5 Fantasy Football Bargains Owners Need to Capitalize On
From finding a fantastic deal on Ray Bans, to haggling a car down thousands below its Market Price, to getting a 2-for-1 special on Cape Cod Smoked Gouda chips, everyone loves a good bargain. We want to feel the value we gain from a purchase equals or, better yet, exceeds the amount we gave up for it.
Fantasy football is no different. We want the players who are going to outperform where we draft them and offer potentially huge profit returns, outscoring all others at a similar price point (draft range). There’s simply no better feeling than landing those guys who explode for well beyond what you paid, and thus we open our Market Report with the 5 Most Undervalued Players on Roto Street.
As an investing and bargain hunting tip, fantasy drafting is a tricky balancing act of getting the assets you want, while manipulating the prices that the market and experts have set. Even if I have, say, Tyreek Hill up at 31 overall, this does not mean take him this high if the market is underselling his value at 59. Make sure you secure him, yes, but take advantage of the insane deal and grab another asset or two before he’s on other owners’ radars.
With this context and strategy in mind, let’s dive into the guys that are way too cheap and are thus offering huge value potential to your 2017 fantasy squads. Note, these are the players going within the first 10 rounds, as we’ll explore the 120+ ADP bargains in more depth later in our “Penny Stocks” section.
My Rank: 31 overall, WR15
Expert Consensus: 59 (-28), WR27
ADP Rank: 59 (-28), WR25
Clearly, the “experts” and owners alike are still suffering from “Patterson PTSD,” and it’ll cost them a shot at one of 2017’s most tantalizing fantasy prospects at an unfathomably low price. Do you all think Tyreek’s just a gadget player like Cordarelle? A flash-in-the-pan that’ll be exposed with tape? What is it about Hill’s 12 total TDs, despite playing only ~ 40% of his team’s offensive snaps, that the experts and general public do not believe in?
Let’s start with the whole “gadget player” narrative, which I find to be a convenient, but unjustified label. Yes, Hill has some refining to do, but the guy has an insatiable work ethic and has been honing his craft all offseason. The tape already shows a guy who, despite a smaller frame, gained significant separation at the line of scrimmage from elite corners like Chris Harris and Richard Sherman thanks to insane suddenness and the looming deep threat he presents. Corners simply couldn’t keep up with whatever direction Hill’s first few steps took him.
As such, Hill’s already shown insane quick-twitch, change-of-direction abilities, akin to perhaps only Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham in terms of explosiveness. The more he crisps up these routes, the greater chance he evolves into an elite receiver of those molds. Despite a smaller size, his functional strength is fantastic, and he can beat the press the rare times defenders actually get their hands on him. The natural ability is certainly there for a high-end WR ceiling, and Hill’s route-running and consequent receiving tree are already world’s above Patterson’s and only ascending. Put this “gadget” notion to bed once and for all.
So, is it that his scoring rate is unsustainable and bound for regression? OK, that’s fair…even though Hill is a genuine threat to score every time he has the ball in his hands. Still, let’s say his scoring rate decreases. Nonetheless, Hill’s bound to see far more usage as he evolves from a ~40% player to a full-time WR1. These added opportunities should at least neutralize a regression in scoring percentage, if not allow him to score even more.
Even before Jeremy Maclin was released, Andy Reid was calling for more touches for Hill, labeling him “our No.1 receiver” and saying, “Growing Tyreek in the offense will be important. He’ll do nothing but get better as long as he keeps the right attitude and the same work ethic he had this past year…I’m expecting good things from him.” Equally dangerous as a runner, Hill will also be frequently motioned in and out of the backfield. His 85 touches from last season could nearly double.
Yes, I am worried about the increased defensive attention that comes with being the No. 1 option. Indeed, Alex Smith’s reluctance to sling it deep puts a slight cap on Hill’s ceiling. Both of these issues were raised by Chiefs Insider Chris Clark in Episode 15 of our very-own Fantasy Fullback Dive. Still, Hill’s plenty capable of ripping a five-yard slant all the way down the field, and I firmly believe this talent will prevail even with safety help.
