Undervalued Players in Best Ball Leagues (2020 Fantasy Football)
The fantasy sporting options are limited at the moment while the world adjusts to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but NFL Best Ball leagues are drafting and offer a welcome distraction from reality. With Best Ball leagues drafting comes ADP data you can check out here. Below, I’ve highlighted four of my favorite undervalued targets at a variety of positions.
Kenyan Drake (RB – ARI): ADP – 27.0, RB14
Drake was freed from the Dolphins via trade last season and he flourished with the Cardinals. He thrived in Kliff Kingsbury’s up-tempo offense that played at the fourth-fastest overall and fourth-fastest situation neutral pace in 2019, according to Football Outsiders (FO). In his eight games with the Cardinals from Week 9 through Week 17, Drake’s 814 yards from scrimmage were the ninth-highest total, according to Pro-Football-Reference. During that stretch, Drake was the fourth-highest scoring running back in full-point point-per-reception (PPR) formats.
Ian Hartitz of Rotoworld compiled the following highlight reel from Drake’s half-season with the Cardinals.
– Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) March 16, 2020
Even including Drake’s time with the Dolphins last year, he was one of the most productive runners in 2019. FO credited him with the fifth-most Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and the third-highest Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) among 45 running backs with a minimum of 100 rushes last year. He’s a true every-down back as well having averaged 3.7 receptions and 29.0 receiving yards per game with the Cardinals.
Third-year back Chase Edmonds should serve as a change-of-pace option behind Drake, but David Johnson’s no longer in the fold after being dealt to the Texans in an incredibly lopsided deal that landed the Cardinals DeAndre Hopkins. Drake touched the ball at least 14 times in all eight games with the Cardinals in 2019, and he should see bell-cow volume this season. He belongs inside the top-20 picks in Best Ball formats and is a top-10 running back who isn’t be drafted like it.
DeVante Parker (WR – MIA): ADP – 57.5, WR22
Parker finally broke out in his fifth season as a pro. I was among those skeptical of a breakout entering the season when the annual hype began, but I was wrong. His pairing with Ryan Fitzpatrick helped him showcase his ability in a big way.
In PPR formats, Parker’s production resulted in a WR13 finish in overall fantasy points and WR19 in points per game — which includes Antonio Brown ranking ahead of him with his one game played with the Patriots. Parker’s ADP as WR22 reflects some skepticism of him repeating last year’s work, and that’s understandable.
For starters, Parker’s production blew up after Preston Williams suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 8. That game took place on November 3, 2019. He’s reported “ahead of schedule” in his rehab, but some rust is possible if/when he’s ready for the start of the season. Further, while Williams outproduced Parker when both were healthy, it would be foolish to dismiss the elite production and chemistry that developed between Fitzpatrick and Parker after the injury.
Which brings me to the next concern. Fitzpatrick is a placeholder. The Dolphins have three first-round picks in the NFL Draft and are likely to draft a long-term option at quarterback. Parker’s ability to use his big body to make catches in coverage was enhanced by Fitz’s willingness to air out 50/50 balls to him. A rookie quarterback is unlikely to be as comfortable making those throws. Having said that, it’s entirely possible any rookie selected by the Dolphins at quarterback spends the entire year learning from the bench.
Tua Tagovailoa’s 2019 college season came to an abrupt end with a serious hip injury, so he could conceivably be redshirted for a season if the Dolphins draft him. Jordan Love is considered a project and could spend a year marinating if the Dolphins pop him. Justin Herbert could compete for the starting job or overtake Fitz in season, but that’s not a guarantee, either. It’s also possible the Dolphins aren’t enamored with any of those three quarterbacks and have their eyes on a different prospect. Last year the Dolphins traded for 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen and the expectation was a tanking Dolphins team would sink or swim while evaluating his long-term potential. Rosen started just three games and appeared in six. In other words, it would be silly to dismiss the notion the Dolphins could roll with another season or a nearly full season of Fitzpatrick leading the way at quarterback after they did just that last year with a quarterback prospect on their roster.
Circling back to Parker, he’s a great fit for Best Ball formats. Parker’s usage and the impending return of Williams could create some volatility this season. The highs have a chance to be really high, though, for the downfield option. Among receivers and tight ends targeted at least 70 times last year, Parker’s average depth of target of 13.6 yards was tied for 14th-deepest, per Sports Info Solutions. Additionally, he’s a key cog in the red zone, and his 16 targets in the red zone were tied for the 14th-most among receivers last season, according to Lineups. Parker’s worth a top-50 selection in Best Ball leagues.
Josh Allen (QB – BUF): ADP – 93.5, QB7
I’ve previously taken an extensive look at Allen’s 2020 outlook which you can read here. I’m an even bigger fan of Allen’s outlook in Best Ball formats as his erratic accuracy and still developing passing skills are less concerning than in standard leagues where a dud in the starting lineup won’t be swapped out for a better performing backup quarterback on the roster as it is in Best Ball leagues. I have Allen ever so slightly behind Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray in my rankings with Dak Prescott in that tier, too. The three quarterbacks not named Allen in that tier have Best Ball ADPs of 76.0, 81.5, and 82.5, respectively. All four quarterbacks in that tier are undervalued and belong in the top-75 picks with Allen being the most undervalued.
Blake Jarwin (TE – DAL): ADP – 166.5, TE23
It’s always a bit risky to extrapolate production, but Jarwin’s been highly efficient in his young career and has an opportunity to carve out a larger role after signing a three-year extension with the Cowboys and watching Jason Witten sign with the Raiders. After a year of retirement spent in the Monday Night Football booth, Witten returned to the Cowboys and parlayed 83 targets into 63 receptions, 529 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. Witten’s production amounted to a TE14 finish in fantasy points in PPR formats last year. Not a bad year for a guy who looked like he had little left in the tank. Jarwin could offer an upgrade at the position while soaking up a significant chunk of that role.
For those concerned about Mike McCarthy’s arrival as the new head coach changing the offense, those concerns appear misguided with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore retaining play-calling duties. For Jarwin’s part, he was a fairly productive player in Moore’s offense, albeit in a limited role. Jarwin had just one drop and a 99.1 Receiver Rating last year, according to Sports Info Solutions. He was quite good after the catch, too, with 5.1 yards after catch (YAC) per reception, tying him for the 39th-highest mark among receivers and tight ends with a minimum of 40 targets.
Additionally, Jarwin’s been one of the most efficient tight ends over the last two years. The following table features the top-10 tight ends in yards per target (Y/Tgt) among those targeted a minimum of 75 times, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
The table above features a who’s who of tight ends. Sure, not every tight end in the table is a stud — I’m looking at Akins specifically, but Howard was a colossal bust last year, too — but it’s good company for Jarwin to keep. He’s barely being drafted as a TE2 in 12-team Best Ball leagues and belongs in the top-20 tight ends in ADP. Gamers would be wise to spend a top-150 pick to secure Jarwin as his upside belies his ADP.