Every year, rest assured someone at some point during each your
draft will utter some variation of the words “value pick.”
But what exactly is a value pick? What is value? Value is a relative
term that changes based on public perception. When I consider
value, I’m looking for a positive return on my investment.
Just because a player has an a fourth round ADP and is still sitting
there in the sixth round does not make him good value. At the
same time, taking a player a round or two above his ADP is not
necessarily bad value. Again, everything is relative. My goal
in every pick I make is to take a player I believe will have a
higher ADP the following season. Last season, Melvin Gordon had
a fifth round ADP. This year, he has a first round ADP. Gordon
gave owners one hell of a positive return on investment. On the
flip side, Brandon Marshall had a second round ADP. This year,
he has a sixth round ADP. That’s the type of pick we all
hope to avoid.
This year’s value series continues with Wide Receivers.
Let’s take a look at which WRs I expect to outperform their
ADPs and which I expect to fail.
Undervalued: Cameron Meredith can be a
low-end WR2 that you can steal at at WR4 price tag.
The case for Meredith being undervalued:
He’s the primary option in the Bears passing game and is being
drafted behind second and third options in other offenses.
The case against Meredith being undervalued:
The Bears are weak at the quarterback position and play slow on
offense, ranking 29th in plays per game last season.
Verdict: I understand that Meredith
was signed as an undrafted free agent. He has now played two NFL
seasons and we saw him perform at a high level last year. His
draft stock no longer matters. The man is good at football. He’s
incredibly athletic with a 95th percentile catch radius. Fantasy
wise, he finished 2016 as the WR27 in PPR FPts/G and was a mid-range
WR3 for your fantasy team. How in the world is he now being drafted
as a mid-range WR4?
Meredith was barely used for the majority of last season. In
seven games, he saw five targets or fewer and he had to deal with
Matt Barkley as his quarterback for most of the season. Here’s
a fun fact: in games where Meredith saw double digit targets,
he eclipsed 100 yards receiving in all of them (four total). In
those games, he had reception counts of 9, 11, 9, and 9. His 68
percent catch rate was 20th in the league amongst qualified receivers.
For comparison purposes, he finished just 0.8 percentage points
behind Antonio Brown.
Mike Glennon is no world beater, but he offers a sizable upgrade
to Barkley and the ghost of Jay Cutler. I have Meredith ranked
as my WR18 and will be aggressively targeting him in every league.
I see no reason he can’t return mid-low WR2 value.
The case for Williams being undervalued:
He had a 1,000 yard season receiving last year and is firmly entrenched
Rivers’ second option in the passing game.
The case against Williams being undervalued:Keenan
Allen’s return and the emergence of young TE Hunter
Henry will put a dent in the market share for Williams.
Verdict: Just like Meredith, Tyrell Williams was signed as an
undrafted free agent. He’s incredibly athletic and has an
even better catch radius than Meredith (Williams’ is in
the 98th percentile).
Williams was the WR21 last year in PPR FPts/G. I ask again: how
in the world is he being drafted as a mid-range WR4? If you look
closely, Williams’ 2016 season was even better than the
numbers indicate. He had a grand total of four catches for 32
yards in his two games against Denver. He also tore his labrum
in his right shoulder Week 12 and played through it, which clearly
hampered his production. All in all, if you picked up Williams
last year, you had a guy who gave you a nice stretch of WR1/2
Williams enters this year as the clear number two option. If
Keenan Allen goes down again, Williams is once again the number
one option in the passing game making his upside a high-end WR2.
Rookie Mike Williams (back) isn’t likely to see the field
until October at best so he should have no impact on your ranking
of Chargers wideouts. Tyrell is my WR28 and I will also be aggressively
targeting him in all leagues.
The case for Thielen being undervalued:
He posted a 69-967-5 line in a below average offense last season
and his cost WR48 is minimal.
The case against Thielen being undervalued:
The Vikings are a low volume passing offense and may not be able
to support two fantasy viable WRs.
Verdict: Thielen probably won leagues for some of you last year
with his 12-catch, 202-yard performance in championship week.
A player doesn’t flash that kind of potential without actual
talent. I think many people mistake Thielen for an underneath/slot
type receiver. He’s actually 6’3 and a monster red
zone target and will likely see more red zone looks than Stefon Diggs.
Thielen has showed a ton of promise and upside and can probably
be your fantasy team’s fifth receiver. He has great hands
– he dropped just one pass all of last season and saw 92
targets, which figures to increase as he enters 2017 as the established
number two option. It wouldn’t shock me to see Thielen put
up an 80-catch, 1200-yard season and that type of upside is well
worth a 10th round pick.
The case for Thomas being overvalued:
This will be just his second season and is now the main focus
of the opposing secondary. He is being drafted at his ceiling.
The case against Thomas being overvalued:
Cooks gone, Thomas’ volume will only increase.
