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THE FIRE SALE: Early ADP Madness

Some people think it’s May and football is still a long ways away. Try using my crazy gorilla math.

Don’t count May because we’re already in that month. I don’t count August because we have preseason football. So by using my formula, football is only two months away. Hey, if fantasy football is right around the corner, we better start tracking Average Draft Position (ADP).

In this edition of The Fire Sale, I look at some ADPs that are off compared to how I have players ranked for the upcoming season. Things can change over the next couple of months but as of right now, these are the ADPs that have me scratching my head.

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Now on with The Fire Sale

Leonard Fournette, RB Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 1.09)

Fournette in Round 1 of PPR leagues? I don’t see it. Fournette had a good rookie year but I’m all about the consistent production. He gained fewer than 70 yards rushing seven times last year. Fournette also finished with a modest 36 receptions. In Fournette’s defense, he scored 10 touchdowns, topped 100 yards five times and got 20+ carries seven times. When selecting a running back in the first round, I like him to be more involved in the passing game or be named Adrian Peterson (back in the day). Drafting is about value and production. I have Fournette behind second-round backs Kareem Hunt, Melvin Gordon and Dalvin Cook in my rankings. Pass.

Jordan Howard, RB Chicago Bears (ADP: 2.12)

Another argument against Fournette is you can get the same player one round later. Howard has gained over 1,000 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in his first two seasons. I don’t get the argument that Howard’s numbers will decline with a new coaching staff. Since when does a running back not benefit from playing in a more imaginative, higher-scoring offense? Call Todd Gurley and ask him if he likes playing for Sean McVay. Like Fournette, Howard isn’t much of a factor in the passing game; that job belongs to Tarik Cohen. The difference is you can get a guy who has a good chance of gaining 1,100 yards and scoring 8+ touchdowns in the late second/early third round. Sign me up for Howard at that price.

Demaryius Thomas, WR Denver Broncos (ADP: 4.08)

Thomas is being punished for the Broncos awful quarterback play last season. And make no mistake about it; Denver’s quarterbacks were atrocious in 2017. Case Keenum may not be John Elway but he’s a substantial upgrade over the trash Denver had at quarterback. In a down year, Thomas caught 83 passes for 949 yards and five scores. It’s the first time since 2011 Thomas failed to catch at least 90 balls and record 1,000 yards receiving. Look for Thomas to return to normal now that Keenum is under center. I’ll gladly take Thomas in Round 4.

Marlon Mack, RB Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 8.02)

Mack’s ADP will rise over the next couple of months; expect it to land in the Round 6 area. Right now, too many people are worried about his shoulder surgery and the presence of Nyheim Hines. I had labrum surgery. It’s nothing. Mack will be fine by training camp. While Hines is an explosive player who will certainly have a role in the Colts offense, he’s not an immediate threat to Mack’s workload. I’ll be monitoring Mack’s ADP closely. He may not be a true feature back but if Mack continues to be drafted in the seventh/eighth round area, I’ll pounce.

Cooper Kupp, WR Los Angeles Rams (ADP: 8.09)

Kupp’s ADP is staying reasonable because the Rams traded for Brandin Cooks. Don’t let that move scare you off. Kupp ranked tied for third in the NFL last year with 23 red zone targets. He scored five red zone touchdowns and dropped two other easy opportunities. I’m a big believer that red zone route running is a skill. Guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Davante Adams and Eric Decker have consistently seen their fantasy value increase thanks to red zone production. Look for Kupp to continue to be Jared Goff’s primary red zone target (Cooks has never been a great red zone option) and improve on his first-year 62/869/5 stat line. Not bad for your WR3/4.

Patrick Mahomes, QB Kansas City Chiefs (ADP: 11.09)

I don’t target many specific players in a draft because I’d rather look for value and react to how each individual draft is going. One player I’m trying to get on all my fantasy teams this year though is Mahomes. I love when an organization is aggressive and doesn’t stand pat. Alex Smith is a fine quarterback but there’s no denying that the Chiefs offense bogged down in the postseason under him. Kansas City had a stud in waiting, so they made the move to Mahomes. I love it. The Chiefs offense is loaded at the skill positions and Andy Reid is one of the top quarterback coaches in my lifetime. Add it all up and you’re getting a weekly QB1 in Round 11. Is that good?

Marcus Mariota, QB Tennessee Titans (ADP: 12.03)

Mariota is another quarterback I’m high on this year. I never understood what “Exotic Smashmouth” was other than a terrible offense. Boring, predictable Mike Mularkey is out and Sean McVay protégé Matt LaFleur is in. If you’re watching football for the first time ever, that’s a good thing. Mariota is coming off his worst season with only 13 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. LaFleur will do something Mularkey wasn’t smart enough to figure out: Design an offense around Mariota’s strengths. I’m high on Mariota and the entire Titans offense this season. I’ll gladly select him later in the draft to be my QB2.

Peyton Barber, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP: 13.06)

Many times successful fantasy drafting comes down to value and situation, especially in the later rounds. I don’t particularly like Barber but the Buccaneers coaching staff does. Barber is solid but unspectacular in most areas. That’s not a great selling point unless a rookie is the biggest threat to playing time. That’s the situation in Tampa. Ronald Jones is being selected in Round 7. Pump the breaks and grab some wood there bub. Jones is being over-drafted and Barber offers up some value at the end of drafts. Barber should give owners at least a half season as an RB3/Flex option.

Mitchell Trubisky, QB Chicago Bears (ADP: 14.08)

Trubisky played his rookie season under John Fox while throwing to the worst group of receivers/tight ends in the NFL. That’s not a great recipe for success. Fox is gone. Well, for those who still watch ESPN, he’ll continue to bore the hell out of you with his mundane football analysis. He’s out of my life though and that’s all I care about. The Bears upgraded at receiver by adding Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and rookie Anthony Miller (the best WR in this year’s draft). Having those weapons is a little different than throwing to Jay Bellamy. Trubisky may not be Carson Wentz but he’s in a similar situation entering his second season. The Bears will have one of the most improved offenses in the NFL. That’s a lock.

By the way, let me know when Fox breaks down challenging a play where his team actually loses possession of the ball. Great hire ESPN.

Keelan Cole, WR Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: Undrafted)

One of my top sleepers entering the 2018 season is Cole. I understand people can’t stand Blake Bortles and the Jaguars passing game will never be confused with the 1999 Rams. Even so, getting Cole for nothing is robbery. Cole really came on late last season. He caught three touchdowns and gained at least 99 yards receiving in three of Jacksonville’s last five games. Marqise Lee is being drafted in Round 11. I like Cole more than Lee and Dede Westbrook this year. Cole’s upside is capped because his quarterback is a tomato can but I love grabbing him late in the draft. He’ll be the Jaguars top fantasy receiver in 2018. Mark it down. He’s butter.

About Thomas Casale

Thomas began playing fantasy football back when owners had to mail in their starting lineups and work out trades over the phone. He started writing The Fire Sale in 1998. Since then his articles have appeared on numerous web sites sites including Fantasy Sharks, USA Today and SI.com.