It’s fantasy football draft season! We just released our NFC edition of the best ADP (average draft position) value per team, so here’s the AFC version.
(The ADP being used is FantasyPros’ half-point PPR)
Denver Broncos: TE Noah Fant, ADP 119.5
I’ve always been a fan of Noah Fant; his incredible athletic ability in his skill-set reminds me of Evan Engram (hopefully Pat Shurmur can get a bit more out of Fant). Here are some statistics about his former Hawkeye teammate George Kittle; in Kittle’s rookie season, he recorded 43 catches on 63 targets, for 515 yards, 2 touchdowns, in 15 games on 359 routes. Fant’s rookie season looks very similar: 40 catches on 63 targets, for 562 yards, 3 touchdowns, in 16 games on 349 routes.
The next season was Kittle’s breakout year. This does not necessarily mean Fant is in for a gigantic breakout. He doesn’t have the luxury of Kyle Shanahan and he’s a different player in a different situation, on an offense with a lot of mouths to feed. While all that is true, it’s difficult to deny Fant’s upside.
His elite testing numbers at the combine, along with his production in college, and a strong finish to his rookie season, suggest that he could be poised for a 2nd-year breakout, and he’s currently going as the TE 13. Fant is a high upside target for the tight end position. He’s going to be a mismatch nightmare for teams that will be forced to respect Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy on the outside. I can easily see Fant being a top 5 tight end selection in 2021 fantasy drafts, so get him at a value now.
Kansas City Chiefs: WR Mecole Hardman, ADP 147.5
It can be difficult to find fantasy value on the most prolific and popular offense in football, but Hardman presents an incredible value if something were to happen to Tyreek Hill. The star receiver suffered a slight hamstring scare during training camp but seems to be fine for week 1 against the Texans. However soft tissue scares can be tricky and can linger.
Andy Reid moved Hardman to the slot last season and the rookie receiver ended up ranking second in yards per route run, and for the most touchdown receptions with 6 from that position. The issue with Hardman is stand-alone value if Hill remains healthy. He was able to amass a frustrating, yet productive when he boomed, rookie fantasy campaign, where he failed to eclipse a 30 percent offensive snap share. He’s great for best ball, and worth a shot in the later rounds, but a Hill injury would open up so much opportunity for this young player.
Las Vegas Raiders: WR Bryan Edwards, ADP 199
Edwards can be drafted in the last round of some fantasy drafts and the steady drumbeat has only become louder throughout the Raiders beat. Especially now after Tyrell Williams landed on the I.R. In a loaded WR class, Edwards fell to the 3rd round due to offseason surgery.
Las Vegas is in desperate need of competent receiving options, but Edwards will provide this to the team, despite being a rookie. Although the team drafted Henry Ruggs II in the first round, I wouldn’t be shocked if Edwards turns out to be the more productive fantasy receiver (especially in PPR leagues). QB Derek Carr has always been a lower aDot QB and the presence of Ruggs will command deep coverage attention, which should open up more opportunities for Edwards and TE Darren Waller underneath.
Los Angeles Chargers: RB Joshua Kelly, ADP 234
This pick may take a bit to develop, but Austin Ekeler is going to split time with Justin Jackson (ADP 181), Kelly, or both, but I’m believing in the overall skill-set of Kelly. Melvin Gordon III and his 184 touches are now gone, and Kelly will benefit from his absence, along with Jackson as well. In deep bench leagues, dynasty, or best ball, draft Kelly and be happy about it. In re-draft, you can take a late-round flier, but it may take a bit to see how the Chargers will utilize these three backs. If an injury happens to Ekeler and/or Jackson, then I believe the skill-set of Kelly will rise and be a huge fantasy asset for teams.
With that stated, I have to also mention Keenan Allen (ADP 51) as a great value; in a lot of drafts I’ve done, Allen continues to slide because people don’t want him without Phillip Rivers, but I feel they’re overlooking Allen’s ability. I’ve found Allen at the back end of Round 5 going into Round 6, and that’s a bit egregious. Sure, he doesn’t have Rivers, but he’s 28 years of age and will be funneled targets with Mike Williams missing early time.
Don’t be shy about drafting Ekeler (ADP 21) either; since the start of the 2018 season, Ekeler ranks 6th in yards after contact, and from Week 5 on last season, he ranked fifth in fantasy points. He won’t be a true workhorse, but he’s going to be the clear-cut featured back if his body holds up through the season.
Baltimore Ravens: WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, ADP 78.5
The two big issues with Brown are injuries and targets; he had 65 receptions but was able to have 584 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns, 6 coming from the slot. The passing rating for Lamar Jackson was elite when targeting Brown who played through injuries most of the season. He ranked seven7th in fantasy points per snap for WR - a true home run threat with huge breakout potential.
