Stevie Johnson, Cecil Shorts, and the 10 Most Undervalued Players


As the summer progresses, the RotoViz Staff is moving closer to a consensus on some of the most underrated fantasy players for 2013. While the RotoViz calling card may be stockpiling value, these guys also sport ridiculous upside at their current ADPs. After all, cheaper isn’t always better. You want your roster stacked with stars.

Make sure to check out the follow up piece, Wes Welker, Kyle Rudolph, and the 10 Most Overrated Players.

For this piece, I’ve stayed within the ADP Top 100 where you really need to dominate. As a result, there are no quarterbacks on the list. Within the Top 100, quarterbacks are almost definitionally overrated. (If you want a list of criminally undervalued quarterbacks, check out my FanSided sleeper article. If you simply want to draft the No. 1 guy, then Andy Dalton is going to win the breakout battle with Ryan Tannehill and Sam Bradford.)

I’ve linked to some of the best stuff we’ve written so far, but these are my rankings. If I end up being wrong, don’t blame the other guys.

10. Alfred Morris (ADP 14)

Alfred Morris was my first round pick suggestion over Marshawn Lynch in How To Lose a Fantasy League in 10 Picks. I claimed Morris was better than Lynch in every possible way, which the folks at DraftCalc gave me a hard time about. Well, let’s look at the two guys a little more.

First the two players as rookies.

Alfred Morris Marshawn Lynch
Yds Scrim 1690 1299
Total TD 13 7

Convincing edge Morris.

So let’s look at how they compared in 2012 with their signature bruising styles. We’ll look at yards after contact (Yds Co) and yards per missed tackle forced (Yds MTF).

Alfred Morris Marshawn Lynch
Yds Co 2.99 2.77
Yds MTF 18.9 15.3

This is a small edge for Morris, but considering Beast Mode is all Lynch really has to hang his hat on, it’s pretty compelling.

Finally, let’s pull out the RotoViz Sim Score projections, set the games played dial to 1, and compare the 2013 projections for the two players.

Alfred Morris Marshawn Lynch
 Standard  Half PPR  PPR  Standard  Half PPR  PPR
Low 10.3 10.9 11.5 Low 10.6 11.4 12.2
Median 13.7 14.5 15.3 Median 13 14.1 15.1
High 15.5 16.4 17.2 High 14.8 15.8 16.8

Small edge for Morris.

But the app doesn’t know Morris was a rookie last year, or that he’s poised for a secondary breakout, or that Marshawn Lynch is still dealing with the slight specter of a DUI. Lynch is currently going three spots ahead of Morris, but Washington’s runner is a stealth star while Lynch is a strong sell.

9. Matt Forte (ADP 16)

If Matt Forte ever needs a PR man, he should consider Charles Kleinheksel. RotoViz’s resident Marc Trestman guru has been all over the changes in Chicago’s offense from the beginning. Check out the Trestman FPPRR Effect and progress through the Forte canon from there.

8. Steven Jackson (ADP 21)

Play around a little with the RotoViz Sim Scores for runners. Mentally take Steven Jackson out of St. Louis and plug in Michael Turner’s projection in Atlanta. Or you can just read Matthew Freedman’s explanation of why he’ll be the 2013 Fantasy MVP.

7. Chris Johnson (ADP 20)

You know who else averages far more yards per broken tackle than Marshawn Lynch? Chris Johnson. He also consistently blows Adrian Peterson away in yards before contact.

Here’s a quick excerpt from Chris Johnson is the Perfect Candidate:

The Titans have completely remade their offensive line by using the No. 10 overall pick on Chance Warmack and signing Andy Levitre in free agency. They added explosion to the pass game by trading up for Justin Hunter. His presence merely augments what should be a second year leap for Kendall Wright and the return to form of Kenny Britt.

If you’re almost always better than Adrian Peterson before contact, frequently better than Marshawn Lynch after contact, have a rejuvenated offensive line, own the single season yards from scrimmage record, and are only 27, should you be falling to the end of the second round?

6. Andre Johnson (ADP 30)

Recently, the scuttlebutt says Andre1500 has lost a step. Check out Advanced Targets – Year in Review, and you’ll discover this interesting stat among many others.

Yards Per Route Run
Andre Johnson 3.01
A.J. Green 2.32
Dez Bryant 2.13

Kind of makes you wonder how many more steps Johnson could lose before he dropped to the level of the up and coming stars. One and half? Two?

Or you could check the RotoViz Quarterback to Receiver Efficiency Tool.

