Early Undervalued Players Based on ADP (2022 Fantasy Football)
It’s not peak drafting season. Nevertheless, gamers are drafting their pigskin teams now. As any grizzled veteran knows, landing undervalued players is a linchpin for a successful campaign. Thus, the following quartet of players is undervalued presently, making them attractive options around their average draft position (ADP) in point-per-reception (PPR) formats.
Tom Brady (QB – TB): 94.0 ADP, QB12
Brady continues to defy Father Time. In 2021, out of 30 quarterbacks with at least 400 dropbacks, Brady had Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) second-highest passing grade. He was also eighth in Big-Time-Throw rate (5.2%) and had the second-lowest Turnover-Worthy-Play rate (1.8%).
Brady also glowed in other measures. For instance, according to Sports Info Solutions (SIS), among quarterbacks with at least 400 pass attempts, he was seventh in Quarterback Rating (102.1) and third in IQR (108.8). In addition, Football Outsiders (FO) and ESPN also graded his work favorably. Specifically, Brady was second in Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), first in Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and second in QBR (68.1).
Still, those are mostly rate stats. Thankfully, the Bucs ran a fantasy-friendly offense. According to FO, the Bucs had the second-fastest situation neutral pace. They were also a pass-happy club. In fact, per Sharp Football Stats, in neutral game scripts, Tampa Bay passed at the highest rate (67%).
Brady made the most of the offensive attack, ranking first in passing yards per game (312.7) and touchdown passes (43). As a result, he was the QB3 in points per game. Brady doesn’t fit the mold of the modern dual-threat quarterback. Nonetheless, he’s a steal as the QB12.
Cordarrelle Patterson (RB – ATL): 79.8 ADP, RB31
Patterson had the rare age-30 breakout. New head coach Arthur Smith brilliantly used the electrifying playmaker as basically a hybrid running back and wideout. Patterson rewarded his new coach with excellent work as a receiver.
According to PFF, in 2021, out of 35 running backs with at least 40 targets, Patterson was second with 2.24 Yards per Route Run (Y/RR). Moreover, that mark was 12th best out of 173 players targeted at least 40 times. So, he was an efficient pass-catcher relative to all players, not merely running backs.
But, of course, he was used uniquely for a running back. Per PFF, the former receiver was third among the same group of backs in slot rate (18.1%) and first in snap rate aligned wide (31.7%). Patterson was also a volume hog. According to SIS, he was fifth among backs in target share (12.5%). Austin Ekeler and Alvin Kamara were tied for first at 14.2%, putting Patterson’s mark in perspective.
Additionally, C-Patt flashed his receiving chops with his downfield usage. His 220 Intended Air Yards were the second most for a back, and his 156 completed Air Yards were the best. In summary, Patterson is a legitimate weapon in the passing game.
Still, Patterson also added value as a runner. He averaged 38.6 yards per game on 9.6 attempts. The Swiss Army Knife also had a nose for the end zone, scoring six touchdowns on the ground and five through the air. Perhaps, they’ll scale back his rushing attempts with the addition of bruising running back Tyler Allgeier in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Regardless, that’s not much draft capital.
The Falcons also added Damien Williams in free agency, but he slipped down the Bears’ depth chart last year. So, he shouldn’t be viewed as a significant threat to Patterson. Most importantly, Patterson’s skill-set is tailor-made for point-per-reception (PPR) formats. Even if the Falcons limit Patterson to fewer rush attempts this year, he can easily best his RB31 ADP in PPR formats. Last year, Patterson was RB13 in PPR points per game, leaving him tons of room to regress and overperform his ADP expectations.
Jamison Crowder (WR – BUF): 199.6 ADP, WR68
Crowder might be the direct replacement for Cole Beasley in Buffalo’s up-tempo, pass-happy offense. However, Isaiah McKenzie or Khalil Shakir could push him for slot duties. Nonetheless, that’s more than baked into his ADP.
Sadly, it was a down year for Crowder in 2021. Out of 90 receivers with at least 50 targets, Crowder was 78th with 1.15 Y/RR. Still, in 2020, out of 90 receivers, he was 38th with 1.79 Y/RR. Comparatively, in three years (2019-2021) with the Bills, Beasley had 1.61 Y/RR, 1.94 Y/RR and 1.44 Y/RR.
Thankfully, the Bills play fast and pass a ton. In 2021, they were ninth in situation neutral pace and second in passing rate (65%) in neutral game scripts. As a result, Beasley helped fantasy squads, making the most out of his ideal situation. In 2021, Beasley was tied for WR45 in PPR scoring per game among wideouts with at least seven games played. However, in 2019 and 2020, he was T-WR35 and T-WR29, respectively. Further, Crowder was WR19 in 2020.
Crowder has a wide variety of possible outcomes for 2022. His worst-case scenario is losing the slot battle to McKenzie or Shakir. Crowder could also end up in a rotation with his competitors. Yet, even if either of those situations come to pass, his cost was low enough to make him an easy cut for a waiver darling after Week 1. Conversely, he could be the unquestioned slot option and press Gabriel Davis for No. 2 receiver honors. Where Beasley finished in PPR in 2019-2020 represents reasonable outcomes for Crowder this year. Thus, he’s a great pick earlier than his borderline top-200 ADP.
Rob Gronkowski (TE – TB): 127.3 ADP, TE14*
*He doesn’t have an ADP on FFC, but his ADP would rank as TE14.
Gronkowski hasn’t resigned with the Buccaneers yet. However, the team is reportedly optimistic about Gronk joining them. The veteran tight end also didn’t show signs of hitting a cliff. On the contrary, Gronk was awesome last season.
Out of 35 tight ends with at least 40 targets, Gronk was tied for fifth with 1.94 Y/RR. He was also a beast after the catch, ranking fourth in Yards After the Catch (421) in 14 games, including the postseason.
Brady’s long-time running mate was also a monster in the red zone. Among tight ends, he was tied for sixth in touchdown receptions (five) in the red zone. Add everything up, and Gronk was TE4 in per-game PPR scoring.
Obviously, until he signs on the dotted line, there’s a chance he won’t play this year. Nevertheless, he has the upside to finish as a top-five tight end. There isn’t a realistic chance for most tight ends outside the top 10 to finish as a top-five player at the position. So, gamers are encouraged to take a chance on Gronk. Additionally, if Gronk signs, he’ll still be a value if he’s picked after T.J. Hockenson‘s TE6 ADP of 63.7.
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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.