When you approach your upcoming fantasy football draft, it is important to understand your rankings and where you should be targeting those players. This will help you avoid reaching for guys and this will help you maximize the value from every one of your picks.
If you value two players the same and you can get one of those players in the 10th and the other on the fifth, I hope you choose the player in the 10th. It is hard to find value in the first two or three rounds because everyone is going where they most likely should go. Most of these guys are being drafted at their ceiling, anything less than a top 10 year will be disappointing.
I have gone through all of the teams in the league and have selected values for you to target for each team that I think is being drafted closer to their floor that could exceed expectations. In this article, we will go through players in each of the 16 AFC teams to be followed by players from the NFC teams in the next article.
Josh Allen – QB, Buffalo Bills – ADP 14.02
Josh Allen is the 22nd quarterback coming off of the board. Allen was as hot as you could be to finish the season in 2018 as he was the number one overall QB for the final five weeks. Allen brings big-play ability through the air and with his legs, giving him a super high floor. His rushing ability gives him a higher floor as he rushed for 631 yards in just 11 games last year.
The Buffalo Bills gave him some more support on the offensive line by picking up big-ticket free agent Mitch Morse from the Kansas City Chiefs and drafting Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford in the second round. Additionally, the Buffalo Bills revamped their wide receiver room by adding veterans John Brown and Cole Beasley. Allen’s low price makes him a low-risk, potentially, high reward investment.
Kalen Ballage – RB, Miami Dolphins – ADP 9.01
The Miami Dolphins have left the door open for Kalen Ballage to take the starting job, and with Kenyan Drake currently limited due to injury, Ballage is taking advantage. His ADP is currently on the rise, and any running back that could potentially start is worth a shot in the ninth round. Drake is currently the 32nd running back off of the board at 6.11 and I wouldn’t be opposed to grabbing them both. Take advantage of the discounts here as the running back position gets extremely thin after round five.
James White – RB, New England Patriots – ADP 5.07
The New England Patriots have notoriously annoyed us with their backfield. Yet, they continue to spit out the top 10 fantasy football running backs even with their committee style approach. James White had a great 2017 and was even better in 2018 following the departures of Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis. He dominated in games without Rob Gronkowski and Gronkowski has now retired.
A recent trend by teams that have vacant tight end targets is that these targets are going towards the running backs. These positions have the strongest correlation and we have seen evidence when Gronkowski was out that White’s targets would increase. White showed us his upside last year while finishing as a top 12 running back.
Fortunately, he is not being drafted as such and you can buy him at his floor. White is currently the 27th running back coming off the board. I believe he will finish somewhere in the middle and will return a profit from the fifth round draft price. He is the perfect RB3 or flex play.
Jamison Crowder – WR, New York Jets – ADP 14.04
Jamison Crowder has had his share of off-season hype and his injury history has made it hard for him to reach his potential so far. Jamison is looking to start over with the New York Jets and the Jets are hoping to cash in on their free-agent acquisition.
Crowder will be lining up in the slot and has already been flashing in both training camp as well as in the preseason with second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. We all saw how Jarvis Landry was used in the Dolphins’ version of the Adam Gase offense. We can only hope that Crowder is used in the same way and that he is able to stay on the field. At 14.04, there is basically no risk at all to find out.
He should be a solid WR5 with the potential to crack into the starting lineup if you start to see the catches pile up. Worst case scenario, he is one of your first drops and you paid nothing to get him as kickers and defenses are being drafted around him.
Justice Hill – Baltimore Ravens – ADP 12.04
At the end of every year for the last five years, we have had rookie running backs landing in the top 12 of fantasy football running back rankings, sometimes two or more. You should add at least one of these high upside rookies to your bench in the draft. There is an easy case that Justice Hill can bring value in Week 1 to your lineup even behind Mark Ingram.
