Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Fantasy Football 2018: 12 Undervalued Players Compared to Current ADP

Regardless of the strategy you use to construct your roster(s), the goal of every fantasy owner should be to maximize the value they get from each individual pick.

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

In this post, my goal is to identify several players that are undervalued compared to their current average draft position (ADP).

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. In addition, it's not an exhaustive list.

Embed from Getty Images

Here are 12 players undervalued compared to their current fantasy football ADPs:

QB - Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 121, QB16)

Since taking over for Drew Brees as the starter in 2006, Rivers has finished as fantasy's QB16 (or better) every season except for 2012 (QB21). Over the past five seasons, Rivers has finished as the QB6, QB12, QB11, QB14 and QB8, respectively, and he's finished as a top-12 option in eight of the past 10 seasons.

In other words, it would take a historically bad season for Rivers (by his standards) to be the equivalent of what's currently expected.

The durable starter has thrown for a minimum of 4,286 yards and 28 touchdowns in each of the past five seasons. During that span, he's averaged 4,491.4 yards and 30.6 touchdowns per season.

While the difference from QB10 (Kirk Cousins) to QB17 (Jared Goff) in my 2018 Fantasy Football QB Projections is only 3.04 fantasy points, Rivers (QB11) is only 0.44 fantasy points behind Cousins. That said, Rivers is going 51 spots, on average, after Cousins (ADP: 70).

QB - Alex Smith, Washington Redskins (ADP: 142, QB20)

With a fantasy cost half that of Cousins, Smith is coming off the best fantasy season (QB3) of his career. Even though that was the first top-12 fantasy season of his career, the value bar has been set low for Smith to clear.

Not only has Cousins finished as a top-eight fantasy quarterback in each of the past three seasons, Jay Gruden coordinated Cincinnati's offense in 2013 when Andy Dalton finished as the QB5. So, in other words, Gruden has coached a QB8 (or better) season in four of the past five years.

Averaging a career-high 8.0 Y/A last season, Smith threw for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns, both of which were career highs. One of the league's more mobile quarterbacks, Smith has rushed for 350-plus yards in three of the past five seasons with 10 rushing scores over that stretch.

Will he finish as fantasy's QB8 next season? Most likely no, but a top-12 season is certainly within reach.

RB - Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (ADP: 50, RB23)

Ingram is ranked only two spots (RB21) ahead of his ADP (RB23).

Projected for 163.84 (standard) fantasy points in my projections, that equates to an average of 13.65 fantasy points per game (over 12 games). Granted, the suspension reduces his overall production, but only 11 running backs are projected for more points per game than Ingram.

While durability is a concern with all running backs, Ingram has played a 16-game slate in back-to-back seasons. Rushing for 1,000-plus yards with double-digit total touchdowns in both seasons, Ingram has 154 catches over the past three seasons.

Of course, Ingram will cede work to super sophomore Alvin Kamara. And you'll have to find a replacement for him during the suspension, which isn't a big worry for me, but once he's back, you get a low-end RB1 at the cost of a low-end RB2.

- MORE: New Orleans Saints 2018 Fantasy Football Projections

RB - Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots (ADP: 100, RB38)

Eighteen touchdowns. That's what LeGarrette Blount scored only two seasons ago.

That's not what I expect Burkhead to score, but New England's backfield will get its fair share of goal-line opportunities and I expect Burkhead to handle the majority of them.

In his first season with the Patriots, Burkhead missed six games. In the 10 games he played, he scored eight touchdowns -- five rushing and three receiving -- on 518 yards from scrimmage and 30 catches.

Perhaps first-round rookie Sony Michel will get an even larger workload than I expect, but I have Burkhead currently projected for just shy of 200 touches (194.1), 1,000 YFS (996.8) and double-digit TDs (9.7). That level of production places him as my RB24 in standard-scoring formats and RB20 in PPR formats.

RB - Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 146, RB48)

Joe Mixon is a top-15 back in my rankings and Bernard may not be a starter for owners in standard-sized leagues. But he does represent value compared to his current ADP.

Mixon missed some time, but Bernard was highly productive down the stretch. In five December games, Bernard had 507 YFS, averaged 4.75 YPC with 24 receptions and two scores.

Projected for 813 YFS and 45 receptions, Gio offers late-round value as a back that could return flex value.

RB - Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 241, RB68)

Who should get excited to roster a 35-year-old change-of-pace back coming off an injury-shortened season?

Perhaps nobody.

Before last season, however, Sproles finished as fantasy's RB29 in 2016. In fact, he finished as a top-36 fantasy back in five of the six seasons before last year's lost season.

