With the peak of redraft season on our doorstep, both high-volume and casual players will be partaking in the yearly madness of both live and online drafts against the full spectrum of ability levels and sobriety. Whether you’re participating in one league and playing for fun or participating in many and are highly competitive, it’s always more fun to win.
To help the winning process, I dove into the FFPC Redraft ADP to identify an optimal target or two in each round to help crush your draft. These targets are based on 12-team PPR formats that only require starting one quarterback. I started with Round 3 because there are generally only correct answers in the first two rounds.
Before the round-by-round breakdown, make sure to follow a couple tried and true guidelines:
- Save kicker and defense for last – these remain the least important and least predictive positions in fantasy football. You’re almost assuredly better off streaming defense weekly and kicker is high variance whether locking a player or streaming. Take a kicker on a good offense and target your Week 1 matchup with your defense. Seattle at home against the turnstile line of the Bengals is a fun one.
- Resist the urge to prioritize quarterback – the QB position is the most important in real football but is, generally speaking, the least important in fantasy football. Ignore this for superflex leagues and perhaps partially ignore it in leagues that have just massive comparative scoring for QBs over the skill positions. It is likely prudent to ignore quarterback until at least the eighth round and not to pull the trigger until double-digit rounds. No, you won’t have a shot at Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson, but that’s perfectly okay.
There’s only one particular player that is assured a bell-cow role on an elite offense that is consistently making it past the second round. Damien Williams remains the largest value early in drafts and one you should not ignore. The hype machine on sixth-round rookie Darwin Thompson has reached out-of-control levels. Leaping Carlos Hyde on a depth chart in 2019 is the equivalent of vertical jumping a credit card and is receiving markedly more rah rah praise than it ever should. The truth is Thompson still remains behind forgotten incumbent backup Darrel Williams and his battle is to try to surpass Darrel before we can even think about crossing the ocean sized chasm that exists between Damien and the remainder of the backs. The hype on the backup is the reason for the depressed pricing. Take advantage.
Honorable mention: Leonard Fournette is in line for the most passing work of his career but as always, remains a risk. While it remains a fool’s errand to play injury predictor, there is a fairly short list of players that we can assume a likelihood will have soft tissue or other issues and Fournette is one of them. If taking the plunge on Fournette, handcuffing with Alfred Blue is necessary.
Let me preface this section with something about me. I consider myself somewhere between good and great at reading the tea leaves of NFL situations, and how to apply that to fantasy valuation. I consider it one of my strengths and I think this applies fully to David Montgomery. During the NFL draft in an opportunity grade piece, I wrote
71ST OVERALL, CHICAGO BEARS
The writing has been on the wall for weeks that Nagy wants a bell cow and soured on the RB room he had to end the 2018 season. The team needed specifically Montgomery to tumble into the third round and once he did, they pounced, trading up to snag him. He has the potential for bell-cow usage from day one, and there is an argument to be made that he is on par with Josh Jacobs. This is simply a dream situation.
Opportunity Grade: A+
Fast forward from April to August and this remains true for redraft, at least from an ADP perspective. Every blurb and quote from coaches or teammates are effusive with their praise and chances are now more likely than not that Montgomery is deployed as a bell cow in 2019. Even at the lower range of outcomes for his volume, he is not a loss at expected value at this spot and very much has the potential to be a league winner.
Honorable Mention: Chris Godwin continues to look the part this preseason and head coach Bruce Arians has labeled him a 100-catch candidate. That’s catches, not targets. While he doesn’t need to supplant Mike Evans as the team’s top option to return on his WR17 ADP, he still is quite in play to supplant Evans.
While it takes quite a bit of restraint not to list breakout candidate extraordinaire D.J. Moore here, there is a value created by injury that can’t be overlooked. Moore is still honorable mention here and quite a sound pick, but A.J. Green‘s price has plummeted to a foolishly low level. There is a games-played concern, but one that is nearly fully mitigated at this price point. There’s much talk of not hating players but instead of only hating players at price. In that sense, it’s been three seasons since I was buying Green at price in any format … until now.
