Targeting Value: Late Round Redraft Values Part 1

As you get later in your draft and you are making picks to fill out your roster, there are a lot of decisions to make. There will be players you target who you believe can breakout, if you hit they can help lead you to the playoffs and possibly a league title. There are plenty of values to be found, especially at the QB position. It is time to take a look at some guys who are currently going in the 10th round or later in PPR leagues according to as of August 14th. These are guys who are a draft value to me and who I think people should be keeping an eye on as we head into the season. Since all of these guys are going late, they are easy to move on from if they don’t pan out. I am going to lay out how each of these guys could be valuable.

Kenny Stills (11.08)

I don’t believe in DeVante Parker and I do believe Stills is the better WR for fantasy purposes. He was the WR28 in 2017 and since arriving in Miami, he has been the more productive fantasy player. In his 3 career seasons, Parker has 8 TDs and averages 13.7 yards per reception. Stills came to Miami the year Parker was drafted and over the same time frame has scored 18 TDs and averages 15.9 yards per reception. His big play ability makes him more of a boom-or-bust candidate, but it also means on the right weeks he can win a match up for you. Since he is not someone you’re comfortable starting every week, the match ups will need to be monitored. He is also the kind of guy you put in the flex against a team when you need to swing for the fences to win your weekly match up.

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Geronimo Allison (12.04)

Aaron Rodgers is back and he is going to make someone else besides Davante Adams fantasy relevant. Jordy Nelson is gone, Cobb has not been anything better than decent since 2014 and he is dealing with an ankle injury. The Packers did draft multiple pass catching options this year, but Allison has been in the system for 2 years and Rodgers is familiar with him. He has a chance to emerge as a fantasy value, especially if Cobb struggles at all to start the season. Allison has been stuck as the 4th WR in Green Bay since he has been there and he will get the chance to prove what he can do in 2018.

Latavius Murray (12.05)

As the season went along, Murray was seeing a lot of carries in the absence of Cook. He had more carries than Jerick McKinnon and he scored 8 TDs last season. Obviously Cook will be the lead back, but Murray is going to be involved. The Vikings are going to want to keep Cook healthy and fresh for the playoffs and they did pay Murray last offseason for a reason. Murray has shown a nose for the end zone during his career and should see goal line work for what will be a very good offense. Murray is going to help fantasy teams in 2018.

Tyler Lockett (12.08) 

Seattle has 176 vacated targets with Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham leaving in the offseason. Doug Baldwin can’t be the only person Russell Wilson targets this season, plus Baldwin is being held out of the rest of the preseason with an injury. The TE position is a question mark for Seattle and I’m not certain Brandon Marshall has much left in the tank. Lockett should be more involved in the offense and, at the very least, will be a deep threat with the potential to have some big games throughout the season. Seattle had a lot of turnover on defense and they will need to score more to be competitive. Pro Football Focus ranks them as the 24th best run defense and 21st best secondary heading into 2018. Things are changing in Seattle and Lockett will be asked to do a lot more this season.

Peyton Barber (12.09)

Early reports make it sound like both Ronald Jones and Barber are going to be involved in the offense. Jones is currently going about 7 rounds earlier than Barber. Jones is the new guy and has more upside, but if they are both going to get work then Barber is going to be valuable at least to start the season. It means he has the chance to work himself into a bigger role. Even if he is only a guy you can use for a few weeks, he is a good candidate to take if you draft someone suspended like Mark Ingram or Aaron Jones earlier on. There are plenty of people who have raised concerns about Ronald Jones since the draft, so the possibility is there for Barber to lead the RBs for Tampa Bay in scoring.

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David Njoku (13.03)

Njoku is 1 of my 2 favorite targets as I wait on TE in fantasy drafts this season (the other is George Kittle). The QB play in Cleveland last year was bad; they have invested to make sure they are improved in that area this season. Tyrod has a history of targeting Charles Clay in Buffalo and Njoku is more talented than Clay. Rookie QBs tend to use the TE as a safety valve so either QB should benefit Njoku. He caught a TD from both in the 1st preseason game. The quality of the targets for Njoku is going to improve in 2018 and allow him a chance to improve that catch rate and have a fantasy breakout. The Browns offense as a whole will be better and should score more this year, which will allow Njoku to be utilized as a red zone threat. Without Kizer playing QB, the turnovers for Cleveland will come down as well. Everything is pointing to a more successful and productive offense for the Browns and Njoku has the talent to benefit from this in a large way.

