NFL Teammates: Targeting Players with Better Value (2022 Fantasy Football)
Fantasy football is not a simple game. The key to winning isn’t just picking good players or having the best rankings. Instead, it’s much more complicated. You need to have a good draft strategy, be able to adjust to your league’s scoring and your league mates’ moves, and most of all, find the best values possible.
While rankings are useful, they aren’t written in stone. Sometimes it’s smart to pass on a player in an earlier round for a better value in a later round. Not because the player with the later ADP is a better fantasy asset, but because he is the better value.
For example, should you spend a second-round pick on a running back who averages 16 fantasy points per game and take a tight end who averages 10 fantasy points per game in round six? No. Instead, spend the second-round pick on a tight end who averages 15 fantasy points per game and use your sixth-round pick on the running back who averages 12 fantasy points per game.
While that sounds confusing, here are five prime examples of when you should pass on an early-round player for his teammate a few rounds later.
While Chase deserves every ounce of credit he gets, Higgins is currently underrated. Higgins was a top-13 wide receiver on a points-per-game basis last season, averaging 15.6 fantasy points per contest. Furthermore, he had a team-high 7.9 targets per game last season, while Chase averaged 7.5 targets per game. Higgins also had a slightly higher target share (23.9% to 23.7%) despite playing 7.1% fewer snaps last year.
More importantly, Joe Burrow looked Higgins’ way in the red zone. Higgins had a 26% red zone target share and 13 red zone targets in 14 games, while Chase had a 20.7% red zone targets share and 12 red zone targets in 17 games. Chase is a superstar and worth a first-round pick. However, Higgins is the better value at his ADP.
After losing their top two wide receivers in the offseason, the Green Bay Packers will lean on their two star running backs this year. While Jones should have more of a role in the passing game, it’s not enough to overcome the difference in the duo’s ADP. Dillon was the RB23 last season, averaging 10.9 fantasy points per game. However, he averaged only 11 rushing attempts per game last season. Yet, Dillon averaged five yards per touch and 0.83 fantasy points per opportunity.
Furthermore, 46 of his 221 touches last year came in the red zone (20.8%) with only six goal-line rushing attempts. So don’t be shocked if Jones and Dillon end the year as an RB1, making Dillon the much better value as a sixth-round pick instead of a second-round selection. The last time a pair of teammates had an RB1 season in PPR was in 2020 with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Williams broke out last season with a career year in most statistical categories. But, more importantly, Williams and Allen ended the year as top-12 wide receivers. Furthermore, he had four top-12 weekly finishes last year, matching Allen. However, Williams accomplished that feat despite playing 7% fewer snaps and seeing a 4.3% smaller target share.
The former first-round draft pick averaged less than one fewer fantasy point per game than Allen. However, Williams was more effective than the veteran. Williams averaged more fantasy points per route run (0.46 vs. 0.44) and more fantasy points per target (1.91 vs. 1.64) than Allen. He also had only two fewer red zone targets and 10 more deep targets than the veteran receiver. So even if he doesn’t replace Allen as the Chargers’ No. 1 wide receiver this year, Williams has no business getting drafted two rounds later than the veteran.
While Brown is the new flashy toy on the team, Hopkins remains the No. 1 wide receiver in Arizona. Last year was a down year for the veteran as he averaged 14.7 fantasy points per game, his lowest average since 2016. Furthermore, his 57.2 receiving yards per game was the fewest of his career since his rookie season. However, Hopkins averaged 6.9 targets and 15.4 fantasy points per game in the nine games he played at least 25% of the snaps in 2021. That fantasy points per game average would have made him the WR10 over a 17-game pace.
Meanwhile, Brown has never been a WR1 for fantasy players. Yes, he was limited by the Baltimore Ravens’ run-heavy offense. However, Brown has only one season in his career with a top-35 finish. Brown had 145 targets in 2021, the 10th most in the NFL. Yet, he averaged only 1.56 fantasy points per target and 0.44 fantasy points per route run. While he will play in a more pass-friendly offense this year, the Cardinals have several mouths to feed. Furthermore, the loss of Christian Kirk opens up 103 targets from last year’s team. While he is suspended for the first six weeks of the season, Hopkins is the best bargain on the Cardinals.
The New England backfield is a two-headed monster. Harris was the RB14 last season, while Stevenson was the RB47. However, Stevenson was equally as good when given the touches. Both running backs averaged 4.6 yards per rushing attempt last season. The big difference between their fantasy production was touchdowns, where Harris had 15 compared to five for Stevenson. However, Stevenson averaged five yards per touch compared to 4.8 for Harris. He also had the same number of weekly top-12 finishes as Harris (two) despite seeing only 38.9% of the backfield workload.
More importantly, Stevenson has impressed the coaching staff in training camp and reportedly will take on the James White pass-catching role. Furthermore, there have been rumors that the Patriots would entertain trading Harris. More importantly, Harris averaged 14 fantasy points per game last year. Meanwhile, Stevenson averaged 16.2 fantasy points per game in the two games without Harris. If he can get 40 or more receptions and steal some touchdowns from Harris, Stevenson could be a league-winner.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.