There are some offenses that can sustain multiple every-week fantasy starters. Depending on a player’s ADP, you might want to pass on a player in order to get someone on the same offense later on in the draft. Drafting two every-week starters from the same team is fine, but that will limit your upside; there’s just no way that two skill position players on the same team can score on the same drive… unless it’s a trick play 🙂 Also, you’re putting a bit more weight on one offense every week to do well, and if that offense struggles for a game, you can have two players on your roster who deliver sub-par performances that week. If you diversify a bit more, you don’t have to put that much weight on one team to perform. Yes, if you have two players on the Saints, Packers or Raiders, you’ll more likely than not do fine, but it’s more about playing the odds and not putting too many eggs in one basket.
I identify a few of these teams below that have players who can deliver fantasy value, but their ADP might make certain players more desirable, especially if they’re almost as fantasy relevant as their teammate who’s going before them in drafts. I’m not passing any known superstars like Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, etc., because I know that these are the guys to have in those offenses. There is no justification because they clearly have and will outperform their teammates and have elite standalone value. As for some of the players we think are going to break out who are going late in drafts, we can only hope for them to break out, but we can’t pass on a proven player on a high-scoring offense solely because we think another player will break out. They can easily not break out, and you’ve passed on your opportunity for a player on a great offense. I look into these below, and see if there are guys we can pass on early while getting some other good value at that high draft position instead, and then try getting the passed-on player’s teammate at a lower ADP.
Raiders – Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch
This one is easy for me. I’ll pass on Cooper, and draft Crabtree or Lynch. Amari Cooper and Marshawn Lynch are currently being drafted back to back in the middle of the second round, but I’ll take Lynch here over Cooper if I had to choose between the two. Between Lynch and the rest of the board at that spot is a different story, but that’s another article. If you can get a possible workhorse running back for a high-powered offense, it’s hard to beat. Lynch is so motivated to play for the Raiders, and the organization is acting like this is a Super Bowl contending move, which makes me believe that they will feed him the rock. In my opinion, the potential that Lynch can have in that offense with all the goal line carries he should get has higher upside than Cooper, especially when Cooper and Crabtree are 1a and 1b in that offense at receiver.
If Cooper was the unquestioned #1 receiver, this would be a different conversation, but Crabtree is being drafted at the end of the 4th round, and had more targets, receptions, and touchdowns than Cooper the last two years. It’s hard to justify Cooper’s ADP when I can get a workhorse running back on that team, and when I can get a wide receiver that an possibly outperform him this year going two rounds later. I agree that the upside with Cooper is higher, but we’re already paying for that upside with his ADP. If he produces the same he’s produced the last two years, we’ll be disappointed. I rather have a guy who’s proved it, and if not, at least have a glaring reason why they will overperform when I’m spending that kind of draft capital on a player. It’s better to draft a player later and be delighted, because the disappoint of a later draft pick tanking isn’t as bad, and doesn’t tank your team as much.
Packers – Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery
Unlike Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson is the clear alpha at any skill position in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers will look for him early and often, and he should lead the team in touchdowns again. I’m drafting Jordy Nelson any chance I get. I believe he’s very safe, and is one of the few sure things in 2017. He may be declining in age, but the window isn’t closed yet. Rodgers can make an old man look young again, and we saw that last year. I’m not passing on Nelson knowing that I can get Davante Adams in the fourth round. If I cannot get Nelson, I’ll definitely be thinking about Adams, but even with Rodgers, Adams could have a touchdown regression. I do think he can maintain close to his reception and yardage numbers he had last year, but his touchdown number can come down. His ADP is a little high for me, but I like the confidence it gives me when I roll out an Aaron Rodgers receiver in my lineup.. but tell that to Randall Cobb owners.
I’ll touch on Montgomery; I don’t believe he’s the guy to bet on in this offense. The Packers brought in two rookie running backs in the fourth and fifth round in this year’s draft, and one of them, Jamaal Williams, has a good chance of being an early down back alongside Montgomery. Montgomery can even take more of a passing down role, and not be on the field like he was last year. Remember, Lacy got hurt, Starks did as well, and the Packers were forced to move Montgomery to running back from the wide receiver position. Ty Mont is still considered the starter if you ask the Packers, but the moves they’re making indicates that they have plans to form more of a commitee at running back.
