Saturday, August 13, 2022

Fantasy Football: Position by position best and worst values in early ADP from quarterbacks to tight ends

Fantasy Football: Position by position best and worst values in early ADP from quarterbacks to tight ends

Chris Towers takes an early look at how you can take advantage of ADP and snatch up value at each position

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I like to think the unofficial start of Fantasy Football draft season is the start of the Scott Fish Bowl slow drafts, and if you follow literally any Fantasy analyst on Twitter, you know that Fantasy Football draft season has unofficially started this week. 

Of course, drafts have been going on all offseason on any number of Fantasy game platforms in all kinds of different formats — Best Balls, Dynasty, Draft-and-Holds, and high-stakes drafts have been going on since February. The Fantasy Football Today team has been doing mock drafts all offseason, and it’s a great way to get a sense of the player pool and what kind of teams you can build, so get out there are start drafting to get an edge on your competition.

Average draft position data can help you along the way. You shouldn’t treat it as gospel at any point, of course, but especially not right now, when the overwhelming majority of drafts haven’t even started. Things will start to shift pretty dramatically over the next few weeks and especially once we get into August, when training camps open and injuries and depth chart news change our perceptions and expectations for players.

But it’s good to have a baseline set of expectations, and that’s what we can get right now. I’ve gone through ADP data from all NFC drafts since the start of June to get that baseline, and I’ve got my favorite and least favorite values at each position right here for you in today’s FFT newsletter. Later this week, you’ll be able to compare that with Heath Cummings and Dave Richard’s updated position tiers to see where your favorite values might be yourself, too. 

But for now, here’s where I think edges can be found for each position. 

QB ADP Review

I’ve already planted my flag on the “I’m going to draft a QB early island,” so I actually like a number of quarterbacks ahead of their ADP, especially at the top tier. The top-12 QBs in ADP have accounted for a much higher percentage of top-12 and top-six weekly finishes at the position over the past two seasons than ever before, so making that investment is probably worthwhile — even if most “expert” drafts haven’t embraced that. 

  1. Josh Allen — 28.37
  2. Justin Herbert — 39.78
  3. Patrick Mahomes — 40.07
  4. Joe Burrow — 57.0
  5. Lamar Jackson — 64.51
  6. Kyler Murray — 66.02
  7. Jalen Hurts — 73.25
  8. Tom Brady — 76.35
  9. Dak Prescott — 76.84
  10. Russell Wilson — 78.89
  11. Matthew Stafford — 85.25
  12. Aaron Rodgers — 96.05
  13. Trey Lance — 97.42
  14. Derek Carr — 99.72
  15. Kirk Cousins — 106.61
  16. Tua Tagovailoa — 125.88
  17. Justin Fields — 126.94
  18. Trevor Lawrence — 134.98

Best values

  • Lamar Jackson — 64.51 — Jackson remains the best runner at the position, which automatically means he has as much upside as anyone. The question is whether he can rediscover some of the form that made him such a dynamic passer in 2019. I’m betting we’ll see plenty of positive regression coming off career-worst efficiency numbers, and the hope is that Rashod Bateman can help the offense take another step forward after Jackson and Marquise Brown often struggled to get on the same page. It’s a bet worth making at this price. 
  • Russell Wilson — 78.89 — Wilson as QB10 seems like a screaming value, even if he isn’t the runner he once was. The Broncos have playmakers at every level of the field and every position, and Nathaniel Hackett’s offense should introduce plenty of RPO elements that will get the ball in the hands of those playmakers.  Combine that with Wilson’s downfield dominance and what should be a more high-volume attack than he had in Seattle, and Wilson could very well put together career-best numbers. 
  • Justin Fields — 126.94 — Fields was in a tough spot as a rookie, and things haven’t gotten much better with the loss of Allen Robinson from an already thin receiving corps. However, the hope is that Luke Getsy will be more proactive about using Fields’ legs in the read-option and RPO game, creating easy opportunities for him where they weren’t there for much of last season — the Packers ran more than twice as many RPO plays as the Bears did last season, and new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was the passing game coordinator in Green Bay. Fields’ rushing production is going to have to carry a lot of weight, but getting more easy completions will hopefully raise the floor here. He could be like Jalen Hurts a year ago. 

