I recently took a few extra minutes to see if my supercomputer, Mighty Max, could be tweaked to unearth some offensive gems. As is usually the case, the results were interesting and provided some excellent insight.
I decided to use the following criteria for my search parameters:
- A three-year view of the stats (for stability)
- Players whose performance had improved each year (for quality)
- A fantasy score which exceeded the positional average in 2016 (for significance)
Mighty Max was able to highlight several players likely to continue their upward trends. A few may be familiar, others not; according to Max, all of them will likely improve their performances this year.
As with all statistical analysis applied to human actions, it is not enough to just look at the numbers. You need to have an understanding of the situation of each player.
Among the quarterbacks, Andy Dalton and Kirk Cousins are the only ones on the statistical upswing. This doesn’t mean that other quarterbacks like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers are not primed for monster seasons — the point of this analysis is to identify undervalued players. Cousins is currently being drafted as the 11th quarterback in re-draft leagues (low-end QB1 in most leagues), which is about right, in my opinion.
Dalton, however, is being taken as the 16th quarterback or at mid-QB2 level. At these prices, Dalton becomes a great value, as I think he’s primed to end up as a Top-10 quarterback in 2017.
Runners are always an interesting bunch to assess, mainly because their job situation is probably the most tenuous of the offensive skill positions. Let’s start by discounting Latavius Murray and Mark Ingram, due to their having been put in running back by committee situations where they are likely to see fewer touches than in 2016. I like Carlos Hyde more than most, but RB18 is a bit pricey for a back with the injury history that Hyde has sported. Isaiah Crowell should have a solid season, but he’s been going as an RB15 — perhaps a bit too high.
I think LeGarrette Blount should see more action in Philadelphia than in New England, and although his incredible 18 touchdowns from last season will not be repeated in 2017, I think his RB32 draft value is criminally low. I feel the same way about Frank Gore, who’s been going at RB34 — too low for a steady back who has no real roster competition.
The guy I really like is Bilal Powell, who has been going at RB27. In points per reception leagues, Powell should be a Top-12 back as Matt Forte slides back to a supporting role. This is the season Powell assumes the lead back role on a horrible offense, which should afford him plenty of opportunities to shine for fantasy owners.