Every year in the wild word of fantasy football there is always a handful of players who seem to be completely undervalued. The circumstances for that range from poor performance from the previous season or a change in the offense. Below is a list of an early look at five players that are being completely undervalued relative to their upside and what they can provide any fantasy team this season. I used FantasyPros.com ADP numbers to make my arguments. I know ADP in June is a bit obnoxious, but dammit we have to start somewhere.
Demaryius Thomas – ADP: WR14
I know it’s extremely early to read much into ADP numbers, but Demaryius Thomas has an ADP that is criminally low. His current ADP is WR14 and coming off the board as the 26th player overall according to FantasyPros. This is insane considering we are talking about a WR who finished 4th in targets with 169 and 7th in yards with 1,304. Why the hate for a player who has averaged 101 receptions, 1,447 yards, and 10 touchdowns per season? Mark Sanchez is the answer. I hear you, Mark Sanchez or Paxton Lynch aren’t players who really move the needle for me either, but people seem to forget how truly bad the QB situation was last season. Peyton Manning was historically bad, and yet Thomas still finished as a borderline WR1. What ultimately lowered him from a WR1 to a high-end WR2 was the fact that he only had six touchdowns. The moral of the story here is simply no matter what you think of Mark Sanchez or Paxton Lynch they can’t be any worse than what Demaryius Thomas had to deal with last season.
Randall Cobb – ADP WR20
Randall Cobb and his ADP is recency bias at its finest. A player that suffers a down year and the community jumps off of them in an instant. People have forgotten how dominant he was with Jordy Nelson (and he’s only 26). In 2014, he finished as a WR1 (WR6) with 204 fantasy points. Last season, he finished as the WR30, which isn’t something I would expect from him this season barring injury. It can’t be stated enough how important Jordy Nelson is to that offense. The offense as a whole looked like a shell of itself on most weeks. With Nelson returning, it will open the door for Cobb to get back to being the WR2 he really is. There is no way you can convince me that there are 19 other WRs better than him at this point. I will be targeting Cobb in every draft I’m in this season, and would be thrilled to land him as my WR2 in the second or early third.
Jeremy Maclin – ADP WR23
I honestly don’t understand why Jeremy Maclin has been so undervalued the last two seasons. I get the fact that he plays for the Chiefs and his QB is Alex Smith, but last season should have been enough to prove just how valuable he can be. He finished as WR17 in standard leagues and WR15 in PPR. He set a career high in receptions with 87, and he only played in 15 games. In terms of roster construction, we are always looking for reliable players who can be counted on to produce on a weekly basis. Maclin provided that level of consistency averaging 10.4 FP in standard leagues and 16.2 in PPR. At the end of the day, he’s a player that is ultra-consistent, and can be had in the fourth-fifth round which is an absolute steal. I will be doing backflips (there’s no way in hell I can actually live up to that) if I can land him as my WR3, but wouldn’t lose any sleep if he’s my WR2 either.
John Brown – ADP WR31
Did I miss something on John Brown? How in the world is he a borderline WR3? He put up WR2 numbers and finished as the WR21 overall in standard scoring. Last season, he put together his best season with 65 receptions, 1,003 yards, and seven touchdowns. He also had a stretch last where he was nursing a hamstring issue that limited him some and caused him to miss one game. I get the fact that he’s playing in a crowded wide receiver core with fellow studs in Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. However, John Brown brings something to the table that none of the other two can and that’s his explosiveness and ability to take the top off the defense. He’s a home-run hitter who can take it to the house anytime he gets his hands on the ball. The fact that Jordan Matthews, DeVante Parker, and even fellow teammate Larry Fitzgerald are coming off the board before him is something I can’t quite understand from a value and upside standpoint. Brown has the upside of high-end WR2 and the floor of a WR3 without figuring injury into the equation. If his ADP doesn’t change I will be loaded with all of the shares of John Brown.
Torrey Smith – ADP WR56
There is no denying that Torrey Smith had a down year in 2015, but there is plenty of optimism for his outlook in 2016. Gone is the granny-low offense that former Head Coach Jim Tomsula ran, and in with the high-octane offense Chip Kelly runs. Chip Kelly is like crack for fantasy players. Just take a look back at DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, they averaged 129 targets, 1,325 receiving yards, and 9.5 TDs as the number one wide receiver in the offense. The problem for Torrey Smith last season was simply he didn’t receive nearly enough targets to be a big factor in the offense. He ranked 75th among all wide receivers with only 56 targets. He’s never been a target monster as his career high was 127 in 2013, and has averaged 102.5 over the four seasons in Baltimore.
With Chip Kelly now in the fold and the departure of 131 targets from Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, we should expect to see his target share rise dramatically. He could eclipse his career high of 127, which should allow him to regain his status as a solid WR2/3. According to FantasyPros.com ADP, he’s currently coming off of the board as the WR57, which is far too low. I currently have him at WR35 in my Standard Rankings. If I was drafting today I would feel great about landing him in the 11th round, despite his 13th round draft grade. I fully expect his ADP to rise as more light is shed on him.