Worst values

  • Joe Burrow — 57.0 — I like Burrow a lot, and I love his weapons. But unless they become a more pass-heavy team or he starts running more — the former seems more likely — I think he’s bound to disappoint at this price. The Bengals were historically great at generating big plays in the passing game last season, as Burrow’s 12 completions of at least 50 yards were the most in the NFL in at least the past decade, while his eight touchdowns of 50-plus yards tied for the most in the past five years. A repeat of that seems unlikely, and he was only QB9 in points per game last season to begin with. You’re drafting Burrow at his absolute ceiling. 
  • Justin Herbert — 39.8 — I don’t mind Herbert at his price in theory, but he’s going ahead of Mahomes and Jackson, and that’s where I get off board. I do think there’s potentially room for him to produce more as a rusher, which would probably be how he would get to No. 1 overall QB upside. But I’m not sure he has more upside than either Mahomes or Jackson, and upside is what I’m chasing at QB in the early rounds.  
  • Aaron Rodgers — 96.05 — You might have heard that Rodgers has actually averaged more Fantasy points per game without Davante Adams than with him over the past three seasons, which surely helps explain why Rodgers value has managed to stay in the QB1 range despite Adams loss. I’m not saying Rodgers will fall apart, but he’s put up 8.7 yards per attempt and 7.9% touchdown rate in those seven games, and I’m just not ready to assume that with so many question marks in his receiving corps. Rodgers should be a solid starter, and he’s more or less being drafted at that value, but “solid” isn’t what we’re aiming for at QB anymore. 

RB ADP Review

Most of the players taken in the first round or two are probably going to be running backs, and given the state of the other positions, you could make the case that some form of robust-RB build is the best way to approach your team in 2022. That would mean taking two with your first two picks or perhaps three of your first four, that way you don’t have to worry about the question marks that pop up starting in the fourth round — the famed “RB Dead Zone.”  

  1. Jonathan Taylor — 1.07
  2. Christian McCaffrey — 3.81
  3. Austin Ekeler — 5.22
  4. Najee Harris — 6.49
  5. Derrick Henry — 8.87
  6. Dalvin Cook — 9.4
  7. Joe Mixon — 11.27
  8. D’Andre Swift — 12.78
  9. Javonte Williams — 16.84
  10. Saquon Barkley — 19.01
  11. Aaron Jones — 19.1
  12. Leonard Fournette — 20.75
  13. Nick Chubb — 23.51
  14. Alvin Kamara — 23.81
  15. Cam Akers — 31.0
  16. James Conner — 31.84
  17. Travis Etienne — 34.85
  18. Breece Hall — 39.33
  19. Ezekiel Elliott — 41.07
  20. David Montgomery — 41.84
  21. Antonio Gibson — 49.81
  22. J.K. Dobbins — 53.97
  23. Josh Jacobs — 55.54
  24. Elijah Mitchell — 58.49
  25. AJ Dillon — 65.37
  26. Clyde Edwards-Helaire — 75.51
  27. Damien Harris — 77.28
  28. Kenneth Walker III — 79.57
  29. Devin Singletary — 81.88
  30. Miles Sanders — 83.15
  31. Tony Pollard — 87.44
  32. Rashaad Penny — 91.43
  33. Kareem Hunt — 91.54
  34. Chase Edmonds — 97.62
  35. Cordarrelle Patterson — 102.78
  36. James Cook — 104.66
  37. Melvin Gordon — 106.43
  38. Rhamondre Stevenson — 106.54
  39. Michael Carter — 114.76
  40. Isaiah Spiller — 119.57
  41. Dameon Pierce — 120.49
  42. Alexander Mattison — 120.59
  43. Ronald Jones — 123.66
  44. Nyheim Hines — 125.34
  45. Rachaad White — 125.46
  46. Darrell Henderson — 131.36
  47. James Robinson — 140.88
  48. Kenneth Gainwell — 143.46
  49. Tyler Allgeier — 144.53
  50. Khalil Herbert — 147.1