Hill entered the offseason as my WR17, so he had minimal room to rise even amidst Maclin’s release. Yet, other experts are finally catching up to speed and raising Hill. Even with this bump, few, if any, will have Hill as high as myself, and the price is insanely low for this type of ceiling. Consider Hill 2017’s best bargain
My Rank: 52 overall, RB18
Expert Consensus: 87 (-35), RB34
ADP Rank: 53 (-1), RB21
Though, over the past two weeks, Martin’s “ADP” value has risen steeply from the 71st overall pick, he remains criminally undervalued by the expert community. Indeed, his fantasy and NFL history has been a wild roller coaster. Still, amidst the inconsistency, the output has actually been fairly easy to project. When he’s the actual “Muscle Hamster,” meaning in shape, healthy and motivated, Martin has been an RB1. When he grows complacent and gets pudgy or banged up, he falls off a cliff. So which Martin will 2017 bring?
Thus far, nothing but glowing reports have been published on Martin’s form. On Episode 14 of our Fantasy Fullback Dive, Bucs Insider Trevor Sikkema noted: “We finally got to see him on the field over the last couple weeks, and man…every time a running back’s making a play, I always look up and I go, ‘Who is that? It’s Doug Martin.’ Every time.”
Additionally, Martin was labeled the “most impressive” player of OTAs, to the point the team felt comfortable passing on Dalvin Cook at 19:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 28, 2017
Moreover, GM Jason Licht continued the praise-train, commenting Doug “has looked as good as I’ve seen him, both mentally and physically he’s been outstanding.” Even quarterback James Winston noted, “The way he’s bursting and just being so explosive…he looks incredible.”
Indeed, these are padless practices, but any positive reports on Martin’s shape and motivation are fully worth noting. The fact that they’re pouring in from all directions is only a positive.
With this key “in-shape” question mark being answered in flying colors, Martin finds himself in an ideal scenario for a true RB1 season. Dirk Koetter loves pounding the rock to establish play-action for his longer-developing “Four Verticals” scheme and generally rides one back for around 70% of the carries whenever possible.
While the offensive line isn’t anything to write home about, they aren’t horrendous. More importantly, the insanely explosive surrounding skill talent and a rising, gun-slinging QB will keep boxes light and scoring chances plentiful. Everything is in place for massive weekly RB1 outputs, assuming Martin remains in shape and on the field to capitalize.
Thus, the fact the experts have this type of upside hovering in Round 7 or 8 is embarrassing. Sure, his three-game suspension to begin 2017 is obnoxious. Still, the Jacquizz Rodgers band-aid carries a mere 149 ADP. Rodgers provided high-end RB2, low-end RB1 numbers in Martin’s 2016 absences, and you can lock up the Bucs backfield for a meager combined price of a late sixth and early 13th round pick. This could yield a season of RB1 numbers, making Martin and Tampa’s backfield one of the best low-cost, high-ceiling investments of 2017.
My Rank: 39, WR21
Expert Consensus: 64 (-34), WR29
ADP Rank: 60 (-14), WR26
Out of all the players on here, Bryant’s the one whose price could rise the fastest once he’s flying around at training camp and all the amnesiac experts recall his insane natural ability. Currently, Bryant is a bonafide steal at this asking price, which, even if the price rises a round or two, will likely keep him a relative bargain.
Yes, after missing 21 of his last 32 possible games, the risk simply cannot be ignored with Bryant. Yet, neither can his insane talent and amazing fantasy situation. At these current prices, both seem to be completely overlooked.
Bryant often draws Randy Moss comparisons for a reason — at 6’4”, his enormous strides create insanely deceptive long speed, which is ideal with Big Ben’s rocket arm and gun slinging tendencies. Moreover, Bryant is equally dangerous after the catch, where defenders so often take too shallow of pursuit angles and underestimate Bryant’s ability to follow his blockers. Just like Hill above, Bryant is capable of scoring literally anywhere on the field, which has resulted in 14 TDs in 21 games played (67% score rate).
