One big element to fantasy football is the ability to extract value during the drafting process; this pertains to both auction and snake drafts, although the latter is dismally more popular than the former. Finding productive players in later rounds can help ascend your squad to a fantasy title.
Last year, players like tight ends Mark Andrews and Darren Waller were drafted incredibly late or went undrafted. But if you were paying attention to beat reporters around the league, and analyzed specific team’s tendencies, late-round fliers would have been more prevalent with these players because there was a steady drumbeat of buzz about their future utilization in the coming season’s offense.
In full point PPR leagues, Dallas’ wide receiver Michael Gallup finished as wide receiver 23, which is a wide receiver 2 (1-12 is generally a WR 1, 13-24 WR2, etc.). Gallup was being drafted as the WR 49, according to ADP...the WR 48 was Donte Moncrief. Chargers’ running back Austin Ekeler was RB 29, with a Melvin Gordon holdout, and finished as the RB 4. Jamison Crowder was being drafted as the WR 54 and finished as the WR 26.
There are countless cases of players being overlooked heading into the NFL season. Some hype is all that - hype, but so many quality, high upside, fantasy options can be had with later picks that are less valuable. I’ll attempt to highlight a player on each team, who’s fantasy success will outperform their current ADP. Here are all the NFC teams:
(The ADP being used is FantasyPros’ half-point PPR)
Arizona Cardinals: WR Christian Kirk, ADP 118
This was a tough choice between Kirk and backup RB Chase Edmonds (ADP 159). The third-year WR spent most of his sophomore campaign dealing with injuries, but I believe that he’s in for a breakout season with Kyler Murray (ADP 54.5) in his second year. I buy into this offense; I love the addition of DeAndre Hopkins, yet his ADP is a bit too high for me (ADP 14.5), but Murray, Kirk, and Edmonds are all at a value.
Edmonds was efficient against in 2019, especially against the Giants, and if Drake suffers an injury (he’s never had a significant workload), then Edmonds will benefit from the light-boxes he’ll see in Kliff Kingsbury’s 10 personnel, spread them out, type of offense. Kirk was targeted 99 times with 68 catches, for 703 yards, along with 3 touchdowns while dealing with injuries.
With presumably more 10 personnel (due to the addition of Hopkins), hopefully, Kirk will man one of the slot positions more often. Last season Kirk ranked 17th among yards per route run when he was operating in the slot. He won’t command target share in the offense, but the passing volume should exceed 100 targets in a high-powered offense, and he can be had at pick 118. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.
Los Angeles Rams: QB Jared Goff, ADP 148
I’m typically on team draft quarterbacks late in one QB leagues (unless it’s an insane value) and I believe Goff is in for a much better season in 2020. Goff’s touchdown rate dipped significantly in 2019. He only recorded 22 passing touchdowns, yet he was tied with Jamies Winston for the league lead in passing attempts with 626.
Two years ago, Goff finished as the QB 6, and he’s been a QB 12 twice in the last three seasons. His touchdown number should increase back to the mean which will result in more fantasy points. I think Goff is an excellent option if you punt quarterback or want a solid number two QB in a super flex league. Seems like a lot of people are sour on Goff, but don’t hesitate to select him late in your drafts.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention running back Cam Akers (ADP 71.5). This is an absolute silly value for someone of his skill-set. The rookie from Florida State should feel at home with Los Angeles, for he didn’t have an offensive line in college either. I think Darrell Henderson (who’s been dealing with a soft tissue leg injury) and Malcolm Brown will be involved which will be annoying for Akers, but I still find myself drafting Akers in the sixth round because I believe the cream will rise. Don’t hesitate to take Akers, especially if you punt RB early in drafts.
San Francisco 49ers: WR Deebo Samuel, ADP 82
I thought about going with Tevin Coleman here (ADP 117), but Kyle Shanahan may be using a three-headed monster at RB with Raheem Mostert (ADP 58) as the “lead guy.” However, I wanted to pivot to Samuel who is rehabbing a jones fracture suffered in June.
