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5 Middle-Round Values for a Fantasy League Championship Contender

Any experienced fantasy manager can draft the first two to three rounds of your fantasy draft. Obviously some picks are better than others, but the same basic 36 players will be drafted in the first three rounds, in some order. This article will provide you with some great value players in the rounds immediately following those first 36 picks that can swing the pendulum in your draft and provide you with that coveted league championship!

Devonta Freeman

I am starting with Freeman even though he is currently being drafted in the late third to early fourth round. I’m comfortable drafting him a full round earlier. In fact, I’d love to draft Saquon Barkley No. 1 overall and get Freeman coming back at the 2/3 turn! All reports indicate that Freeman is finally going to be 100% healthy and ready for training camp.

  • When Freeman was healthy in 2015 and 2016 he had over 1,000 yards rushing each year and added 11 rushing touchdowns each season. Additionally, he caught 73 passes in 2015 and 54 more in 2016.
  • In 2015 and 2016, Tevin Coleman was on the team, causing somewhat of a running-back-by-committee situation. In 2016 alone, Coleman scored eight rushing touchdowns! Coleman is now off to San Francisco and the only remaining competition for carries is Ito Smith. Smith proved last year, in a timeshare with Coleman, that he is little more than a change of pace/handcuff back. Rookie Qadree Ollison could even challenge Smith for the backup job. Freeman should have as many touches as he can handle.
  • Atlanta used their first-round draft pick on guard Chris Lindstrom and then traded back up to the 31st pick to get tackle Kaleb McGary with an additional first round pick. Although the Falcons are concerned with protecting Matt Ryan, this is a huge boost to the running game as well. If Freeman manages to stay healthy, he could easily finish as a top-10 fantasy RB.

Mike Williams

Williams is currently being drafted in the early sixth round, but not in my leagues — I will be all over Williams a full round earlier! I have Williams ranked as a WR2 and would love him as my WR3, which looking at his ADP is very possible.

  • At 6 feet 4 inches and 218 pounds, Williams is a physical presence, especially in the red zone, as he scored 10 TDs last season. In his redshirt junior season at Clemson he had 98 receptions, 1,361 yards, and 11 TDs in 15 games, culminating in a National Championship. He was rewarded by being selected with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 draft, and although many were skeptical he deserved that draft slot, his draft pedigree, profile, and likely target volume made him a strong buy last season. Not that much has changed from last year — except his situation has improved.
  • After an injury-filled rookie season, he bounced back to play in all 16 games in 2018. As I mentioned previously, he scored 10 TDs while sharing snaps with Tyrell Williams. Mike Williams had 622 snaps while Tyrell had 762. Tyrell Williams signed with Oakland in the offseason so the path is now clear for Mike to step into a full-time role and flourish in his third season.
  • In 2016 I predicted a similar ascension for Davante Adams, then in his third year, to press Jordy Nelson for the No.1 WR role in Green Bay and essentially become the 1B to Nelson’s 1A. Adams came close to Nelson’s numbers that year and surpassed him as the leading receiver the following year. Williams could do the same thing with Keenan Allen this year. Allen will likely have more catches, but Williams could seriously close that gap and again surpass him in TDs.

Jared Cook

Cook was the lone bright spot in an otherwise pathetic Oakland offense last year. He led the team in basically all receiving categories (101 targets, 68 receptions, 896 yards, and six TDs). With Oakland rebuilding, and the development of TE Darren Waller, the Raiders surprisingly allowed Cook to leave for New Orleans via free agency. He now plays in one of the most creative and prolific offenses in the league with a future Hall-of-Fame QB in Drew Brees throwing to him.

  • Remember Jimmy Graham? In the four years from 2011-2014, Graham tore up the league! He had 355 receptions for 4,396 yards and 46 TDs! Rumor has it they have already dug up all of the old “Jimmy Graham plays” in New Orleans. When Graham was traded to Seattle in 2015, a 35-year-old Ben Watson stepped in and put up 74 catches for 825 yards and six TDs. Brees spreads the ball around as well as any QB in the league, and likes the TE to be a substantial part of the offense. New Orleans just hasn’t had a quality TE in a few years, but is obviously looking to get back to having a quality weapon at that position.
  • Cook just turned 32 but still appears to have plenty of tread left on the tires. With RB Mark Ingram leaving for Baltimore in free agency, the Saints may look to throw a little more this season. Cook should be the No. 2 or No. 3 option in the passing game along with Alvin Kamara and behind No. 1 stud Michael Thomas. New Orleans is sure to pile up huge offensive numbers so Cook should be a value at his current seventh round ADP. In FFPC drafts, where TEs receive 1.5 PPR, he is going in the late fifth / early sixth round. Getting him in the early fifth is great value.

Mark Ingram

Ingram left New Orleans after eight seasons and signed with Baltimore in free agency. Baltimore was rumored to be in the Le’Veon Bell sweepstakes this off season but according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Ingram was the back the Ravens coveted the whole time.

  • Ingram will now be the lead back in a run-based offense featuring RPOs with Lamar Jackson. Jackson’s speed and athleticism should help Ingram put up huge rushing numbers, although Jackson may vulture some of Ingram’s potential short TDs.
  • Since 2015 he has averaged over 4.5 yards per carry. Not counting his four-game suspension to start last season, he has played in every other game since 2016. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2016 and 2017, showing impressive durability and value.
  • He has also shown that he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He logged 50 catches in 12 games in 2015 and 58 catches in 2017. Jackson’s limited downfield throwing ability should help Ingram to register 50-plus receptions again this year. With a late-fourth / early-fifth round ADP, I have no problem taking him a full round earlier.

Chris Godwin

I am including Chris Godwin in this section even though he will probably not be as big of a value as the previously mentioned players, as savvy fantasy owners seem to be aware of his potential already. He has an ADP currently in the early-to-mid fifth round. But I would draft him as early as the late fourth.

  • Bruce Arians is the new coach in Tampa Bay. He has a history of implementing a proficient passing attack. While coaching in Arizona, Arians moved Larry Fitzgerald to the slot after he had played outside his whole career. Fitzgerald went crazy with 109, 107, and 109 receptions from 2015-2017. This is the same move he has planned for Godwin. Godwin played less than 30% of his snaps out of the slot last year. Arians has already mentioned that Godwin will be moved to the slot and may approach 100 receptions this year.
  • Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson are no longer in Tampa. Between them, they are vacating 179 targets, 1,590 yards, and 9 TDs. Tampa Bay didn’t draft a WR until the sixth round and have no other real threats on the roster to take many targets away from Godwin, Mike Evans, TEs O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, and the returning RBs. If Godwin takes a small percentage of those vacated targets and combines them with the 95 he had last year, it will bode well for his 2019 production.

 

All of these players have seen their APDs rise since FFPC Best Ball Drafts started, but all are still going too late, relative to the production we can expect from them in 2019. Don’t let them wind up on your opponents’ rosters.

Stay tuned for the next installment where we’ll look at the best late-round values and sleepers.

Image Credit: Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Devonta Freeman.

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