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Players With Misleading Numbers Worth Drafting - Jameis Winston, Christian McCaffrey, Michael Gallup

When it comes down to facing a fantasy draft, two numbers are often the most sought after by fantasy GMs: current ADP and overall rank from the prior season. No matter how experienced fantasy players are, those two numbers are thought of as the ultimate all-encompassing representations of every football player's value. Knowing what he did in the league the last year and where he is getting drafted this season should be more than enough to make a reasonably good projection going forward, isn't it?

Turns out, those two numbers can be way misleading. Today, I'm here to focus on last season's overall rank of players, that is, where they ranked among peers in 2021. The fact that someone finished the year as a second-tier (RB13 to RB24) running back in total points doesn't mean he wasn't better than players at the first tier in the position. What if that player missed some games, getting fewer chances to rack up points? What if he had played a full 17-game schedule? Questions, questions, questions...

Up next, I will point out some players that experienced this and other similar developments in 2021 and how to assess their fantasy upside for 2022. Let's get to it!

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2021 ADP & Ranking context

Instead of jumping head-first into the handful of players I'd like to discuss, I thought it'd be good to give a little bit of context about what happened last season in terms of fantasy drafting and fantasy scoring.

Here is how ADP and season-end rankings (on a total-point and a per-game basis) looked like.

The correlation is slightly higher for the ADP-FPPG relation (r-squared of 0.35) compared to the ADP-TotalFP one (0.27). It makes sense, as per-game marks tend to paint a better picture of a player other than his total outcome in fantasy terms. That's mostly because of missed time, so the likes of Derrick Henry (who only played eight games) don't get heavily impacted by injury woes when it comes to assessing their true worth out of a health-related context.

The only player to go absolutely under the radar and finish the position in the Total FP top-100 was RB Cordarrelle Patterson, while QB Trevor Siemian was the other non-ADP player to join him in the top-100 per-game FP rank last year (only six games played and four games started, though).

 

Players With Misleading Numbers Worth Getting in 2022 Fantasy Drafts

In a perfect world in which players would never get injured, would always be available to play, and would always perform to an expected level given their talents, the relation between total FP and per-game FP scored by them would be 1:1. Sadly, the reality is much more cruel and random than that. Players miss time, they are misused, and randomness is a very strong factor that affects player performances on a weekly basis (that ridiculous catch, that impossible interception, that incomprehensible missed tackle...)

While still strong (0.64), the r-square value for the 2021 Overall Rk vs. Per-game Rk was still far away from perfectly correlating. We're here to highlight some players that were wrongly drafted by fantasy GMs but whose seasons didn't quite fit the final outcomes they logged last year when all was said and done by the end of Week 18.

 

RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

Some things are so obvious that they barely need mentioning, but this one merits a good refreshing. CMC was drafted as the 2021 no. 1 player (ADP 1.4) but obviously and as we all know by now he could do nothing to finish in such place with 37 other rushers overtaking him in the ranks. Of course, CMC missed 10 games entirely while only playing seven matches and getting 136 touches over those games. The total 127.5 PPR points were mediocre, putrid, and any other bad and ugly adjective you can come up with. The 18.2 FPPG, though? Not so much.

McCaffrey was, simply put, as good as he's ever been. So much so, in fact, that only 21 players (no position filter) finished the season with a better per-game mark than CMC. Had he been able to sustain his pace for a full season, he'd have finished as the RB5 (still underperforming his ADP, but much closer to it), only behind Derrick Henry (similar case), Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, and Leonard Fournette. Not bad, was it?

CMC should enter 2022 healthy and ready to punish defenses once more. It's been a couple of rough seasons for the Panthers rusher, not going to lie, as he only played three games in 2020 and then seven last year, but he had been on the field for 16-16-16 in his first years as a pro prior to the last two injury-laden campaigns.

When healthy (barring his rookie season, in which he "only" got 10 starts and 197 touches), CMC has been a top-three player, and even accounting for his freshman year, he started his career as the RB10, RB2, and RB1 in those three years. There is a reason CMC's current ADP is sitting at the second-highest (2.4) mark at the start of the 2022 summer.

 

QB Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

Hatters gonna hate, and lovers gonna love, I guess. That's the life of Jameis right there. If you happen to be part of the former group, I won't probably convince you of drafting Winston at all, let alone early. If you happen to be part of the latter bunch, then you probably don't need me to tell you the reasons Winston merits middle--probably even high--pick consideration entering the 2022 fantasy season.

Winston, in case you have forgotten, was drafted with an ADP around 133 OVR (QB28) last year. That's right, the 28th off the quarterback board or, in other words, a QB3 in 12-team, one-QB leagues. Yikes. Winston was the Day 1 starter for the Saints last season, mind you. The fact that he only played seven games was related to a mid-season injury and not a mid-season comeback/recovery from 2020 health woes. That makes his ADP entirely mindboggling and one to seriously reconsider for next season.

The main reason for that low-pick drafting was, most probably, the Saints' lack of talented offensive players. That should change in 2022 with Michael Thomas back, Jarvis Landry joining the receiving corps as a free agent, and Chris Olave drafted with a first-round, top-11 pick.

Winston almost beat his ADP last year finishing QB35 in total FP even though he missed more than half of the season. He ranked a much higher QB14--near the QB1 realm--on a per-game basis if you exclude Nick Foles, who only started one game for the Bears. In all honesty, that's Winston's floor yearly with upside for a bona fide top-12 finish if he gets a little bit of help (he will) from his receiving corps (add Alvin Kamara to the equation) and if injuries respect him (he's not really been an injury-prone guy career-wise).

 

WR Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

There are still question marks floating above Gallup's head when it comes to his availability come Week 1. A torn ACL as fresh as Gallup's is (injured last January) is definitely a concern and he might miss time. That said, though, Gallup already missed time during the first half of last year so his 2021 one could be considered his worst-case scenario for the upcoming year.

Gallup appeared in nine games last season and put up a total of 91.5 PPR points to finish the season as the WR77. Nothing to call home about, definitely. On a per-game basis, Gallup was a bit better, but surely nothing mind-blowing either finishing as the WR47 from that perspective. All of that said, though, and if the wideout can appear in a few more games last season, he should bulk up his fantasy tally a bit. Not only that, but Dallas is also fully trusting his rebound given what they've done during the past few weeks and months in the offseason.

The Cowboys sent Amari Cooper to Cleveland in exchange for only (low) draft picks and the only addiction to Dallas' receiving corps was ex-Steeler James Washington. Washington played 15 games last season but only commanded 44 targets while finishing WR108 (ugh) playing a very ancillary role in Pittsburgh. He's projected to be the WR3 next season in Dallas, so you get an idea of how much food will be on Gallup's plate if all goes according to plan.

With Cooper leaving the Cowboys and opening the no. 2 wideout role for Gallup, and the main competitor for WR3 reps in Cedrick Wilson replaced by Washington, even the slightest of rebounds should help Gallup get back to a WR2 finish at the very least. He already played to those levels in 2019, so he has proved he definitely has it in him if he's given the workload and the opportunities and doesn't fall injured.



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