By: Richard Jenkins
It’s never too early to start researching potential plays for the 2017 season. Bucking the status quo, or going rogue, by finding that needle in a haystack can bring the championship back to where it belongs – your trophy case. Using the Rotoviz Best Ball ADP App, The Rogue Reports will help you identify some mid-round value plays that could save a sinking ship or put the stamp on another dominating season.
Note: There could be slight variance between true Redraft ADP and Best Ball ADP because there is no current data on Redraft in 2017.
Frank Gore ADP – 92.31, Position Rank RB35
When it comes to the Indianapolis backfield, the community has been gravitating to rookie Marlon Mack and fantasy legend Christine Michael. As with every passing season, Frank Gore continues to be overlooked. The reason for Gore’s perpetually low average draft position remains a mystery as he continually delivers a high return on an increasingly low-risk investment*:
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*Chart reflects Gore’s last five seasons
We’re talking about a player who has two RB1 finishes and three RB2 finishes in his last five seasons. Gore also has not missed a game since 2010. Still not convinced yet?
In the four seasons quarterback, Andrew Luck has started all 16 games for the Colts, they have finished No. 10, 15, 3, and 10 in total offense, respectively. According to PlayerProfiler.com, since joining Indy in 2015, Gore has received 74.8% and 70.0% of the opportunity share. That ranks him No. 3 and No. 9 in the league in those seasons. Excluding his rookie year, Gore has averaged 258 carries per season. While he may not set the world on fire from an efficiency standpoint, he has continually received a big workload. When it comes to fantasy relevance, an opportunity is all that matters.
One of the leading factors for Indianapolis to win games is getting Frank Gore the ball a lot. Assuming a 250 carry season, a running back would have to carry the ball approximately 16 times per game. In the games where Gore had at least 16 carries, the Colts have a win percentage of 0.85%:
While Marlon Mack may be the eventual successor to Gore in the future, it’s highly unlikely he will see much playing time in 2017. After all, the Colts signed Christine Michael after selecting Mack in the 4th round of the NFL draft. For you Michael truthers out there, it’s hard to argue that a guy who is on his 5th team in the last two years is a difference maker or will even make a dent into Gore’s opportunity share. I once again expect Gore to ball his way to another mid/high RB2 status at season’s end. Age bias aside, this is a guy who was an RB1 in 2016 and a current rank of RB35 is laughable.
Duke Johnson ADP – 118.52, Positon Rank RB40
One of the most popular draft strategies for redraft leagues is the Zero RB strategy. When selecting wide receivers and tight ends with the first 6-7 picks, owners want to find running backs in the middle of the draft that can put up consistent fantasy points. These guys are typically pass-catching players that see all of the third down action. One of my favorite candidates to breakout this season is RB Duke Johnson.
Johnson is entering his third season with the ever-rebuilding Cleveland Browns. Firmly seated in the second-string role behind starter Isaiah Crowell, Johnson has established himself as the Browns’ pass-catching back. Johnson finished as 2015 as RB24 and 2016 as RB30. In the offseason, the Browns upgraded their offensive line tremendously by signing guard Kevin Zeitler and center J.C. Tretter. Pro Football Focus has the Cleveland offensive line ranked as a top 10 unit coming into 2017. ESPN’s Mike Clay has Johnson projected to rush for 435 yards and catch 57 passes for 458 yards while compiling four touchdowns. The 168 projected fantasy points would have ranked him No. 24 in 2016. Johnson has also shown to be an extremely efficient player, courtesy of PlayerProfiler.com:
If Cody Kessler retains the starting job in Cleveland, Johnson has shown to be Kessler’s favorite returning target:
While Isaiah Crowell is still the starter, Duke Johnson should be an instant potential candidate for any team assuming the Zero RB lifestyle. Johnson has shown the ability to produce in limited touches and is on my short list of running back targets to improve significantly on their current ADP.
Doug Martin – ADP 85.04, Position Rank RB32
Doug Martin enters 2017 riding a three game suspension. Tampa Bay has shown commitment to Martin, and ESPN.com has reported that “Martin now appears likely to reclaim his starting job when he comes off suspension in Week four.” Since being selected by Tampa Bay as a first round pick in 2012, Martin has only strung together two full 16 game schedules. A healthy Martin is one of the premier backs in the league:
In 2012 Martin finished as the RB2 overall and in 2015 Martin finished as the RB4 overall. The Buccaneers have also upgraded their receiving corps in the offseason by adding DeSean Jackson and tight end OJ Howard. Team them up with pro bowl WR Mike Evans, and the Bucs will have one of the most formidable air attacks in the league, thus opening up the ground game even more for Martin.
Another question surrounding Doug Martin this season is how much Charles Sims would eat into Martin’s workload. Since the arrival of coach Dirk Koetter and quarterback Jameis Winston, Martin has proven to be more productive with Sims seeing time:
If Doug Martin can reclaim his 2015 form, then he would be a vast improvement over his current RB32 status. Assuming his 2015 pace and subtracting three games from his PPR total, Martin would have finished 2016 with 196.87 fantasy points ranking him RB17 overall. As redraft season approaches, I expect many owners to become scared of Martin’s three game suspension and his ADP may continue to slide. He is definitely on my target list for 2017.