Football is back! With the preseason under way, fantasy players are doing mock drafts hourly (or maybe it’s just me) to prepare for their fantasy drafts. Each year fantasy owners want to construct their team with a proper mix of good value players and upside sleepers while avoiding players with high bust potential. In part four of my eight part installment, I will look over the AFC North and provide ADP values, likely to bust candidates and potential sleepers.

Players ADP is based off of PPR scoring according to the fantasy football calculator. Remember you can practice for your fantasy drafts using the mock draft simulator. Check out the previous installment here. As always, happy hunting fantasy friends!

ADP Values

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots (2.10) – The only argument against Rob Gronkowski is that he is “injury prone”, but that isn’t true. Over the last four seasons, Gronkowski has missed just 12 games. Furthermore, Gronkowski has played in 14 or more games in three of those seasons. While Gronkowski does miss a game or two every season with a minor injury, many starting tight ends do as well.

Over the last three seasons, of the 36 tight ends that finished as a TE1, 14 of them failed to play a full 16 game slate. Furthermore, over the same span the average number of games played by the top three fantasy tight ends is 15 games. As long as Gronkowski keeps up the pace of playing in 14 or more games every season, he will finish as a top two tight end.

Last season, Gronkowski finished the year as the TE2 overall but finished as the TE1 on a points-per-game basis. Since his rookie year, every season that Gronkowski has played 11 or more games in (which he has done in six of eight seasons), he has finished as the TE5 or better. Furthermore, Gronkowski has finished as the TE1 three times in his career, while averaging 13.3 touchdowns per year in those seasons.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins (4.03) – After the signing of Frank Gore, Kenyan Drake has become one of the more polarizing fantasy running backs. Some fantasy experts are concerned that Gore will take away the starting role from Drake, which I believe is unlikely to happen. Now, I do believe Gore will have a role in this offense, but his age and production last season suggests he will play a complementary role.

While Drake didn’t get many reps till week nine when Jay Ajayi was traded, Gore was the Colts starter all season long. Yet, Drake performed better than Gore in several statistical areas last year.

Yards Per Carry

Yards Per Catch

Total TDs

Fumbles

FPPG

Drake

4.8

7.5

4

2

8.9

Gore

3.7

8.4

4

3

10.8

When comparing their stats from week nine on, Drake’s numbers clearly improve.

Yards Per Carry

Yards Per Catch

Total TDs

Fumbles

FPPG

Drake

5

8

4

2

15.1

Gore

3.7

8.4

2

1

11.9

Furthermore, after Damien Williams went down for the season with an injury in week 12 and Drake took over as the full-time starter, he averaged 21.6 touches for 118.8 scrimmage yards and 17.7 fantasy points per game. Had Drake averaged 17.7 FPPG for the season, he would have finished as the RB6. Lastly, Gore has one carry in the preseason while Drake has averaged 6.8 yards per carry.

Busts

LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills (3.05) – Of the top nine running backs last season, LeSean McCoy tied for the least amount of total touchdowns with eight. McCoy had the lowest yards per carry of his career last season; averaging four YPC compared to 4.6 for his career. McCoy also averaged the least amount of yards-per-game since 2012. Given that McCoy turned 30 years old in July, his drop in production is expected.

To make matters worst for McCoy, the Bills lost their three best offensive lineman from last season and their best pass catcher in Kelvin Benjamin. Josh Allen is dealing with a head injury he suffered in the preseason game and Nathan Peterman may end up winning the starting job. Yikes! Furthermore, McCoy is facing a possible suspension over domestic violence allegations. Given the holes on the offensive line, the lack of play-makers at wide receiver, combined with his declining production and his pending legal issues, McCoy is on my “do not draft” list.