Brown being available in the seventh round is such a value. Last season he played around 60 percent of the snaps but I figure that to increase with improved health, and another year in the system. If you’re in the seventh round of your drafts and you see Brown available, smash the draft on the young speedster.
I also want to bring J.K. Dobbins to the conversation. If John Harbaugh’s comments about Dobbins having an early significant role don’t edge Dobbins up draft boards, then I like the value of the talented Buckeye at 98.5. Dobbins was a dual-threat at Ohio State and had over 2,000 yards rushing last season. The Ravens spent a second-round pick on Dobbins and Mark Ingram isn’t getting any younger. He’s at a value and can be a huge asset to your team if something happens to Ingram while having some stand-alone value as well.
Cincinnati Bengals: WR Tyler Boyd, ADP 78
Going around the same time as Hollywood Brown (I’d take Brown in this instance), but I do find myself selecting Boyd often in mock drafts. According to FantasyPros’ half-point format, A.J. Green is going at 71. I like Green, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen him productive on an NFL field and he started this training camp off with a soft tissue injury (in this scenario, if you want to be risk averse due to the construction of your team or if that’s you philosophy, go Boyd).
The addition of Joe Burrow obviously will improve the Bengals’ 2019 offense. What I love about Burrow was his proclivity to target the slot position last season at LSU with Justin Jefferson. Boyd plays the vast majority of snaps out of the slot and had a solid 2019 season; he led the team in targets last season with 142 and he was seventh in the NFL in yards per route run, despite having a sub-10 yard aDot. He received the volume, and I believe the volume may dip a bit with the addition of a healthy Green and rookie Tee Higgins, but 120 targets in a higher-powered offense with a QB that loves to throw to the slot isn’t terrible at pick 78. If Green proves to be unhealthy, then Boyd will exceed value once again.
Cleveland Browns: RB Kareem Hunt, ADP 74.5
Hunt served his long suspension and rejoined the team in week 10; from that point on, he was the RB 24 (an RB two) in points per game, with RB Nick Chubb being RB 23 with a minimal difference. The funny thing about that is Chubb is being drafted as the RB 8 and Hunt the RB 29. I believe Chubb is the more valuable asset, but this discrepancy is too much.
Hunt has reportedly been working out with the wide receivers and head coach Kevin Stefanski has talked about utilizing both backs interchangeably. Hunt ranked second on total missed tackles on receptions. The new coaching staff will employ Hunt on the ground and through the air. Nick Chubb was very injury prone at the University of Georgia. If he suffers an injury this season, Hunt becomes a plug and play top 10 RB - no questions asked. He’s a good value right now at a volatile position.
Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Diontae Johnson, ADP 112
From Week 14 through the end of the season, Johnson was the 12th best wide receiver with no Big Ben. He was a rookie last year in a terrible situation, but he showed separation quickness and an ability to overcome bad circumstances. Johnson tied Deebo Samuel with the most forced missed tackles at the WR position, and he ranked 15th in YAC as a WR.
The presence of Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster, as well as Eric Ebron, give me a little pause, but Big Ben has sustained multiple fantasy options in the past. I expect Johnson to exceed his ADP and possibly creep into a reliable starting WR in three WR leagues.
Buffalo Bills: RB Zach Moss, ADP 135.5
With just Devin Singletary (ADP 59) in the picture, I’ll take the value of Moss every day of the week. However, I like Singletary as a player well and he proved to be a reliable rookie, after dealing with early hamstring issues. If this is a 60/40 split to start the season, I’ll take the 40 from Moss. I believe the value will be exceeded, and there’s a reason why the Bills spent a Day 2 pick on Moss.
Last year for Utah, Moss ranked 10th in yards after contact per attempt and had the 2nd most broken tackles in the FBS. Plus, he caught 28 of his 31 targets for the Utes and he figures to fill in for the Frank Gore goal-line back role. He has pass-catching and goal-line upside, and he’s super cheap. I believe in the talent and the opportunity can only increase. Moss is being drafted as the RB 45 and Singletary the RB25...that’s an unusual disparity for me.
Miami Dolphins: WR Preston Williams, ADP 155.5
Yes, the mid-season ACL tear was very unfortunate for the former UDFA out of Colorado State, but Williams proved a lot in his short rookie season. His 35.7 percent target rate in the red zone is eye-opening, as is his 20 percent target share with his QB under pressure; the latter statistic suggests that Williams is proficient at finding ways to allude coverage when things break down.
The reports seem to suggest that he’s fully ready for the season, whereas fellow Dolphins’ WR DeVante Parker (ADP 53) has missed several training camp practices. A lot of drafts I’ve seen recently had Parker in the 7th round, which is excellent value, but 53 could be a stretch, due to other receivers I like being drafted in that area (Chark, Metcalf, McLaurin).