Best values

  • Alvin Kamara — 23.81 — Kamara is a top-five RB in my eyes, but his price is being held down by concerns over legal troubles. He’s facing an Aug. 1 hearing regarding felony battery charges, but it’s unlikely there is any resolution a that point, and the NFL prefers to let the legal process play out before meting out punishment to players, so I wouldn’t be shocked if we didn’t have a resolution until the offseason. Kamara carries some risk, enough to push him out of the first round, but he’s still a value here. 
  • James Conner — 31.84 — The concern for Conner is health, as he has struggled to stay on the field in his career. However, with Chase Edmonds out of the picture, there’s a chance Conner could be in line for an incredibly valuable role — he averaged 5.6 targets and 16.6 carries per game in five without Edmonds last season. He probably won’t get to 282 carries and 95 targets, but Conner is guaranteed a bunch of scoring opportunities as the lead back for the Cardinals, so if he has even 60% of that receiving role, he’s got easy top-12 upside, possibly top-five. 
  • James Robinson — 140.88 — A ruptured Achilles is just about the worst injury for a running back to try to come back from, so expectations are rightly low for Robinson. But the thing is, we know he’s a very good running back when healthy, and we expect this Jaguars offense to be better this season than last, so why not take a late-round flier on him being an exception to the rule? 

Worst values

  • Derrick Henry — 8.87 — Are the Titans really going to keep running Henry 20-plus times per game now that he’s 28 and coming off a broken foot? Is Henry an elite Fantasy option if he’s not getting 20 carries per game? He could be, but the path is a narrow one — he needs outlier efficiency and big touchdown totals to get there. Henry is an outlier, but I have him ranked in the tier with Jones, Swift, and Fournette, not the truly elite options. 
  • Javonte Williams — 16.84 — I’ve got Williams ranked as RB15, and he’s RB9 in ADP, so there’s very little chance I’ll end up drafting him in many leagues. I can see the case for him, attached to a very good Denver offense, but I think Melvin Gordon — who had as many carries in one fewer game last season — will remain a frustrating thorn in his side, and Wilson may not throw to his running backs all that often. Williams is a good player in a good situation, I just worry he’s being valued as a great player in a great situation. If I’m chasing upside, the next three backs off the board on average are higher priorities to me than Williams.
  • Kenneth Walker III — 79.57 — I’m mostly fading the Seahawks offense, and that’ll be true unless they manage to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or something. The combination of an offensive approach stuck in 1998 and what might project to be league-worst QB play just makes it a complete stay-away for me. Walker doesn’t even necessarily project to be the starter, and I’m not sure he’ll be much of a factor in the passing game, either. Why not just take Rashaad Penny a round later? 

WR ADP Review

Wide receiver is in an interesting spot right now. There’s an obvious No. 1 player, a couple of stud young guys with No. 1 overall potential, and then a bunch of question marks. Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill are on new teams with quarterback downgrades, CeeDee Lamb has never actually come close to being a WR1 for any extended stretch, and Deebo Samuel demanded a trade and is reportedly unhappy with how the 49ers used him last season, so there are major questions around four of the top eight at the position. The position remains incredibly deep, but it’s fair to wonder if it’s worth going for quantity over quality this season. 

