Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. We are less than 100 days away from the NFL Opener, and redraft season is upon us. Drafters everywhere are looking for edges to maximize the strength of their teams.
Fantasy football has become more and more sophisticated. Every year the market tightens, and extracting value becomes harder and harder. But there will always be inefficacies, and players will be mispriced. Last year, leagues were won with players like Stefon Diggs, Darren Waller, and Josh Allen, players who vastly outperformed their ADP and provided league-winning upside at an affordable cost. Using Underdog ADP, I will attempt to identify this year’s best ADP values. Starting with those being drafted among the top 100 players in this format.
Tyreek Hill (ADP: 9.5)
It is time to start embracing Tyreek Hill as a late first-round value. Few players in the NFL offer his weekly ceiling and his ability to demoralize secondaries. Sammy Watkins took his 55 targets and left for Baltimore, and the Chiefs replaced him with (checks notes) fifth-round draft pick Cornell Powell.
Fantasy Points per Snap in 2020?
? Davante Adams: 0.48
? Antonio Brown: 0.39
? Tyreek Hill: 0.38 pic.twitter.com/E7qhqGtQhe
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) March 5, 2021
Hill finished as the WR2 overall in 2020 and the WR3 in 2018. This may be the year he finishes as the WR1 overall. He has never had more than 137 targets in a season. What if this is the year he eclipses 150? If you have a late first round pick, there is no safer play than Cheetah.
Austin Ekeler (ADP: 12.4)
Austin Ekeler is discount Christian McCaffrey and is available 12 picks later. He’s in a perfect situation with the hyper-accurate Justin Herbert targeting him early and often every single game. We have already seen him have a 109-target season (2019), and 100-plus looks to be in the cards again this season. Last year, we saw the Herbert-Ekeler connection account for single-game target totals of 16, 11, and nine twice. Ekeler has top five RB potential, and is almost always available around the 1/2 turn or later.
Antonio Gibson (ADP: 18.9)
If there is a second-round RB that can finish as the overall RB1, it is Antonio Gibson, who should take a substantial second-year leap in production. Last year, he was eased in to start his rookie season, and his teammate J.D. McKissic ranked No. 1 among running backs with 110 targets. Despite all of this, Gibson finished as the RB13 overall in 2020, with a 14.4 (No. 17) Fantasy Points Per Game average.
Washington has been talking up increasing Gibson’s usage as a receiver this year. He can be an explosive two-way back for what should be an efficient Washington offense. We saw his floor last year, but his ceiling is 2016 David Johnson.
A.J. Brown (ADP: 20.5)
Tennessee has 18.5 targets per game available, with a whopping 60-percent of their targets vacated from 2020. As the kids would say, This is A.J. Brown SZN.
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) May 27, 2021
Entering his third year, Brown has the potential to have a 2020 Davante Adams-like smash campaign. He’s a safe bet to increase his 7.5 targets per game average, even with Julio Jones in town. A Hill-Brown start is doable for drafters willing to wait on RB.
Allen Robinson (ADP: 33.6)
Allen Robinson had one of the worst QB situations in the league last season with Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky at the helm, but he still managed to finish as WR9 overall and averaged 16.4 (No. 13 among qualified wide receivers) Fantasy Points Per Game.
Transaction Implication: Dynasty Impact of Allen Robinson’s and Chris Godwin’s Franchise Tags ?
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) May 2, 2021
Robinson is a target magnet with 309 over the past two seasons. Free agent signee Andy Dalton should pepper him with targets for as long as he holds onto the starting quarterback position, but it is the looming presence of rookie Justin Fields that should get everyone excited. Fields is very accurate and can extend plays in the pocket. Simply put, he’s the most talented QB Robinson has ever played with. When he takes over as the starter, we could see Robinson reach new fantasy heights.
Ja’Marr Chase (ADP: 46.9)
In 2019 we saw D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown. Last season we saw Justin Jefferson set the fantasy world on fire, while CeeDee Lamb, Chase Claypool, Brandon Aiyuk, and Tee Higgins all smashed their ADPs. This year, meet the next Teflon can’t miss WR prospect: Ja’Marr Chase.