The Baltimore Ravens look to be one of the most run-heavy offenses in the NFL and there should be a lot of carries to go around between the running backs. Hill is an explosive player with big-play potential. He should find his way on the field and used in multiple ways, and therefore, you should find a way to get him on your roster. Hill doesn’t need an injury in front of him to be relevant, but if there were an injury, he would be a must-own.
Giovani Bernard – RB, Cincinnati Bengals – ADP 20.9
A.J. Green would have been the easy pick here, right? Not exactly.
Giovani Bernard has performed and been a playable option every single time that he has gotten the opportunity with the Cincinnati Bengals. Bernard is currently being undrafted even though reports from camp say that the coaching staff wants to use him. Bernard is a bench stash that you could take with your last pick that brings upside. He doesn’t bring much stand-alone value, but he would skyrocket up boards if anything were to happen to Joe Mixon or if he were to be traded to a team like Tampa Bay.
David Njoku – TE, Cleveland Browns – ADP 9.02
It is really hard to find a value on the most hyped team this offseason. At a position that is paper-thin, David Njoku could easily be a starter each week and you can get him all the way down in the ninth. You could easily pair him with another streaming option later in the draft as everyone outside of the top six has the potential to finish within the top 10.
Njoku is currently being drafted as the 10th TE off of the board and there is an easy path for him to end up in the top five. This offense is expected to be high scoring and Baker Mayfield will spread the ball around. The one area that Njoku will excel in is the red zone as he is the team’s only big-bodied pass catcher. Mayfield has a history of targeting tight ends going back to college, and he showed a good connection with Njoku in 2018.
Donte Moncrief – Pittsburgh Steelers – ADP 9.12
Donte Moncrief may not be the sexiest of fantasy football picks and that is why he is on this list. I think we all would love to have the WR2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers this year and as of now, that is him. In the ninth round, he is most likely not a starter on your team.
Moncrief will be one of your top bench players and not only does he bring depth, but he brings upside. He is a great red-zone target and he also offers big-play potential. James Washington playing into the second quarter of preseason games and Moncrief sitting out with the starters, is enough to make me invest this late in the draft.
Lamar Miller – RB, Houston Texans – ADP 6.02
Lamar Miller is coming off the board as the 29th running back. He is a starting RB and has finished in the top 24 for several years in a row now. The Houston Texans do not pass a lot to their running backs and Miller has not had many top 10 performances that give him the upside you are looking for in your drafts. He has a high floor though and is on one of the top offenses in the league.
Miller will be passed on in your drafts by everyone, including you. In the sixth round as your 3rd RB, you should grab Miller. He is the ideal depth piece due to volume, history of production, and the offense that he is on. The sixth round is a wasteland for running backs and RB depth is necessary with a long 16-game season.
Nyheim Hines – RB, Indianapolis Colts – ADP 14.01
Marlon Mack has been a big riser this offseason and the farther he rises, the farther Nyheim Hines falls on fantasy football draft boards. Mack was not utilized in the passing game often. He never exceeded four targets in a game and was only targeted 25 times all year. Hines, on the other hand, was targeted 81 times last season.
Frank Reich continues to praise Hines this offseason and has spoken about him having an important role in this offense. Hines is going to annoy all Mack owners this season, and he is a favorite late-round target in all point per reception formats. Hines brings stand-alone value on a weekly basis as an RB3 (top 36 running back) and would be in line for more work if Mack were to get hurt. Mack doesn’t have the cleanest bill of health and regardless of the quarterback situation, Hines is a great running back depth piece on your fantasy football roster.
Dede Westbrook – WR, Jacksonville Jaguars – ADP 8.10
No one is falling all over themselves to draft many players on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense. The offense, in general, has not been good in years. Even with a change at both quarterback as well as offensive coordinator, there is still hesitation. New QB Nick Foles should bring some promise and should be able to support at least one fantasy football relevant wide receiver this year.
