Five Undervalued Players in Mock Drafts
Average draft position (ADP) is a volatile statistic when it comes to fantasy football mock drafts. Player rankings and draft position are fluid leading up to every season, but it’s not too early to start targeting value picks for your league’s draft.
Toby Gerhart is a perfect example of ADP being affected by the lengthy waiting period leading up to training camp and preseason play. Gerhart’s ranking from major fantasy sites has steadily climbed over the past month, and he is now being widely accepted as a potential RB2.
While Gerhart initially looked like a prime target for middle-to-late round value, he’s gradually become a bigger name for fantasy owners to target. Any news or analysis leading up to the regular season can quickly affect a player’s ADP.
Right now, there are multiple players who are undervalued in mock drafts. After participating in a few mock drafts, I wanted to point out several players I’m targeting as value picks. I took mock draft data from My Fantasy League (MFL), ESPN and Fantasy Football Calculator.
ESPN compiles all mock snake draft statistics together. For MFL and FF Calculator, I selected 12-team leagues using standard scoring. Here are five players that I found to be undervalued in each site’s mock draft data, along with their current ADP among their respective position.
WR Roddy White
MFL: WR26, ESPN: WR19, FF Calculator: WR21
White finished No. 8 and No. 10 respectively among wide receivers in standard leagues from 2011-2012. Last season was derailed due to injuries, as he hurt his ankle in preseason play and didn’t return to full health until late in the year. Yes, he’s aging and battling Julio Jones for targets in the Falcons passing game. However, one statistic should keep owners optimistic about White’s upcoming season.
Since 2010, White trails only Calvin Johnson in receptions that resulted in a first down. White has 260 receptions in this category, even with the injury-plagued season last year. Tony Gonzalez ranks No. 9 in receptions for first downs in that same span. With Gonzalez gone, White’s role will be even more vital. He has consistently served as a go-to target for Matt Ryan when the Falcons have needed a first down.
White scored an average roughly eight touchdowns per year from 2007-2012. Over his last five games in 2013, he caught 43 passes for 502 yards and two touchdowns. While Jones is the top Falcons player to target, White continues to display WR1 talent. There will be plenty of targets for both of Atlanta’s top wide receivers with Gonzalez gone in 2014.
RB DeMarco Murray
MFL, ESPN and FF Calculator: RB9
With an opportunity-adjusted touchdown (OTD) of 8.3, Murray ranked No. 8 among all running backs last season. Murray saw 23 carries from his opponent’s 10-yard line or closer in 2013, and he took four of those carries from the 1-yard line. He scored all nine of his rushing touchdowns within 10 yards of the endzone.
Murray ranked No. 4 last year among qualifying running backs in PFF’s elusive rating. He forced 53 missed tackles total. He also broke 11 runs of 15-plus yards. Murray is efficient and a major factor in the Cowboys offense when he’s healthy. To help his cause, the Cowboys possess one of the best run blocking offensive lines in the NFL.
Murray caught a career-high 53 passes in 2013. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan produced two 50-plus reception running backs in Detroit last season with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Murray will remain active in the passing game going forward. He is a RB1 who could crack the top five running backs in standard and PPR leagues.
QB Jay Cutler
MFL: QB15, ESPN: QB15, FF Calculator: QB13
If you combine the numbers between Cutler and Josh McCown last season, you have the standard league QB3. Chicago passed 62 percent of the time, as Marc Trestman came in to lead the offense to score the second-most points per game in the league.
Excluding Cutler’s rookie season where he ultimately replaced Jake Plummer, the Bears starting quarterback has played 15-plus games in five of his seven full seasons. Owners will remain cautious about his “injury prone” nature, as some will call it, but Cutler has proven in the past that he can play a full season.
Having two top 10 wide receivers boosts Cutler’s fantasy stock. As JJ Zachariason of numberFire pointed out, two top 10 receivers usually produce a top 10 fantasy quarterback. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, along with Matt Forte, combine to make a dangerous arsenal for Cutler. He is better than his ADP suggests.
WR Kendall Wright
MFL: WR29, ESPN: WR36, FF Calculator: WR35
As noted in the PFF Fantasy Draft Guide, Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt is partial to slot receivers. One-third of the throws in Whisenhunt’s offenses have gone to slot receivers. Wright saw 64 percent of his targets in 2013 lined up in the slot. The combination of these two could lead to a healthy amount of targets for the third-year wide receiver.
Under Whisenhunt’s tutelage in San Diego, Philip Rivers finished as the QB4 and Keenan Allen finished as the WR17 in standard leagues (keep in mind Allen did not play much to start his rookie season). Whisenhunt knows how to put his receivers in position to thrive, and he can help Wright continue his success following a 94-reception season.
Wright’s downfall last year was his low touchdown total. He only scored twice. His aDOT was just 7.2, sixth-lowest in the league among wide receivers, but he finished with the eighth-most yards after catch among all pass catchers. The Titans former staff hindered Wright’s ability and kept him to a short-yardage slot man. Whisenhunt is more creative. If he utilizes Wright like he has previous wide receivers, Wright can crack the top 25 this season.
RB Terrance West
MFL: RB45, ESPN: RB48, FF Calculator: RB35
Unfortunately West’s low ADP is going to rise as we hear more about him and see more of him leading up to his first season. Browns head coach Mike Pettine has expressed his belief of using the running back by committee approach this year. He also already praised West in minicamp. The rookie running back’s stock is going up.
Current starting running back Ben Tate missed 24 regular season games in four years in Houston, including his entire rookie year. Tate is not as strong of a pass blocker or receiver as West. Even if he’s healthy for the full year, Tate will cede touches to West.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan helped develop Alfred Morris into a back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher in Washington. West possesses similar traits to Morris, with better hands and blocking skills. He can succeed in Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. West on average in the 7.11 pick in FF Calculator mock drafts, while Tate is pick 5.08. Value is on West’s side.