As teams begin to kick off their training camps, fantasy football players are beginning to research for the draft season. However, that research comes from different perspectives and from different people. How you absorb the statistics and which of them you choose to trust will determine your success come draft night. Despite the numbers, early average draft position data shows plenty of undervalued players in fantasy football. The draft isn’t going to win your league, but if you strike gold, you could find yourself winning it all.
These guys, if drafted, can give your team a boost and potentially be part of a winning season.
Mike Davis (ADP: 196.4; Rounds 14-16; RB61)
To say that Mike Davis’ career has been pedestrian would be an understatement. Davis has yet to amass 600 yards or score more than four touchdowns in a single season. Starting his career in San Francisco, he touched the ball less than 55 times over two seasons with the club. However, Davis found some success in the Seahawks’ offense gaining 4.6 yards per carry (YPC) on 112 attempts. A league nomad, Davis finds himself on the move again but this time to Chicago. The Bears currently boast a depth chart of three talented running backs with Davis, Tarik Cohen, and rookie David Montgomery. In 2018, Cohen touched the ball nearly 200 times, including 71 receptions, almost 1300 yards, and 8 touchdowns.
Cohen is going to get touches and produce. However, the departure of Jordan Howard’s 1100 yards and 9 touchdowns leave a hole in the offense. Davis and Montgomery will be fighting for the bulk of the carries but most people think Montgomery will be the guy. But if we learned anything from our good friend John Brennan, David Montgomery is a Player to Avoid. Davis is a three-down back who saw his production spike on third down, rushing for over seven YPC. A downhill runner with size, Davis can run past and through would-be tacklers at any level of the defense. In 2019, Davis has the talent and the opportunity to see real fantasy upside. According to FantasyPros.com, Davis’ average draft position falls between rounds 14 and 16.
Royce Freeman (ADP: 101.4; Rounds 9-12; RB39)
Like the aforementioned Mike Davis, fantasy football players of all shapes and sizes are sleeping on the Royce Freeman train. However, we don’t necessarily fault them for doing so when backfield mate Philip Lindsay seems to be healthy. What people may be missing is the hype surrounding Freeman in the Broncos locker room. Offensive Coordinator Rich Scangarello claims there could be a split in touches between the two backs. In a recent discussion with reporters, Scangarello said the two backs complement each other, stating that Freeman is the power and Lindsay is the finesse, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. This could just be training camp hype or coach speak, but it all bodes well for Freeman and fantasy owners.
In 2018, Freeman showed flashes as a 3rd round rookie with four YPC on 130 rushes and five touchdowns. Freeman also has some upside in the passing game showing that he can get into the open and make plays. If Lindsay falters, who is being drafted almost 60 spots higher, it could be Freeman’s time to shine. The ADP for Royce Freeman shows that he’s the 39th running back taken off the board.
Jameis Winston (ADP: 124.6; Rounds 10 – 13; QB16)
Winston is an intriguing situation. There has been a lot of talk about Winston not getting over the hump in the NFL. But when it comes to fantasy football, he’s been a solid contributor. Jameis finished as a QB2 in previous years but during his first two years, Jameis eclipsed 330-fantasy points and was a borderline QB1. The team put more pressure on him to do more with the football and that has had an effect. Whether that be to pull the ball down and run or make big throws in big situations and unfortunately, that hasn’t always panned out positively.
In 2019, Winston will have a new coaching staff known for moving fast and getting the ball in the air. As head coach of the Cardinals, Bruce Arians regularly called 60+% pass plays. Quarterbacks for Arians averaged 4200 yards and 27 touchdowns over the last three years. Buccaneer quarterbacks led the league in average completed air yards (ACAY) and finished 2nd / 3rd in average intended air yards (IAY) in 2018. Winston’s average draft position is currently between rounds 10 and 13 and the 16th quarterback taken in drafts. If Winston and Arians get on the same page quickly, we could find ourselves someone with massive QB1 upside in drafts.
Marquise Goodwin (ADP: 186.4; Rounds 14 – 16; WR 60)
2017 was an introductory season for the fifth-year veteran. The 5’8 Goodwin caught 53% of his targets for 962 yards and two scores on 105 targets. Those numbers came from a revolving door of quarterbacks that included CJ Beathard and Brian Hoyer. A mid-season trade with the Patriots brought in Jimmy Garoppolo and some consistency from the position. During that season, Marquise had either 4 receptions or 60+ yards in nine different contests. In the final six games with Jimmy G, Goodwin caught 67% of his targets for 462 yards. Clearly, Garoppolo had a connection with Goodwin and we couldn’t wait to see more.
The 2018 season kicked off with a lot of hype in the Goodwin camp. An entire off-season under second-year head coach Kyle Shanahan, most people expected a break out for Goodwin and Garoppolo. However, a week one quad bruise sidelined Marquise just a couple of minutes into the 2nd quarter. Goodwin would miss week 2 due to the injury and couldn’t get truly healthy for the rest of the year.
Meanwhile, Garoppolo had his own injury tearing his ACL during the Niners week 3 contest against the Chiefs. Goodwin caught three passes for 30 yards and a score before Garoppolo went down. Marquise would continue having issues suffering injuries to his calf and achilles that knocked him out of games completely.
Goodwin finished the 2017 season as the 29th best receiver in PPR formats. In 2019, Goodwin has a tremendous opportunity to eclipse those numbers if he can stay healthy. The only concern we have for Goodwin is whether or not he can find the end zone. Goodwin’s current average draft position shows him as the 60th receiver according to early draft data. The upside to getting a late-round flyer and him turning into a borderline WR2 is tremendous.