  1. Cooper Kupp — 2.75
  2. Justin Jefferson — 3.87
  3. Ja’Marr Chase — 6.12
  4. Davante Adams — 10.86
  5. Stefon Diggs — 12.35
  6. CeeDee Lamb — 15.58
  7. Deebo Samuel — 18.06
  8. Tyreek Hill — 22.13
  9. Mike Evans — 22.55
  10. Keenan Allen — 28.82
  11. Tee Higgins — 29.07
  12. A.J. Brown — 29.75
  13. Michael Pittman — 31.04
  14. Jaylen Waddle — 34.77
  15. Diontae Johnson — 37.14
  16. Mike Williams — 41.68
  17. Terry McLaurin — 43.22
  18. DJ Moore — 43.63
  19. Marquise Brown — 44.19
  20. DK Metcalf — 46.14
  21. Allen Robinson — 51.23
  22. Courtland Sutton — 51.43
  23. Brandin Cooks — 54.81
  24. Amon-Ra St. Brown — 56.01
  25. Gabriel Davis — 56.96
  26. Jerry Jeudy — 58.28
  27. Darnell Mooney — 58.96
  28. Chris Godwin — 62.33
  29. Amari Cooper — 62.87
  30. JuJu Smith-Schuster — 67.97
  31. Rashod Bateman — 69.4
  32. Hunter Renfrow — 70.52
  33. Elijah Moore — 71.51
  34. Adam Thielen — 76.42
  35. DeVonta Smith — 78.6
  36. DeAndre Hopkins — 79.36
  37. Michael Thomas — 81.87
  38. Russell Gage — 84.13
  39. Drake London — 90.07
  40. Tyler Lockett — 92.31
  41. Christian Kirk — 93.77
  42. Brandon Aiyuk — 97
  43. Robert Woods — 101.56
  44. Treylon Burks — 102.81
  45. Kadarius Toney — 103.63
  46. Allen Lazard — 106.61
  47. Chase Claypool — 107.99
  48. Chris Olave — 110.19
  49. Skyy Moore — 114.84
  50. Garrett Wilson — 115.39
  51. Rondale Moore — 122.04
  52. Tyler Boyd — 122.51
  53. Kenny Golladay — 129.69
  54. Michael Gallup — 131.42
  55. Christian Watson — 131.81
  56. Jarvis Landry — 133.79
  57. Marquez Valdes-Scantling — 134.22
  58. Jakobi Meyers — 143.28
  59. Tim Patrick — 143.45
  60. Mecole Hardman — 147.45
  61. Jahan Dotson — 147.46
  62. Jameson Williams — 147.9

Best values

  • DJ Moore — 43.63 — In drafts since the Baker Mayfield trade, Moore’s price has risen a bit, to an ADP of 35.95, which … still seems like a value to me. Mayfield isn’t a superstar, but he’s a massive upgrade over Sam Darnold and the rest of the guys Moore has been catching passes from. The Panthers have a 3.2% combined touchdown rate over the past three seasons, compared to a 4.8% mark from Mayfield in his career, so if all he does is give Moore a chance to get to eight touchdowns, he’ll be heaven sent. Moore has top-five WR upside now. 
  • Drake London — 90.07 — London was the first wide receiver taking in the NFL draft and he steps onto a Falcons roster desperate for playmaking, so I’m surprised to see him lasting this long. Kyle Pitts‘ presence ensures London won’t face too many double teams, and Marcus Mariota should be good enough to keep the offense from bottoming out. It’s not an incredible landing spot for London, but it’s not a bad one by any stretch of the imagination, and I like playing the upside game with him. 
  • Robert Woods — 101.56 — I’ve long been a fan of Woods, so I’m hoping he’s back to 100% from his ACL tear by Week 1 — more than 11 months removed from the injury. I’m expecting him to be the No. 1 option for the Titans as Treylon Burkes gets acclimated to the NFL, and they should incorporate him into the running game regularly, something Woods has often excelled at. I’m not sure there’s top-12 upside for Woods, but high-end WR2 is within his range of possibilities. 

Worst values

  • Jaylen Waddle — 34.77 — What Waddle figures to lose in volume he’ll make up for in efficiency. At least, that’s the assumption if you’re taking him as WR14. I don’t think that’s a bad assumption, but it’s probably asking a lot for Tua Tagovailoa to support two high-end Fantasy WRs, especially in an offense that might be relatively low on pass volume. It feels like you’re drafting Waddle at close to his ceiling unless he makes Tyreek Hill the No. 2 WR or this just becomes one of the best passing games in the league. 
  • DK Metcalf — 46.14 — As I said earlier, I’m worried this could legitimately be the worst offense in football, but the most confusing thing about this isn’t necessarily Metcalf’s price as much as much as it is how much earlier than Tyler Lockett he’s being drafted. Metcalf is an incredible talent, but he finished last season as WR23 in points per game, actually a few spots behind Lockett, and that was with Russell Wilson averaging 7.8 yards per attempt with a 6.3% touchdown rate. I think there’s a decent chance Metcalf isn’t even a must-start Fantasy WR this season. 
  • Courtland Sutton — 51.43 — I think it makes sense to be skeptical of Jerry Jeudy after two largely underwhelming seasons, but I’m not sure I can see the logic behind taking Sutton ahead of him. Sure, Sutton is the only one of the two who has had a 1,000-yard season, but Sutton’s role disappeared when Jeudy was active last season — he went from 9.14 targets in seven games with Jeudy injured to 4.6 in the games Jeudy played. As FFT’s Jacob Gibbs wrote for SportsLine, “Sutton was absolutely not the WR1 when both Broncos receivers were healthy in 2021. In fact, his Fantasy relevancy was almost entirely predicated on Jeudy’s absence.” A new coaching staff and QB make it hard to know how much of that will carry over, but the splits are pretty frightening. 

