Fantasy Football 2014: 20 high-value targets
|07.17.14 at 11:50 am ET|
Let’s take a look at draft value based on a player’s average draft position. It’s a good way to get a quick feel for where the big values might be in drafts when August rolls around. As we like to do at Rotobahn, we’ll be counting the values down from late selections to the early ones. Jim Hackett and I will get into some of these players in Friday’s podcast, so be sure to check that out. For a look at our take on the top 200 fantasy options for 2014, head on over to Rotobahn.com, where you will also find scouting reports on over 60 rookies and early projections for the upcoming season.
ADP data was obtained at Fantasy Football Calculator.
Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns — ADP 224
He’s not being drafted at all in smaller leagues, and you can get him very late in large formats, as his ADP indicates. That’s not bad for a player who could be the Browns’ top receiver in 2014. Frankly, if he stays healthy, I can’t see anybody else on the roster outplaying him. In fairness, that speaks to how underrated Hawkins currently is, but it also speaks to how woefully thin Cleveland is at receiver.
Odell Beckham, WR, Giants — ADP 163
Do not wait until 163 to draft this guy. Beckham, for whatever reason, is being ignored in fantasy circles and we think he’s a potential WR3 in 12-team leagues. As we said in his Rotobahn scouting report, Beckham has perhaps the best hands we’ve seen since we scouted Michael Crabtree. He’s also got all the skills you want a receiver to have, including outstanding agility and speed. He should fit right into the Giants offense and could be a fantasy force from Day 1. He’s a steal at his current ADP.
Justin Hunter, WR, Titans — ADP 159
Hunter’s ADP has risen about 10 spots over the last month … and he’ll jump a bit more before most of us draft, but he still projects as a value this season. He should be ready to take a step forward in 2014, and with Kenny Britt now gone, Hunter’s snap totals should more than double. We expect him to be a starter or an in-effect starter. He has a chance to post double-digit scores if things go well in Tennessee. Hunter is by far the most explosive athlete the Titans have on offense. He has WR1 upside in long-term leagues and has the upside to be a WR2 this year. He should be off the board somewhere around the 100 mark in our opinion. He’s a potential steal right now.
Aaron Dobson, WR, Patriots — ADP 138
This could change, and you may pay a bit more for him in this part of the country, but Dobson is a pretty solid WR3 option in 12-team leagues if he’s healthy — and the news on his foot has been positive lately. If he’s starting at split end, he’s worth a pick closer to 100 overall, and he’d still have some upside there due to his touchdown potential.
Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals — ADP 129
As with Hunter, Jones’ ADP has risen a bit this summer and he’ll move up another round, and perhaps more in the coming weeks, but we still like him at that price tag. He’s a much more complete player than he gets credit for, and he should have no problem holding on to the starter’s spot opposite A.J. Green. He looks like a borderline WR3 to us in 12-team leagues with upside to be more.
Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears — ADP 141
This guy’s ADP is a bit mind-boggling to us. He’s a stud talent in a great offense, and he’s going to see single coverage all year long. Bennett is a big part of the passing game whether the Bears are between the 20s or in the red zone. We expect TE1 numbers if he stays healthy. At 141 overall, that’s a great value. Heck, he’s a value at 100.
Kenny Stills, WR, Saints — ADP 122
Stills played an amazing 61 percent of the Saints’ offensive snaps as a rookie in 2013, and that number is expected to rise in 2014. We’d be shocked if Stills wasn’t a WR3-caliber performer in 12-team leagues, and he has some upside if you draft him at that level. People still are underestimating how good the former Oklahoma Sooner is. If you can draft Stills any time after 100 players have been taken, you are getting a very nice value. We expect his ADP to rise a bit more, and we’ll be keeping tabs on him in camp. Our original scouting report on Stills is worth a look if you are not all that familiar with him.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks — ADP 118
Are you kidding me? I’m blown away by this one. People obviously are concerned about Seattle’s receivers, but Wilson is getting a healthy Percy Harvin back, which more than makes up for the loss of Golden Tate. We also love the Seahawks‘ draft. We are very high on both Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood. Both could pay immediate dividends. There are currently 14 quarterbacks getting taken ahead of Wilson, and while we can make an argument for all of them, we would rather point out that taking Russell Wilson as your QB1 at 118 or thereabouts is highway robbery and a great way to play the QB position this season. We think he’s an utter steal anywhere after Round 8 in 12-team leagues. This is why you wait on QBs, folks.
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams — ADP 111
There’s some risk here, which is why a player with Austin’s absurd talent is available this late. This is an example of fantasy GMs overadjusting to a rookie who performed like a rookie. If you can draft Austin anywhere near his ADP as your fourth or fifth receiver, I think it’s well worth the risk. I’d be shocked if he didn’t improve on last year’s numbers.
Khiry Robinson, RB, Saints — ADP 100
Robinson could be a huge value when you look at the composition of the Saints backfield going into 2014. With Darren Sproles gone to Philadelphia, we see a shift coming. We think you’ll see more power running and play-action with the usual affinity for the screen game. While we still expect Pierre Thomas to have some PPR value, we see a regression from his 2013 numbers. With both Kenny Stills and rookie Brandin Cooks, the Saints will be able to get back to taking big shots downfield off of the power run game and out of their spread formations. On the ground, we expect the Saints to rely heavily on both Robinson and Mark Ingram, but Ingram’s injury history makes Robinson the more appealing fantasy option. He’s a potential steal at 100 overall. Robinson could evolve into a RB2 option in 12-team leagues as the season progresses, but I anticipate flex value in 12-team leagues early on.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings — ADP 99
He can be your starter in any format and most any league size, and you can usually get him in the ninth round. That’s good value for a Norv Turner tight end with talent in abundance. I think we know all the names at this point. The point is that Turner’s tight ends tend to have big years, and we expect a TE1-level campaign from Rudolph unless he gets hurt.
