When we’re not busy banging out fantasy football articles, we’re busy managing our (probably too large for our own good) portfolios of fantasy football teams. Like all fantasy ballers – and portfolio managers – we’re overweighted in certain assets. Read on to see our favorite fantasy football targets.
It’s also important to keep in mind that a highly owned player will often be the player that can fall to you in multiple drafts. So mid and late round picks often end up being more highly concentrated than a first rounder, where the luck of the draft spot draw will matter more.
Dave Holmes – Marvin Jones
When Calvin Johnson pulled a Barry Sanders and retired in the prime of his Lions career, Golden Tate’s ADP went soaring. But I’ve been amazed that Marvin Jones has remained a bargain well into mid August.
Did Golden Tate’s opportunity really change that much? Because from where I’m standing, Marvin Jones seems to be the man whose skill set will take over most of those Megatron targets. And if a five-year, $40 million contract could talk, the Lions seem to agree with me.
Remember, Jones caught 10 touchdowns in 2013, playing alongside A.J. Green. He’s never gotten more than 103 targets in a season, so this will be the best opportunity of his career. It also doesn’t hurt that he plays for a team that consistently struggles to run the ball.
The talent is there. The upside is there. The opportunity is there. Lions beat writer Kyle Meinke says Marvin Jones has emerged as “the club’s top wideout” this offseason. So why is Golden Tate currently going 43rd in MFL drafts, while Jones is falling to 96th? I’m not sure, but it explains why I take Marvin Jones in almost every draft.
Tyler Buecher – Antonio Gates
One player that I’ve been aggressively targeting at his current ADP is San Diego’s Antonio Gates. Gates has been a perennial all-star at the tight end position, finishing in the top-12 each year dating back to 2004. Only five other tight ends saw more targets per game than Gates’ 7.73 last season, as the Chargers had the sixth-highest passing play percentage. After leading the NFL in pass attempts last season, Philip Rivers should once again provide plenty of volume to his primary targets with Vegas projecting the Chargers for just seven wins. Gates’ consistency (he finished 9 of 11 games with 50-plus receiving yards and/or a touchdown) and ceiling (six weeks as a top-12 TE – only nine players had more despite Gates missing five games) make him a player that I’m not ready to put out to pasture quite yet, despite entering his age-36 season.
Jason Laso – DeSean Jackson
I own DeSean Jackson on 30 percent of my MFL10 teams, my highest owned wide receiver. This is largely a function of price, which I believe has a major recency bias built in because he missed the first half of 2015 with a hamstring injury. Jackson has an ADP of WR37, late in the sixth round, but has a staff projection of WR30. He was by far Kirk Cousins’ most efficient receiver with a ridiculous AYA of 11.5, and Cousins averaged 4.5 more fantasy points per game when Jackson was healthy. You think he likes that?
I also find him an especially ideal fit for the best ball format, as he had at least 20 PPR points in three of his final six games and averaged 16 points per game as Washington’s offense was really gelling. This is not to say I will not be targeting him in seasonal leagues as well. Let’s not forget that before missing eight games last year, Jackson finished the previous two seasons as WR10 and WR16. If Jackson avoids injury, he should return his WR37 cost with ease and should flirt with WR2 status once again.
Ben Gretch – DeVante Parker
I wrote up my reasons for liking Parker in 2016 and I haven’t been compelled by counterarguments enough to get off him. I understand Jarvis Landry is likely to see high target volume, but he actually saw about two more targets per game during Parker’s strong six-game finish to close the 2015 season, so clearly they can co-exist.1
Parker profiles physically like the next Alshon Jeffery or A.J. Green, and he posted a phenomenal 9.9 yards per target and 0.06 TD rate while only catching 52 percent of passes last season. People love to hate on Ryan Tannehill, but Parker’s numbers on 50 targets seem to suggest Tannehill isn’t incapable of getting the ball downfield. Even if you project Landry to dominate targets, Parker should see 100 or so, and there is upside if he clearly establishes himself as a focal point of the offense. I think he returns close to redraft value as a baseline, and I’m willing to pay a small premium for what I believe is very real top 10 upside.
Aaron Butler – Jeremy Langford
As a fill-in starter for the injured Matt Forte, Langford had weekly PPR finishes of RB5, RB1 and RB20 (versus the World Champion Denver Broncos). I concede that as a rookie with limited opportunity, he may have been one of the least efficient running backs on a per carry basis in the NFL. However, in terms of fantasy production, it didn’t matter.
Langford had the second best rushing TD conversion rate in the league from the opposing 10 yard line and in (min. 10 carries). Six touchdowns on twelve carries has me wondering why everyone is confident that fifth round rookie Jordan Howard will steal the goal line work.
The hate has gone way too far. His current ADP is the early seventh round (RB25). I believe Langford will see the majority of touches for the Chicago Bears in 2016. For the cost, the potential production outweighs any reservations I might have about his rookie season inefficiencies.
Charlie Kleinheksel – Shane Vereen
I didn’t expect that. But I’m okay with it. He’s available at a healthy discount (RB48) to our expected production (RB34). And no matter what the Giants other RBs do, Vereen seems assured of a decent role. After all, he was the snap leader last year, and better than Giovani Bernard on a per snap basis.