TE ADP Review

The thing about tight end is, unless you’re out on one of the high-end guys, there typically isn’t much to dislike about their prices. The second and third tier guys tend to get their prices inflated a bit as people chase upside, but with just eight players going inside of the top-100, the risk is relatively low. There’s an opportunity cost involved in taking a chance on Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller, or George Kittle, all of whom have at least some question marks and involve passing on players with more assured projections at other positions, but when you’re aiming to get an edge at the weakest position, that’s the risk you have to take sometimes. 

  1. Travis Kelce — 15.72
  2. Mark Andrews — 21.9
  3. Kyle Pitts — 34.1
  4. Darren Waller — 54.46
  5. George Kittle — 56.21
  6. Dalton Schultz — 73.81
  7. T.J. Hockenson — 77.29
  8. Dallas Goedert — 91.31
  9. Zach Ertz — 100.27
  10. Dawson Knox — 109.51
  11. Pat Freiermuth — 119.31
  12. Mike Gesicki — 132.34
  13. Irv Smith — 133.93
  14. Cole Kmet — 134.41
  15. Albert Okwuegbunam — 146.14

Best values

  • T.J. Hockenson — 77.29 — Hockenson didn’t make the leap to the elite tier many hoped for last season, which has seemingly soured many Fantasy players on him. I didn’t think Hockenson was likely to become a superstar, but I will say, I think there’s probably still some room for the 25-year-old to improve in an offense that should be better than it was a year ago. Hockenson dealt with a knee/ankle injury for much of the season even before his season-ending thumb injury, and you could see the impact of that in his career-low 3.3 yards after catch per reception. Hockenson isn’t a Kittle-esque YAC monster, by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s pretty athletic and sure-handed, and still figures to arguably be the top target in his own offense. I’ve been drafting him a lot when he falls to the seventh round or so. 
  • Albert Okwuegbunam — 146.14 — I’m surprised there isn’t more hype around Okwuegbunam, but I’m not complaining. Okwuegbunam is an elite athlete who was productive from a young age in college and has been pretty good when given the opportunity so far in the NFL. Among tight ends with at least 150 routes run, he ranked sixth in yards per route run at 1.94 and fifth in targets per route run at .235. And he has one skill set I really look for in breakout tight ends, which is the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands, ranking third in YAC/R. The Broncos have plenty of guys who can stretch the field and make plays on the ball in the air, but Okwuegbunam might be the best option at turning shorter targets into chunk plays. There’s a lot of competition for targets, but Okwuegbunam’s demonstrated efficiency bodes well for his chances of maximizing his opportunity. 
  • David Njoku — 169.17 — Njoku actually slips outside of the range we’re typically talking about here, and that’s just fine with me. The Browns ran the third most plays with multiple tight ends on the field last season, and Njoku figures to be at the top of the depth chart now that Austin Hooper is out of the picture. Njoku has struggled to stay healthy but remains an elite athlete who started to make some plays last season, and the Browns rewarded him with the fifth-highest annual salary of any tight end, so they’re invested now. If he stays on the field, I like Njoku’s chances of emerging as a viable starter with more than just weekly hope-he-scores-a-touchdown upside. 

Worst values

  • Dawson Knox — 109.51 — I honestly don’t mind Knox’s price here much in a vacuum, but there’s little chance I’m going to be the one who drafts him. Knox has upside, but most of his appeal comes from his nine touchdowns on 71 targets last season, an obviously unsustainable pace. He’s in a crowded receiving corps that makes it hard to see how his role dramatically increases, so you’re left hoping he finds the end zone each week — he had double-digits in PPR points just once in nine games where he failed to find the end zone. And if O.J. Howard cuts into his snaps at all, Knox may just not be useful at all.

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