Verdict: Michael Thomas is a good wide receiver. Good, not great.
He finished 2016 as the WR7 last year in PPR FPts/G. He is currently
being drafted as the WR7 this year which seems reasonable, right?
My issue with Thomas is I do not believe he is built to be a
team’s top option. He would be a fantastic number two, as
he was last year. But with the top spot comes the top corners.
The film on Thomas shows his production noticeably dipped when
teams switched their top corners off Cooks and to Thomas. Cooks
is no longer there to occupy the defense. Should we expect an
increase in volume to offset his increased attention? I think
it’s pretty ambitious to predict an increase in opportunities.
Thomas saw 121 targets last year in 15 games. In Marques Colston’s
best season with Drew Brees, Colston saw 143 targets. That is
the single most targets a Brees wide receiver has ever received
in a season. That’s Thomas’ absolute ceiling. Accounting
for the one game he missed last season, Thomas should have finished
with 128 targets or so.
Thomas wasn’t nearly as prolific last year as people think.
Did you know that Cam Meredith he had more 100-yard receiving
games than Michael Thomas? His 76 percent catch rate was also
second in the league behind just Cole Beasley. That’s simply
unsustainable at Thomas’ target volume.
Thomas will have a good year and be a useful fantasy wide receiver.
I expect a high-end WR2 performance, which would be fantastic…except
that Thomas is being drafted as a mid-range WR1. This is one of
those classic cases where you need to not conflate “overvalued”
with “bad.” Thomas is not bad. He’s my WR15.
He’s just going a round or two too high.
The case for Hopkins being overvalued:
He played all 16 games last season and finished as the WR33, so
why is he being treated as a borderline WR1?
The case against Hopkins being overvalued:
He’s still the same WR that posted a WR5 finish in 2015.
Verdict: DeAndre Hopkins has been in the league for four years
now and was used heavily out of the gate (92 targets as a rookie).
Target counts for his last three season include: 127, 192, 151
with yardage accumulated: 1210, 1521, 954 with touchdown numbers:
6, 11, 4. I ask you, fine reader, which one of these seems like
We have four years of tape and stats on Hopkins. He’s definitely
one of the best receiving talents in the league. However, He’s
still a run-heavy team with a bad running game (a bit of foreshadowing
on the final installment of this series). His quarterback is currently
Tom Savage and it could get even worse because yes, DeShaun Watson
will be worse for DHop than Savage. Watson’s throwing velocity
leaves something to be desired which doesn’t bode well for
any outside receiver. He held the ball too long in his first pre-season
action, missed too many throws, and his arm looked weak. He actually
demonstrated good control pre-snap and appears to be a smart quarterback;
it’s unfortunate he doesn’t have the physical tools
to match his brain. But I am almost certain he will make starts
at some point this season.
Hopkins’ sub 60 percent catch rate across his four seasons
probably has more to do with QB play than anything, but that dynamic
hasn’t changed. His top five fantasy finish and 192 targets
he saw in 2015 seem like the outlier. With an improved catch rate,
I have every confidence in the world that Hopkins will have a
better 2017 than 2016 maybe something similar to his 2014 season:
76-1210-6. Those numbers were good for a WR18 finish in 2014 so
I just don’t see how you can confidently draft him in the
early third round. He’s my WR23 and he should probably be
going in Round 5.
Here’s a bonus prediction for you: Cameron Meredith finishes
with more fantasy points this season than DeAndre Hopkins.
The case for Jeffery being overvalued:
He hasn’t been able to stay healthy, missing 11 games the last
two seasons and now his quarterback is Carson
The case against Jeffery being overvalued:
He flashed elite talent in the past and has the skills to dominate
Verdict: I’m not the biggest fan of Carson Wentz’s
talent but that’s not the only issue with Jeffery. His early
fourth round ADP is at least more reasonable than Hopkins, but
just like Hopkins, Jeffery seems to getting credit for things
he hasn’t done in over two years. Jeffery had monster seasons
in 2013 (WR8) and 2014 (WR10). Since then, he’s missed roughly
12 games and acquired the “injury prone” label due
to various leg ailments. These aren’t random injuries like
Corey Coleman’s broken hand or Keenan Allen’s lacerated
kidney. These are recurring soft tissue problems. Jeffery has
already missed practice time with a shoulder issue this pre-season.
In Jeffery’s two huge years, he saw 148 and 145 targets.
I struggle to see how he gets anywhere near those numbers in 2017.
The Eagles are a run-heavy offense with a below average quarterback
in his second year. Wentz was 31st in yards per attempt last season
and Jeffery has typically had a higher than average ypc during
his career. It just doesn’t strike me as a good match. While
mid-range WR2 value isn’t out of the question, Jeffery is
my WR35, which is one spot higher than where he finished 2016
in PPR FPts/G. There are far better options in the fourth round.