Reacting to the NFL Draft: 11 Players to Target Now in MFL10s
Now that the first wave of free agency is done and the NFL draft is complete, depth charts are starting to solidify. The following will examine players that benefited from the NFL draft, or at least fared better than expected, that you should consider buying immediately before their ADPs spike.
Jameis Winston, QB Buccaneers
Winston’s value already rose a bit during free agency with the signing of DeSean Jackson, but Tampa Bay made a somewhat unexpected move and drafted TE O.J. Howard with the 19th overall pick. Now Winston gets to throw the ball to Mike Evans, Jackson, Howard, Cameron Brate, and Charles Sims out of the backfield.
Since the start of the MFL10 draft season, Winston has been drafted as the QB9, going in the late ninth round of drafts. The Bucs’ signal caller starts a run of about seven QBs who could likely be gone by your next pick, depending on your draft spot. By targeting a player who starts a position run, you can often force value at other positions to fall to you that might not otherwise.
With this new receiving corps, Winston has a high ceiling and a very solid floor and is a great QB to target if you are going to avoid the top-tier players at the position.
Eli Manning, QB Giants
Going off the board as the 17th QB in the late 11th round, Manning is a draft target no matter your roster construction strategy. If you want to pair him with a top-tier QB, you are safe to allocate just two roster slots to the position. On three-QB rosters, Manning is a viable QB to anchor a trio as well.
After adding Brandon Marshall through free agency and TE Evan Engram through the draft to the current WR duo of Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard, Manning has as good of a chance as any QB to outperform his ADP, especially when you consider that the Giants still haven’t bolstered their backfield. In both 2014 and 2015, Manning was the QB11 in MFL10s but finished as the QB21 last year. With his ADP likely closer to his floor than his ceiling, Manning is a QB to target frequently, especially if he slips in a draft.
Philip Rivers, QB Chargers
Rivers is currently being drafted as the QB15 on an offense that is getting Keenan Allen back, has a promising young TE in Hunter Henry, and just drafted WR Mike Williams with the seventh overall pick. In the first half of the 2015 season, when Keenan Allen was healthy, Rivers was the QB2 (and Allen was the WR4) during that stretch, and the Chargers’ QB finished as the QB8 last season.
If Allen can remain healthy, Mike Williams makes any impact, and Henry improves, then Rivers will almost certainly return great value as the QB15.
Carlos Hyde, RB 49ers
With Hyde heading to free agency next year, there was a lot of speculation on how the 49ers would address the RB position in the draft, but they didn’t draft a RB until late in the fourth round with Joe Williams as the 121st pick. With new head coach Kyle Shanahan in town, there is some optimism for the offense. Hyde is going as the 14th RB off the board (finished 2016 as the RB15) and with very little competition brought in, the upside is there to exceed his price -- Shanahan’s backfields have finished in the top 10 in touches in each of the last two seasons. Hyde isn’t a player to reach for but is a great RB to grab if you draft at least one stud RB in the first two rounds.
Doug Martin, RB Buccaneers
Martin signed a five-year deal with Tampa Bay back in March of 2016 and there is very positive buzz coming from the Bucs camp. Ian Rapport recently reported that the Bucs passed on Dalvin Cook in last week’s draft based on how great Martin has looked early in the offseason. Tampa did draft RB Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round, who rushed for over 1,700 yards and 23 TDs last season at Boise State. McNichols is 5’9” and 214 lbs and is known for quality blocking, which may get him on the field for passing downs as a rookie, but with the confidence that the Bucs are showing with Martin, his role seems safe for at least a year.
Martin is suspended for the first three games of the season but is going as the RB44 in the early 12th round of MFL10s. RBs dry up quickly in MFL10s and Martin gives you some great upside for the games he will play, as the likely starter in an offense where Dirk Koetter always offers a large touch share to his backs.
