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8 Bargains in PPR Leagues (2018 Fantasy Football)

Aug 10, 2018

Andrew Luck could end up being the top value of fantasy drafts

Fantasy owners know from years past that some first-round draft picks will bust like Mike Evans did last season and some late round fliers will turn into stars like Alvin Kamara did last season. The best way to make up for busts and missing on late round fliers is to find excellent bargain values from the middle rounds all the way till the end of the draft. A lot of the time, these players are just names we don’t consider very valuable but a deeper dive into them shows they are.

ADP values are using our consensus ADP for PPR leagues.

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Andrew Luck (QB – IND): ADP: 90th QB9
With Luck, it comes down to his health. After missing all of last season with a shoulder injury he suffered in 2016, Luck is expected to play in the Colts’ first preseason game. If Luck comes out and looks like his 2016 form, he should be in the conversation as the second quarterback drafted behind Aaron Rodgers. Since 2013, removing the two seasons Luck missed serious time with injuries in 2015 and last season, he has finished as the QB4 or higher every year in four-point per passing touchdown leagues.

Even assuming Luck is healthy, some fantasy experts have concerns about his supporting cast. However, looking at Luck’s seasons where he finished as the QB4 or higher, he lacked a great supporting cast and still put up elite fantasy production.

Year

Luck’s Finish

Top 30 RBs

Top 48 WRs

Top 18 TEs

2013

QB4

Donald Brown RB28

Ahmad Bradshaw RB22

Frank Gore RB12

2014

QB2

T.Y. Hilton WR18

T.Y. Hilton WR12

T.Y. Hilton WR5

2016

QB4

Coby Fleener TE14

Coby Fleener TE7

Jack Doyle TE13

 
To be clear, in Luck’s three best fantasy seasons he has had an RB1 just once, a WR1 twice and a TE1 only once. Luck doesn’t need elite talent to produce fantasy points. As long as T.Y. Hilton is there, Luck can make due with the other average pieces are part of the offense. The Colts currently have the best offensive line Luck has every played with and spent six of their 11 draft picks on the offensive side of the ball, including two of their top three picks on offensive lineman. If back to his old form, drafting Luck as the QB9 is a steal!

Philip Rivers (QB – LAC): ADP: 111th QB15
For some reason, no one wants to draft Rivers, yet he is one of my favorite fantasy quarterbacks. As the forgotten man, Rivers has finished as the QB14 or better every year since 2012, finishing as a QB1 four out of five seasons. The one season Rivers finished as the QB14, Keenan Allen missed the season with a torn ACL, showing Rivers week to week production is dependent on Allen’s health.

Over the last three seasons, Rivers has played 25 games with Allen and 23 games without him. Rivers finishes as a QB1 way more consistently on a weekly basis with Allen in the line up than out. With Allen in the lineup, Rivers finished as a QB1 in 68% of his games, compared to just 22% of his games without Allen in the lineup. Given that Allen’s injury history is more of a fluke rather than a consistent thing, Rivers has a high chance to finish every week as a QB1 and is a shoe-in to finish the season as a top 12 quarterback.

Eli Manning (QB – NYG): ADP: 159th QB22
Rarely is Manning viewed as a fantasy relevant quarterback, however, in two-quarterback or super flex leagues, he has some upside. Last season, Manning finished as the QB23 behind guys like Jacoby Brissett and Josh McCown. However, Odell Beckham Jr. missed 12 games, Sterling Shepard was in and out of the line up all season long, Evan Engram caught just 55.7% of his targets with five drops and the Giants ranked 26th in rushing; needless to say Manning was working with very little help.

In the offseason, the Giants improved the team around Manning. They drafted Saquon Barkley second overall in the draft. In addition to Barkley, the Giants signed Nate Solder to a big contract in free agency and drafted Will Hernandez in the second round, who should start week one at left guard. Most important of all, Manning gets back a healthy Beckham. So, with all the weapons on the Giants offense, why isn’t Manning getting any fantasy love?

Many expect Beckham to finish as a top five wide receiver, Barkley to finish as a top 10 running back, Evan Engram as a top-five tight end and Sterling Shepard as a top 36 wide receiver. If all or most of that comes true, Manning will have enough production to finish as a top 15 quarterback and is a sneaky QB2 in two-quarterback or super flex leagues.