Make a note that Rounds 6-8 are probably the toughest to navigate this season, and grabbing a breakout ceiling in this range can be instrumental in the team’s success. The best candidate in Round 6 is Mike Williams who will see real opportunity as an every-down player and will likely have every chance to carve out the top receiving role on the team. Ability is long here and assuming volume follows, great things will happen.
Actions speak louder than words. That is completely the case with Kyle Shanahan’s critical comments of top wideout Dante Pettis. The community was in a panic over Pettis and even bailing for now injured Trent Taylor, but the actions spoke louder than the words. Shanahan went on to play Pettis for all 11 snaps available with the starting unit, along with Marquise Goodwin in the team’s second preseason game. Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd have the makings to be threats in the future, but both are just dynasty league holds while Pettis is the top WR option with breakout potential in 2019.
This is the first spot you should consider taking a QB, and if you’re champing at the bit to do so, Baker Mayfield is sound enough value here, at least compared to the QBs going before him. He would be the pick if I were ready to take the plunge at QB. Since I’m not, Marvin Jones is the easy pick among this group of players. After seeing over 100 targets in his first two years in Detroit, he was actually pacing for his highest target count of the three seasons in 2018 but only played nine games. He has a lot of the indicators we look for in successful bounceback candidates. Remove Golden Tate from the equation and there is even more volume available for the deep threat and TD scorer. It doesn’t feel sexy, but the pick is sound.
This round offers a bit of everything and was the most difficult of all the rounds for me to narrow down to a single pick. I opted for Emmanuel Sanders, despite being 32 and coming off an Achilles tear. The best example of an NFL player returning successfully from this injury is Steve Smith. But in preseason play, Sanders has shown the ability has come all the way back. The worry is the history of the human body blocking any full comeback from this injury, but be advised, he looks good. If worried about taking this plunge, Sterling Shepard is a safer option and both Ronald Jones and Matt Breida are viable.
This was one of the easiest rounds for me to pinpoint not one player, but two. I would be quite comfortable taking both of the following players in Rounds 9 and 10. Matt Ryan is remarkably quietly coming off a historic season, but the overshadowing of Mahomes season has made it an afterthought for most. He has had four of his five best seasons under offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter who enters the second year of his second stint with the Falcons. Last year’s QB2 is a screaming value. Donte Moncrief has apparently left a sour taste in the collective mouth of the fantasy community as he’s being largely ignored as the clear second option in Pittsburgh. Do not overthink this one. Do not talk yourself out of it. Change his name to “PIT WR2” in your head if you have to, just don’t miss out.
Round 11 brings us the best of consolation prizes should we miss out on either player from Round 10. Carson Wentz is an exceptionally good bet to return to MVP form and to remind us all to not have too short of memories.
Honorable Mention: Golden Tate is also a great value here, despite the four-game suspension. He will operate as the Giants WR1A and is a better bet than Shepard, but that’s not to say Shepard isn’t also a value.
We just covered Wentz, and he has a shiny and fast new toy. DeSean Jackson returns to Philly and camp is abuzz about how easily that connection finds long touchdowns on the regular. This is a completely mispriced stack and Jackson has arguably the highest value per target of any player.
If you punted the tight end position, fear not. Darren Waller is locked into a large role and has been the most praised player that’s done nothing in the league that I can remember. Why is this a good thing? Oh, because all of that praise is being showered upon him by head coach Jon Gruden. This is not a recent thing by any means either, it goes back to the spring and hasn’t stopped. Waller would have to truly face plant to squander this opportunity.
Want proof that you can really, and I mean really wait for QBs in redraft? Last year’s QB3 is going in the fourteenth round. Wait, who? Ben Roethlisberger of course. He forced himself into the top three of the position last year and is a virtual lock to be a QB1 again but is being drafted at QB15. Take your pick of him and the other two QBs I went over — none of them cost much.
Apples to Apples?
The ADP used for this article might not seamlessly fit for your leagues, and it may see some earlier positional runs. If that’s the case, it’s okay to take some of these players a bit higher as it will push the other positions down the board and could create even more value at those other positions.
Good luck in your leagues and I’ll be looking forward to hearing the success stories on Twitter!