John Lanfranca
True Value

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The other night I was watching the television and I heard somebody say ‘ Adrian Peterson at the third overall pick is quite a value.’ After listening to that sentence, I decided I would write an article reminding everybody what a value really is. Let me list some synonyms of the word value:


Now let me use ‘value’ in a sentence that applies to fantasy football. When drafting to win your fantasy football league, you will need to find some value picks throughout the draft to help you gain an advantage over your opponents. You will greatly benefit from drafting a player a round or two after your opponents, who performs similarly to a player they drafted earlier in the draft.

Adrian Peterson at third overall in your fantasy draft will not be a value pick this year. You are paying the price to get a top 3 overall player, and that is what you would get. There is no value in that.

Now onto some true values, in every sense of the word.

Ben Roethlisberger Roethlisberger is being selected as the 18th quarterback off the board. Seems right, until you realize having another year in offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s system with better receivers and a healthy
Heath Miller can only mean he will perform equal to or improve on how he played towards the end of 2013. In the last nine games of the season, starting with New England in Week 9, Roethlisberger averaged 259 yards per game through the air, and threw 20 touchdown passes. Only three quarterbacks averaged more fantasy points per game during that stretch – Peyton Manning , Drew Brees and Nick Foles. I’d be extremely comfortable getting Roethlisberger as my starter in 12-team leagues.

Doug Baldwin First off, this guy is just a straight up underrated talent. Was undrafted out of college, but boy does he know how to play the position. Baldwin finished just barely out of WR3 range (by less than a point), and did it while only getting 74 targets all season. With his starting spot on the outside already locked up, that number is sure to increase. When given the opportunity to be targeted more (43 over the last eight games), Baldwin caught 62 percent of his looks, had more than 400 yards receiving and scored four times. That was within a half a point per game of
Mike Wallace and Vincent Jackson during the sametime. A line of 8.1 points per game usually finishes around the low-end WR2 range. Yet, you can grab Baldwin after 60 wideouts have come off the board.

Joique Bell If I just tell you right from the get go, that you can draft a running back outside the top 25 backs who will get you around 1,200 total yards and eight touchdowns, with upside to boot, that is the kind of guy you plan a draft strategy around. Even if
Reggie Bush was to hold up all season long, health wise, you are looking at a very reliable RB2 due to Bell’s nose for the end zone. Not only is eight scores repeatable, it is his floor. Double-digit scores in the Lions offense in 2014 should not surprise anybody. If Bush was to get dinged up, even with the emergence of Theo Riddick, Bell would undoubtedly receive an uptick in carries. In 2013, in the four contests in which Bell recorded his highest amount of touches, he averaged 19.6 fantasy points game; that is in a standard format, folks.

Alfred Morris I am a standard format person at heart. Points per reception leagues just doesn’t quite do it for me. Higher scores, and more players, simply means a higher variance in weekly scores which enhances the luck factor in fantasy football. Yes, I reluctantly play in points per reception leagues, but only because the major online contests have adopted it for some unknown reason. Now to get off my standard league/points per reception league soap box here, let me tell you some things about Morris that are pertinent.

Adrian Peterson has more rushing yards in the NFL since Morris put on a Washington jersey. In a season that saw his quarterback barely resemble a shadow of himself, and with a defense that was a bottom-5 unit in the league, Morris cranked out 1,275 yards and seven scores on the ground. It is remarkable that he managed that much and really proved what his ultimate floor was. You will be hard-pressed to find many backs with higher upside when drafting in the early third round. Morris had 246 points in 2012, when Washington could actually give him the amount of carries they wanted to.

Yes, the system will be new with Jay Gruden taking over as offensive coordinator, but if Gruden still felt the need to grind out yards with BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2013, what do you think he will do with somebody twice as talented? Add in some offensive weapons to move the football, you are looking at a guy who could approach 13 scores once again.