This was all before the guy even truly worked out. Bryant’s reportedly underwent a major mental shift this offseason, channeling many of his inner demons into an intense workout regimen which has resulted in 10-15 added pounds of muscle. Thus far, the practice results have been impressive, as Big Ben has gone from stating “he’ll need to earn our trust back” before offseason practices, to calling this guy “a stud, as usual” by the time OTAs closed.
Right now, Bryant is being treated like a dart-throw WR3, at best. He drips with genuine WR1 upside, and anything less than an upside WR2 price is a bargain for this freak.
My Rank: 47 overall, WR25
Expert Consensus: 72 (-25), WR32
ADP Rank: 96 (-49), WR36
Since Sean Payton and Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans 10 years ago, they’ve never ranked below fourth in the league in passing yardage, and have been No. 1 in that category five times. Yes, let me repeat: New Orleans accounts for 50% of the No. 1 passing offenses of the last decade.
Indeed, Payton is once again speaking of establishing a ground presence ala their 2009 Super Bowl run, and Adrian Peterson’s addition should help in this department. Yet, even during that championship run, the Saints finished fourth in passing yardage and Brees still chucked 34 TDs (fifth most in his career). This running game could take 10 leaps forward, and the Saints will still be towards the tops of the league in passing.
With this in mind, Snead’s clearly stepping into one of the juiciest receiving situations after Brandin Cooks’ trade to New England. Regardless of how you feel about Snead as a talent, he’ll likely be the second-most featured guest at a table serving one of the largest aerial pies in the NFL. When he’s played 70% or higher snaps, Snead’s averaged 8.7 targets, 6.4 catches, and 81.1 yards. This extrapolates to 102 catches for nearly 1,300 yards, and 70% of snaps seems like a floor.
On sheer aerial volume, Snead is already way underpriced. But then also consider his blossoming talent. Matt Harmon’s “Reception Perception” profiles Snead as a top-five wideout against zone coverage, with an 87.2% success rate. Out of the other top-five wideouts, only Snead and Antonio Brown experienced high success rates against man coverage, and consistently won all types of routes including digs, curls, hitches, and verticals. In short, Snead succeeded against all types of coverages and on the full route tree.
Successful route runner in all downs, distances, and route types? Check. 100+ targets in one of the league’s most pass-heavy and creative attacks? Check. Receiving passes from one of the all-time greats? Check.
This combination places the Blonde Muskrat right on the “Must-Own” border and makes Snead a stone-cold lock to exceed his current prices.
My Rank: 82, TE7
Expert Consensus: 111 (-29). TE12
ADP Rank: 108 (-26), TE10
Unless I go with Gronk in Round 2 or Jordan Reed continues falling to the end of Round 4, Hunter Henry will be the tight end on every single one of my fantasy teams in 2017.
Just from a natural skillset standpoint, Henry flashed the athleticism and soft hands of the aforementioned elite names, despite being a rookie at the position with the lowest first-year translation. His 36-catch, 478-yard, and league-leading eight-TD stat line should be considered a monumental success, and another year of experience will ensure Henry continues expanding on these totals. Further development will only help Henry come even closer to those elite names, and coaches have noted his “rare awareness and savvy for someone his age…for a young player, a tremendous amount of poise. You don’t have to spell everything out A-Z for him.”
Additionally, Henry is catching passes from Philip Rivers, who’s made a career dominating the seams and red zone with Antonio Gates. In fact, Gates may be the one concern with Henry, as he’ll remain involved near the stripe and on some third downs. But even Gates has ceded this is now Henry’s gig, and rumors suggest the team was intentionally targeting Gates in the red zone last year to get him the TD Record for tight ends. Even with this emphasis, Henry hauled in eight scores, meaning a leap into double digits is highly plausible.
In general, an increased role for this insane talent, alongside a QB who loves targeting seam-stretchers, gives Henry a real chance to jump into the “Olsen/Graham” tier at a fraction of the cost. Load up on the skill positions early on, and, as Round 9 and 10 hit, take complete advantage of this market mistake.