Undervalued Dynasty Players: April
The offseason is a critical time of the year for managers of dynasty fantasy football teams to get an edge on the competition. While others are focused on the draft or just enjoying the time off, we can look ahead to next season and try to identify players that are cheaper now than they will be next fall.
Below, I'll describe my statistics-based process for trying to identify undervalued dynasty players. You should also have a look at Matt Williamson's rankings, which incorporate his NFL insider knowledge, as another way to find players to target.
My statistics-based process starts with John Paulsen's "Never Too Early" rankings for next season. Based on 4for4's incredible track record of forecasting accuracy, I take these as the best estimate of how players will perform next season.
For dynasty, though, we must consider not only next season but all future years since the players are on our team, potentially, until retirement. I start with the rankings for next year and then project the players forward into future years assuming typical career progression based on age. Finally, I take the expected points to be scored in all future years and combine them together into a single value for the player in exactly the same way that you would value a company based on projections of its future cash flows.
Players with more value should, it stands to reason, be ranked ahead of those with lower value, at least at the same position. So I compare these estimated values to dynasty ADP from our friends at Dynasty League Football (DLF) to identify discrepancies. Next, I'll describe the players that stand out to me this month.
For 4for4 subscribers, the full list of calculated player values and the values estimated from ADP are shown in the table below. The final column in that table shows an estimate of what ADP should be based on the player's dynasty value.
We have Lamar Jackson ranked as the overall QB15 going into next season. While that may not be high enough to be your starting quarterback, Jackson has an incredibly high floor due to his rushing production. More importantly, we need to keep in mind that Jackson only recently turned 22 years old. It is very unlikely that he will not continue to improve as a quarterback in the next few years, which will turn him into a viable starter for your team with potentially a decade of playing years ahead of him.
Deshaun Watson is our QB2 for next season and is only 23 years old. He is younger than Baker Mayfield, for example, despite playing in the league longer. Like Jackson, Watson has a high floor due to rushing production but is also a prodigious passer, throwing to the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. While I have some fears about Watson's production next year, with the Texans facing one of the hardest schedules in the NFL, he still looks undervalued in dynasty.
It may seem silly to say that Christian McCaffrey is undervalued when his ADP is third overall, but I think it's worth discussing this. We have him ranked as our RB1 for next season in PPR scoring (the most common scoring for dynasty leagues), ahead of Saquon Barkley. "But," you say, "Barkley is younger." Yeah, by about 8 months. Also, unlike Barkley, McCaffrey is on a good team, which means more touchdowns. He also has a better supporting cast, including Cam Newton, who demands attention from the defense on rushes as well.
I'm not going to plant my flag on the "McCaffrey is the top dynasty player" hill. However, I think it's a legitimate debate. And, while no one is going to get a discount on Barkley in any league, it's possible that you can get your hands on McCaffrey for less he's worth.
Marlon Mack is our RB15 for next season. He performed well last season when on the field. He's also on a good team and running behind a good offensive line. Having just turned 23 years old, his estimated value is considerably higher than what his ADP would suggest.
Aaron Jones sits just behind Mack in our rankings for next season at RB16. He is a year older than Mack and faces more uncertainty with the change of coach in Green Bay. (Yet another argument for why Mack is undervalued.) However, Jones appears to be a bit undervalued, as well. Despite an off-year for the Packers, Aaron Jones was last season's RB15 in points per game. (Mack, by the way, was RB10.)
With DeSean Jackson off to Philadelphia, Chris Godwin's stock has shot up. However, the calculated value suggests he is still undervalued. (Perhaps fantasy drafters are still anchoring to his ADP from last year, making them unwilling to pay a lot more than he cost one year ago.) In Jackson's absence, Godwin should see an increase in volume, in an offense that should also improve under Bruce Arians. And at only 23 years old, he is likely still improving as a player.
Speaking of young players, there is JuJu Smith-Schuster. With Antonio Brown out of the picture, Smith-Schuster now has a first-round ADP. Nonetheless, the calculations suggest he is still undervalued. At just 22 years old, he not only has significant room for improvement in his play but also has potentially 10 more years in the league. While Ben Roethlisberger will no doubt retire before then, the Steelers continue to be a well-managed team. They should stay competitive and continue to score points, which means their top wide receiver will continue to be a top player at the position. I'm not sure there is a safer investment in dynasty than Smith-Schuster.
Next, we have another player that is also just 22 years old: Curtis Samuel. He was last season's WR34 in points per game. It seems clear that the team is committed to him and D.J. Moore as the top receiving options now that Devin Funchess has moved on. Dynasty drafters have seen the benefit for Moore, who is now being drafted in the fourth round, but they seem to be sleeping on Samuel, who sits outside the top 100. Samuel has a much better chance to outperform his ADP.
Dynasty drafters also seem to be sleeping on Robby Anderson. The top receiver on a Jets team that is likely to improve, both due to the continuing development of Sam Darnold and the arrival of a new offensive-minded head coach, Adam Gase. The Jets are unlikely to add significant talent at wide receiver in the draft—they certainly won't use the third overall pick on one and they have no pick at all in the second round—so Anderson's position seems fairly safe. Having just turned 26 years old, Anderson's best days are likely still ahead of him. For next season, we have him projected at WR26, while dynasty drafters are leaving him outside the top 40 at the position.
Hunter Henry is our TE4 for next season at 24 years old. After losing a season to a torn ACL, it's easy to forget not only what a great prospect Henry was coming out of college but also how good he was when on the field. Like others, I do worry about the potential for him to lose touchdowns to Mike Williams, but at just 24 years old and with Antonio Gates's retirement getting ever closer, it is clear that Williams has enormous value for your fantasy team.
Chris Herndon is not a sexy name. He's someone you could have gotten off of waivers last year. He only finished as TE15 last year and we only have him ranked as the TE13 for next season. But here's the thing: he's 23 years old, and he's playing with a young quarterback, Darnold, that is likely to improve over the next few seasons. While next season may not set the world on fire, Herndon and Darnold have a bright future together. He's undervalued at his current ADP.
Let me note that these calculated dynasty values use no other inputs other than the Never Too Early rankings and player age. They do not incorporate unique risks of individual players, which means they should not be trusted blindly. I've gone through this month's results by hand and gave you, above, the values that stand out to me. If you subscribe to DLF, you can see the current dynasty ADPs for these players and consider for yourself which players seem under- or over-valued.
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