Rest assured someone at some point during each of your drafts
will utter some variation of the words ďvalue pick.Ē
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, Iím 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
perform at a level above where I drafted him. Last season, Stefon Diggs had a sixth round ADP. This year, he is a second-round pick
entirely due to his performance. Diggs gave owners one hell of
a positive return on investment. On the flip side, Odell Beckham Jr. had a third round ADP. This year, heís going in the
sixth round. Thatís the type of pick we all hope to avoid.
Letís take a look at which WRs I expect to outperform their ADPs
and which I expect to fail.
The case for Johnson being undervalued: Heís
a proven target hog set for monster volume once again.
The case against Johnson being undervalued:
The Steelers want to run the ball more and their offense could
collapse at any moment given Ben
Roethlisbergerís fading ability.
Verdict: I went back to look at last yearís
names and I canít for the life of me figure out why I didnít include
Diontae Johnson. Anyone following me over the past couple years
knows my affinity for Johnson. He was a value last season and
heís a value once again.
Johnson finished as the WR21 in 2020, averaging 14.9 FPts/G.
Thatís just 2.0 FPts/G fewer than Justin Jefferson for those
keeping score at home. The thing about that number is itís
actually misleading and not representative of how productive Johnson
actually was. He only missed one game due to injury, but he left
two of them early (and Iím not even counting the game where
he was benched in the first half due to drops). If you remove
the two games where Johnson played just 9% and 24% of the snaps
respectively, he averaged 16.9 FPts/G. If you recall a couple
sentences above, thatís exactly what Jefferson averaged
and he finished as the WR10.
Johnson gets knocked for his low average depth of target and
essentially being a glorified extension of the run game. To that
I say, ďWhatís wrong with that?Ē We know Johnson
is talented and capable of making downfield plays. We also know
he doesnít need them to be a WR1 in fantasy. Johnson was
targeted 10+ times in a whopping 10 of 15 games.
Even though the Steelers brought back JuJu Smith-Schuster and
have an emerging Chase Claypool, Johnson is the established alpha
target hog on this team. He is the guy Big Ben looks for. He is
the guy Roethlisberger trusts. Even if Johnson experiences a dip
in total targets due to a more run-heavy offense, he is still
severely underpriced as the 22nd wide receiver off the board.
Johnson is basically an auto-draft for me once we get to the fourth
The case for Sutton being undervalued: Heís
an incredible athlete that profiles as a true alpha who was set
to breakout before an ACL tear ended his sophomore season.
The case against Sutton being undervalued: Heís
coming off an ACL tear and has suspect quarterback play looming.
Verdict: This is an ADP I just canít understand. Courtland
Sutton is 6í3, 218 lbs with elite agility and a massive
catch radius. Jerry Jeudy exists and is going to be targeted heavily
as well, but Jeudy is not the alpha that Sutton is. Make no mistake
about it, Sutton is the WR1 on the Broncos.
Drew Lock could definitely hold Sutton back, but I expect Teddy
Bridgewater to win the starting job and we just saw Bridgewater
sustain Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, and D.J. Moore as fantasy
relevant despite not being fantasy relevant himself.
Sutton was better than many realize in 2019 even though he finished
as merely a mid-WR3. He hit double-digit fantasy points in 11
games and had six games of WR1 level production - about 15 FPts/G
puts a wide receiver as a mid WR2.
Sutton can easily catch 80 balls for 1200 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He posted a 72-1112-6 line as a sophomore in 2019 which is nowhere
near his ceiling. Last yearís WR31, Corey
Davis, averaged 13.8 FPts/G, which is almost exactly what
Sutton did as a rookie. Worst case scenario, you get par value
for Sutton. Best case, you get a WR1 at a WR3 price. Sutton is
one of the most mispriced players in fantasy this season.
The case for Brown being undervalued: He was
the best WR in fantasy for half a decade and has shown no drop
off in ability.
The case against Brown being undervalued: Regardless
of Brownís talent, he needs volume and thatís unlikely to come
sharing the field with Mike
Evans and Chris
Verdict: I canít see any world where Antonio Brownís
ADP remains outside the top 36. Itís just not going to happen.
Even so, AB is going to remain a value for a while because of
how incorrect his ADP currently is.
Brown may be 33 years old, but weíve known for years that
his skill set would age very well. He proved it last season, posting
a 45-483-4 line in exactly half a season. We can extrapolate that
to a 90-966-8 line for a full season.
Brown averaged 14.6 FPts/G, which was good for a WR23 finish.
He did this on a new team after essentially not playing football
since 2018. With a full offseason to be integrated into the offense,
why are we not higher on Brown? Even if Evans and Godwin remain
the clear top two options, Brown proved he could be a low WR2/high
WR3. But what if Evans or Godwin gets hurt? What if Brown just
becomes Tom Bradyís favorite target because heís still
Thereís just zero risk associated with drafting AB outside
the top 36 and is the exact type of player you should target as
your WR4 Ė no risk/high reward. If Brown became the alpha
in Tampa Bay and posted a 100-1300-12 line, absolutely no one
would be shocked. That remains in his range of outcomes. Draft
AB and party like itís 2016.
