Identifying Draft Day Bargains

Identifying Draft Day Bargains

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last updated Sep 12, 2016

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John on Twitter: @4for4_John.

In our continuing series of articles that are meant to highlight 4for4's tools, we're going to look at the Draft Day Bargains Report, which allows users to see customized draft day bargains.

It's simple to use -- just enter your league's basic characteristics (lineup requirements, # of teams and scoring format) and press GO. For the purposes of this article, I'm going to use the following settings: 12-team, standard scoring with 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs and 1 TE. 
The columns are sortable, so clicking on "Bargain Score" twice will bring the players with the biggest difference between ADP and 4for4 rank to the top of the table. (Conversely, players with negative scores are being overdrafted when compared to 4for4's rankings.) Below is a look at the 10 biggest bargains, but you can see the full table here.
Since players going later in drafts have a tendency to have more variability between their ADP and our ranking, late round players are going to dominate the top of the table. But there are a few interesting names that have been popping up in our various articles.
Smith finished the season with 3,144 yards, 17 TDs versus only five interceptions, but posted a respectable 7.1 yards per attempt, which ranked 17th among QBs with at least 10 games played. The 49ers added Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James to boost the passing game, and HC Jim Harbaugh has indicated that he has confidence in Smith, so it appears that they plan to open up the passing game a bit more. Considering he finished QB14 last year, our #18 ranking seems reasonable. He's the 25th QB off the board, so he's a solid QB2 that can be had dirt cheap.
If fantasy owners miss out on the top 5-6 QBs (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, and perhaps Michael Vick) in the first three or four rounds, there's no reason to panic and draft a QB before the 6th or 7th round, which is where Ryan should be available. He finished QB8 last year, and the Falcons are going to a more pass-heavy attack that will utilize his improved arm strength. There are also rumblings that the Falcons intend to use more no huddle and lean on the screen game a bit more as well. This all bodes well for Ryan.
In nine starts in 2011, Palmer averaged 293 yards and 1.8 TDs -- with no training camp and little time to get to know his receiving corps. That projects to 4,688 yards and nearly 29 TDs. We currently have him slated for 4,547 yards and 23.3 TDs. He has a talented group of WRs, and Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece are also solid weapons in the passing game.
For those that want to put Turner to pasture, he had eleven 20+ yard runs in '11 (3rd in league) and four 40+ yard runs (2nd), with a 4.5 YPC. The Falcons will reduce his carries, but even with a 10% drop in totes, he's still our #14 RB in standard scoring formats. We're dubious about the Falcons moving to a true RBBC. Even if they do, Turner will be the man around the goal line, and should be good for 10+ TDs for the fifth straight season.
McGahee isn't likely to repeat his 1,199-yard season, but with Peyton Manning under center, McGahee should be less of a focus for the defense. His 4.8 YPC in 2011 indicates that he still has something left in the tank. While he is on the wrong side of 30, last season was the first time since 2007 that he cracked the 200-carry mark, so he has less tread on his tires than the average 30 year-old RB. Obviously Ronnie Hillman is a concern, but HC John Fox isn't known for trusting rookies. And for those who don't think that the running game isn't important in a Manning-led offense, the starting RB for the Colts from 1999 to 2007 (i.e. Edgerrin James and Joseph Addai) averaged 89.6 yards per game. That equates to 1,433 rushing yards over a full season. 
With Brandon Marshall gone, the Dolphins don't have very many playmakers, so it would make sense that they would lean on Bush after his very solid 2011 campaign. He thrived as the Dolphins' lead back, racking up 1,382 total yards and seven TDs in 15 games. So 1,350 yards and 6.6 TDs seem reasonable, even for a player with his injury history. Bush has said that he'll line up at receiver at times in the new offense, so he should continue to carry extra value in PPR formats.
The Packers could add a veteran RB before or during training camp, but for now they seem happy with Starks as the starter and Alex Green, Brandon Saine and John Kuhn as his backups. The Packers typically take a committee approach, but Starks will get first crack at RB touches and if he gets hot, Mike McCarthy won't be afraid to hand him the keys (unlike Bill Belichick in New England). With upgrades on the defensive side in the ball, the Packers should be in position to drain the clock in the second half more often in 2012.