Kenny Golladay (13.09)

You can find my in depth look at Golladay here:

This is the first group of guys whom I will continue to monitor their ADP and preseason performance. More potential late round values to follow soon in part 2.

Giant Confusion; The Numbers Don’t Add Up Without Eli

Recently, I’ve recognized a confusing trend. Fantasy analysts are overwhelmingly and appropriately giving love to Odell Beckham Jr, Saquon Barkley, and Evan Engram. Even though they are giving this love to the offensive players, they are still ranking Eli Manning as middling or failing. Even our own Top 2 consensus rankings have OBJ at WR2, Saquon at RB5, Engram at TE4, but Eli Manning is QB23. I conclude that the rankings of these players do not add up OR the fantasy community has the non-QB skilled positions ranked too high.

For a little background to how I came to that conclusion, let’s consider 2017 results.

Hunt (RB4) Tyreek (WR9) Kelce (TE1) Smith (QB4)
Gordon (RB5) Allen (WR3) Henry/Gates (TE5) Rivers (QB8)

As you can see, players who are ranked high at their position equate positively for the QB. I can instantly hear your arguments against my, thus far, simplistic reasoning. Allow me to elaborate a bit.

Projecting Eli’s Floor

I’m not claiming that Eli will be the QB4 like Alex Smith in 2017. We are hard pressed to find a game-manager QB like Smith. He runs more than Eli and he is far more efficient in his interception rate (Last 5 years, Smith has a 1.4% to Eli’s 2.9%). To accomodate these differences, let’s take Alex Smith’s legs and efficiency last season and match them to Eli’s by adding 8 more interceptions while removing 330 yards rushing (subtract 49 points). Alex Smith is still the QB14. We can use this number to project a potential floor.

Projecting Eli’s Ceiling

I think the best argument for how Eli Manning should be ranked based on the projected stats of his receiving targets can be made by looking at Philip Rivers’ results in 2017. Their team makeup of 2017 is almost identical to the projections for the Giants in 2018. They had a clear #1 receiver in Keenan Allen just like the Giants have with Odell Beckham Jr., a clear bell-cow RB in Melvin Gordon (just like Saquon Barkley), and a solid TE combo in Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates who equaled the output of Evan Engram in 2017. Similar to Eli Manning, Rivers makes a lot of passing attempts and throws a lot of interceptions. Also like Eli, Philip Rivers simply does not run the ball.

Using these stats and projections, I believe the ceiling for Eli Manning is QB8 in 2018.

The Missing Game

In Week 13, the soon-to-be-ousted Ben McAdoo benched Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. The game was against a subpar Oakland Raiders defense. Granting Eli Manning a modest game of 250 yards and 2 touchdowns, he would have finished 2017 as the QB16. That’s right, with no running game, a bunch of injured receivers, and a rookie Tight End, Eli Manning would have finished the season 16th overall instead of 23rd.

Final Thoughts

If there are any naysayers or Giants haters who simply cannot project Eli better than a QB20, then those friendly analysts will need to drop their projections of OBJ, Barkley, or Engram. It is quite difficult to have a successful result at all 3 positions without having a successful QB. The addition of Saquon Barkley will take some of those 2017 pass attempts away, but it will also open the field for the receivers. I anticipate that this will improve Eli’s efficiency.

For the record, I have Eli at QB16. I have OBJ and Barkley right around their ADP according to Fantasy Football Calculator, but I have Engram much lower (TE9 as of today). With the addition of Barkley, the health of OBJ, and the skill of Sterling Shepherd, I don’t believe there are enough targets to make Engram as valuable as he was in 2017 when he was the only healthy target left on the team.

