Hello, my name is Parker Olhiser – I am super excited about being able to contribute content to Apex Fantasy Leagues with the goal of helping you win your fantasy league. As we approach the final week of drafting for fantasy football leagues, there are trends in the Average Draft Position (ADP) that are still very exploitable.
The market is missing the true value of these players, and I will identify five undervalued players who can help you in late fantasy drafts.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (ADP: 1.08)
With Dalvin Cook and now Alvin Kamara potentially holding out, our RB1 options at the beginning of the first round are getting riskier every day. In response to this, we need to find alternative players who can yield the same results with less risk associated with them. I believe the best candidate is Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH) for several reasons.
When a lead back earns the full workload in Andy Reid’s offense they’ve produced at a high level. Every back from Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, and Kareem Hunt, all have produced 14.5 PPR points per game in a season in which they got the starting role. Andy Reid produced a back of this caliber 16 of the past 20 years (80%). The four years he did not, no RB in the backfield saw more than 200 total touches.
Damien Williams opting out eliminated the most significant competition he might have had for that lead back role. Every indication from camp has been that CEH is the lead guy and is developing well.
Kansas City also invested their only first-round draft pick in CEH at the 32nd pick, despite premium RBs like De’Andre Swift and Jonathan Taylor still being available. This was due to the fact that Andy Reid was so high on him coming into the draft, going so far as to say that CEH is “better than Brian Westbrook.”
We know 21-year-old rookie RBs often perform better than any other age group entering the league and this is even more prevalent with first-round picks. Blair Andrews of RotoViz has shown us that rookie running backs who are being drafted early are actually undervalued, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire can be the next shining example of this.
Chris Godwin (ADP: 2.11)
Even after finishing as the second-best WR in PPR formats (despite missing two games) last year, Chris Godwin is still being doubted. The change at quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the shortened offseason have started to generate doubt in players like Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. This is simply our natural reaction to fear of the unknown, and the unknown is how Tom Brady’s fit in Bruce Arian’s system will ultimately affect the players around him. The player I believe will actually benefit the most from this quarterback change is Godwin.
Last year, Godwin played 436 of his 895 snaps from the slot receiver position. During his time in New England, Tom Brady produced some of the most consistent and valuable PPR players from the slot receiver position, including Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. From 2007 to 2012 as the slot receiver for Tom Brady in New England, Wes Welker averaged at least 8.2 targets or more per game. When Julian Edelman took over that role from 2013 to 2019, he averaged a minimum of 9 targets per game or more.
Not only is the slot receiver one of Tom Brady’s favorite weapons, but Bruce Arians’ system also utilizes this position in many different ways. In 2014, Bruce Arians’ first season as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald only received a low 4.5 targets per game. But the following three seasons, from 2015 to 2017, he averaged at least 9.1 targets per game. Why did this change so drastically? Simply put, Larry Fitzgerald was moved inside to the slot much more often.
Mike Evans serves as a perfect compliment WR1B to Godwin as a WR1A. This will ensure Godwin does not constantly receive double coverage or attention from a star cornerback. Teams will have to choose who beats them.
Also, with the addition of Brady (and subtraction of Jameis Winston) the Buccaneers’ overall turnover margin should improve as well, resulting in more sustained drives and touchdowns scored. Winston threw an astonishing 30 interceptions while also adding 3 fumbles for a whopping 33 total turnovers at the quarterback position in 2019. Needless to say, Tom Brady will not repeat this. The most turnovers Brady has ever posted in a season was 20 (14 interceptions and six fumbles) all the way back in his sophomore season of 2002 – he has never matched or come close to that number since then. While it may result in fewer pass attempts, there should be more scoring opportunities.
Some see the addition of Rob Gronkowski as a threat to Godwin’s production. How will he do that if he has not even made the first-team offense yet? The Bucs are deep at tight end with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate on their roster. And yet despite this, Godwin still thrived in this offense in 2019. If a 25-year-old athlete with the player profile and draft capital of O.J. Howard could not cut into Godwin or Evans’ role, then a 31-year-old Rob Gronkowski won’t either.
Chris Godwin has a clear path to being a top-3 WR once again and you only have to pay a late second/early third-round pick to get him. That’s a steal.
Zach Ertz (ADP: 5.06)
What is the first adjective that comes to mind when you think of Zach Ertz? It’s volume.
Since taking over the starting tight end position full-time in 2015, Ertz has posted a minimum of 7.5 targets per game across a given season. His usage has been especially high in the past two seasons in particular while posting 9.8 targets per game in 2018 and 8.9 in 2019. Compared this to Mark Andrews, who only posted 3.1 targets per game in 2018 and 6.5 in 2019. However, note that Andrews is being drafted a full round ahead of Ertz.
