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 an early glimpse into what people are thinking based on season-long average draft position (ADP). For example, you may think Keenan Allen will be super-sneaky early in the season as he comes off his lacerated spleen. You would be wrong. Allen’s current ADP in full-PPR is 15.61, also know as early-second round.
For this article, I’m using ADP from MFL10s and 25s.
These players currently undervalued:
1. Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins – ADP 130.7
Cousins has played 24 full games in his NFL career and averaged 279.8 passing yards per day in them. That would be good for second in the history of the NFL, behind only Drew Brees (280.7). His yardage upside is truly unique, further highlighted by his twelve 300-yard games in 26 starts (46.2%). That’s more than Peyton Manning (34.9), Brees (44.2) and Aaron Rodgers (34.1). So while detractors can talk all they want about the poor ball security (30 interceptions, 10 fumbles), we need to realize each turnover only costs us one DK fantasy point each.
Add in a stacked group of weaponry headlined by Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Josh Doctson and we have a really high ceiling at a cheap cost. Even if some of Cousins’ playmakers go down, the cupboard is ridiculously stacked. Jamison Crowder starred in the spring, Ryan Grant/Rashad Ross are preseason superstars, Niles Paul has starter-ability and Vernon Davis is the No. 3 tight end. The Redskins’ second-string pass-catchers are better than some teams’ first-stringers (I’m looking at you, Browns).
2. Jeremy Langford, RB, Bears – ADP 68.8
There is a ton of group think in all industries and the fantasy football space is no different. So when esteemed Mike Clay of ESPN panned Jeremy Langford in this article and was very outspoken about Langford on Twitter/other media, the consensus quickly shifted. I’m confident that Langford’s ADP would be in the 30-40 range if not for Clay.
So while I certainly understand that Langford was among the league’s worst running backs last year on a per-touch basis, the ADP (sixth-round) has gotten too far away from the opportunity. The Bears thought enough of Langford to let Matt Forte walk and only add fifth-round rookie Jordan Howard to their backfield. I’m also not willing to say Langford is definitely terrible simply because he was terrible on a mere 170 rookie-year touches. He has the athletic makeup to improve, evidenced by a 4.42 at 6’0/208 and time playing WR/CB while at Michigan State.
3. Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers – ADP 124.5
Our expectations for rookie wide receivers were skewed badly by the Odell Beckham/Mike Evans-led outlier class of 2014. Note that in the 19 seasons between 1995 and 2013, just eight rookie wide receivers went over 1,000 yards. Much more typical is Funchess’ rookie year, one that saw him play on 44.7 percent of the snaps and get 3.8 targets per game. So it would be a mistake to give up on the 6’4/225 Funchess as he enters his age-22 season, even with Kelvin Benjamin (ACL) coming back. After a breakout spring, he’ll show up to training camp as the heavy favorite for No. 2 WR duties.
4. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos – ADP 41.4
Denver’s entire offseason centered around the run game, which makes perfect sense given they have the league’s best defense and a liability at the quarterback position. As noted in this ESPN article, the Broncos used a fullback on just 25 snaps the entire 2015 season but drafted FB Andy Janovich in the sixth round and lined Juwan Thompson up at FB in the spring. They made investments in the offensive line with oft-injured yet talented Russell Okung and ex-Chief Donald Stephenson. Most importantly for our purposes, the Broncos chose to match the Dolphins’ generous four-year, $18M RFA offer to C.J. Anderson.
Anderson’s ADP has sunk into the fourth round because of the nagging injuries that crippled the first part of his 2015 season. Note that over the final 12 games of the year (including playoffs), he averaged a whopping 5.56 YPC even though Peyton Manning/Brock Osweiler failed to threaten defenses. The Broncos also trusted him most when the chips were down in the playoffs, saddling him up for 21.0 touches per game in the three wins.
5. Martellus Bennett, TE, Patriots – ADP 120.0
The Patriots are the class of the league when it comes to optimizing their personnel. So Bennett’s projected role isn’t in line with a typical NFL No. 2 tight end, especially after they gave up a fourth-round pick for him. Although Bennett and Aaron Hernandez have different skill sets, it’s worth noting that Hernandez played 86.1 percent of the snaps in 2013 while Rob Gronkowski was in for 94.7 percent that year. Bennett caught the eye of beat writers during spring practices, leading top dog Mike Reiss to say the Black Unicorn is “going to be a big factor.” That will be especially true in the red zone, where Tom Brady is lacking for big weapons outside of Gronk. Former No. 2 TE Scott Chandler had four TDs on 23 catches last year and Tim Wright had six TDs on 26 catches in 2014.
6. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders – ADP 51.6
Yes, the Raiders spent a lot of the offseason poking around at various free agent running backs and throwing some shade at Latavius Murray. But in the end, they only added undersized fifth-round scatback DeAndre Washington to a depth chart that allowed Latavius to amass a whopping 72.8 percent of the running back touches in 2015.
That means we can safely project Murray for at least 270 touches again, especially if the ascending Raiders can win more games. Note that Latavius averaged 20.7 touches per game in wins vs. 18.1 in losses. Also note that the Raiders will field arguably the game’s best offensive line this season after adding LT Donald Penn and LG Kelechi Osemele in free agency.
7. Coby Fleener, ADP 77.3 – Saints made a $36M investment in a player who was crushed his DK salary virtually every time Dwayne Allen was injured over the last two seasons. More on Fleener’s role with the Saints here.
8. Phillip Dorsett, ADP 133.6 – The 2015 first-round pick is the unquestioned No. 3 WR on a team which lost Fleener, gets back Andrew Luck and projects as one of the most voluminous pass attacks.
9. Zach Miller, ADP 134.9 – Gave my take on Miller in last month’s “New Starters” article.
10. Ryan Mathews, ADP 61.7 – Yes, there’s injury risk. There’s also big upside in a gifted player shifting to one of the league’s most RB-friendly schemes. More here.
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.