Williams has a gigantic frame, on a mediocre team that trusts him in the red zone. When on the field last season, both Williams and Parker were comparable with their fantasy output. People are sleeping on Williams again, and you should look to add him late in your coming fantasy drafts.
This format has Cam Newton at 203, that should be enough said; and I get it, it’s a complicated system and Newton hasn’t been healthy in a while, but the noodle arm that doomed him seems to be fixed by surgery. He’s got great velocity on his ball, and he’s paired with Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick.
McDaniels is going to come up with an offense that will cater to Newton’s skill-set, and I feel Newton will have a big role near the end zone. I don’t foresee an injured Jarrett Stidham starting over a healthy Cam Newton in 2020. He’s a great addition to a superflex league. If the 31-year-old former MVP is half of what he was a few years ago, then you’re still getting great value.
New York Jets: WR Jamison Crowder, ADP 129.5
Who is QB Sam Darnold throwing the football to? Everyone is dealing with some sort of ailment: Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims, Vyncint Smith...they’ve all been banged up or are missing significant time. TE Chris Herndon IV (ADP 178), a sleeper I like, has at least returned to practice, but good ole reliable Crowder will be a target monster for Darnold.
In half/full PPR leagues Crowder has such a high floor. While his ceiling is a bit capped, I still believe he’ll easily surpass the WR 45 mark that he’s currently being drafted at. His 122 targets are attainable again, on a team that will be throwing and chasing some points. I love this value for Crowder.
Houston Texans: WR Will Fuller V, ADP 88
DeAndre Hopkins and his 146 targets have been shipped to Arizona, opening up more opportunity for Fuller, a player that’s had success with DeShaun Watson in the past. Fuller’s biggest problem is health; he’s missed 21 games in his four-year career and has dealt with several lingering injuries. If Fuller can stay healthy, he’d be an excellent selection, but that’s a dangerous rope to walk. I’m willing to take a flier on Fuller’s upside in Round 7.
I also believe Brandin Cooks (ADP 99) and even David Johnson (ADP 51) are solid additions as well. Johnson was RB 8 ranking 6th in yards per route run for Arizona; an injury derailed his season and he was shipped out of town in a head-scratching trade to the general manager of the Texans, who is also the head coach, Bill O’Brien. Johnson is going to have plenty of opportunities in an offense that Carlos Hyde had relevant fantasy production in last season.
Indianapolis Colts: RB Jonathan Taylor, ADP 40.5
The Colts didn’t spend a second-round pick on Taylor to have him only get 10 carries a game. Yes, Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines will be annoying this season, but Taylor’s ability is so far superior that the production will be better than the value. The year may start with a 1a and 1b combination, with Hines sprinkled in on third down, but by the end of the year, it’ll be Taylor’s team on a dominant run offense.
Indianapolis had the fifth-highest rushing percentage last season and their offensive line is incredibly skilled. Phillip Rivers is also a check down monster who gave Austin Ekeler 104 targets and Melvin Gordon 54. He’s an uber smooth, Saquon Barkley prototype, that ranked third in the FBS in missed tackle attempts during the 2019 season. Taylor is going to propel himself into the first round of 2021 fantasy drafts.
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Laviska Shenault Jr, ADP 226
I love DJ Chark at 53, but Shenault is a lesser-known name that could have significant value at the backend of drafts. Jacksonville spent a second-round pick on the dynamic, Deebo Samuel, type of receiver who is built more like a running back. Shenault dealt with injuries in college, which is one reason why he wasn’t a top 20 selection, but I can see Jay Gruden having a lot of fun with this versatile weapon.
Jacksonville just sent Leonard Fournette packing, although he could have jogged to his next destination in Tampa Bay, which opens up more opportunities for talented playmakers on the offense. Laviska Shenault Jr. is that talented playmaker. In deep bench leagues, you should draft him, but it may take some time for him to break out of his shell.
As inefficient as Fournette was, his 95 targets and 265 carriers will have to be dispersed between Ryquell Armstead, Devine Ozigbo, and Chris Thompson, a Gruden favorite. Shenault will earn snaps in this dual role. If he can stay healthy, then he’s going to be a fantasy commodity by mid-season.
Tennessee Titans: TE Jonnu Smith, ADP 158
On the real, I like a lot more tight ends then Jonnu Smith at this range in the draft. The Titans are a heavy run-first, dominant time of possession, type of squad. second-year wide receiver figures to be the main focal point of the passing attack, with Corey Davis as the No. 2. Smith will be the third receiving option in a low volume passing situation. I’d personally rather have Hurst, Jarwin, Hockenson, or Herndon IV than Smith, but I won’t be having many Titans on my fantasy roster outside Brown.