Attention degenerates: MFL 10s are back up and running and the RotoViz Similarity Scores Apps are here to help. Now, on the one hand drafting this early in the offseason is a bit like playing darts blindfolded.1 On the other hand, there’s now meaningful fantasy football drafting to be done in February. So, yea. What was the first point again?
For those of you beginning your 2015 fantasy football season only a week or two after the Super Bowl, we at RotoViz are here to help. If you’re following the MFL 10 strategy that was optimal in 2014, and for several years before that, you’re concentrating on running baccks early2 and then hitting wide receiver hard in the middle rounds. Finding high scoring WRs without spending high picks is critical if you’re taking RBs early this year, so I’ve used the RotoViz Sim Score App and the early MFL10 ADP to identify 10 WR targets for early MFL10s.
5 Mid Round Steals
Allen Robinson (WR 38, 81 Overall)
While most of the 2014 Rookie WR class are somewhat expensive,3 Allen Robinson appears to be lost in the shuffle. This is a situation where the Sim Score App can cut through noise and identify value. The App doesn’t know that the Allen Robinson bandwagon is stuck in traffic behind Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and the rest of the 104 second year WRs being drafted ahead of him. Instead, it sees a 220 pound WR who posted 11.5 FP/G as a 21 year old Rookie, and it likes what it sees.
In fairness, the App also doesn’t know that Justin Blackmon may return to the Jaguars next season, but is this a valid reason to avoid Allen Robinson in 2015? Blackmon has not yet been re-instated, hasn’t played football in nearly two full seasons and is at risk of a season long suspension (or longer?) if he fails another test at any point this year. Furthermore, if/when Blackmon returns, he’ll be playing alongside Allen Robinson, not instead of him. And in 17 career games alongside Blackmon, Cecil Shorts posted 14.4 PPR FP/G — Robinson’s exact Median projection in the Sim Score App.5 I don’t know if Blackmon will be back with the Jaguars, but for Allen Robinson, I don’t know if it matters.
Using the Sim Score App, Robinson’s Median and High Projections score him as a 4-5th round target. He’s an absolute steal at his current ADP in the late 7th round.
Brian Quick (WR 56, 142 Overall)
Quick is another big WR who was having an impressive 2014 before he was lost to injury. Post injury we saw flashes from Stedman Bailey and even Kenny Britt, but nothing that should keep Quick off the field in 2015. As a less established player, Quick does carry some risk in the event the Rams add a WR in free agency or the draft. But given the resources they’ve already allocated there and the flashes we’ve seen from Quick and Bailey, it seems like they’d want to target other areas of need (like Tight End).
Given how quietly Quick’s career started it’s easy to forget that he was a terrific NFL prospect in terms of physical ability and college production. Last season, we finally saw some of that potential translate to the NFL field and the flashes we saw registered in the Sim Score App, which gives Quick a Median Projection of 12.6 FP/G and a High of 15.4 .6 Quick has some uncertainty in terms of his place on the depth chart but also carries major upside as a big, athletic WR with some impressive NFL games on his resume. There’s also a reasonable possibility for improved quarterback play in 2015.
Quick provides WR2 upside for a 12th round price.
Brandon LaFell (WR 39, 84 Overall)
When drafting this early in the off-season, one of the most crucial elements is making sure you’re picking guys who will actually see the field. There’s a lot to be said then, for a established WR in a famously complex offense whose team has no financial incentive to cut him.
I expect the lack of enthusiasm for LaFell is related to the idea that he’s replaceable. But while there are some enticing names available, the Patriots recent history has been to forgo expensive WR additions in both free agency and the draft. Odds are they don’t add a big name at WR, but even if they do, the Patriots offense is tough to learn and Brady’s trust is hard to gain, which should create several use-able weeks from LaFell even in a worse-case scenario.
Best case scenario, LaFell builds on what he did in 2014, which was quietly impressive—finishing as WR 20 in PPR FP/G with 4 weeks of 20+ points. The Sim Score App likes to him for a Median projection of 13.7 and a High of 16.5. He’s a 5th round value that can be had in the late 7th round.
Eric Decker (WR 32, 67 Overall)
The Sim Score App scores Decker as fairly valued from a Median Projection perspective, but Decker comes at a discount to both his ceiling and floor projections. Decker’s ceiling is particularly undervalued at 16.6 FP/G.7 Intuitively this makes sense–Decker still managed to post 13.3 FP/G last season while battling through a hamstring injury, poor QB play and ineffective play calling. Odds are the Jets QB situation will still be gross in 2015, but Decker should be healthy and Chan Gailey may be able to coax more out of Geno Smith than Marty Mornhinweg was. Decker averaged 17.2 FP/G in his final 32 regular season games with Denver, and his TD scoring ability gives him weekly WR1 upside.
Decker is a 5th round value available in the mid 6th.