Patriots – Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, James White, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead
The Patriots are always a mystery, but we do have some mainstays in Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. Anything outside of that is a mystery, and all we’re doing at that point is guessing. Bill Belichick and the coaching staff in New England game plan for specific games in specific ways, which means that sometimes it’s very hard to predict who will get the opportunity to perform. Brandin Cooks is very talented, but he is being drafted at the top of the third round; that’s too high for an unknown on this offense. Cooks can very well outperform that ADP, but in the third round, I’m still going with safer guys who I know (or at least have more data to think) will perform at that ADP or better. Gronkowski is being picked just a few picks above Cooks, and I’m aiming for him instead. There’s obviously an injury risk for Gronk, and that’s why he’s not going in the first round, but if he plays, he’s performing and we know that.
We want Cooks to do Randy Moss things in this offense, but that would mean that Brady’s target share between Edelman, Gronk, and the running backs would have to change dramatically. I think Cooks will do well, but I don’t think we can expect him to perform week in and week out. Just having a field stretcher in Cooks on the field helps the Patriots’ offense immensely, whether he gets the ball or not, and that’s why he was worth a first round pick to Belichick. I did write another article that explains why I’m not drafting Brandin Cooks. There is one scenario in which I would draft Cooks, and that’s if I’m building a team around him who is very safe and consistent. If that’s the case, Cooks is a great pick where you can hope for the upside of him and Brady getting a rapport similar he had with Randy Moss. With a consistent base, and with the upside of Cooks, you can put together a dangerous, high-upside team; but you have to recognize that Cooks can disappear some weeks, just like anyone else on the Patriots offense not named Edelman or Gronk.
Edelman is going in the early 5th round in PPR, which is a great spot. The addition of Cooks will help open up the middle of the field to Edelman, who Brady loves hitting on short patterns. He’s already a big part of Brady’s target share. He had a 29% target share last year, and a 24% share in 2015. I don’t see that going down much, but I do think the quality of the targets will be better because of the added weapon in Cooks, as that will open up some space. Edelman was fourth in the league in receptions behind Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Brown, and Odell Beckham. Having two Patriot weapons in my starting lineup every week wouldn’t be so bad, but Edelman is someone who is safe and someone we don’t have to invest an early draft pick on.
I don’t think I can draft Mike Gillislee. I love his talent, and I think he could be great in this offense. The problem is Bill Belichick and his game planning. Not only that, but the most effective runner DVOA last year was Mike Gillislee. Second on that list was none other than Rex Burkhead. #1 and #2 most effective runners DVOA on the Patriots this year, go figure. I don’t see this as the Mike Gillislee show while Burkhead warms the bench. I think we see a healthy amount of both, which means neither one can be started with confidence on a weekly basis. Gillislee is being drafted in the 5th round, and the history of their running back carousel is well documented, so I will pass. Burkhead can go undrafted, so he’s a possible flier. James White was the guy for New England last year, and they gave him a nice extension. However, Dion Lewis is still on the roster, so I wouldn’t expect White to come out and tear it up in the passing game, because he didn’t necessarily do that last year even with Lewis out for most of the year. He was also very inconsistent last year, and we never knew when to start him. I would avoid this whole backfield in 2017, unless some injuries pop up to make it a bit more clear.
Redskins – Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine
The Redskins’ offense runs through Jordan Reed. He was hurt some of last year, so he didn’t perform up to expectations, but he’s the guy to own in Washington. He’s also the only sure thing. Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson are both basically playing in their first year in this offense. Jamison Crowder will also be an important part of the offense, but we just don’t know the role he will play. Will it be similar to last year, or will he take on an extra role and get more targets thrown his way? At this point though, things are looking good for Crowder, as far as him being the only wide receiver who has had any previous rapport with Kirk Cousins. Rob Kelley isn’t a guarantee to keep the starting early down running back, and Samaje Perine can easily come in and take that job away from him.
