ADP Battle: Draft Day Choices

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We are back at it with another ADP Battle. In the last article you got input on players that most would consider “star” fantasy assets. This time around the focus is on later round ADP battles, specifically after Round 6. This is the nitty-gritty area of the draft, the part where you can potentially draft league winners. 

Format 12 Team, PPR, Superflex 

*ADP Source – https://fantasyfootballcalculator.com/adp/dynasty

*Stat Source – https://www.pro-football-reference.com/

Running Back

Running Backs will fly off the draft board in any fantasy format. Among those being drafted after the 6th round are rookies, handcuffs, and backs in committees. Who would you take between Miami Dolphins RB Jordan Howard and Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson?

Jordan Howard – 

Howard signed a two-year deal with the Dolphins and looks primed to be their starter. Before his season with the Eagles in 2019, Howard finished as a top 20 running back three consecutive years. He has quietly produced low-end RB2 numbers. The yards were not there for him last year in Philly as he only received 119 carries, but he still managed to find the end zone on 7 occasions. Howard is undervalued in the dynasty community where he is currently being drafted as RB39, which is just insane for a 25 year old going into his 5th season.

The Dolphins traded for Matt Breida during the NFL draft. Breida is the perfect complement back to Howard and figures to be used more in the passing game. Breida will be used in a similar manner to how he was utilized in San Francisco. Breida hovered around 10-14 touches a game, and that is when he showed he was most effective. Howard is a bruiser type running back that can handle a heavy workload as he has shown multiple times in his career with three seasons of 250+ carries. Because Howard is the larger back, he will be getting the red zone touches. The Dolphins have made drastic changes to both offense and defense and will be more competitive. Howard is a sneaky good mid-round value at running back.

Kerryon Johnson – 

Kerryon Johnson’s 2019 season was cut short with yet another knee injury. When healthy, in his first two seasons Johnson showed the potential to be a quality running back. Keywords, “when healthy.” He has had a knee injury in each of his first two seasons. Despite the injuries, Johnson’s fantasy outlook still looked semi-bright prior to the NFL draft, but now that the Lions have drafted D’Andre Swift, his outlook is pretty bleak. 

D’Andre Swift appears to be a better football player than Kerryon Johnson, but that does not necessarily mean he will have the starting role his rookie season. The Lions will likely deploy an RBBC between Johnson and Swift. Best case scenario with the RBBC approach, Kerryon can stay healthy and play a full season. Because Swift’s part is still unknown, we can only assume Kerryon will start the season with the lead back role. This gives him the opportunity to keep his job with good play and continue providing fantasy points. He may provide solid production, but the risk is high when drafting Johnson.

Conclusion

Jordan Howard and Kerryon Johnson will both be in some sort of committee. As stated in the last article, upside is a great determining factor when deciding between two players with similar ADPs. Kerryon has shown that he cannot stay healthy with a heavy workload and that a RBBC is a necessity for him to be sustainable. With that said, he has the talent to produce quality fantasy points with the touches he will receive. If KJ can maintain his lead back role, he has the potential to finish as an RB3/Flex option. 

Jordan Howard has the potential to be a 15-20 carry a game player and with that volume comes touchdowns and upside. The Dolphins should score more points and compete in more games this season, giving Howard the chance to have the ball in his hands often. Breida is in the picture but he is not a player who is going to handle a heavy workload as he has never handled more than 153 carries in a season. That alone should signal that Howard will have an open path to a bulk of touches. Drafting Jordan Howard over Kerryon Johnson is the safest and smartest decision because he offers the best floor and a higher ceiling. 

Wide Receiver

The wide receiver position is the deepest in fantasy football. With so many quality options, you can find great production from a receiver drafted after round 6. Two receivers that are being drafted within a round of each other (rounds 6-7) are Ravens Marquise Brown and Texans Brandin Cooks. Both of these explosive receivers are capable of winning you a match up any given week. Who would you rather have on your roster?

Marquise Brown

When Marquise Brown was drafted last season, he was recovering from a Lisfranc injury. In Week 1 of the NFL season he came out hot with 147 yards and 2 touchdowns. He continued to be a viable fantasy asset throughout the season, despite being a rookie and missing two games with an injury. The largest obstacle keeping Brown from becoming a legitimate WR2 in fantasy is the fact that the Ravens are a run heavy offense. Last season, The Ravens ran the ball 54% of the time. The second obstacle is Mark Andrews, who is the clear number one target for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens passing game. 

There are still concerns with Lamar Jackson’s passing ability, considering the MVP had 36 PASSING touchdowns and 6 interceptions last season those concerns should have disappeared by now. Jackson did only have 3,127 passing yards. Jackson’s passing ability certainly is not a negative for Brown, but the volume is in question. The Ravens heavy dose run game and the presence of Mark Andrews caps Brown’s ceiling. The target share is not high enough to sustain WR2 numbers on a weekly basis. Brown is more than a boom or bust receiver. He holds a floor of a WR3 with a ceiling of WR1 on any week and that is valuable once all of the top options are off the board. 