Robby Anderson, WR, Jets (8.04) – Last season Robby Anderson finished as the WR18 while averaging 12.5 FPPG, but in 2016 he finished outside the top 50 wide receivers; averaging just 7.2 FPPG. Many are expecting Anderson to repeat what he did last season but I don’t see that happening again this season. The Jets have more weapons this year with the signing of Terrelle Pryor and the return of Quincy Enunwa. In 2016, Enunwa took over as the Jets number one wide receiver and had 105 targets while averaging 10.6 FPPG.

Not only does the return of Enunwa limit Anderson’s upside, but the quarterback situation does similarly. Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is expected to be named the starter for the Jets this season, and Anderson had a very good connection with Josh McCown last season. In games with McCown, Anderson averaged 13.8 FPPG while in games without McCown, he averaged just 6.8 FPPG. Currently Anderson is being drafted as the WR37. Maybe he builds off of last season’s production, but it’s a far from certain thing and I wouldn’t take him at his current ADP.

Sleepers

James White, RB, Patriots (9.02) – Never, ever draft a Patriots running back! Okay, that’s not true. This season I actually like all of the Patriots running backs at their current ADP. However, James White is my favorite value of the three because of his pass catching ability and his cemented role in the offense. Last season White was the RB38, averaging a solid 9.6 fantasy points per game. White had the most targets and catches among Patriot running backs last season and finished forth overall on the team with 72 targets.

Dion Lewis is now a Titan and while the Patriots drafted Sony Michel in the first round of the draft — he had 64 career catches in four years at Georgia — he isn’t a threat to White’s targets. Some fantasy experts have concerns that Rex Burkhead will cut into White’s targets. However, comparing the games both White and Burkhead played last season, White had a higher snap count and a higher number of targets.

My favorite part about White is fantasy owners can grab him later in the draft and expect consistent RB3 production or better almost on a weekly basis. Over the last three seasons, White has averaged 9.5 fantasy points per game and has only missed four games.

Games as a…

2015 (14 games)

2016 (16 games)

2017 (14 games)

RB1 or RB2

5

4

5

RB3

2

6

5

RB4

1

4

0

Over that time span, White has finished as a RB2 or better 31.8% of the time, a RB3 or better 61% of the time and a RB4 or better 72.7% of the time. Furthermore, White failed to finish as a top 48 running back just 27.3% of the time. With White currently being drafted as the RB41, fantasy owners can rely on him for consistent and solid production.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Bills (9.08) – Is there a worse quarterback situation than what is happening in Buffalo? Probably not. Whoever wins the starting quarterback job for the Bills will have to target Benjamin a lot, as the team lacks proven weapons around him. Currently Corey Coleman and Zay Jones, assuming he is healthy, are expected to start opposite of Benjamin at wide receiver. Neither of them are very fantasy-productive wide receivers, and both failed to finish as a top 50 wide receiver last season.

While the Bills have Charles Clay and LeSean McCoy as factors in the passing game, they both come with risk. Both players have injury history. Combined, the two of them have one 16-game season over the last three seasons. While my dislike for McCoy is mentioned above, Clay has never topped 60 catches or four touchdowns during his time in Buffalo.

What makes Benjamin an interesting fantasy prospect is his production with a high target share. Taking a look at Benjamin’s best fantasy seasons, they correlate to a high target share, despite that he has a low catch rate.

Season

Targets

Catches

Catch Rate

Fantasy PPG

WR Finish

Target Share

2014

145

73

50.30%

14.1

WR16

26.60%

2016

118

63

53.40%

12.3

WR27

21.00%

2017

78

48

61.50%

9.7

WR47

14.60%

As a reminder, Benjamin missed the 2015 season with a torn ACL he suffered in training camp. In his three other seasons, Benjamin clearly had a better fantasy season when he is peppered with targets. With the Bills lacking proven pass catchers other than Benjamin, assuming he can stay healthy he could see up to 140 targets this season. With that kind of volume he can finish as a top-30 wide receiver.

About The Author Mike Fanelli

Mike is a former journalism major who spent all four years in high school working for the school newspaper. At 26 years old, he is happy to write for Breaking Football as it gives him a platform to get his fantasy football takes and sports opinions out there.