Anquan Boldin (WR 50, 111 Overall)
A lot is changing for the San Francisco 49ers for 2015, but one thing we can count on is that Anquan Boldin will be catching passes and we’ll all probably still be surprised about it. In a disappointing year for the 49ers offense, Boldin finished as PPR WR 26 with 13.7 FP/G. Like Decker, he still produced when things went wrong. The Sim Score App scores him particularly well in terms of his floor projection with an uber-safe floor of 10.6 points. Boldin has averaged 130 targets over the last two seasons and that’s not likely to change in 2015, particularly with Michael Crabtree’s future with the 49ers uncertain. This early in the off-season, Boldin’s established role in the 49ers offense carries real value.
As a 34 year old glorified Tight End, Boldin isn’t the sexiest pick in the world, but with he’s been the WR to own in San Francisco for the last two years, and should deliver WR2-WR3 value in 2015 for a WR4 price.
Not Bargains but Still Buys
Not every WR target comes at a steep discount. The five targets below are big second year WRs who are fairly valued based on their Sim Score Projections but whose draft profile and changing situations could lead to massive upticks in their 2015 values. I recommend having some exposure to all of them at this point in the off-season.
Mke Evans (WR 10, 23 Overall)
Evans posted 16.3 FP/G as a 21 year old rookie, and has room to grow. The Sim Score App scores him as slightly under-valued at his current ADP, particularly in terms of his safety. With a Low projection of 14.4 FG/G, Evans has the 5th highest floor projection among all WRs. However, the App may not be fully accounting the increased opportunities Evans will see if Vincent Jackson shows further decline, if Tampa Bay improves at QB, and/or if they have better a coordinated offense.8 Evans is a solid buy in the late second round and I recommend snatching him up immediately if he falls into the early third.
Jordan Matthews (WR 23, 50 Overall)
According to the Sim Score App Matthews is slightly overvalued at his current ADP. Nevertheless, Matthews comes with upside in the form of improved QB play via the return of Nick Foles or if the Eagles manage to trade up for 2015’s top QB prospect. Reports also indicate that Matthews may take over for Riley Cooper on the outside. Such a move would come with an increase of roughly 200 snaps, providing upside for Matthews that the App isn’t pricing in.
Matthews was a RotoViz favorite in 2014 and could pair a sophomore breakout with an increased workload in 2015. He’s not a screaming bargain, but it’s still worth getting some shares in the 5th round.
Donte Moncrief (WR 27, 61 Overall)
Moncrief also scores as mildly over-drafted by the Sim Score App, but don’t let that deter you from drafting a 6’2″ 220 pound 21 year old with 4.4 wheels who plays with Andrew Luck. Moncrief also has a path to increased opportunities with both Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks on the decline and entering free agency. Oh, and if you”re worried about Duron Carter, don’t be.
Moncrief is a little pricey at the moment but his athleticism and situation indicate that if he breaks out he’ll likely break out big. He’s worth drafting intermittently at his 6th round ADP.
Davante Adams (WR28, 62 Overall)
The Sim Score App scores Adams as a 13th round value and must think the fantasy community has lost it’s mind by taking him in the 6th round. But of course the Sim Score App doesn’t know that Randall Cobb may leave in free agency. What the App does know is that Cobb has a Median Projection of 15.9 FP/G, scoring as a 3rd round value. Even if Cobb departs, Adams may not deliver 100 percent on Cobb’s projection, but given the massive opportunity Adams would inherit he would easily become a 4th-5th round value.
Drafting Adams comes down to how likely you think Cobb is to leave the Packers. Personally I think it’s fairly likely and that Adams is worth getting some shares of in the 6th.
Martavis Bryant (WR 33, 69 Overall)
Martavis Bryant finished 2014 as WR30 in FP/G on just 306 snaps. Per the Fantasy Efficiency App, Bryant was the most efficient 2014 Steelers WR by a wide margin, and per ProFootballFocus he out snapped Markus Wheaton down the stretch. As a 6’4″ 211 pound deep threat who won’t see double coverage as long as Antonio Brown is on the field, Bryant has huge single game upside. As a 23 year old second year WR whose snap count could easily double in 2015, he also has seasonal breakout potential.
The Sim Score App scores Bryant as over drafted at his current ADP but he’s worth taking in the 6th round for his single game upside and the high likelihood of an increased workload.
- I’d also say drunk, but have you ever played darts not drunk?…be honest. (back)
- check out Justin Winn’s pieces on which RBs to draft and not draft early. (back)
- though not too expensive to forgo completely, as I’ll get to later. (back)
- 10! (back)
- This excludes Week 6 of 2013 when Shorts exited in the first quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return. (back)
- I excluded Week 8 when Quick went down for the season with a shoulder injury. (back)
- Excluding week 3 when Decker exited due hamstring tightness (back)
- It helps to have a Coordinator (back)