NFL Prep: Undervalued

Season-long fantasy and Daily Fantasy certainly aren’t twins. But they’re not long-lost cousins either and there is a lot of value in understanding what season-long players are thinking. After all, the vast majority of people playing on DraftKings this year will also be doing season-long drafts.

We can get a glimpse into what people are thinking based on season-long average draft position (ADP). For example, you may think Michael Thomas will be sneaky as it’s only his second year in the league. You would be wrong. Thomas’ ADP in full-PPR is 13.67, aka very early in the second round.

Below are players I believe are undervalued in fantasy football right now. Note that all these players have an ADP less than 120.0 because I hit on my Favorite Fliers last week. Click here for that article.

USATSI_10189452_168381090_lowres

1. Ty Montgomery, RB, Packers – ADP 40.9

Looking slim and out of place in a No. 88 jersey, Montgomery was moved from wide receiver to running back midway through last season as the Packers’ backfield battled a rash of injuries. The lifelong wideout had a total of 39 carries in four years at Stanford and three carries as a 2015 rookie with the Packers. So we shouldn’t understate that TyMont was able to finish as PFF’s No. 12 RB among 61 qualifiers, excelling in elusive metrics and racking up a whopping 5.93 YPC on 77 carries. Now Montgomery has had his first full offseason as a full-blown running back, using the time to bulk up his frame to 224 pounds and get actual foundational coaching at the position. The Packers are impressed.

“He plays 16 games plus the playoffs, we’ll be saying a lot of great things about him in January,” said coach Mike McCarthy. “He’s the full threat. He can obviously run it, he can catch it, he can displace and run routes and catch it. … That guy’s a stud now. He’s got it in his body. He’s a very good young player.”

The Packers will spell Montgomery with the likes of fourth-round rookie Jamaal Williams and/or fifth-rounder Aaron Jones, but they’re not significant threats to market or red-zone share. Being a featured player on a team which has ranked 4th, 15th, 1st, 8th and 5th in raw points over the last five years is typically enough. Throw in TyMont’s PPR-perfected skill set and natural ability, and we have something special.


2. Jack Doyle, TE, Colts – ADP 111.5

The hysteria over Andrew Luck’s shoulder could sink the ADP of Colts receivers even further. That’s a mistake, as the tea leaves suggest Luck will be fine for Week 1. And that’s great news for Doyle, who is Luck’s No. 1 TE in the wake of Dwayne Allen’s departure. It’s an extremely productive position, as we’ve repeatedly seen when Luck has been healthy over the last four seasons. In 2013 Coby Fleener posted 52 catches and four TDs. In 2014 Fleener and Dwayne Allen combined for 80 catches and 16 TDs. Luck was hurt in 2015, but last year Allen and Doyle combined for 94 catches and 11 TDs. In the seven games Doyle played at least 70 percent of the snaps in 2016, he averaged 4.6 catches, 47.8 yards and 0.5 TDs. He ranked second at the tight end position in PFF’s catch rate (81.9 percent) and was rewarded with a $19.5M contract in the offseason. Assuming he opens under $3,800 on DraftKings, Doyle will be in play Week 1 against the Rams.


3. Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers – ADP 48.5

There’s a bit of uncertainty around Bryant right now as he’s only been “conditionally reinstated” from his full-year suspension. He’s with the team for meetings and off-field work, but can’t practice or play in games yet. Assuming that gets cleared up soon, Bryant is set up for a smashing return. As noted by NFL.com’s Matt Harmon during this week’s Edge podcast, there is almost no competition for Steelers market share behind Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Martavis isn’t a luxury for the offense, it’s a necessity after watching Eli Rogers, Jesse James, Sammie Coates, Cobi Hamilton etc. give them so little last year. And Bryant can certainly give Ben Roethlisberger a ton, as the 6’4 specimen with 4.4 speed has shown in the past. Martavis has played at least 50 percent of the snaps 15 times in his career (including playoffs), almost a full seasons worth. His total receiving line in those games is 73 catches, 1,209 yards and 10 TDs.


USATSI_10184022_168381090_lowres

4. Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins – ADP 101.3

I’m not sure what Kirk Cousins has to do to gain respect from the fantasy community. He’s started 41 career games and gone over 300 passing yards in 18 of them – getting the DraftKings bonus 43.9 percent of the time. That’s far more than the career 300-yard rates of legends such as Peyton Manning (35.1 percent) and Tom Brady (32.3 percent). It’s right there with the yardage king himself, Drew Brees (45.6 percent). You don’t rack up huge spike weeks on a consistent basis without being able to play ball.

While some are scared off by the departures of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, a deeper look shows an upgrade in Cousins’ weaponry. Terrelle Pryor is one of the game’s best raw athletes and showed refined WR skills while posting 77-1,007-4 through Cleveland’s disastrous QB situation last year. Josh Doctson essentially redshirted as a rookie but checked every box in terms of tape and athletic measurables coming out of TCU. More on him in my pre-2016 draft article on wide receivers. Throw in another year of seasoning for Jamison Crowder, a stagnant running game and shaky defense, and we’re set up for another season of big yardage for Cousins.


5. John Brown, WR, Cardinals – ADP 88.6

Brown was one of the game’s most promising wideout prospects after a 65-1,003-7 campaign in 2015, his second NFL season. Then came a disastrous 2016 in which he battled the sickle cell trait and was unable to perform. Brown says he now has the trait under control and got a cyst removed from his back, and reportedly looks like “the old Smoke” at camp. If we make a small leap of faith and throw out last year, he’s going far too late in season-long drafts. The Cardinals moved on from Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald turns 34 later this month and the team has very little at tight end/No. 3 WR. If Carson Palmer can sustain the rejuvenation he showed down the stretch last season, Brown will eat.


USATSI_9767484_168381090_lowres

6. Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts – ADP 64.7

It’s now or never for Moncrief, who is in his fourth NFL season but is still just 24 years old. This is his contract year. Moncrief has been the subject of many an offseason hype piece suggesting he’s finally in a spot to make a leap, but more importantly he’s already established as Andrew Luck’s go-to target in the red-zone. He led the Colts in red-zone targets per game in 2016 (1.11) and has scored 11 TDs in his last 15 games with Andrew Luck. If Moncrief – who somehow has averaged just 40.8 yards per game during that 15-game stretch – can take a step forward there, he’s set up to smash. The Colts’ annually woeful defense and Luck’s ability to have huge weeks (12 games with at least three pass TDs over last 38 starts) means a high ceiling for Moncrief, who is the clear-cut No. 2 option. Unheralded Chester Rogers has separated from Phillip Dorsett and Kamar Aiken for the No. 3 gig.


7. Eric Ebron, TE, Lions – ADP 102.4

The community has been very quick to give up on Eric Ebron, who just turned 24 in April and plays a position notoriously slow to develop. As noted by T.J. Calkins, Ebron’s 61 catches last season were the 13th-most all-time by a TE under the age of 24 – and he did it in just 13 games. Of course, lack of red-zone usage has been the maddening thorn in Ebron’s side – he has seven touchdowns in 40 career games and had just one last season. His nine red-zone targets last year were fifth on the team. However, Anquan Boldin and his 24 red-zone targets (sixth-most in the entire NFL) are gone. The most likely to replace them are Ebron, who stands 6’4/253, and maybe impressive rookie Kenny Golladay.

 


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is AdamLevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.