8 Undervalued Players (2020 Fantasy Football)
In preparation for August fantasy football drafts, it’s good practice to get a sense of which players are currently over and undervalued by the masses. You can easily do this by checking out how our Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) compares to the current consensus Average Draft Position (ADP).
Our writers did just this last week when they provided 10 overvalued players based on our expert consensus rankings. This week, they’re here with players that are undervalued based on those same rankings.
Q: Which player do you think is most undervalued by the Expert Consensus?
Mark Ingram II (RB – BAL): ECR 51 Overall, RB23
Since 2016, no NFL running back has accomplished more with less opportunity than Mark Ingram II. He has never been the recipient of “Elite Running Back” treatment from the fantasy community, thus making him an extremely cost-effective option for fantasy managers who decide to implement a layer of Zero RB to their draft strategy.
Whether it be due to Alvin Kamara and/or Adrian Peterson’s presence in New Orleans’ backfield from 2017 and on, or the Ravens selecting Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Ingram has a habit of annually becoming a mere afterthought this time of year. Despite being overlooked for years — oftentimes within his own backfield — below is a reminder of the production that Ingram continues to churn out.
Over the course of four years and 926 touches, Ingram has averaged a whopping 5.4 yards per touch and 11 touchdowns per year! Granted, some of that can be attributed to Ingram’s propensity for playing in some of the league’s best offenses. But we must give credit where it’s due to a guy performing at an absolutely elite level — despite playing in the back-nine of his career — at a position that seldom sees this kind of production from a player his age.
If the numbers above haven’t convinced you yet, allow me to provide a brief history lesson that should help squash any and all preconceived notions regarding Ingram’s 2020 fantasy outlook in Baltimore’s backfield. In 2014, the San Francisco 49ers spent a second-round pick on another former Ohio State running back by the name of Carlos Hyde. Despite incumbent starter, Frank Gore, playing at his age-31 season, offensive coordinator Greg Roman gave Gore 266 touches, as opposed to just 95 touches for Hyde across 14 games. With Roman having already shown a reluctance to give a highly-touted rookie running back a major workload within his ground-and-pound offense (remember the Justice Hill hype at this time last year?), it’s quite irresponsible to assume that Dobbins now renders Ingram useless in this offense. In fact, Roman’s history has shown us that he will continue to ride his seasoned veteran running back, despite his respective front office spending serious draft capital in order to plan for the future at the position.
You’ll be doing yourself a major disservice to your 2020 fantasy season if you subscribe to the “Fade Ingram” noise. Chalk up another 220+ touches for the former Heisman Trophy winner as he flirts with yet another season of RB1 production in one of the league’s most valuable offenses for running backs. Currently ranked as the RB23 with an ADP of 45.0, you won’t find a better value in the fourth round. Especially when you see has-beens like Melvin Gordon, Le’Veon Bell, and David Johnson ranked ahead of last year’s RB8 for half-PPR scoring.
– Rob Searles (@RobBob17)
Mark Ingram II has essentially been a top-15 running back since 2014. Perennially underrated, he seemingly outperforms his ADP every year. Coming off an RB8 finish and entering 2020 as the lead running back on the NFL’s most dangerous rushing offense, one would expect Ingram to be ranked much higher than his current ECR of RB23 and 51 overall.
Much of this year’s fear can be attributed to the Ravens drafting second-round running back J.K. Dobbins. While Dobbins is an extremely talented runner, and a prime target for dynasty players, he is not going to supplant Ingram this season. Further, any workload concerns are overblown. Ingram excelled last season despite only receiving 202 carries and 228 total touches. Backups Gus Edwards and Justice Hill combined to handle 191 carries, showing that Dobbins can receive ample opportunity without significantly impacting Ingram’s production. Some touchdown regression appears to be on the horizon after Ingram found the end zone 15 times a year ago. Nonetheless, he earned the trust of this coaching staff and will continue to handle the vast majority of goal-line carries. Additional confidence can be found in the fact that Ingram has scored at least nine touchdowns in four of the past six seasons, despite missing at least three games in half of those years. Ingram has also managed to contribute major fantasy production while splitting reps with Alvin Kamara in New Orleans.