Joe Mixon, RB Bengals
Mixon was widely considered a first-round talent, but off-field issues pushed the former Oklahoma RB down to the 48th overall pick by the Bengals. Though he is going to join a crowded backfield with Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, Mixon is already thought to be the most talented back of the bunch and could find himself atop the RB depth chart in Cincinnati by Week 1.
Hill and Bernard are currently going in the eighth and ninth rounds of MFL10s, respectively, while Mixon is going in the sixth as the 22nd RB off the board. Mixon begins a tier of RBs that includes Derrick Henry, Latavius Murray, Eddie Lacy, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, and C.J. Prosise -- a shaky bunch, to say the least, with question marks around each of those players.
Because rookie ADP tends to fluctuate a great deal, especially early in draft season, Mixon is a player to keep an eye on for when he falls below his current price, or to target at his current value in case he does emerge as the starter and his price jumps a round or two.
John Ross, WR Bengals
Ross became a household name when broke the 40-yard dash record at the combine with a 4.22, but he went to Cincinnati where QB Andy Dalton doesn’t have a great long ball or an offensive line that will necessarily give him the time needed to let deep plays develop. Ross will be a true boom or bust player on any given week since he is a speedster and thought of as mainly a deep threat, but in MFL10s you don’t need to guess which weeks are the boom weeks.
Currently, Ross is going as the WR61 in the early 13th round of MFL10s. At this point in the draft, teams are often drafting their sixth or seventh WR and Ross fits the mold as a classic upside WR to add to the end of your roster.
DeSean Jackson, WR Buccaneers
As mentioned earlier, the Bucs added a top TE in O.J. Howard through the draft, and while that helps Winston, it also benefits Jackson. With the large-framed Mike Evans often commanding double teams, Howard and Cameron Brate will draw enough coverage to allow Jackson to frequently run free on deep routes. Teams will be hesitant to blitz due to the numerous weapons in this offense, which will allow time for deep plays to DJax to develop.
Currently going as the WR36 around the 6/7 turn, Jackson is a player that should easily return value if he stays healthy. In the seven seasons that Jackson has played at least 14 games, he’s averaged a WR23 finish in PPR leagues.
Eric Ebron, TE Lions
Heading into the NFL draft, a lot of people thought Detroit would grab a top TE in this deep TE draft class, but the Lions settled for fourth-rounder Michael Roberts, who is 6’4”, 270 lbs and could fall into a blocking role in two-TE sets, as rookie TEs rarely offer much production.
Ebron is being drafted as the TE12 around the 10/11 turn and finished the 2016 season as the TE13. While this is fair value, Ebron has been showing improvement over his three-year career so far. His reception and yardage totals have increased every season and there should be some positive touchdown regression coming his way -- Ebron scored just once on 83 targets, a touchdown rate of just 1.2%. The league-wide average for TEs is 5.1% and Matthew Stafford has thrown a touchdown on 4.7% of his passes over the last two years.
Evan Engram TE Giants, David Njoku TE Browns
Rookie tight ends are always a very scary position to draft, especially in a draft-only league where you can’t cut bait and replace them via the waiver wire. These two rookies may be worth the gamble, though, as they are both going to landing spots where there is an opportunity to make an immediate impact.
Engram is going to a semi-crowded receiving corps with the Giants, but over the years Eli has made players such as Will Tye and Larry Donnell relevant fantasy assets. Currently going at the 15/16 turn, Engram is essentially free, at the point of the draft where people draft defenses and lottery tickets.
Njoku goes to a Cleveland team that cut Gary Barnidge right after the draft, and the rookie will walk into a de-facto number one TE role. Regardless of who ends up starting under center, Hue Jackson has a history of using the TE heavily and the Browns should find themselves in pass-heavy game scripts more often than not. Like Engram, Njoku is virtually free, currently being taken off the board around the 16/17 turn.
Because rookie TEs are inherently risky assets to invest in, it would be wise to make these players part of a trio at the position if you are taking a stab at either.
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