The original time frame for the injury was 10-12 weeks, but reports out of camp are raving about Samuel who is sprinting full speed. It’s a situation to monitor, and Samuel can be had a lot later than 82 in most drafts, due to the injury perception. If Samuel can avoid the PUP, which is very realistic at this point, then he’d prove to be a valuable receiving asset, the second option on the team behind TE George Kittle.
Samuel broke out down the stretch of the year. He was frequently utilized in the rushing attack, and he had 94 targets with 67 catches, for just under 1,000 yards, along with 3 receiving and 3 rushing touchdowns. Last year, he ranked second in yards after the catch per reception, fifth in yards per route run, and he tied for the league lead in forced missed tackles in space. It’s risky, due to health concerns. If you like the way you’re team is developing, and he’s available in the double-digit rounds like I’ve seen in multiple mocks, then I wouldn’t hesitate to select Samuel. The WR room of San Francisco has been decimated, but a healthy Samuel will significantly help that offense.
Seattle Seahawks: WR Tyler Lockett, ADP 49.5
I’m not one to bank on efficiency in terms of year to year fantasy production, but Lockett is too good of a value to overlook. The Seahawks star receiver has been uber-efficient the last two seasons; 2019: caught 82 of 108 targets (75.9 percent); 2018: caught 57 of 65 targets (87.7 percent). The efficiency dropped last season but was still excellent. The opportunity expanded and Lockett was well on his way to be a top 8 receiver before a late injury derailed his fantasy production.
The main reason why Lockett is around deep into the fourth round is the presence of D.K. Metcalf, who commands a big target share and led the league in end zone targets (18). Metcalf, who is also an excellent value at an ADP of 54, will look to eat into Lockett’s workload. However, Lockett has proven to have a ton of success out of the slot where he lined up around 70 percent of the time last season. Lockett’s yards per route run ranked seventh from the slot and he’ll still be a huge part of the Seahawks’ game plan.
If offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer allows Wilson to cook, then Lockett’s reliable role as the slot weapon on an ostensibly run dominated offense should still lead to enough targets to be a wide receiver one. His usage in the red zone, with defenses focused on Metcalf, should also lend to more fantasy success. Lockett finished third in the league in red-zone targets and tied for fourth in the league in end zone targets last season.
Chicago Bears: WR Anthony Miller, ADP 158
An ADP this late for Miller is silly, WR 55 come on now! Miller saw a significant target & usage increase from week 11 through the end of the season (averaged 8 targets per game during this time). Now that Taylor Gabriel is no longer in town, Miller is looking to build on a strong finish to 2019 and establish himself as a true number 2 receiving option behind Allen Robinson II.
The pause with Miller is his quarterback; Mitch Trubisky doesn’t move the needle for fantasy football, but Nick Foles might in terms of slot receivers. Foles made Nelson Agholor, a slot receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, a short-term star. Foles targets the slot and Miller ran 529 plays out of that position last season. Out of the slot at the end of 2019, Miller ranked third in targets and fifth in yards per route run.
Miller is also reportedly healthy. He’s been playing through a shoulder injury since he entered the NFL. He underwent surgery after the season and is fine now. I don’t see how Miller won’t exceed this ADP, but I doubt he’s around often at 158, despite what FantasyPros platform states.
I have to also mention RB Tarik Cohen (ADP 108) whose value is also amazing, especially in full point PPR where his ADP is 85. The Bears added John DeFilippo to their coaching staff. Last season, he was the offensive coordinator for the Jaguars; a team that threw the football to the most inefficient pass-catching running backs in the game. Now, DeFilippo is the QB coach and I expect his imprint to benefit Cohen.