While the Ravens are unlikely to dominate to the same degree this season, that may actually benefit Ingram from a workload perspective. Baltimore outscored its opponents by an average of 15.6 points per game in 2019, a mark that led the league by a considerable margin. As a result of such frequent blowouts, Ingram often found himself a spectator during the later stages of games. Notably, Ingram only received more than 15 carries twice the entire season, despite the Ravens running the most of any team in the NFL. Lamar Jackson obviously buoyed the team’s carry count, but closer contests should inevitably result in increased volume for the running backs.
Fortunately, even if Ingram’s carries and touchdowns decrease, he should still return value at his current ECR. All of the reasons that led to Ingram’s success last season exist again, with the lone complication being the addition of Dobbins. That complication is not going to turn last season’s RB8 into a back-end RB2. Ingram belongs in the conversation with running backs such as Leonard Fournette, Melvin Gordon, James Conner, Le’Veon Bell, and David Johnson, yet unfairly sits a full tier below them in the ECR.
– Mark McWhirter (@mmcw19)
James Conner (RB – PIT): ECR 42 Overall, RB19
At the beginning of the offseason, I was surprised to see how low the industry ranked James Conner. Sure, he disappointed last year, but that was more due to injuries rather than ineffectiveness. The entire Steelers offense torpedoed after Ben Roethlisberger sustained an elbow injury in Week 2. Conner’s own injuries have caused many to forget how productive he was in the first half of the season, checking in as the RB9 in PPR leagues following Week 8. Pittsburgh has always used him as a bell-cow while healthy, as evidenced by his 2018 performance where he was one of just nine RBs to play at least 60% of his team’s offensive snaps. Coach Mike Tomlin seems to want to use Conner in a similar role this year. During a call in May, he referred to himself as “a featured-runner type guy by mentality.”
“No question in today’s game, a featured runner needs to be supplemented and supplemented by guys who are capable of doing similar things in case he misses time,” Tomlin said. He later expressed hope of Conner regaining his pre-2019 role. “Usually when it’s going well, it’s because you have a lead dog out front, and that guy is the featured runner. James is a featured guy and proven runner when healthy. We’re excited about him getting back to health and displaying that in 2020.”
A return to health for Roethlisberger, Conner, and JuJu Smith-Schuster will do wonders for this offense. There aren’t many three-down backs available where Conner is currently ranked as the RB19 in our ECR.
– Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma)
James Conner is currently 41st among all players in the latest ECR. Everything went downhill with the Steelers’ offense in 2019 once Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out for the year after Week 2. Despite battling through a shoulder injury, Conner managed 715 total yards and seven touchdowns across 10 games. He is ready to take back his “featured role” and can get back to his 2018 ways when he rushed for 973 yards and 12 TDs, while also hauling in 55 receptions for 497 yards and a score.
Conner has been training hard this offseason and working out five-to-six days a week. The 25-year-old is entering the final year of his contract and is ready to once again become the Steelers’ primary back. He will face some stiff competition in Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, and Anthony McFarland. Yet when healthy, Conner has proven productive in a starting role. The Steelers typically like to use one running back and will have a great offensive line this season. Conner is a physical runner with terrific receiving skills who has the chance to be a borderline RB1 at a fourth-round price.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)
Zack Moss (RB – BUF): ECR 132 Overall, RB47
Zack Moss is the current RB47 in half-PPR consensus rankings at FantasyPros. Friends, that is a criminally underrated ranking. The rookie rusher is in line for at least 200 carries and close to 20 targets for the Buffalo Bills this season. At least. How do I know that? Because the guy whom Moss is replacing, living legend Frank Gore, had similar action last season: 166 carries for 599 yards, 13 receptions for 100 yards. In 2020, Moss is all but guaranteed to outperform Gore’s pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry and see way more than just 16 total targets in the passing game.
I know Josh Allen is a rushing threat. But those expecting him to run less this season are the same people telling you he’s the Bills’ first red-zone rushing option. Stop it. You can’t have it both ways. The Bills drafted Moss in the third round to run the ball. Devin Singletary is an incredible talent, but he’s best served as the lightning to Moss’s thunder. He’s a nice pass-catching option and change-of-pace back. Take it from the Buffalo guy: Moss is going to take control of this backfield sooner than later. Finally, are you really drafting Gus Edwards, Nyheim Hines, LeSean McCoy, and Peyton Barber over Zack Moss? That’s bananas. Moss easily has the most upside of any of these lower-ranked running backs (among others). Right now, you can steal Moss in all your drafts at his current ADP of 156 overall (RB45). Don’t be surprised if he emerges as an RB2 with RB1 upside in 2020.