Ronald Jones (RB – TB): ADP: 51th RB23
Last season the Buccaneers didn’t have a running back finish in the top 55 in PPR scoring. Peyton Barber led the way with 85.7 fantasy points for the season and just 5.4 fantasy points per game. Doug Martin, who lead the team in touches last season with 147, is now in Oakland. The Buccaneers didn’t spend a top 40 pick on Jones and not give him every chance possible to win the starting job from Barber.

While there is hope that Barber could win the starting job, he did struggle last season. He averaged just 3.9 yards per carry on 6.8 carries per game. Barber was better in the second half of the season but he had just two games with 14 or more carries and in those two games, he averaged 4.3 yards per carry. By comparison, Jones averaged 6.1 yards per carry during his career at USC.

The Buccaneers added former Ravens’ center Ryan Jensen in free agency. The addition is critical as it allows their top offensive lineman, Ali Marpet, to move back to his natural position at left guard where he had a career year in 2016. In addition to that, they spent a third-round pick on another guard, Alex Cappa. Last season the Buccaneers ranked 28th in the league in rushing and have made several moves this offseason to improve the running game. With Mike Evans keeping defenses from stacking the box, combined with limited competition in the backfield, Jones has high-end RB2 upside assuming he gets 240 or more touches this season.

Giovani Bernard (RB – CIN): ADP: 134rd RB46
Even with Joe Mixon and Jeremy Hill as the starters last season, Bernard finished as the RB27 in PPR scoring. However, guys like Isaiah Crowell and Tarik Cohen are being drafted ahead of Bernard despite averaging fewer fantasy points per game than him last season. Bernard had more yards per carry than Mixon and was targeted almost twice as much last season.

With Hill now in New England, Mixon is expected to take over as the feature back role. However, don’t discount Bernard as worthless. During the 2014 and 2015 seasons when Hill finished as the RB11 and RB20 respectively, Bernard finished as the RB17 and RB16.

Stats

Hill 2014

Bernard 2014

Hill 2015

Bernard 2015

Total Touches

249

211

238

203

Scrimmage Yards

1,339

1,029

873

1,202

Total Touchdowns

9

7

12

2

Fantasy PPG

13.2

14.5

10.6

11.3

 
Even with a top 20 running back on the roster with him, Bernard still showed to have a solid fantasy impact. Last season Mixon seriously struggled, while Bernard finished as an RB3 and outperformed Mixon in almost every category.

Stats

Mixon (14 games)

Bernard (16 games)

Total Touches

208

148

Yards Per Touch

4.49

5.72

Total Touchdowns

4

4

Fantasy PPG

9.5

10.1

 
Now if you agree with me and project Mixon as an RB1 this coming season, Bernard still has weekly flex play potential in PPR leagues. Bernard has career averages of 12.9 touches per game and 0.94 fantasy points per touch. While Bernard isn’t likely to finish as an RB2 this season, he should easily finish in the RB30-36 range.

James White (RB – NE): ADP: 145nd RB50
Never, ever draft a Patriots running back! Okay, that’s not true. This season I actually like all of the Patriots running backs at their current ADP. However, White is my favorite value of the three because of his pass catching ability and his cemented role in the offense. Last season White was the RB38, averaging a solid 9.6 fantasy points per game. White had the most targets and catches among Patriot running backs last season and finish forth overall on the team with 72 targets.

Dion Lewis is now a Titan and while the Patriots drafted Sony Michel in the first round of the draft, he had 64 career catches in four years at Georgia; he isn’t a threat to White’s targets. Some fantasy experts have concerns that Rex Burkhead will cut into White’s targets. However, comparing the games both White and Burkhead played, White had a higher snap count and a higher number of targets.

My favorite part about White is fantasy owners can grab him at the very of the draft if not off the wavier wire and expect consistent RB3 production or better almost on a weekly basis. Over the last three seasons, White has averaged 9.51 fantasy points per game and has only missed four games.

Games as a…

2015 (14 games)

2016 (16 games)

2017 (14 games)

RB1 or RB2

5

4

5

RB3

2

6

5

RB4

1

4

0

 
Over that time span, White has finished as an RB2 or better 31.8% of the time, an RB3 or better 61% of the time and an RB4 or better 72.7% of the time. Furthermore, White fails to finish as a top 48 running back just 27.3% of the time. With White currently being drafted as the RB51, fantasy owners can rely on him for consistent and solid production.