To sum up the more in-depth article I wrote about Meachem earlier in the year: He's a highly productive WR who is going to see a big jump in targets as he moves from the Saints' WR3/WR4 to the Chargers' WR1/WR2. He averaged 1.66 Fantasy Points / Target (FP/T) over the last three seasons and finished in the top 10 in that category each year. HC Norv Turner is talking him up like a WR1, so if he gets WR1/WR2 targets, there's a very good chance he'll crack the top 20.
Smith's 126 fantasy points in 2011 were good enough for him to finish WR24 on the season, but his Targets / Game increased by 20% over the second half of the season. If he gets 6.5 targets per game (his average over the final eight games) and produces at his 22nd-ranked FP/T (1.33), then he'll produce 138 fantasy points. Those are top 20 numbers.
Part of why we're so high on this duo is our general opinion of the Oakland passing game (see Carson Palmer). But Moore was terrific in spots during his rookie season, posting 5-146-1 against the Bills in Week 2, 5-123-2 against the Chargers in Week 10 and a combined 7-195-1 in Weeks 16-17. Injuries have been an issue, so durability is a concern, but Moore has a ton of talent and Palmer has been raving about him the entire offseason. Meanwhile, DHB had a breakout 2011, racking up 64-975-4 despite missing Week 2 and only seeing one total target in Weeks 9-10. Over the final five games, Heyward-Bey averaged 5.8 catches for 91 yards and 0.6 TDs. Owners who draft both DHB and Denarius Moore will have built-in insurance for their receiving corps.
During the first eight games of 2011, LaFell saw 3.0 targets per game and produced an average of 2.1 receptions for 35 yards and 0.25 TDs. Over the final eight games, he averaged 4.0 targets for 2.4-42-0.13, so there wasn't a big jump in production despite a 33% increase in targets. However his FP/T was 1.42, which ranked #16 out of 119 WRs with at least 30 targets in 2012. He is definitely a candidate for a breakout season if he gets true WR2 targets, and thus far he has been running as the team's WR2 in workouts.
File this one under "someone has to catch the ball in Seattle." Baldwin's FP/T (1.21) ranked a very respectable #30 in 2011, and the QB play should improve considerably with Matt Flynn throwing the pigskin (if/when he wins the starting QB job) instead of Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. If Sidney Rice is healthy, Baldwin may not see a big jump in targets, but the targets he does get should improve considerably. Considering Baldwin is going very late in drafts, he has a great chance to outperform his ADP.
Quick has a tremendous opportunity for targets in the Rams' weak WR corps and will emerge as a viable fantasy option if he can pick up the NFL game quickly. HC Jeff Fisher has said that he expects Quick to be "a big part" of the offense, while said that the team is "insanely excited" about the rookie WR. 
After a very slow start to the season (9-73-0 on an average of 4.2 targets in the first five games), Celek came on strong, posting 53-738-5 in the next 11 games on a healthy 7.0 targets per game. That projects to 77-1073-7 over the course of a full season, which are TE3 numbers. Celek should offer tremendous value in the 10th round. 
The Vikings are reportedly planning to use Rudolph as the centerpiece of their two-TE attack and the second-year player should benefit from his first full offseason of working with QB Christian Ponder. For what it's worth, Ponder has been raving about Rudolph and it appears that the duo have developed solid chemistry. Given the lack of receiving options in Minnesota, it wouldn't be a shocker if Rudolph finished with the second-most targets (to Percy Harvin) in 2012. Our one concern: The Vikings gave John Carlson a fat contract, which means he's likely to play quite a bit. We're betting that it's in two-TE formations and not at the expense of Rudolph.
Olsen finished the season at TE19, but only saw four targets in his last three games, but was on pace for 104 targets after the first eight games. In fact, he was on pace for 60-718-8 after Week 8 (TE8 numbers) before injuries and the presence of Jeremy Shockey slowed him down. Shockey and his 62 targets are gone, so there is nothing standing in the way between Olsen and 100+ targets in 2012. Keep in mind that OC Rob Chudzinski's offense relies heavily on the TE position and Olsen (27 years-old) is still in his prime.
Daniels finished the 2011 season with 54 catches for 677 yards and three TDs, but Joel Dreessen is gone, so that potentially frees up 28 receptions and six TDs. The Texans lost Jacoby Jones and don't really have a solid WR2 to lean on, so look for Matt Schaub to look Daniels' way more often in 2012. From 2007-09, Daniels averaged 6.9 FP per game, which equate to fringe TE1 numbers. With Dreessen gone, the 29-year-old may have an opportunity to get back to that level.
As the offseason wears on, our projections will change and that will impact the rankings and bargain scores. To stay up to date, subscribers will just have to run the report.

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Filed Under: Preseason, 2012

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