– Jim Colombo (@widerightnblue)
Justin Jefferson (WR – MIN): ECR 129 Overall, WR51
I understand why people have soured on the Vikings’ passing game after last year. Even though Kirk Cousins had a QB rating of 107.4, he also threw for only 3,603 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. Fantasy managers care much more about the yards and touchdowns than the efficiency, and Cousins was only the 18th-ranked fantasy quarterback last year. He had nine games where he failed to reach 250 yards passing and three games where he didn’t reach 200. This feels like an offense that is going to feature Dalvin Cook and the running game, which is causing people to be sheepish on Jefferson in this passing offense.
Here are two things that I would reconsider when it comes to Jefferson. First, he is going to be a slot receiver, where played almost 80 percent of the snaps at LSU last year. That means he will be asked to do what he did in college last year, so the learning curve should not be as steep as if he had to learn the outside positions. Second, Minnesota’s only other receiver of note is Adam Thielen. Jefferson will have to beat out Olabisi Johnson, who tallied only 294 receiving yards as a rookie. It’s hard to believe Jefferson would start the season on the bench if Johnson is his only competition for a starting job. That gives him a chance to be fantasy relevant immediately.
There are going to be some frustrating games where Cousins throws the ball only 15 times, and there will be some games where Cousins does not play well. Jefferson will also have the challenge of being a rookie learning the NFL game. The upside, though, is undeniable. At 6’1″ and 202 pounds, he has the speed to make big plays downfield and the size to be a red-zone threat. Given that Cousins recorded 4,298 passing yards and 30 touchdowns in 2018, it is reasonable to expect a fantasy rebound this year, which would make the Vikings’ passing game extremely undervalued. There is enough room for Cook to be the centerpiece of the offense and Jefferson to significantly outperform rankings of 129 overall and WR51. It’s much more likely that he finishes closer to the top 30 and ends up being a steal.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
Golden Tate (WR – NYG): ECR 121 Overall, WR48
Despite him now entering his 11th NFL season as an upcoming 32-year-old WR, I’ve increasingly found myself selecting Golden Tate in virtually every mock draft. Tate is so undervalued that he’s the third WR drafted on his own team! This is despite the fact that he led the Giants’ WR group in average scoring with mild volatility while retaining the highest yards per route run, per PFF, among the three primary receivers. Additionally, Sterling Shepard has a severe concussion history, and Darius Slayton is way overvalued based on three boom games and significant volatility.
Perhaps everyone believes Tate is too old. And yet he averaged 11.8 PPG last year in half-PPR leagues, good for 26th among WRs with at least four games played. This ranked ahead of Courtland Sutton, Terry McLaurin, Tyler Boyd, and Odell Beckham, Jr. Of course, you’re not actually going to draft Tate ahead of these players. However, Tate is ranked as the WR48 (and 123rd overall player) by the consensus with an ADP of 141. This screams value, and Tate can easily provide a nice foundation for your WR3 or flex positions at a negligible cost. He fits in perfectly for any team focusing on a zero- or pseudo-zero-WR strategy, as overloading on RBs and other positions while starting Tate will hardly lose you a week. Lastly, there’s a clear path to Tate being the Giants’ top option from Week 1, with a potentially growing role depending on how things shake out with Shepard and Evan Engram’s injury histories. One of the best ways to win fantasy football is to grab value when it presents itself. Drafting Tate in the double-digit rounds of 10- and 12-team leagues screams value. Take it and run.
– Jared Lese (@JaredL_FF)
Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL): ECR 40 Overall, WR18
Robert Woods (WR17), A.J. Brown (WR16), Cooper Kupp (WR15), and D.J. Moore (WR14) all rank ahead of Ridley in the ECR. I have Ridley as my WR11 in half-PPR and am confident he’s going to finish much higher than WR18. Ultimately, the number of targets Ridley should receive this season won’t be a substantial difference from the rest of the bunch. Over the last two seasons, he has recorded 63 and 64 receptions on 92 and 93 targets, totaling 1,687 yards and 17 touchdowns. Ridley was on pace for 77 receptions, 114 targets, 1,066 yards, and eight touchdowns before missing three games in 2019. Those are solid WR2 numbers, but he could surpass those totals with an anticipated higher passing attack in Atlanta this season. FantasyPros projects Matt Ryan to lead the NFL with 625 pass attempts, 422 completions, and 4,648 passing yards this season.