The case for Metcalf being overvalued: He took
a massive step forward last season, but a further step forward
is already baked into his price.
The case against Metcalf being overvalued: Heís
one of the most talented WRs in the league and profiles as an
Verdict: Last year, Metcalf averaged 17.1 FPts/G,
finishing as the WR9. He had a phenomenal season, but it was a
bit of a tale of two halves for Metcalf (which corresponds with
Russell Wilsonís annual second half disappearing act). Over the
first eight weeks of the season, Metcalf was the WR3, averaging
20.6 FPts/G. From Weeks 9-17, Metcalf was the WR23, averaging
14.1 FPts/G. It seems awfully ambitious to induct him into that
top five when heís only done it for half a season, which included
a massive 40-point week.
There are reasons to be optimistic about Metcalf, including Seattleís
new offensive coordinator who should place more of an emphasis
on playing faster and passing more, but Metcalfís price
is already assuming that and more. Metcalf is a surefire WR1,
but I have him more on the low-end than the high-end. In the late
second/early third round, Iím all over Metcalf, but I just
canít take him ahead of Calvin Ridley, Justin Jefferson,
and A.J. Brown.
The case for Thielen being overvalued: Heís
31 years old coming off a season buttressed by a career high touchdown
The case against Thielen being overvalued: He
didnít show any decline in ability and there remains a consolidated
target share in Minnesota, of which Thielen has a huge part.
Verdict: I always find it fascinating when a player goes from
the undervalued section to the overvalued section in the course
of one season. Adam Thielen was one of my biggest hits in 2020,
but he really shouldnít have been. I got lucky to get that
I expected Thielen to be an alpha WR1 with a massive target share.
Instead he was outshined by Justin Jefferson, managing just 108
targets in 15 games. He caught 74 passes for just 925 yards. Thielen
just happened score a touchdown on 19% of his receptions. Prior
to 2020, Thielenís career high in touchdowns was nine. He
had 14 last season. While Kirk Cousins definitely looks to Thielen
in the red zone, it would be foolish to bank on another outlier
touchdown rate for Thielen.
If you believe Thielen can get back to the 2017 or 2018 version
that saw 140+ targets and about 1,300 receiving yards, then by
all means, draft Thielen. My inclination is that 2020 is a harbinger
of things to come with Jefferson being the primary option and
Thielen taking more of a backseat. Thielen will still be useful
and if he falls far enough, heís worth drafting because
I donít think the talent is declining much, if at all, but
without a sudden bump in targets, if we return Thielen to a more
reasonable touchdown total of eight, he posts just 14.3 FPts/G.
Those are low WR2/high WR3 numbers. That has value, but not when
Iím paying a mid WR2 price.
When drafting any player in fantasy football, weíre looking
for plausible upside. At WR18, it feels like the best case scenario
is par value, making Thielen a suspect pick in the late fourth/early
The case for Thomas being overvalued: He had
June ankle surgery and is set to miss at least a month of the
season and then return to a team without Drew
Brees under center.
The case against Thomas being overvalued: If
he does return earlier and healthier than expected, Thomas could
result in some lopsided fantasy teams that got a WR1 at a WR3
or WR4 price.
Verdict: Let me first address Michael Thomasí ďN/AĒ
ADP. The reason Iím not listing an ADP is because with the
news of his ankle surgery just a couple weeks old, ADP is still
adjusting him down from where it previously was. At the time I
sat down to write this, Thomas had a WR19 ADP.
The reason I feel comfortable putting Thomas on this list is
because of 2019 A.J. Green. Remember that summer? Green injured
his ankle in late July, but many fantasy managers thought they
were slick in the fifth or sixth round drafting a potential WR1
that theyíd get back after a little over a month of the
season. Green didnít play a snap that year.
We know players are going to get hurt. We know we are going to
have to deal with injuries throughout the season. We canít
prevent our players from getting hurt, but we can prevent ourselves
from drafting players that are already hurt. I donít really
care where Thomasí ADP ends up settling because thereís
no realistic way Iíd ever draft. Heís not going to
go as low as he should given the nature of his injury and his
uncertain timeline for return.
The Saints now possess arguably the least talented group of pass
catchers in the NFL. Their quarterback is either going to be Taysom
Hill or Jameis Winston, neither of which is capable of carrying
an offense without any semblance of a supporting cast. Alvin Kamara
canít do everything (but heís certainly going to try).
Thereís a very realistic chance that the Saints start out
2-5, accept this is a lost season, and just hold their franchise
wide receiver out so heís healthy for 2022. Thatís
in Thomasí range of outcomes and that alone is enough to
justify completely avoiding him.
But even if Thomas does return, we donít know when that
will be. Preliminary estimates have him out until at least Week
4, but that very well could be Week 6, Week 8, or later. If he
does return, what is he returning to? How effective will he be
when he is thrust into game action freshly recovered from a serious
ankle injury? Who will his quarterback be and will the offense
be good enough for Thomas to produce at a level high enough to
justify him burning a spot on your bench for up to half a season?
There are not many paths to Thomas panning out, but a whole bunch
of ways this can go sideways. You will thank yourself if you just
avoid the headache altogether.