Every year when it gets close to draft time, websites are flooded with articles about who you should and shouldn't pick for your fantasy team. The thing is, unless you're in an auction league and have the ability to take a player at any time based on a value that you assign, you can really only target certain players that have a perceived value to you greater than where they are currently being taken in the draft (in other words, their ADP or Average Draft Position). It's my goal in the next few weeks to go through some fantasy relevant players at each position and provide a short argument for why they should be targeted above their current ADPs. Remember, if the team managers in your league have above-average football intelligence, you will likely have to select these players (and any others you have your eye on) several picks earlier than their ADPs. For the purposes of this article we'll be using the ADP statistics from recent mock drafts (10-team standard league) at Fantasy Football Calculator (a tool that we often use) and you can access that updated data here: http://fantasyfootballcalculator.com/adp.php?format=standard&year=2014&teams=10&view=graph&pos=all.
(Current ADP - 12.08)
I know, I know. I'm supposed to follow my own advice and temper my expectations for rookies. Especially for rookies like Kelvin, who has had problems in the past specific to dropped passes and a limited route tree. What you can't deny, however, are the favorable comparisons to guys like Alshon Jeffery and Plaxico Burress. Benjamin's measurables are immense: 6'5", 240lbs, 35-inch arms and a 4.5ish 40. Yikes. I'm going to be looking closely at Benjamin's play in upcoming preseason games to gauge his comfort level with the routes he is being asked to run, but from training camp reports we are hearing nothing but great things. In fact, it appears as though he has not yet dropped a ball at all. Finally, Benjamin looks to have no real competition for the starting WR role in Carolina. That said, there is a little talent there in Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant and of course Greg Olsen (who will likely end up leading the team in receptions). In fact, I tend to think that the Panthers' receiving core is actually better than it was last year.. Steve Smith showed a large decline in healthy game-to-game production last year (not to mention that his 5'9" frame is a little small for today's NFL) and Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn have never been standouts (and are easily replaced by Cotchery and Avant in the short term). Bottom Line: the rumors of Cam Newton's demise have been greatly exaggerated and adding a freakishly athletic receiver to the mix should only be a boon to his numbers. While I'm not predicting a top 20 season for Benjamin, I strongly believe that he will finish inside the top 40 wide receivers (if only because of his immediate use in red-zone situations) which would be the right value to select him in the 10th or 11th rounds.
(Current ADP - 13.06)
Marvin Jones stunned the fantasy world last season in his 2nd year when he scored 10 total TDs (including 4 vs. NYJ in Week 8). Even taking out that game (which could be considered a statistical outlier) he improved on his rookie year production by 500+ yards and 5 TDs. And all of this while sharing time on the field with Mohamed Sanu. Although Jones only just came off the PUP list (he had an ankle injury that was not considered serious), he looks to be locked in as the starting receiver for 2014 opposite A.J. Green. This absence from training camp could explain the current low draft position, but don't let it fool you - he will surely be on the rise over the next few weeks as news continues to trickle out from Cincinnati. Most likely, Jones should average between 4-6 receptions per game (I'm predicting around 70 total) which should increase his total receiving yards toward 1000. In other words, even if he doesn't match the 10 TD's from last year his stock should still hover around the same value (he finished 2013 as the #24 WR overall in standard scoring leagues). Even a slight regression in TD's from 2013 then would still put him at the bottom of the top 30 WR's. We're talking about guys here like Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, Kendall Wright, etc. and all of those guys are being drafted right now between rounds 7 and 10. With an ADP of 13.06, Marvin Jones is a prospect that is still being undervalued in rounds 10-12. Wait as late as you can to pick him up.. but not too late! Bottom Line: playing behind A.J. Green will only continue to help Jones.. watch out for a rising ADP over the next few weeks and catch him while you can.
(Current ADP - 8.01)
Reports from training camp are saying that Dolphins' QB Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace are still struggling to find a good chemistry on deep routes. Well, just remember that this is still preseason and words fly around like footballs this time of year. Wallace performed better in the last six games of the 2013 season than earlier in the year which makes it a little easier to trust him as a solid fantasy commodity, and new OC Bill Lazor (formerly working as the QB coach under Chip Kelly on the Eagles) has vowed to use Wallace all over the field rather than simply as a deep threat. We know that Wallace is fast and can be productive, and on this team there should be a fair amount of playing catch-up as the Miami defense finished the season in the bottom half of the NFL. Wallace will fill the Desean Jackson role in Lazor's offense and whether or not he and Tannehill are hanging out on their days off, he will exceed his production from 2013. I Expect Wallace to at least more closely approach if not get back to the numbers he had as an instrumental part of the Steelers offense (1,000+ yards, 8+ TDs) which would put him squarely into the top 20 receivers when we look back on the 2014 season. Finally, the Dolphins actually have the most favorable schedule for WRs (calculated here: http://www.fftoolbox.com/football/strength_of_schedule.cfm?type=e&sortby=WR from 2013 season data). Bottom Line: Mike Wallace had a hiccup of a season due to a few reasons (change of teams, coaching staff, new quarterback, etc) but despite that he still finished as a top 30 receiver.. look for his return to form this year.
(Current ADP - 12.10)
Last season Kenny Stills was a one-trick pony, but oh what a nice trick it was. As a rookie, Stills led the league in yards per reception (20.0) and had only one drop while finding the end zone five times. With the departure of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, there are a lot of targets (143) that need to be filled. There has been talk at camp about Nick Toon and Brandin Cooks, but they are really fighting for the third spot, with Stills solidly in the second spot as long as he's healthy. He will at least split those 143 targets, giving Stills a solid 70+ this year. Taking into consideration Stills' low drop rate, a 60 reception season should net him over 1100 yards. It will look a lot like DeSean Jackson's second and third seasons (2009 & 2010). Stills has the potential to be a solid WR3, especially with a QB like Drew Brees under center. Bottom Line: with an ADP of 12.10, Stills holds fantastic value even a round or two earlier.
(Current ADP - not drafted in standard leagues)
Of course it's difficult to put faith in a guy that only recorded 64 yards in his rookie campaign. That's what these sort of articles are all about though, right? First, Markus Wheaton is a prototypical burner receiver with a 4.4 40 time and good hands - the reports out of training camp this year have been ridiculous, to put it lightly. "He can be that guy that teams look at in the first four games and are like, 'Who is that dude running past people?'" said Ike Taylor, who's been going against Wheaton at practices (from Rotoworld - http://www.rotoworld.com/recent/nfl/8406/markus-wheaton). Second, the Steelers lost Emmanuel Sanders to the Broncos in the off-season and did not look to replace him from outside sources (they drafted a developmental project WR in Martavis Bryant and picked up Lance Moore (possible split slot duty and Cotchery replacement) and Darrius Heyward-Bey who will provide some depth at the position). It was known last year that Wheaton would have had a bigger role if it wasn't for the two broken fingers that sidelined him for the majority of the 2013 season and it appears that the starting role opposite Antonio Brown is his to lose now. With the Steelers going no-huddle and after a very impressive offensive resurgence in the final weeks last year, it's pretty ridiculous that Wheaton is not even being taken off the board in standard redraft leagues. That said, the story here is that not many people who are casual fans of the game are familiar with the name. Bottom Line: Look for Wheaton's ADP to *exist* in a few weeks, but be sure to draft him in the late rounds for a value pick that could prove to be solid WR4 production.