There is a potential 2018 where Eli Manning could finish the season as a top 10 QB in fantasy. If other analysts want to keep projecting OBJ, Barkley, and Engram at their current rankings, then they better take a long hard look at their QB rankings and adjust accordingly.

2018 Redraft RB Rankings

To quote Anakin Skywalker, this is where the fun begins. While QB rankings are fine and dandy, the fantasy community cares most about the running backs. My rankings are obviously subject to change and I even feel as if some people should already be moving up or down. However, I feel comfortable enough where everyone is enough to put it out into the fantasy world. Just like my QB ranks, the RB ranks will be split into 7 tiers and the players will be ranked according order they are revealed. So in this case, Ezekiel Elliott would be my RB1 and so on and so forth. So here are my Re-Draft PPR rankings for 2018.

Tier 1: Ezekiel Elliott (1), Todd Gurley (2), Le’Veon Bell (3) and David Johnson (4)

Here are the ELITE guys. If you get pick 1, 2, 3 or 4 in a re-draft league then congrats, you have the option to take one of the top guys at running back if you so please. On top of that, these 4 guys are interchangeable to be honest. They all are so close to each other that any one of them could be the RB1 this season. I won’t spend too much time on these guys because I feel as if everyone knows what they’ll be getting with these 4.

Tier 2: Alvin Kamara (5), Saquon Barkley (6), Kareem Hunt (7), Melvin Gordon (8), Dalvin Cook (9) and Leonard Fournette (10)

My most perplexing argument that I have heard this offseason is that Alvin Kamara can’t handle a full workload… what? Are you serious? This guy is a FREAK. He already is one of, if not THE, top receiving back in the league, which matters because these are PPR rankngs. He also averaged 6.1 yards per carry last season on 120 carries and added 8 rushing touchdowns to his 5 receiving touchdowns. Kamara is the real deal and he will absolutely NOT fall off in that offense. Barkley I’m ok with if you want to take him in the first round. His ADP is currently 1.07 and that’s about where Zeke was going in his rookie year. I doubt Barkley runs for 1,600 yards this year but I definitely think he’s an easy RB1 this season. Fournette worries me because dating back to college he has always been dinged up. I don’t doubt the talent, I just doubt the durability and that’s enough to scare me when talking about first round picks. I expect Hunt, Gordon and Cook to all have very good seasons. They are the alpha dogs in their respective offenses.

Tier 3: Jordan Howard (11), Christian McCaffrey (12), LeSean McCoy (13), Sony Michel (14), Derrius Guice (15) and Devonta Freeman (16)

I’ll be the first to tell you that McCaffrey is not an in between the tackles runner. He will never be that at the NFL level. The fact that a lot of people around the community think he will jut evolve into that this season is dumbfounding to me ESPECIALLY with CJ Anderson in town. Howard is a phenomenal talent who produced in his first 2 seasons in an awful offense. Enter Matt Nagy and I am now a firm believer in Jordan Howard. LeSean is at 13 out of respect for his talent and body of work but let me tell you, I don’t want any part of that Buffalo offense. As for the two rookies, I expect New England to realize that Sony Michel is the best running back they have by week 4 and maybe earlier than that. The fumbles are worrisome but until they happen, I am willing to give Sony and Patriots RB coach Ivan Fears the benefit of the doubt. I think Guice will have a serious chip on his shoulder. He’s THE guy in Washington and I expect him to prove why he shouldn’t have fallen so far in the Draft. Freeman worries me because of the injuries. A RB with his punishing style and concussion history is enough to scare me away.

Tier 4: Jerrick McKinnon (17), Kenyan Drake (18), Derrick Henry (19), Dion Lewis (20) and Alex Collins (21)

Take what I said about Christian McCaffrey and apply it to Jerrick McKinnon. I am not going anywhere near McKinnon and his ADP of 2.09. No thank you to a guy who averaged 3.8 and 3.4 yards per carry the past 2 seasons and that was with a better offensive line than he has right now in San Francisco. I have him this high because I believe in Jimmy G, I believe in Kyle Shanahan and I still think McKinnon’s receiving ability is enough to warrant RB2 territory. Nothing against Kalen Ballage but Kenyan Drake is the real deal and is not relinquishing that job in Miami. He is a VERY good running back and should be given 16 games and a full workload. Believe in Kenyan Drake. Henry and Lewis are tough calls but I fully believe Dion Lewis is the better back. They will make a great real life running back duo but not a great fantasy running back duo. If the Ravens don’t give Alex Collins 16 games as the starting running back then John Harbaugh should be fired and ashamed. Collins was incredible last season when he was finally given a true opportunity to produce.

