Using the Advanced Stats to Find 2018’s Best Boom/Bust Candidates

Late round boom-or-bust players are often the difference for a bubble team cashing. In Part 3, I’ll take a look at some deep options for the best ball formats of Fanball and FFPC bestball drafts.

As it has been in the previous versions, the criteria for these players will be:

  • ADP outside of the top 150.
  • Likelihood of starter-worthy production.

In March and May, I gave the following players as potential targets in the later rounds.

March Fanball FFPC May Fanball FFPC
QB Blake Bortles Case Keenum QB Eli Manning Tyrod Taylor
RB Matt Breida T.J. Yeldon RB Bilal Powell Javorius Allen
WR Danny Amendola Keelan Cole WR James Washington Jermaine Kearse
TE Austin Hooper Tyler Kroft TE Rico Gathers Jesse James

Now we reach the training camp edition.

Quarterback

Fanball

Andy Dalton is perpetually undervalued in best-ball leagues. Currently being drafted as the QB26 at pick 182 overall, Dalton is once again a strong choice in the late rounds of your best-ball drafts.Dalton ADP

Not only does Dalton easily meet the criteria for a late round option, but he provides nearly half of a season worth of usability.

andy dalton top 12 weeksDalton has been a consistent source of top-12 weeks over the last five seasons. In a down 2017 season, he still finished with five top-12 finishes,1 including two weeks within the top five. He also had five weeks outside of the top 24 at his position, so he’ll likely need to be part of a three-QB stable or with a consistent scorer.

Of my three selections this offseason, I prefer Blake Bortles due to his success regardless of team W/L or run/pass ratio.

FFPC

I love Ryan Tannehill this year due to the savvy replacements for Jarvis Landry and their proclivity to play from behind. He’s currently being drafted as the QB28 because of concern about how many points the team will score, but being bad could end up as a virtue. The Vegas win total for the Dolphins currently sits at 6.5, and when Miami loses, Tannehill averages seven more passes per game. Tannehill Splits

Tannehill’s efficiency drops significantly when the team is trailing, but the biggest benefit is increased variance. With seven extra passes, he can pad scoring in the late portions of games in a similar fashion to Bortles during the early years of his career.

How to Play It: Case Keenum is still on the fringe of eligibility for this piece and if you can take him beyond pick 150, he should be the pick. Paired with two proven wide receivers and earning positive camp reports, he’s capable of repeating his 2017 success. And even if he only gives 75 percent of his success and has three top-five weeks, he could vault a team up the rankings during his good stretches.

Running Back

Fanball

Austin Ekeler had fantasy viability as the pass catching RB in Los Angeles with a seven percent target share and elite work after the catch. Of his 279 yards receiving, 246 came after the catch.

Ekeler only managed 46 carries and 27 receptions over the course of the season, but he responded with five touchdowns. In spite of his limited workload, he notched five weeks among the top-36 RBs, including one top-five week.

How To Play It: Of my three RB recommendations for Fanball, Matt Breida has the highest ceiling playing behind an unproven Jerick McKinnon. If he’s available at his current ADP of 161, Breida is a great upside selection for a team built on variance options.

FFPC

Latavius Murray’s success in 2017 is almost entirely due to the injury of Dalvin Cook, but with Cook returning from a serious knee injury, there’s reason to hedge your bet on the talented second-year back. And Murray produced when he was given the opportunity.

Murray top 24 weeks

Murray had six top-24 weeks, including four inside the top 12, and he can be had at pick 164 overall.

If Cook maintains the 72 percent rushing share that he was carrying during the first four weeks, Murray will likely be a dud. But if Cook’s role is reduced to prevent injury or if Murray carves out a red zone role, the path to value is there.

Finding a consistent RB at the end of a draft often requires an injury, and that’s why Murray is my favorite of the FFPC RB options presented. He’s a true RB2 if Cook goes down and may provide several weeks of flex value with Cook still in the lineup.

Wide Receiver

Fanball

Quincy Enunwa is back and healthy.2 There’s reason to be concerned about whether he could maintain value behind Robby Anderson. But with a rookie QB potentially starting, Enunwa may become the short-yardage option with PPR value.