Every season Cohen has seen his targets and receptions increase. He had over 100 targets last season and he’s playing alongside an injured, inefficient, second-year running back in David Montgomery. I feel Cohen is undervalued and may even get more red-zone work if Montgomery continues to not get the job done in that area of the field.
Detroit Lions: TE T.J. Hockenson, ADP 144
The top 10 pick exploded in week one against the Arizona Cardinals for a 6 catch 131 yard, 1 touchdown game. That was by far the height of his rookie season. Historically, tight ends take a year to develop and have success.
Matthew Stafford is back for the team which will benefit all pass catchers. The reports that state Hockenson isn’t 100 percent back from his ankle injury have pushed this incredible athlete down the boards, and this could be to the benefit of fantasy players who passed on Travis Kelce and George Kittle.
I would never begrudge anyone for selecting a Kelce or a Kittle, but choosing to not go in that direction can work out as well. Drafting two late-round tight ends like a Hayden Hurst (119), Eric Ebron (162), or Chris Herndon IV (177) can also give the fantasy player an edge. These three, along with Hockenson are late-round values that can pay off. As of now, I would take Hurts and Ebron over Hockenson, due to the injury, but I feel Hockenson may have quality fantasy value this season.
He’s too athletic, talented, and I’ll take the upside with Hockenson when paired with a healthy Stafford. Last season with Stafford, Hockenson was seventh in aDot (Average Depth of Target), and I expect the more downfield usage to only go up in 2020.
Green Bay Packers: RB A.J. Dillon, ADP 172.5
The Packers have shifted to a run-oriented mindset under second-year head coach Matt LaFleur, and they didn’t select the 6-foot-1, 247-pound, RB at No. 62 in the draft for nothing. The impending free agency for both Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones may be one reason, but a rushing team like the Packers won’t be able to help themselves in short-yardage situations.
Dillon is cheap and if Jones goes down, he could get all the valuable touches in a dominated split with Williams. I also think Allen Lazard (ADP 181) is interesting as the presumed number two receiver behind stud receiver Davante Adams. There’s been a lot of buzz about Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimous St. Brown in camp, but Lazard’s value is still solid at that low ADP.
Minnesota Vikings: RB Alexander Mattison, ADP 130
The 2019 third-round selection out of Boise State is one of the premier hand-cuffs to own in 2020. Star running back Dalvin Cook, who threatened to hold out, is in a contract season and looks to bet on himself this season, but Cook has yet to play a full season. He’s always dealing with injures. It would behoove of Mike Zimmer to lesson Cook’s workload and let Mattison feast as well.
The Vikings consider themselves a 2020 championship contender. They’ll need their running backs to be fresh for the playoffs, so why run a more fragile back into the ground? I get that it’s a contract year, but I feel Mattison will have a bigger role this season; maybe not one that’s stand-alone fantasy-relevant, but if something happens to Cook...then the fantasy team that drafts Mattison may inherit an RB 1 on a run dominate team that wants to control the clock.
Dallas Cowboys: WR Micheal Gallup, ADP 75
People are sleeping on Gallup, a player who started last season somewhat slowly because of meniscus surgery that resulted in two missed contests. From Week 10 till the end of the season, Gallup was a top 10 receiver seeing double-digit targets four times throughout that span.
Yes, there’s a lot of mouths to feed in Dallas, but Gallup will be able to see a lot of number 2 corners, while Amari Cooper sees the number one. Honestly, I think it’s well within the realm of possibility that Gallup out-produces Cooper in fantasy, so why would I draft Cooper at 32 when I can get Gallup 43 picks later? Cooper’s stats were a bit better, but the value of Gallup is difficult to ignore. On the season, Gallup ranked 5th in yards per route run and 4th in YAC per reception. His 21.7 percent target share will likely dip, but he should still see more than 90 targets. From Week 9 through the end of the season, Gallup led Dallas in target share, receptions, and receiving TDs.
