Last month, the Redraft Roundtable team gave you a list of overvalued players for 2018. These were guys who have high ADP’s this season or players that we are staying away from because of their bust potential. Now, Anthony Zaragoza, Mitch Lawson, Aaron Larson, and John DiBari give you their picks, at each position, for players that should produce above their value and give your team the edge this season.
Don’t forget, tweet your questions to @DFF_Redraft or at any of our Roundtable experts using #RedraftRoundtable throughout the season, to have your questions answered on this column.
Which Quarterback is undervalued this season?
Anthony Zaragoza: Blake Bortles. Regardless of what people may think of Blake Bortles in real life, the former UCF star continues to produce in the fantasy world. What makes Bortles a nice late round value is his ability to run the ball. He won’t rush for 550 yards like Russell Wilson, but Bortles has gained at least 310 yards in all four of his NFL seasons and has rushed for 7 touchdowns total since 2015. For a player who has finished as a top 15 quarterback each of the last three seasons, Bortles current ADP of QB24 is a steal.
Mitch Lawson: Ryan Tannehill. His value is super low right now thanks to missing all of 2017 to injury, and preceding that with a relatively disappointing 2016. In 2016, his disappointing season could be chalked up to injury, low TD% due to Ajayi’s emergence and the scheme that Clyde Christensen had him in. Before 2016, Tannehill was a solid Fantasy QB, finishing as the QB11, QB10, and QB15 in 2013-15. Dowell Loggains is not much of an upgrade at OC, but Tannehill has a pass catching RB, adequate weapons, next to no QB competition and decent career numbers. Right now his ADP sits anywhere from QB29 to QB33. He’s a lock to give you value at that ADP.
Aaron Larson: Depending on the format, Ben Roethlisberger is going somewhere between QB14-16. He finished as the QB10 in 2017 and the only major change to the offensive weapons is swapping out the unreliable Martavis Bryant for rookie James Washington. JuJu Smith-Schuster should take a step forward after an impressive rookie year, and perennial fantasy studs Antonio Brown and Le’Veon aren’t going anywhere this season. He isn’t a flashy pick, but Big Ben should have no problem finishing as a top 12 QB in 2018.
John DiBari: Eli Manning. I could have said Tyrod Taylor for all the same reasons I’m saying Eli, but Tyrod has the No. 1 overall pick breathing down his neck, so I’ll stick with the Giants’ signal caller. Eli is currently being drafted as the 24th quarterback off the board, and I don’t understand. If everybody is high on OBJ, Shepard, Engram, and Barkley, then how can they not be high on Eli too? If they are all expected to have good years, who do people think will be throwing them the ball?
Which Running Back?
Anthony Zaragoza: CJ Anderson. Currently going in the ninth round in 12 team leagues, CJ Anderson is a bargain for any fantasy owner this season. What makes Anderson a great value pick in 2018 is his potential role in this Carolina offense. Anderson will take over the “Jonathan Stewart” role, a role that saw Stewart rushed the ball 198 times last season. If you factor in Anderson’s 4.1 YPC from last season, that’s 812 yards rushing with that workload. Not to mention, Anderson should see some receptions out the backfield as well. Not bad for a guy going as a RB41 in drafts this offseason.
Mitch Lawson: I’ll go with Chris Carson for the Seahawks. All reports out of camp are that Carson is dominating the drills, and appears to be working as the Seahawks lead back. You might easily dismiss this by bringing up the fact that the Seahawks drafted Penny with their first-round pick, but you shouldn’t. Pete Carroll preaches competition above all else. Nobody gets handed anything in Seattle, and it doesn’t matter how much you’re paid, how much draft capital was spent on you, etc. You need to be the best guy possible. The Seahawks showed it last year when they started Carson over Free Agent Eddie Lacy and incumbent Thomas Rawls. They did it when they started Russell Wilson over big-ticket Free Agent Matt Flynn in 2012, and they did it by assembling a receiver corps comprised of UDFAs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, instead of hanging on to Golden Tate or showcasing Sidney Rice. So, if history shows us anything, it’s that Chris Carson’s success in training camp could very well translate to a big role in 2018.
Aaron Larson: Frank Gore has left Indianapolis, taking his 261 carries and 38 targets with him. Marlon Mack is going to be given every chance to replace him, yet he is being drafted as the RB31 in PPR drafts and trending downward! I get it, Mack wasn’t super efficient as a rookie, but on pure volume alone he should be a top 24 running back. The Nyheim Hines hype train may be gaining speed (I am on board that too by the way), but Hines wasn’t drafted to be an every-down back. Mack will be the lead back in Indy but is being drafted behind complimentary backs like Dion Lewis, Tarik Cohen, and Tevin Coleman, which just doesn’t make sense to me.