Eric Decker, WR, Jets — ADP 93
The disrespect visited on this player is reaching epic proportions. How many touchdowns does a guy need to score to earn some fantasy love? Do people forget that Decker scored eight times while catching passes from Tim Tebow? Decker is not just a product of Peyton Manning. Getting Decker anywhere near his current ADP is theft — pure and simple. He’s going to be the Jets’ most targeted receiver and he’ll have fantasy value by sheer attrition. Take the former Bronco as your WR3 and enjoy the rewards.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers — ADP 89
Read the tea leaves, folks. The 49ers muddied the waters at most of their skill positions with the additions of Stevie Johnson, Bruce Ellington and Carlos Hyde. While that throws a stick in the spokes of us fantasy GMs, it’s all good for Kaepernick’s value. This year’s model can easily play without Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore or Vernon Davis if need be. They have the depth. CK currently is the 11th QB being taken, and that makes him a stellar value in any league. Right now he is the other QB to wait on in addition to Russell Wilson. We like Jay Cutler, too, and a few others, but with Wilson and Kaepernick, you get youth and healthy track records in addition to great scoring potential.
Terrance West, RB, Browns — ADP 86
This one requires a small leap of faith, but I plan on taking that leap in a few drafts this year if West’s ADP stays roughly where it is. I spent a few minutes with the Towson star at this year’s combine and I was impressed with his businesslike attitude. He was a player with a clear idea of what he needs to do to get where he wants to be. Since I spoke with West, he was drafted by Cleveland, and that means he’ll be running in Kyle Shanahan‘s zone scheme. I like the fit, and with starter Ben Tate‘s injury history, I am looking at West very seriously as a Round 8 investment. You can get a good look at West in his Rotobahn scouting report.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots — ADP 74
Brady was not far off the QB1 pace in 2013, and that was with just about everything going wrong. If you get 16 games out of Rob Gronkowski, I think Brady can be a top-six quarterback. The Patriots retained his most trusted option from 2013 in Julian Edelman, and I like Aaron Dobson’s potential on the outside if his foot proves to be 100 percent by the start of training camp. With the departure of LeGarrette Blount, we see fewer games being dominated by the run and more games with Brady being Brady. I see a bounceback year for fantasy purposes and a nice value if you can get him around his ADP.
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals — ADP 57
This one is a head-scratcher for sure. Floyd has already arrived, folks. He was one of our 2013 breakout candidates. He also plays in an improving offense that should provide him more scoring chances than he saw in 2013. I’m getting Floyd consistently in the fifth round in 12-team drafts, and that’s insane value by our math. We think he has WR1 upside this season and a WR3 floor barring injury. Take him anywhere after Round 3 in 12-team leagues as your WR2 and you will have done well.
Chris Johnson, RB, Jets — ADP 52
If you draft Johnson at his ADP, you are getting a running back who finished in the top 12 in most scoring systems in 2013 despite playing all four NFC West teams. In 2014 the Jets get the NFC North, which is more favorable, to put things mildly. When I reviewed Johnson’s 2013 film, he was still a very fast back. As a Jet, Johnson will yield some snaps and a good portion of goal-line duties to Chris Ivory, but that’s nothing new to Johnson, who has never made his bones by racking up a lot of short touchdowns. The now tight-fisted Jets paid him a lot of money, especially when you look at what free agent backs were paid in 2013. They didn’t shell out big bucks for Chris Ivory insurance, folks. Johnson is going to get the ball. He has RB1 potential in 12-team leagues.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills — ADP 31
People are understandably concerned after Spiller’s rough 2013, which was marred by a high-ankle sprain. Making matters worse was the Bills’ total mismanagement of that injury. No way would we risk a first-rounder on Spiller after watching the Bills last season, but we are very happy to take him in Round 3 as an RB2 with high-end RB1 upside. It’s a no-brainer from a risk standpoint — the kind of pick that can win you a league. We’re loving Spiller at his current ADP in all formats.
Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals — ADP 30
We have Ellington rated nine spots higher and we actually project him to produce RB1 numbers in PPR leagues if he can stay healthy. Ellington has a hammer lock on a big role in an improving offense. His offensive line will be significantly better in 2014 and his snap total conceivably could double in comparison to his rookie campaign. If he’s available at 30 overall, I am definitely looking to draft Ellington. He was one of our underrated rookies in 2013. Check out his original scouting report.
He was a first-round pick in a lot of leagues last year and his season ended early due to a shoulder injury. Martin should be 100 percent for 2014, and we are not as concerned about the competition in his backfield as the general public seems to be. Martin still should be the primary goal-line option and should get the majority of the carries. He could see a diminished role on third downs, but he was never an every-down back in the first place. According to Football Outsiders, Martin played 78 percent of the snaps in his rookie season. I suspect that he’ll play nearly that much in 2014 if he stays healthy. Right now in most drafts you can get him as your RB2 with the last pick of the second round. Not bad at all.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys — ADP 15
We have Murray ranked well inside the first round, so we think you are getting a steal if you can draft him at his current ADP. Murray will get the ball a ton in all phases of the game and he’s now running behind a very solid offensive line. If your league uses PPR scoring, that only increases Murray’s value. He caught a healthy 53 balls in 2013 and that number could actually increase in 2014 with new passing game coordinator Scott Linehan running the show.