I also think TE Blake Jarwin (ADP 167) is very enticing. He’s drawing significant praise at Cowboys’ camp and QB Dak Prescott has a proclivity to target the tight end position. Last season, Jarwin had an aDot of over 10 yards on 43 targets as the backup tight end. With Jason Witten gone, he’ll slide into the number one tight end role and command a bigger target share. He’s another breakout candidate at tight end.
New York Giants: WR Darius Slayton, ADP 112
The Giants are interesting in terms of fantasy football. Their defense may be susceptible to some shoot-out games that lead to either competitive matchups through the fourth quarter or garbage time points. Evan Engram is an incredible value at an ADP of 80 (if he can stay healthy) and Sterling Shepard is a solid contributor who has value at the ADP of 136.5, but I went with Darius Slayton here.
Jason Garrett will look to implement a more vertical based offense that may push the ball down the field a bit more than Pat Shurmur’s quick hit, West Coast, style of offense. This transition could bode well for Slayton, who had an aDot of more than 14 yards last season. His 8 touchdowns were indicative of the trust that Daniel Jones has in Slayton, especially when Slayton is one-on-one in man coverage. Defenses will not be able to consistently shade coverage anywhere due to the presence of Saquon Barkley. This should lead to more opportunities down the field for Slayton.
Slayton had 80 targets last season; I expect that to go up modestly, but not too much. However, what I do expect is better than a 60 percent catch rate, and I believe 8 touchdowns is an attainable goal. Ideally, I wouldn’t want Slayton starting as my third WR in three wide receiver leagues, but he’d be a solid first receiver off the bench kind of player. Mind you the Giants start the season with the Steelers, Bears, 49ers, and Rams defenses, so it could be rough at the beginning of the season. Fear not, if you see Slayton on the free agent wire after Week 4, pick him up.
Philadelphia Eagles: RB Boston Scott, ADP 168.5
I could have confidently selected WR DeSean Jackson (ADP 162.5), TE Dallas Goedert (ADP 157), or even WR Alshon Jeffery (ADP 121) as well, but I decided to go with Scott in half-point PPR (although Jackson is a great pick!). Doug Pederson has been known to use more than one running back in his game plans, and I don’t think that’s going to change with the presence of Miles Sanders, who will command the majority of snaps, but Scott will be used.
Scott is going to see snaps in third-down situations; he ranked second among running backs in yards per route run last season, only behind Austin Ekeler, and he was seeing significant fantasy production with Sanders on the field down the stretch of the season. In the last four weeks of the regular season, Scott was targeted 25 times. From week 14 on last season, Scott averaged over 15 touches per game and finished as the seventh-best RB in fantasy football.
Another reason why Scott wins this nomination is the reality of Miles Sanders’ injury. Sanders should be fine, but I have concerns about a true three-down workload with Sanders. Scott earned a role last season, saw work in a playoff game, and the Eagles did not add anyone of significance to the roster. If you go the zero RB strategy, Scott is a solid addition in PPR formats.
Washington Football Team: RB Antonio Gibson, ADP 168
The hype train and steady drumbeat for Gibson have been going on for quite a while. The Swiss Army knife type of player figures to earn a significant role this season, after being selected with the 66th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Gibson has an electrifying ability with the football in his hands and will be a true receiving threat while also spelling an elder Adrian Peterson. In college, Gibson turned 77 touches into 14 touchdowns; that’s efficient, but it’s also amazing.
Chris Thompson rejoined Jay Gruden in Jacksonville and Derrius Guice is unemployed, which opens up a ton of opportunity for Gibson. Reports have been coming out all offseason that Gibson has seen extensive work with the first-team offense. His 168 ADP is probably trending a lot higher than that in current drafts, but he’s a solid addition to a fantasy team right before the double-digit rounds, with a big bump in full-point PPR leagues.