Enunwa DOT

In 2016, when he was the WR44, Enunwa had five games with more than 15 fantasy points despite scoring only four TDs on the season. In three of those games, he had at least five receptions and only eclipsed 100 yards in one of the five.

How To Play It: Now that Danny Amendola has emerged in camp as the team’s WR3 ahead of Albert Wilson, he’s my favorite boom/bust option. His history would indicate that he won’t be available for 16 games, and while he’ll likely see a dip in efficiency with a worse QB, he’s a Landry clone when it comes to target depth. If he absorbs even a portion of Landry’s volume, he’ll likely be a WR3 or better multiple weeks of the season.

FFPC

Tyrell Williams was the WR18 in 2016 and is the forgotten man on the Chargers roster. His ADP of 173 overall is an indication that Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have overshadowed him and made him a value in the late rounds.

As I noted in my Tyrell Williams best-ball article:

Allen’s 27-percent target share from 2017 is likely sustainable for 2018. If you remove those targets from the previously projected 570 pass attempts, that leaves about 415 targets for the rest of the offense. What stands out when looking at Ken Whisenhunt’s past offenses is the lack of separation between the WR2 and WR3 in target share.

Ken-Whisenhunt-Targets

So even if Mike Williams is the WR2 and Tyrell Williams is the WR3, their target shares are likely to be very close. Using the FFDraftPrep projection machine with his 2017 efficiency and the 3-year average of Whisenhunt’s WR2 shares, we can project Tyrell Williams for 77 targets, 48 receptions, 819 yards, and five TDs. That would give him 157 PPR points, which would have finished as WR36 in 2017.

Mike Williams may emerge as the team’s WR2, but the difference in target share is likely negligible. In a best-ball format, you can take the bad weeks with the good. If he can put up 800 yards and five TDs, there will likely be five weeks of starter-level production. As a WR5 on your roster, he’s an immediate value.

How To Play It: While Williams is the most likely to finish as a WR3 among my picks, Keelan Cole is my favorite late-round WR pick. Still with an ADP over 200, Cole had a No. 1 overall WR week and was one of the top WRs from Weeks 13 through 16. The cluttered WR corps has lowered his value, but he’s a decent candidate to have multiple “boom” weeks at the WR1 level.

Tight End

Fanball

It almost seems too easy to pick Ricky Seals-Jones, but his small window of production from 2017 is the definition of boom/bust. Seals-Jones went from three TDs in two weeks to five receptions over the final five weeks, including zero in the final two weeks of the year. As a TE1, he’s likely going to whiff enough to hinder a roster, but paired with a guy like Delanie Walker, he could be the perfect TE2.

RSJ TD

The 11.1 percent TD rate that Seals-Jones had in the final seven weeks is probably not reflective – look no further than his disappearance following Week 12 – but at 6-feet-5, he’s an obvious target in the red zone.

Seals-Jones is a trendy sleeper option because of his ADP and the flashes of week-winning upside, but he’s best suited for this format as a TE2. His sub-50 percent catch rate on 28 targets indicate a player that is unlikely to score from PPR volume, but he could score a TD or two and shift the outcome of a week. And since we’re looking for upside, he’s the most volatile option presented who should see the field.3

FFPC

Vernon Davis may have value with Jordan Reed on the field, but selecting Davis at an ADP of 184 is a bet on Reed’s injury history continuing in 2018.4 And when Davis is on the field, he’s been efficient as shown by his receiving air conversion ratio with Washington.

Vernon Davis

Davis finished with five top-12 weeks in 2017 and nine total weeks inside the top 16 at the TE position. Even if Reed is healthier than he’s been in recent years, Davis provides upside as a backup TE. At his current price, he’s a great TE2 and is my favorite of the boom/bust candidates. He’s similar to Tyler Kroft as a hedge play but has a higher weekly ceiling.

  1. Plus Week 17.  (back)
  2. Relatively. He’s reportedly suffering from a one to two week thumb injury.  (back)
  3. As a note, I would completely avoid Rico Gathers in drafts now. He’s tempting, but all signs from camp reports are that Blake Jarwin will take the biggest share of TE targets or it will be a split.  (back)
  4. I’m not a believer in the “injury prone” label, but Reed’s concussion history and soft tissue injuries should give some pause.  (back)