Granted, he isn't getting any younger. And Jay Ajayi is set to get a much larger workload and Corey Clement is a competent complement.

The Voice's Jimmy Kempski expects Sproles offensive snaps per game to decrease. Earlier this year, however, NJ.com's Eliot Shorr-Parks wrote that "it would not be surprising at all to see Sproles near the top -- if not at the top -- of snaps" (among the team's RBs).

Not worth drafting in standard-sized formats, Sproles could still exceed value in deep(er) leagues or find himself worthy of a waiver-wire addition at some point during the season.

WR - Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (ADP: 47, WR20)

Coinciding with Peyton Manning's first season in Denver, Thomas broke out in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, DT exceeded 90 catches and 1,400 yards and scored double-digit touchdowns every season. Since then, his yardage totals have dropped each year — from 1,304 (2015) to 1,083 (2016) to 949 (2017).

While Case Keenum is no Peyton Manning, he does represent the team's best quarterback situation since Peyton.

Last season, Keenum had a career year as he helped both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs turn in top-20 fantasy performances. Thielen ranked fifth in the NFL with 1,276 yards on 91 receptions.

Granted, we won't see a return to the 90/1,400/10 days we saw earlier in his career, but an 85/1,120/7 season seems reasonable with better quarterback play. Only 11 receivers are projected for more fantasy points than Thomas in my 2018 projections.

WR - Michael Crabtree, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: 68, WR27)

Released by the Raiders, Crabtree spent the past three seasons as the 1(b) to Amari Cooper's 1(a) in Oakland. Now with the Ravens, the veteran wideout finds himself alone atop the pecking order for targets.

The team's top three leaders in receiving -- Mike Wallace (52/748/4), Ben Watson (61/522/4) and Jeremy Maclin (40/440/3) -- are all gone from last year.

Like Thomas above, Crabtree is coming off a disappointing season (58/618/8). Crabtree isn't a guy that will stretch the field, but he should be peppered with targets as "the guy" in the offense. With 25 touchdowns -- eight or more each season -- over the past three years, only four receivers have more receiving touchdowns than Crabtree during that span.

- MORE: Michael Crabtree 2018 Fantasy Football Profile

WR - Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 65, WR26)

Injuries slowed Davis all of last season. The top-five pick managed to post a very pedestrian 34/375/0 regular-season line over 11 games.

Healthy this offseason, the second-year wideout has a chance to make major strides.

Jim Wyatt recently wrote, "Davis looked smooth during the offseason, snatching the ball out of the air with ease in traffic. He went up high to make some spectacular catches. The Titans are counting on Davis to make a big leap in Year 2."

WR - Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 139, WR51)

Over the past two seasons, only Larry Fitzgerald (216) and Antonio Brown (207) have more receptions than Jarvis Landry (206). Even with the volume thrown Landry's way, Stills has been highly productive.

During that two-year stint, Stills has racked up 100 catches for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns and has finished as a top-30 fantasy wide receiver both seasons.

With Landry now in Cleveland, there could be even more opportunities for Stills even though the Dolphins signed Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson. Either way, Stills should easily outperform his current WR51 ADP.

WR - Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 182, WR63)

Lockett played a full 16-game slate last season, but he was never quite 100 percent. Another year removed from a gruesome leg injury at the end of 2016, Lockett is now 100 percent.

Finishing as fantasy's WR53 (PPR's WR56) last season, Lockett ended the year with 45 catches for 555 yards and two touchdowns and added 58 rushing yards and a return score.

With Paul Richardson now in Washington (D.C.), Jimmy Graham now in Green Bay and the uncertainty of what the Seahawks will get from Brandon Marshall, Lockett has breakout potential in 2018.

WR - Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 221, WR72)

When Keenan Allen missed nearly all of 2016, Williams had a breakout season — 69 catches for 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns. With Allen playing a full 16-game slate and putting up monster numbers (102/1,393/6), Williams had a respectable, but more modest, 43/728/4 stat line.

Stronger in his first and last four games, Williams struggled a bit in the middle of the season with six of eight games of 27 yards or less from Weeks 5 to 13. That said, he still managed to finish as fantasy's WR41 (PPR's WR45).

Perhaps another Williams (Mike) emerges as the team's No. 2 receiver, but the loss of Hunter Henry (and Antonio Gates) means we should see more three-WR sets from the Chargers. Assuming good health across the board, last year's numbers could be his floor, but I think a modest improvement without Henry/Gates seems reasonable.

2018 Fantasy Football Rankings:
More of our content:
Keep track of our site's updates: follow us on Twitter and/or LIKE us on Facebook.