There are many exploitable patterns in the market this season that fantasy owners are not embracing. No, Michael Floyd is not one of them despite being one of our favorite sleepers this season.
The following players are consistently being drafted later than they should be – providing fantasy owners with league winning value.
Here’s my 2014 All Undervalued Team:
QB: Alex Smith – Undrafted
Quarterback has many undervalued options. Tom Brady, who finished 2012 as the QB3, is frequently being drafted outside of the top 12. Brady presents an opportunity to harvest the benefit of a healthy Rob Gronkowski, without drafting him and thereby risking an injury to your 2nd round pick.
Although I love the value of Brady, Johnny Manziel, and many other QBs, I believe the most undervalued QB is Alex Smith. Smith finished last season as QB13 and isn’t one of the top 23 quarterbacks being drafted on FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
Smith will have another season with Andy Reid’s offensive scheme under his belt and adds a potentially game-breaking weapon in Travis Kelce. The silver lining is that Smith doesn’t need to improve on last year’s numbers to provide great value – he’s a value pick if he repeats last year’s production. The Sim Scores also pick him out as 2014’s best value.
RB: Lamar Miller – RB29, 6.05
Lamar Miller has been discussed at length on RotoViz but is still undervalued at RB29 on FantasyFootballCalculator. Fantasy Douche gives you four reasons to like him. Biases from last season are ensuring that Miller is available at a great discount.
The Dolphins offense is going to surprise some people this season. Even Chip Kelly believes Bill Lazor will succeed. Their first team offense looked much improved in their first preseason game and Miller didn’t come off the field.
Lamar Miller is the last of the potential every down backs. Even many of the players who are drafted before him–Shane Vereen, Chris Johnson, and Joique Bell–are splitting touches. Yes, Knowshon Moreno could steal 3rd downs away from Miller, but Miller is the more talented player and at these prices it’s worth betting talent wins out. Using the RB Prospect Lab app, one can see that Lamar Miller comes out with a score of 77, ahead of both Ryan Mathews and Bishop Sankey.
With little competition, a cheap price tag, and plenty of talent, Miller is a good investment.
RB: Lance Dunbar – RB58, 13.10
There are many guys that I considered for this spot including Jeremy Hill (RB42) who is being drafted around players who are mostly handcuffs – Hill is a fantastic investment but Shawn Siegele’s already discussed that. Instead, I chose 13th rounder Lance Dunbar.
Despite being drafted in the 13th round, the Cowboys showed how much they value Dunbar by sitting him in their first preseason game. He’ll be a satellite back out of the backfield; the Cowboys will run screens to get him in space.
Here’s a look at new offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan’s running back’s receiving numbers:
Keep in mind that aside from Jahvid Best in 2010 and Reggie Bush and Joique Bell last season, Linehan hasn’t had dominant receiving backs. He recorded these seasons with the likes of Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith. Although James Todd urges some caution, it’s possible DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar will have career best receiving seasons with Linehan.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins – WR44, 10.02
Although there has already been tremendous work written about Hopkins, all it takes is a simple Pro Football Reference query to see how special Hopkins is. By searching all rookie WRs since 2000 and sorting by receiving yards, it is clear that Hopkins is in an elite group.
Hopkins doesn’t belong in the same tier with Anquan Boldin, but you could do a lot worse than being sandwiched by Josh Gordon and Percy Harvin. We know by now from Coleman Kelly that WRs are more likely to breakout after their first season. Justin Winn will be the first to tell you that Hopkins had a better rookie season than Michael Floyd and Alshon Jeffery.
The Texans looked terrible in their first preseason game, meaning they could be playing from behind a lot this season – potentially throwing enough to feed both Andre Johnson and Hopkins consistently. With incredible college production and a rock-solid rookie year, you won’t want to miss out on Hopkins’ breakout.
WR: Rueben Randle – WR38, 9.02
Despite the jump in ADP, Rueben Randle is still undervalued. Drafted behind Sammy Watkins, Randle makes a better draft day value than the talented rookie WR. Just 23 years old, Randle is set for a big season. Take a look at the following table that compares Randle with teammate Odell Beckham Jr:
Not only did Rueben Randle have higher red-zone touchdown rate, but he also had a higher percentage of his team’s receiving yards. As James Todd notes, the Giants will be better than last season and Shawn Siegele ranks Randle as this year’s No. 2 breakout WR.
Playing Jordy Nelson’s role in the Giants new west coast scheme, Randle is likely to lead the Giants in touchdowns. Currently going off the board as WR38 on Fantasy Football Calculator, Randle is a good investment.
WR: Kenny Britt – WR52, 11.09
Instead of using Eric Decker or Justin Hunter (both of whom deserve a mention in this column), I prefer to go with darkhorse Kenny Britt. Despite coming off the board as WR54, Britt has always had WR1 talent. Like Hakeem Nicks, there is a chance (maybe more than a chance) that injuries have forever torpedoed his career, but right now he is essentially free. And it’s hard to quit Kenny Britt when he’s free.
Appearing twice on Jon Moore’s 50 Most Precocious College Receiver Seasons of the Decade: 25-1, at 25 and 12, Britt has dominated from a young age. In 2011 with the Titans, Britt was on pace for a monster season, catching 14 passes for 271 yards and 3 TDs in the first two games before tearing his ACL.
Now reunited with Jeff Fisher, Britt is slotted as the Rams No. 1 WR. Jason La Canfora notes that Britt “seems like a changed man” and “looks explosive again coming out of cuts.” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed the Kenny Britt love coming from Rams camp is “very real.”
Still just 25 years old, perhaps Kenny Britt is due for a career resurrection.
TE: Travis Kelce – Undrafted
First I advise that you read Davis Mattek’s in-depth article on Travis Kelce. It’s a must-read, comprehensive article that makes a strong argument for Kelce. If you still need convincing, watch Kelce’s 69-yard preseason touchdown.
Sporting Gronk-like size and ability, Travis Kelce is the offensive weapon that the Chiefs need. It’s truly rare to see players with his size/speed combo, making it fair to compare him with Jordan Cameron. Kelce has a special skill set.
Currently being drafted as TE21 on FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Kelce possibly has the highest upside of anyone being selected as a TE2. Dan Schneier advises you to keep an eye on him. Do not be afraid to reach for Kelce – you could be in for a great reward.When he’s not searching for ways to defeat his opponents, Mike Braude spends his time finding ways to remove the randomness of fantasy football and reward the most skilled fantasy owners. He has remedied this issue by creating Apex Fantasy Football Money Leagues.