Brandin Cooks

The Texans traded for Brandin Cooks soon after trading away DeAndre Hopkins. Cooks had four years straight of 1,000 receiving yards or more and is being under drafted in leagues right now because of his history of concussions. Concussions are one of the scariest injuries in football and are not to be taken lightly. The first of Cooks head injuries can in his rookie season, the Saints held him out the entire year on precaution alone. The head injury was later deemed not to be a concussion at all. The other 4 head injuries were all considered minor with symptoms alleviating themselves the following day. Cooks only missed 2 games because he suffered his last 2 concussions within weeks of each other. If Brandin Cooks did not have concussion concerns, he would be drafted as a top 24 WR and not as WR32. He had finished as fantasy WR 12, 8, 7, and 13 before being phased out of the Rams offense last season. Brandon Cooks is getting a massive upgrade at quarterback going from Jared Goff to Deshaun Watson. In Watson two full season he has averaged 500 passing attempts and throws a much more accurate deep ball than Goff.

Now that Deandre Hopkins is not on the team, the Texans have 140+  targets up for grabs. The only real threat on the Texans to challenge Cooks for targets is Will Fuller. Will Fuller is a quality receiver, but he has been held back by soft tissue injuries. Brandin Cooks can easily walk into 120 targets, that catapults him into the top 20 wide receiver range immediately. He’s only seen upwards of 120 targets once in his career, all the way back in 2015 in his second year as a Saint. Cooks excels at running deep routes and Deshaun Watson excels at throwing the deep ball. Cooks has the potential to be fantasy gold this year if he can stay on the field. There is nothing in Brandin Cooks’ way from producing 1100+ yards and 5+ TDs. 

Conclusion – 

In fantasy football, you want to find upside and limit risk. In the case of these two players, Brandin Cooks offers more upside and more risk, and Marquise Brown has capped risk but has a limited ceiling. This decision comes down to volume. Brandin Cooks has the easiest path to 100+ targets with the departure of Deandre Hopkins. The Ravens drafted a running back in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft, further iterating that the run game is of utmost importance for them. Marquise Brown will always be the third option behind the run game and Mark Andrews. Brandin Cooks is walking in as the number one option, with the chance to receiver upwards of 100 targets or more if Will Fuller goes down with another injury. In addition to the large target share Cooks will receive, he has proven that he is a legit #1 option on any team he finds himself on. 

 

Tight End

The tight end position is a bit murky after Kelce, Kittle, and Ertz go off the board. I did not want to dig too deep yet into the tight end position in terms of ADP and drafting decisions because it is like splitting hairs. The difference is so minuscule it might not even matter. All a tight end has to do to end up with a top 12 weekly finish is find the end zone. Tampa Bay’s Rob Gronkowski and Chargers Hunter Henry are two players that know how to do exactly that.

Rob Gronkowski 

Unexpectedly, Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement and was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to play alongside Tom Brady. I know many people are excited and hyped, expecting Gronk to come back and dominate as he did for so many years on the Patriots. However, that may prove to be more difficult than in the past. 

In Gronk’s final season with the Patriots, he finished with 682 yards and 3 touchdowns. That is fairly pedestrian and nothing to get excited about. Don’t expect anything more than that out of Gronk this year. Gronkowski is currently being drafted as the 6th TE off the board, which is pretty crazy for a guy who has not played football in over a year. He also lost a significant amount of muscle mass during his time off. The Buccaneers already have Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, the focal points of the offense. Pair that with Bruce Arians historically ignoring tight ends and Gronk will find himself extremely low on the target totem pole. Lastly, Gronk’s previous injury history is a long list of back and forearm surgeries. Injury is always more of a concern when a player does not play for an extended period of time. This signing appears to have a better real-life impact, than a fantasy one. 

Hunter Henry 

A large portion of Henry’s fantasy value was tied to Philip Rivers. Rivers liked to target his tight ends in the red zone and this boosted Henry’s fantasy value. With Tyrod Taylor, Henry’s production is a complete unknown. What we know is Hunter Henry was franchise tagged, meaning the Chargers like him a lot and do not want to lose him. We also know that Hunter Henry hasn’t played a full season yet in his career, but he did play 14 and 15 games in his first two seasons. 

Taylor is known for being a safe quarterback with running ability. Safe throws are dump-offs to the running backs and quick passes to the tight end. Hunter Henry’s touchdown upside is not as high as it was with Rivers, but his receptions have a good chance to increase. He is the best option to become a reliable safety blanket for Taylor, who has not started a game since 2018. Receptions and yardage can make up for the touchdown regression Henry may see. As long as he can remain healthy, Hunter Henry will be a viable tight end on a weekly basis. 

Conclusion

The hype surrounding Rob Gronkowski is causing him to be drafted too early for my liking. There are too many options for the Buccaneers to give Gronk the target share he needs to provide enough production. In addition to other options, he has to prove he can still play football and be more reliable than O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Hunter Henry has a new quarterback and has suffered multiple knee injuries, but I will take those challenges over the ones Gronkowski is facing. Henry has a safer floor and a higher ceiling than Gronkowski does this season and every season going forward. Do not let the HYPE of Gronk playing with Brady force you into making a bad decision when drafting. Gronk should probably not be drafted as a top 10 TE.

Closing Thoughts 

Today we looked at players that have the potential to be quality fantasy assets, even league winners. There is still tremendous value to be had in round 6 and beyond. Studying up and gathering some information on players that you should be targeting in those late rounds will keep you prepared for whatever twists and turns you may experience on draft day. Remember when drafting players with similar ADP, always look at UPSIDE as the defining factor. Consider taking the guy who has the higher ceiling, those players can turn into fantasy gold because of how cheap they were acquired. Good luck this draft season.

~Speak up, stay strong, stay safe.~

  • @HottakeFF 

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