I like Vereen a lot more than some of the RBs going ahead of him (Isaiah Crowell and Darren Sproles for example), but Vereen also represents – in my mind – the end of a tier. Once Vereen comes off the board in the 12th round, the remaining backs all lack any sort of role certainty. Some of them may have more upside, but they also have a lot more downside.
14Team Mocker – Kendall Wright
I own more shares of Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright than any other player at any position. In February, I wrote about three reasons that he’s a target in dynasty formats. In June, I wrote about why he’s a redraft target, and looks a lot like this year’s Allen Hurns.
While Rishard Matthews is starting opposite of rookie UMass product Tajae Sharpe on the Titans initial depth chart, Wright is starting out of the slot. He’s the only one of the three with any material draft capital,2 historical NFL production,3 and experience playing with Marcus Mariota.
New head coach Mike Mularkey no doubt wants to run the ball more with free agent acquisition DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry, but the team will probably suck too much to make that a reality. After taking over the offense for the exiled Ken Whisenhunt over the final nine weeks last season, Mularkey averaged 35 passing attempts and 22 rushing attempts per game. In his last eight seasons as offensive coordinator or head coach, he’s only finished higher than 11th league-wide in rushing attempts twice, and he’s finished 20th or worse in four of those eight years.
Wright’s price still can’t find bottom. And I just can’t stop drafting him.
Anthony Amico – Torrey Smith
Smith is someone that I was drafting a lot when I was going with a Robust RB approach, and will still be someone I heavily target now that I’ve come around on changing my draft strategy. Chip Kelly’s top WR has never finished lower than WR16, and even if you don’t believe that Smith is as good as Jordan Matthews, Jeremy Maclin, or DeSean Jackson, he’s being drafted as WR42 right now, which prices in almost 100 percent of his downside.
The upside for Smith is WR1 production as he plays a role similar to Jackson as a versatile field-stretcher in an offense that could throw a lot due to game script (The Niners have a projected win total of just 5.5).
Mike Beers – Travis Benjamin
Right place. Right time. Right price. Travis Benjamin is currently my most drafted player in MFL10s (about 33 percent ownership). Benjamin escaped the QB graveyard that is Cleveland, and for the first time gets to catch passes from a proven quarterback. I do not have delusions of Benjamin being an all-world talent or a master route-runner, but I have seen how explosive he can be with the ball in his hands, and he should get more opportunities than ever this year. Rivers threw more passes than any other quarterback in 2015, and even assuming some regression in that department, Benjamin will receive a healthy dose of looks. This was my belief before the Chargers lost Stevie Johnson for the season to injury. He’s become an auto-pick for me in the ninth round, where his WR48 ADP bafflingly still sits in MFL10s after Johnson’s injury.
The one caveat here is that it certainly won’t happen every week, and I won’t be able to guess when it’s coming, so this is much more a best-ball call than a weekly-league investment.
Dave Caban – Jeremy Maclin
Maclin has found his way onto a significant number of my squads thanks in part to his round four ADP. He comes with a solid floor on both a seasonal and weekly basis. Over the course of the last two seasons, Maclin has gone for over 10+ PPR in 77 percent of games played and finished in the top 24 of weekly WR rankings 55 percent of the time. As his market share is about as concrete as they get, I expect more of the same in 2016. I’d be okay taking him in the third, so when the option to draft him as a ‘safer’ WR4 for a Zero-RB team presents itself, I can’t help but take it.
Shawn Siegele – Melvin Gordon
I’ve written quite a bit about Gordon this offseason, and he’s appeared on a lot of my teams as well. The argument for Gordon includes three key elements:
- He was a fantastic prospect who deserved his high draft status.
- His comps are still solid after the rough rookie season.
- Even in the poor season, he caught 30 passes and answered one of the biggest questions about his college resume.
Perhaps the best argument for Gordon is simply price. After talking with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Budoff, I came to the conclusion that his microfracture procedure is probably not a major concern. Undervalued by approximately three rounds, I labeled him as one of my Top 5 Zero RB candidates.
I recently traded for Gordon during the RDL rookie draft and selected him during the Scott Fish Bowl, the 2016 MFL10 of Death, and the Rummy100. Those represent only a small fraction of my ownership shares.
RotoDoc – Arian Foster and Delanie Walker
I’m cheating and picking two. That’s because I have a very specific strategy of targeting Foster in the sixth round and Walker in the seventh after starting WR heavy. I’ve written about both Foster and Walker already this offseason, but the short of it is Foster is the perfect Zero RB candidate, especially because it sounds like he really will be the lead back, so I’m willing to move my stance from targeting him as high as the seventh round up to the sixth, where I can get him nearly every time. This frees me up to grab Walker whenever he’s available in the seventh round as part of my two TE1 strategy that I believe will be optimal this year in Best-Ball formats, as well as possibly in PPR redraft formats.
- Landry’s receptions and yards were up as well, relative to the season’s first 10 weeks, while his TDs fell a touch. (back)
- A former first-round pick, which bodes well. (back)
- He’s been nearly identical to Michael Floyd, who is almost the same exact age.
Player Career Targets Career Games Career PPR FPS/Target Career PPR FPS/Game Kendall Wright 396 55 1.575 11.342 Michael Floyd 387 63 1.686 10.357