Sunday - Sep 22, 2019

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ON SECOND THOUGHT: Week 1

There are definite high risk/reward picks in this year’s draft, with just a few days left before the start of Week 1 let’s take a second look at some of them.

It seems to be the norm that at the beginning of every season we have some good players either already hurt or suspended. It’s interesting to see where these players end up dropping to in the draft. When they drop far enough their ADP can often be a great value, but sometimes they don’t seem to drop enough and there is value to be found elsewhere.

This season we have a major player at each position either hurt or suspended. Before you go drafting them at their current ADP, thinking you will get a steal, you may want to look around, because in most cases you will find that you can do better.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I personally would grab anyone of these players at their current ADP and be happy about it. They have all sunk below their actual value due to their transgressions and injuries and I personally love the value you get from players like this, provided you draft strong enough to get a win or two in the first couple of games of the season before they get back on the field. Nobody can afford to lose their first 4 games of the year waiting for their star to get back, but if you play your cards right, you can put together a nice team and then when that suspended star comes back they could be the piece of the puzzle that puts your team over the top.

That being said, I often see owners drafting players that are suspended or hurt knowing that they’re getting good value without even looking around and seeing that there was very similar value available without the loss of games.  We’ll start with quarterbacks as we dive into this idea a little further.

Let’s start with Tom Brady. Brady will miss the first four games of this season and according to FantasySharks.com ADP he currently sports an ADP of 79.5. This is a great spot for Brady who is expected to throw for 3,409 yards and 28 touchdowns this year according to FantasySharks Season Projections.

If you take into account that Brady will only be playing in 12 games, then those numbers translate to a 16-game season of 4,545 yards passing and 37 touchdowns. Those are great numbers for a guy going in the 7th Round in most drafts, but on second thought if you look a round or two later than Brady you will find a couple of QBs whose numbers rival Brady’s and who will be playing from game 1 on.

Blake Bortles who currently is showing an ADP of 90.7 is projected this season to throw for 4,516 yards passing and 32 touchdowns. Did you catch that? He is slated for just a few less yards than Brady’s adjusted number and a few less touchdowns, yet you can get him a full round later and you do not have to wait for four weeks to put him in your lineup.

Two full rounds later you can find Philip Rivers. Rivers’ ADP is currently 106.9, and it should be no surprise after watching him for 12 seasons that he is slated to pass for 4,624 yards and 33 touchdowns. What should be a surprise is that most drafts allow this guy to drop to almost double-digit rounds year after year. Here is a guy that is going to give you more yards than Brady’s adjusted total and just a few less touchdowns and yet you can get him 2 rounds later than the suspended Brady. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

When it comes to this sort of analytics I can clearly state that it works for the QB, WR, and TE positions. The running back position is a little trickier and that is because of the greatness of Le’Veon Bell. You have already seen that there are comparable players not missing games in the QB position, and you will see the same for the WR and TE position, but unfortunately there is only one player comparable to Bell in this years draft and that is Todd Gurley.

Gurley however, is the number one running back according to ADP, so I think it should be clearly noted that if you are able to withstand the first three games without Bell then you should take him at his current ADP of 12.8 and laugh your way to the championship.

Bell is slated to finish with 1,390 all purpose yards this season and 9 touchdowns. If you work this out for a 16-game season then Bell’s numbers translate to 1,710 all purpose yards and 11 touchdowns. Again, only Gurley is projected to match those numbers this year. So what I have done for the running back position is find you a couple of running backs whose projected numbers are in the ballpark of Bell, yet you can get them for more than double Bell’s ADP.

First off is LeSean McCoy. Did you know that Shady is still only 28 years old? That surprised me too. His current ADP of 26.4 puts him in the aforementioned realm of double that of Bell’s. He is projected for 1,396 all purpose yards this season with 10 touchdowns. That is only a couple of hundred yards and 1 touchdown less and yet you can get him a round later than Bell.

Doug Martin is slated for an eye popping 1,496 all purpose yards but he does fall off in the touchdown department with only 5 projected for this season. However, the fact that you can get him in the 3rd round at his current ADP of 29.5 makes it worth it for me to gamble that with all those yards he will be able to find the end zone a few more times than projected.

Again, if you can get Bell at his current ADP don’t hesitate but if you miss him don’t fret, and know that a full round later you can grab McCoy and Martin and get as close to him in production as you are going to get from anybody this year not named Todd Gurley.

After watching this preseason, few players have excited me like Josh Gordon. I have wondered for the whole offseason if he was going to be able to get back up to speed and from what I saw it looked like he kept himself in great shape and is ready to make a difference in 2016. That being said, he is still suspended for four games and has shown in the past that it is not guaranteed that he will make it to Week 5 without messing up again. His ADP started in the 100’s but since his electric preseason it has whittled down to 67.3 which if he does play looks to be a steal.

He is projected to catch 6 touchdowns this year and have 619 yards receiving. In a 16 week season this translates to 809 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. These numbers, though nice, are very easily found in rounds after you can grab Gordon.

First off is Jordan Matthews whose ADP of 65.7 puts him just a pick or two before Gordon but with more projected yards, 902 to be exact, than Gordon’s adjusted number and more touchdowns as well as he is projected for 9. So why wouldn’t you take him and his four extra games? I know I would.

Then you have Kamar Aiken. At the bargain basement ADP of 123.5 you can get Aiken and his projected 797 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns a full five rounds later. Think about that, he is not suspended and will give you just 12 yards and a few touchdowns less than Gordon’s adjusted numbers and yet you can get him five rounds later. No-brainer.

Now we come to tight ends and of course we have last years breakout player Tyler Eifert. It should be noted that Eifert is not in trouble, but he is hurt and should miss the first three games according to the Bengals front office. At an ADP of 103.1 and a projected 622 yards and 8 touchdowns you can see why a person would be willing to take a risk on him. Those numbers translate over a 16 week season to 765 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns which would easily make him a top-5 TE.

There are however 2 TEs that are being drafted just before and just after Eifert that are going to be putting up similar numbers to Eifert’s adjusted stats. So why would you take the guy who is missing the first three games when you can have a player that gives you the same production from the get-go?

The first of those players is Zack Ertz. Ertz is being taken just one spot before Eifert at 101.5 with 852 projected receiving yards and 5 projected touchdowns. His touchdowns are a little low compared to Eifert but for the extra games that you get him and the almost 100 extra yards it seems worth the risk that he might haul in a few more TDs than predicted.

Lastly, in the spot just behind Eifert at ADP 103.7 is Julius Thomas. The big Jaguars TE is projected for 735 yards receiving and 9 TDs. These are number that almost exactly match those of Eifert’s adjusted numbers yet you will get three more games out of Thomas than you will Eifert. It’s simple math and seems to be the wiser move to make.

So there are some nice, less risky alternatives to the players that, despite value in their ADP, are missing games this season. As I said earlier, all of these players can help you out this season, but it can’t be ignored that the alternatives I provided will give you equivalent numbers to those players without the hole in your lineup.  If available, I’d take the guys that post equivalent numbers that are going to be in my lineup every week as opposed to those I have to wait for.

As always, thanks for reading and good luck!

About Rick Olson

Rick joined FantasySharks,com as a staff writer in 2013, though he fell in love with fantasy football in 1988 with the first league he played in. In his articles he tries to feature players off the radar or deeper than most since, in his experience, by the time a player is a waiver wire "must have" they are not usually available in most leagues.