Kelvin Benjamin (WR – BUF): ADP: 108th WR45
Is there a worst quarterback situation than what is happening in Buffalo? Probably not. Whoever wins the starting quarterback job for the Bills, will have to target Benjamin a lot as the team lacks proven weapons around him. Currently, Jeremy Kerley and Zay Jones, assuming he is healthy, is expected to start opposite of Benjamin at wide receiver. Neither of them are very productive wide receivers and failed to finish as a top 55 wide receiver last season.

While the Bills have Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy that are factors in the passing game, they both come with risk. Both players have an injury history. Combined, the two of them have one 16 game season over the last three seasons. Clay has never topped 60 catches or four touchdowns during his time in Buffalo.

Assuming McCoy’s current legal issues doesn’t distract him or result in a suspension, he is still a 30-year-old running back with 2,626 career touches on his body. Is this the year McCoy’s production takes a huge hit? Possibly.

What makes Benjamin an interesting fantasy prospect is his production with a high target share. Taking a look at Benjamin’s best fantasy seasons, they correlate to a high target share despite that he has a low catch rate.

Season

Targets

Catches

Catch Rate

Fantasy PPG

WR Finish

Target Share

2014

145

73

50.3%

14.1

WR16

26.6%

2016

118

63

53.4%

12.3

WR27

21%

2017

78

48

61.5%

9.7

WR47

14.6%

 
As a reminder, Benjamin missed the 2015 season with a torn ACL he suffered in training camp. In his three other seasons, Benjamin clearly has a better fantasy season when he is peppered with targets. With the Bills lacking proven pass catchers outside other than Benjamin assuming he can stay healthy long enough to see 140 targets this season, he can finish as a top 24 wide receiver on volume alone.

Albert Wilson (WR – MIA): ADP: 260th WR87
Last season Jarvis Landry finished the season as the WR5. During the offseason the Dolphins signed two slot receivers, Danny Amendola and Wilson, to replace Landry’s production. Currently, Amendola’s ADP is 183 overall and as the WR67, so both receivers are currently not being drafted in standard size 12 team leagues. The question is, which slot receiver is the better late-round bargain?

Wilson had a career year last season where he finished as the WR59. Amendola had his best year since 2010 as he finished as the WR43, in large part due to Julian Edelman’s season-long absence. With both now in Miami, they will have fend each other off from snaps and targets.

Landry had his best year in 2017, posting career highs across the board. Many expect some of his production to slide over to Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker. However, Stills had a career year as well last season and Parker posted similar numbers as he did in 2016. While some of Landry’s fantasy points should go to both receivers, the majority of them will have to go to Wilson and Amendola.

Player

Targets/Gm

Catches/Gm

Yards/Gm

TDs/Game

Fantasy PPG

Target Share

Landry

10

7

61.9

0.56

16.2

26.9%

Wilson

4.8

3.2

42.6

0.23

8.9

11.5%

Amendola

5.8

4.1

43.9

0.13

9.3

14.8%

 
Obviously, Landry is the best player of the trio, but Wilson and Amendola had similar per game stats last season. However, Wilson produced his fantasy production on a lower target share than Amendola did.

The Dolphins have proven to have more faith in Wilson taking over as the starting slot receiver than Amendola. Wilson was signed to a three-year deal worth $8 million dollars a year while Amendola was signed to a two-year deal worth $6 million dollars a year. The biggest difference is the Dolphins can release Amendola after the season with no dead money; making his contract really only a one year deal.

Finally, for their careers, Wilson has been healthy for 86% of his games while Amendola has been healthy for just 78% of his games despite the Patriots limiting his snaps over the past five years to try to protect him from injuries. Age is also a factor as Wilson will be 26 years old at the start of the season compared to 32 years old for Amendola. Given their production, contract situation, injury history and age, I believe the Wilson is in line to take over the majority of Landry’s fantasy production this season.

More often than not, the Dolphins will be in a negative game script this season and that should provide Wilson with plenty of targets to produce low-end WR3/high end WR4 production. As he is currently being undrafted on average, Wilson is the perfect late round pick with plenty of upside for fantasy owners.

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Michael Fanelli is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, follow him @mikesports22.

Draft Prep, NFL