Matt Schaub Andre Johnson WR 162 112 1598 4 4 9.25
Matt Schaub Owen Daniels TE 104 62 716 6 1 7.61
Matt Schaub Kevin Walter WR 68 41 518 2 2 6.88
Matt Schaub Arian Foster RB 58 40 217 2 0 4.43

The negative buzz around Johnson gives you an incredible opportunity to select an elite WR1 in the middle of the third round. Andre Johnson was one of the focal points of the Ultimate Power Lineup I created with the new RotoViz Snake Draft app.

Need more convincing? Check out James Goldstein’s 10 WRs 10 Ways to Win a Championship.

5. DeMarco Murray (ADP 32)

I’ve been promoting DeMarco Murray as a key sleeper all summer. In fact, his projections serve as a sharp counterpoint to a couple of the guys who are pretty good bets to show up on the Overrated List.

DeMarco Murray Frank Gore Darren Sproles
Low 8.1 7.3 6.8
Median 15.6 10.9 8.3
High 18.8 13.3 11.8

Bill Callahan will be calling plays for the Cowboys this season. In 2002 Callahan coached the Raiders to the Super Bowl and his running back, Charlie Garner, scored 347 fantasy points. To put that in context, AP scored 349 last season. Going with the safe choice for you RB2 is not the way to win fantasy title.

For a fuller explanation of Murray’s projection, find out why Murray is a stealth star .

4. Marques Colston (ADP 46)

The Snake Draft App often suggests you begin RB-RB-RB. That’s probably the best strategy in most leagues this year, and Marques Colston is a big reason why. Here’s a reproduction of the chart that serves as the centerpiece of my key draft thesis. You must go RB in Round 2.

Julio Jones A.J. Green Vincent Jackson Marques Colston
Low 11.9 12.3 13.2 13.1
Median 14.2 14.3 15.7 15.7
High 17.6 17 16.8 18.1

No. 5 on my list of things fantasy owners have forgotten from last year is that Colston finished as a WR1 last year. (Here are the eight others.) If you don’t draft Colston in R4 this season, you’re throwing away points.

3. Eric Decker (ADP 58)

Here are the Sim Score projections for Eric Decker and Wes Welker.

Eric Decker Wes Welker
Standard Half PPR PPR Standard Half PPR PPR
Low 6.4 8.2 10.1 Low 6.8 8.6 10.5
Median 9.1 11.5 13.8 Median 7.8 10.7 13.3
High 10.3 12.7 15.7 High 8.6 11.9 15


Wes Welker and Eric Decker seem poised to take a chunk out of each other’s fantasy value, but drafters have the direction of impact exactly backward. The great thing about the Sim Score is that it doesn’t really care about the situations of the two players. So Welker loses the bump from being the only decent receiver in New England. It may not be accurately knocking Decker for having to share targets with the Demaryius Thomas and Welker, but most of those lost targets will come out of the tight ends’ share.

While Thomas and Decker definitely cripple Welker’s value, it’s not clear that Welker will really hurt Decker. His biggest value is in the red zone where Welker isn’t much of a factor. Oh, and Decker scored more points than Julio Jones last year – just one of the other things fantasy owners have forgotten.

2. Stevie Johnson (ADP 72)

It didn’t seem to matter how I set the dials on the Snake Draft App, the algorithm insisted on giving me Stevie Johnson for every team. The Bills’ veteran receiver has somehow been lost in the enthusiasm for two rookies who rank outside my Top 15 incoming wide receivers. Somehow everyone seems to forget Johnson is coming off of three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

Not all of our projections agree with the Fantasy Pros numbers that feature in the Snake Draft App, but a quick peak at Johnson’s confirms we’re in lockstep here.

 Standard  Half PPR  PPR
Low 7.1 9.2 11.3
Median 8.7 11.1 13.4
High 11.1 13.7 16.3

Do those numbers best the just reported projections for Eric Decker and Wes Welker? Yes, and yes.

1. Cecil Shorts (ADP 79)

I’m not sure if Shorts is being docked for Blaine Gabbert or for concussions. I wouldn’t worry about Gabbert, but the concussions are scary. If he survives the season, Shorts will finish with similar points to players like Randall Cobb and Percy Harvin. Don’t believe me? Check out his ridiculous advanced splits and read Jacob Myers’ excellent column comparing him to the aforementioned Cobb.

Honorable Mention: Mike Williams (87), Lance Moore (98)

I’ve recently published an update that looks at the impact of training camp developments on the players in this article: DeMarco Murray, Mike Wallace, and the Impact of Training Camp Scuttlebutt.

Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Redraft Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

Shawn Siegele

Author of the original Zero RB article and 2013 NFFC Primetime Grand Champion. 11-time main event league winner. 2015, 2017, 2018 titles in MFL10 of Death.
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