Friday, August 25, 2017

Fantasy Football 2017: 20 Undervalued Players Compared to Fantasy Football ADP

As Mike Tyson once famously said, "[e]veryone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth."

Even if I go into a draft with a preferred strategy, it's more important to be able to adjust on the fly as the draft is playing out. Regardless of the strategy you use to construct your roster(s), every fantasy owner should try to maximize the value they get from each individual pick.

The more value you accumulate throughout your draft(s), the more likely you are to win your league(s).

Ultimately, the players I would select are based on my top-200 fantasy football cheat sheet (PPR cheat sheet), but my goal with this post is to highlight players I consider undervalued in terms of average draft position (ADP) compared to my rankings.

For purposes of this exercise, we used consensus ADP data from FantasyPros. Therefore, the players below may be a better value on one site compared to another.

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With that said, here are 20 players that are currently undervalued compared to their average draft position (ADP):

QB - Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 78, QB10)

In our fantasy football mock draft per day series, there's one quarterback I tend to roster more than all other quarterbacks combined: Marcus Mariota. A value in both relative and absolute terms, only four quarterbacks -- Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan -- appear higher in my fantasy quarterback rankings than Mariota.

Throwing for 3,426 yards with a 26-to-nine TD-INT ratio while rushing for 349 yards and two scores last season, the dual-threat quarterback scored the 12th-most fantasy points in 2016.

Especially from Weeks 5 to 12 last season, however, we really got a glimpse of Mariota's upside. A weekly top-11 fantasy QB in all eight of those games, Mariota scored more fantasy points than any other quarterback during that stretch. Only Brees (24.5) scored more fantasy points per game than Mariota (24.19).

Granted, the Titans are a run-first team -- only Dallas and Buffalo called a run on a higher percentage of their plays last season. But the Titans have worked to put the pieces in place for Mariota to take a major step forward in his age-24 season.

Not only do the Titans have a top-four offensive line (via PFF), but they used three top-100 draft picks on pass-catchers in the 2017 NFL Draft. In addition, they signed Eric Decker after he was released by the Jets. Not only has Decker scored double-digit touchdowns in three of his past four full seasons, but Mariota has been virtually flawless in the red zone: 33 TDs and zero INTs in his two seasons.

With an improved supporting cast around him, the sky's the limit for this ascending quarterback.

QB - Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (ADP: 144, QB17)

No team threw fewer pass attempts than the Bills (474) in 2016 as Taylor threw for less than 200 yards in more games (nine) than he reached the 200-yard mark (six games). In addition, he was without his best playmaker (Sammy Watkins) for half the season.

Despite those less-than-ideal conditions, Taylor still managed to finish as a top-eight fantasy quarterback in 2016.

Clearly, the turnover within the receiving corps this offseason shouldn't be classified as a positive, but there wasn't a huge dropoff with Watkins out of the lineup last year. In fact, he averaged slightly more fantasy points without Watkins (18.20/G) than he did with him (17.91/G).

Finishing as a weekly top-15 fantasy quarterback in 12 of 15 games, Taylor's rushing stats were a huge boost to his fantasy production and consistency. In his two seasons as a starter, Taylor has rushed for 1,148 yards and 10 touchdowns -- more than six fantasy points per game from his rushing stats alone.

More of a streaming option than an every-week starter, Taylor has the potential to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback even without Watkins.

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 145, QB18)

Unlike the Titans and Bills, who both have top-10 offensive lines according to PFF, the Bengals have the second-worst unit in the NFL behind the Seahawks after losing two of their best starters in free agency this past spring. That said, the Red Rifle has the best group of skill-position players at his disposal since he has entered the league.

First of all, he gets back injured studs -- A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, who have missed 35 combined games over the past three seasons. Then the Bengals used two early picks -- John Ross (first round) and Joe Mixon (second round) -- in the draft to give him and the offense more weapons.

Dalton has finished as a mid-tier QB2 (QB16-18) in each of the past three seasons, but a part of that mediocrity has been the injuries to the team's pass-catchers. That 16th-18th range should be his floor, but there is plenty of upside if his pass-catchers can stay healthy this season. In other words, there's virtually no downside from his current ADP, but plenty of upside.

TE - Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP: 37, TE2)

A relative lack of touchdowns is the only concern with Kelce. Despite his talent, Kelce has yet to score more than five touchdowns in any season. He was targeted 16 times in the red zone last season -- only three TEs were targeted more inside the 20 -- and coach Andy Reid has said that the Chiefs will try to target him more often in the red zone.

“Well, he is pretty good in there,” Reid said [of Kelce in the red zone]. “But we can use him even a little bit more and just keep staying creative with it.”

Setting career highs in receptions (85), yards (1,125) and 100-yard games (six), Kelce led the position in fantasy points scored despite scoring only four touchdowns. With Jeremy Maclin now in Baltimore, Kelce should be even more of a focal point of the passing offense and has a chance to finish as fantasy's TE1 even if Rob Gronkowski plays a full season.

Even though I have Gronk ranked ahead of Kelce, I'd take Kelce 8-10 picks earlier than his current ADP.

TE - Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 97, TE10)

Over the past two seasons, Ertz has a minimum of 75 catches and 816 yards each season and has closed the season strong both years. Over his final five games last season, Ertz caught 40 of 54 targets for 443 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps someone should tell him (or the coaching staff) that Week 1 is really Week 13.

Seriously though, trading away Jordan Matthews is a positive for Ertz's fantasy outlook even though the Eagles have added Alshon Jeffery (and Torrey Smith) to the receiving corps.

TE - C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans (ADP: 258, TE28)

As much as Houston's offense struggled last season, Fiedorowicz had a breakout season instead. Starting in Week 4, Fiedorowicz began an 11-game stretch with three-plus catches starting as he set career highs across the board (54/559/4) in his third season. With a young starter in Tom Savage (or rookie Deshaun Watson), the 25-year-old tight end could post similar production in 2017. While his upside may be relatively limited, few players at any position are more undervalued overall than Fiedorowicz, who is currently the TE28 in ADP and the TE16 in my rankings.

Continue: Undervalued Fantasy RBs | Undervalued Fantasy WRs

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