I define a “value pick” as a player who will likely out-perform their ADP. For example, if wide receiver A is drafted as the 28th receiver off the board but finishes as the 19th-best receiver, he was drafted at a value. Therefore, this rules out most players in the first two rounds – if the fifth running back off the board finishes as the second-best running back, it’s not much of a value. The following arguments and predictions will be largely based in the middle rounds because you can still easily find viable starters and players with potential.
Demaryius Thomas – ADP: 5.01 – WR #21
Demaryius Thomas has finished as a top-12 wide receiver in fantasy in four of his last six seasons. This pick can be a huge value because of his WR1 ceiling. Regardless, I love Thomas this year because his lowest finish in those six seasons is WR #23. Sure, his ADP reflects that low-WR2 range he hit last season, but Thomas didn’t finish lower than WR #18 before last season and finished as a top-five receiver from 2012 to 2014.
Larry Fitzgerald – ADP: 5.04 – WR #22
In each of his last three seasons, Larry Fitzgerald has caught over 100 passes for over 1,000 yards and more than six touchdowns. Per season, the 11-time Pro Bowler averages 143.7 targets, 88.1 receptions, 1,110.4 yards, and 7.9 touchdowns. In standard scoring, that stat-line would’ve made Fitz the seventh-best receiver in fantasy last season. Even then, Fitzgerald finished as the 11th-best receiver last season, in standard scoring, with 109 receptions for 1,156 yards and six touchdowns. The 14-season veteran has WR1 upside and is being drafted as a low-WR2.
Ronald Jones II – ADP: 5.05 – RB #26
Ronald Jones could be looking at a 15-20 carry workload in 2018. It’s not the most ideal for a starting running back and certainly doesn’t make him the bell cow, but it’s more than most running backs you’ll find around his ADP. Some running backs with big question marks being drafted around Jones include Mark Ingram, Sony Michel, Dion Lewis, and Marshawn Lynch. Jones is one of the better backs you’ll find in the middle of the fifth round, and with those carries could have RB2 upside.
Royce Freeman – ADP: 5.06 – RB #27
Another running back going in the middle of the fifth round is Royce Freeman. In all honesty, I would rather have Ronald Jones II at the same price, but Freeman is a close second – he’s above all the other backs listed above, at the very least. Freeman has a good chance to win the starting job in Denver, but of course, we’ll know more as the season draws closer. At the very least, Freeman can be an early-down back. If he wins the starting job and the majority of the carries, however, he can certainly out-perform his RB3/FLEX ADP.
Michael Crabtree – ADP: 7.03 – WR #30
2017 was an outlier season for Michael Crabtree. He caught 58 passes for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught 31 less passes and earned 385 less yards than the season before. That, combined with the fact that he’s now playing for Baltimore, brings his ADP down much lower than it was last year. In his first two seasons with Oakland (2015 and 2016), Crabtree got 291 targets, 174 receptions, 1,925 yards, and 17 touchdowns. In those seasons, Crabtree finished as the WR #18 and WR #11, respectively. Crabtree is the No. 1 receiver in an option that loves veteran receivers and will very likely have a WR2 floor.
Philip Rivers – ADP: 10.08 – QB #15
Philip Rivers is very high on my list this season, especially when considering which quarterback to take late in drafts. His ADP puts him late in the 10th round and as the 15th quarterback off the board. In seven of his last nine seasons, Rivers has finished as a top-10 quarterback in fantasy. In those two seasons, he finished as the QB #15 (2012) and QB #14 (2016). Rivers has also thrown for over 4,200 yards in eight of his last ten seasons. The Chargers’ offense took a hit when Hunter Henry tore his ACL this offseason, but they should still have enough firepower to help Rivers to a QB1 season.