As the NFL season draws near with many teams opening training camps in the next week or so, it comes time to ramp up your preparation for your fantasy drafts. While it is still relatively early and some players will see their ADPs rise or fall greatly based on what happens in training camp, we can begin to analyze where some draft values and reaches can be found. In this article we will take a look at two players at QB, RB and WR, one player who is being overdrafted and one that will return good value. All ADP figures are from 12-team standard scoring mock drafts at FantasyFootballCalculator.com, which is a great site to try out your draft strategy in mock drafts- they offer 8-, 10-, 12- and 14-team mocks for both standard scoring and PPR leagues.
Overdraft: Peyton Manning – ADP 59.2, 8th QB overall
A player whose preseason performance will be watched by closely by all those around the NFL, Manning has much to prove. He did not play one snap in 2011 as he recovered from multiple neck surgeries and saw his Colts fall apart without him, proving what many had thought all along, that he was the most important player to any one franchise in the league. When he last played in 2010, he threw for 4,700 yards and 33 TDs, but with 18 total turnovers, which are very good stats, but not elite compared to 2011’s top QBs. Manning has since changed teams, going from playing home games in a dome to a cold-weather outdoor climate. He will be throwing to new receivers he hasn’t taken an NFL snap with, and he could be one hit away from retirement. At his current ADP, I would pass on him and rather have Eli Manning or Philips Rivers, both being drafted after him.
Underdraft: Ben Roethlisberger – ADP 92.6, 13th QB overall
Currently being taken as the 13th QB off the board, Roethlisberger could prove to be a tremendous value at his current price tag. This could be the season where things fall into place for Big Ben, and he could deliver a top 10 performance with top-six upside. It’s not just that new OC Todd Haley has made sweet music with Kurt Warner in Arizona and made the dreadful Matt Cassel a respectable fantasy option at one point, it’s also that Roethlisberger has some great weapons in Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace (assuming he reports to camp), to go along with the dependable Jerricho Cotchery and Heath Miller. Rashard Mendenhall will likely start the year on the PUP as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in Week 16 last year. Throw in the additions of David DeCastro and Mike Adams through the draft, which should help solidify the O-line, and Roethlisberger has 4,000-yard, 30-TD potential this season, which given his current draft position makes him a steal.
Overdraft: Adrian Peterson – ADP 17.8, 11th RB overall
Annually a top-three pick, Peterson suffered a devastating knee injury in Week 16 last year that has led many to doubt his availability in 2012. Alas, summer rolled around and reports started to surface that he as doing great, running up hills and beating teammates in sprints. While I think it’s possible that he may be a different type of human being than everyone else with incredible healing prowess, I’m skeptical of him returning to top form in 2012. He’s a player whose training camp and pre-season must be watched closely to see how he’s running and cutting, and even then I’d be weary about spending a second-round pick on him. If you are someone who likes to roll the dice then AP may be your pick, but if you’d rather have a little more security early in the draft, you should spend a late-second or third rounder on Fred Jackson or Steven Jackson.
Underdraft: Peyton Hillis – ADP 81.4, 33rd RB overall
From fantasy hero to fantasy scapegoat, Hillis left a sour taste in the mouths of owners who spent a second-round or third-round pick on him last season. However, a change of scenery and a one-year contract may lead to Hillis once again becoming a fantasy darling. Now in KC behind a solid offense line in a run heavy system, Hillis has a chance to put up solid numbers in 2012. Joining a backfield that includes a returning-from-a-torn-ACL Jamaal Charles, Hillis has a chance to get 12-15 touches a game including goal-line carries. where his bruising style can power over defenders. Also, it was just in 2010 in KC that both Charles and Thomas Jones topped 1,000 total yards each. Hillis is a better receiver than Jones, so it’s possible he could attain 1,100 total yards to go along with 6-8 touchdowns. Not a bad value as the 33rd RB off the board.
Overdraft: Larry Fitzgerald – ADP 15.8, 2nd WR overall
This was a very difficult selection to make given the incredible depth at WR this year, not to mention the great talent the Fitzgerald is. This is not an indictment on Fitzgerald, more so on his QB situation and the deep pool of WRs. This season at WR there is Calvin Johnson and then everyone else. I would not want to be the team to take the second WR off the board, because the next 10 or so WRs after Johnson are about the same. There is greater value in the third-to-fifth rounds at the WR position than anywhere else. Also, while Fitzgerald offers a high floor and great consistency, because of his QB situation he doesn’t have as much of chance to be the No. 1 WR in the game as A.J. Green or Julio Jones, both of whom are being selected about 15 picks later.
Underdraft: Desean Jackson – ADP 55, 23rd WR overall
A player who burned and aggravated many fantasy owners last year is feeling their wrath so far in drafts this season. Jackson complained his way through last season and was suspended in Week 10 for missing a team meeting, so it was a bit of a surprise when the Eagles gave him a new five-year $47-million dollar deal this offseason. However, this is a guy who was the No. 11 WR in 2010 and was being drafted as the No. 9 WR overall in last year’s fantasy drafts. He has explosive talent but certainly struggles with consistency, losing value in PPR formats but falling in the category of a guy who can win you a week single-handedly. As the 23rd WR, that certainly seems like a good spot to land a guy with his ability.
Hopefully this gave everyone a general idea of where some of the values in fantasy are this year, and was an early indication of where some of the more polarizing names are being drafted. I recommend participating in a few mock drafts before your real one, trying out some different strategies to see what type of team you like best. You don’t want to be caught off-guard if there’s an early run on QBs or RBs, and you always want to have a plan depending on how your draft plays out. Thanks for reading, and I always welcome comments.
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