Is Ryan Tannehill going to feed A.J. Brown more than Ryan will Ridley? How about Teddy Bridgewater to Moore in his first season with three wide receivers and Christian McCaffrey? I can hear you point out Jared Goff to Kupp and Woods because Julio Jones needs to be fed in Atlanta too, but Ryan has attempted at least 600 passing attempts in two straight seasons and six of the last eight. Ridley recorded an 83.9% catchable target rate. Defenses also had to respect his speed, giving him the most yards of cushion in the league (7.4), per NFL’s NextGen Stats. He averaged 1.5 deep targets per game, and his 4.4 40-speed is a game-changer with Jones on the other side of the field. In Weeks 1-14 last season, he was the WR14 overall. If Ridley plays a full 16 games, his breakout season should come in 2020.
– Vaughn Dalzell (@VaughnDalzell)
Kareem Hunt (RB – CLE): ECR 65 Overall, RB28
In eight games played for the Cleveland Browns last season, Kareem Hunt finished as the RB19 in half-PPR leagues. Hunt did that alongside “starting” running back Nick Chubb. Head to the ECR, and you’ll find Hunt as RB28 right now. Going into training camp, he’ll have had a full offseason with the Browns with no recent off-the-field issues. If last season’s usage was any indication of how he’ll be utilized this season, I’d fully expect the Browns to line up two running backs on a consistent basis. Hunt (60%) played almost as many snaps as Chubb (64%) when both were active from Weeks 10 – 17. Now inject new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s run-heavy scheme into their offense and think about the possibilities for both running backs.
It’s reasonable to think Hunt could finish as a solid RB2 this season, but that’s just his floor. Remember back to his rookie season with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017. Hunt rushed for 1,327 yards and eight TDs, adding 53 catches for 455 yards and another three scores. He finished as the RB4 in half-PPR leagues. That’s his ceiling. If Chubb were to miss any amount of time this season, Hunt immediately catapults into the RB1 conversation. At a 77 overall ADP, you’re drafting Hunt at his lowest possible price; he’ll likely be a top-24 running back even if he shares the backfield with Chubb all season. Not only are you getting a sure-fire RB2, but you’re getting the most valuable handcuff in fantasy football at the same time!
– Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler)
Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE): ECR 69 Overall, WR29
First off, I love this list so far and agree with all of my colleagues’ selections. Well done, boys! Now, let’s talk about someone who gets annually disrespected for no reason. I’m talking about Juice, AKA Jarvis Landry. Why doesn’t anyone like him? I can’t find a reason. In fact, I never find a good reason, and yet this continually happens every year in fantasy drafts. As of this writing, Landry sits atop the sixth player tier in FantasyPros’ half-PPR rankings as the 69th overall player and WR29. This is beyond shameful! He’s once again criminally undervalued heading into 2020, and simply looking at his consistent track record is enough to make the case for him.
Last season was forgetful for the Browns’ offense as a whole, and yet Landry finished with 195.9 points in a half-PPR setting. That total was good for a WR12 finish. Was that an outlier? Absolutely not. That point total is shockingly similar to his average of 195 points from the last five seasons. Landry used to get knocked for not having a nose for the end zone until he busted out nine TDs in 2017. At his fantasy floor, you can still expect an 80-catch campaign for 950 yards and four TDs. Is that really a cause to rank him a dozen spots lower at WR than Robert Woods? Perhaps we don’t value the consistency enough, and maybe that’s why we’re ranking former teammate DeVante Parker above him after one decent season. I don’t know. I wish I had an answer for you, but I don’t. However, I will continue to recommend drafting Landry in all formats as a super-safe WR2 with sneaky repeatable WR1 upside who’s being drafted as a borderline WR3. Simply put, he’s a huge value every year, and this season is no different. Take the massive discount and laugh all the way to the bank … and your league championship.
– Josh Dalley (@JoshDalley72)
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.