Value Picks: The Later Rounds
When thinking draft strategy, we typically look in the early rounds, as those rounds can make or break your team from week 1. The amount of lost seasons I’ve had just from losing one of my early round picks deserves an article for itself. While emphasis certainly should be placed on the early rounds, as those rounds may get you to your playoffs, the late rounds are filled with the guys that may win you a championship. These are my picks for value player, currently valued with a lower Average Draft Position (ADP), that have the potential to overperform and find a way into your lineup. Taking these guys later allows you to get more proven talent in the middle rounds of your draft
Philip Rivers (ADP: 114; Position ADP: QB 16)
Philip Rivers is currently being taken as the 16th overall quarterback, which would be the lowest ranking in his career as he has never finished worse than QB 15. Last season, Rivers led the most prolific passing attack in the NFL and the 4th best offense. The Chargers offense is one that will run through Rivers, and will continue to utilize the passing game. The receiving corps is mostly intact, although they will need to address the tight end position prior to the season starting. Rivers has a very clear ceiling, and not a ton of room for upside, but while you may miss out on that for quarterback, you are able to grab more viable options at other positions while still having a fantasy starter in the 12th round.
Jack Doyle (ADP: 122; Position ADP: TE 14)
Doyle finished as Tight End 9 last season, as Jacoby Brissett relied heavily on him. Doyle had the second highest target share on the Colts last season (only trailing TY Hilton) and it’s not exactly like the Colts have gotten much stronger in the receiver department. The Colts do improve in the Quarterback position, with the return of Andrew Luck. After missing over a year and a half, look for the Colts to continue to utilize Doyle as they ease Luck back into his workload.
The worry for Doyle has been the lack of touchdowns as a starter (only 4 last year) but I would expect the offense under Luck to be much more efficient. We only have to look back to Coby Fleener in 2014 (Luck’s last healthy season), where he finished as the 6th best tight end, in order to see how effective Doyle can be. The addition of Ebron shouldn’t scare you off from Doyle’s potential. Ebron will certainly command more targets than Barndon Williams, the 2nd tight end last season, but those targets will come from an increase in passing attempts with Luck returning to the helm, as well as the departure of Donte Moncrief and Frank Gore, who combined for 85 targets last year, 1 less than Ebron got as the TE1 in Detroit last season.
Dez Bryant (ADP: 128; Position ADP: WR 48)
Gone are the days of fantasy superstardom and top 10 finishes, but Dez Bryant should be an immense value at his current ADP. Outside of his rookie season and his injury plagued 2015 season, Bryant has never finished worse than a top 25 WR. The obvious caveat with picking Bryant is that he is not currently employed by any NFL franchise, but if and when he gets signed, he will certainly be brought in to be a primary receiver and red zone target monster (last season #4 in red zone target percentage). Depending on when you draft will probably have some effect on Dez’s ADP, but taking a flier on a potential WR2 this late in the draft could be a potential steal.
Alex Smith (ADP: 136; Position ADP: QB20)
By taking Alex Smith in any draft, you are certainly hoping for a repeat of his last years career best in yards and touchdowns, while having the second most attempts in his career with 505 and one of the lowest interception totals with 5. Moving to a new team will certainly be interesting for his value, as we’ve seen what Kirk Cousins has done in Washington in previous seasons, where he never finished worse than QB 7. I would expect the offense to run though Smith as it did through Cousins, especially as he has a young group of receivers and a rookie running back. Currently, Smith is projecting as QB 10, well above his current ADP.
Kenny Stills (ADP: 142; Position ADP: WR 53)
Kenny Stills has been consistently entrenching himself as a #1 receiving option for the Miami Dolphins. In 2017, Stills received a career high in targets last season with 105 and had his second highest yardage and touchdown totals, which set him up for a finish as the 26th best wide receiver. Stills is the brightest spot in the Dolphins receiving corps, as Parker has yet to produce on the field and Albert Wilson is moving into a new system. Tannehill is likely to bring a resurgence to the Dolphins passing game, which should at least keep Stills in the WR2/WR3 range he was in last year, with a potential for a bigger role in 2018.
-By Ben Winegard
We talk late round value picks and much more on our latest podcast episode. Check it out here!