5 potential fantasy starters with sneaky-low ADPs

If you can get a starter late in a fantasy football draft, your team has a head start. Dan Clasgens identifies five possibilities.

| 4 weeks ago
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

5 potential fantasy starters with sneaky-low ADPs

With fantasy draft season picking up steam, we can start to get a broader look at some early ADP trends to determine where some pockets of value can be found.

The path to a fantasy championship starts on draft day. Finding starter-level production in the mid-to-late rounds could be the difference between being competitive in your league and dominating it.

Here are five players currently being drafted as bench players that could wind up being lineup-worthy this season more often than not in any format:

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

(Current MFL10 ADP – 127.39/QB16)

Dalton is coming off a season in which he threw for a career-low 18 touchdowns. Injuries limited Dalton’s production last season and have been a factor each of the last three years.

Star WR AJ Green (hamstring) was limited to just 10 games. Tight end Tyler Eifert played in only eight and was less than 100 percent for many more. Cincinnati also lost wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu before the season due to free agency and it had a ripple effect on the entire offense.

The Bengals’ offensive line took a huge hit this offseason in a free agency. Three-fifths of the team’s projected starting offensive linemen for 2017 received “poor” PFF grades. That doesn’t bode well for Dalton, who has been one of the worst-performing quarterbacks under pressure over the past few seasons.

While his TD rate was down (3.2 percent), Dalton still passed for his second-highest yardage mark (4,206 yards) of his career. He also rushed for four scores, something he has now done in three of his last five campaigns with 17 rushing touchdowns during that span. He also had his third-highest overall PFF grade out of his six seasons.

Despite all of the hurdles he faced in 2016, Dalton still finished as the No. 12 QB in fantasy scoring. A year earlier he was 19th in fantasy points (QB12 in in fantasy points per game), but missed three games and barely played in another due to a broken thumb. In 2014, Green and Eifert combined to miss 18 games and Dalton wound up as the No. 18 QB.

The last time that both Dalton and Green both played together for the entire year was 2013. That season, Dalton finished as the third-best fantasy quarterback. Much has changed since that time in Cincinnati, but when you throw to one of the best wide receivers in football there is a great opportunity for success.

Realizing their desperate need for playmakers, the Bengals put a priority on adding skill players in the draft when they selected speedy WR John Ross in the first round and came back in Round 2 to grab RB Joe Mixon. Add those two guys to Green and Eifert and other complementary pieces such as Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, and Giovani Bernard and the weapons are there for Dalton to be successful.

Andy Dalton’s career performances
Weekly Finish 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 total % GP
Top 5 1 3 0 6 2 12 15.79%
QB6 – QB12 6 3 4 1 7 21 27.63%
QB13 – QB19 3 4 6 5 2 20 26.32%
QB20+ 6 2 6 4 5 23 30.26%

If you wait until the very end of your draft to grab a quarterback, Dalton is a recommended target. He has a nice potential for bounce back and offers as a high a floor as any signal-caller in that tier.

C.J. Prosise, RB, Seattle Seahawks

(Current MFL10 ADP – 89.86/RB32)

Seattle signed RB Eddie Lacy this offseason and arrival has taken the attention of fantasy owners away from Prosise, but should it have? Don’t be too quick to jump on the Lacy train as he has had issues with both health and conditioning. Those concerns won’t simply go away in a new home.

Injuries limited Prosise to just six games as a rookie, including fracturing his scapula in Week 11. It was unfortunate timing as just a week earlier he gave us a taste of what he is capable of when he put up 22.3 PPR fantasy points versus the Patriots.

The Seattle offensive line graded out dead last in the final 2016 PFF positional rankings. However, Prosise showed the ability to get to the second level before the poor O-line play was exposed. He has the skill set to be a top guy in the running back rotation and is the Seahawks’ running back with the most upside in 2017 and beyond.

C.J. Prosise’s last three years (including final two seasons at Notre Dame)
Year Team G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
2014 Notre Dame 13 10 126 12.6 1 29 516 17.8 2 39 642 16.5 3
2015 Notre Dame 10 157 1029 6.6 11 26 308 11.8 1 183 1337 7.3 12
2016 Seattle 6 30 172 5.7 1 17 208 12.2 0 47 380 8.1 1­­

The former college wide receiver is a reliable target out of the backfield both in the flat and as a downfield threat. He drew rave reviews at the 2016 combine with a 4.48 40 and his game speed looks every bit as fast. Few players in the league have the ability to do more with a single touch.

Danny Woodhead, RB, Baltimore Ravens

(Current MFL10 ADP – 89.05/RB31)

Woodhead will soon turn 33 and has missed the bulk of two of the last three seasons due to injury, including tearing his ACL in 2016. That makes him hard to trust, but given his current ADP it could prove to be a nice investment.

He signed with Baltimore this offseason and is currently working without restrictions in OTAs. The team will need to lean on him early on with second-year running back Kenneth Dixon suspended for the first four games.

