Players Worth Reaching for at ADP
Ladies, gentlemen, and fantasy football degenerates; we have made it. Draft season is upon us! Preseason games are in full swing and we are all making final decisions about some key players. With draft season here or approaching, who are players worth reaching for at their ADP? Who can live up to or exceed their cost heading into the season? That is precisely what we are going to take a look at here.
Travis. Kelce – 2.04
There is something slightly uncomfortable about selecting a tight end not just in the second round, but early in the second round. In certain tight end premium leagues, Travis Kelce has gone even higher than that.
The case to be made here is simple, yet multi-faceted. First of all, allow us to address the position. To be frank, last season was a lit dumpster from the tight end position once out of the top five. The point differential between TE1 and TE6 was 135.6 points. For reference, the difference between the WR1 and WR6 was only 18 fantasy points for last season. That kind of swing is part of the reason that many if not most championship rosters had Mr. Kelce onboard.
Second is consistency at the position. In the last three years, Kelce has played with two different quarterbacks and finished as the TE1 in each of those seasons.
His targets have not only remained steady but have been on an incline every season since 2014. Over the last four seasons, he is averaging 123 targets per season. Last season, he maintained a 25.73% target share for the most explosive offense in the NFL.
Touchdowns are a less sticky stat to attempt to track and project. However, four scores represent the least amount he finished a season with. For full disclosure, that was a season led by Alex Smith in which Smith finished with only 15 passing touchdowns on the entire season. Last season, Kelce finished with 10 scores.
The third factor to support drafting Kelce at his ADP is durability. Everyone knew what they were getting from Rob Gronkowski when they drafted him, a top-end tight end that was going to miss at least some time during the season. Kelce, however, has missed one game since 2014.
Lastly, let’s address the projection for the Chiefs heading into 2019. The defense has not improved enough to warrant any speculation about a decisive dip in offensive production. The run game carries some question marks concerning how it will operate and by whom. During the offseason, there were questions about the availability of Tyreek Hill due to some off-the-field issues and Sammy Watkins has typically struggled to play a full season. What remains is Patrick Mahomes and his affinity for funneling the ball to Kelce. After all, if Mahomes is being drafted as the top QB, his weapons should share in that success.
Worth The Cost?
Here is the down on dirty on why Kelce should be taken at his current cost. He had one dud game during the 2018 season. One. Week one of the 2018 season he caught one of his six targets. After that, Kelce didn’t see a game with less than five receptions. He finished the season with 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns. When looking over the strength of schedule, he is among the easier from the position.
His 294.6 fantasy points would have made him the WR9 last season. Drafting that kind of production from the tight end position makes it well worth the high draft capital.
Chris. Carson – 3.11
The Seahawks were on record as stating that they wanted to run the football. That is exactly what they did in the 2018 season. They were second in the NFL in rushing attempts (534) but finished first in yards (2,560) and yards-per-game with 160.0.
When plotted along with the other two run-heavy offenses in the league, it’s fairly clear that the Ravens shifted their offense around Lamar Jackson when he assumed the mantle. This plot adequately displays the Seahawk’s commitment to the run throughout the season.
Chris Carson, despite missing two games, still finished with 247 attempts for 1,151 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. From weeks 11-17 Carson was the RB5 in all of football. During that stretch, he averaged 19.4 rushing attempts and 93.4 yards per contest.
The buzz around the camp has been similar to the previous season in regards to who the best running back on the roster is. Furthermore, reports are stating that the coaching staff wants to utilize the running backs more in the passing aspect of the game.
“We need to get him more involved in the passing game. He’s got unbelievable hands, and he’s a problem for people coming out of the backfield.”
-Brian Schottenheimer- On ESPN Seattle
Add a few more receptions into what Carson was able to do on the ground last season and he could wallop his RB19 draft cost.
All of that being said, there are a couple of things that could affect his outlook for the 2019 season. The most obvious is Carson’s injury history. Predicting injury is all but impossible, but Carson runs violently from an already violent position. There is some risk that is present there. The second factor to consider is second-year running back Rashaad Penny. The opportunity is there for both backs to have some weekly value. However, thus far into the preseason, Penny has done little to attempt a backfield takeover.
Worth The Cost?
The case for Carson here is that the team is dedicated to running the football. The idea of him getting more than the 24 targets he saw last season only bodes to bolster his outlook. Penny will have his role, but it remains doubtful to eat too much into Carson’s workload. Very few running backs have the kind of guaranteed workload that Carson comes with. He averaged 17.64 rush attempts last season, good enough for third-most in the league. Getting that kind of locked and loaded opportunity at the back of the third round is bargain hunting.
Robert. Woods – 4.06
All three of the Rams top wideouts are going in the same round. Honestly, that’s a fair place for all of them to be. Sean McVay’s offense has shown that it can support three top-24 receivers while still having an RB1 on the team. The questions surrounding Todd Gurley‘s knee at the very least means a reduction in his workload, which could translate into a little more to go around.
With all three receivers going within picks of each other in the fourth round, how does one decide? Consistency.
Robert Woods is flourishing in this offense and manages to remain consistent no matter what is going on around him. Kupp came out on fire to start last season. Through the first five weeks of the season, Kupp was the WR4 in PPR formats. Where did Woods rank during that stretch? He was the WR9.
When Kupp was on the field, Woods averaged 8.2 targets per game. When Kupp was injured, Woods still averaged 8.2 targets per game. Consistency, ladies and gentlemen, consistency. (For reference, Cooks averaged 7.3 targets per game through the season.)
Does Cooks represent more big-play ability? Yes, he does. Is Kupp the favored red zone target? Yes, he is. The man in the middle is the one who gives an absolute nay-nay about what the other two are doing. He is going to get his and he is going to produce, week in and week out.
With Kupp coming back from the ACL injury, he is not expected to be given the same workload or immediately produce at the same level as what we have all become accustomed to. That makes him the riskier of the three picks and a midseason trade target.
None of this is a knock on Brandin Cooks or how he performs either. He is also a consistent receiver that will end up with 1,000+ yards and a handful of touchdowns any year he’s healthy. Cooks has more big games that can win an owner a week. Thusly, he has become a steady best ball format roster choice in this range. However, he is also prone to having bigger dips in production than Woods.
Worth The Cost?
In the end, there is not really a bad choice between these three at the cost. The safest floor allows more flexibility when it comes to overall roster construction. The immediate thing some people may point out is that last season were career highs in most of those categories. This is true, but not entirely. In the 2017 season, his first season with the Rams, he finished with 85 targets, 56 receptions for 781 yards and five touchdowns. In only 12 games. Extrapolated out to a full season, that is a pace of; 113 targets, 75 receptions for 1,041 yards and 6.65 touchdowns. Woods is finally in an offense that can utilize his abilities and fantasy owners can reap those benefits.
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