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 two 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

Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins (8.08) – As someone who has owned a lot of Jordan Reed in the past, I understand fantasy players who refuse to draft him. He has never played a full 16-game season during his career. However, Reed is currently being drafted as the TE9. If he can stay healthy to play 12 games, he offers top-three upside. In 2015, Reed played in 14 games and finished the season as the TE3 and tied for second among tight ends in receiving touchdowns with 11.

Getting targets has never been an issue for Reed. Reportedly, Reed had surgery in the off-season to fix the toe injury that caused him to miss 10 games last season, and is pain free. If Reed is healthy, he will see plenty of targets this season.

Year

Reed Games Played

Reed’s Target Share (When Healthy)

Other Redskins TE Target Share (When Reed doesn’t play)

Alex Smith’s target share to the tight end.

2017

6

16.9%

21.6%

29.4%

2016

12

19.1%

14.4%

28.9%

2015

14

23.8%

9.3%

26.5%

2014

11

17.1%

21.5%

26.2%

The more games Reed plays in a season, the more often he is targeted by the quarterback. Meanwhile, Alex Smith has targeted the tight ends at least 26% of the time or more over the last four seasons. If Reed can stay healthy this season and play 12 or more games, he has upside to be a steal at pick 8.08.

Allen Hurns, WR, Cowboys (11.03) – The Cowboys have 264 targets to replace from last season and Allen Hurns was the main addition to the offense this past off-season. While many (including myself) have high hopes for Michael Gallup, Hurns should still be the first Cowboys wide receiver drafted. Even if Gallup takes overs the number one role, Hurns will see plenty of targets opposite of him.

Hurns has struggled to stay healthy during his career, missing 18.8% of his career games. However, when he is healthy, Hurns averages 7.9 targets per game for his career. While Hurns won’t see that many targets per game if he isn’t the number one wide receiver, he should see about six targets per game, as over Dak Prescott’s career his second-most targeted wide receiver averages six targets per game.

Currently, Hurns is being drafted as the WR49. Despite that, many anticipate the Cowboys to be one of most run heavy-teams this season. If fantasy owners can potentially get a teams’ number one wide receiver at the start of the 11th round, that’s a bargain.

Busts

Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles (4.05) – Using the word “bust” might be a little strong for Zach Ertz, but I don’t like his value at his current ADP. Players going just after his current 4.05 ADP are JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demaryius Thomas, and I would take both over Ertz easily. To be fair, Ertz is currently being drafted as the TE3 and his is my TE3. However, if fantasy owners think he is a lock to finish as the top three tight end again this season, there is some serious risk.

Year

Catches

Yards

TDs

FPPG

TE Finish

2017

74

824

8

14.5

TE3

2016

78

816

4

13.1

TE6

2015

75

853

2

11.4

TE9

Other than the wide range in touchdowns, Ertz has produced similar stats the past three seasons. However, in 2017 his preseason ADP was 7.01, while his preseason ADP in 2016 and 2015 was even later. Clearly Ertz’s fantasy production is based on the number of touchdowns he gets. With the Hunter Henry injury, there is no doubt that Ertz is the TE3. However, he has a wider range of potential finishes because of his touchdown dependency. Taking Ertz in the fourth round is too much of a risk for my liking.

Evan Engram, TE, Giants (6.09) – When Evan Engram finished as the TE5 last season, he was the only rookie in the last eight years seasons to finish as a top 15 tight end. However, Engram’s 173.6 total fantasy points was the lowest amount of points for a TE5 finish since 2008. Engram clearly benefited from a down year overall for tight ends. Furthermore, Engram’s situation has drastically changed from last season.

Last season Engram had a 19% target share despite Odell Beckham Jr. missing 12 games and Sterling Shepard missing five games, while the Giants running game ranked 26th in the league. In 2016, Beckham and Shepard combined for a 45.8% target share. With the addition of Saquon Barkley and the return of a healthy Beckham, there is no way Engram sees a 19% target share again this season.

Finally, Engram caught just 55.7% of his targets last season; easily last among the top 12 tight ends last season. The next closest tight end in the top 12 was Jimmy Graham, with a 60% catch rate. If Engram can’t make catches consistently, Eli Manning now has two other elite weapons to target instead.

Sleepers

Alex Smith, QB, Redskins (12.06) – Many experts believe last season was a one-year wonder for Alex Smith, and they are partly correct. While Smith won’t finish the season as the QB4, he can finish as a low-end QB1. In four-point-per-passing-touchdown leagues, Smith’s running ability will give him the leg up (pun intended) on many other quarterbacks. The Redskins are implementing more of the read option into their offense this season. Over his last three seasons, Smith has 192 rushes for 987 yards and eight touchdowns; averaging 3.2 FPPG on the ground.

Aside from his rushing ability, Smith has two other things going for him this season; a lack of a running game and his weapons. After Derrius Guice tore his ACL in week one of the preseason, the Redskins recently signed Adrian Peterson to compete for the starting role. Will it work out? Probably not. Therefore, the Redskins will have to rely more on Alex Smith and the passing game this season.

While Smith doesn’t have the same weapons he did in Kansas City, the difference between those weapons and the ones he currently has isn’t a lot. Tyreek Hill is clearly a better weapon than Paul Richardson, but both give Smith a good downfield stretcher. If — and I know it’s a big if — Jordan Reed can stay healthy, his talent is on par with Travis Kelce. Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson are better than any number two wide receiver Smith had in Kansas City. For fantasy owners who want to wait until the last few round to grab a quarterback, Smith is an excellent option.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants (14.01) – Rarely is Eli Manning viewed as a fantasy-relevant quarterback. However, in two quarterback or super flex leagues he has some upside to him. Last season, Manning finished as the QB23 behind guys like Jacoby Brissett and Josh McCown. However, Odell Beckham Jr. missed 12 games, Sterling Shepard was in and out of the line up all season long, Evan Engram caught just 55.7% of his targets with five drops, and the Giants ranked 26th in rushing. Needless to say Manning was working with very little help.

In the off-season the Giants improved the team around Manning. They drafted Saquon Barkley second overall in the draft. In addition to Barkley, the Giants signed Nate Solder to a big contract in free agency and drafted Will Hernandez in the second round, who should start week one at left guard. Most important of all, Manning gets back a healthy Beckham. So, with all the weapons on the Giants offense, why isn’t Manning getting any fantasy love?

Many expect Beckham to finish as a top-five wide receiver, Barkley to finish as a top-10 running back, Evan Engram as a top-five tight end and Sterling Shepard as a top-36 wide receiver. If all or most of that comes true, Manning will have enough production to finish as a top 15 quarterback and is a sneaky QB2 in two quarterback or super flex leagues.

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 25 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.