Early Undervalued Players (2021 Fantasy Football)
We have plenty of time for players’ stocks to rise, as the offseason is still young. However, the following three players are currently undervalued. The average draft position (ADP) highlighted is for point-per-reception (PPR) formats as of June 17.
In fantasy football, quarterbacks who can run are gold. Truthfully, they don’t even have to be good passers to provide fantasy value. Of course, if they add anything through the air, the sky is the limit.
Let’s look at a pair of mobile quarterbacks, Taysom Hill and Jalen Hurts, who collectively started seven games during the fantasy football regular season (Week 1 through Week 16). The following tables reflect their finish among signal-callers, per the FantasyPros Fantasy Football Leaders tool.
*Week 17 isn't part of the standard fantasy season, and I excluded it from Hurts' table when also factoring in former head coach Doug Pederson's obvious tanking maneuver.
Sometimes, we don't need gory math and analysis to hammer home a point, and simple analysis does the job. Hill and Hurts ranked 23rd and 38th in Pro Football Focus's passing grade out of 44 quarterbacks who dropped back a minimum of 100 times last year. They were objectively poor passers, but it didn't matter for fantasy purposes, as they finished as QB13 or better in all seven starts amassed during the fantasy season by the two of them.
I've laid the groundwork, but I've yet to even mention Trey Lance specifically by name. The 49ers paid a king's ransom to move up to the third overall pick to select the former North Dakota State signal-caller. He played in only one showcase game last year. However, he ran for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 attempts in 16 games as a sophomore in 2019, per Sports-Reference. The dude can run.
Colleague Kyle Yates lauded Lance's running ability in his fantasy outlook write-up. NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein also wrote the following among Lance's strengths, "above-average speed, athleticism, and power when he's on the move as a runner."
The rookie quarterback's running ability makes him a potential starter at quarterback in 12-team leagues every week once he claims the starting job. It's unclear when he'll take the gig, which has deflated his ADP for the time being. Additionally, his job as a passer will be eased by the excellence of head coach Kyle Shanahan and his embarrassment of Yards-After-Catch (YAC) monsters at his disposal. Lance fits the high-upside mold I'm looking for when drafting a backup quarterback.
Mike Davis (RB - ATL): 64.7 ADP
I'm pounding the table for Mike Davis again. At the end of May, I named him a player to target following the NFL Draft. Early this month, I featured him among the must-have running backs.
Davis' stock hasn't moved since the Falcons dealt Julio Jones to the Titans, and I think that's a mistake. Sure, removing Jones from the offense hurts their touchdown-scoring upside. However, it frees up targets in the passing game.
Davis plays running back, obviously, so he isn't a direct replacement for Jones' vacated targets. However, his pass-catching chops make him a candidate to absorb at least some of them. He averaged 3.9 receptions and 24.9 receiving yards per game last year with the Panthers.
Pro Football Focus also graded his receiving work favorably. Out of 47 running backs targeted a minimum of 25 times, Davis earned Pro Football Focus's 13th-highest receiving grade.
Davis is also an adequate runner with elite tackle-evading ability. According to Pro-Football-Reference, he ranked fifth in raw, broken tackles as a runner with 21. More impressively, he ranked first in attempts per broken tackle (7.9 Att/Br).
Davis has all of the tools and the lack of depth chart competition to profile as a three-down back. I have him ranked inside my top-20 running backs, making him a steal at his ADP as RB28 in PPR scoring formats.
Antonio Brown (WR - TB): 117.0 ADP
I'm not going to suggest that you draft Antonio Brown over teammates and fellow receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. However, the ADP gap between them is too large. Evans is being drafted as WR13 with an ADP of 40.3, and Godwin is going as the WR17 with an ADP of 44.3. Meanwhile, Brown is barely inside the top-120, and he is the WR46.
Including the postseason, Brown played in 11 games for the Buccaneers, and the following tweet illustrates the target breakdown between the three receivers.
Buccaneers WR targets in the 11 games Antonio Brown was on the field:
Chris Godwin - 78
Mike Evans - 77
Antonio Brown - 76
Chris Godwin - WR19
Mike Evans - WR14
Antonio Brown - WR46
- JetPack Galileo (@JetPackGalileo) June 14, 2021
Further, according to Sports Info Solutions, his 15.1% target share in the regular season bested Godwin's 14.8% and Evans's 14.6% marks. The targets aren't the only favorable numbers on AB's 2020 profile.
Out of 70 receivers targeted a minimum of 60 times, Brown ranked 10th in Pro Football Focus's receiving grade and 15th with 2.07 yards per route run. Sports Info Solutions also credited him with a 111,6 Receiver Rating, which they define as the quarterback's traditional Passer Rating on throws when targeting that receiver.
AB's ADP more than bakes in his poor off-field decision-making, which always threatens his on-field availability. I have him ranked as a low-end WR3 in 12-team leagues.
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