5 mid-round draft picks who should offer fantasy value
The longer I play fantasy football, the more I have come to find the following statement to be true: leagues are won in the middle rounds.
As a novice fantasy footballer, I can remember spending hours agonizing during draft preparation trying to decide whether to draft Randy Moss or Terrell Owens in the first round. Sure, they would both probably have big years, but who was going to have the biggest year? Those days are long behind me, as I’ve come to subscribe to a more risk-averse, diversified strategy early in drafts (like many, I’ve become a volume player). Now, I spend most of my re-draft prep time identifying players in the middle rounds who stand out as values versus their average-draft-position peers. It can be tempting to chase sleepers and breakout candidates in this range, I’d caution against overloading a roster with too many of those players. Instead, opt for players with well-defined roles.
Here are five such targets for 2017 fantasy drafts.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph and Sam Bradford found chemistry quickly and never looked back in 2016. Rudolph set career highs in several categories as the Vikings transitioned to a pass-first offense over the course of the season. Pat Shurmur took over as offensive coordinator in Week 8 and the pair ended up performing well in several key PFF metrics. Rudolph saw at least eight targets in seven of the final nine games and hit double-digit targets four times over that period. The former second-round pick ended up leading all tight ends in targets and snaps in route in 2017, finishing as the TE2 in PPR fantasy leagues. Bradford led all quarterbacks in a PFF signature stat: adjusted completion percentage.
Shurmur returns as the offensive coordinator in 2017, and I believe this is a key reason why Rudolph is setup to post a strong encore performance. In Shurmur’s last four seasons as a play-caller, his teams have posted the following finishes in passing attempts: fifth, sixth, sixth, 12th (he only called plays for nine games last season). The Vikings threw the ball 588 times in 2016 and I expect that number to increase in 2017. Rudolph could increase his output even if he doesn’t increase his target market share.