Reed’s ADP is in the middle of the 4th round, and I am all over him at that price. Kelce and Gronk are being taken ahead of him, and Reed is falling to a point where I would actually consider drafting a tight end early. I’m a big proponent of drafting in tiers, and I think there’s a tier gap between Reed and the rest of the tight ends. Reed is in that upper echelon of tight ends where if you have a clear positional advantage compared to the other teams in your league, it makes a big difference every week. It’s hard to have that at the tight end position, so in the fourth round I’m willing to take a shot. Reed is Cousins’ favorite target and is the main weapon in this offense, and the upside that he brings is almost at Gronk-level.
Terrelle Pryor is going at the top of the fourth round, and that’s way too high for a receiver who is brand new to a team and is still learning how to play wide receiver. I understand that there is upside with Pryor in this offense, and I believe he will perform well, but I can’t take him over guys like Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, Michael Crabtree, Martavis Bryant, or Julian Edelman. If I’m looking for upside, look no further than Watkins and Bryant. Here’s an article I wrote that goes a bit more into why I’m not buying into the Pryor hype. Jamison Crowder is a solid PPR pick at the end of the 5th round, but he’s not someone I rather draft over Reed to save value because Reed is only going a round earlier. Josh Doctson is a great flier towards the end of the draft; he’ll be practically free. He’s taking over Pierre Garcon’s old position in the offense, but not necessarily the same role. Doctson was a big-time playmaker in college, and can play all over the field, including get red zone targets. He’s one of the late-round guys I’m targeting, whether or not I already drafted a Redskin.
Rob Kelley is currently the starter at running back, but it’s also the beginning of July. Samaje Perine, the Redskins’ new rookie running back, is actually being drafted more than a half-round before Kelley. This could flip-flop as training camp and preseason progress, so keep your ears open to see who’s winning the camp battle between these two. Depending on how that goes, one can be undrafted or going very late, and it’s an easy way to handcuff the other guy without spending too much. You know it’s going to be one of those two in the early rounds, so why not lock that backfield up? Either one will provide value in this offense, and we know that it will most likely be one of them who takes the early down work.
Saints – Michael Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, Willie Snead, Ted Ginn
Michael Thomas is going at the top of the second route with elite guys. He’s being drafted right behind Jordy Nelson and before TY Hilton and Dez Bryant. I do believe that he will repeat last year’s great numbers, but I don’t know that his numbers will improve. The price we’re paying at his ADP is for what he did last year, with no wiggle room. He is Brees’ favorite red zone target for sure, and should get around 90+ receptions. Can there be a bit of a regression? Yes, and that’s why the price is too expensive for me. I rather go with the guys who have proved it before and put together multiple seasons of fantasy stardom before I can spend that kind of draft capital on Thomas.
Willie Snead, however, is someone I’m willing to pay for. He’s going in the beginning of the 6th round, and figures to have a bit of an uptick in targets this year with Brandin Cooks gone. I’m not passing on Michael Thomas because I could get Snead later, but I am happy that I don’t have Thomas on my team when Snead’s looking at me in the 6th round. Ted Ginn should take the Cooks’ role of Brees’ deep guy, but won’t command as many targets; I don’t think it’ll be off by that much though. Ginn is practically free in most drafts, and is worth a flier in this high-octane passing offense. Brees will be able to hit Ginn on a dime, so it’s worth putting him at the end of your bench to see how the first few weeks shake out.
I wrote an article about why I think Peterson will win the job and be the back to own in New Orleans. There’s no reason I wait for Mark Ingram. Sean Payton hates him. When Peterson’s on the board, there is part of me that hopes I didn’t draft Michael Thomas, and there’s another part of me that hopes that I did, so I don’t have to take the leap with Peterson. Because if Peterson is on the board, I can’t deny him. He’s a beast, and I think he’ll thrive in this offense this year. The part of me that hopes I took Michael Thomas doesn’t want to give up on other guys at that fourth to fifth round ADP like Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry, and Michael Crabtree, and does not want to deal with Peterson possibly finally busting out at 32. If I need a RB at that point of the draft though, I will probably end up going Peterson.
Just a quick reminder not to forget about Coby Fleener. He had 81 targets last year, catching 50 of them while still posting 631 yards. Most would say he struggled last year, so if another year in this offense can improve things, I can see his numbers going up as well. He’s going undrafted in many drafts, but his ADP is around the 14th round.