Alshon Jeffery has not practiced all preseason as he is recovering from surgery on his foot, he will be out to start the season. Jalen Reagor, the Eagles first-round WR in the 2020 draft, has a partially torn labrum and will be out for at least the first couple of games of the season. Miles Sanders is also struggling with a hamstring injury in camp, possibly affecting his usage early on in the season as well.
How Philadelphia chooses to deal with the injury bug when they get it is simple, Zach Ertz! During the seven weeks, Alshon was injured last year, Ertz averaged 11 targets per game. This is a full 2.1 targets per game increase from his season average.
The one player who is fully healthy, DeSean Jackson, is a Z receiver who runs deeper routes and stretches the field forcing safeties to back up presnap. This will only improve – not take away from – Ertz’s target share which consists of underneath possession receptions associated with the tight end position.
The bottom line is, Ertz is as safe and as cheap at the TE position as it gets. His target share is an advantage that only two other players share at the tight end position (George Kittle and Travis Kelce), but he is being drafted in the mid-5th round. Getting an elite tight end is an easy way to gain a major advantage over your opponents, and Ertz comes cheaply compared to the second round cost of Kittle and Kelce.
Michael Gallup (ADP: 6.11)
This guy might be the most under-drafted player in 2020 fantasy drafts. He is fully capable of becoming a top-15 WR, but for some reason, he is being drafted as a WR3/flex in late round 6. This is a mistake. Here’s why:
Michael Gallup saw 68 targets in 2018, his rookie year. This almost doubled the following year in his 2019 campaign when his targets jumped up to 113, despite missing time with a knee injury. That was only six targets fewer than Amari Cooper, establishing him as the true WR1B in the Cowboys passing attack.
The Cowboys offense was 6th in the league in points per game (27.1 PPG), 2nd in total passing yardage (4,902), and 6th in total passing attempts (597). With the loss of Jason Witten and Randall Cobb, there are a total of 166 vacated targets waiting to be distributed to the remaining receivers in Dallas.
Even though there has been turnover in the Cowboys’ coaching staff, Kellen Moore has remained the Offensive Coordinator (OC). This is important:
In 2018, under Scott Linehan, the Cowboys were 22nd in the league in points per game (21.2 PPG), 15th in total passing yardage (3,885), and 13th in total passing attempts (526). Dak Prescott also had only 22 passing touchdowns to spread around the offense.
As you can see from the numbers, Kellen Moore vastly improved this passing attack. With an additional weapon in Ceedee Lamb, in addition to Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper, there is reason to believe Moore will have a wide-open playbook.
Acquiring Lamb ensures that there is not a major drop off in talent to Dallas’ WR3 spot, thus drawing coverage away from Gallup and Cooper. All three will be interchangeable at all three receiving positions due to Lamb’s advanced knowledge for a rookie. Disguising formations will only be easier for them. Only making them an even more versatile and dangerous passing attack. Complemented by a proven offensive line and deep backfield, Dallas’ should have no problem repeating or improving their numbers from last year.
So why again is the 1B receiver in this offense not being drafted until the late 6th round? I’ll take that over the 3rd round price of Cooper any day of the week.
Jerick McKinnon (ADP: 16.04)
McKinnon is a guy you can get with a very late-round pick that could end up a weekly flex or even an RB2 for your team all season long.
The 49ers use a pure running back by committee approach to their run game. Five out of six starting running backs in Shanahan’s RBBC backfield the past two years have received a minimum of 111 rushing attempts. In 2018, Matt Breida had 153 carries and Alfred Morris had 111. In 2019, Tevin Coleman had 137 carries, Raheem Mostert had 137, and Matt Breida ran for 123. In other words, each back will get more than enough of a chance to prove themselves if they are in the three-man rotation.
McKinnon will be in that rotation. There is a reason the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan have kept McKinnon around. They even went so far as to restructure his contract last season so he could stay with the team, despite missing two entire seasons with a knee injury. They have invested too much time and energy in him to not give him a true shot.
What separates him the most from Mostert and Coleman is his pass-catching ability. All reports out of camp are that he is running routes well and gives them an extra “element” to their offense.
In his most recent season, in 2017, McKinnon averaged 4.2 targets per game and 3.2 receptions per game. Coleman had 2.1 targets and 1.5 receptions in 2019, while Mostert posted an abysmal 1.5 targets and 0.9 receptions. Again more opportunity will be created for him in third down and/or passing situations.
Recency bias about his injury history has forced him out of fantasy players’ minds and down their draft boards. Not having played since 2017 probably has something to do with this as well – but if healthy, he is an outstanding athlete who can compete and produce at a high level in the NFL. His speed score of 110.5 (91st percentile), 4.41 40 yard dash (96th percentile), a 5’9” 209lb frame, and many other metrics illustrate this point clearly.
This argument is not a slight against Coleman or Mostert, comparatively their ADPs are just too high (Coleman’s ADP: 9.10, Mostert’s ADP: 4.12). Why spend all of that draft capital when you can get McKinnon as late as the 16th round?