Dede Westbrook looks to be in line for slot duty, which is enticing as he will typically not line up versus the oppositions’ number one defenders. Also, he is in line to be the team’s target leader as teammate Marqise Lee is most likely going to miss multiple games to start the season as he is still recovering from injury. Don’t give up on Westbrook just yet as this third-year WR could be a breakout candidate.
Delanie Walker – TE, Tennessee Titans – ADP 11.10
Delanie Walker missed last season due to a broken ankle and has been all but forgotten. Walker has been a perennial top 10 tight end since joining the Tennessee Titans and should be able to exceed his current draft stock. Walker is currently being the 12th tight end drafted but could easily finish within the top seven. He is extremely dependable for fantasy football owners and more importantly, Marcus Mariota. Even if Ryan Tannehill takes over, look for Walker to be a great value this year in your fantasy football drafts.
Royce Freeman – RB, Denver Broncos – ADP 8.04
In 2018, the Royce Freeman hype was out of control and Phillip Lindsay stole the show. Fast forward to the present, Lindsay’s stock is high, but Freeman’s is going back up. The change to the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff has new hope for Freeman even if this offense is a 50/50 timeshare. Look for Freeman to get the bulk of the early-down work as well as the very important goalline work. Freeman is a well-rounded RB that brings a lot of potential for return on his eighth-round draft price.
Carlos Hyde – RB, Kansas City Chiefs – ADP 9.12
Carlos Hyde is on his fourth team in the last three seasons even though he has been able to stay relatively healthy. Hyde produced well when he was on the San Fransico 49ers, and he was doing well in Cleveland before the Browns decided to move on in order to involve their second-round pick, Nick Chubb.
The Jaguars experiment did not go well as Hyde struggled behind a beat-up offensive line and a struggling offense. In Kansas City, Hyde has been taking advantage of the missed time by expected starter Damien Williams and has been getting a lot of praise from head coach Andy Reid. Hyde is benefiting from his situation more than his talent. Williams is extremely unproven and if anything were to go wrong, Hyde would get the first crack at taking the job.
This isn’t just any job. The starting running back for Andy Reid is a dream for fantasy football running backs. Hyde could find himself as a fringe RB3 even with Williams out there in this high-flying offense that likely leads the league in scoring. If Hyde were to find his way into the lead role, he could be a league winner being drafted at 9.12.
Justin Jackson – RB, Los Angeles Chargers – ADP 13.07
Melvin Gordon is currently threatening suspension and Austin Ekeler is the presumed starter. He is rising up draft boards and is no longer a value at this point. Last year when Gordon missed time, we saw Ekeler struggle and was not as efficient in the lead role.
In Week 7, Ekeler was given the ball 12 times and ran for 42 yards. In week 12, Ekeler was given the ball 13 times, rushing for just 21 yards. The week following, Ekeler rushed 15 times for 66 yards. To be frank, Ekeler is great in the Austin Ekeler role. If Gordon misses time due to injury or holdout, he’ll stay in that role.
The Los Angeles Chargers have already said it would be a 50-50 split with Justin Jackson. If so, why is Jackson being drafted in the 13th round and Ekeler in the sixth? Jackson is a better runner than Ekeler and should receive very crucial goal-line duties in a very high scoring offense. He would lose value if Gordon were to end his holdout, but until then, I am picking him up everywhere I can.
Tyrell Williams – WR, Oakland Raiders – ADP 11.11
Tyrell Williams received a four-year contract worth $44 million this offseason, and the Oakland Raiders obviously had big plans for him. Those plans changed when they acquired Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Williams should still be in line for a lot of work in this Jon Gruden led offense.
Williams should benefit playing opposite of Brown, who should demand a lot of targets, leaving Williams in a lot of one-on-one coverage. Williams offers big-play potential and can pick up a lot of his points in chunks as well. He should be a great red zone threat for the Raiders. He is being forgotten this offseason, but make sure you don’t forget him on draft day.
David Heilman is a writer and Fantasy Football co-director for Pro Football Network. You can follow him at @DynastyDorks on Twitter.