ADP Inefficiencies in DRAFT Best Ball Leagues (2019 Fantasy Football)
Gaining small (or sometimes large) edges is a key component of finishing in the money in DRAFT Best Ball leagues. Nabbing players who, for whatever reason, are being undervalued in terms of ADP is a good way to gain an advantage over the competition. Below, a pair of quarterbacks, trio of running backs, trio of receivers, and a tight end get the nod as players who represent ADP inefficiencies.
Josh Allen (QB – BUF): 125.1, QB15
Allen is unlikely to ever be described as an accurate quarterback, but he made late-season strides on an offense that was bereft of offensive talent. As a rookie, he struggled mightily when pressed into duty. After returning from injury in Week 12, he showed signs of putting things together a bit. From Weeks 12-17, he averaged 207 passing yards per game with eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Admittedly, averaging just a pinch over 200 passing yards per game in today’s pass-happy NFL isn’t impressive. Throwing just over an interception per game isn’t great either. However, the 8-to-7 TD-INT ratio is a sizable in-season improvement from throwing two touchdowns and five interceptions in his first six games played.
Allen’s fantasy appeal isn’t entirely tied to his arm, though. Over those final six games, his 476 rushing yards were the eighth-most among all players, and his five rushing touchdowns tied for third, according to Play Index at Pro-Football-Reference. These rushing totals aren’t sustainable, but they speak to his upside. He should also make strides in year two as a passer, and he’ll be aided by multiple additions to the offensive line and at wide receiver. Allen’s ADP is 17 picks behind rookie Kyler Murray, 15 behind Jameis Winston, and 13 behind Jared Goff. He belongs in that tier, and arguably at the top of it. For full disclosure, among the quarterbacks between Murray and Allen, I prefer Carson Wentz to Allen, but his 115.6 ADP is fair.
Sam Darnold (QB – NYJ): 158.2, QB23
Darnold doesn’t boast the rushing upside Allen does, but his 138 rushing yards and a touchdown in 13 games as a rookie add a bit to his value. The fellow second-year quarterback is a much better passer, however, and he also made strides at the end of the season after returning from an injury. From Weeks 14-17, Darnold’s 99.1 quarterback rating was 10th-best among quarterbacks who threw at least 50 passes. He completed 64.0% of his passes, averaged 232.75 passing yards per game, tossed six touchdowns, and threw only one interception.
He had a bit more offensive talent to work with than Allen, but it was a below-average group overall. He’ll be surrounded by significant offensive upgrades thanks to the free-agent additions of Le’Veon Bell and slot wideout Jamison Crowder. I’m skeptical of new head coach Adam Gase’s offensive acumen, but Darnold has the pieces around him needed to make a sophomore leap. He should go off the board in the 130s, and yet he can be had after pick 155 on average.
Aaron Jones (RB – GB): 35.0, RB20
The narrative is that Jones’ lackluster pass protection held him back from a workhorse role. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF) player grades, though, Jones had the best pass-blocking grade among qualified backs. The change at head coach could be the key to seeing the hefty workload he deserves.
Jones is an electric runner who led qualified backs with 5.5 yards per carry last year. That mark matched his rookie average. Football Outsiders (FO) ranked him 10th among backs with at least 100 rushes in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and seventh in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). He made strides as a receiver in year two, and, at worst, should at least be competent in that capacity. It’s possible, however, he could be an asset as a pass-catcher. He’s criminally underrated and should be selected in the top 25 with a valid argument for being worth a top-20 pick.
James White (RB – NE): 52.0, RB26
In half-PPR leagues, White ranked 10th in points per game at running back in 2018. I don’t think he’ll repeat that finish, but he has plenty of room for regression while still finishing higher than RB26. Although it’s possible he won’t match his career-high dozen touchdowns from last year, he’s a key cog in New England’s red-zone attack and totaled 37 touches inside the 20, per Lineups. He led the Patriots in targets (123), receptions (87), and receiving touchdowns (seven) while ranking second in receiving yards (751).
