The most important thing to remember when analyzing ADP (Average Draft Position) for fantasy football drafts is that it’s constantly changing. It’s still early, as we’re still going to see some big injuries and role changes before the regular season comes, but it’s still crucial to get an early idea of what kind of value can be found late in fantasy drafts.
Mocking your league’s draft is one great way to prepare, but even before you do that you need to know what to look for. To help you out a bit, we’re taking a look at 10 guys we’re high on after round 8 in fantasy football drafts:
Note: ADP stats taken from FantasyFootballCalculator.com
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions (8th)
Stafford has an atrocious record on the road against winning teams, so maybe don’t use him those weeks. Other than that, he’s usually rock solid and has the arm, moxie and surrounding talent to blow up in any given game. He actually was hurt by a banged up Calvin Johnson quite a bit last year, but a new, balanced system helped Stafford improve in accuracy (60%, best in three years) and turnovers (just 12 picks). Stafford still topped 4,200 passing yards and at least 20 passing scores (22) for the fourth consecutive year, further establishing himself as a top shelf fantasy passer. His scores dropped back down after throwing 29 in 2013, while he ended up only coming in at 15th overall in the final quarterback rankings. While that’s not great, he was 7th in 2013 and 5th in 2011. Stafford can be hit or miss at times, but he continues to have the individual and supporting talent to absolutely crush it. There’s risk with any pick, but when you’re taking Stafford as your QB1 in round 8, you’re taking minimum risk and potentially landing a top-10 fantasy passer.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers (10th)
I’m not sure what Rivers needs to do to earn fantasy owners’ respect. Last year he finished 12th overall in fantasy football despite throwing 18 picks and the year before he rose from the ashes of a seemingly sinking career and was the game’s 6th overall fantasy passer. Rivers is all the more impressive considering he torched the Seahawks last year and puts up all of these numbers with no production on the ground.
The biggest thing for Rivers was when Mike McCoy took over as head coach and took away the vertical offense that Rivers was no longer fully suited for. San Diego’s quick-hitting offense favors Rivers’ timing, accuracy and pocket presence and for the most part, we’ve seen an elite fantasy passer the past two years. Rivers did turn the ball over more than we’d like to see down the stretch last year, but he still put up well over 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns. He loses Antonio Gates for the first four games of 2015 but otherwise has plenty of weapons at his disposal via Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd, Danny Woodhead, Melvin Gordon and LaDarius Green (plus Gates once he returns). That, plus his system is plenty of reason to think he can at least match what he did a year ago.
In round 10, you’re drafting Rivers as the 14th best passer and he’s probably closer to top-10. If that’s not value, I’m not sure what is.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers (12th)
Kaepernick isn’t the best pure passer in the league, but only an idiot would deny his insane athleticism and upside. The big question is whether or not a coaching change will work and if he did enough this summer to improve where his game goes wrong. On the surface, Kaepernick has the jets to be a menace on the run, the cannon to hit big plays and the weapons to make it all come together. After rising into the top-10 in his first year as a full-time starter in 2013, many felt he would blow the lid off the league last year. That didn’t happen (he finished 16th), but despite the regression he wasn’t all that bad for stretches. Even if you think he was (and OK, he kind of was), there is still major potential here – especially when it comes to fantasy production. There’s a chance Kap can still be the man for your team if he can figure things out and you only have to spend a 12th round pick to find out.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears (13th)
There is so much value to be had late in fantasy drafts and the quarterback position offers the majority of it. I could add Robert Griffin III and a few other guys to this list, but my favorite value guys are players that have either proven they can get it done multiple times or are just too promising to ignore. Cutler might be both, as he once again has fantastic weapons around him and still has the tools to be a great fantasy quarterback. The Bears aren’t sold on him and he could get benched again at anytime, but if he actually works on what ails him (largely decision-making) then he could still step up with a huge year. He already did it in 2014 when it comes to fantasy numbers, so as long as he doesn’t totally face plant he should be able to get fantasy owners solid stats again. There is some downside here, but Cutler carries a good amount of reward for round 13 and if you’re already streaming quarterbacks, it’s almost a no-brainer.
Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns (9th)
It’s tough to classify rookies as steals. They’re first year players, haven’t done jack and their would-be roles are far from guaranteed. But I love me some Duke Johnson – especially since he’s going in round nine of drafts and Isaiah Crowell is being taken ahead of him in round seven. Crowell isn’t some sack, but he’s not as explosive or as versatile as Johnson and he also fumbles. Johnson could just be a scat-back, or he could be a total freak. He’s worth the shot that late in your draft and if you’re doing it right, he’s only your RB3 or RB4, anyways.
David Cobb, RB, Tennessee Titans (9th)
We’re dropping down a scorch, but the thinking is the same. Cobb isn’t the tantalizing talent Johnson is, but he’s solid enough, gets what is blocked for him and could be in for a huge role as a rookie. Bishop Sankey is pretty much everything Cobb isn’t and he had an awful rookie season. Shonn Greene was cut loose, too (as he should have been), so the Titans are going to go with who sucks the least. I think Sankey hangs around for a while, but ultimately Cobb’s ceiling looks good in year one.
David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (9th)
Another rookie with serious upside, Johnson would be in line for a mega role and crazy numbers if/when Andre Ellington were to go down. Ellington is a great talent, but he’s a smaller back that has so far struggled to stay healthy and may not be fit for a featured role. Johnson is the perfect handcuff if you’re taking a swing on Ellington and even if you’re not, he’s nice bench depth in round nine if Cobb/Johnson are gone. You can toss Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman in here, too, but he’s less of a steal since he’s in the mix to start right away and is going off boards around round six right now.
Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10th)
I really like Doug Martin, so this is hard for me. He felt like a steal last year and while he busted for the second season in a row, I still am not sure it’s totally his fault. For one, he got hurt in 2013. Secondly, his offensive line and quarterback play have both been beyond trash. And lastly, his new regime hasn’t gone out of it’s way to back him since they took over in 2014. I like his talent and although the analytics have dipped, I still think he can be a very strong RB2. Except he probably won’t be and the Bucs will move on to “their guy”, which is Sims. Sims is plenty talented, too, and if they’re backing him and the o-line doesn’t suck, he should have a shot at producing. There are a lot of hypotheticals here, but you needn’t care since you’re only spending a 10th rounder on him. He’s a great handcuff if you take a stab on The Muscle Hamster and a solid depth play, regardless.
Percy Harvin, WR, Buffalo Bills (11th)
I’m on the fence on Harvin, as he’s hovering between being a total bust and a very sneaky sleeper. The reality is that this dude is insanely talented, crazy versatile, super explosive and you can get him in the 11th round. He’s better than we think he is, but he’s a bit of a headcase, can never stay healthy and is the #2 receiving option at best on a Bills team that runs first and doesn’t have a quarterback. Ugh. That’s a lot to take in, but facts are facts. He’s appealing if you get him here or later, but the risk is obvious.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Miami Dolphins (8th)
Cameron is a steal. I’m not beating around the bush. He’s a steal if you flat out love him as your TE1 and he’s a steal if you feel like using him to start off 2015 as a streamer. He’s in such a better situation that it’s not even funny, as his best quarterback before Ryan Tannehill was Brian freaking Hoyer and he used to play for the Browns. His offensive system is better, his coaching is better, his surrounding talent is better and in 2015 his potential could be better. He careered in 2013 and then because of injuries and horrid quarterback play, he crashed down back to life. He might actually be something somewhere in between, but for round 8, I’m kind of okay with that. I see what Charles Clay could do in this offense and I raise it with Cameron, who is a superior red-zone presence and quite frankly, the only red-zone presence Miami has.
Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers (13th)
Vernon Davis sucked last year. If he wasn’t trying to steal touchdowns from his own teammates he was missing blocks, dropping passes or just looking slow. It wasn’t all on him, though. Davis dealt with several nagging injuries, Colin Kaepernick took a step back, the 49ers were predictable on offense, the NFC West is a war zone and the Jim Harbaugh exit clouded everyone’s judgment in the Bay Area. Davis is still a beast of a man with good speed and great catch radius. It’s entirely possible he’s dead and we should forget about him, but we all thought the same of Antonio Gates, too. Torrey Smith comes into town to help take looks off of Davis and Kaepernick supposedly has improved his pocket presence. Cue a turn around for everyone involved? Maybe. Just maybe. But for round 13, it’s not a bad gamble.
Got some sweet fantasy football sleepers of your own? Let me hear them in the comments below!