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ADP Arbitrage - Mid-round Players to Target in Redraft

You can and probably will do mock drafts every week until the cows come home, but based on the likes, dislikes and sometimes erratic decisions of your league mates, you can never be certain just how your particular situation will end up on draft night. That means that there is a chance that you miss out on the guy that you have been plotting on all summer and will be left scrambling trying to find a comparable replacement as you fill out your roster in the later rounds.

Everybody is looking to eke out as much value as possible in each round, and this crop of players with ADPs currently in the 7th round or higher have a legitimate shot to put up just as solid numbers as your perennial faves.

For that reason, we will conduct this exercise to see which players could return comparable value to early round picks.

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Mid-Round Values

Isaiah Crowell (RB, NYJ)

The reason last season’s performance was such a let-down for Isaiah Crowell owners is due to the promise that he showed the previous season. His 2016-2017 numbers weren’t necessarily breathtaking, but he finished that year as the 14th best running back in both standard and PPR, and many were baited by this promise into a third or fourth round selection last year. Crowell finished as the RB31, and as a result has ended up at the top of several do-not-draft lists heading into this season. However, with a current 8th round ADP and an opportunity at a fresh start, Crowell could be the mid-round running back that fits perfectly onto rosters that go WR heavy to start.

The Jets’ backfield is admittedly muddled, and Crowell will have to hold off incumbent Bilal Powell and second-year player Elijah McGuire to claim the role as the lead guy. Powell has been with the Jets for seven seasons though, and has only been over 150 carries twice, pointing to the team’s reluctance to make him their feature back. McGuire struggled running between the tackles last year, and tentatively appears slotted in as a change-of-pace option again this year. Thomas Rawls is also in the mix, but on the whole the feature role appears up for Crowell’s taking. Crowell quietly averaged 184 carries per season over the course of his four years with the Browns, and that reliability and consistency could allow him to flourish this year and help fantasy owners move past last year’s disappointment.

Comparable player going in the first two rounds: Jordan Howard (RB, CHI)

Jordan Howard’s ADP has bounced around a bit since the beginning of June, but it has remained firmly cemented in the 2nd round so far throughout the offseason. While Howard was able to end the 2017 campaign with a couple of monster games in the second half of the season, he too struggled to return his high ADP on a weekly basis, much like Crowell did with the Browns. On paper, the Bears offense should be improved this year, with the wide receiver group working towards some semblance of stability, and second-year Mitch Trubisky under center with three quarters of a season worth of experience under his belt. If the Bears do take the anticipated step forward and let Trubisky loose the offense could look completely different, and even if they don’t Howard will still have to contend with the explosive second-year back Tarik Cohen all year.


Devin Funchess (WR, CAR)

Devin Funchess put together a very solid season last year and finished as the 19th most targeted receiver with 113, in addition to doubling his end zone output from the previous year with eight touchdowns. Funchess has seen no fewer than 13 red zone targets in any of his first three years, which is no small feat on a team with a quarterback that has run for 21 rushing touchdowns in that same span. His 15 red zone targets last season had him tied for 13th most in the league with Michael Crabtree and was just 1 target behind Michael Thomas.

Christian McCaffrey will continue to catch a ton of passes out of the backfield for the Carolina Panthers, and Greg Olsen should be ready for his return by the start of the season, but there is no doubt that Funchess will have the opening during training camp to make himself the clear-cut number one receiver on the team with Kelvin Benjamin now gone. It’s not at all a stretch to think that Funchess could be on his way to his first 1,000-yard season, making him a sneaky steal in the 7th round this year.

Comparable player going in the first two rounds: A.J. Green (WR, CIN)

The Cincinnati Bengals had a rough go of it last year, and A.J. Green’s fantasy numbers relative to the production we have come to expect reflected every bit of that struggle. Green had three monster weeks immediately following the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, but over the last 11 games of the year, Green only managed one 100-yard game, was held out of the end zone for the last four weeks of the season, and finished with the lowest yardage total of his career when he played in all 16 games. There is no doubt that Green still has a lot left to offer which is why he is still going in the 2nd round, but the signs are pointing to deeper-rooted issues in Cincinnati, which could potentially hinder Green’s elite production for a third season in a row.