John DiBari: The easy answer is Lamar Miller because Lamar Miller is the answer to this question every year. If you want to dig a little deeper. I’m going with Austin Ekeler. Currently, the 60th running back being taken with pick 188, that puts Ekeler in the 15th-16th round range. Last year, as an undrafted rookie, Ekeler managed to finish 45th among fantasy running backs in PPR scoring and finished the year with 27 receptions, over 500 all-purpose yards and 5 touchdowns. He probably won’t hit my lofty goals for him, but I don’t think a Danny Woodhead-esque 80 catch, 1,000-all-purpose yard, 9 score season is unattainable. The loss of Hunter Henry might turn Ekeler into the team’s primary red-zone weapon out of the backfield.
Which Wide Receiver?
Anthony Zaragoza: Tyler Lockett. I am drinking the Tyler Lockett kool-aid. Lockett is finally healthy and has the potential to be the teams #2 target in 2018. Gone from last seasons team are 174 targets and 16 touchdowns, because of the losses of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson. Seattle didn’t draft any wide receivers this past April and made only one offseason move in the WR department (signed former Giant, Brandon Marshall). Therefore, the former All-Pro return specialist is a safe bet to improve his targets from last season (71) and get really close to 100 in 2018. For a guy you can get in the 12th/13th round, I’ll take that potential any day of the week.
Mitch Lawson: Ted Ginn Jr. – He’s 33, sure, and the Saints have a new weapon in Cameron Meredith. But Ginn is still going to likely lineup opposite Michael Thomas in one of the most pass-happy offenses in football. Cameron Meredith will likely operate as a slot receiver, which leaves Ginn plenty of room on the outside to work. He was the WR34 last season, and despite still being a primary wideout for Drew Brees he is being drafted as the WR70 right now. I think he offers tremendous value as a guy you can take as a late round flyer.
Aaron Larson: Kenny Stills just keeps putting solid fantasy seasons, but he never gets the respect come draft season. Over his five year career, he’s averaging 717 yards and 5.2 touchdowns per season. He also doesn’t miss games, playing in at least 15 games every season of his career. Maybe it’s the DeVante Parker truthers, maybe it’s the arrival of Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola. Whatever it is, Stills is being drafted as the WR51 in half PPR leagues right now, despite finishing as the WR27 in that format in 2017. That means you can get a high end WR3 at a WR5 price. That alone should be enough proof that Stills is being woefully undervalued yet again.
John DiBari: I am not a Sammy Watkins fan. Never have been, and probably never will be. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, I’m grabbing an obscene amount of Sammy Watkins this year. He’s currently being drafted as WR30, 74th overall- that’s a late 6th, early 7th round pick. Which in my opinion is insane. He’s a WR1 on an Andy Reid offense with a young gunslinger at quarterback on a team whose defense got worse. Watkins was being taken 56th overall last season and 20th overall the year before that. If that doesn’t scream value, nothing does. He’s a steal at his current ADP.
Which Tight End?
Anthony Zaragoza: Ben Watson. Ben Watson’s time in Baltimore has run out, but the former first-round pick signed with a team he is very familiar with this offseason. Watson is now back with New Orleans, the same team he played for when he had his best season as a pro, back in 2015. That year, Watson caught 74 passes, had 825 yards and scored six touchdowns for the Saints. Drew Brees is comfortable with Watson and should give the 13-year NFL veteran enough targets to finish in the top 15 among TEs for the second consecutive season. The price for Watson? He’s going as the 21st TE and in the 13th/14th rounds in 12 team drafts. I’m all over that.
Mitch Lawson: Delanie Walker is as dependable a TE as you can ask for, but is overlooked due to his age. He has totaled at least 800 yards in each of his last 4 seasons and finished last year as the TE4 in PPR despite only catching 3 TDs (He added a 4th on a rushing attempt). His reception numbers improved in 2017 and very well could again this year. Since I’m also of the belief that Mariota will take a step forward, I am expecting about a 75 reception, 850 yard, 5 TD season from Walker. That would have put him at TE4 last year, which is fantastic if you take him at his current ADP of TE8.
Aaron Larson: Charles Clay is a solid tight end that should be force-fed targets from a young quarterback on a team that will likely be facing a negative game script the majority of the season. If you don’t want to spend early draft capital on a top-tier tight end your best option may be to wait for Clay at the end of your draft instead of reaching for an unproven option like Trey Burton or taking a risk on injury-prone Jordan Reed or Tyler Eifert. Clay might not win you any weeks, but he shouldn’t put up any goose eggs either in an offense that will likely lean on him at times.
John DiBari: Jordan Reed is finally being priced appropriately given his injury history. In his 5-year career, he has yet to play a full 16-game season. I realize he is unlikely to play 16-games this year, but as TE10 going in the 7th/8th round, he gives you just as much upside as the top-3 at the position, who are all being drafted in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. If the injuries scare you, handcuff him with Vernon Davis (also criminally undervalued) who will be available in the very latest of rounds as the 34th tight end being taken.