked into no worse than the No. 3 spot in Tom Brady‘s pecking order.

This isn’t just “another Brady receiver” with far too much preseason hype that we’ve all been burned by. Gage is being drafted at his floor, and early on in the year, WR1 spike weeks aren’t out of reach. His ADP may correct itself down the line. For now, let your fellow drafters take Chase Claypool, Christian Watson, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Push the button and cash in on Gage.