Four players you must get in your fantasy football draft


(AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)

Getting value in key spots helps win fantasy football leagues. Last year, for example, owners drafted Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning late in the third round, on average, and he was on the championship team in 62 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles wasn’t drafted in the majority of leagues, and he was on the championship squad 52 percent of the time.

With that in mind, here are four players whose value is higher than where they’ve been going in drafts so far, according to average draft position (ADP).

Phillip Rivers, QB, Chargers

I’m all in on Phillip Rivers. He finished as the sixth-best quarterback in most formats last season after passing for 4,478 yards and 31 touchdowns, and has the necessary complements on the offense to be successful again: Running back Ryan Mathews is projected to be in the top 20 for total points, wide receiver Keenan Allen is slotted for a 1,000-yard, eight-touchdown campaign and Antonio Gates is one of the best tight ends in the game.

Plus, according to Ultimate Adjusted Yards per Attempt, which tries to isolate everything a quarterback could be responsible for and less for what is left to chance, Rivers is projected to be a top 5 quarterback. Even if he “just” turns in a top 10 performance, that’s still great value for a quarterback who is, on average, being taken in the ninth or 10th round this season.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers

Davis is the only tight end in NFL history to have two seasons of at least 13 touchdowns (2009, 2013). He is projected to haul in 58 catches for more than 700 yards and nine touchdowns and has turned into one of Colin Kaepernick’s favorite targets in the red zone. Last season, Kaepernick targeted Davis 21 times for nine touchdowns in those situations.

The Saints’ Jimmy Graham is the clear No. 1 tight end in the game, but less than two points per week separate the next three (Davis, Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas), making Davis a great value in round five or six.

Zac Stacy, RB, Rams

Stacy served as the Rams’ offensive focal point as a rookie last season, averaging 17.9 carries per game and 3.9 yards per attempt. And while the presence of rookies Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham have some thinking one or both may siphon off some of that production, look for Stacy to get a majority of carries in Brian Schottenheimer’s run-heavy scheme.

According to Pro Football Focus, Stacy has induced five missed tackles this preseason and Fantasy Pros has him projected to be among the top 12 running backs with 1,185 yards and nine touchdowns. If he continues to drop to the third or fourth round, snatch him up.

Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals

Floyd was named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Breakout Team after making 65 catches for 1,041 receiving yards last season. And there is clearly a shift in Arizona’s passing game. In 2012, Larry Fitzgerald was targeted 156 times, Floyd just 86. In 2013, those numbers narrowed to 135 and 113, respectively. This could be the year Floyd becomes the focal point of Arizona’s aerial attack. Here are the 2014 projections:

  • Larry Fitzgerald: 85 receptions, 1,078 yards, nine touchdowns
  • Michael Floyd: 77 receptions, 1,115 yards seven touchdowns

And for that difference, Fitzgerald is being drafted a full round before Floyd. Instead, take Floyd in the fifth round and use the fourth round on a running back.

All stats and draft data based on a 12-team non-PPR league based on the NFL default fantasy scoring system.

Average draft position data from Fantasy Football Calulator.

The Washington Post's Gene Wang discusses which NFL players are moving up and down on the fantasy football draft board. (Kyle Barss/The Washington Post)

More Fantasy Football

2014 Fantasy Draft Home | Cheat Sheet | Mock Draft Analysis

Positional Rankings: Top 30 QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | Ks | DEF

Draft Talent Tiers: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

Fancy Stats Value Players: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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