Tier 5: Royce Freeman (22), Rashaad Penny (23), Jay Ajayi (24), Ronald Jones II (25), Mark Ingram (26),  Duke Johnson Jr. (27), Lamar Miller (28) and CJ Anderson (29)

Denver shouldn’t get cute with their running back situation. Booker is not the answer and Freeman should just be given as many reps with the top offense as possible. I think because of a lack of weapons at the receiver and tight end position, Rashaad Penny has a good chance to be the top option in Seattle and maybe number 2 at the worst due to Doug Baldwin’s presence. Ajayi being in an offense as good as Philly makes me believe he will produce as long as he stays healthy. I’m a little bullish on the Bucs offense as a whole but I do really like Ronald Jones II. The uncertainty at QB plus the coaching is what scares me in his case. Duke Johnson is a slam-dunk pick at his ADP of 8.07. I would take that production all day even with Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde in town. I have no faith in Lamar Miller and the only argument I have been hearing in favor of Miller is that he will be the starter. Sure, the offense is good but the Texans’ offensive line is just that, offensive. I can’t buy into Miller because even with Deshaun Watson playing, he still didn’t perform well. That combined with his ADP means I’m avoiding him. CJ Anderson should be higher in my rankings; I will flat out admit that. I think the split in Carolina is going to be a lot closer than people think and CJ isn’t even remotely close to finished at age 26.

Tier 6: Isaiah Crowell (30), Tevin Coleman (31), Joe Mixon (32), Marshawn Lynch (33) and LeGarrette Blount (34)

I’m going to use the Lamar Miller argument that people are using for Isaiah Crowell here. He is the starter on an offense and his ADP warrants some good value. I’m lower on Coleman than I have been in the past but I really hope Atlanta realizes that Coleman is leaving after this season and they decide to utilize him as much as possible knowing he’ll be elsewhere in 2019. I am floored by how many people are picking Joe Mixon early in fantasy drafts. What on earth were you watching last season and are 2 new offensive lineman in Cincy really enough of a difference for you to think otherwise? I don’t get it at all and I’m not touching Mixon with a ten-foot pole as long as he is under the terrible watchful eye of Marvin Lewis and the Bungles. Lynch actually had a better year than I thought last season. With a revamped offense and new system in place, he might be worth the risk in the late 7th round where he’s currently going. Blount should start out as the lead back in Detroit but I really do wonder how long it will take Kerryon Johnson to surpass him. I think Johnson will end up being the starter by the end of the season; it just depends on when he takes over to decide if he’s worth the roster spot.

Tier 7: Rex Burkhead (35), Tarik Cohen (36) and Aaron Jones (37)

Ok so I feel as if a lot of people view Burkhead as a possible dark horse to be the lead back in New England. I think they have it all wrong. Burkhead is a wide receiver who is listed as a running back. He is more of a receiving threat that can actually run in between the tackles every now and then. He is by no means a lead back. Cohen is being a little overhyped for a couple decent games last season. I think he’s a talented player but I have no idea why he is going ahead of guys like CJ Anderson, Marshawn Lynch and Isaiah Crowell. Aaron Jones is the most talented running back in Green Bay. Yes I mean RUNNING BACK not offensive player (looking at you Ty Montgomery).

Tier 8: Marlon Mack (38), James White (39) and Latavius Murray (40)

The jury is still out on Marlon Mack but the limited sample we saw last year was promising. If Luck returns to form then his job will be a lot easier plus the addition of Quenton Nelson is going to be huge for the Indy running game. I still expect James White to be relevant in PPR formats and he will remain the go-to pass catching back in New England. I expect Dalvin Cook to be managed a bit early on so Murray still retains some value.