In the early third round, reliability is a major factor in why players with this kind of upside have fallen; but Morris still averaged 4.6 yards per carry in his down season. Looking at ADP (average draft position) figures and seeing Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray going in the top 15, while Morris is falling to early Round 3, that undoubtedly makes him a true value.

Kelvin Benjamin His draft position is likely still rising as you are reading this, and guess what, it still is not high enough to not consider him a value. Simply put, how many receivers are you going to find in the late rounds that play for a receiver-starved team, are that teams biggest red zone threat, and play with a true franchise quarterback? It is unlikely you will find many. And even before I have seen him play a snap in the preseason, his role for this team is a predictable one. When you draft him outside thetTop 40 wide receivers, you can’t expect consistent week-to-week yardage production. You can expect an abnormally high amount of paydirt trips for a rookie wide receiver. Benjamin has the upside to be much more than just a bye-week fill-in. A rookie season of 670 yards and nine scores is extremely possible. Those numbers would make him a top 30 receiver based on the baseline set by the 30th-ranked wide receiver in 2013. Yet, you can get him 10-15 spots down the line at the wide receiver position.

Marcedes Lewis So you missed out on all the top-notch tight ends, and you are of the mindset that you are going to stream that position as the season progresses. The margin between the eighth ranked tight end and the 15th ranked tight end isn’t that large heading into 2014. Hypothetically, let’s say you only managed to grab one of those as well. You are probably panicking, but don’t worry, Lewis is the perfect guy to replace what you missed out on.

Lewis was not healthy for much of the season a year ago. He didn’t see a target until Week 7, and really was not worked back into the offense until Week 10.
Chad Henne started from that point forward. In those eight games, Lewis had 41 targets, 23 receptions, 322 yards and four touchdowns. His red zone presence will not diminish anytime soon with his size, making that stat line the norm for a guy with his skill set who is at full health. Double those numbers, and you have 112 points, which would place him right around TE9 or TE10 in standard leagues across the board.

Stedman Bailey This is digging deep, and you will have to trust me on this one, but Bailey will emerge as the best receiver for the St. Louis offense by season’s end. He will serve a four-game suspension to open the season, and won’t be on the field until Week 6. Only an option in deeper leagues and best-ball style leagues for now, Bailey is a guy to keep your eye on when he is sitting on the waiver wire close to midseason. With very limited action and poor quarterback play towards the end of 2013, Bailey still reeled in 68 percent of his targets because he knows who to get open and makes the most out of his athletic ability. There is something to be said about receivers who have the smarts and instincts to make plays without even being the biggest, strongest or fastest guys on their team. Bailey will be a big part of the Rams’ passing game when he returns from suspension and Sam Bradford will target him often down the stretch this upcoming season.

Carson Palmer Another quarterback being drafted outside the top 15 quarterbacks, that will do exactly as the signal callers ranked 10-15 will do. That is the definition of value. Gone are the days when
Rashard Mendenhall carried the ball 217 times at a 3.2 yards per carry clip. What a waste of plays. Palmer is only ranked outside the top 15 quarterbacks because he threw 24 touchdown passes in his first year with the Arizoan Cardinals. Fair enough, but when you only throw eight scores in your first seven games in a new system, that is to be expected. In six of his last nine contests, Palmer accounted for multiple scores, which should be the case often on a team that will feature Andre Ellington instead of Mendenhall. Throw in speedster John Brown to create a few big plays on top of the two very good receivers that verybody knows about, and you are looking at a quarterback that should improve his numbers across the board. While attempting only four more passes in the second half of 2013 than in the first half, Palmer’s yards per attempt went up an astounding 1.5 yards per attempt. That led to numbers that would extrapolate to 4,720 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 16 interceptions. Are we talking about Matt Ryan , Jay Cutler , Philip Rivers or Carson Palmer here? They are much more similar than you realize.

Best of luck to you all in the upcoming fantasy draft season and thanks again for reading. Don’t be afraid to fire some questions my way on Twitter @JohnnyLFootball

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