The veteran should dominate the workload on passing downs with Terrance West getting much of the early-down work to start the year. Even when Dixon returns, Woodhead is going to have a role. If he plays well early on it could turn out to be bigger than expected.

The Ravens lack weapons in the passing game. Woodhead had 76 receptions in 2013 and pulled in 80 more in 2015. Baltimore likes throwing to running backs (118/756/2 on 156 targets in 2016) and Woodhead should see a ton of those opportunities if he can stay healthy. He is likely to be undervalued in both PPR and standard formats.

Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49ers

(Current MFL10 ADP – 89.05/WR43)

In his final year with the Redskins, Garcon caught 79 passes for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns as he averaged over 13 yards per catch for the first time since 2012. Those numbers seem like his floor as he moves to San Francisco.

The reunion with play-caller Kyle Shanahan should spell good things for Garcon. The two were last together in Washington in 2013. Garcon led the NFL in receptions (113) and targets (182) that season. Shanahan likes to go to his feature wide receivers early and often and his familiarity with the system along with the lack of experience on the depth chart makes the veteran the logical choice to be that guy for the 49ers.

Garcon has been very consistent over the past five years and has sneaky WR2 appeal, especially in PPR leagues. He has only eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving twice during that span though, while making his way into the end zone 21 times. While he lacks the upside of some other players in the tier, you know what to expect with Garcon and he is unlikely to let you down.

Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears

(Current MFL10 ADP – 116.51/WR53)

Alshon Jeffery is gone and Chicago needs someone to step up. The defense gave up 24.9 points per game a year ago. That should lead to plenty of potential garbage-time production out of the team’s passing game. If a player can emerge as the lead dog, there will be a ton of opportunity for targets. The smart money is on White.

The Bears took White with the No. 7 overall pick of the 2015 draft, but so far, he has played in only four games in two seasons.

One of the most physically gifted wide receivers you’ll see, White is a 215-pounder with 4.35 speed. He’s drawn comparisons physically to Julio Jones. Still, White was unpolished coming into the league and his limited numbers so far as a pro have been less than impressive. White has pulled in just 19 of his 36 targets for 187 yards and no touchdowns.

If healthy, White will likely emerge as the Bears’ No. 1 wide receiver. Given his talent and potential opportunity White offers as much upside as any other wideout going off the board in the double-digit rounds.

Dan Clasgens is a ranker/writer at Pro Football Focus. He will also return to airwaves in 2017 for sixth season as a host on SiriusXM Fantasy. Dan has been publishing his fantasy rankings online since 2003 and has been ranked among the top analysts in the industry by Fantasy Pros over the past few seasons for both his weekly and season-long rankings.

  • Todd

    I disagree completely with these recommendations.

    Dalton- I want a QB that makes the WR’s better, not the other way around. He makes a fine QB2 and will only produce low end QB1 numbers in ideal situations.

    Prosise- he has the upside of CJ Spiller who also never delivered. Let us all learn from the oozing upside of Spiller which never materialized as a reminder to wait for a player to produce before we set unrealistic expectations of upside.

    Woodhead- this writer states Woodhead could have a larger role if he does well while Dixon is on the sidelines during the first 4 games. Newsflash, Woodhead is who he is, and is good for 80ish catches. Sure that has value, but there’s no upside. And as he gets older, and continues to get injured, the downside is beginning to mount.

    Garçon- the upside of ANY offensive player on SF is limited, so assuming upside of an aging Garçon is not a good idea. I realize Josh Gordon had a rest year for the weak Browns team, but he was also much younger and is a special player if not for his off-field problems. Let’s not spend any more time comparing Garçon to Gordon.

    Kevin White- White was taken #7 in the 2015 draft and has been injured and awful. Guess who was taken at #20 that draft, Nelson Agholor. How’s he working out? White is simply an unproven entity who has been injured and has an awful QB on a badly managed team. He belongs on the waiver wire until he produces.

    I am very impressed by articles from Scott Barrett. And BML and Jeff Ratcliffe and others on here. But this writer, Dan Clasgens, I’m sure you know football, but these 5 guys are basically guys I would write an article on Players To Avoid.

    • Corey Ferris

      Prosise’s numbers extrapolated over 16 games would be a top 20 RB easy. He should make this list.

      • Todd

        Are you really extrapolating results from TWO games? That is laughable.

        • Corey Ferris

          Yikes, I always find it strange when people seem so angry in their replies, attacking writers and mocking opinions. Its weird. Anyway, with Prosise, it was more than just his games. It was the investment Seattle made in him, the vision they had for him, and how that vision was executed when he was healthy. Tying it back to the point of the article, if he is able to stay healthy for all 16 games and the same vision is executed, he would be a great value to a fantasy team at his current ADP.

          • 0034

            Oh my gosh. I completely agree with you about folks whose comments are so angry & harsh. It’s weird to me as well.