Is the 4/5 turn too early for a rookie WR? With a player like Chase, I say no. He should immediately step into a 125-plus target role with the potential for more. He is explosive and can win all over the field. The presence of Higgins and Tyler Boyd will not scare me off of a talent like Chase. I am even more inclined to take shots on him in best ball formats like Underdog because I want the smash weeks and can live with some sporadic production (although I do not expect it).
Travis Etienne (ADP: 51.6)
Another rookie cracks the list. The 4/5 turn seems like the floor for a player like Travis Etienne and does not take into account his potential ceiling. We KNOW he will be targeted in the passing game, and he was not drafted in the first round to not see work as a rusher. If he sees a high amount of targets and 180-200 carries, he could smash his ADP. Think rookie year Alvin Kamara.
Lamar Jackson (ADP: 54.0)
Last year, Lamar Jackson was the first QB off the board and went as high as the second round. This year, his price has adjusted after a QB9 finish. He offers the highest rushing floor of any QB in football with back-to-back seasons of at least 1,000 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.
What Lamar Jackson will we see in 2021? ? pic.twitter.com/e3VuHIPFKP
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) May 14, 2021
In 2019 during his QB1 overall season, Jackson threw for 36 TDs, but fell to 26 last season. With the additions of Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins, and Tylan Wallace, the Ravens have upgraded their WR corps. Enjoy drafting Jackson at a discount.
Dak Prescott (ADP: 58.2)
This range is loaded at the QB position. Much like Jackson, Dak Prescott presents QB1 overall upside in the fifth round of drafts. Last year, he was the QB1 over the first four games of the season, only to go down for the season with a crushing ankle injury. After a successful surgery, the Cowboys showed their confidence in Prescott returning to form with a four year, $160 million contract, including an NFL record $66 million signing bonus. He has weapons galore to work with, and should have the best season of his career.
T.J. Hockenson (ADP: 61.3)
The TE market is en fuego this offseason. Travis Kelce is drafted in every first round, while Darren Waller and George Kittle are gone by the end of the second or early third. Drafting these players WILL provide you substantial value at the TE position, but the opportunity cost of taking them will prevent you from being able to take the top RBs and WRs. I will not talk you out of a Kelce, Kittle or Waller, but a player is going three rounds later that can also win you your league in T.J. Hockenson.
At 23 years old entering his third season, Hockenson is in a perfect storm of fantasy production. He has the talent and first-round pedigree, performed well last season, and is the most talented receiver on the team. It sounds an awful lot like 2020 Waller. If he gets 120 targets, he should outperform his current ADP, but there is potential for an elite 140-plus target season. Go and draft him.
Trey Sermon (ADP: 72.8)
Embrace the ambiguity of San Francisco’s backfield. Trey Sermon is a player who could easily see a healthy bump in July and August ADP. The backfield is crowded, but there is no RB on the team that is scary enough to keep him on the bench for an entire season. Sermon is the second-highest draft pick of any Kyle Shanahan-run offense behind only Tevin Coleman. His situation is similar to Nick Chubb’s 2018 rookie season. He can start the year in a committee or on the bench, and by mid-season, he can take over and win leagues. He’s the highest upside RB in this range of drafts.
Curtis Samuel (ADP: 85.8)
Free agent WRs are usually a bad bet in fantasy football, but Curtis Samuel may be the exception. After finishing as WR24 overall last year in Carolina, he signed a free agent deal with Washington, uniting him with his former head coach in Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator in Scott Turner.
Samuel has explosive big-play potential and should see some manufactured rushing attempts as well. He will compliment Ryan Fitzpatrick and Terry McLaurin, and could have the highest fantasy finish of his career. McLaurin is the clear WR1 in Washington, but Samuel can make a strong case at being a 1B this season.
Noah Fant (ADP: 96.9)
Instead of trying to figure out the Courtland Sutton versus Jerry Jeudy target breakdown, consider drafting Noah Fant, who offers the highest ceiling of any TE available after the sixth round. Much like college teammate T.J. Hockenson, Fant has produced when on the field and displayed the talent and athleticism of a player with first round pedigree.
Fant should take a huge leap forward in his third season, and the fact that you can wait until the eight round to pick him is icing on the cake. This may be the lowest we see him drafted for the next few seasons.