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Fantasy Football Targets and Fades - FFPC Main Event Contest

Drake London - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Even though the calendar still shows it's the first half of June, fantasy football drafts are back in full swing in many best ball leagues, tournaments, and high-stakes contests. These early drafts can help all fantasy football managers get a feel for how the market perceives players and where they will end up in drafts when the heavy draft season comes roaring towards us during August and September. These early drafts, particularly in important high-stakes leagues, provide some of the best information on player value we can find this summer.

High-stakes fantasy football participants can provide us an edge on players and projections because of the significant investment involved and how sophisticated the data is. The most prestigious high-stakes event in fantasy football is the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC). This piece will focus on average draft position (ADP) in the early FFPC Main Event, looking at players to target and fade for that contest in early June.

The scoring format matters greatly in FFPC leagues, including the Main Event. There is a point per reception, and it is tight end premium scoring. FFPC scoring adds a half-point per reception for tight ends, so that does affect their overall ADPs a bit. In my analysis, the point per reception and the tight end premium means running backs who do not catch passes should fall further down ADP than we typically see. You will see that reflected below. For more ADP  information, you can also consult more FFPC reports here.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy football rankings for 2024 fantasy football drafts:

 

FFPC Main Event Targets: Players to Draft at Their ADP

Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons (FFPC ADP of 19.1):

The fantasy world is abuzz for Drake London this year after the addition of Kirk Cousins at quarterback and the subtraction of Arthur Smith as the offensive play-caller and "mastermind." But even with those changes, can we draft London in the top 20 after he finished as WR45 in fantasy points per game in Half-PPR leagues last season? The answer is a resounding "Yes!" In fact, I would even draft him slightly higher than this to ensure I acquire his combination of target share and ball-hawk abilities. London saw a 29% target share in his rookie season and 24% last season. Despite the inefficient quarterback play and 1950s-style offense, London was top-25 in deep targets, red zone targets, and air yards. London is going to absolutely feast as long as Cousins is healthy.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP 40.1):

DeVonta Smith is being drafted as the WR22 in FFPC tournaments right now, and that seems egregious considering what he is capable of when the Philadelphia Eagles offense is humming. I think this is a punishment for how bad the Eagles were the last six weeks of 2023. Smith was a top-20 wide receiver in receptions, touchdowns, target accuracy, catch rate, fantasy points versus man coverage, and yards per target. Give me Smith over similarly-drafted receivers like D.J. Moore and Stefon Diggs all day long. Jalen Hurts has shown he can support A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith while still getting his scores on the ground.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Tennessee Titans (ADP 87.4):

Even with the additions of Calvin Ridley and Tony Pollard, DeAndre Hopkins should be the primary target in this Will Levis offense, which has signaled that it will be throwing more this year without Derrick Henry. In his 11-year career, Hopkins has yet to have a season where he didn't put up at 1,000 yards and at least 11 yards per reception. At 31 years old last season, he was second overall in air yards, second in deep targets, 12th in red zone looks, and 12th in target share. Hopkins won't have to go much beyond his normal season to pay off this ninth-round draft price tag.

Brian Thomas Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP 108.6):

With Ridley off to Tennessee and Zay Jones now deep on the Cardinals' depth chart, there are exactly 200 vacated targets on the Jacksonville Jaguars that need a home. Some of those will go to Gabe Davis, yes. A few might trickle to Tank Bigsby this year in a bigger role. But I believe the bulk of that passing volume absence will make its way to the uber-talented Brian Thomas Jr. out of LSU in 2024. After catching 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, Thomas tested off the charts at the combine. He was at least 98th percentile in catch radius, speed score, and 40-yard-dash time. At 6'3" and 210 pounds, he is the prototypical big-play wide receiver who can be a complement to Christian Kirk's possession-style game.