The selection of running back Damien Harris in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft is a greater threat to Sony Michel‘s workload than White’s. Figuring out New England’s weekly game plan for their backs can be maddening in traditional leagues, but it’s a non-issue in DRAFT Best Ball leagues. White’s a much better pick at his respective cost than Michel is at his 33.6 ADP.
Latavius Murray (RB – NO): 70.0, RB32
Murray was signed to fill the Mark Ingram role in the Saints’ backfield. Alvin Kamara is the unquestioned top option, but there was plenty of room for Ingram to carve out fantasy value in each of the last two years, too. Last season, Ingram received 29 touches in the red zone, scored seven touchdowns, and averaged 68 yards from scrimmage per game in only 12 contests after serving a four-game suspension to open the year. In 2017, he amassed 96.3 yards from scrimmage per game and tallied a dozen touchdowns. Again, there’s plenty of room for two productive backs in New Orleans’ offense.
Murray should finish above RB32 even if Kamara stays healthy all year. Westgate’s NFL win totals have the Saints tied with the Chiefs and Rams for the second-most victories at 10.5. They should lead plenty of games, awarding Murray opportunities to salt games away. Still, there’s massive handcuff upside that isn’t fully baked into his ADP as well. If Kamara were to suffer an injury, Murray would vault into the top-10 discussion at the position.
Tyler Lockett (WR – SEA): 56.0, WR24
Lockett enjoyed a breakout 2018. His field-stretching skills pair perfectly with Russell Wilson‘s ability to improvise and keep plays alive with his legs. It’s possible (if not probable) his 10 touchdowns will regress this year. However, he can offset that with increased volume. Doug Baldwin totaled a team-high 73 targets in only 13 games compared to Lockett’s 70 in 16 games. Seattle released Baldwin with a failed physical designation, paving the way for Lockett to be the clear-cut No. 1 pass-catching option.
Circling back to Lockett’s breakout, FO ranked him top among receivers who caught at least 50 passes in DYAR and DVOA. The Seahawks’ run-heavy offense creates week-to-week volatility for all of the team’s pass-catchers, even their top option. Having said that, Lockett’s big-play ability and top billing plays perfectly in DRAFT Best Ball leagues, where his occasional clunker will simply not be used in favor of a bench wideout’s superior score.
Robby Anderson (WR – NYJ): 74.8, WR30
The additions of Bell and Crowder could cut into Anderson’s target volume, but the home-run hitting receiver demonstrated great chemistry with Darnold to close out 2018. Back in February, I discussed Anderson’s late-season surge when highlighting him as an undervalued player. I called him a top-25 receiver then, and I still believe he’s a top-25 receiver now even with the new competition for work.
Robert Foster (WR – BUF): 195.3, WR71
Foster is another receiver whom I touted in the linked piece above. His ADP has dropped over 60 picks while he’s since slipped from WR50 to WR71. The fall has coincided with Buffalo overhauling its receiving corps with John Brown and slot wideout Cole Beasley. Brown is a direct threat to Foster’s burner role in Buffalo’s offense, and I updated my outlook on Foster in a WR targets piece in late March. He’s slipped a little further in ADP and rank at his own position, and I remain bullish on him as a late-round flier.
Noah Fant (TE – DEN): 136.4, TE16
Traditional tight ends have a tough row to hoe in their rookie seasons, but Fant’s a pass-catching specialist as opposed to a traditional tight end. Former Iowa teammate and fellow rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson will likely have more on his plate as a skilled blocker and receiver, yet he’s going almost 20 picks higher than Fant with an ADP of 116.7. I’d not only rather have Fant at his cost than Hockenson, but I’d also rather have him at equal costs in their rookie seasons.
The primary reason I prefer Fant is due to playing with Joe Flacco. The former Raven loves tight ends. In his last full season starting for the Ravens in 2017, 37-year-old Ben Watson ranked second on the team in targets (79) and receiving yards (522), tied for first in receiving touchdowns (four), and was first in receptions (61). In 2016, Dennis Pitta finished third on the team in receiving yards (729) while leading the team in targets (121) and receptions (86). Fant’s one of my favorite TE2 targets, and I’d take him ahead of Hockenson, Trey Burton, and Kyle Rudolph.