Atlanta Falcons: TE Hayden Hurst, ADP 119.5
Dirk Koetter and his pass-happy offense returned to Atlanta and one of the main beneficiaries was former Falcons’ tight end Austin Hooper, who missed three games and still saw 97 targets while recording 75 receptions for 787 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Matt Ryan loves to target the tight end position, and the Falcons went out to acquire a specific tight end once Hooper left for Cleveland.
The Falcons sent a second-round pick and a fifth-round selection to Baltimore for a sparingly-used former first-round pick. Let’s not forget, that the Ravens drafted Hurst over Lamar Jackson in 2018. The Falcons value Hurst and gave up pretty significant capital for a player with three career touchdowns.
Hurst was drafted in the same year as Mark Andrews, the tight end that won the camp battle. Andrews was the preferred tight end, so Hurst became expendable. Now he’s with Atlanta who loves to target the tight end position, control the middle of the field, and they love to throw the football (third last season in passing attempts). There’s a ton of opportunity to go around for Hurst, and he can be found in the double-digit rounds - an absolute steal.
Carolina Panthers: QB Teddy Bridgewater, ADP 160
Bridgewater is currently being selected as the QB 25, and I feel he will exceed that expectation. I wouldn’t select Bridgewater in one QB leagues but there’s value here in super-flex leagues where he’d more than likely go before pick 160.
Last year the Saints played conservatively with Bridgwater but that may be difficult for Carolina since the Panthers defense is going to force their offense to throw more. Former Baylor coach Matt Rhule is calling the shots in Carolina and he added former LSU offensive coordinator Joe Brady to his staff. Brady just did wonders with first overall selection Joe Burrow on the Tigers way to winning a national championship.
The confluence of Brady, a bad defense, and dump-offs to star RB Christian McCaffrey suggest that Bridgewater may be in for a solid fantasy return, which renders him an option in super-flex leagues.
New Orleans Saints: RB Latavius Murray, ADP 128
Murray was a featured back twice last year for the Saints and he had 33 fantasy points on 31 carries. As of right now, there’s a lot of uncertainty about Alvin Kamara’s status for 2020, due to contract concerns, but it’s unlikely that Murray would earn an every-down role if Kamara is absent, for Ty Montgomery would more than likely fill the Kamara role, to a certain extent, in that situation.
However, if Kamara wasn’t available this season, Murray’s value would skyrocket well beyond the 128th selection in the draft. He has a high touchdown upside and has proven to be reliable in spot start duty. Murray didn’t see a lot of success on the field when Kamara was healthy and active. There are better late-round fantasy options than Murray, but the Kamara situation must be monitored. If the star running back misses time and you can get Murray at this current ADP, that’s value.
There’s been nothing but a ton of buzz about Ro-Jo this off-season. He reportedly lived with his trainer and was a workout warrior through the off-season, training hard in Arizona. He made significant strides last season as well; he was fifth in yards per route run and 16th in tackles missed for RBs.
Veteran Peyton Barber was an annoyance to Ro-Jo fantasy owners last season, but he’s with Washington now, and we all know how Bruce Arians treats rookie RBs (sorry Ke’Shawn Vaughn). This leaves an older LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette to battle with Ro-Jo for touches in a presumed high powered offense led by Tom Brady, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin.
The offense is going to be able to move the football, which will lead to more opportunities in the red zone. Fournette will be a major headache in this area. From Week 12 through the end of the season, Ro-Jo had double-digit carries in every game except one, while seeing 16 targets in that time frame. Ro-Jo’s Round 6 ADP is going to dip significantly after the signing of Fournette. If Ro-Jo slides to Round 9 and is being selected around RBs like Phillip Lindsey then I’d think about making the pick. But if he’s the lead back on this Tom Brady-led offense, then you’re stealing him. If that 37 percent snap share can get up to 50 percent, which isn’t unrealistic, then you’ll be really happy with the value. Let’s just hope Jones doesn’t make any errors to sour Bruce Arians’ view of him playing a bigger role in the offense.
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