Ty Chandler, RB, Minnesota Vikings (ADP 145.1): 

Aaron Jones is now Ty Chandler's primary competition for running back snaps in Minnesota, so let's see how Jones fared when he was healthy in his age-29 season last year. He was 15th in true yards per carry, 30th in juke rate, 37th in evaded tackles, 38th in breakaway run rate, and 31st in running back catch rate. Turning 30 midway through the season doesn't exactly inspire confidence for a running back like Jones, who has played 12 or fewer games in three of the last seven seasons. Chandler, meanwhile, was 18th in yards per touch and 22nd in true yards per carry. For a team going down the Hero RB or Zero RB strategy, Chandler is a wonderful asset to have in the 13th round.

 

FFPC Main Event Fades: Players to Avoid at Their ADP

Derrick Henry, RB, Baltimore Ravens (ADP 22.7):

In a point-per-reception format and a tight end premium format, running backs like Derrick Henry lose some value based on their lack of receiving game usage. We know Henry is a generational runner, who makes sport out of pounding defenses into the ground and racking up touchdowns, but he will have a number of things working against him in his new Baltimore digs. First, despite being a run-heavy team (first in rush play percentage last season), the Ravens and Lamar Jackson rarely throw to running backs. Derrick Henry also makes his money in the red zone (he had 38 red zone touches last year), but now he will compete with Lamar Jackson for those goal-line scores. Jackson had 32 of his own red zone carries last year and scored on the ground five times.

Kyren Williams, RB Los Angeles Rams (ADP 24.1):

This is a tough one to stomach because Kyren Williams was a no-doubter league winner for many teams last year. He touched the ball 250 times in just 12 games (he missed time due to injury) and scored 15 total touchdowns. He led all running backs in snap share at 84% and was fourth with 60 red zone touches in just 12 contests. Then why did the Rams spend a mid-third-round pick on Michigan running back Blake Corum when Williams isn't even 24 years old yet? The answer is simple. Williams simply can't sustain another season of almost 21 touches per game. The Rams need someone like Corum to spell Williams for larger stretches of the game to keep him healthy for the postseason. All the efficiency and metrics are there for Williams, but I fear the touches will not be as high, and a pick in the late second round could be better used elsewhere.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Tennessee Titans (ADP 69.1):

Many people look at the 136 targets Ridley got in 2023 and then see just 76 receptions and 1,016 yards and think it was a Trevor Lawrence problem. In reality, both Lawrence and Ridley contributed to the relatively inefficient year in 2023. Ridley's target accuracy was only 51st among wide receivers (Lawrence's fault), but his true catch rate ranked 72nd among all pass-catchers. That is definitely a Ridley problem. He was 60th in yards per target (an efficiency metric) and now partners up with DeAndre Hopkins, who is one of the most efficient receivers in the league. I would be shocked if the target number and the touchdown total (eight) from last year don't go way down.

James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals (ADP 78.6):

In seven seasons, James Conner has played more than 13 games just one time. His absence for large chunks of each NFL season has become so predictable that his backup is almost always drafted in preparation for an expanded role. This year, that backup is Trey Benson, the dynamic rookie out of Florida State who had 15 total touchdowns in 13 games last year. Benson also had 227 receiving yards, so he can add a layer to the Cardinals' offense where Conner absolutely stunk last year. At running back, Conner was 38th in receptions, 45th in receiving yards, and 41st in targets. Conner was middle of the pack with 3.64 yards created per touch last year (16th), but this seems like the year his replacement will start to take over, meaning a seventh-round pick for Conner is too steep.

Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (ADP 81.3):

This is an easy one. Harris is apparently persona non grata in Pittsburgh after they didn't pick up his rookie fifth-year option. Harris' rush attempts, yards, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns have all gone down for three years. At just a 52% snap share last season, he is essentially in a 50/50 timeshare with Jaylen Warren. Harris was 36th in true yards per carry and 46th in yards per touch on the ground. As a third running back, after I have all other positions locked up, I can see drafting Harris. But his eighth-round draft capital says he is going earlier than that.



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