Devontae Booker (RB, DEN)

With both C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles gone, third-year back Devontae Booker will have the early opportunity to take a stranglehold of the lead back duties for the Denver Broncos. In his first two years, he has been somewhat lost in a messy backfield and has totaled 911 total rushing yards in 29 games as a result. This will, however, be the first time he enters camp as the most senior member of the Broncos’ running back group, with his stiffest competition coming from rookie third-round draft pick Royce Freeman. The one thing that Booker has working in his favor for sure is that the Denver Broncos have remained committed to his ability, and he has averaged nearly 11 touches per game in his two seasons with the team, despite being in a three-man rotation both years.

Booker has also hauled in 84 balls in his first two seasons, and it is this versatility that gives him a good shot at getting the first crack at lead back duties for the Broncos over the next few months. If he does manage to secure the starting spot, his 11th round ADP would make him one of the better overall values in this year’s fantasy draft. Even if Freeman does manage to run away with the lead role, Booker’s open-field ability and pass-catching skills would still yield him solid volume.

Comparable player going in the first two rounds: Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

Like Booker, Derrick Henry has the opportunity for a fresh start as the most experienced returning member of the Tennessee Titans’ running back group heading into the season. Henry won’t be battling a rookie for the starting job though, and instead will have to wrangle work away from the championship-tested Dion Lewis, who surpassed 1,000 scrimmage yards for the first time in his career last season. There was a brief period of elation for potential Henry owners when the Titans released DeMarco Murray. That ended within days though, as the team promptly signed Lewis to a 4-year, $19.8 million contract, pointing to the fact that he will be way more than just a change-of-pace guy. Henry could likely still see the lion-share of the early down work, but from a fantasy perspective, the Titans’ backfield will be way more unpredictable than initially hoped, making Henry in the 2nd round a huge gamble.


Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG)

The brief Brandon Marshall experiment is over in NY, which will allow Sterling Shepard to again claim the Giants’ number two receiver spot behind Beckham outright, much like he did in his rookie season. Both he and Beckham are working back from injuries of varying degrees, but even as a part of a putrid New York Giants team that actually started Geno Smith in the final game of the year, Shepard still managed to rack up 731 yards in just 11 games last season.

He also averaged just under eight targets per game. Logically it would seem that this number would see a slight decrease with Beckham’s return and the potential early emergence of Saquon Barkley, but the early word from OTA’s is that Shepard might see more snaps on the outside in addition to his slot role. The effects of the complete overhaul of the Giants’ offense with new head coach Pat Shurmur and new offensive coordinator Mike Shula are yet to be seen, but with more opportunities seemingly on the horizon, Shepard could be primed for a year-three breakout.

Comparable player going in the first two rounds: Mike Evans (WR, TB)

An up and down season marred by a one-game suspension has Mike Evans currently going at the end of the 2nd round. Evans’ overall numbers were certainly serviceable, as he racked up 1,000 receiving yards for the fourth season in a row. Unfortunately, Evans finished as the WR21 in standard, and the WR17 in PPR, which was not at all representative of his first-round status in last year’s draft. This middling finish featured the lowest yardage output of his career, and his 71 catches were the second fewest since his rookie year. This was in part due to Winston’s shoulder injury and subsequent unavailability down the stretch, but this does speak to a larger inconsistency as well. Winston is without question Tampa Bay’s guy, but his 42 turnovers over his last 29 games played the last two seasons has been problematic to say the least. Now word has come down that Winston has been suspended and could miss the first three games of the season if upheld. Much like Shepard in New York, the quarterback situation for Evans in Tampa will be at least slightly undesirable to start the season, and perhaps beyond. Not denying that it would be a large step forward for Shepard to finish above Evans, but he did finish last season with only 12 fewer catches and 270 fewer yards than Evans in four fewer games played, so it isn’t totally inconceivable.


More 2018 Fantasy Football & ADP Analysis