We are in the peak of hype-season, and for every player that shoots up in ADP, there is one who falls. Remember to take all hype with a pinch of salt. This time of year we are inundated with positive reports from beat writers, coaches, and even players. Coaches need to be positive about their players, players are always going to big-up their teammates, and beat-writers need clicks. I will be selecting a starting line-up of currently over drafted/overhyped players and pit them against a team of under-drafted players, position by position. These under-drafted players are players who I think are not only a better value but can also out-score their over-drafted counterparts in 2018.
I’m going to be comparing players by current ADP on Fantasyfootballcalculator.com and filling up a QB-2RB-2WR-TE-WR/RB FLEX line-up with full PPR scoring. As a refresher, my roster so far and accompanying links to those articles are below:
WR1 = Marvin Jones
RB1 = Jordan Howard
RB2 = Lamar Miller
Now let’s fill that WR2 role.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
ADP: 31 – WR12
Josh Gordon is somehow being taken as the WR12 at time of writing on fantasyfootballcalculator.com. The last time Josh Gordon performed as a top 12 receiver Disney’s Frozen had just hit cinema screens. After a 3 year hiatus, Gordon did flash a little of his old magic upon his triumphant return to the league. He re-entered fantasy relevance just in time for the fantasy playoffs, showing just enough in Week 12 to fool people into starting him for the rest of the season. From weeks 12-16 He finished as the WR29, averaging a pedestrian 10.5 PPR points per game. Gordon does have one of the best seasons of all time on his resume, but this was at a time when his competition was David Nelson and Greg Little.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the Browns have perhaps the most talented offense in the NFL. I have never been a fan of the ‘too many mouths to feed’ cliche, but with Hue Jackson insisting that Tyrod Taylor will be the Browns QB to start 2018, you have no choice but to think this is the case in Cleveland. Taylor has never attempted more than 436 passes in any season. With Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Corey Coleman and Duke Johnson all vying for targets, projecting any one of them to have over 100 targets with any certainty is almost impossible. Gordon is currently being drafted at the top of his range of outcomes, going well ahead of several players with a lot cleaner paths to 100+ targets in Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Amari Cooper and Larry Fitzgerald, all of whom I would take before even considering Gordon.
Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans
ADP: 137 – WR53
Rishard Matthews is a player with a very clear path to 100+ targets. Marcus Mariota was hit hard by regression in 2017, falling all the way from 26 passing TDs to only 13 in 2017. Despite this, Matthews had a respectable season, 53 receptions for 795 yards and 4 TDs. This was good enough for him to finish as the WR37 even though he played just 13 games, averaging 11.9 PPR points per game. If he would have maintained this pace through 16 full games he would have finished as the WR19. Matthews had 109 targets, 65 receptions, 945 yards AND 9 TDs in 2016, and was on pace for 104 targets, 64 reception, 957 yards & 5 TDs in 2017.
Corey Davis is the only competition in town for Matthews and has already shown fragility in his short NFL career, missing 5 games in his rookie year with a hamstring strain. In 11 games Davis saw 65 targets, catching 34 for a disappointing 375 yards and no TDs. Extrapolated over 16 games Davis would have totaled 94 targets, 49 receptions, and 545 yards. Matthews and Davis saw the field together in just 9 games in 2017, and in these games Matthews had 54 targets to Davis’ 53, but vastly out-produced him.
Both Matthews and Davis should demand 90-100 targets given last years usage, and if Davis were to miss time again Matthews may even see 100-120 targets. Mariota is due for some positive regression so improving on his 4 TDs in 2017 should not be difficult. With a full season, Matthews has an absolute floor of a WR3 with high WR2 upside if everything goes his way. Rishard Matthews is the standout value of 2018